Jeremy Allan Hawkins


To Ease Yourself


the first step in seeking forgiveness
requires there be a wilderness

how wild it must be will depend
on how long you have spent in the air

when you circle down
you will have only yourself to tame

the whole thorny stretch of it
with a pair of rubber boots & a fishing knife

acre after acre brought low as if
it shared your shame & bowed to it

a list of brambles scored across your shins
your hands a muddy map of the work

the work itself a map of the work
you always knew needed to be done

the swamp to be drained & leveled
the brush to be beaten back until gone

until what's left is a meadow
to which you are permitted to return

long enough to see it for what it is
the grass blowing dreamily to morning

the trees solitary as headstones
the egret flown off to a state park

a wilderness you have flattened to ease yourself
of its being without you & you wonder

should you have left it to waste
should you let it now grow back

before the second step of forgiveness
in which you must become a bear


You Must Become a Bear


to reveal your intelligence
in the village you crush clay pots
seeking out tulip bulbs

you pull koi from the pond
& after dark you stalk
those who stray
beyond the house lights

to show you know how
you will feed on anything

to adapt yourself to the climate
of the people's observations
you will be either totem or omen

the spirit of their fears
or a sign of the gift
demanded by the wilderness
to honor its abundance

either one written in dark
splashes across the meadow

in the long summer
you will not feel sorrow
even into autumn's stately walk
feasting on gourd fields
& gorging on fallen apples
until you are dizzy

when the first chill blows
up from a ravine
glazed early with frost
across the orchard grass
& you will scent it again

that enduring odor of yourself
only as escapable as living

to which you are resigned
as you trudge out of the village
up to the ravine
in search of a crevice
where the next step must lead you
into the forgetfulness of sleep
your guilt there
the subject of a fearful dream


This Has Kept Me


I never learned
what chicory is
& this has kept me
from passing through
the gate. The gorge
offers no help,
just a stream
through it, throughout
the constant day.
Small birds fall
on orange berries
& like me
have nothing to say
about the taste of chicory
or what people do with it
once they have passed
to the other side.
Is this the science
I was missing?
Two children
arrive in the gorge
& pass through
while holding hands
as the trees go on
growing taller.
They knew about chicory
at such a young age.
& yet I never believed
such stories could be true.
I would ask whoever built the gate
but they are well
beyond my line of sight,
perhaps building more,
in other gorges, for people
to find & pass through
hand in hand.
I would ask the birds
about the orange berries
if I could stomach them.
But they fly.
I find a rock
on which to sit & wait, 
one of those abandoned
here long ago
by the whim & temper
of a passing glacier.
The rock has sat
in constant shadow
& it is cold. 


Reflections Without the French


my young lover & I switch
between languages my young lover & I
in the carriage of a tram between languages
tangled together in the carriage of a tram
hoping our trivia can be tangled
further hoping our limbs will hold
forever as the rails seem to run
parallel forever true
even if not true as aim
we say it even if & continue to believe
then we say it another way
my young lover & I fixed
on the idea that we are my young lover & I crossing
the interval where we are joined
by the chiming of a minor interval known
for sorrow we give ourselves names
to possess each other or from sorrow protect
we translate our compliments to protect
from desire we translate our complements
though no sanctuary from desire stands
in the sanctuary of embrace
for fear we will survive our embrace
my young lover & I grasp for fear
we fall dumb yet my young lover


Jeremy Allan Hawkins was born in New York City and
raised in the Hudson Valley. He is an alumnus of the
Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project and the US
Fulbright Program. His work has appeared in Waxwing
The Paris-AmericanTin HouseHarvard Review and
other journals. He lives in France.


Published October 2015.