ANDREW HUBBARD - POEMS
Andrew Hubbard was born and raised in a coastal Maine fishing village. He earned degrees in English and Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and Columbia University, respectively.
For most of his career he has worked as Director of Training for major financial institutions, creating and delivering Sales, Management, and Technical training for user groups of up to 4,000.
He has had four prose books published, and his fifth and sixth books, collections of poetry, were published in 2014 and 2016 by Interactive Press.
He is a casual student of cooking and wine, a former martial arts instructor and competitive weight lifter, a collector of edged weapons, and a licensed handgun instructor. He lives in rural Indiana with his family, two Siberian Huskies, and a demon cat.
It was a chance comment
Nothing more—a throwaway remark.
We were standing on a windy headland
Cold, bare, with barren spits of grass
And then, huge, broken rocks
And booming hiss of dark, sullen breakers.
You said, “This is an unlucky place”
And it felt right, even though
I’m too analytical to believe in luck.
To me, what others see as luck
Is mathematical probability in action.
Who needs to call in spooks and voodoo
To explain lost keys, or a promotion,
Or a hit on the lottery?
It’s just things working out
In their randomly ordered,
Orderly random way.
But—sure to God—it felt
Like an unlucky place.
To be strictly honest
I have to admit that things
I don’t let in, sometimes let themselves in,
And feelings are as real
In their own way as numbers.
We left and I was not sorry to go.
I kept looking behind
To see if anything was following.
Just the Flu
It sounded like the doctor
Was talking from far away, underwater.
He said, “little kids spike a high fever
He’s strong, just give him lots of fluids
He’ll be right as rain tomorrow.”
So I shook and baked and sweat
And slept and dreamed
I was in a field of tall brown waving grass
And low, lush blueberry bushes
Bent with heavy loads of bursting fruit.
I had the scrubbed-out lard can
Mommy gave me for berries
And I was on my knees picking
And dropping berries into the can
And as they fell each one turned into a pearl
Pure white and gleaming.
The pearls all whispered
And their voices blended
Saying, “you won’t be poor any more,
You’ll never be poor any more.”
“Food—all you want
And a puppy, and the clothes
Mommy’s ashamed to ask for
And medicine for sister.”
I ran home with the lard can
Hugged to my chest and the pearls
Clicking together like marbles.
I gave them all to Mommy
And she held me and cried
And cried. Her tears dropped
On my face, and I began to know
I was not there, I’d left
Without even knowing
For the place
Pearls come from.
Playing Checkers with my Father
Almost every Sunday morning
I turn a deaf ear to the “honey-do’s”
And take the fold-up checker set
Over to the park and down
To the little concrete tables
Under the old trees, beside the river.
I watch for Dad and he comes
Down the stairs from Riverside Drive exactly on time.
I swear he was born punctual.
He’s using his “special occasion” cane.
He calls it his “Cajun” cane
Because that’s what I called it
When I was five years old.
His wisps of hair are combed just so, his shoes are shined
And he’s wearing the yellow and black bow tie
Reserved for Sundays—and me.
We hug briefly and I feel
How terribly thin he is
And how the cancer drugs
Have pushed his shoulder blades out
Like buds of angel wings.
We sit, and while I set up the board
His mind weaves back and forth
Across the decades, and he tells
Stories of his wives, his jobs,
His triumphs, and us children.
None of the stories are new
But he tells them with vigor,
And gets them mostly right.
We start the first game
And my challenge commences.
When this ritual began 20 years ago
I couldn’t beat him if my life depended on it,
Now he can barely plan a move ahead
And sometimes loses focus altogether.
I work the game so he wins
And never guesses my strategy.
(His pride is ferocious.)
We play two games. He wins both, and says,
“Can’t beat your old man yet son.”
The wind has picked up
And the clouds are thickening
So we quit a little early.
I walk him slowly back to his building
See him onto the elevator
And he says spryly, “same time
Next Sunday, right Merv?”
Calling me, like he always does when he’s tired,
By my dead brother’s name.