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 book, a collection of poetry, was published in 2014 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.
The Soup Kitchen
(East Fourth Street, Indianapolis, Indiana)
They changed the name since I was here last
Now it’s the Men’s Christian Mission.
The line is long.
We don’t look at each other much,
We don’t talk much,
Is it shame or indifference?
Some of both probably
I don’t really know,
I don’t really care.
A few snowflakes swirl around us,
They melt on the cracked concrete.
It’s cold, later on they’ll stick.
This week I scored
Army boots that fit
And a wool scarf six feet long.
I’m in pretty good shape.
One guy mumbles how he was scouted by the Yankees
Nobody listens to him.
One guy has a pint of blackberry brandy
We focus on him like sharks in bloody water.
He sees, chugs the bottle,
And throws it in the street.
Inside there’s still a line
But it’s warm: snow
And sleet and snot
And god knows what
Drip off us onto the dirty tile floor.
The cost is not extreme:
Some woman reading the Bible,
And she’s not hard on the eyes.
St. Mark: something about
How the bad ones are taught
In parables so they can’t understand
And get saved when they shouldn’t.
Way over my head.
The soup. It has real meat
And carrots. I’d forgotten
There was such a thing
As carrots in this world.
God bless carrots.
Comeuppance in Flushing (Queens, New York)
Hot, drizzly August morning
Behind schedule leaving the apartment
For the groceries, the cleaning, the diapers.
I do an ungainly skip and hop
To avoid stepping on a giant slug
Oozing like a senscient, three-inch booger
Across the flagstone walkway
Apparently intent on the garden wall
Ten feet ahead of him,
Bricked up and five feet tall.
I think how incomprehensible
My maneuver must have looked
To white-haired Mrs Van De Camp
Who sits all day at her sixth floor window
In her purple bathrobe
Watching her world:
The walkway, the garden wall
And a sliver of street beyond
With one metronomic traffic light.
When I return, drenched,
Laden like a pack camel with grocery bags
And carrying four dry-cleaning hangers
Between my teeth (an indignity
No camel ever suffered)
I find my morning whimsy was correct:
Mr slug has crossed the walkway
Traversed a yard of weeds
And made it halfway up the wall
Leaving an iridescent slime track behind.
No less repulsive than two hours earlier
But more interesting for the question he forces
On my soaked and panting self:
How does a snot-glob
With a brain scarcely worthy of the name
Conceive a plan so bold and reckless
As to journey to the wall
At the end of the universe
And scale it
Just to see
What lies beyond?
And how does a thing
With no visible means of propulsion
Execute his plan with such vigor,
Fortitude and resolution?
When I consider his achievement
And what he’s got to work with
I am awed.
I stand in the rotten-cabbage smelling foyer
Dripping on the unclean tile floor
Drooling around my shirt-hangers
While the elevator clatters and wheezes
Its painful way down to me.
I mutter internally,
“Don’t let me be humbled
By a garden slug.
Leave me some shreds
Maker of Useful Things
In a slower, quieter time
Peat fire smoke rose straight and sweet
From the chimneys of cottages
Where a dozen generations of proud Irish
Had been born and died.
On a fog-cloaked morning you might hear
At the edge of hearing, at the edge of daylight
A tiny tapping from a hedgerow
Where in a strict and secret nook
A leprechaun cross-legged sat
And hummed and tapped and formed
The shoes his fellows like to wear.
No one ever saw him.
He slipped away in the brightness
None know how or where
But he’d leave behind at times
A bit of moleskin
A sliver of silver
And these things touched by hands
Of one whose kind is blessed
Brought blessing in their turn
To any child who found the magic scraps
And gave them heed and comfort.
This was long before the days
Of disbelief and disregard
But the leprechaun still lives
Though he—just like the world--
Has gone on to other things.
He lives now beneath a mossy overhang
Of a slow-flowing stream
And works there, making…
Not shoes but songs
Songs of love and quietude.
He sends them
Floating down the stream
And they look, to people,
Like sun flashes on the water.
Just like his shoes
These songs leave bits and trimmings
Of themselves behind.
And what does a love song fragment look like?
Like a leaf, a snail shell, a chip of quartz
To the hand of the lucky girl or boy
Who finds it, keeps it
With the curios of childhood--
Perhaps at the back of a dark drawer
Where it works in silence
And the child profits
In luck, in love, in things of spirit
And never guesses the source
Could be a thing so small.
And the magic goes on