The Sunday Poem: Brian Hendrickson... Turning between Two Skewed Horizons

What better place for a poet to try to reassemble the jagged memories of a past love than drunk on a busy street in Cancun?  This beautifully written piece taps into the timeless themes of both sides of the border.

Brian Hendrickson’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals locally, nationally and internationally, and has recently been nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net 2011. A PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing at the University of New Mexico, Brian is a Teaching Assistant in the Department of English Language & Literature, Secretary of the National Consortium of Writing Across Communities, and Co-Director of the Albuquerque Community Writing Center.

Turning between Two Skewed Horizons

Avoidance is also dancing—
How recall re-laces the memories
We cringe over with its veering.

The hometowns we refuse.
The lovers who never
Should have mattered,

Whom we step around,
Pacing the floors of nights
That wear our scattered recollections.

The young girls who spurned you
Were only dancing, a vagueness
At which you still shudder in perplexity

Guiding them by their once delicate wrists.
In Cancún, where the busses didn’t run,
Where the sidewalk with its blankets

Of drunks forced you into the streets
To waltz with homicidal taxis,
Like a friend you’ve known too long

To hate, the guilt you felt inside
A dirty strip club in all its black-lit sadness –
When all you could think about

Was its opposite, was her—
Still lives. Those thirteen years you spent apart,
You’d have translated into a language

Of missteps and crushed toes. Then
In the parking lot behind the gringo dancehall
Where you stumbled out to vomit,

A constellation of broken glass
Turning between two skewed horizons.
Now you know why you distrust irony,

Yet you cannot forget the crooked smile
Of the Yucateco you found shimmying
Up the coconut trees planted between

Two frantic lanes of traffic—
Him swatting down the fruit
You chasing after it

Into the strobe of swerving headlights, then together
Cracking the spoils against a concrete park bench.
What are you even doing here?

You could not ask the other
Who spoke no English—you, a worthless Spanish.
And what were you doing there?

Why so long
Before she would love you, before you
Would in turn forgive her?

Might as well ask the Yucateco
If he still remembers how sweet
Coconut milk tasted

To the strange, drunken gringo
Dancing on that busy Cancún street corner
With no idea how to get home.

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 228

Comment by Margaret Randall on May 27, 2012 at 8:08am

How recall re-laces the memories
We cringe over with its veering.

Beautiful! From these lines you had me hooked, through to the end of this powerful poem.

Comment by Merimee Moffitt on May 27, 2012 at 9:16am

ha ha fills me with memories of Oaxaca, la playa, Miguel Angel, palapas, liquados, the liquado brothers teaching us all to make "smooties" before smoothies hit America--going home to my son, and his father for whom I never got the hang of loving.  Thx Brian, sweet coconut memories  --love and booze in the end of a millennium (earlier for me).  ps the tight writing is a delight--

Comment by Julie Brokken on May 27, 2012 at 11:22am

Avoidance is also dancing... so much in these words alone!  We dance with so many invisible partners...  

Comment by Brian Hendrickson on May 28, 2012 at 9:00am

Thanks, all for compliments. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem.

Comment by Dee Cohen on May 28, 2012 at 2:20pm

Nice poem Brian. Filled with remorse and dangerous regrets in a foreign country. Thanks, Dee


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