Penalities against possesion of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. - President Jimmy Carter, October 2, 1977

Patrick Hurley [poetry]


Lone flower persisting
in knife-blade air
voice of a prophet
mumbles through a gag

Now chemical color
courses through
unseen arteries

The chin of
hell’s hound
has healed and
the walls of his
enclosure are low

Fruit withers
on darkened vines
streets too are dark
shadow selves
shoot the lights out
one by one

Where there are fields
gray acid soil

Fold Pavlov’s handkerchief
and scan the sky––
storm clouds not
easily mistaken for mercy


Novices extract mineral
deposits from rocks
beneath the surface

Words too heavy
like stones–– as if
speakers and listeners
were ancillary to
their weight

Abandoned vehicles and
one kind of quiet
these could be recurring

Compact textures generate
accidental symmetry

The body’s sudden
epiphanies are
slow to arrive

Sight and sound
altered sequentially

A bent figure
counts and catalogs


Expecting different transmissions
seeing instead with a slight blur
cold smudges force the
recognition of a withered vine

Citizens wash dirt from
the surfaces of coins

Silver sentries use
delicate tendrils––
though they don’t
bind ankles
they do contain
listening devices

What if fat white legs
were stacked fuel
for some new race

Dream’s inverted ziggurat
stands empty––
in forgotten corners
what clues remain?


Fallen poplar leaves
are desiccated rodents
populating the ground

Wooden slats
rot and crumble

Everywhere the same
or similar props
seek rearrangement

Someone preaches
through an
amplifying cone
or offers for sale
more of something
more of everything
more of nothing

Open the gates and shout
ignore if you can that
the moon is melting

A piece of curled bark
contains the marks
that will generate
a new alphabet

Start with one letter
then a sequence
to disturb the reverie of
second childhood


So this starts
this is four parts
or a start would
be a single part
say part one

Could be music
could be an object

There are six pigeons
on a slanted roof
four of them
are grouped
close together

Perpendicular lines
form quadrants

Signs shift
to the left––
for some a method
for some a technique
contemplation of
a common object

Polished surfaces
just conceal
the dream
of an
ordinary human

This is not a dream
about vertical motion
this is not
the end of a part

Patrick Hurley lives in Saint Louis. He recently published a big book of poetry called walking.