There’s an armless man on a hill
eating a candy bar and we wonder
which war, what factory machine.
Looks like his shoulder’s gone too.
Looks like the sky is a blue curtain
closing in on him. There’s a cloud
gliding into his rib. There’s his hand
rising to his mouth, teeth grinding
chocolate, the gift of sugar his lone
hand keeps delivering to his mouth.
Whatever happened, he’s moved on,
wakes, showers and buttons his shirt
by himself, his hand a swan pecking
down his chest. Wakes from a dream
where his missing arm flies into
his sleeve to pay his body a visit.
Wakes and buttons down and buys
a candy bar at the store. Damage
makes a notch on us all, with some
another notch. With some it steadies
the chisel and brings the hammer
down quick, brings a lesson on loss.
Blades take fingers. A tractor makes
a girl say goodbye to her footprints.
As for the armless man on the hill,
looks like the candy bar’s gone.
He looks like a sculpture, standing
up there with a hand on his waist:
a general waiting for the enemy,
hiding his saber behind his back.
David Hernandez’s third poetry collection, Hoodwinked, won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize. His other collections are Always Danger (Southern Illinois University Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). His YA novels include No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. His poems have appeared in FIELD, The Threepenny Review, Ploughshares, AGNI, TriQuarterly, and The Missouri Review. David lives in Long Beach, California, and is married to writer Lisa Glatt. Visit his website at davidahernandez.com. (updated 4/2013)