Ira Joel Haber  2006 All Rights Reserved

An Hour After the Meteor Shower

Three blue numerals illumine the room.
          You shiver, chilled from the fallow corn field.
We slip through the gloom, this electronic
          twilight torn from NASAs scrapbook of Neptune,
or the light from one of its cold moons
          exposing towel craters and sheet plains.
Who knew matter would look like this, would take
          on light, a sudden streak, would feel like this,
reveal a body nine planets away,
          when all the light we thought that mattered was
three planets aligned. What does the question
          of life matter so far from the sun? Why
not continue to Alpha Centauri
          or another close star, find a planet
to settle, start our lives over, forget
          the dark past, the path it took to get here,
light years away. All we would have is this
          rooms pale light as guide, its stained navy sheets,
squeaky bed, boxer briefs, jeans, the turquoise
          towel on the floor, two brown locked on two
blue as they orbit not each other but
          mornings ciphered blur.


Wrestlers Unfinished

Takedown : wrestlers joined
    in fierce lines force
found in this intricate ritual
    at the point force fails.

Delicate grapplers the groin
    grounds for touch why
stall loins forever hot in a halo
    of wash and stroke one

body set on tipping the other?
    No reversals here no
turning back though exposed
    the back triangulates head

arm and leg : most stable
    of compositions the echo
and dip as tanned hands grip
    wrists one face turned

up the other in to pin both
    shoulders and lay the back
flat. After the body passes
    the dimpled mustard

mat rises into itself that slow
    give of padded elasticity
first creased then wrinkled
    a custard body cradled

legs gathered up two shaven
    heads passively bent
roped in torso twisted groin
    groped slightly spread


Two Men in a Shower

Flipping through reruns, infomercials, I stalled
on palm tree silhouettes, an orange sky. David

Hockneys name faded in, solidified, faded out.
Just days ago, snowed-in, I consumed an entire

volume of his work : the play of light on water
in his paper pools; photo collages and reversed

perspectives, vanishing point now the starting
point for a canvas that opens out, viewer lodged.

When I sat, then, and wrote the words two men
in a shower, wet plastic stirred, its translucent

surface beaded, droplets heaving into streaks
as shadowy flesh touched, bent, and broke-up

the shower streams thin spray. I thought, could
a digital snapshot recreate this? It could alter

but then, viewer, would it still hold true? Only
many photos co-joined, not in the sense of mosaic

or of animation flipbook, but whole corners over-
lapped like two bodies that bend, straighten, bend

again. True I washed him then he, me : one arm
lifted, then a leg, muscle sliding against muscle.

And when I drew the curtain back, when my hand
reached out to grab a towel did the account equal

truth or something new? My foot crossed the tiled
lip as he cast a towel, rubbed my back down,

droplets and streaks erased, linked, then released.
Did the scene stall here removed from time or did

you complete it, viewer? Focus on the hand held
against my abdomen, the hand on the frame, what

extends beyond the frame : a scene reflected before
the shower, into the shower, the extended after.


Matthew Hittinger
Copyright 2006


MATTHEW HITTINGER was educated at Muhlenberg College and the University of Michigan where he won the Hopwood Award for Poetry. Pushcart-nominated and a finalist for the National Poetry Series and Walt Whitman Award, his work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Best New Poets 2005, DIAGRAM, Fine Madness, Memorious, Meridian, and MQR (forthcoming). Matthew lives and works in New York City.

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