Oliver de la Paz


Hello, constellation—my other face
as suburbia explodes at dawn.
Windy hello, my blown-away papers,
sheets radiating like dandelion seeds.
Hello, silo’s gleaming tin saying, breathe as I pass along the highway.
Shiny hello.
Guard at the halfway house disappearing for an hour, hello.
I missed the light off your sunglasses.
Hello, footfall on sand tilting the earth’s axis, its darkening arch.
My blue blanket, childhood bleached in the yard—hello.
My crickets playing their hairs: tchick tchick,
like some dying machine—hello.
Hello, hirsute walking away from the circus tent,
your eyes flickering in the afternoon like wild butane lighters,
My curtain to a darkroom letting me see a fingernail of red light—
I think of bathing in hotels. Hello hotels,
sunshine, and complimentary coffee.
Perfume on a hot day. Hello Cecelia from sixth grade
who had worn no underwear for Social Studies. . . I was at the desk behind you
when you turned and froze me with your teeth.
Colder than hello, my saxophone—I don’t play.
My jazz of hard liquor. My drunk, hello,
who approaches my car saying, “You are shameless, you are shameless.”
Meanwhile, the sunlight off broken glass is everywhere.
Hello shame. Hello and thanks. My devilish . . . with her spiky heels.
Been long.
Hello sadness, beautiful, beautiful.
Hello, hat on the bed struck by a sunbeam
serving as a symbol as the rattle of the gravel trucks
returns you to the world.
Hello again, Cecelia, your mouth shut
after seeing your lover pour gasoline on his hands. Hello hunger.
Hello, my hunger, angry at yourself. Hello, yourself.
Hello to myself who has no moonlight. Moonlight spangled hello.
My God, hello. You left your wallet and your keys. Where are you going
without them? You can’t go far. Not far at all.

Oliver de la Paz
Hello is reprinted from Poetry 30: Thirtysomething American Thirtysomething Poets, Ed. Dan Crocker and Gerry La Femina (Mammoth Books, 2005).