In Richard Hoffman’s long, complex title poem, which anchors his concerns throughout the book, he says with characteristic lucid candor, “…now when longevity itself begins to seem at once/the only wealth worth having and the booby prize.” It should be noted that Noon until Night is not a book about noon until evening. Yet the darkness that night suggests has its rays of hope in it, as Hoffman artfully meditates on how we live and, without sentimentality, manage to go on.
If Anton Chekhov returned as a modern-day poet, Richard Hoffman would be his name. His poems reverberate with the same lucid witness and precision. Bridging histories local and cultural, they draw on literary traditions while simultaneously heralding experiment and invention. —Terrance Hayes
Richard Hoffman is a fiercely gifted poet whose stanzas revel in the infinite possibilities of language, and jolt, surprise, and satisfy at every turn. This is work to be savored and embraced.
— Patricia Smith
Hoffman is the poet traveling our nightmare of now, our descent into a lack of love for one another, but along the way he finds etchings of hope on the walls.
— Afaa Michael Weaver
Mothers with newborns in knotted slings,
on their heads impossible towers of things,
the old in carts, the children by the hand,
these people crossing a cratered land
are more than metaphor;
but they are also metaphor.
We are the truth to one another. Look:
don’t wait for some historian’s book
to understand this (then it will be too late.)
This is the unchecked power of the State,
the end of empathy, the rise of Mars,
the avarice that in the end mars
all our laws and medicine and art.
Show me one fleeing person’s heart
and I will show you a thousand griefs
for loves, hopes, memories, beliefs
that war has undermined.
Corpses plowed under, mined
roads and fields, the groves and orchards
poisoned, fathers and brothers tortured,
hope abandoned with the other heavy furniture —
it isn’t much of a road, the future,
if you don’t know where
it goes or it goes nowhere.
A day nears, feast
of a saint unborn,
unlike our forebears’
or any we have known.
We know how dark
are powers kept in darkness
(a broken lock, a stopped clock,
masks, and lies.)
When we wake
that unexampled day,
will we believe ourselves
free or broken?
Noon until Night (2017) ISBN: 978-0-9973184-4-9
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