Gregory Hischak



I found a talisman in the copier.
Bubblewrap body and push pin eyes,
wound in bronze wire and hanging
over the sorter mechanism.

Boughs of cedar lined the by-pass tray,
tightly accordioned in colored thread—
and it was then that I realized

          there was
          a wiccan
          in the office.

A paperclip fetish guards the server.
There's an unexpected package from
Hidden Driveway Lake ticking
in the FedEx box.

The cleaning guys tell stories
of toads in the stairwell, of
ceiling vent whispers and full moons
breached by shuttering blinds.

There's a circle of mints in the lobby
—a wintergreen hoop stepped around—
keeping not so much the dead as
perhaps, the under-living away.



A parlor tick shaken—a rattled tock
A screendoor's twang and snap
Rustle and gust—the retreat of swallows
          across a tassel-stained sky
Schematics of lightning clear the pools carved
          like trenchwork across
          this place

Northern enough to fire a hard coal furnace yet
          Southern enough to cultivate broadleaf shade
Western enough and Eastern enough
          to be neither here nor there—this place
Crossroads of blue and grey
          nimbus and stratocumulus

Host to incompatible fronts
          a skirmish of drive-throughs
          along County Line Road—this place
No stranger to the anomalies of air
          the thunder's roll
          wind's pitch
          funnel's yaw

The fervor of basement vespers
          lullabies against the ordnance
          and the splinter of spires
The pale nightlight of a firefly cradled
          in a cupped palm dome
          as the leadshot shatters the isinglass



We are the children whom they test childproof lighters on.
Immortalized in two-hour photo developing,
          remembered for our milkcarton smiles.

Spirited away by strangers with candy; appropriated by jinns.
Suckled at the teat of Lilith, cradled with an old medley of
          custody battle hymns and schoolbus sing-alongs.

Hand in hand, following the dry riverbeds from Hamlin,
we are the children who negotiate the dark by taste,
          navigate the chainlink perimeters by touch.

We hide when our names are yelled across fields,
read by flashlight shined under thickets, mix our crayons
          from clays found along the river.

Descending at dusk from the shadow of timberlines,
we're spied under a waning gibbous running the box canyons,
stomping play circles into slumbering corn.

Like tricks of light we slip among the tamarisks.
Glimmering, we are fireflies cupped in a silhouette of palms.
Opened, we disperse into the night like stars.



Civil Wars is a Midwest lament. It's so much easier writing about places
once you've left them far behind.

R oad from Hamlin is a poem to accompany wind and flashlights.

A Circle of Mints celebrates the magical powers of office machinery and the deep life-long sighs that they drown out.