Winter 2015

Poetry by Joseph Hutchison

Joseph Hutchison, interim academic director of arts and culture and global affairs at DU’s University College, in September 2014 was named Colorado’s poet laureate. He is author of 15 poetry collections, including “The Rain at Midnight” (2000) and “Thread of the Real” (2012). Here is a sample of his work.



O heart weighed down by so many wings


[from “The Undersides of Leaves”]



City Limits

You’re like wildwood at the edge of a city.
And I’m the city: steam, sirens, a jumble
of lit and unlit windows in the night.

You’re the land as it must have been
and will be—before me, after me.
It’s your natural openness
I want to enfold me. But then
you’d become city; or you’d hide
away your wildness to save it.

So I stay within limits—city limits,
heart limits. Although, under everything,
I have felt unlimited earth. Unlimited you.


[from “House of Mirrors”]





The walls are reassuringly near, the water comfortably warm. An unseen hand scatters food across the blurred surface, and all day the citizens dart or drift, stare out from among the plastic caves or castles, slip around and through plastic weeds, skim the sandy bottom studded with plastic shells. Silver bubbles wink upward from a buried tube, spinning brightly colored wheels, lifting and shutting the lids of plastic treasure chests. Sometimes a new citizen appears—like that one: sapphire-sided with lemon stripes. The colors are pleasantly distracting. From what do they distract? The citizens suffer, after all, from just one qualm: on occasion they contemplate the nature of their freedom.




The Boy Prince

One day you find the dream
that bore you on its back
has perched on your shoulders
and rides like the boy prince
aloft on Yorick. You see

all of it then: the dream’s
doom, your own grave end.
And so you tenderly lift it
down, letting it turn cartwheels,
romp and shout, while it still

believes it’s free. You need
little now but the will to steal off
across the motley autumn lawn
and away—hill after hill … borne
on the world’s cold shoulders.





Morning at From the Ground Up

after Tom Montag’s
“Lines for January 10” (2011)

Above the subzero gusts that cast
fistfuls of grainy snow against
the coffee shop windows, a voice

reaches out from the radio, lifting
one last long-held note … and faces
downturned over newspaper greys

and laptop screens tilt upward, each
lightened by the sun-struck flow
of Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou.”



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