Cordelia Hanemann – 2 poems

A visit from memory


You always show up

on my doorstop     that old suitcase

strapped together      in tatters

from overuse     much travel

much showing up     bringing

hostess-gifts I never need

or want–sour lemon marmalade

(who eats lemon marmalade anyway)

hard candies     roasted peanuts

and praline sauce    to sweeten

the visit     turn crackers into pie


a tourist           really        no

a poor relation looking for a handout

not money       just your pound of flesh

ready to rehash all      the old famil-

iar stories      all those dead horses

what we haven’t thought about

in years           like an old fish

hooks in the mouth     skin peeling

off in leathery strips   jaundiced

eyes glazed     no gills wheezing   

a trophy        


            the unpacking     out come    

the tawdry old wares        worn shoes           

soiled shirts     wrinkled pants                 derelict      

until I guess     you grow weary

or nostalgic for home     and I wake

to fix  breakfast and      blessed

you are gone      the house     oddly still

and silent        with new dead hours.



Sharing Figs  


I planted the ficus “Brown Turkey”

beneath three tall pines, because

it was the one spot that got some sun,

because I wanted figs: figs to own,

figs to pick, figs to eat—imagine

figs for the asking, figs for the taking,

my very own tree in my very own yard.

Four figs would do. But,


            I lived a figless life. My tree plumped

forth just hard little green nuggets,

clutching brittle brown branches.

Squirrels mistook them for nuts

and scuttled off with my crop.

Not even four figs for me

from the spindly bush competing

with towering pines. Now,


            pine trees are gone to ice storms;

my wimpy “Brown Turkey” is huge

and covered in figs—luscious, plump

purple, and syrupy sweet: figs for birds,

who dive in for a bite, move on

to make room for bees, ants and huge

ugly fig beetles. And,


            since I still get no figs and am not

in the bug-, bird-, and beast-feeding

business—and all I ever wanted was

four—just four inviolate figs of my own,

I’m cutting it down after summer is past.

I’m waiting till late fall, in case, I might

salvage a fig or two before first frost.



Cordelia Hanemann is currently a practicing writer and artist in Raleigh, NC. A retired professor of English at Campbell University, she has published in numerous journals including Atlanta Review, Connecticut River Review, Southwestern Review, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Poet Magazine’s new anthology, Friends and FriendshipHeron Clan and Kakalak and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. Her poem, “photo-op” was a finalist in the Poems of Resistance competition at Sable Press and her poem “Cezanne’s Apples” was nominated for a Pushcart. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana. 


Cordelia Hanemann – 3 poems 

Song of the Fish


You should join me here. The cool

green deep of my underwater keep

holds me close. I circle the pier,

waiting for you. If only you’d look,

you’d see me, a silver of reflected light

among the currents of the lake.


I watch you fix your rig,

select the bait to hide the hook.

Your arc is pure from shore to lake

like a dancer in an arabesque.


You are such an artist.

I cannot resist.

I’ve seen this worm before—

my lips are shreds of broken skin;

gills, heart, organs torn;

still, I hunger, lunge, and swallow.


You pull me in;

pain never felt so good.

The gentle way you work the hook,

your hand so warm, so firm

on my naked skin: you hold me,

like a treasure.

It hardly hurts at all.


How could I know

you would slit me open,

eat my flesh,

spit out my bones?






Sometimes a small light makes

the dark more terrible.


Headlights show only the swath

of road yards out; they seem to make

the dark more real, the way less clear.

Shapes crowd-in like hunter-demons,

bearing arms to take us down, take

us back. The car is dumb and warm

and close. Highways hum along under

us, indifferent, but familiar tunes;

our ears fill with the weary whine of tires,

the drone of old stories. Home is the place

where the road ends, where the door beckons,

but for the wanderer, the road goes on

criss-crossing earth’s face in complex

geometries of loneliness.





Defunct Tractor


The night sky burns with stars, dead

a thousand years; the cistern beside

the house, boasts its haul of icy dread,

blackening in the broad-bellied barrel.


Abandoned to an open field, iron beast,

like a scarecrow stripped of human cloth,

angular and alone, bearing no one’s travail,

a skeletal silhouette indifferent to night frost,


stands, grim and unmoved, succumbing to rust,

its steely black stillness a reproach to all

that spreads out from its mute paralysis:

a landscape, sere, naked, without conscience.


In waning night, earth refrains from judgment,

proffers no solace, no absolution, no Truth. 





 A resident of Raleigh, NC where Cordelia is a practicing artist and writer, she have taught in elementary and high school and been a university professor. A native of Southwest Louisiana, she has lived in Japan and London as well as in the US. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, among which areSouthwest Review, Mainstreet Rag, andThird Wednesday Magazine; anthologies, most recently, The Well-Versed Readerand Heron Clan IV; and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. She was recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press, and The Strand Project presented, this summer. a monologue she wrote for performance. She is also working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.  


Cordelia Hanemann – 1 poem 

HAULING COMPOST                             

The truck is angled in the drive;

it bears a mountain of compost

just in from the city landfill

—the detritus of winter’s disrobing

sucked up by roving Leaf-Vac maws,

churned in the jaws of vast tumblers

to fine tilth, now piled in my truck.

It is a mound as high as heaven,

as black as hell. And I know

what work it entails:

            I and my spade;

            I and my back;

            I and my wheel barrow;

            I and all those endless hours

                        of shovel and fill,

                        haul and dump,

            then on hands and knees,

                        the smoothing out,

                        playing the pudding-soil

                        through gloved fingers,

                        over placid beds.

I don’t know why each year I do it—

            so much work,

            so much sweat,

            so much dirt.

But, spring calls; I go.

            I must, I think, I must

                        —love it.


A native of Southwest Louisiana, but the daughter of an army officer and diplomat, Cordelia has lived in Japan and London as well as in the US. She earned a PhD from LSU with a dissertation on the language of contemporary poetry and developed a career as a university professor. A published poet, her work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, most recently The Sound of Poets Cooking and up-coming,The Well-Versed Reader. Cordelia is currently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press, and The Strand Projectrecently presented a monologue she wrote for performance. An inveterate gardener and a botanical illustrator, she is currently a practicing artist and writer in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is also working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.