PoetryIssue 02 | December 2008

Three Poems by Tim Hawkins

Overdue Rant

My landlady has the gift of second sight and likes to talk politics.
She tells me that Reagan saved Central America
from communism, then she raves about the dead Vietnamese
while extolling Somoza’s reforms. She cooks herself
six meals a day and offers me moldy grapes.
When her pots and pans have gathered flies for six days
she curses the sick maid and reminds me to wash my plate.
Jesus made her invisible on a bus ride through El Salvador
where she had gone to tidy her late brother’s affairs.
He died of a broken appendix;
hoarding toilet paper did him no good.
I have rationed my rice, and when I’m hungry it is gone.
She keeps fish heads in the refrigerator for the cat.
My eggs smell like fish heads, my cheese smells like fish heads,
my rice smells like fish heads and is gone.
She has invited me to a gathering of sober Americans abroad
on my day off.

She was a starving actress in the sixties,
and is now a painter of some reputation.
She holds her new grandson close to her breast
while his father raises his voice.
She was beautiful then, and I believe her.
Now she holds her grandson close to her breast like a ham.
She had a Hollywood contract and filmed half a picture.
She was raven-haired and played the part of Rebecca.
The Actor’s Studio was so taken with her suicide
she was auctioned off like a side of beef.
In a fit of pride she returned to Costa Rica
and became a landlady.
She is a good landlady, although she sometimes forgets
to properly store her perishables.
She has only burned the house down once.

Some producer was coming down to fetch her on his yacht.
He was taken with her innocence, but liked to call her “grandma,”
since she was all of twenty-two.
He set sail from Miami with a crew of six,
ranging in age from thirteen to fourteen,
and inevitably died of a heart attack.
The panic-stricken girls left his body to rot on deck,
afraid they’d be accused of murder
if they nudged his stiff corpse over the side
with their still-growing feet.
For days they subsisted on brandy and cigars,
drifting in an aimless frenzy along the Gulf Stream,
a feast of gulls pounding the cabin door…

You never told me how it ended, though
it is safe to assume they were rescued, I suppose.
Forgive me now for this intrusion.
I have just now come upon this after all these years;
I believe I wrote it the first time my rent was late
when I hardly knew you at all,
before I learned Spanish on the tape recorder and
your voice had become to me
the breathless epiphanies of Lorca and Neruda.
I finish it now ten years down the line,
many years since I have lost the tapes
and a long time since I was your friend.

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About the author

Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, where he has worked as a journalist, technical writer, communications manager and teacher in international schools. His career has also taken some interesting detours into such posts as fish cannery slime table worker, stevedore, nose-hair clipper model and cram school teacher. After spending much of the ‘90’s and ‘00’s abroad, he currently lives in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, most recently in Blueline, Eclectica, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Midwest Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, Shit Creek Review and The Smoking Poet. He was nominated by the journal Four and Twenty for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. His first collection, Wanderings at Deadline, was published by Aldrich Press in 2012. It is available at Amazon.com and through the publisher’s website. Find out more about Tim and his writing at timhawkinspoetry.com.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok