November 8, 2016

There are two kinds of people in the world:

there are those who believe they are right,

and those who believe the one’s who think

they’re right are wrong, and through years

by the thousand, nothing much has changed.


Of course the details are shaped by context,

whittled into rabbits that want chasing, or

duck calls meant to bring prey into range, or

gods that fit into pockets where fingers can

find and rub them ‘til they shine.


The denominator has always been difference;

the unlikeness of brothers or the order of

birth, the pigment of skin or the iris of eyes,

the shape of the head or the color of hair,

the height attained and noses beaked or wide,


these are the unlikenesses that divide us into

us and them; the rationale imposed at a glance

that keep us wary and apart, unwilling to share

the well, the temple, or the harvest and we are

rich with judgment that we toss like loose coins


to beggars, knowing there is more from whence

that came with plenty to spare and it costs us

nothing to fling it at those who have none, and

the have-nots gather not wealth but the pathogen

of fear, and a new generation is seeded with hate.


We could blame the Almighty for all of this, for

his interest in Abel over Cain, but that evokes a

worrisome faith that the Lord hasn’t finished with

favorites and may yet mark lines we thought

were drawn at our heels and not our toes.


No matter the outcome of choice and elections,

our history will always bear witness to how much

the us-ness of us is salved by keeping the them-ness

of them at a distance, praying that our differences

are clear and we are the ones who are right.


© Dana Hughes 11.8.16

A Visit With My Pop

Standing by the mailboxes

of the assisted living facility

in which he now resides

against his will, despite the

excellent care and social

interactions with people

other than his cat, who

moved with him after the

fall that spurred the fretful

drift of daughters, whose fear

for his safety is equaled only by

surprise that he’s lived so many

years after Momma died,


to move him from his home

without discussion, knowing

he’d refuse to leave if asked

and honoring your father

should exclude hog-tying and

carrying him to this place where

every need is met except the

one for independence, so all was

done on the sly, and the rooms

with his things in place look like

the home he’ll never see again,

which makes him swear like a sailor

though he knows it’s for the best,


he looks shrunken like a wool

sweater after a hot wash, half

the him he was, so tall and

handsome, and I could touch

the sky when I rode his shoulders

or see the world in the stories he told

and believe that growing was what

children did without understanding

that it doesn’t stop when you’re this

big but keeps going ‘til you’re small

again, afraid of disappearing.


He smiled at my approach and

kissed me on the cheek, but when

asked if he was happy, he snarled

and spat like his cat when there’s too

many corners and the only out is up.

© Dana Hughes 8.31.16





On a day of bone-cracking cold,

with the sun caught in a slough of blue

like a wide-mouth bass suspended

in the depths of a frozen pond,

the dog snuffled the snow

with incredulity, boggled by the shock

to canine reason that made the need

to pee recede, forgotten,

while in pink-cheeked impatience,

I wondered how long before I froze

where I stood and became a

hitching post tied to a dog

who might not go until Spring.

Then I heard the chip chip chip

of a cardinal as it leapt from ground

to branch and branch to ground

within the shelter of a holly,

and turning, saw the leaves shiver

with the movement and shed

their white coat which fell soft

and slow and seemed like melting,

yet beneath, the ground was dry.

Moses came to mind, polished

smooth from millenia of retelling

how a bush burned without burning

and the frosty heart of Pharaoh broke.

Tethered to my frittering dog,

I put off my shoes, just in case.

©  dana hughes  1.30.14

Opposable Thumbs

It may have been around the time the coelacanth flopped ashore;

closed it’s gills to water breathing to suck the dry primordial air,

shivered with evolutionary purpose, and stood, stiff-finned–

and walked toward feet with toes and fingered hands,

that the thumb first appeared.

Perhaps like a flounder’s traveling eye it started here and ended there,

better suited to the opposable position from which it spawned

the fist, the grasp, the cerebral cortex and politics,

for it is in the exertion of the thumb against

the fingers that the hand holds,

just as the naming of those against whom one struggles

for ascendance begets us versus them.

One cannot be had without the other.


©   dana hughes    1.14.14

Breakfasting With Birds

Fledged in the avian variant of oshkosh with brown spangles on orange bib,

the half-grown robin studied a bit of katydid left behind on the sidewalk,

picked it up, put it down, picked it up, put it down, turned, tasted

and finally ate it,

then tore through the pinestraw in search of slithery treasure buried there,

while a feather’s length away, proud poppa hopped, and with flutter

and chirp, reminded the lad of the need, while out of the nest,

to eat fast and play less.


© dana hughes


The Hickory has gone golden amid a stand of oak,

that wring their paling leaves like ten thousand pair

of worried hands, fretful of the change and annoyed

by the inconstance of green, and so convinced

that loss could be nothing but brown, they

kept their limbs close when Midas wandered by,

finding only one that dared risk the glory of his touch.

©  dana hughes