Sunday, December 23, 2012

Paul Hostovsky- Three Poems


She threatened to sue him over his sonnet
for libel. Because he used her real name
in his poem about the good old days
when she was bad and beautiful. He went
into such poetic detail in the second half
of the octave, that the reader felt a sweet
gasp in the loins to read it. But he told her
he would be honored—it was quite the turn—
to be sued over a sonnet. Maybe it would set
a precedent. Maybe it would make him
famous. Then he argued that the poem praised
rather than defamed her, that if read properly
she was its hero, and that though he published it
in a magazine, they never paid him a cent.


We’re doing the Periodic Table
of Elements and Mia got Aluminum.
I wanted Aluminum. I'm mad at Mia now
for taking Aluminum when she didn't
even want it. Not the way I did.
I really, really wanted Aluminum.
Because I like its name and its atomic
number. Which is 13. Instead I got Boron
which is boring and rhymes with 'moron'
and I just know somebody is going to
think of that. And everybody has to fit
their Element on an 8 x 5 index card,
with its name and chemical symbol
and atomic number on the front, and the story
of how it got discovered or isolated
on the back. Aluminum's chemical symbol
is Al, which looks like A-one, like A-plus
one. But Boron's chemical symbol is just B
which is blah, and its atomic weight is 11
which is the age of my older brother Josh
who's mean. And on top of everything Kelsey
got Carbon which is so unfair because
her father drills oil wells for a living,
and she's already like the most popular girl
in the whole school and she lives in a big
house on a hill and I hate science now because
it’s so unfair and it makes no sense at all.

Paul Hostovsky

H, O, S like Sam,
T like Tom,
O, V like Victor,
S, K, Y. My mother
always spelled it like that
whenever people asked.

I was an only child with many
imaginary friends to my name.

Rainer Maria Rilke said
we must all eventually
lay aside even our own name
like a broken toy.

Maybe for a man with
Maria for a middle name
this was something to look forward to.

As for me, my toy
is at the top of its game,
and I take my rightful place
in the organization
of living things. There are

many species in a phylum,
there are many Pauls in a phone book,
but there was always only one
Hostovsky in the class,
and only one Paul Hostovsky
in the whole kingdom.

(Paul Hostovsky is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Hurt Into Beauty (2012, FutureCycle Press). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize and two Best of the Net Awards. Visit him at

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