Since 1996 Volume XXI
The Poet as Hammer Thrower
Tyrannosaurus Rex trapezoids,
thighs and rear, I am spinning.
Earth is spiraling; I want to keep
doing this. Cosmic. Interplanetary.
Zen. I am Mercury. I am Venus.
No, I am Harold Connolly, ribboned
in Olympic gold from Melbourne, 1956,
ballet slippers designed by my Irish mother,
a vaudeville dancer. Confined to a seven
foot wide concrete circle, not fourteen
lines of a sonnet, I pirouette, whirl, lance
the hammer maybe three stories high,
a football field long, then the yelp. If only Iíd
overcome gravity like negativity, my hammer
would never touch ground. The secret
is the pendulum, the system: centrifugal force
created when I begin to rotate and speed up
to sixty miles per hour, gripping a four foot
wire attached to sixteen pounds of hammer.
Twirl four times, no prodigy, I canít get
away with three, I lean back, sit in space.
Arms are stretched straight because,
to borrow from physics, the longer the lever,
the farther the throw. For me, itís kamiwaza,
Japanese for super human feat, or divine
work like words lined into a single eruption
of 8 mm film spooling onto the tile floor.
I have been known to crutch through a poem,
but centered, brute strength or no, I canít
muscle the hammer forward. Like fingers
probing my spine to rotate me through the tango,
it is a guide, tries to show me how to avoid being
banished from festival fields because weight
of my subjects pock lawns manicured like sestinas
and villanelles. My hammer in hand, I am a leaf
shedding a globule of rain that quick silvers
a glissando down the center vein. Green,
the tip unbends. My heart and hammer
are one. Transcendent. Then the thud.
Copyright, Vivian Shipley.