By Danielle Hanson 

Instructions on Stripping

Take the rotten unused light of the moon,
Add what the mirror sees when it is dark—
Forgetting is lovely at night. 
Throw away all that you were
Into the opposite of wind.
Pretend to be a ghost.
Now pretend to be a rock.
What have you learned about permanence?

A Poem in Which the Moon Rejects You

In the photograph of what is gone,
The one that is not an omen,
The one that leaned too far into the light
And shattered it,
The photo in which the world is reduced
To a shard; in the shard
Which reflects only the moon;
In the light cast off by that moon,
The lost light, the falling light.


The miracle of you has grown fickle.
The water is just the water now, it heals
Nothing.  Saints die as easily as man, in one
Try, or by accident.  A hole in the hand
Is just the absence of flesh.  A body
Never carries its head home in its arms
As a lover.  The hungry
Starve, the dark stays
Dark, the animals stay silent, the dead
Decompose, the blind are blind
Still.  And you, simple man.

The Three-Dollar Cafe

Flies live on heat and light.
It’s 2:00 and their persistence wears me out.
The waitress is being hailed by the table next to mine.
It’s not that she’s slow,
She doesn’t like the color of the man’s shirt.
Some reds can soak up all the colors around them.
She never stands next to anyone wearing red.
The other waitress is on break.
Someone once wrote that if a man
Were ever fully awake, his face would glow.
There isn’t enough coffee in this world
To keep me that awake tonight.
The moon and swarming stars
Are brightest while we are asleep,
Soaking us up like crimson.
I want to make a screen against this vacuum.

Next to the Window

The sky isn’t itself today.
I’m on fire.
Rain seeps down the wall,
fills the room like a knock.
I’m graciously declining any offers.
It makes love, the view from my window,
the dust on my bedside table, all feel today
their souls are the wrong size.
They want to make bread out of restlessness.

The Crazy King

after a painting by Philip Curtis

There’s an old man sitting in a throne on the beach,
dressed like some old king or something. 
He even has a crown.  He may be crazy
but who’s going to tell a king he’s crazy?
That’s a sure way to get yourself beheaded.
Then you’ll be running around, chicken
with his head cut off, a crazy chicken, catching
his death of cold with a wound like that.
It’s enough to make you crazy with worry,
crazy as some old man thinking he’s king of the ocean.

danielle hanson

About the Author:

Danielle Hanson received her MFA from Arizona State University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  She is the author of Ambushing Water (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017).  Her work has appeared in over 50 journals and anthologies, including Hubbub, Iodine, Rosebud, Poet Lore, Asheville Poetry Review, and Blackbird.  She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books.  She has edited Loose Change Magazine and Hayden’s Ferry Review, worked for The Meacham Writers’ Conference, and been a resident at The Hambidge Center.  Her work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net.  http://daniellejhanson.com.