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Facing South by True North


This is why I was supposed to teach you were

and then when you were there or had arrived,

when I was like you we could become because


we were and whether or nor we had departed

or had arrived lesson-struck-wounded wherever

it was like that, and wherever it was, we were,


no matter the green eyes on the paper ceiling

of the air-conditioned constellations,

or the swollen, concrete cauliflower ears


of the rose doorway that read like A Foreigner

Carrying in the Crook of His Arms a Tiny Book,

or the balsa wood antique shop with windows


like an accordion’s wings decompressing

in the coffee that was in front of us too

because it was, wasn’t it, and we were


in front of ourselves as well, that is, no matter

that our indifference could not be exaggerated

too much to turn backwards even once


or sent home weeping in the dark on a tireless bicycle

or spun around slap-sticked because we wanted to be then

or learned that we should be then, it was done,


we wanted to remember that we weren’t like that,

facing south by true north, that is, but we did,

no didn’t, I apologize, and then we became,


didn’t we, were almost forgotten, we were,

for only a moment though, therefore we could.

—Don Hymans


Don Hymans’s work has appeared in American Literary Review, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, Verse, and The Best American Poetry 1997. He most recently taught at Emerson College.

Originally published in the October/November 2002 issue of Boston Review

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