the poetry that matters

Derek Henderson

Derek Henderson lives in Salt Lake City, UT. His work has appeared or will appear in Witness, CutBank, Black Warrior Review, The Journal, Puerto del Sol and VOLT. Inconsequentia, a book-length poem co-written with Derek Pollard, was recently published with BlazeVOX. Thus &, an erasure of Berrigan’s Sonnets, is forthcoming from If P Then Q Press.


In, across, into
thus the thought of firework:
the color of long flowers.

Street’s blueness and
the orange of roadwork
is starry fragility and an evening,
American street,
street of easy love.

A signal read across the flowers—
distraction and progression, the growth
and sleep of a street

and to hand a flower
a pyrotechnique, rested and on display,
indifferent to its climbing
against the grasping
of two even palms.

And to the east
across the street
a hydrant spilling water
beneath the bluing sky.


My pulse threads around a staccato center,
its lub-dub run into ramble and ricochet—
blood careens through vessels and the walls
of veins strain, thinned and limned with adrenaline.

Too much rapidity inside, outside—the room echoing
words back at me, my condemnation returning to me,
and eyeballs flung out at me, leaving me to dodge
their glassy blames:

            Two of the small, tight orbs sling past
            and through the window and roll into gray mist,
            and float down to leisurely slush.
            These my extracted eyeballs roll around
            in the gentle crush of half-frozen, half-granular ice.
            These my eyeballs bob in rivulets of runoff
            and skip below the herringboned water
            and take in such light there is through irises
            blue as cloudless sky; photons collect in rods and cones
            and convert to electric waves and trigger receptors—
            flesh and wave collude to create image—and I am
            the witness of effortless drift, of maundering eyeballs.

                        A pebble the color of fresh dough
                        ticks along the undersurface.

                        A twig sticks and stops
                        in a pile of slush along the bank.

                        An unfrozen stinkbug
                        with its legs curled up.

                                    I am adrift. My eyes are adrift.

Page from on inanitiation.

                                                                                                                                         Feb 27, 2011 Bookmark and Share