Jil Hanifanjil hanifan has been a contributor to the arts and poetry scene in albany for two decades. A regular member of the “EveryOtherTuesday” poetry workshop, she has read locally at such events as “Readings Against the End of the World,” “Poets Action Against Aids,” and more recently, “Fire and Ice” and “Voices and Bells.” Her simultenaity, “Hangar Round” is part of the group installation “Words in Transit” currently on display at the Albany International Airport, and a chapbook, “weathergirl: the wind rose” was published by TA’wil Press in Albany. She is currently the Director of the Writing Center at SUNY at Albany.

POEMS

 

A LIAR

did i do you wrong?

bing!
a liar
why does the little girl lie because she is a wrong little girl
because she wants something
because she doesn’t want something
because she’s afraid
because she’s afraid
because she’s ashamed

a liar

needs a question any shape incautiously
answered could prick a leak how
was your day what
did you say what what
whatdidyousay
liar
basically
a question of desperation
since i was a kid
words of unmaking and remaking
dazzling my perceptions
my memory
how the right words might
make it all
right

i confess i misremember
what really happens
i suspect i never really know
each half of a conversation
fading throbbing changing words
immediately like a retinal burn
a darkly radiant silhouette
what did you say?
i misremember

this poet is a liar

stupified by catastrophe
squinting astigmatic
against a hard wind i just can’t
ever make it out
hopeless
couldn’t see truth in the mess of
recollection
to save my life
a kind of colorblindness like i just can’t
see the red in the traffic light that means
what really happened
my lies are desperate guesses
doomed magic
something to hold onto as something crashes
a capacity for self
deception
and selfish love

 

LUISA SAID I SAW A GHOST

the best i can do is peer through
the storms
picture her tapdancing
in the kitchen her face
opening her gifts last christmas
through thick clouds rolling as childhood
unwinds
like a blizzard darkens the sky
with fists of snow
across long deep drifts
what can you do but lay down your heart and rest
keep moving push
memories unreeling snows
soft whispering weight

her dying
blasting out across the windshield like
blowing snow always head on
shoveled
like a maniac the big blizzard of sixty-four cleared
a driveway drifted high as her chin

i never knew
just what i’d remember
after
climbing
a ridge one bright morning finding
a grove of dwarf trees brilliant with ice
i forget so much
minutes and impressions and even words
sifting into radiant white hills
snowblind looking for a lost key

 

PRINT

i.

bloodred plate

ii

woodblock cut and inked
brazen with thick color

pressed to a blanket of paper
so the fine calligraphy of scars

marks a textured
sheet

iii

swapped left to right
not the line but the line the line leaves
otherhanded

iv

i leaned close over the page
tracing light as dark shape
to transfer to the block
how would it look
without its shadings?

v

twenty interesting failures kept
in a folder by the bench
and this one?

vi

inked bloodshadows and empty space

vii

i drink coffee at the bench
inks and wet rollers pushed
back a stack of proofs pulled

a progression the woodcut
carved corrected in stages
tested black on white until

i’m moved to color and
richer paper

viii

brightflash stamps a redburn
afterimage on the eye that slowly
fades yes paper lays
atop the woodblock

her back to you while you
burnish her back thoroughly
press her to the ink slowly peel
a corner back

ix

spread to dry

x

of many one
astonishes how the
toolmarks printed how
the farcorner too lightly
inked looks overexposed
i stare for hours

xi

proof