Today's poetry for today's world

Henry Hughes


Henry Hughes grew up on Long Island, New York, and he has lived in Oregon since 2002, teaching at Western Oregon University.  His poems have appeared in Antioch ReviewCarolina Quarterly, Malahat Review, Southern Humanities Review, Seattle Review, and Poetry Northwest.  They are also represented in several anthologies including Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets published by Oregon State University Press.  His first collection, Men Holding Eggs, received the 2004 Oregon Book Award.  His second book, Moist Meridian, is a finalist for the 2011 Oregon Book Award.  He is the editor of the anthology, The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing, and his commentary on new poetry appears regularly in Harvard Review.






Click on the cover to buy Moist Meridian.








Too dark to retie,

they walk fishless over the bridge,

break-down rods and unboot

for the dry drive home.

Oh well, one man says.  That's fishing.

The other doesn't want to talk.  There's a barbecue tomorrow.

If you catch something, she said.  That'd be wonderful.


Following headlights, he feels again

                                  that strike behind the stone--

            cherry-blushed chrome, leapsilver and dive.

Then gone.  Canyon pouring river,

swallows spading air.  The trees shrug

as if nothing happened.


In a hole deeper than sleep,

             the steelhead

                                 undulates fragrance and flow,

                                                                      nudging forward--

three thousand orangey eggs

in her bright sleeve.




from Moist Meridian (Mammoth Books 2009)




Click on the cover to buy Men Holding Eggs.








He's calling down the geese,

my uncle, low in the gray hull.

His face billows with blowing

through a wooden throat

a note all December, all bird.

He's blind.  Once a savage—

beating his wife on Christmas.

I know that, watching him

listen downwind.  He smiles, suddenly,

holding my arm to be still.  Be still.

I forgive.  I love this moment.

He's calling down the geese,

the gander's ear, its memory,

breath drawn across the bony reeds.




from Men Holding Eggs (Mammoth Books 2004)






               The slippery dick (Halichoeres bivittatus), a charming,

               missile-shaped fish of the Florida coast, can change its sex  

                                                      —Robin Milton Love, ichthyologist


It’s no Moby, my friends,

just some shrimp sucking

Pensacola player,

layered in cream

and shaking that purple stripe

all over June’s

new moon, reef tide



Going great lengths to breed,

they’ll even flip their sex.  Though the terminal male

gets the best tail.

If you’re gonna mate, old professor Love joked, 

don’t do it half-wrasse.


That’s just like Love

to humor necessity. 

This dick reaches 12 inches, guidebooks say.

But most, Love admits, are only

half that size.




from Moist Meridian (Mammoth Books 2009)




Writer's Tip: People talk about being writers, dream like writers, travel like writers,

party like writers, but don't write much.  We need experiences, sure.  But the writers

are home writing.   




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