From The Courtyard - Alec Hershman

As a way of entering a room
say no to the amplified leaves,
to the eyes that land as they do
on the verdigrised tray of a cupid
serving up a bath of starlings
to a pond of koi, and all God’s creatures
going round from the dizzy casting
of neurosis, and of wind
just as prone to being round
as the other birds bathing in dirt,
or the squirrel curled in gluttony,
alive inside the room of itself.



I wrote this poem on my first night in an artist’s residency in Nebraska City. I was alone in a spacious room that had sliding glass doors that led to a small courtyard. Since it was winter and also dark out, I couldn’t see clearly what was happening so I imagined some things—the koi, the cupid. In fact, now I can’t even recall whether there was really a pond there—I think I may have made this up too. But whatever was or wasn’t actually in it, it was the courtyard—the notion of it—that held my attention during those first few hours in a new place. This is the poem that resulted, my first poem of 2011, the one that helped me break the crust on my lovely quiet weeks there.





Alec Hershman lives in St. Louis where he teaches at The Stevens Institute of Business and Arts and at Florissant Valley Community College. He has received awards from The Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, and Ananda College. Other poems of his appear in Cream City ReviewHarpur PalateThe PuritanYemasseeBarnstormThe FiddleheadVinyl Poetry, and Colorado Review.