Heather McHugh

(20 August 1948 / San Diego, California)

Man in the Street or Hand Over Mouth Poem by Heather McHugh


He claps a hand
Across the gaping hole—

Or else the sight might
Well inside to

Melt the mind—if any
Thinking spoke

Were in the wheel,
Or any real

Fright-fragments broke
Out of the gorge to

Soak the breast, the meaning
Might incite a stroke—best

Press against it, close
The clawhole, stand

In stupor, petrified. The dream
Be damned, the deeps defied.

The hand’s to keep
The scream inside.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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