When We Learned This Truth by Edward Hack

When We Learned This Truth

It’s odd about the winter sun. Plain light.
No heat. That’s it. A bare bulb glow that’s weak
and white. A Harbor Freight shine barely bright.
Let’s say Ok, just competently bleak.
It doesn’t show what isn’t there, not one
pale shadow on the snow, no subtlety
of autumn’s fire, or spring’s delicious fun
with tones, or summer’s fierce intensities.
Today’s a room with primer on the walls,
one chair, a naked window like an eye
that cannot blink, a room where every flaw’s
an argument that says don’t even try
to wish for more, that’s not what winter’s for.
We learned this truth a long, long time before.

by Edward Hack

Editor’s Note: The opening lines of this sonnet emphasize the subject matter with perfectly short sentences; as if to say: this is the truth. Believe it.

Predawn, Winter by Edward Hack

Predawn, Winter

The predawn snow glows dull and dark, a snake
asleep against the bushes black with night,
tree skeletons, tall, twisted, bony shapes,
the sky a gray the opposite of light
a half tone lighter than the black. This is
an ancient time we feel deep in our bones
that have no memory of spring, the bliss
of warming sun. Our bones know we’re alone
with this, the dark and frozen time is here,
a nothingness come due, the slate wiped clean.
This is the reckoning, stripped down and clear,
the knuckled fact, the balanced beam.
Stay warm and understand. Stay close to fire.
This is the other side of all desire.

by Edward Hack

Editor’s Note: Chilling, clear imagery and perfect rhymes animate this sonnet beautifully. Maybe we should all stay inside the next time it snows, eh?

Caught Between by Edward Hack

Caught Between

Third train since 5am. The first one’s call
was loud and cracked the ice of night, the horn
a warning and an omen too that all
for which we don’t yet have a name is born
and on its way. We’re caught between the now
and then, and though the world is frozen cold
Time ticks its endless round through every how
and why and if, the questions that are old
as eyes that first saw weather change and knew
before words told the news that this is all
there is. We hunkered down near fire, lips blue
from cold, and huddled close before the fall
of day to stars, those silvered and indifferent lights
that glowed throughout the long and brutal nights.

by Edward Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet reminds the reader that humans are both mortal and fragile despite the seeming inevitability of each new train.

The Cost by Edward Hack

The Cost

The birds work all day long. No holidays,
no birds’-day-off, no time to read or write
a note to birds in other states, no way
to just relax, catch up on news, get tight
with dear old friends. Set free to roam the skies,
they do not roam but hunt familiar turf.
They aren’t free but starving all their lives;
instinctual, they live to scan their earth
for food from dawn to dark. What grace, their glides,
their arabesques. But truth to say, it’s all
to hunt, escape from predators, survive
to search again for food. We stare, enthralled—
imagination’s angels on their course—
then pause at the exaction of the cost.

by Edward Hack

Editor’s Note: This sonnet pointedly reminds us that there isn’t much difference between us and the birds, despite what our overgrown brains might think of their beauty.