The Poetry of Conrad Hilberry

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Conrad Hilberry

Learn more about Conrad Hilberry and his  work in our special feature, Talking to Conrad Hilberry.


The Savory Wheel

Conrad Hilberry


Cars, vans, motorbikes—traffic

east and west—then

a gap, a pause.


In this emptiness, a crow drops

to tear the sinews

of a flattened squirrel.






Eight friends sit at the table, salad

makes the rounds, forks lift rice

and pork. Words


season the meal. Then talk stops—

as though the evening

belongs to a past


that can never be retrieved.






The director drops his hands,

shakes his head. The choir

lets the phrase fall,







In Agios Nikolas, we climb three streets

to the garage where they rent

motor bikes. The salesman is skeptical.


Never ride? He checks with his boss.

Yourself, you drive around the block.

He shows me the kick to start it


and the gears. Elbowing traffic, I get

around and back. Marion hops on.

We’re Greeks


on the road to the Peloponnese.






I remember the wine—

and cambazola after the show,


two flavors aged, a wedge

from the savory wheel.






Outside, plenty of wind to open the hickory

leaves and the deep bloom

of the azalea.


But here, inside, nothing moves or mutters.

Emptiness is my spouse, attentive,

always ready.


While she lived, my love knew how

to nudge the silence.






Slab of salmon on the plate. Orange layers

loosen up, slide off

the rubbery skin. Tender,


still hot from the broiler. Could that fish

taste the lemon pepper

as it leapt beside the falls?






Through the screen I watch the past blow by

then find a corner under the stairs

where the future


never thinks to look. Here, out of time, I feel

a hand along my skin, fingers

that once


could empty out an hour, an afternoon,

a cluttered heart.



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