The Watchman of Ephraim

By Paul Hoover Paul Hoover

 The workman made it; therefore it is not God

Hear the word of the Lord,
ye children of Pittsburgh,
of Calistoga and Tlaquepaque,
ye hierophants and wishbones,
teraphim and household plants,
for I am a jealous God betrayed.

My lover, whom I uplifted,
has fallen to other affections.
Weep for her outcast state,
for I rescind her corn and her fields,
her appetites and her husbands,
her loom and the cloth of her weaving;
yea, as she sleeps in her bed,
I will crumble her idols of clay.

I will cause to burn in the night
her barns filled with swallows,
her caves of rodents and bats,
her racks of sidereal dresses,
her stacks of serpentine hats.

The velvet of her touch, once royal,
I will scarify with my wrath.
for I am a god betrayed; my love
has reached into my weakness
and turned my heart like a fist.

Therefore, I will strip her naked
and drive her into the field.
In her body of filth and feathers,
her blood of beasts and men, she is
my desolation and a forgotten name.

For my cosmos is contracted.
My first world slips from my hands.
Tell the people, my prophet Hosea,
that I loved her more than love,
and she gave not love in return.

My anger flattens and spreads
along the walls and windows.
It glances from my mirrors
and breaks the east wind’s bones.
I was a God of such strength
they could not guess my name.
And this woman of human warmth
suckled me like a child.

Now I dwell with the mole, blindly,
and my voice is thin as a gnat’s.
I grieve what grinds in me, heavily.
I am but a half note, half sung.

Source: Poetry (March 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2011
 Paul  Hoover


Poet, editor, and translator Paul Hoover is the author of over a dozen collections of poetry including, The Novel: A Poem (1991), Totem and Shadow: New & Selected Poems (1999), Winter (Mirror) (2002), Edge and Fold (2006), Sonnet 56 (2009) In Idiom and Earth (En el idioma y en la tierra) (2012), which was translated by María Baranda and published by Conaculta Press in Mexico, and desolation : souvenir (2012).  He has also . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Men & Women, Religion, The Spiritual, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Heartache & Loss


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