Goodly the Sum

By Julie Hanson
Feature image: Dynamic Suprematism, 1915 or 1916 by Kazimir Malevich

We may intend well at the outset and persist
but much that happens
happens of its own accord.
We may awaken one day with but one bean left

but much that happens happens of its own accord.
You can set yourself right;
you can self-correct.
I have been changed greatly by things I have read.

And yet I don’t know how to do this simple thing:
lead another where it is best for me
for him to be. It happens sometimes, though,
mysteriously.

Maybe it’s a matter of pressure
or physics and moral equity, the combination
of any three things,
the planes are more aligned than we think.

When an explanation is provided, we don’t listen.
The mind will stop attending if it can.
I thought Algebra all those years ago
an exercise in patience;

little did I know that there’s a math
for each of us. For what was the present,
it was toil and struggle, try as one may,
try as one might,

the engine is flooded: variables
and integers, parentheses and coefficients . . .
and when I wondered why
the impact of History was outside of this,

Algebra gazed back at me, detached.
Surely there is no one left on Earth
who doesn’t love Bob Dylan, yet it’s possible that status
may not last. The mind will stop—

will stop attending if it can, and that’s got to be a problem
compounded by the plenitude of spam.
I received my first Christian case of such
on one February 26.

Of course I did not open it,
subject line, Hello Dearest in Christ,
from 57-year-old widow, Sara Thomas.
Must we reconcile ourselves to salesmanship

at every turn? It seems so, yes:
what comes along and what floats up
is meant for each of us, the little ☒
for getting rid of it provided less and less.

Acceptance, Acceptance,
I want a different day than this.
Providence, please put it down; let go of it.
Much that happens to us might have been resisted.

Hackers and infiltrates, my phone is off
the hook, my receiver denies you—
you, and the innocents who as a consequence
are collaterally ignored. I am sorry

for this, that I harden my heart,
but much that happens happens of its own accord.
I have hardened my heart.
It seems so, yes.

Dry as a bean in a brown paper sack.


Julie Hanson’s collections are The Audible and the Evident, winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, (Ohio University Press, February 2020) and Unbeknownst (University of Iowa Press, 2011), Iowa Poetry Prize winner, and 2012 Kate Tufts Discovery Award finalist. Her poetry has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Vermont Studio Center, recent and forthcoming publication in Plume, Bat City Review, The Literary Review, and Copper Nickel.

Feature image: Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1978. Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported), Photo © Tate.

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