This Issue 5 logo was handset and printed at Signal-Return, Detroit

Holding Hands with the Tin Man and A Puzzle
Terry Blackhawk
Two poems

        You get enough weight on your back, you twist
                     and turn and pop something loose.
                            TV football commentator

She was paring apples
when she learned the dangers of bearing too much
weight on artificial turf.

Sometimes you twist and turn—
yes, she thought, as she peeled a skin
and gouged a core. How many times

had she sliced apples? How many
Dorothys have landed in Oz?
She wouldn’t mind holding hands

with the Tin Man—one video vision right now
seems as good as another. It’s the weight
you worry about, she thought

hefting the usual images: block, tackle,
knock your enemy before he
knocks you. Run free.

Her peelings fell tangled in the sink
as the crowd let fly its inevitable roar—
all those throats straining, echoing

from the screen, or in barrooms
where guys hoot, slap hands and grab
bottle after bottle of beer.

She knows a man drinks alone
until his rage spends itself
in sleep. No matter his little son

who wets the bed or stands
in a corner waiting to don
pads and armor, crash about.

And her brothers, so far away now,
who cold autumn evenings would hurl themselves
against one another—

how gracefully their young heads
bobbed on slender stems.
Under the helmets she could see

the exposed place
below the crew-cut stubble, a soft dent,
like a kiss, an offering.

What’s easy in leaving behind?
The vulnerable neck thickens
into meatiness. The knife

slips and cuts a thumb. And here
she yearns for that hollow man,
his heartfelt, heart-less grace.

The Dropped Hand(2nd edition) Lotus Press, 2012. Reprinted by permission.
        —after Rene Magritte’s “The Therapeutist”   

Maybe he lost his body
and they healed him
with a cage.

Maybe his questions dissolved
his brain.

Why is he called a survivor?

There is a brass drape
over the headless shoulder
and a bird who considers
             entering its cage.
How peacefully the breeze
must flow through him.

He has opened the cage
and that fuzzy bird, his heart,
sits on the ledge looking in.

The head has sunk below
his shoulders, while on the far wall
a weapon oozes blood.

He has left a space
for the answers to our questions.

He has left a space
for the whispers of children,
for belief in humanity,
for our chance to take a stand.

The hand rests calmly
on its walking stick.
The children still have questions.

Where do their gazes go?
Why doesn’t he have a body?
How can he smell the air?

The Dropped Hand(2nd edition) Lotus Press, 2012. Reprinted by permission.