Curt Hopkins, "Letters to David Berman and John Hodgman"

by Mark Bibbins, Editor

First Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman

Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,

In Bulawayo the bon-bon trees laugh and dance and smile in the happy giggle sunshine pavilion as the candy corn fields blush and bloom.

In the late afternoon, school teachers in white paper cones decorate the white paper cones they’re wearing with potato prints of cornflowers stained with oolong flavorings.

I sit nearby pretending not to notice.

Would it surprise you to know I wore a barely discernible worldly half-smile?

I installed a park bench out in the bush beneath an acacia tree boiling with black leather squirrels the size of Jots and squinted my eyes, imagining the jacaranda and bougainvillea flowering around the villa I was planning to have come into being.

The Shona hate my guts but the Ndebele think I’m delightful. I was surprised by this. I thought it would be the other way around.

Once in East Germany, when it was still East Germany, a guy who worked for the state archive physical plant punched me in the head for opening my pop-up book of astronauts in the pinte. He said it insulted the workers.

I rubbed my scalp and said, “I’m a friend of the revolution.”

Curt Hopkins

Second Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman

Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,

It all started when I couldn’t shave the Cuban.
A note to Barney’s landlady. Scatology ensues.
As it often does in situations like these.
“As your family celebrates Christmas beneath me.”
(No offense, but what happened happened.)

I’m a Wilsonian absurdist.
I believe that American military power should be reserved
Only for moments of profound creative anxiety
Or when an orchestra flies sideways out an airlock.

Stopping doing, not taking, releasing ladies
Down the fish floating off the fire curtains.

Curt Hopkins

Third Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman

Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,

I can’t wait for the human race to stop being.
I have to go on about my day.

The hose that pipes the pain away
Here implies a penmanship of squalor.

This hampered signature is the symptom of some great illness in me.
I used to have such good handwriting. What happened to me?

I thought that I had gotten old
Until a baby unfolded in a flower in a daydream I was having.

And a 70-year-old guy in a coffee shop
Talked to me about the legacy of slavery.

To my surprise it was an agreeable conversation
And I found the topic interesting.

“Dave was a spinach carpenter by trade…”
Never talk about the death of a loved one on the radio.

Curt Hopkins

Final Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman

Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,

I photographed some bees through a glass of beer
While my cat listened to the Cocteau Twins.
It’s a poor thing to be master of the world
With all its borrowed gods.

I recited “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
To a Gypsy and a Finnish Jew in the Primer Puente.
Afterward, we put our heads together
And invented Spanish.

Retail signage cuts to flashbacks:
Activist chicks with moustaches
(Their hands are mannish but their hips are not),
Where we met was a splashing crack.

A hard object in the fog changed my life.

Curt Hopkins

Curt Hopkins has been published by 3AM, nthposition, the Cavafy Forum and Exquisite Corpse, and has written journalism for the Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek and BBC Future. He lives in Oregon with a nice young lady from a good family.

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