Paul Hostovsky, Molly Gaudry

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Paul Hostovsky's poems have won a Pushcart Prize, the Muriel Craft Bailey Award from the Comstock Review, and chapbook contests from Grayson Books, Riverstone Press, and the Frank Cat Press. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. His first full-length collection, Bending the Notes, is available from Main Street Rag. Visit his website at:

The Long Poem                                                                                 



Tall men in wheelchairs grow                                                            

famous, for having been tall—they’re still

tall, of course, but now they’re more like

people who were famous once

and no one remembers their fame, so they grow

smaller somehow. Sometimes you can tell

from their big hands or feet or orotund

voices that they were tall—that they are tall—

but it’s hard to remember because they’re always

sitting down now. No more standing ovations

for people who were famous once, I was thinking

on the fourth floor of Aspinwall, waiting

for Mr. Rodewald to come. He was late for class.

The class was called The Long Poem. It was the end

of the semester. We’d already read The Iliad,

Byron’s Don Juan, Wordsworth’s Prelude,

and Tennyson’s In Memorium. We were reading

The Loom by Robert Kelly now.  Kelly

was Rodewald’s friend and colleague. Kelly

was prolific and prodigious—6’4”,

300 pounds, with a beard that reached his testicles,

and twenty poetry collections under his belt

already by the time I was 18, a freshman

at Bard, and a little in love with Mr. Rodewald.

Great writers grow famous, but great readers

just keep reading quietly to themselves,

and sometimes aloud to others. Rodewald

was a great reader. And he liked to read to us

aloud at the beginning of class. First we’d hear

the elevator ding out in the hallway, then

he’d kick the door open with the battering ram

of his leg-rests, and park the wheelchair up front

at the long table, and put on the brakes, and remove

first one leather glove and then the other. Then

he’d sort of ruffle his long legs by lifting them

by the pant-leg, giving them a shake, and setting them down

the way birds will half-open their wings, then settle them

back in, tucking them in to get comfortable.

Then he’d take out his briefcase and open it

in his lap. And take out the book and open it

to the page—all this without saying a word

to us—not hi; hello; good morning; Laura, you’re

looking beautiful as ever—nothing. Then, finally,

he would begin to read. To us. And he’d go

a solid thirty or forty minutes, not saying

a word of his own, saying only the poem,

the poem that he’d been reading for longer

than we’d been living, relishing it like a meal

in front of us, like a man eating a great meal

all alone at a long table. I remember once

in the middle of Homer, someone drifted off

and started snoring softly, tricklingly…

Mr. Rodewald stopped reading, closed the book,

lifted it high above his head like a spear, took

aim—and sailed it across the room with bellying

pages, nailing the poor sleeper on the temple

and cheek, which blanched, and reddened, and trickled

a little blood. The stricken student sank

deep in his chair, terror in his eyes, then disappeared

out the door forever. Routed! Sing, Goddess,

the anger of Peleus’s son... Mr. Rodewald

was heroic. It was partly his short temper, partly

his short black beard, and partly his biceps

which were thigh-thick from pushing

and pulling his own  weight up and down our hillocky

campus. Always in my dreams he was standing,

walking. But in class he was Achilles, seated

in his chariot after great battle, or resting

in his tent after much fornicating. I suspected

he was fucking Laura Callahan, that beautiful

diffident sophomore whom I’d seen

getting into his car, a Buick Skylark, fitted

with hand controls for the brake and accelerator.

I imagined a tall man in a wheelchair

making love to a beautiful young woman

slowly, tenderly, intelligently. I imagined

the two of them using the wheelchair as a prop

in their lovemaking, the way two hungry lovers

in a kitchen might enlist a chair or table

or countertop, before ending up in the bedroom or

on the kitchen floor… But where was Rodewald now?

We’d been waiting on the fourth floor of Aspinwall

for twenty minutes. No elevator ding. No leg-rests

crashing through the door like the Achaians

in their strong greaves. I stepped out into the hallway,

took the elevator down to the ground floor,

and started down the path that led to the handicapped

parking area, though first it meandered between

the bookstore and theatre, past Buildings&Grounds

and Robert Kelly’s office with its big

bay window. And there was Rodewald, stuck

behind a red B&G truck parked

across his path. Someone had backed it up

to the loading dock of the theatre, where it stuck

way out. And he couldn’t pass. He was sitting there

reading. There was no one around—

no driver, no B&G guys, no students.

Just me and Rodewald and the truck

and the book. He looked up vaguely, asked me

if I knew how to drive a truck. I said sure

thing. Then I climbed up into the cab, and lo,

the key was in the ignition. There was a long

black stick-shift with a ball handle, and three

pedals on the floor. I remember wondering

what the third one was for. I looked out the window

at Rodewald smiling conspiratorially. I released

the emergency brake and the truck started to roll.

I put my foot on the clutch, which I assumed

was the brake. I was an English major on a roll. Kelly

was breathless from climbing his long poem. Rodewald

was hiking the book between his legs and going out

for the long one, the bomb. The crowd went wild

as the truck crashed into the wall and my head

hit the windshield—touchdown! Miraculously

I was unhurt, the truck was out of the way, and Rodewald

was laughing. He was laughing so hard that I thought

he might tip over. I wanted to laugh with him but

I couldn’t stop shaking, from the shock. And then

we were walking together, as in a dream,

back to The Long Poem, leaving the scene

of the accident for others who came after to interpret.


Molly Gaudry is a 2008 graduate of the University of Cincinnati's M.A. fiction program, You can find her work in Quick Fiction, PANK,, Night Train, elimae, Kartika Review (a journal featuring Asian American writers), and the anthologies, What Happened To Us These Last Couple Years? An Anthology of the Bush Years and Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2009. She is a co-founding editor of Twelve Stories, and works as an associate editor for Keyhole Magazine. Molly is also the editor of Willows Wept Review. Find her online at





A Letter, A Number, Some Punctuation: After Richard Garcia



In the air

there are six feathers.

Now seven

floating spirals and blue peacock shiny,

their long stems and black eyes whirl.

Between them, gravity heavy.



Nine years

this juggler worked her craft

to pay rent with others' linty change.

She hyperextended balances on stilts

wearing a bowler, a three-piece suit, a green silk tie.



A parenthetical within which

she thinks of last night's dance,

the girl who kissed her fingertips


in that sad saloon

their olives soaking in gin

her brown eyes reflecting neon light


as one by one she catches

feather after falling feather

and fingers sleight of nimble hand


beneath her right arm pulls

a purple lighter



scritch, a spark.

The feathers flame,

soar higher now,

leave trails of smoke

so black she thinks,

Will I see her again tonight?