Zachary Howatt



Imagine Heaven (whatever it is) like a hammer:
    To fix all this shabbiness,
    To bust the comrades out of cages,
    To build the idyllic home,
    To nail your feet to all the answers—
    Heaven. Not a place, but a tool.

I heard the crack of a driving hammer—
    Distant, but certainly a hammer—
    And I deflated, relieved,
    My tension unbinding my shoulders,
    Relaxing like silk blue ribbons—
    Salvation came for one of us!

I lied. I heard nothing. I feel the same.

I mean, imagine. This tool, who could wield it?
Is Heaven’s power to save the same
If it can’t swing itself? Must I do it?
In human hands, isn’t Heaven a hazard
To mishandle? To injure oneself, the desperate?

See, I can’t think of Heaven without maligning it.
Even a secular Heaven—earthly, tactile,
Something I could find here—
I doubt it like the one in the sky,
A happiness I can’t keep tabs on,
Bound out of reach by despair,
Dancing in the corners of my eyes,
Never there when I turn to look.

These hands obey a brain that can’t believe.
So Hope, wherever you are, you devil,
Drive me out of my head for one night at least,
And I’ll give you a year of my life
For each minute of freedom that follows.
Give me that, please, and tremble to imagine
The beautiful things these hands would do.

Since the days before he could read, Zachary Howatt knew he loved stories. Telling them has since been his passion. In addition to poetry, he has written numerous short stories. He is currently working on his first novel, “Fissure,” a thriller that explores a dark blight of jealousy and revenge stemming from several stories within stories. He lives in Fargo and isn’t sure why.