Praise be unto the alchemical
Canadians for turning HAZARDOUS
GOODS; you drove that day three
years ago, and I sat beside you, thrilled
by the sign. And it was too easy to think
of you while I drove alone last spring
across the country, and the abstraction
"ontology" ambushed me in Dunkirk,
New York at Demitri's Greek Restaurant
as I sat eating alone, and the power plant
loomed outside on Lake Erie. In the gloaming
birds wheeled as the lights came on tragically,
and carve a pumpkin with abstraction all I could
think to do, and the ontology of jack-o-lanterns
came to me, a little comforting—to be
enlightened or to be benighted, and the Prince
of Denmark arrived with Jack, and reminded
me of my Fortenbras-father, a man of action
in our hometown, and me out in the world
contemplating the being of jack-o-lanterns,
which haunts me half a year later as I am
away from you again.

About the Poet

Sean Hill is the author of Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (UGA Press, 2008). His awards include fellowships from Cave Canem, The MacDowell Colony, the University of Wisconsin, and a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Ploughshares, DIAGRAM, Tin House, and numerous journals, and in several anthologies including Black Nature. He lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. More information, as well as poems, can be found at