Hal Zina Bennett

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First Light, Then Quiet

Collected poems of the author between 1998 and 2002

By Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D

Published by Tenacity Press, 71 pages, ISBN 1-892193-07-8

Cover photo of Northern Lighthouse at Grand Island, Michigan by Jack Deo

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Lyrical, at times mystical, these poems cover the human spectrum-from the mystery of life and death, to compassion for our enemies, to ruthlessness towards those we love.

Hal dares entertain lofty as well as ignoble themes, ones that have been around for as long as human yearning, summoning us back to our own humanness.

Areas of Interest


"Today I sat and read your poetry--so delicious, so deep, so divinely you--and with perhaps the best intro I have ever read. I sit and luxuriate in your brilliance..."

 ~Gabrielle Roth, philosopher, dramatic director, author of Sweat Your Prayers


"I have spent two absolutely exquisite evenings reading your poetry...from the introduction which galvanized me utterly--a powerful, alive, riveting voice which sets a historical and stylistic context--right through to the end-poem by your son. I felt as if I had been invited inside your skin to view the world, to feel it with all my senses...such a masculine voice and point of view...an education to me, really, and still this powerful quality of rejecting the cultural mask, offering something richer. I struggle with how to write a blurb that does you justice."

~Ann Hillman, author of The Dancing Animal Woman, and teacher of Mining Your Life for Meaning

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On The Valley Road

9:42 A.M.

The slow eyes of a doe
grazing in the apple orchard
follow the long black Tomcat,
tight and lean, stalking mice
over the manicured lawn, not a
dandelion in sight. On the road
separating doe and cat, crows
cherish a gray squirrel, grateful
for its gift, watchful for cars.
12:17 A.M.
The young woman, breasts
jiggling under a light blue
T-shirt advertising Red Hawk
beer, jogs across the road
to the hens, housed in wire,
safe from possums and 'coons;
they cackle greetings. She
scatters corn in their yard,
ducks into their coop,
emerging minutes later
with the front of her shirt
lifted up, cradling seven
brown eggs; her strong naked
belly, exposed to the midday
sun, has started to turn round,
a globe holding her first child.
3:23 P.M.
A black bear chaperons two cubs
who sniff the air, distracted by
distant roasting pork; their claws
excavate white grubs from a
rot-softened stump. Though miles
from the road and the small green
house, they are tempted by the smells
they do not even know come
from the tidy kitchen of the woman
who gathers eggs; curious, playful,
they strain to pursue dangers the
wiser sow disdains; from habit,
she seeks solitude and the peace
of trees where cool silvering
moons glaze limbs and leaves with
secrets only certain bears know.
6:38 P.M.
The man has returned, groaning
with stories of work, seeking
praise for sacrifices, like knuckles
broken when wrenches slip
from rusty bolts, grease and
decaying iron stained with his
spilled blood. He does not tell
her the details; she does not want
to know this dark, cruel world
dominated by iron and oil
that he inhabits during the day.
She watches as he slices the
hot supple roast, moist, tender,
slips the platter in her direction
and absently scoops potatoes
from the ivory glazed bowl,
decorated with tiny painted roses.
"Do you think Dad will be okay?"
he asks. He worries. She answers,
"I prayed for him today." Nodding,
he turns his eyes downward to
his waiting plate, unconvinced,
his knife hesitant, tip high, poised.
11:27 P.M.
She lies awake, thighs still wet
with his hurried sex, memories
of his hardness still fresh. She
waits until he snores to rise
from bed and bathe her nest.
She dons his warm woolen shirt
and with rolled up sleeves tiptoes
to the kitchen. Sitting at the table,
her naked butt itchy from the
long tail of his shirt, she makes
a list, thinking of the child.
She has made many lists, maybe
a dozen or more. "Will there
ever be enough?" She scrawls two
words at the top of the paper:
"Baby List." It's as far as she gets,
She wonders what questions to ask.
6:19 A.M.
Tips of trees warm on eastern hills
as the Earth leans toward her sun;
fresh branches, promising buds, turn
to the heat, as if to welcome life.
The rooster across the road
from the small green house, cranes
his neck toward the hills, calling,
calling, perhaps knowing with
perfect wisdom his part in the plan.
One white hen lifts gingerly from
her nest, leaving behind a
metaphysical puzzle; the first egg
of the day lays warm in the straw
as the woman who will collect it
starts coffee for her husband
and goes out to feed the cat.~
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All articles and images in this website are copyrighted by Hal Zina Bennett 2003-2010.  Written permission must be obtained before use of articles and images. Last modified: February 04, 2010