Spring/Fall 2020

In The Night

By Patrick Cabello Hansel

You are standing
by the anti-aircraft gun
longing for a smoke
even your eyes are painted black
and your hands don’t know each other
you can’t talk to your buddy
leaning into his sleep
his nose drips slow
and you want
to wipe it

To whom it may concern:
there is night behind the night
that has its voice cut off
there are sounds the ear
should not hear
there is a man who will come back
with a wound in his spine
and order it around
like a blind beggar
through his days

How many boys
who grew up speaking German
in their farm homes
now launch missiles
into the cities of their distant cousins
by the symphonies of air war
bodies leave the ground
and begin the long, steep climb to heaven

To my loving family
my sister in California
my brother farming the land
my father sitting by himself
and smoking I have seen
the end of the world
and it scorches my tongue
pray for me, now
and at the hour of my return

In the night
you stand, hands in pockets
dreaming of home, draft horses, music
one decade from my birth
and one ocean lost
to the east, the sun has begun
to peal itself back to the world
a man in a tombstone cap
speaks orders into a radio
the dark drones pass overhead
and the big guns
the ones you’ve given names to
open wide their terrible mouths.


Weary of war,
weary of forgiveness,
you lie on your broken back
in a British hospital and stare
at flies landing on your sheet.
You have one hand on your rosary
twirling the decades by,
and one on your missing gun.
You would shoot yourself
out of 1945, out of Europe,
back to Cavalier County
and its morning furrows.
From the bell tower
of the army hospital,
skin rich pigeons sing.
It is their plaint you hear,
an Ave Maria
of gravel and feathers.
Everyone who holds
your apology
twirls a ghost
around the cupola
of the hospital chapel.
Rest, father.
One day your back
will shovel the words out.
The eyes of your dead,
the eyes yet to come,
will open like broken wings.

Patrick Cabello Hansel

Patrick Cabello Hansel is the author of the poetry collection The Devouring Land (Main Street Rag Publishing). He has published poems and prose in over 50 journals, including Hawai’i Pacific ReviewIlanot ReviewLunch Ticket, and Ash and Bones. He has received awards from the Loft Literary Center and MN State Arts Board, and his poem “Quitting Time” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is the editor of The Phoenix of Phillips, a literary journal for and by the people of the most diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis. He blogs about his passion for beauty and justice at www.spiritwound.blogspot.com

View the website of Patrick Cabello Hansel

Spring/Fall 2020