Gerry Hammond

Dr. Geraldine Hammond was one of the English teachers at the University of Wichita that the group connected with. Most of us took one or another of the classes that she taught, but we all felt free to take up literary and philosophical issues with her and to give her our work to critique. We did not know until we started publishing The Literary Review that she also wrote poetry. Many years later, I came across a copy of a book that she had put out on mimeograph in 1951 – during the time we were at WU. The book, blinded by the stars, was a limited edition of fifty copies. The following poems are a selection from this volume.

to whatever you

you and I are locked in our
significant wish to be friends
I can deny Christ, but not you
for I am created in your image
and only by a turning back
can I deny it

whatever word you say
and do not say
I recognize —
it is my silence
and my song

unless you take my hand
we will not travel


what do you love that you have lost

and the white wind whispering
in the corners?

I could love you better if I knew

even the nameless rattling
in the gold clean grain

one of us must know

to pull the wall in
trample on the small black nibblings

time is the place

time is the place where history
divides itself to multiplicity
roaring prophecy of war and death
and little daily sinnings
it is a trick of splitting up the past
to shine at us like many mirrors
we must imitate and hide behind

do not listen        do not look
for when these echoes shall not rattle
in the chambered caves
silence like a sword will pierce
the multi-hearted darkness
and we hear
not ancient song but one voice only
out of the simple Now


these are the tall white ladies

who weave grasses in the hair
and sing quick bird-notes
with their finger-tips

these are the shells that mark the edge

of wave-reach
and then to only here

hand beneath the back lifts breast

the nourisher that sea-weed
sways beneath where life was born
under the bend of love

the late-come

seeing now the skies
forgets the cold sweet deep
of generation


the green sea rises
glittering at the eyes
and beats in the city-brain
on shores of pavement where

I walk in footprints
that the sand received of you
(what is Existence now the bird
has flung his shadow from the sky
in double flight
of being and projecting?)

the wet rock gleams and disappears
my hand is at the door
a long wave cracks
exploding spray
to sun-sparks suddenly while

fog hangs soft on tree-points
in the harbor’s curving arm
tender tender for the weeping time and

bright with their return
run eagerly beneath the wave

overnight coach

it is a strange world
I cannot hear what you say
splitting as we are the very dark

morning follows in our wake
speak louder

the westward tracks lead
and we follow
cutting miles from numbers
gaining no victory
for what we leave
is here

speak louder
that I may forget
for now


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