Andrew Hudgins


After the Wilderness

When Clifford wasn’ t back to camp by nine,
I went to look among the fields of dead
before we lost him to a common grave.
But I kept tripping over living men
and had to stop and carry them to help
or carry them until they died,
which happened more than once upon my back.
And I got angry with those men because


Half  awake, I was imagining
a friend’ s young lover, her ash blonde hair, the smooth
taut skin of  twenty. I imagined her
short legs and dimpled knees.
The door scraped open,
but eyes closed, I saw nothing. The mattress sagged.
She laid her head on my chest, and murmured love
against my throat, almost humming, approaching song,
so palpable I could hold her only chastely,
if  this was chaste. I couldn’ t move my hand

Child on the Marsh

I worked the river’ s slick banks, grabbling
in mud holes underneath tree roots.
You’ d think it would be dangerous,
but I never came up with a cooter
or cottonmouth hung on my fingertips.
Occasionally, though, I leapt upright,
my fingers hooked through the red gills
of a mudcat. And then I thrilled
the thrill my father felt when he

Grand Expensive Vista

As we sipped and mingled,
with oldfangled
canapés and beguiled,
or entertained at least, by gargled
oldies, I disengaged
and angled
across grass tenderly groomed,
past where electric tiki torches gleamed,
and, alone, gazed,
now truly beguiled,
at my hosts’ grand
expensive vista, mortgaged,
yes, and, yes, remortgaged.
A low gold
moon glowed
against a plush black sky gauzed,
even filigreed,
with stars. Gowned
in old-growth oaks glazed

The Imagined Copperhead

Without intending to hide,
the imagined copperhead
hid on the path ahead,
unseen on bronze leaves, unheard,
and a mortal likelihood
at every step. This was childhood,
mine, the wood’ s jihad
against a boy who’ d
intruded among monkshood,
wasp, tick, and nettles haired
with needles. Scrub brush abhorred
him with a horde
of  welts, bites, and stings, but he’ d
never seen a copperhead,
though he’ d looked hard