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/ Two Poems

Two Poems

by Joseph Hardy

I Wish One Word

     of the 171,476 in the English language was useful 
in describing us: haphazard maybe, maybe destined,
unfolded like a leaf in spring, (the strength of which, 
opening, cannot be doubted),

peripatetic, a bumblebee’s flight, a damselfly’s dancing 
above water in sunlight, purposeful as a long line of ants 
toward food, or frantic as them carrying away eggs 
from an uncovered nest.

I do not mean to strand you in ambiguity, 
or cheer my own ignorance, or ask you 
to quote scripture, or remind me how often
I hide from unpleasant facts. 

I acknowledge the Sufi proverb: 
A pebble is small,
but what can you see
if you hold it in front of your eye?

And perhaps, if we cannot encompass our meaning, 
the only help is an odd tenderness 
toward ourselves, an unfounded trust 
in our imperfect knowing.


I’ve misunderstood the word “touchstone” for years, 
believed it was a talisman of comfort, not a test,  
something to hold on to, like a compass for a lost hiker, 
the spot a ballerina fixes her eyes upon 
as she spins. Mine was a mentor in my self-destructive years, 
an unlikely, bellowing, uncommonly generous man 
unsteady enough to drink himself to death.
He left a wife and three sons, but had held steady for me. 
It was an unresolved loneliness in him, I think, 
a lack of touch I sometimes feel in me, 
as though I cut myself loose from earth 
and have been falling upward ever since.

Joseph Hardy

About Joseph Hardy

Joseph Hardy is one of a handful of writers that live in Nashville, Tennessee, that does not play a musical instrument; although a friend once asked him to bring his harmonica on a camping trip so they could throw it in the fire. His wife says he cannot leave a room without finding out something about everyone in it, and telling her their stories later. His work has been published in: Gyroscope ReviewInlandiaPenultimate PeanutStructo, and the tiny journal among others. He is the author of a book of poetry published in August 2020, “The Only Light Coming In”. Find him at

Cold Mountain Review is published once a year in the Department of English at Appalachian State University. Support from Appalachian’s Office of Academic Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences enables CMR’s learning and publications program. The views and opinions expressed in CMR do not necessarily reflect those of university trustees, administration, faculty, students, or staff.