Michael Derrick Hudson


Michael Derrick Hudson lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His poems have appeared in Columbia, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Iowa Review, North American Review, New Letters, Washington Square, and other journals. He won the River Styx 2009 International Poetry Contest, the Madison Review’s 2009 Phyllis Smart Young Prize, and the 2010 and 2013 New Ohio Review Prize for Poetry. In 2011 one of his poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Greensboro Review.

Scale Model of a World War II Airplane

When you’re thirteen, an old man’s face has a Wild West look,
the site of unimaginable extinctions and ancient

trackless massacres, dried-out arroyos and gulches carved

into the moon-white silica. You grow accustomed, however,
to the pity and the waste of it, to the fact this

catastrophe is so obviously not me. So before it was too late,
one Sunday I helped him put together a Nazi

Stuka dive bomber, just like one he said he saw flying futile
late-war missions over Luxembourg or Belgium

or somewhere else. Not a good plane, he told me, we swatted

‘em like flies. The news that he was dying had finally come
to bore me a little, in that heartless, guilty way

of the well-meaning young. So that’s what I did in order to be
a good boy: an old man’s afternoon dutifully

obliterated. We made a mess, what with my impatience
and his Parkinson’s, splayed-out landing gear and a gummed-

over canopy. The tiny pilot and his pitiless machine-gunner

we managed to blob for eternity into the cockpit
while I affixed the decals: tiny black crosses for the wings and

wadded-up snarls of tiny, meaningless swastikas for the rudder.

The young clear old things (and people) out for their own time and place. What choice do they have? Even the most ‘well-meaning’ find themselves missing the point of history, or even getting bored by it. ‘Scale Model of a World War II Airplane’ is a riff on how history sometimes gets obliterated under benign, even affectionate circumstances.

Second Week of April Three Days after My Prescription Ran Out

Just released by the robin I spooked, a dying earthworm gives a feeble wave
crooked heartbreakingly like a miniature somebody’s tiny

pink naked broken arm from the middle of Berry Street. The sun cooks us
both out of our broth while everything else yammers

and flits, sprouts and photosynthesizes, territorializes, incubates and ruts –

such rabid dogmatists! Sparrows go on like sophomore business majors
brown as briefcases, inflating resumes and exaggerating

their credentials over lunch. Amplexus and ejaculations! Crazy fifing and

thrums down at Frog Pond. Even this year’s first swirling cloud of gnats
looks purposeful, a fist-sized bolus of resolute will and

untoward success. I stride through them with a stiff-kneed late-Jurassic gait
and crave to snap them up with the crumbling yellow ivory

of my fossilized jaws. I glance at my wristwatch. Squirrels scuttle outraged
along the trunk of a dogwood in sexually melodramatic

chattering lunges. It’s the triumph of the bushy-tailed! The decline and fall

of the saurians! Today it’s just me and the blistered, the caught and the half-
eaten. Today it’s just me and the worm, baby.

I love springtime in the helpless way many people do, I suppose. But the older I get the less able I am to rise to the challenge, a failure I tried to demonstrate in ‘Second Week of April Three Days after My Prescription Ran Out.’ I was also trying to poke fun at Man vs. Nature thinking and all the self-dramatizations and unintentionally funny grandiosity such thinking can lead to. Here the Nature Channel pomposity of ‘photosynthesizes, territorializes’ bangs against ‘ruts’ while ‘Amplexus’ contends with ‘crazy fifing and thrums down at Frog Pond.’