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Hermine D. Pinson

Years: 1999. 2003. 2007


Hermine Pinson has published three poetry collections:  ‘Ashe, Mama Yetta and Other Poems, and Dolores is Blue/Dolorez is Blues.  She also released a cd Changine the Changes, in special collaboration with Yusef Komunyakaa and Estella Conwill Majozo.  Her poetry, fiction, and critical essays have appeared in anthologies such as  African American Review Callaloo, Cave Canem Poetry Anthology, The Ringing Ear:  Black Poets Lean South, Common Bonds: Modern Stories by and about Texas Women, Konch, Melus, and Forum for European Contributions in African American Studies.  She recently co-edited a special issue of the literary journal Valley Voices on the life and work of poet Sterling Plumpp.  She has had fellowships at Cave Canem, Soul Mountain, Yaddo, Macdowell, Byrdcliffe Colony, Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  She is an associate professor at the College of William and Mary.


Left-Handed Poem


The left hand turns inward

then rises like an ominous

hump from the limp neck

of the wrist


when I am making a point

or begging to differ,

fingers and thumb poised

to pick up some subtle thing

beyond themselves.


Came out the womb that way,

left hand turned inward

hard against the heart,

transparent knuckes

but workers hands

like Papa Johnny's.


Came out that way and

almost broke my arm.

The doctor pushed me back in again

so I could come out      right.


In sleep the back of the hand

is half-closed against the sheets,

tending a dreamers chores or

guarding against some slight.


I used to play saxophone.

Now when I press fingers to keys,

the task is to reach through the

space on the page for some subtle thing.


Half-turning motion of pincers in the ocean.

At rest the left hand lies, a failed balletic exercise,

an invalid's carelessness,

a pulse,

a time signature, a womb's knowledge

of life's ceaseless motion.