{An Umbrella Special Feature}

R. Nemo Hill

is the author of an illustrated novel in collaboration with painter Jeanne Hedstrom, Pilgrim’s Feather (Quantuck Lane Press, 2002), a narrative poem based upon a short story by H.P. Lovecraft; The Strange Music of Erich Zann (Hippocampus Press, 2004); and a chapbook, Prolegomena to an Essay on Satire (Modern Metrics, 2006).

Editor of the independent poetry chapbook press, EXOT BOOKS, he has published his poetry, fiction, and photographs in various print and online journals, including Poetry, Smartish Pace, Soundzine, The Flea, and American Arts Quarterly. His travel blog is ELSEWHERE.

—Back to CSM Contents/Issue Links—

Reversing The Yeast No more—no more—oh never more, my heart,
Canst thou be my sole world, my universe!
Once all in all, but now a thing apart,
Thou canst not be my blessing or my curse.
The illusion’s gone forever, and thou art
Insensible, I trust, but none the worse.


I’m fresh out of the furnace! Turned about!
Heart smashed and broken! Garden dry and wilted!
My wine’s been spilled and soured! My fire’s out!
Illusions? Smudged, erased, soiled, bent, and tilted!
Rose-colored glasses? Cracked! The lenses have popped out!
My harbor’s been blockaded! My river’s silted!
Stained sheets have turned all my fond hopes to doubt
And make me drink too much when I go out.

And yet there’s been a funny alteration—
In me, or in what I once most desired.
Between me and my object of elation
A strange and haunting distance has conspired
To steal both satisfaction and frustration,
Marooning me, alone, and high and dry,
To watch the pageant from afar, and wonder
What happened to the lightning and the thunder.

All passion always seeks its own defeat.
The sad collapse is part of the gay game.
Exhaustion is its crown—one can’t delete
That final emptiness, or shift the blame.
It starts out lush, delicious, and so sweet;
Indifference soon makes each dish taste the same.
We grow lethargic after rich desserts,
As after moaning and a few good squirts.

Both field and farmer have completely changed
Since back when I set out to hoe the row.
It’s only fair that they be rearranged
To let all these new comers have a go.
The first act always looks a little strange
From deep within act two of the same show.
You criticize, young actors call you bitter.
You walk away, the old ones call you quitter.

And so I bitch and moan and keep my distance—
A bitter quitter better far than they
Who frolic unreflective, too persistent,
Like every other dog that has its day—
For that day wanes, it is resistant
To every dog’s attempts to make it stay.
And so I leaven each smile with a frown,
Reverse the yeast, and let the bread go down.


[Originally published in Iambs & Trochees.]