Jeff Hardin

A Poem Is a Way of Leaning outside the Self

I rub sleep from my eyes, stare through windows,
note the deer feeding, but let’s not exaggerate too much
how insignificance is the course of most lives, even mine.

One more day breaks open like those stones piled
near tree roots when I was seven.  I was convinced
great wealth lay somewhere in the dust smoothed away.

Some wrong turn years ago explains why two people
meet on the page, share the same thoughts for a while,
and then set about remaking the concept of time.

Just last week an owl stretched a field nearby
and then the one beyond that, and even these words
still following can’t reach where that silence sails on.

It helps to think Bach left a few notes unassembled
and that leaning a little outside myself, I catch how
they brighten cherry blooms and hold them aloft.


Jeff Hardin is the author of five collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary (Nicholas Roerich Prize); Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press Book Award); Restoring the Narrative (Donald Justice Prize); Small Revolution; and No Other Kind of World (X.J. Kennedy Prize). His sixth collection, A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, is forthcoming in 2019. The New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, and Southern Poetry Review have published his poems. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN. Visit his website at