link to email
2006 National Book Award Finalist, Poetry
Share |

Photo credit: Nancy M. Stuart
H.L. Hix
Etruscan Press

About the Book
The three sequences of poems in Chromatic explore the full range of effects caused by human desire, from ecstasy to suffering.

About the Author
H.L. Hix has published numerous books of prose and collections of poetry. Recent titles include As Easy As Lying: Essays on Poetry (2004), the anthology Wild and Whirling Words (2004), and the collection Shadows of Houses (2005), all published by Etruscan Press. He teaches at the University of Wyoming.

Suggested Links

Ploughshares articles by Hix.

Excerpted From Chromatic by H. L. Hix
All Rights Reserved

Prelude and Fugue No. 2 in C minor

My cold dark salty desire: schools of krill spilled silver from light to light: whales jailing krill in bubbles before bursting on them from below: invisible algae and plankton suffusing the whole: seaweed waving goodbye goodbye: jellyfish these floating moons morsing your name here where it cannot be spoken: sperm whale fighting squid to the death far below any light: penguins sliding off ice into might as well be: elephant seals swimming deeper than radio signals can sink goodbye goodbye: orcas close to ice cruising for antarctic cod: cephalopods signalling complex codes of color and gesture: crinoids fanning for algae in eerie light beneath the ice: swollen tubeworms swaying over volcanic vents: luminous fish as far below day as stars stay above it: orcas bobbing up to peer across the ice then sending signals with their intricate exhalations.

he asked me and I said no which was a half-truth
half a truth was all I had all love left me
I am myself a half-truth now whatever I was before
whatever I was when I thought I never lied
before I learned I always had lied to him and to myself
before I learned love itself is only half a truth
before I learned there are no whole truths
nothing that guileful god flaw has not fondled
of our ascertainings our words our bodies
before I knew I didn’t want the truth
not because I couldn’t bear it I can’t bear what I am now
but because the me who thought she was telling the truth
also thought she could be satisfied
and this me can’t bear the half-self love left me
after it asked what it asked and I said no


Poetry Books:

  • Shadows of Houses. Etruscan Press (2005).
  • Surely As Birds Fly. Truman State University Press (2002).
  • Rational Numbers. Truman State University Press (2000).
  • Perfect Hell. Gibbs Smith (1996).


  • On the Way Home: An Anthology of Contemporary Estonian Poetry. Translated with Jüri Talvet. Sarup & Sons (forthcoming 2006).
  • A Call for Cultural Symbiosis: Meditations from U. Jüri Talvet. Guernica Editions (2004).
    City of Ash. Eugenijus Ališanka. Northwestern University Press (2000).

Prose Books:

  • As Easy As Lying: Essays on Poetry. Etruscan Press (2002).
  • Understanding William H. Gass. University of South Carolina Press (2002).
  • Understanding W.S. Merwin. University of South Carolina Press (1997).
  • Spirits Hovering Over the Ashes. SUNY Press (1995).
  • Morte d'Author: An Autopsy. Temple University Press (1990).

Edited Books:

  • Wild and Whirling Words. Etruscan Press (2004).
  • A Casebook on The Tunnel. Web-published, Dalkey Archive (2000).
  • Poets At Large: 25 Poets in 25 Homes. Helicon Nine (1997).


Copyright © 2007 National Book Foundation. Privacy Policy