Recent Work By Elizabeth Hazen

jane's pic of liz


Why Chaos Theories? What is the significance of the title?

Many tenets from chaos theory appear in these poems. After reading a little bit about it, I became obsessed with the way in which chaos is actually a type of order. This contradiction continues to fascinate me and seems an apt metaphor for human emotions and relationships, and maybe even a metaphor for the writing process – or at least my process: through my poems I attempt to force order onto the disorder of the world. Plus I love all of the scientific language: strange attractors, bifurcations, butterfly effect, turbulence, dynamic systems, sensitivity to initial conditions, and on and on… There is so much gorgeous language to mine.

One can’t predict what happens next, yet even
chaos breeds patterns of a sort: sly singles

at the bar, nocturnal creatures stalking shadows,
cars cruising for motion’s sake. I’m speaking out

of turn again. We all are sensitive
to first impressions, but initial conditions

shift swiftly and with little impetus.
I found him digging ditches in summer heat,

and soon we’d made declarations, smiled broadly
for photographs. It wasn’t meant to be


By Elizabeth Hazen


The hallway to your father’s closet lengthens

like the hallway in a horror flick, and already

breathless at the threshold, you inhale the musky-

raw smells of tweed and leather that will settle

in your hair, so hours later you will think

of the closet, of the photos in the magazines

hidden on his sweater shelf—of the lighting

in these pictures, orangey-pink, suggesting flesh

and places deep inside the body that you

have not yet found. The women—spreading wide,

splaying endless legs across the page

like fleshy insects, turning themselves inside out,

bodies spilling like secrets—compel you

to flip to less distressing images of breasts

and hands, flicking tongues. You skim their interests:

Vanessa likes kung fu. Brandi studies

the stars. You want eyes that prowl like that, dreams

worthy of print, and lingerie that serves no purpose

but to accentuate the perfect nakedness

you still believe all girls grow into— Now

space closes in around you—breath quickens—

fingers frantic— undoing—undone—verging on—

in your father’s closet time suspends itself,

extends beyond the shut door, promising escape.

The women do not see you, just as you

do not see them, do not see yourself: your eyes

are closed. You disappear behind your father’s

flannel suits, and when you emerge from the closet,

flushed and reeling, no one has noticed you

were gone; the world remains unchanged, though lingering

on the tip of your tongue, a word taking shape

like the answer to a question no one has asked you yet.