We fight like fighters
should, not to kill,

but to batter. With blunt
stumps of ourselves,

we ram into another.
We pull open overcoats

and expose failure,
knock books off shelves

and throw furniture.
Neighbors pound

the walls angry for peace.
This is how we come

together. Old flames
spark up. All grace

goes under. Long
hollow roots stretch

through our hearts,
on the surface, rotted

stumps without sensation.
Trees get yanked

and the stumps must
burn. Across the heart’s

meadow, smoke rises
from stumps’ center

the soil is rich with ash.
We fight to hurt.

We fight to become tender.

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HANS HETRICK writes poems, children’s books, technical manuals, copy, and business letters. Before turning to writing full time, Hans was employed as a bartender, a Composition 101 teacher, an electrician, a gas station manager, a furniture mover, a CAD operator, a dog walker, and an orchard worker. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois and spends his free time eating at the many tasty, inexpensive restaurants in his neighborhood and listening to live music.

Hans was raised in Gibsonburg, Ohio, the Lime Capital of the World (a title also claimed by neighboring Woodville, Ohio). He grew up healthy and strong on whole milk, meat, potatoes, home-grown vegetables, his Grandma Earl’s pies, and the delicious water that filtered through the shelf of limestone underneath native childhood land.

Hetrick received his BA at THE Ohio State University and his MFA at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Hans’ poems have appeared in the South Dakota Review, Blue Earth Review, and Mankato Poetry Review. In 2009, Hans self-published Fighting Love, a poetry chapbook illustrated by Nicholas Freeman. He has also written a number of sports-themed children’s books for Creative Education and Capstone Press.

7 responses to “What Neighbors Hear”

  1. sheree says:

    Nothing like a good strap match to set things right.
    Nice writing.

  2. Hank Cherry says:

    Tremendous cadence to this poem of yours, and also, the underscore of the beat matches the physicality of the thing. Good writing.

  3. Gloria says:

    Sounds like my marriage. Great imagery.


  4. M.J. Fievre says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Hans. Love it, particularly the ending.

  5. milo martin says:

    “we fight to become tender…”
    sorta like one hammers a cube steak with a wooden mallet
    so that one may chew and digest it more easily…

    you da man, Hans, meloves this poem…


    • Hans Hetrick says:

      My grandma used to buy cheap cuts of steak and beat the living crap out of them with a metal tenderizer mallet before she fried them. They were always delicious.

      Thanks for getting me out there Milo.

      You rock!


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