Year End Hoe Down (And Relief Package)

by | Dec 28, 2020 | December 2020 Writing | 8 comments

Year End Hoe Down



How we use to lick mirrors just for the sound.

Ecstatic rolling on the barn floor. Smearing faces

with mud to mask to writhe into one team of hearts.


Fingers interlaced

foreheads bumping rhythm

on the stable door. 


Before chores and weekday restrictions.

Before.                       desk chair bus bell

shuffle line sit on your hands

keep your mouth shut

eyes to yourself

recite repeat pass repeat—


There was good riding over those fields.


Next year 

will be 



We remember the dance as fuel till the next dance calls out

call in call us call them call them us or us them or both call

the ritual dance. Turn up              the music.          Make holes.


Relief Package



It’s time to go.

But I don’t want to.

No one does.

But you promised.

I promised nothing. You were lucky to get this far.

Come on, we need the bed.

So do I. 

Stop being a baby.

Fuck you.

No use getting stroppy.

You’re a liar.

Alright, get up, get out, I’ve had enough. Out.



The doctors, nurses, internal security, infantry, National Guard, local P.D. CIA FBI ICE NSA, sixteen religious men (always men). No family crowded the door. The patient president rolled toward the window and closed his eyes. What gray and hating eyes they were, spiteful, fogged lost windows to the soulless. Soul long sold for money born into and from and devoted to money to debt promissory notes forged signatures defaulted transfers false advertising deft offshore manipulations underhanded back-pocketed ass-tickling bribes digital blips decided on desperate screens defrocked snake-oil brands middle management hand sleights moral compass demagnetized ego mental physical emotional bully everything about me and me and me having more I am terrific great amazing awesome tremendous greatest ever I am the global unconsciousness of system devotion to materialism I am wanted you wanted to be I am the ultimate heir the land-owner the law-dodger the hirer and firer of gun-slingers the reneger on treaties the landlord withholding the deposit after you have completed the contract and left better than how you found the place I am the no-tax paying corporation incarnate you cannot touch or move me I am inert, the life and way.

A pig-tailed eleven-year-old girl slipped between the knees and hips and thighs and holsters into the room. Solemn, she approached the bed, grabbed the old man’s ear, and twisted. The crowd at the door gasped then applauded and then paraded as she dragged the old man by the twisted ear along the corridor under the portrait eyes of great men, down the curling stairs once brushed by the greatest of gowns, out the front door, which once symbolized hope and faith and all things good having a rightful place and onto the great lawn, which once held picnics and dances and bar-by-cues for manual workers. The girls went over to the flower bed. She returned to the bawling old man rolling on the grass. She shoved a daisy up each nostril, a thorny pink rose down the throat, and stuffed each ear with daffodils. And said, there now, piss off.  


  1. John Steines

    Good reads. The ending paragraph left me laughing and felt quite a deserving end. ‘Soul long sold for money…(the long sentence)’ reflects my experience in health care. I know many who share an ethical view about for-profit health care as an oxymoron. I’m amazed at your long sentence lacking punctuation that follows. It fits. The poetic start of Relief Package also reflects reality – insurance runs out, you’re out of here. That the ‘patient president’ is the subject of that first stanza, is less clear to me. I can read it two ways. ‘patient president’ is bumping someone else for a bed, or ‘patient president’ is suffering the same rules everyone else does. Either works, I’m just not sure as intent feels absent. I end up siding with the second, that he suffers the same rules. The first work also reads well to me. It’s sweet. Thanks.

  2. Rogan

    David, I love the choices you’re making in voice and form with “Year End Hoe Down” and “Relief Package.” I love the risk and feel of them. I love the repetition of eyes in the paragraph or prose poem part — it smacks like inner rhyme more than repetition, which is cool. I love how it feels like a stream of consciousness and the expanse of narrative really hit for me. Beautiful work.

  3. jennifer vanderheyden

    I absolutely love this, David! I also laughed at the end. I think the long Proustian sentence in the prose section mirrors this “can we ever catch our breath year.” Every day has been a breaking news day. I especially like “defrocked snake-oil brands.” Hopefully we can indeed catch our breath when he pisses off. Thanks for expressing what most of us feel.

  4. Sara Comito

    I read all of these over and over. I especially love the hoe down, and wonder what it would be like to put the last stanza in front of the first. I hear a dance caller coordinating the action of everything that comes after. Also love the synesthesia implied of licking mirrors for their sound! I am intrigued.

  5. David O'Connor

    Thanks, Sara, gonna dosie-doe with the dance caller idea–thank you! Happy 2021!

  6. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    David––Hoe Down sings, it’s rhythm leads me to a another place. I love it! I see nothing to change. And I love the way Relief Package (and it is!) builds, its form moving from dialogue to stream of consciousness state of present being (which sticks it), to the hilarious narrative of the pig-tailed eleven year old girl. The opening line of Hoe Down– licking mirrors just for the sound– going now to lick a mirror for its sound! I want to savor that. Wonderful work, David. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2021– and may we all survive to be together again. Stay safe, man. Hearts.

  7. Suzanne van de Velde

    David – I love all of these, especially Year End Hoe Down. “We remember the dance as fuel till the next dance calls out.” You chart the momentum, to tension, to ecstasy, to rapture, is so lightly drawn but shines out so clearly. Thank you – roll on out of this year into the next!

  8. Robert Vaughan

    Hi David, this was a jamboree of pleasure. Love the “Year End Hoe Down” and the rhythm and movement is stupendous. I feel, with little play that this one can be submitted.

    The middle piece, “Relief Package” feels so different from any other thing I have read of yours. It’s like Sylvia Plath meets Anne Sexton! It’s hypnotic and so timely, yet universally timeless as well.

    And thanks, I could see the twinkle in your eyes, the merriment that created the third section, those last two paragraphs had me laughing aloud.

    Brilliance! Let’s continue to ZOOM. I enjoy our literary musings. Happy 2021 my sweet friend.

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