National Book Critics Circle Finalist • California Book Award Finalist

“Iíve read David Hernandez for twenty years but only with this terrific new book, am I realizing he is one of our generationís leading California poets. Whether philosophical, playful, or political, his language is guided by generosity and wonder. He explores the shifting landscapes and shifting cultural grounds underfoot. Beneath his laid-back West Coast charm, he lays bare the intensities of modern life. Hello I Must Be Going is a book of irreducible wisdom and witness.” —Terrance Hayes

“Between the hello and the going lies the shadow—and the poem. In this compelling new collection, David Hernandez writes poems that tumble forward so intensely they rattle our teeth, and others that are nearly frozen in anticipatory grief. This collection offers up the choices we contend with in an era of Ďobliterating despair.í Fret or sleepwalk, or take the world in through the senses, taste the fruit, Ďdespite.í ” —Diane Seuss

Hello I Must Be Going is noteworthy for urging its readers to practice empathy, as it emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things within the universe. People who love poetry and art will find resonance in this imaginative and coherent collection.”
—Ruben Quesada, National Book Critics Circle

“The intriguing fifth collection from Hernandez uses visual art as a foil for the unique possibilities of language....Readers will appreciate the specific, thoughtful attention these poems generate about depression, government violence, and parental aging, as well as the inventive investigations of visual art motifs.”
Publishers Weekly

“David Hernandez arranges his fifth poetry collection, Hello I Must Be Going, as a kind of three-part exhibit. And, like any good exhibit, we feel the care of its curator in its conception and arrangement....Again and again, Hernandez turns to visual art to help him bear up and stay attuned and awake, a kind of support that he offers us, in turn, through his poems.”
Harvard Review



Hello I Must Be Going

Really nice meeting you sorry
I have to hurry off thereís this thing
happening this thing I must do
you too yes dying is the thing
everyone is not talking about it
why ruin karaoke night why discolor
the air between you and the bartender
hello what can I get for you
itís miraculous weíre here and then
the world is yanked from us and then
time dismantles our bodies to dust
okay um can I help the next customer
see it would be awkward
letís not bring it up mumís the word
come on now weíve still got
some living to do pick up that trumpet
Iíve got mine already never mind
we canít play any instruments
the point is to make a sound
any sound in this endless parade
shimmering toward silence



Uncertain Frontier

Although I would prefer another mood, this one
Iíll take. This one Iíll choose over yesterdayís

          black ash passing through my body
          or Thursdayís darker flurries.

But now Iím standing before my modest
orange tree, slumped in the corner of the yard.

          Its six humble suns. The brightest I twist
          off its stem, feel my hand prickling

with ants and quickly toss the fruitó
It thumps the earth, once, then tumbles over

          wet grass, collecting the morningís rain
          inside the pores of its rind.

Against my thigh I smack my hand, both
sides, flipping fast, as if cursed with flames.

          This hour Iíll recall. This sun I kick
          across the lawn. These stunned ants

escaping from the stigmaís puckered knot
as they navigate the orange, maneuvering

          around the jewels of rainwater.
          Strange time, is it not, to live

while the fire grows in the eyes of civilization?
This day Iíll take. This fruit Iíll taste, despite.





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