top of page
W. Joe Hoppe

Selected Poems by W. Joe Hoppe

In The Afterlife, Fidel Castro Dances With Florence Henderson


And the dancefloor is like an ice rink

they glide in and out of billowing clouds

pink mist blood of martyrs of La Revoluccion

soothing baby blue of suburban housewife Valium


Spinning ecstatic now to their own stars

not proletariat red or bourgeoisie sparkly

no judges with magic markered cards

nor nosey neighbors from down the street


Together again after their all-to-brief

NYC affair in 1958—

she a budding Broadway starlet

he a hard throwing prospect for Los Yanquis


Eternity will be just like

their single Copacabana night

a spotlight on her bright blonde hair

the glint on his polished alligator shoes


She smells like America to him

a hint of vanilla at neck and wrist

newly mown lawns and wood paneled dens

But when the rhumba beat starts up


Her hips her culo roll with genuine desire

for his suave latin loins Caribbean

breezes blowing through pomaded hair

nutmeg and handrolled cigars sugarcane sweat


A tango now they are joined thigh to thigh

zoom out to reveal the band in flamingo rhumba sleeves

half of them American blondes with shining teeth

the other swarthy Cubans knocking out time


until this eternity is over

when they can slip out to the alley

and sing moonlit songs

of their own choosing

From  11-26-16, when Cuban Dictator Castro and Ms. Henderson, who starred as the mom on 70s TV series “The Brady Bunch” both died on the same day

The Pantheon

Rome, 12/26/2018


Honoring all the gods

we create heaven’s dome

so as to be human

beneath it


Polished, chiseled,

sculpted stacked

we figure and cast

our knowledge


out into this world

through numbers

curves degrees angles

it is how creation happens


a perfect sphere inside

a perfect cube proclaims

understanding as

perfect as any


now let your eye ride

up to the dome’s pure center

where a perfectly placed hole

invites any god at all

Going West After Uncle Art’s Funeral


“Caravan” kicks in as we clear the Houston sprawl

west into dark into promise towards home

to the Western Lands like Egypt’s dead

---and we’re not---

--and Uncle Art is--

Night air on the highway in the

White headlight red taillight river

Onto those cinnamon hot Caravan sands

Uncle Art is dead and we’re not

Opening up through the night in our grateful love bubble

In a focused jazz tunnel stretching

Through the music

Over the road

Into the night

Polly beside me—he was really her uncle

And her version of grief

To mine like Graham Reynolds’ to Duke’s


highway tires rolling chassis flexing engine humming

the car over the road

like the musicians through the song

drums bass piano horns as we all

dig farther into the night

there’s a road in front of us

we all swear no one else has traveled

a song that no one has ever played like this.

When All You’ve Got is a Hammer


Lee decided to shoot

his brain tumor

w/ a .22 squirrel rifle


Shaved his head

said he got a doctor

to mark the spot


Wanted me to pull the trigger

I went down the hall

and kept on going


Years later

nobody could remember

if it was the bullet or the cancer

bottom of page