“Good writing is a kind of intelligence—a heightened power of observation, arrangement, and expression that transforms its subject matter into something moving and memorable. Peter Schmitt’s new book abundantly provides exactly this sort of imaginative energy. He writes luminously of the everyday world. Hazard Duty is a radiantly humane and lyric volume no reader will easily forget.”
—Dana Gioia, Poet Laureate of California
“These are deft, poignant poems. Peter Schmitt is a graceful storyteller inviting us into his life and the life of his friends and family, where we all stand guard, performing ‘hazard duty.’”
—Maxine Kumin, Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner
“Peter Schmitt’s voice is a quiet one, but it is weighty with honesty and wisdom. He is a bard of the everyday, writing of ordinary people leading their daily, extraordinary lives. His craft, though never flashy, is sure, and each poem in this pleasing book does what it must with tact and intelligence and true feeling.”
—Linda Pastan, Poet Laureate of Maryland
Featured Poem: "Friends with Numbers"
Friends with Numbers
If you make friends with numbers, you don't need any other friends.
- Shakuntala Devi, math genius
They are not hard to get to know:
6 and 9 keep changing their minds,
8 cuts the most graceful figure
but sleeps for an eternity,
and 7, lucky 7, takes
an arrow to his heart always.
5, halfway to somewhere, only
wants to patch his unicycle
tire, and 4, who'd like to stand for
something solid, has never had
two feet on the ground, yet flutters
gamely in the breeze like a flag.
3, for all his literary
accomplishments and pretensions
to immortality, is still
(I can tell you) not half the man
8 is asleep or awake. 1,
little 1. I know him better
than all the others, these numbers
who are all my friends. Only 2,
that strange smallest prime, can I count
as just a passing acquaintance.
Divisible by only 1
and herself, she seems on the verge,
yet, of always coming apart.
And though she eludes me, swanlike,
though I'd love to know her better,
still I am fine, there are others,
many, I have friends in numbers.