The Names of Lost Things

Author: Jason Hardung
Genre: Poetry, Trade Paper, 6X9
Publisher: Lummox Press (PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733-5301)
ISBN: 978-1-929878-81-9

Publishing Date: June 2012

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Jason Hardung was born and raised on the windy plains of Cheyenne, Wyoming. After living throughout the western United States he now lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado. His work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including: Thrasher Magazine, New York Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Chiron Review, Word Riot, 3 AM, Underground Voices and Monkey Bicycle. He is also an editor for Matter Literary Journal. The Broken and the Damned was his first full length book of poetry published by Epic Rite Press in 2009. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web three years in a row and has done readings all over the country. When he isn’t writing, he rides his beat up Schwinn in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Recently, he has taken up painting. He plans on moving to Los Angeles someday.


Some Videos of Jason Reading 


A Few Comments on This Book

His poems have an authentic strength to them. William Carlos Williams advised poets to “write as you speak.” Jason has taken this advice to heart as he takes us on a journey through winding roads filled with heart and compassion.


Al Winans, poet



“Jason Hardung’s poetry is hard and honest, eschewing trickery and verbosity for the straightest path to the heart of things, the straightest path to the heart of his readers.  His poems journey through life’s darker places, while never ceasing to search for the distant light.” 


William Taylor Jr., poet


THE NAMES OF LOST THINGS is a work of genius, the literary equivalent of human vivisection—a triumph of the human spirit to adapt, overcome and endure!


Wolf Carstens, Epic Rites Press



Jason Hardung's work is incredibly powerful, intensely poignant and fiercely beautiful, leaping off the page with deep honesty and grace, wearing the very human continent of vulnerability like a map, like a treasure.

Ellyn Maybe, poet

Jason Hardung maintains a stunning dialogue with his tumultuous youth. At times, it feels like he’ll either redeem the past through his empathy and haunted lyricism or it will consume him altogether… With formidable lines like “war would forever remain cold”, his poetry brings passion and beauty to what for many of us is a common experience: the abstract lawlessness of the imperfect life.

John Macker, poet

THREE POEMS FROM The Names of Lost Things



Today I visited my childhood home

nobody was there but me.

I walked in called out my name

found myself in my old room

counting baseball cards on the floor.

I looked about ten so I must've been twelve.

The young me was small, still had freckles

his clothes didn't fit

his blond hair a mess

he recognized my eyes.


I walked over to the window and looked out back

there were no houses built back there yet.

Just the junkyard and the railroad tracks

the baseball diamond I cut from sunflowers,

my dog Dandy in her pen, emaciated and fly ridden,

no fence, my yard connected to Nebraska.

There was a train heading somewhere

the sound was soothing

something in me moved like that.

The blue sky was bigger than I remember

curved like a terrarium.


I made small talk.

A thousand black birds fell from the sky today, I told him.

He laughed nervously

face resting on his knee.

His shyness was painful to watch.

I felt sorry for him.

The gods haven't always smiled upon me either, I said.

What do you mean? He asked.

I was hesitant

didn't want to tell him that he would never

became a baseball player or rock star,

never be married, have kids,

always struggle with money,

go to jail a few times,

waste most of his adult life escaping it.

I didn't want him to lose hope

at such a young age but

I felt he needed to know. I apologized

for fucking up his life.

He looked up at me and said,

We are still young. We can still change.

I forgive you.


With his words

I felt like I could finally move forward.

I thanked him

studied the pictures on the walls

started to leave, turned towards him--

One more thing, you will trade those baseball cards

for drugs one day.

It's okay though, the market will get saturated

in the late nineties.


His eyes welled up

I left the door open behind me.


I started writing poetry

after I read

Wilderness by Jim Morrison.

I was sixteen

and figured

I could do better.

I'd sit in math class

and write poems

in a little notebook

about trains

high school cliques


light posts

teenage love

the boy

the girl.


The voices of teachers

and other poets telling me

what I could

and couldn't do

weren't planted in my head yet.


I got a typewriter

when I was 17,

then came the short stories.

I'd steal any book

considered classic literature

and emulate the author's style.


I'd come home from skating

sit in my room

and pound the keys

until early morning.

I fell in love with

the sound

the rhythm

the shape of the word

the negative space.


At nineteen

I moved to Omaha

I was on my own

for the first time

and ended up selling the typewriter

for twenty bucks

so I could eat.


The pounding of keys stopped

for twelve years

while I barely hung on



is when

the real writing



Demons came in through the windows

as soon as the lights flickered out.

They didn't touch me-

they reminded me they were there.


The streets filled with glaciers.

I killed time waiting for the streets to melt.

I killed ants with my new shoes-

I learned to dance.


I got a bicycle when I was seven.

I polished it every day,

oiled the chain, bought a new yellow seat

chained it to the fence at school

when I came out the bike was gone

and the yellow seat

was stuck in the ground

like a memorial on the side of a highway-

I learned I had bad taste in color.


I bought a rose from a dirty man with one eye-

Jennifer hung it upside down on her mirror

when it died.

The mirror shattered when she threw

a high heel at me.

She cried over a broken shoe.


I found a kitten on the side of the highway

it grew and swatted at moths at the window.

After thirteen years,

I left the door open

and it died under a trailer

with polyester curtains  in the window.


The fire in my mouth

became smoke signals

to illiterate search parties.


I arrange these words

like the gods fashioned Stonehenge.

I am a tourist attraction

for new age women in patchouli.


Insanity holds the hand of innocence.

Insanity is a cliché repeated in twelve step meetings.

Insanity is a sickness as bad as its secrets.

Insanity is making friends with a goat.

Insanity is doing the same thing

over and over

and expecting a different result.

Insanity is taking too long.


I watch dead branches

poke the sky in the ribs,

I sit on the curb and  envy sparrows.


The dead don't ride horses

to the theme song of Bonanza

but to the sound of their regrets.


I don't chase my ghost

it chases me.


My faith in the future

straddled a bullet-


this lack of faith is a machine gun.