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Posts tagged "Tony Hoagland"

Song for Picking Up–Tony Hoagland

Every time that something falls
someone is consigned to pick it up.

Every time it drops or rolls into a crack,
blows out the window of the car

or down onto the dirty restaurant floor
—a plastic bag, a paper clip, a cube of cheese from the buffet—

and there somebody goes, down upon their hands and knees.
What age are you when you learn that?

After Dante finished the Inferno, someone
cleaned up all the ink and crumpled paper.

After the surgeons are done with the operating room,
someone makes it spic and span again.

After World War One, the Super Bowl,
a night at the opera.

After the marching feet of all humanity
come the brooms and mops, the garbage men

and moms, the janitors.
One day you notice them.

After that, you understand.
After that, then, no more easy litter.

No more towels
upon the hotel bathroom floor. You bend over

for even tiny bits of paper;
or bitterly, you look back at your life—like Cain,

upon the body of his brother.

Airport – Tony Hoagland

In the airport the fat sunburned people coming back from vacation
look happier than anyone, with their Hawaiian shirts and varicose veins
and faint aroma of suntan lotion.

I look down on them because their happiness is so superficial.
It is an imaginary battle that they win without trying,
by continuing to be themselves–

joking, telling family stories, eating nachos before lunch.
Like it or not, oneself is always the test case for the human condition.

The baby starts out as a luminous jellybean of god
and gradually transforms into a strange, lopsided growth:

a man who will not let himself be touched;
an aging girl who smiles and is angry with the moon.

Underneath the smile is bitterness, and underneath the bitterness is grief,
and underneath the grief is the desire to survive at any cost.

The music on the airport intercom is supposed to make it easier.
That and the Southern accent of the flight announcers,

with their colorful speech impediments of moonshine and molasses.

“Where I am going I do not wish to go,” wrote Bertolt Brecht,
but what he meant was that he did not want to be himself.

Yesterday I wished for rain, the cold clear kind that falls from very high,
and when it fell, I felt such joy.

But it’s what I don’t pray for that can rescue me.
Surprise, surprise, only surprise will help me on my way.

Reasons to Be Happy – Tony Hoagland

From his newest collection, Application for Release from the Dream.

Some birds are people-watchers.
The worms can hear us stomping over them.
The loaves and fishes multiplied the Christians.

51-Ykjg7onL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_We were wrong about so many things.
We thought the world was mute,
or dead, or just disinterested.
Yet the sunrise liked being looked at
by sleepy cabdrivers. The billboard
was unashamed of its Southern Comfort ad.

The night wind rustled
through the tops of cedar trees
standing all around a certain house

where worried people
lay in bed and listened.
What were the names

of those old Greek gods?
And where did they go?
Atlas—he’s the one

who spent a long time
holding up
what did not belong to him.

Another Week Ends: Work and Play, Oprah and Colbert, Barack and Marilynne, Kanye Western, and Yes, Death

Another Week Ends: Work and Play, Oprah and Colbert, Barack and Marilynne, Kanye Western, and Yes, Death

The work and play issue continues. This week we saw two articles surface that had more bad news to give us about the growing presence of our work lives in our leisure time. Ugh. I’ll spare you both of them. One of them talks about the implicit message of workaholism in tv shows these days. Besides The Office, many popular series paint the picture that work is life, that meaningful work sometimes means the dissolution of everything around you, but is still lionized by the show’s plotline (Mad Men, Scandal, Rescue Me).

The one I want to quote here is the…

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Please Don't - Tony Hoagland

Please Don’t – Tony Hoagland

From the poet’s new collection, Application for Release from the Dream. His take on the non-toiling flowers of the field (Mt 6).

Please Don’t

tell the flowers–they think
the sun loves them.
The grass is under the same
simple-minded impression

Don't Tell Anyone - Tony Hoagland

Don’t Tell Anyone – Tony Hoagland

We had been married for six or seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she swims—

that, in fact, she has been screaming for years
into the blue chlorinated water of the community pool
where she does laps every other day.

Buttering her toast, not as if she had been
concealing anything,
not as if I should consider myself

personally the cause of her screaming,
nor as if we should perform an act of therapy
right that minute on the kitchen table,

—casually, she told me,
and I could see her turn her square face up
to take a gulp of oxygen,

then down…

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Bible Study - Tony Hoagland

Bible Study – Tony Hoagland

From the March 2015 Poetry. 

Who would have imagined that I would have to go
a million miles away from the place where I was born
to find people who would love me?
And that I would go that distance and that I would find those people?

In the dream JoAnne was showing me how much arm to amputate
if your hand gets trapped in the gears of the machine;
if you acted fast, she said, you could save everything above the wrist.
You want to keep a really sharp blade close by, she said.

Now I raise that hand to scratch one of those nasty little
scabs on the…

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