Archive for Tony Hoagland

Brave World, by Tony Hoagland

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , on March 11, 2020 by telescoper

But what about the courage
of the cancer cell
that breaks out from the crowd
it has belonged to all its life

like a housewife erupting
from her line at the grocery store
because she just can’t stand
the sameness anymore?

What about the virus that arrives
in town like a traveler
from somewhere faraway
with suitcases in hand,

who only wants a place
to stay, a chance to get ahead
in the land of opportunity,
but who smells bad,

talks funny, and reproduces fast?
What about the microbe that
hurls its tiny boat straight
into the rushing metabolic tide,

no less cunning and intrepid
than Odysseus; that gambles all
to found a city
on an unknown shore?

What about their bill of rights,
their access to a full-scale,
first-class destiny?
their chance to realize

maximum potential?-which, sure,
will come at the expense
of someone else, someone
who, from a certain point of view,

is a secondary character,
whose weeping is almost
too far off to hear,

a noise among the noises
coming from the shadows
of any brave new world.

by Tony Hoagland (1953-2018).

 

The Word

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on April 19, 2012 by telescoper

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning — to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

– to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

by Tony Hoagland (b. 1953)