Tony Hoagland


Field Guide
Ballets, Erica Braumby Tony Hoagland, from Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty

Once, in the cool blue middle of a lake,
up to my neck in the most precious element of all,

I found a pale-gray, curled-upwards pigeon feather
floating on the tension of the water

at the very instant when a dragonfly,
like a blue-green iridescent bobby pin,

hovered over it, then lit, then rested.
That's all.

I mention this in the same way
that I fold the corner of a page

in certain library books,
so the the next reader will know

where to look for the good parts.

Moving Away

"There is no single, unimpeachable word
for that vague sensation of something
moving away from you

as it exceeds its elastic capacity"

~ Tony Hoagland, from ""There Is No Word," Poetry, July/August 2012 

See also:

Hate on the Rocks

Nigredo, Anselm Kiefer, 1984 (290 Kb); Oil, acrylic, emulsion, shellac, and straw, on photograph, mounted on canvas, with woodcut, 330 x 555 cm,
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Hate Hotel
by Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me [listen]

Sometimes I like to think about the people I hate.
I take my room at the Hate Hotel, and I sit and flip
through the heavy pages of the photographs,
the rogue's gallery of the faces I loathe.

My lamp of resentment sputters twice, then comes on strong,
filling the room with its red light.
That's how hate works—it thrills you and kills you

with its deep heat.
Sometimes I like to sit and soak
in the Jacuzzi of my hate, hatching my plots

like a general running his hands over a military map—
and my bombers have been sent out
over the dwellings of my foes,
and are releasing their cargo of ill will

on the targets below, the hate bombs falling in silence
into the lives of the hate-recipients.

From the high window of my office
in the Government of Hate,
where I stay up late, working hard,
where I make no bargains, entertain no
scenarios of reconciliation,

I watch the hot flowers flare up all across
the city, the state, the continent—
I sip my soft drink of hate on the rocks
and let the punishment go on unstopped,

—again and again I let hate
get pregnant and give birth
to hate which gets pregnant
and gives birth again—

and only after I feel that hate
has trampled the land, burned it down
to some kingdom come of cautery and ash,
Only after it has waxed and waned and waxed all night
only then can I let hate

creep back in the door. Curl up at my feet
and sleep. Little pussycat hate. Home sweet hate.

[Thanks, Jonathan Carroll!]