Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland



Most great celebrations, like my daughter’s wedding last month, begin long before the celebration itself. Yards of cotton chosen years ago, to be turned into a quilt. Endless bottles of vodka turned into homemade gin, enough for 180 miniature party favors. Evenings with my daughter and a letterpress kit, hand-stamping each letter of each name of each place card.

Early mornings, late nights: hand-stitching, hand-stamping, hand-steeping juniper and cardamom. Moment after moment in which I thought about how much I love both my girl and her now-husband. Nothing was hurried. Everything took time, time, time, and every moment of it was a reminder that, among our endless rushing, time itself is an act of love.

The Word, by Tony Hoagland

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 beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace 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.


Click here
 for more information about the beloved Tony Hoagland.
alisonmcghee.com

Words by Winter: my podcast

Mini-book reviews

Ohhhhh I am so behind with my 2020 mini-book reviews. My lofty goal of a round-up review each month entirely fell by the wayside, along with so much else in this overwhelming year. Let me partially remedy that right this minute with mini-book reviews of books I read in the last few months, written on the spot just now.

Note that I only review books I loved or that, even if I didn’t love them, have stayed with me in inexplicable ways that somehow merit attention. Note also that all these books were ordered and bought from indie bookstores, the beautiful lifeblood of readers and publishers. Please support your independent bookstores. You can find yours right here at this handy-dandy link: https://www.indiebound.org/

Bonfire Opera, by Danusha Lameris. Oh, I love this woman’s poems. The first time I read Small Kindnesses, I wrote it out by hand and then copied it into my Favorite Poems files. And then scurried over to Magers and Quinn to pre-order Bonfire Opera, the book from whence it came. Lameris writes of ordinary life the way our greatest writers do, the way that allows us to see that no life is ordinary, that our every smallest action ripples out. A beautiful, beautiful book.

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m late to the party with this lovely book, a memoir in verse-like prose written for middle grades readers but which really, like all great books ostensibly for children, is written for everyone. Woodson writes about her life, from birth through middle school, dipping down into small details the way a hummingbird alights on the sweetest flowers. Each chapter is so brief, so full of love and wonder and subtle commentary on life as a brown girl in the 60s and 70s, and every few chapters is one consisting solely of a haiku that somehow punctuates and coheres the entirety. Such a beautiful book.

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett. This woman is such a good writer. I loved her first novel, The Mothers, and this one is equally absorbing. Identical twins Stella and Desiree, born in the 60s into an almost-mythical small town populated entirely by light-skinned Black citizens, leave home at age sixteen to make their way in the wider world. Stella chooses to “pass” as white, a decision that haunts every aspect of her life thereafter, while Desiree gives birth to a daughter as “black as tar.” Bennett infuses her fictional people with such specificity that their pain, joy, and unbreakable sisterly bonds reveal the intricacies of our nation’s historical racism and sexism while pulling the reader so deeply into their personal life struggles that they will be with me forever.

Italian Shoes, by Henning Mankell. This is my first dip into the vast array of books by renowned Swedish writer Mankell (the man who writes the Kurt Wallander detective series), It’s an intensely serious, quiet novel narrated by a former doctor who, after a tragic surgical mistake, chooses to isolate himself on the island his grandparents left to him, where he is the sole inhabitant. He cuts a hole in the ice of the bay every morning and plunges in – the only time he feels truly alive. Over the course of the novel he encounters, for the first time in decades, a past love who comes in search of him, sparking a small but profound reconnection with the wider world. While I did not love, or even particularly like, the narrator of this book, I remain both haunted and heartened by his inherent sadness and gradual, slow, opening back up to his fellow humans.

Watch Over Me, by Nina LaCour. I loved Nina’s novel We Are Okay and I loved this one too, for the same reasons – her uncanny way with the small, perfect detail that bring both setting and people to life. LaCour writes of the Bay area the way that only an observer with a poet’s eye can, so that the landscape becomes as much a character as the people. Set on a farm for foster-to-adopt children, Watch Over Me follows teenager Mila as she gradually, painfully begins to place pattern to the trauma of her past. LaCour’s descriptions of The Farm are like a dream, the kind of farm where everyone is loved and cared for, where there’s always plenty to eat, plenty of blankets, flowers everywhere, warmth when you need it, solitude when you need it, and, I imagine board games everywhere. The foster parents surround their traumatized charges with the kind of love and support that would heal the entire world should we all be so lucky to experience it. A lovely novel, full of hard-earned hope.

Now We Will Speak in Flowers, by Micki Blenkush. I read this slender book of poetry in one sitting, and felt as if I’d been given a glimpse into the poet’s entire life. Set in northern Minnesota and dipping down into childhood, young adulthood, middle age, town and country and church and work, this is a work set firmly in place and time. The poet’s perspective, wise from experience and innate understanding of how the small and subtle inform the wider world, is captivating in a quiet, gentle way. Lovely.

Open City, by Teju Cole. Set entirely in New York City and almost exclusively in Manhattan, this slender novel follows its main character, a young Nigerian scholar, as he walks about the city. As I read, I kept having to remind myself that it was a novel and not a memoir, so intimate and quiet is the voice of the narrator. As a lifelong walker who soaks up the world through the soles of my feet while silently thinking and observing, the book felt deeply familiar both in its perspective and its essential loneliness. Toward the end, a small scene in a tailor’s shop shocked me. I did not love the main character but I will be thinking about him, and what he has to say about the world we all live in, for a long, long time.

What Narcissism Means to Me, by Tony Hoagland. How I love this man’s poems, and how I wept and wept when he died, too young, of cancer. There are few poets whose poems I almost universally love and treasure; Hoagland is one of them. This book was published in 2003 but no matter, any Hoagland poem lives in its own time and place that transcend the current time and place of the world. Hoagland aches for the world, and life, and his place in it, the same way my own heart does. Go forth and read him.

When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go is one of my favorite books of all time. So far, he has not written a book I haven’t loved, although there are several I haven’t yet read. It takes me a while to work up to an Ishiguro novel because I know that a few chapters in, he will have inexorably taken hold of me and pulled me into whatever world he’s created. This one is no exception. Set in London and (mostly) Shanghai in the 1940s, this novel follows Banks, a celebrated London detective, as he attempts to discover why he was orphaned at age nine. Nothing is as it seems in When We Were Orphans, and every small revelation leads the reader further down a path of no return. Quintessential Ishiguro in his understanding of loneliness, longing, and transcendent love.

Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

Alison and DonaldWhen I was nine my father brought me a huge, bright-green, horned bug from our garden: Look! You can bring it in to school for the bug project! When he turned away I placed some tomatoes on top of the bug, and later had to admit in shame that I had ‘accidentally’ crushed it. Alison! What the hell were you thinking? 

Looking back, I see a girl who was afraid of that enormous bug and afraid of her father, a girl who could not admit fear and could not ask for help. And I see a young, gruff man who had found something magic and brought it as a gift to his daughter, sure she would love it. A scared daughter, a bewildered man. Who both, over the years, kept sailing on, finding out the story by pushing into it, until only love and laughter were left.

 

Voyage, by Tony Hoagland

I feel as if we opened a book about great ocean voyages
and found ourselves on a great ocean voyage:
sailing through December, around the horn of Christmas
and into the January Sea, and sailing on and on

in a novel without a moral but one in which
all the characters who died in the middle chapters
make the sunsets near the book’s end more beautiful.

And someone is spreading a map upon a table,
and someone is hanging a lantern from the stern,
and someone else says, “I’m only sorry
that I forgot my blue parka; It’s turning cold.”

Sunset like a burning wagon train
Sunrise like a dish of cantaloupe
Clouds like two armies clashing in the sky;
Icebergs and tropical storms,
That’s the kind of thing that happens on our ocean voyage —

And in one of the chapters I was blinded by love
And in another, anger made us sick like swallowed glass
& I lay in my bunk and slept for so long,
I forgot about the ocean,
Which all the time was going by, right there, outside my cabin window.

And the sides of the ship were green as money,
and the water made a sound like memory when we sailed.

Then it was summer. Under the constellation of the swan,
under the constellation of the horse.

At night we consoled ourselves
By discussing the meaning of homesickness.
But there was no home to go home to.
There was no getting around the ocean.
We had to go on finding out the story
by pushing into it —
The sea was no longer a metaphor.
The book was no longer a book.
That was the plot.
That was our marvelous punishment.

 

 

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please read his obituary.

Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

IMG_0325A couple of months ago I hurt a friend when I pushed a semi-joke too far. The friend didn’t say anything or change expression, but I went to bed uneasy. Despite the Painter’s assurances that he had noticed nothing and all was well, my gut said otherwise. I woke up and sent an apology, the gracious acceptance of which proved that my gut was right.  In the weeks since, shame and sadness keep bubbling up in their familiar way. How many times a day do you feel like a failure? I once asked the Painter. All day every day, he answered, to which I nodded.

Four years ago, on a whim, I sat down at my dining table and hand-wrote myself a letter titled “Letter to Self.” Dear Alison, it began, here are some things you did in 2015. The letter is a simple bulleted list, but each entry, such as loved your children and stayed in good shape despite plantar fasciitis, holds within it an arc of emotion and effort and accomplishment. I hadn’t looked at the letter since I wrote it, nor the subsequent letters I wrote to myself in 2016 and 2017, but I read it again just now. Everything I tried to do that year came rushing back over me, along with a deep sense of being just one of a long line of humans who are all just trying. Which brings me to this beautiful farewell poem by Tony Hoagland. Its ending lines, which I had to read twice to understand were not an admonition but a gentle acknowledgment to himself that he had been a good man who should have been kinder to himself, brought me to tears.

 

Distant Regard, by Tony Hoagland

If I knew I would be dead by this time next year
I believe I would spend the months from now till then
writing thank-you notes to strangers and acquaintances,
telling them, “You really were a great travel agent,”
or “I never got the taste of your kisses out of my mouth.”
or “Watching you walk across the room was part of my destination.”
It would be the equivalent, I think,
of leaving a chocolate wrapped in shiny foil
on the pillow of a guest in a hotel–
“Hotel of earth, where we resided for some years together,”
I start to say, before I realize it is a terrible cliche, and stop,
and then go on, forgiving myself in a mere split second
because now that I’m dying, I just go
forward like water, flowing around obstacles
and second thoughts, not getting snagged, just continuing
with my long list of thank-yous,
which seems to naturally expand to include sunlight and wind,
and the aspen trees which gleam and shimmer in the yard
as if grateful for being soaked last night
by the irrigation system invented by an individual
to whom I am quietly grateful.
Outside it is autumn, the philosophical season,
when cold air sharpens the intellect; 
the hills are red and copper in their shaggy majesty.
The clouds blow overhead like governments and years.
It took me a long time to understand the phrase “distant regard,”
but I am grateful for it now,
and I am grateful for my heart,
that turned out to be good, after all;
and grateful for my mind,
to which, in retrospect, I can see
I have never been sufficiently kind.

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please read his obituary.

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Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

img_6112Q: Does writing about hard things ever make you agitated and upset, so that you have to walk away from the writing and regain your equilibrium?

A: Nope. Life is what’s hard. Writing is always solace.

This exchange took place in a university undergraduate creative writing class a couple of weeks ago. Writing is how I translate all the emotion and experience of living into something that’s bigger than me. It’s a means of transcendence, a way to push away all that hugeness and also absorb it. To make a connection with other human beings you don’t know and have never met.

So is reading, poetry especially. For decades Tony Hoagland’s work has been solace. It’s like he saw into my heart and wrote poems meant just for me, even though he was beloved by so many. I meant to write him a letter this fall, telling him how much he means to me, but he died last week, so my letter will never be written. Don’t take it personal, they said; but I did, I took it all quite personal– Oh Tony, I’m so sad you’re gone.

 

Personal, by Tony Hoagland

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries

like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

 

 

I’ve sent out many Tony Hoagland poems in the past, and I could send out Tony Hoagland poems every week for a year; that’s how much I loved him. For more poems by Tony, please click here.

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Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

Jet
– Tony Hoagland

Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

​For more information on Tony Hoagland, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/books/05book.html?_r=0​


My blog: alisonmcghee.com/blog

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Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

The Word
– Tony Hoagland

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 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.

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please click here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/tony-hoagland

My Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

The Best Moment of the Night
– Tony Hoagland

You had a moment with the dog,
down near the base of the butcher-block table
just as the party was getting started.

Just as the guests were bringing in
their potluck salads and vegetarian lasagna,
setting them down on the buffet,

you had an unforeseeable exchange of warmth
with this scruffy, bug-eyed creature
who let you scratch his ears.

He lives down there, among the high heels
and the cowboy boots, below the human roar
rising to its boil up above. Like his, your evening

is just beginning –but you
are lonelier than him. You think
that if you disappeared tonight,

you would not be missed for years;
yet here, the licking of the hands and face;
and here, the baring of the vulnerable belly.

You are still panting, and alive, and seeking love;
yet no one who knows you
knows, somehow,

about your wet, black nose,
or that you can wag your tail.



For more information on Tony Hoagland, please click here: http://www.tonyhoagland.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

"And the water made a sound like memory when we sailed. . ."

This was a long time ago. You were, what, twenty years old? Yes, twenty, which is about how old you are in that crappy photo to the right.

You were living in Taiwan, eating potstickers and shrimp fried rice and mapo dofu, taking classes in a random sort of way, washing your clothes in a big sink –did you know it’s very hard to get laundry soap out of jeans by hand? It is– wandering the streets of Taipei, sometimes getting on a random bus and riding it as far as it went in order to see the sights, knowing that eventually the bus would circle back and you could get off where you got on.

(But did you know that not all buses eventually circle back? Some buses rumble along for hours until they’re far, far away, and then the bus driver parks and turns off the bus and motions you to get out, that this is the end of the line.)

You were living in Taipei in an apartment where your roommates taught you that you didn’t need to bathe and wash your waist-length hair every day, “taught” being, in this case, a synonym for “made you pay the water bill yourself because what kind of person other than a crazy American girl washes their hair every day?”

Potstickers, a penny apiece. Watermelon shakes, sesame ice cream, also cheap. Rent, cheap. The bus, cheap. Clothes, cheap. Everything was cheap except apples, which were absurdly expensive and came individually packaged in little foam and gilt-wrapped boxes.

For money, you taught English and sold your blood. You did everything on the cheap, which is how you and your two friends came to take the pig-and-vegetable boat to Orchid Island, off the southern tip of Taiwan. You had heard that there was nothing there but ocean and sand and the Tao people who had always lived there.

“You’re going to Orchid Island?” one of your Chinese roommates said. “Hey, bring me back a monkey, will you?”

Were there monkeys on Orchid Island? You had no idea. It seemed possible. Anything seemed possible, back then in Taiwan.

“Sure,” you said. “I’ll bring you back a monkey.”

You and your two friends could have taken another, faster boat, but it was more expensive. You could have taken a plane, which was also more expensive. The pig-and-vegetable boat was cheap, which is how you came to stand in a line on an industrial dock, waiting to board.

The only other passengers, and there were many of them, were green-uniformed Taiwanese soldiers. As you boarded the boat, you were handed a plastic bag.

“What’s this for?” you asked one of the soldiers standing next to you.

“Don’t know,” he said, and shrugged.

You both found out once you left shore. The pig-and-vegetable boat pitched and tossed in the big waves, under the blue sky, and the sun beat down as you and the soldiers began barfing into the plastic bags, which quickly filled and left you with nowhere to turn but the ocean itself, where the wind blew both spray and barf back at you.

Before long you were lying on the filthy floor, tossed beneath the metal deck benches with each swell, covered with vomit, not caring if in your sickened state you rolled up against a soldier, because you were all in the same boat, literally, and you knew you would die if this kept on much longer.

Which could probably have happened, but didn’t. By the time you docked at Orchid Island, four hours or four months later, you and your two friends were so weak and worn out that when a man on a motorbike sped up to one and motioned her to get on, she got on.

Off she zoomed, clinging to the man, and up a hill they disappeared. Who was he? Where was he taking her? Another man on another motorbike appeared and your second friend got on and zipped away down the road.

You waited your turn and it came. Here is a man, here is a motorbike. Sure, why not? Off you went, assuming that he would take you someplace and that when that someplace appeared, you would see your friends again.

And so it happened. The three of you reunited at an abandoned half-built hotel. Who were the men on the motorbikes? You never found out. They didn’t want anything, not even money. They disappeared, their motorbikes whining like mosquitoes as they rounded a distant hill.

Was there any place to stay on Orchid Island? No. How you ended up staying in the kindergarten room of a two-room school, you have no idea. Tiny chairs, tiny tables, a floor to sleep on, and on it you slept.

Besides dried fish and a strange fruit whose name you don’t know, you don’t remember what you ate. You don’t remember talking to anyone but your two friends. There were the Tao people, the Orchid Islanders, but they didn’t speak Mandarin.They wore few clothes and lived, it seemed, on dried fish and that nameless fruit.

Next morning you woke before dawn, like always. Your two friends were sound asleep on the floor of the kindergarten. You walked down the road to the beach –Orchid Island was all beach– and sat down on the sand to watch the sun come up.

Clouds on the far horizon lit themselves from beneath with pink and orange and the sky began to turn gold. You were wearing your pink skirt, that same pink skirt you wore almost every day when you lived in Taiwan, and the sand under your bare feet was cool and soft and white. You pulled your knees up and wrapped your arms around them and watched the world take form.

The South China Sea was calm that morning, with a gentle surf. Far across the sand you saw something coming toward you. It looked to be an enormous animal of some kind. You don’t remember being afraid. There was something un-scary about it.

The sky grew lighter and the animal turned into a prone man, elbowing his way across the sand. His thighs tapered to stubs just below the narrow band of cloth tied around his butt. He finned his way up to you, sitting there on the sand, and laughed and gestured with one arm toward the water.

What was he asking you? To go swimming? You shook your head and smiled back at him. He kept talking, laughing. You shook your head and lifted your shoulders and tilted your head. You tried a few words in Mandarin, but he didn’t understand it, and you didn’t understand his language.

Then he was off, finning his laborious way across that vast expanse of sand to the water. He looked back as if to make sure you were still there. You were. You waved.

He reached the water and turned into a fish. He was no longer a man, he was a creature of the ocean, a beautiful man-fish in that beautiful water. Flipping and diving and surfacing and diving again. You have never seen anyone so effortless in the water before or since.

The sun was up by the time he returned, clutching something between his teeth, those powerful shoulders of his propelling him back across the sand. You met him halfway and he plucked the something from his mouth: a piece of coral, orange-pink like the sunrise you had just watched. An intricate whorled pattern.

He laughed again and dropped it into your hand, closed your fingers around it. A gift. That was all the sea-man wanted, to give you a gift. He waited until you smiled, until he was sure you liked the coral, and then he was off, looking back at you and smiling, making his way back across the sand to the sea that made him whole.

Your friends were still sleeping on the cement floor of the kindergarten when you returned. You stayed on the island for two more days, eating dried fish, digging your toes into the white sand, wandering up and down the road and the hills. You didn’t see the ocean man again.

When you left you didn’t take the pig-and-vegetable boat. You flew back to Taiwan in a tiny plane that held the pilot and the three of you, sitting on a vinyl bench seat that had been ripped out of a school bus and shoved haphazardly into the space behind the pilot. There was nothing between you and the sky but the thin skin of the tiny, droning plane.

When you got back to the apartment you showed the coral to your Chinese roommate and tried to explain the ocean man to her, what it had been like sitting on the beach while the sun came up, watching him fin his way across the sand to you. She was mildly interested.

“Nice,” she said, examining the coral. “But where’s my monkey?”

For years you carried that coral with you. It sat on every desk you had, in each apartment, from state to state.

You don’t know how or where you lost it, in which move to which apartment or house, but you did.

* * *

. . .And in one of the chapters I was blinded by love
And in another, anger made us sick like swallowed glass
& I lay in my bunk and slept for so long,
I forgot about the ocean,
Which all the time was going by, right there, outside my cabin window.

And the sides of the ship were green as money,
and the water made a sound like memory when we sailed.

Then it was summer. Under the constellation of the swan,
under the constellation of the horse.

At night we consoled ourselves
By discussing the meaning of homesickness.
But there was no home to go home to.
There was no getting around the ocean.
We had to go on finding out the story
by pushing into it —

(from Voyage, a poem by Tony Hoagland)

Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

The Word
– Tony Hoagland

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.

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please click here:

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