Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Praised What Gave Me Joy

Tonight, I praise that which gives me joy. This poem was introduced to me in a modern poetry class I recently enrolled in. (You, dear reader, will likely be hearing much of this class these next few months!) The poem of this evening is Tony Hoagland's "Personal." It is refreshingly new-sprung, published originally in the July/August 2009 issue of Poetry. How beautiful to see good poetry alive and flourishing! Three cheers for Hoagland!

All week long Hoagland's line, "Oh Life! Can you blame me / for making a scene?" has been running through my mind. It is my recent call out to the world; my mental mantra for the week. So now, dear reader, I give you the fabulous Tony Hoagland.


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.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I like this. Only, I hope I don't remind you of tropical squalls!