I Have News For You

The mid-term elections are over, and if you are reading this then you are likely somewhat upset by the fact of corporate financing or outside influence or constitutional understanding in various persons. Therefore, let's just look at a poem by Tony Hoagland from his latest book, written as a clever litany with a twinge of cliché in parts and superb imagastic bang in others. The poem begins, with formatting issues in certain parts for blogger, so I would suggest a quick look at the poem in its original form after reading:

There are people who do not see a broken playground swing
as a symbol of ruined childhood

and there are people who don't interpret the behavior
of a fly in a motel room as a mocking representation
of their thought process.

These lines are fun by poking fun at "people" who do these things, which we have probably done in some way, maybe in the exact way, and he has too, which makes it more fun.

There are people who don't walk past an empty swimming pool
and think about past pleasures unrecoverable

and then stand there blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians.
I have read about a town somewhere in California where human beings

do not send their sinuous feeder roots
deep into the potting soil of others' emotional lives

as if they were greedy six-year-olds
sucking the last half-inch of milkshake up through a noisy straw;

Here Hoagland wants to continue having fun with his reader and establish a firm, comedic tone. The "sinuous feeder roots" point to our need for contact to fulfill our emotional needs: with people in this example, but also with poetry or other artistic mediums, and the irony of this is exemplified with the mysterious town where this need doesn't exist and the mixed metaphor throw in, seemingly, at the last second to close this section of the poem.

and other persons in the Midwest who can kiss without
debating the imperialist baggage of heterosexuality.

Do you see that creamy, lemon-yellow moon?
There are some people, unlike me and you,

who do not yearn after fame or love or quantities of money as
unattainable as that moon;

thus, they do not later
have to waste more time
defaming the object of their former ardor.

Or consequently run and crucify themselves
in some solitary midnight Starbucks Golgotha.

Super-icky "moon" "you" rhyme notwithstanding, the point is explicit: we complicate our lives endlessly and pointlessly, and doing so wastes time and energy, or is even dangerous, in that after being at that "Starbucks
Golgotha" past midnight you will want to go home and poke yourself with Q-tips.

I have news for you—
there are people who get up in the morning and cross a room

and open a window to let the sweet breeze in
and let it touch them all over their faces and bodies.

The poem closes without much flare, and bringing us into this simple image is meant to prove that this was really all we needed in the first place. I finish this poem and say, "Well, yeah, sure speaker Hoagland, there are people who are content with that, but are they like that all the time?" I'm skeptical at how easy the poem tries to run away from us at the end (
like from this guy). I read the poem again, notice what is attractive and what feels trite, and don't believe that there are people "unlike me and you," because we are all people, all worried about what is outside that window that lets the "sweet breeze in."


Tyler G | November 5, 2010 at 9:01 AM

I think this is a very good example of what Hoagland did good and bad in his new book.

Very interesting run down of it, Joe.

Keep up the good blogging.

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