Good or bad.
Active or passive.
Regret or satisfaction.
- Mary Ruefle
I’m sorry to say it, but fucking
is nothing. To the gods, we look
like dogs. Still, they watch.
Did you lose your wallet?
Did you rip up the photo?
Did you pick up the baby
and kiss its forehead?
Did you drive into a deer?
Did you hack at the grass
as if it could kill you?
Did you ask your mother for milk?
Did you light the candles?
Did you count the buttons on your shirt?
Were you off by one? Did you start again?
Did you learn how to cut a pineapple,
open a coconut?
Did you carry a body once it had died?
For how long and how far?
Did you do the merengue?
Did you wave at the train?
Did you finish the puzzle, or save it for morning?
Did you say something? Would you repeat it?
Did you throw the bottle against the wall?
Did it break? Did you clean it up?
Did you tear down the web? What did you do
with the bug the spider was saving?
Did you dive without clothes into cold water?
Have you been born?
What book will you be reading when you die?
If it’s a good one, you won’t finish it.
If it’s a bad one, what a shame.
Imagining a renewed role for poetry in the national discourse, and a new canon.
by Tony Hoagland.
Here are TONY HOAGLAND’S twenty poems: Twenty-First. Night. Monday., by Anna Akhmatova God’s Justice, by Anne Carson memory, by Lucille Clifton A Man and a Woman, by Alan Feldman America, by Allen Ginsberg Bamboo and a Bird, by Linda Gregg A Sick Child, by Randall Jarrell Black People & White People Were Said, by Kerry Johannsen Topography, by Sharon Olds Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis Merengue, by Mary Ruefle Ballad of Orange and Grape, by Muriel Rukeyser Waiting for Icarus, by Muriel Rukeyser American Classic, by Louis Simpson The Geraniums, by Genevieve Taggard Song of Speaks-Fluently, by Speaks-Fluently Traveling Through The Dark, by William Stafford When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer, by Walt Whitman Our Dust, by C. D. Wright