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The Word -- Tony Hoagland

Guest poem submitted by Rachel Morarjee:
(Poem #1969) The Word
 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.
-- Tony Hoagland
I stumbled across this poem today, in a book given to me by a friend in
Afghanistan, where I now live, and where the stream of news is endlessly
depressing. It was a reminder, that each one of us, whereever we live,
needs a gentle prod to remember that within the daily grind of modern
life, "pleasure/ is a thing / that also needs

This poem is from Tony Hoagland's first anthology Sweet Ruin, and is
perhaps the most unalloyed and directly sweet poem he has written, in
contrast to much of his other work which addresses the bitter humour of
disillusion and the heart's struggle to clamber over the accumulated
detritus of disappointment -- and does it with a light humourous touch.

Sweet Ruin won the 1992 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and Hoagland has
since published two other books, Donkey Gospel, and What Narcissism
Means to Me. On the back of the last book it said he teaches at the
University of Houston, but I wasn't able to check online from here today.


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