Luckily for me

and my resolution to be more timely with Poetry Monday, a wonderful chapbook, “Little Oceans” by Tony Hoagland, arrived in the mail today.  I’ve posted his poems before, and some of these I’d read before, but I was so glad to spend a little time with his work, and his particular view of America that is piercing, unsparing, and doesn’t let any of us (including himself) off the hook.  Here’s a sample.


is not the beginning of a sentence
you hear often uttered in my household.
If she wants to make a career comeback
and her agent pushes her into the MTV awards show
but she can’t lose the weight beforehand

and so looks chubby in a spangled bikini
before millions of fanged, spiteful fans and enemies,
then gets a little drunk beforehand
so misses a step in the dance routine

making her look, one critic says,
like a “comatose piglet,”

well, it wasn’t by accident, was it?
that she wandered into that late 20th century glitterati party
of striptease American celebrity?

First we made her into an object of desire,
then into an object of contempt,
Now we want to turn her into an object of compassion?

Are you sure we know what the hell we’re doing?

Is she a kind of voodoo doll
onto whom we project
our fantasies of triumph and humiliation?

Is she a pink, life size piece of chewing gum
full of non FDA approved additives
bioengineered by the mad scientists
of the mainstream dream machine?

Or is she nothing less than a gladiatrix
who stalks into the coliseum
full of blinding lights and tigers

with naught but her slim javelin of talent
and recklessly little protective clothing?

Oh my adorable little monkey,
prancing for your candy,

With one of my voices I shout, “Jump, Jump, you little whore!”
With another I say,
in a tired voice that turns down the lights
“Put on some clothes and go home, Sweetheart.”

hoagland Tony Hoagland

I also love the wonderful elfish photo on the back of his Hollyridge Press books.

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