Peaceful Transition by Tony Hoagland

This is the most powerful poem I’ve read this year. And now I feel a desperate pang, again, that Tony Hoagland is no longer in the world. Although, maybe that’s his luck.

Tony H
Peaceful Transition

by Tony Hoagland

The wind comes down from the northwest, cold in September,
and flips over the neighbor’s trash receptacles.

The Halifax newspaper says that mansions are falling into the sea.
Storms are rising in the dark Pacific.

Pollution has infiltrated the food chain down to the jellyfish level.
The book I am reading is called “The End of the Ascent of Man.”

It says the time of human dominion is done,
but I am hoping it will be a peaceful transition.

It is one thing to think of buffalo on Divisadero Street,
of the Golden Gate Bridge overgrown in a tangle of vine.

It is another to open the door of your own house to the waves.
I am hoping the humans will be calm in their diminishing.

That the forests grow back with patience, not rage;
I am hoping the flocks of geese increase
 their number only gradually.

Let it be like an amnesia that we don’t even notice;
the hills forgetting the name for our kind. Then the sky.

Let the fish rearrange their green governments
as the rain spatters slant on their roof.

It is important that we expire.
It is a kind of work we have begun in order to complete.

Today out of the north the cold wind comes down,
and I go out to see

the neighbor’s trash bins have toppled in the drive.
I see the unpicked grapes have turned
to small sweet raisins on their vine.

I see the wren has found a way to make its little nest
inside the cactus thorns.

—Tony Hoagland (1953-2018)

Advertisements

Jet by Tony Hoagland

 

Image

 

Sometimes I wish I were still out

on the back porch, drinking jet fuel

with the boys, getting louder and louder

as the empty cans drop out of our paws

like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.

Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,

bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish

and old space suits with skeletons inside.

On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life

out of the box, uncapping the bottle

to let the effervescence gush

through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances

in unison, and then the fireflies flash

dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation

for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex

someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night

as if remembering the bright unbroken planet

we once came from, 
to which we will never

be permitted to return. 
We are amazed how hurt we are.

We would give anything for what we have.

 

Tony Hoagland