More goodness from Hoagland in his final book of poetry, poems about oncology waiting rooms and realizing things are better than expected, “I have outlasted the voluntary numbness I required in order to remain alive.” Letters to his father, “He is the language that you use when you speak harshly to yourself, trying to hide the fact that you are lost.” In Moment in the Conversation, after a woman drops a casual reference to her husband and realizing he’s probably been leaning in too closely, “Life used to be a whole subdivision of crazy possibilities but now it’s just a few quiet rooms on the second floor in the economy motel near the edge of town.” In Trying to Keep You Happy, I love this image: “On summer days, the southwest breeze will carry the drowsy mumbling of bees out of the corn and grapevines across the kitchen window sill where in a little tray above the sink the bar of soap your hands have touched repeatedly is waiting to be touched again.” In Frog Song, comparing the croak of bullfrogs to the voices of dead fathers, “at a certain hour of the night they begin to speak with disproportionate satisfaction from the warm porridge of the swamp, where they believe they are geniuses and kings, having discovered an unexpected gift for throat-singing, and an ability to love themselves they were denied in human life… Father—go take your place among your kind, content in the oily moistness of your skin, replete in your ability to catch the quickest bugs. I would have loved you more, if only I had known you were a frog—amphibious, mottled, and small-brained; not intimate by nature; preferring to stay half-immersed below the water line; so much a part of nature’s plan you are oblivious to it.”
And from The Third Dimension, this, after comparing himself to Odysseus:
I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea
to go through life hidden.
It must be something I picked up while traveling.
Clearly it has something to do with self-protection.
I just have this preference for keeping the edges blurry.
The only thing that confused me was the inclusion of the poem Playboy in here again, it was in his 2009 chapbook, Little Oceans, but nothing else was repeated.
From another book of poems that I skimmed but am not putting up here because I can’t stop thinking about it: