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A poem by a new favorite.

You might not know it, but Graywolf Press is a distribution client of Macmillan's. And I love Graywolf, because I love poetry. The collection this poem is from is Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty. Great title, eh? Enjoy!


Personal


by Tony Hoagland


Don’t take it personal, they said;

but I did, I took it all quite personal—

the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;

the price of grapefruit and stamps,

the wet hair of women in the rain—

and I cursed what hurt me

and I praised what gave me joy,

the most simple-minded of possible responses.

The government reminded me of my father,

with its deafness and its laws,

and the weather reminded me of my mom,

with her tropical squalls.

Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness

Think first, they said of Talk

Get over it, they said

at the School of Broken Hearts

but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t

believe in the clean break;

I believe in the compound fracture

served with a sauce of dirty regret,

I believe in saying it all

and taking it all back

and saying it again for good measure

while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries 

like wheeling birds

and the trees look seasick in the wind.

Oh life! Can you blame me

for making a scene?

You were that yellow caboose, the moon

disappearing over a ridge of cloud.

I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;

barking and barking:

trying to convince everything else

to take it personal too.

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