Writing Under the Influence of Me

It means I drop things, and I keep turning

around while I forget what I am looking for.


Writing under the influence of me

means that I touch my paintbrush to my face unconsciously,


that I break something that belongs to someone else,

then hide the pieces under the couch.


Then I drag my childhood into it,

or make up something Montaigne might have said.


Am I done yet?  I get lazy as soon as I start,

and it seems that I want to be thanked


before I finish, for using the words “tangential”

and “forlorn” in the same sentence.


The sorrow at the heart of it

is of human nature trapped inside itself,


unable to get loose

–like a copy of The New York Times wrapped inside a plastic bag

and flung onto the neighbor’s roof-


full of brilliant facts and bad ideas it just

recirculates like air.


Imperfect custodian of this story

I don’t even understand,


that I will in fact be enormously

relieved to relinquish,


I speak now because experience has shown me

that my mind will never be clear for long


and I have given up on my notion

of getting back to the sky, where I started.


Meanwhile, I am working on a fall-back plan

to turn all these setbacks and deformities,

all these errors and tribulations


into a kind of style.




Tony Hoagland is the author of Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty (2010);  Donkey Gospel, winner of the James Laughlin Award of The Academy of American Poets; and What Narcissism Means to Me, as well as a collection of essays about poetry, Real Sofistakashun, all by Graywolf Press. His poems and critical essays have appeared widely. He is the winner of the 2008 Jackson Poetry Prize.



Issue #20 February 2013
Share This