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.