Tony Hoagland

What They Told Me At The Boy’s Club In Gainesville
December 14, 2014 Hoagland Tony

What They Told Me At The Boy’s Club In Gainesville


Right over there, in the public library, that’s where Rahul got shot–

all engrossed in front of the science fiction shelf, reading Teenage Nymphomaniacs from Mars


with a studious expression and a moderate erection

which may be why he got taken by surprise.


They took him downtown in the ambulance, but left the crime scene cordoned off and

a pool of blood on the hardwood library floor for evidence,


right under the murder mysteries,

like some kind of promotional display;


And Mrs. Kennedy kept the checkout desk open till nine P.M., out of principle, even

though she was frowning and crying the whole two hours,


and making little noises to herself

which in a book might have been described as “muffled cries for help.” And


Rahul, who didn’t make it all the way to closing time,


died in the corridor of Mercy General,

and left his seventeen-year-old body on the crash cart


with the unused library card in his front shirt pocket, as he

himself was a book that was never carefully read.


To some it signified the need

for more metal detectors;


for others it was definite proof

that reading can be bad for your health


but when the priest at the funeral said that Rahul had gone to a better place we

could only hope that it looked nothing like Gainesville, Florida;


and it made us feel better to imagine

that the angels who met and took him there


appeared in the disguise

of teenage nymphomaniacs from Mars.

Tony Hoagland’s newest collections of poems are Recent Changes in the Vernacular (Tres Chicas Press, 2017) and Priest Turned Therapist