Tony Hoagland

Writing Under the Influence of Me
February 11, 2013 Hoagland Tony

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