423b2e
423b2e

5.30.2012

tony hoagland


I've posted this poem before by Tony Hoagland.  I like many of his poems, but I think this one is probably my favorite.  And it is especially so because I found these utterly gorgeous, I'm 'head over heels in love with' boots ........ not necessarily work boots per se.  But ohhhhh definite lust-worthy boots.  I know, I know - it's a girl thing ;)  And yes, I can see myself standing on a chair, work boots laced up and a nightie on trying to figure out how to hang the darn windchimes early in the morning-it's exactly my kind of impulsive action.

But back to Tony - currently he is a professor in the University of Houston's Creative Writing program (MFA and PhD).  I once had a small dream of enrolling at UH just for the purpose of being able to sit and listen to some of my favorite poets and writers of the day lecture.  The last time I checked, you had to submit a portfolio of your work - for a poet, it was 10 or 12 of your best poems, as part of the criteria to be evaluated for the MFA program.  Surprising isn't it - to find out that a college one might think of as a sort of local college is actually ranked in the top ten MFA programs in the US.  This due in part to its list of very talented and well known in their field teachers.  Who knows?  Maybe one day after all the kids have done their college stints,  mom will pursue hers ??

WINDCHIME
She goes out to hang the windchime
in her nightie and her work boots.
It’s six-thirty in the morning
and she’s standing on the plastic ice chest
tiptoe to reach the crossbeam of the porch,

windchime in her left hand,
hammer in her right, the nail
gripped tight between her teeth
but nothing happens next because
she’s trying to figure out
how to switch #1 with #3.

She must have been standing in the kitchen,
coffee in her hand, asleep,
when she heard it—the wind blowing
through the sound the windchime
wasn’t making
because it wasn’t there.

No one, including me, especially anymore believes
till death do us part,
but I can see what I would miss in leaving—
the way her ankles go into the work boots
as she stands upon the ice chest;
the problem scrunched into her forehead;
the little kissable mouth
with the nail in it.

from What Narcissism Means to Me

xxx 

19 comments:

Adullamite said...

Why are wimmen so fussed about shoes?
You wear them because they are appropriate and comfortable, that's it!
Yet wimmen fuss for hours over shoes.......?

bulletholes said...

Oh, that is such a great poem!
I think I have a Hoagland posted somewhere.
I can see it now, Red Dirt Girl, Master of the Fine Arts!

bulletholes said...

I actually have TWO Hoaglands up. I like the second of the two the best...the image I put with it actually drew fire from Facebook, and they took it down for me, which I thought was great because thats kinda what the poem is about...
click here

goatman said...

Amply obfuscated, I would say.

red dirt girl said...

Adullamite ~ For exactly the same reason men are so fussed about football!

Cowboy! - links? links? I do remember you posting some of tony's work and liking it very much. Now I'm curious to see the image 'shunned' by FB ......

goatman ~ i like 'obfuscated's synonym: beclouding. That's a great word. I like poems that appear narrative and straightforward on the first read only to trip you up with an unexpected word or line ..... it's one of the things i LOVE MOST ABOUT POETRY !

xxx

bulletholes said...

Red, click on the blue "click here" in my second comment.

red dirt girl said...

ha cowboy .... I've already googled your blog with tony hoagland and found the 'offending' image. I really like the poem it went with - makes me appreciate hoagland even more!

and i was wearing my glasses too - just missed that link altogether...

xxx

Adullamite said...

Football my dear is football. Shoes are merely shoes!

red dirt girl said...

Adullamite ~ You say tah-mah-toe and we real english speakers say toe-may-toe ...... in the end it's the same!

xxx

bulletholes said...

You so smart girl.

goatman said...

Yes, I don't mind being tripped up by the unexpected word or line but I like to regain my balance with some clarity. I see not that here!
I thought I recognized his name from contributions to "The Sun".

soubriquet said...

I for one greatly admire those boots. More than I admire wind-chimes. The silence of the chimes would be down to me cutting them down in the middle of the night.

red dirt girl said...

cowboy! Ummm, I actually felt pretty dumb when I read your comment directing me to the link. But thanks anyway for the warm fuzzy, friend :)

xxx

red dirt girl said...

goatman ~ well... you know I don't like interpreting poems for people because my experience with the words will always be different from yours etc. etc.

With that said, to me this is a love poem. Love in the 'modern' sense which realistically, even callously acknowledges that relationships rarely last forever. Love that recognizes that we don't always like some of the quirks of our loved ones (maybe tony dislikes windchimes as much as Soubry - ha!) Or maybe he's a night owl type and she's an early bird and it causes friction ... well we could speculate until the cows come home. Ultimately, though, it is the small things about a person that makes you appreciate them, love them more, brings a smile to your face. And I think that is what the last stanza is noting - those little details that trips your heart.

xxx

red dirt girl said...

Soubry - Now THOSE are some boots I'd let you buy for me. I'd even go as far as attempting to find something to wear with them (a man's button down shirt and nothing else ;)

Windchimes - not on your list of wants... well, I have been a windchime owner in past lives. Though I find they tend to fade in the brutal sun here and get all tangled and mangled until they look bad. So the visual bothers me more than the sound.

Here I live with the constant hum of air conditioning and a fan rotating and the refrigerator humming, dogs barking, muffled kid sounds ... and that's after a day of working in a mall with piped in music and lots of people noises.... Now that I am thinking about this, total silence would probably disturb me deeply.

Though I will agree it is difficult to find a great sounding set of chimes.

I like that: Silence of the Chimes. Very clever, you.

xxxxx

goatman said...

Yes, I see all that also.
It was the "#1 with #3 which hung me up.
I am too damned literal -- or too literally damned!

red dirt girl said...

goatman - ahhhh. She's trying to figure out how to get the nail in her mouth to her left hand so she can hammer it into the cross beam. But her left hand is holding the windchime. Sort of a tricky prospect when you're standing on top of the ice chest.

(it was the order in which he listed those items in that stanza)

xxx

goatman said...

Aha! So that part is literal, just as I first thought. Then I thought maybe she had three guys to juggle and it was some sort of obscure metaphor.
(you put the nail thru the chime-string loop and hold both up with the one hand whilst nailing with the other--don't need a poem for that . . . .)

red dirt girl said...

goatman - you guys know all the tricks!

xxx