The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
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Poem for Sunday


What Narcissism Means to Me
By Tony Hoagland


There’s Socialism and Communism and Capitalism,
said Neal,
and there’s Feminism and Hedonism,
      and there’s Catholicism and Bipedalism and Consumerism,

but I think Narcissism is the system
that means the most to me;

and Sylvia said that in Neal’s case
narcissism represented a heroic achievement in positive thinking.

And Ann,
who calls everybody Sweetie pie
     whether she cares for them or not,

Ann lit a cigarette and said, Only miserable people will tell you
     that love has to be deserved,

and when I heard that, a distant chime went off for me,

remembering a time when I believed
                    that I could simply live without it.

Neal had grilled the corn and sliced the onions
          into thick white disks,
          and piled the wet green pickles
                    up in stacks like coins
     and his chef’s cap was leaning sideways like a mushroom cloud.

Then Ethan said that in his opinion,
if you’re going to mess around with self-love
     you shouldn’t just rush into a relationship,

and Sylvia was weeping softly now, looking down
     into her wine cooler and potato chips,

and then the hamburgers were done, just as
the sunset in the background started
          cutting through the charcoal clouds

exposing their insides – black,
streaked dark red,
          like a slab of scorched, rare steak,

delicious but unhealthy,
or, depending on your perspective,
                    unhealthy but delicious,

-- the way that, deep inside the misery
     of daily life,
          love lies bleeding.


--------

From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, this week on Tony Hoagland's winning the Mark Twain Award "recognizing a poet's contribution to humor in American poetry." Pinsky's predecessor Edward Hirsch also wrote about him, noting that Hoagland "has a smart and sassy way of thinking about America in his work" (that one's here if you're interested), and Pinsky calls Hoagland "restless, pungent, intellectually ambitious and slyly colloquial," placing the poet in the tradition of illuminating the "complacent, unexamined and blandly corrupt in American life...his is not the mild, dismissive chuckle of standard 'comic poetry,' reassuring its audience that everything is either okay or can't be helped." One joke in the title of the poem above, which is also the title of his latest book, is about how socially engaged it is, writes Pinsky, who says the poems in this volume are "the opposite of solipsistic...in shrewdly informal, seemingly casual language, Hoagland gets at important and hard-to-get-at feelings. And yes, he can be funny."

Ignored all family but the immediate today and climbed Sugarloaf Mountain, which is a great way to wipe out one's aggressions and annoyances even if one ends up with a mild headache from the glaring, intense autumn sun in a brilliant blue sky. Came home, discovered that my sons had gone surfing on my web page and discovered that there's a whole fannish section...I don't think they fell into the fan fiction but it was the last straw, and I spent the evening registering a new domain name, obtaining inexpensive hosting (thank you everyone who recommended slashcity.com) and starting to upload files. The name isn't resolving yet but I hope to announce where it is tomorrow. In the meantime if you can't find things you're looking for where you expect them to be on my site, that's why.

My other activity of the day was a closet cleanout and organization prompted by the need to get my winter clothes out of the back and put my summer clothes away, then I spent a lot of time reorganizing the binders where I keep my kids' report cards, award certificates, national and state test results, Hebrew school progress reports, etc. The kids were very interested in this and compared notes on how they did in first grade etc., with older son very competitive at first until he realized that, magnet school or no magnet school, his younger brother tested out just as gifted as he did. The younger one keeps talking about wanting to go to the same middle school as the older one, but I'm not sure it's the right place for him; he's not nearly so math and science oriented, has little patience for computers (they were both making web pages today to host BunnyHeroLabs animals and while older one astounded me creating tables off the top of his head where I have to look things up, younger one was quickly in tears over not being able to align his hamster and penguin). He's very creative and is constantly making up stories -- he and Furby went camping again in our living room last night, surrounded by potential adversaries, and he had a whole "video game" story plotted related to climbing today -- I think he would be frustrated in a program with twice the science and half the arts electives.

Somehow I ended up with a very nice gift certificate from Amazon.com based on purchases through my web site, which has never happened before (thank you if anyone clicked through my link here!) With it I bought myself something I have wanted for years and years, very nearly purchased for twice the price on used VHS, and which finally came out on DVD earlier this year -- a complete set of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre. We watched "The Snow Queen" with a pretty good and surprisingly lovely Melissa Gilbert and the ethereal, absolutely stunning Lee Remick in the title role...guh. Then we watched "Aladdin and the Lamp" which had James Earl Jones and Leonard Nimoy and was extremely amusing. I am so thrilled to own this set, and I paid less than $15 of my own money for it! Joy! Must watch Eric Idle as "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" next.

I had no time to size most of the Sugarloaf photos, so a teaser:



If I'd painted it you'd think I exaggerated the colors, wouldn't you? More, including the turkey vultures flying all around the summit and the yellow-gold ferns on the face of the mountain, tomorrow.
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