The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Monday

Phone Call
By Tony Hoagland

Maybe I overdid it
when I called my father an enemy of humanity.
That might have been a little strongly put,
a slight exaggeration,

an immoderate description of the person
who at that moment, two thousand miles away,
holding the telephone receiver six inches from his ear,
must have regretted paying for my therapy.

What I meant was that my father
was an enemy of my humanity
and what I meant behind that
was that my father was split
into two people, one of them

living deep inside me
like a bad king or an incurable disease —
blighting my crops,
striking down my herds,
poisoning my wells — the other
standing in another time zone,
in a kitchen in Wyoming,
with bad knees and white hair sprouting from his ears.

I don't want to scream forever,
I don't want to live without proportion
like some kind of infection from the past,

so I have to remember the second father,
the one whose TV dinner is getting cold
while he holds the phone in his left hand
and stares blankly out the window

where just now the sun is going down
and the last fingertips of sunlight
are withdrawing from the hills
they once touched like a child.


Another by Tony Hoagland. Robert Pinsky pointed out in the Poet's Choice column yesterday that Hoagland caused controversy by publishing a poem, "The Change," in which the narrator admitted that he found himself unable to keep from rooting for "the white girl" in a tennis match. It's not at all a nice sentiment, and at the same time it takes a kind of guts to write about things like that -- and what I found most interesting about the mention in the column was that Pinsky, also a poet, attributed the sentiment to Hoagland himself rather than the speaker in the "The Change."

Instead of going hiking today -- we had thought about going to Scott's Run -- we ended up looking at televisions for most of the afternoon. I'm still not sure what we're buying. Do we get the HDTV-capable widescreen that is at the very outer limits of our budget even for a not very big one? Do we get one that's close to the one we had, not widescreen, since we're not planning to get HDTV right now anyway, on the theory that maybe we will be able to afford a better one when we are ready to get HDTV, or is that silly? My father very nearly accompanied us, having dropped over to say hello, which he never does -- my mother was out shopping at the synagogue holiday boutique, the kids had run into her there with her friends on the way out of Hebrew school, I am not sure if this means they are still not speaking or just decided to go their separate ways or what. Sigh.

Star Trek news this weekend was fun -- I got to write for TrekToday about George Takei's reaction to reactions to his coming out and Dominic Keating announcing that you haven't really gone to public school in Britain until, as Winston Churchill said, you've had sex with other boys, plus Leonard Nimoy swearing he's done with acting and the development of PHaSR -- a laser weapon designed to temporarily blind enemies of the US armed forces that violates a UN protocol against such weapons. I need to break the news to my editor that my review this Friday will either be early or late, as I am going to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my girlfriends and will not be deterred.

Watched part one of The Virgin Queen on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS tonight, but wasn't all that impressed -- the casting was excellent and the acting was great but given the focus of the screenplay, they might as well have called it The Rise of Robert Dudley. It certainly didn't do Elizabeth any favors and will not make anyone forget Cate Blanchett playing the maybe-not-totally-a-virgin-but-still-probably-by-Bill-Clinton-standards queen. Beautifully filmed, however, and made me nostalgic for Greenwich and Westminster and places we visited last spring. Speaking of beautiful places, here's some more Sugarloaf Mountain, though I still haven't sized all of the photos:

A bird of prey, one of dozens of the hawks and turkey vultures we saw, circles high above the summit.

The approach, after a leisurely labyrinth pattern up, is straight uphill.

From the summit, the shining Potomac River passes the Potomac Electric Power Company stacks.

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