November 27, 2022

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A poem by Tony Hoagland for his birthday [ed. Terence Winch]

1 min read

my father’s vocabulary

In the history of American speech,

he was born between “Dirty Commies” and “Nice tits”.

He worked for Uncle Sam

and married a giddy Pittsburgh girl with a mouth on her.

I was conceived in the decade

between “Far Out” and “Whatever”;

the very moment when “go all the way”

morphed into “put it on”.

Sometimes, I swear I can feel the idioms flying around in my head

like moths left over from the Age of Aquarius.

Or I hear myself speaking and it feels like I’m carrying

a no longer groovy cologne from the seventies.

Back then I was always trying to get a rap session going

and he always told me how to tidy the garage.

Our last visit was in the twilight zone of a clinic

between “feeling no pain” and “catching a buzz”.

I had carefully prepared for this occasion

a suitcase full of small talk

– But he was already grabbed and walked backwards,

with the nice tits and the dirty clerks,

to the little town of his vocabulary,

Somewhere outside of Pittsburgh.

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More information on Tony Hoagland (November 19, 1953 – October 23, 2018):

Wikipedia

Poetry Foundation

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