By Tony Hoagland b. 1953 Tony Hoagland
Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel   
with the boys, getting louder and louder   
as the empty cans drop out of our paws   
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.   
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,   
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish   
and old space suits with skeletons inside.   
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances   
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation   
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex   
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet   
we once came from,
to which we will never   
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

Tony Hoagland, “Jet” from Donkey Gospel. Copyright © 1998 by Tony Hoagland. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: Donkey Gospel (1998)

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Poet Tony Hoagland b. 1953

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Time & Brevity, Summer, Living, Nature

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Tony  Hoagland


Tony Hoagland was born in 1953 in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He earned a BA from the University of Iowa and an MFA from the University of Arizona. Hoagland’s poetry is known for its acerbic, witty take on contemporary life and “straight talk,” in the words of New York Times reviewer Dwight Garner, who continued: “At his frequent best … Mr. Hoagland is demonically in touch with the American demotic.” Hoagland’s books of poetry . . .

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SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Summer, Living, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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