The Oven Loves the TV Set

By Heather McHugh b. 1948 Heather McHugh
Stuck on the fridge, our favorite pin-up girl   
is anorexic. On the radio we have a riff

of Muzak sax, and on the mind
a self-help book. We sprawl all evening, all

alone, in the unraised ranch;   
all day the company we kept

kept on incorporating. As for the world   
of poverty, we did our best, thanks

to a fund of Christian feeling   
and mementos from

Amelia, the foster child, who has
the rags and seven photogenic sisters we prefer

in someone to be saved. She's proof   
Americans have got a heart

to go with all that happy
acumen you read about. We're known to love

a million little prettinesses,   
decency, and ribbons on

the cockapoo. (But who
will study alphabets for hands? Who gives

a damn what patience goes into
a good wheelchair? Who lugs the rice

from its umpteen stores
to the ends of the earth, to even

one dead-end? Not we.)   
Our constitutional pursuit

is happiness, i.e.   
somebody nice, and not

too fat, we can have   
for our personal friend.

Heather McHugh, “The Oven Loves the TV Set” from Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993. Copyright © 1994 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993 (Wesleyan University Press, 1994)

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Poet Heather McHugh b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Social Commentaries

 Heather  McHugh


Poet Heather McHugh’s work is noted for its rhetorical gestures, sharp puns and interest in the materials of language itself—her self-described determination is “to follow every surge of language, every scrap and flotsam.” Describing her work in the Boston Review, poet and critic Richard Howard alleged that “most of McHugh’s poems end in a spurt, as they proceed in a slather, of just such astonishment as is bestowed—afforded—by . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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