Note to Reality

Without even knowing it, I have
believed in you for a long time.

When I looked at my blood under a microscope
                I could see truth multiplying over and over.

—Not police sirens, nor history books, not stage-three lymphoma
                                                                                     persuaded me

but your honeycombs and beetles; the dry blond fascicles of grass
                                                              thrust up above the January snow.
Your postcards of Picasso and Matisse,
                                         from the museum series on European masters.

When my friend died on the way to the hospital
                                           it was not his death that so amazed me

but that the driver of the cab
                                              did not insist upon the fare.

Quotation marks: what should we put inside them?

Shall I say “I”  “have been hurt” “by”  “you,”  you neglectful monster?

I speak now because experience has shown me
                                 that my mind will never be clear for long.

I am more thick-skinned and male, more selfish, jealous, and afraid
                                   than ever in my life.

“For my heart is tangled in thy nets;
                              my soul enmeshed in cataracts of time...”

The breeze so cool today, the sky smeared with bluish grays and whites.

The parade for the slain police officer
goes past the bakery

and the smell of fresh bread
makes the mourners salivate against their will.

More Poems by Tony Hoagland