The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®

 

Tony Hoagland

The Best Hour of the Night

 

After the guests have gone home
and the plates and glasses have been washed and put away
and the beloved retired to her bed,
 
I find that I am granted
this stretch of time
as open as a prairie or a favorite song.
 
I come into it like an inheritance
I did not know I had been waiting for, 
or like a slice of cake

I had set secretly aside.
Everyone else
has gone away

and left me here   
in my green chair   
with my good friends the books   

and the yellow couch
and the antique lamp
guarding the space

like a bishop in a game of chess
in which I have been granted
the final move

which I decline to make
because I am enjoying
this strange sensation

that consists mostly of nothing,
and not knowing what it is
is so luxurious

I want to drag it out.
I want to linger, and dwell
in its vicinity.

 

 

Tony Hoagland

Locker Room

 

I'm just going to the gym, but I end up eavesdropping
to the guys in the locker room.

"My wife- I don't think she expects me to improve anymore,"
the one man says to another.

Standing in a puddle after getting out of the shower,
white towel around his waist

a little gray seaweed on his chest.
In the background, sound of showers, steam,

the clammy tile floors-- flash of white buttocks,

car keys being pocketed, the clumsy clothes crammed
chaotically inside the lockers.

And this truth showing up here
like a private part being exposed

in a crowd that is not even listening.
I peek around the corner and see that he is standing by himself.

What will we do without
the irrational hope,

without the delusionary faith
of women in their men?

All around, the little dripping dicks;
the powerful combination locks

snapped onto the lockers.

 

 

 

TONY HOAGLAND's fifth book of poems, Application for Release from the Dream, was published by Graywolf Press in 2015. He teaches at the University of Houston, and is working on a craft book about poetry, called Five Powers, Forty Lessons. He has two books of poems forthcoming: Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of Godin 2018 from Graywolf Press. And Recent Changes in the Vernacular from Tres Chicas Press. He lives in Santa Fe N.M.,  and teaches often at the University of Houston.

 

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