A Poem for a Thursday #17

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

Tony Hoagland was an American poet whose poems were heartfelt, wry, and sometimes humorous. The poems frequently don't go in quite the direction you expect but they are all the better for that. He thought poetry should be read more, or at least read aloud more since that is when he thought poetry was at its best. Hoagland died in October 2018.  I had trouble picking just one poem. I seem to be feeling that way often lately. Maybe I like poetry more than I thought I did.

Yes, the young mothers are beautiful,
with all the self-acceptance of exhaustion,
still dazed from their great outpouring,
pushing their strollers along the public river walk.

And the day is also beautiful--the replica 19th-century paddle-wheeler
perpetually moored at the city wharf 
                 with its glassed-in bar and grill
for the lunch-and-cocktail-seekers
who come for the Mark Twain Happy Hour
which lasts as long as the Mississippi.

This is the kind of town where the rush hour
   traffic halts
               to let three wild turkeys cross the
and when the high school music teacher retires
after thirty years

the movie marquee says, "Thanks Mr. Biddleman!"
and the whole town comes to hear
                   the tuba solos of old students.

Summer, when the living is easy
and we store up pleasure in our bodies
like fat, like Eskimos,
for the coming season of privation.

All August the Ferris wheel will turn
                          in the little amusement park,
and screaming teenage girls will jump into the river
with their clothes on,
right next to the No Swimming sign.

Trying to cool the heat inside the small towns 
                                                   of their bodies,
for which they have no words;
obedient to the voice inside which tells them,
"Now. Steal Pleasure."

 Summer in a Small Town
Tony Hoagland            

If you would like to read another poem, visit Jennifer at Pastry & Purls. She is doing a poem every Thursday as well. Also, Brona's Books has posted a poem this Thursday.


  1. Trying to cool the heat inside the small towns
    of their bodies!

    Yes, that's been us this past few weeks in Sydney.

    1. It doesn't sound like anyone is having enjoyable weather these days. We have been having very cold weather because of the polar vortex. These extremes are miserable, aren't they?