Tony Hoagland

In autumn, Operation Enduring Freedom commenced,
which some party-poopers wanted to nickname
Operation Infinite Self-Indulgence.
We tied flags to the antennae of our cars
that snapped like fire when we drove.

In winter there was Operation Gentle Sledgehammer,
which seemed linguistically a little underdigested,
but we lined up squads of second-graders
to stand at attention while we beat a drum.

Let me make it clear that I was
as doubtful as anyone about Operation Racial Provocation
but I loved Operation Religious Suspicion,
which led to Operation Eye For An Eye,
which was succeeded by Operation Helping Hand;
—Let me tell you that was a scary-looking hand!
But that was also a very successful Operation.
Someday you will be required to perform a terrible deed
in order to save yourself,

but save yourself for what?
That would be a question for Operation
Self-Examination to answer,
which is a very painful operation
performed without anesthesia
in a naked room full of shadows and light.

Perhaps I might suggest, instead,
Operation Self-Medication, or Operation Endless
Mindless Distraction?
In the meantime Operation Collateral Amnesia
is proceeding very smoothly
When it is over we want call it Operation One Big Happy Family—
Is that okay with you?

(My apologies for not being able to break the lines correctly in Blogger.)


ecm said…
This poem is great! In my class this week we were just talking about repeating phrases...works really well here :)
twitches said…
Brilliant. Thanks for posting it.
paris parfait said…
Wow! So powerful. Thanks for posting this.

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