Reasons to Survive November

This is one of my favorite poems.


(Listen to the audio.)

Reasons to Survive November

November like a train wreck –
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.

The sky is a thick, cold gauze –
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.

– Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.

I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself

with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.

But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,

and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over

and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.

(Tony Hoagland, from What Narcissism Means to Me. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf, 2003.)


Anonymous said…
i love this one also!!!! i'm actually reading that collection now.
JimK said…
Cool...such tenacity!
Interesting resonance to
this November.

"He who attacks must vanquish. He
who defends must merely survive."
- Master Kan
I got to go hear Jo Harjo read last night ~ what a great performance it was, mixed with native American music she played on the flute. I put one of her poems up--come on over and take a look!
jillypoet said…
I like this poem, too! I've been reading Tony Hoagland quite a bit lately.

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