Reasons to Survive November

It's my tradition to post this poem on November 1. I feel the emotion in this poem more passionately now more than ever.

(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.)

(Tony Hoagland and me from Salem State Uniiversity's Poetry Seminar reading, June 4, 2010.)


Anonymous said…
i love it!
Jim K. said…
That's a rockin survivor spirit!
Kells said…
I *heart* Tony Hoagland! (In my mind, he was much taller... like 6' - but unless you are on a box, I can see he's not as tall as I imagined.)
Kells said…
BTW, how tall are you? I imagine you at 5'7" or 5'8" ;-)
January said…
Yes, I am on a box!

OK, I'm 5' 8", and I may be shrinking. But I am not ready to confirm or deny the rumor.

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