Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Poem: Hard Rain by Tony Hoagland

Tony read this at the Skagit River Poetry Festival.  The "Dear Abby" part of this poem, blew me away.


Hard Rain

After I heard It's a Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
played softly by an accordion quartet
through the ceiling speakers at the Springdale Shopping Mall,
I understood there's nothing
we can't pluck the stinger from,

nothing we can't turn into a soft drink flavor or a t-shirt.
Even serenity can become something horrible
if you make a commercial about it
using smiling, white-haired people

quoting Thoreau to sell retirement homes
in the Everglades, where the swamp has been
drained and bulldozed into a nineteen-hole golf course
with electrified alligator barriers.

You can't keep beating yourself up, Billy
I heard the therapist say on television
                                                         to the teenage murderer,
About all those people you killed—
You just have to be the best person you can be,

one day at a time—


and everybody in the audience claps and weeps a little,
because the level of deep feeling has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the power of Forgiveness is greater
than the power of Consequence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a businessman who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
                                   are covered with blood-
but he never forgets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
                                                       Signed, America.


I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own business and get along,

but that was just another song
that had been taught to me since birth—

whose words I was humming under my breath,
as I was walking through the Springdale Mall.


"Hard Rain" by Tony Hoagland from Hard Rain: A Chapbook

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2 comments:

Nin Andrews said...

He's so great!

Bonnee Crawford said...

Thought provoking! Thank you so much for sharing this!

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