Reasons to survive November
By Tony Hoagland
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 will deliver this year’s University at Buffalo English Department Silverman Memorial Reading at 8 p.m. Friday in 250 Baird Hall on UB’s North Campus. This poem is from his 2003 collection “What Narcissism Means to Me” (Graywolf Press, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches at the University of Houston and Warren Wilson College.