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.