Guest poem submitted by Rachel Morarjee:
(Poem #1969) The Word
Down near the bottom of the crossed-out list of things you have to do today, between "green thread" and "broccoli" you find that you have penciled "sunlight." Resting on the page, the word is as beautiful, it touches you as if you had a friend and sunlight were a present he had sent you from some place distant as this morning -- to cheer you up, and to remind you that, among your duties, pleasure is a thing, that also needs accomplishing Do you remember? that time and light are kinds of love, and love is no less practical than a coffee grinder or a safe spare tire? Tomorrow you may be utterly without a clue but today you get a telegram, from the heart in exile proclaiming that the kingdom still exists, the king and queen alive, still speaking to their children, - to any one among them who can find the time, to sit out in the sun and listen.
I stumbled across this poem today, in a book given to me by a friend in Afghanistan, where I now live, and where the stream of news is endlessly depressing. It was a reminder, that each one of us, whereever we live, needs a gentle prod to remember that within the daily grind of modern life, "pleasure/ is a thing / that also needs accomplishing." This poem is from Tony Hoagland's first anthology Sweet Ruin, and is perhaps the most unalloyed and directly sweet poem he has written, in contrast to much of his other work which addresses the bitter humour of disillusion and the heart's struggle to clamber over the accumulated detritus of disappointment -- and does it with a light humourous touch. Sweet Ruin won the 1992 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and Hoagland has since published two other books, Donkey Gospel, and What Narcissism Means to Me. On the back of the last book it said he teaches at the University of Houston, but I wasn't able to check online from here today. Rachel.