Fragrant Feces - Poem by gershon hepner
If I were a jihadist inside a US plane,
or one from Israel, I’d want to bomb it
If bull penguin on a date and trying to obtain
a sexual favor from a cow I’d vomit
into her mouth. It’s always different strokes for different folk,
the same applies of course to difference species.
An alien is a person who can’t understand a joke,
and can’t tell bullshit from your fragrant feces.
Inspired by a review of “Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty” by Tony Hoagland reviewed by Dwight Garner in the NYT on February 5,2010 (“The Free Verse is in Aisle 3”) :
There are 15 or 20 better poets in America than Tony Hoagland, but few deliver more pure pleasure. His erudite comic poems are backloaded with heartache and longing, and they function, emotionally, like improvised explosive devices: the pain comes at you from the cruelest angles, on the sunniest of days. Mr. Hoagland’s previous collection, “What Narcissism Means to Me” (2003) , for example, contains a bristling poem about wine tasting that falls away to these plaintive lines, which I’ve never forgotten:
But where is the Cabernet of rent checks and asthma medication?
Where is the Burgundy of orthopedic shoes?
Where is the Chablis of skinned knees and jelly sandwiches?
with the aftertaste of cruel Little League coaches?
and the undertone of rusty stationwagon?
Here’s how that same poem ends:
When a beast is hurt it roars in incomprehension.
When a bird is hurt it huddles in its nest.
But when a man is hurt,
he makes himself an expert.
Then he stands there with a glass in his hand staring into nothing
as if he was forming an opinion.
Mr. Hoagland’s poems are routinely this good, streaked with riddling wit and close observation. They’re so effective in part, I suspect, because he writes so few of them. His new book, “Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty, ” is his first collection in seven years. He cultivates his work like a man harshly pruning a fruit tree, forcing out only a few especially flavorful apples each season….
Mr. Hoagland is a poet of malls and semi-lighted highways and CNN feeds, more suburban than rural or urban. An awareness of the natural world hovers around the margins of his work, but don’t look to him for rolling lists of place names or ecological elegies. In one poem a bird has “a cry like a cell phone, ” and a creek trickles “from dependent clause to interrogative.” Elsewhere, “tipsy drivers swerve/under the breathalyzer moon.” Smelling a woman’s perfume, he can’t help thinking of “the destruction of a hundred flowers.” And not knowing what to do on a date, he thinks: “If I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over/and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved.”
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