Watching the News Hour
The dead soldier boy’s photo makes me think oh his poor mother
as though he’d never been an actual person with fingers, etc.,
but the mother’s right eye shredded by hundreds of pieces of flying pink glass
or the mother’s malignant lung reduced to cinders in the infirmary furnace.
It’s wrong to think of dead people as appendages, so as the dirge persists
I try to comprehend that the boy will never use his spicy mouth again
or promenade the lamplight streets because his Mama won’t stop ragging him
about always being so negative thinking the cup’s half-empty.
But because the cup is more than half-empty now—
because once you’re dead the cup is no longer even a cup
unless it’s a poltergeist cup your poltergeist mother will have to perch on her head
now that her hands have been amputated and her legs set on fire—
that’s wrong, too. It is just so wrong of me not to know what to call the paraphernalia
the boys are given to extinguish the women inside them
by killing off the women inside the others, but I don’t have that kind of dictionary here
and not even you with your magnificent heart can save me now.
—For Tony Hoagland
“Watching the News Hour” first appeared in The Café Review.