Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

19 August 2009

Another from My New Favorite Poet

This Tony Hoagland poem is called "Fire".

The rock band set off fireworks as part of their show—
the ceiling tile of the nightclub smoldered and flared up
over the heads of all those dancing bodies below—

then they churned and burned against the exit doors,
doors someone had chained shut to prevent the would-be sneakers-in—
so 95 party people died that night,

and two days later the weeping girl at the televised funeral
says of her dead friend David,
God must have needed some good rock and roll in heaven.

On earth, God must have needed some good clichés, too,
and weeping riot girls with runny mascara and spiderweb tattoos.
He must have needed the entertainment of dueling insurance companies

calculating the liability per body bag,
and the rock band and nightclub owner pointing fingers at each other like guns
and pulling the blame-trigger, blam blam blam,

because death is something that always has to be enclosed
by an elaborate set of explanations.
It is an ancient litigation,

this turning of horror into stories,
and it is a lonely piece of work,
trying to turn the stories back into horror,

but somebody has to do it

—especially now that God
has reverted to a state of fire.