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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Hoagland
Tony Hoagland
Born on November 19, 1953, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Tony Hoagland...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Reading
from Please Bury Me in This
by Allison Benis White
After Reading Lao Tzu
by Amy Newlove Schroeder
Book Loaned to Tom Andrews
by Bobby C. Rogers
Books
by Gerald Stern
Burning of the Three Fires
by Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Forgetfulness
by Billy Collins
Hans Reading, Hans Smoking
by Liam Rector
How to Read a Poem: Beginner's Manual
by Pamela Spiro Wagner
Inspire Hope
by Amy Lawless
Learning to Read
by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Light By Which I Read
by Eric Pankey
Love For This Book
by Pablo Neruda
My First Memory (of Librarians)
by Nikki Giovanni
One Train May Hide Another
by Kenneth Koch
Passerby, These are Words
by Yves Bonnefoy
Reading Novalis in Montana
by Melissa Kwasny
Shawl
by Albert Goldbarth
Stet Stet Stet
by Ange Mlinko
The Author to Her Book
by Anne Bradstreet
The Best Thing Anyone Ever Said About Paul Celan
by Shane McCrae
The Land of Story-books
by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Reader
by Richard Wilbur
The Secret
by Denise Levertov
There is no frigate like a book (1263)
by Emily Dickinson
To the Reader
by Jena Osman
To the Reader: If You Asked Me
by Chase Twichell
Untitled [I closed the book and changed my life]
by Bruce Smith
Why I Am Afraid of Turning the Page
by Cate Marvin
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood
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Reading Moby-Dick at 30,000 Feet

 
by Tony Hoagland

At this height, Kansas 
is just a concept, 
a checkerboard design of wheat and corn

no larger than the foldout section 
of my neighbor's travel magazine. 
At this stage of the journey

I would estimate the distance 
between myself and my own feelings 
is roughly the same as the mileage

from Seattle to New York, 
so I can lean back into the upholstered interval 
between Muzak and lunch,

a little bored, a little old and strange.
I remember, as a dreamy
backyard kind of kid,

tilting up my head to watch 
those planes engrave the sky 
in lines so steady and so straight

they implied the enormous concentration 
of good men, 
but now my eyes flicker

from the in-flight movie 
to the stewardess's pantyline, 
then back into my book,

where men throw harpoons at something 
much bigger and probably 
better than themselves,

wanting to kill it, 
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt 
to prove that they exist.

Imagine being born and growing up, 
rushing through the world for sixty years 
at unimaginable speeds.

Imagine a century like a room so large, 
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime

and never find the door, 
until you had forgotten 
that such a thing as doors exist.

Better to be on board the Pequod, 
with a mad one-legged captain 
living for revenge.

Better to feel the salt wind 
spitting in your face, 
to hold your sharpened weapon high,

to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves. 
What a relief it would be

to hear someone in the crew 
cry out like a gull, 
Oh Captain, Captain! 
Where are we going now?






Copyright 1998 by Tony Hoagland. Used from Donkey Gospel with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved. www.graywolfpress.org
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