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Soulclaphands

Soulclaphands

Sweet Ruin (Brittingham Prize in Poetry)

Sweet Ruin - Tony Hoagland Excerpt from "The Word:"Down near the bottomof the crossed-out listof things you have to do today,between "green thread"and "broccoli," you findthat you have penciled "sunlight."From "Emigration," a poem about illness and departure: Try being sick for a yearthen having that year turn into two,until the memory of your health is like an islandgoing out of sight behind youThere are a lot of moments in poems that stand out to me.From "Perpetual Motion," the road trip poem: flight intoan anonymity so deep it has no bottom, only signs to tell you what direction you are falling inandI am here -here where the desire to vanishis stronger than the desire to appear.I like the image of returning to the wreckage of the burning house of memory in the poem, "One Season.""How a place becomes a part of you" in the poem, "Second Nature:""I can feel this orange and tender light/ taking a position inside of me -/ painting a strip of phosphorescent,/ pumpkin colored warmth . . ."Other moments:From "A Dowry:"So I let myself be talked toby one plum-colored weed,dipping on its stalk - a swoonso drunk and delicate,it hurt.From "Travellers:"He shreds a napkin into triangle-shaped bits;she pierces them with toothpicks,and together they have fashionedthe small white flags of their surrender