Poetry: Hard Rain

Hard Rain
–Tony Hoagland
From Hard Rain: A Chapbook

After I heard It’s a Hard Rain’s A‑Gonna Fall
played soft­ly by an accor­dion quartet
through the ceil­ing speak­ers at the Spring­dale Shop­ping Mall,
I under­stood there’s nothing
we can’t pluck the stinger from,

noth­ing we can’t turn into a soft drink fla­vor or a t‑shirt.
Even seren­i­ty can become some­thing horrible
if you make a com­mer­cial about it
using smil­ing, white-haired people

quot­ing Thore­au to sell retire­ment homes
in the Ever­glades, where the swamp has been
drained and bull­dozed into a nine­teen-hole golf course
with elec­tri­fied alli­ga­tor barriers. 

You can’t keep beat­ing your­self up, Billy
I heard the ther­a­pist say on television
                              to the teenage murderer,
About all those peo­ple you killed –
You just have to be the best per­son you can be,

one day at a time –

and every­body in the audi­ence claps and weeps a little,
because the lev­el of deep feel­ing has been touched,
and they want to believe that
the pow­er of For­give­ness is greater
than the pow­er of Con­se­quence, or History.

Dear Abby:
My father is a busi­ness­man who travels.
Each time he returns from one of his trips,
his shoes and trousers
                              are cov­ered with blood-
but he nev­er for­gets to bring me a nice present;
Should I say something?
                              Signed, America.

I used to think I was not part of this,
that I could mind my own busi­ness and get along,

but that was just anoth­er song
that had been taught to me since birth –

whose words I was hum­ming under my breath,
as I was walk­ing through the Spring­dale Mall.

Cyn is Katie's mom, Esther's Mémé, and a Support Engineer. She lives in the Atlanta area with her life partner, Rick, and their critters. She knits, does counted-thread needlework, reads, makes music, plays TTRPGs, and spends too much time online.
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