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The Time Wars.

The Time Wars

 It was the winter we ate a lot of oatmeal to stay warm.
 We lived on 17th and G streets; Kath called it the G spot.
 At night in the bathtub I read The Collected Letters of Virginia
 Woolf, trying to keep the pages of 20th century prose from getting
 wet, reading the guest lists for her dinner parties
 as she knocked out book after book between her shattering
 depressions.

 Sometimes I would meet Richard at the Chinese place for dinner,
 and one two three hours would vanish like our food.
 We would stand outside the Great Wall, adjusting our scarves
 in a pastoral moment of urban separation,
 watching the cabs whiz by in the dusk.

 The Viet Nam War monument was just five blocks away;
 on Saturday you would always see a vet or two,
 in their windbreakers and baseball caps--
 heads down, crying in the shrubs--
 the little POW buttons and various insignia attached to their
 clothing like they were advertising something.

 We ourselves were fighting the Time Wars:
 we could feel it speeding up, rapidly escaping,
 like the hiss from a leaky balloon.
 We were trying to plug it, to slow it down, to decelerate,
 but none of us was having much success--

 One day in February Kath brought in some roses and said
 "Here, the sun came 93 million miles
 to make these flowers that I killed for you"
 and I said, "Kathleen, my talents are not capacious enough
 to properly exaggerate your virtues"
 and we both burst out laughing
 and time stopped right over our heads like a little red car.

 On June 14, 1940, Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal,
 "Windy day. I am the hare, far ahead of my critics, the hounds."
 Something endearing about the mixture of weather report and vanity.
 Something lonely about this image of success.

 We ourselves aren't thinking about the future anymore.
 What we want is to calm time down, to get time in a good mood,
 to make time feel wanted.
 We just want to give time many homemade gifts,
 covered with fingerprints and kisses.


TONY HOAGLAND'S newest book of poems, What Narcissism Means to Me, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in November.
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Author:Hoagland, Tony
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Nov 1, 2003
Words:369
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