Mistaken Identity

Hoagland, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Dec-27-2001
  • Last revised: Dec-05-2006


The male speaker describes being brought by a woman friend to a lesbian bar, on a mission "to educate me on the issue / of my own unnecessariness" where he feels quite out of place and uncomfortable. He is startled because he thinks he sees his mother there, "happy to be alive again / after her long marriage / to other people's needs . . . . " The lesbian who looks like his mother knows what she wants, and doesn't hesitate to take it.


This is an interesting poem that may require several readings to fully grasp, similar to the experience of the poem's speaker, who has difficulty grasping the alien circumstances in which he finds himself. He is disoriented and conscious of being part of a by now "antiquated" cultural era that recognized only heterosexuality. This disorientation allows him, however, to have a sudden insight into the limitations that this culture had imposed on his mother, who is dead, and to imagine a different, more satisfying life for her.

Primary Source

Donkey Gospel



Place Published

St. Paul, Minn.