Hoagland, Tony

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Aull, Felice
  • Date of entry: Dec-27-2001
  • Last revised: Jul-10-2006


This is a poem that celebrates the divided self and disconnection. The speaker wonders whether his tendency to be scattered--to not "find out till tomorrow / what you felt today"--is natural, is in fact, "what makes our species great." Is this "dividedness" what allowed "surgeon Keats to find a perfect rhyme / wrist-deep in the disorder / of an open abdomen"? The poem ends with another kind of disconnectedness: a deliberate separation of self from "the whole world in unison" that is preparing itself for the onset of winter: "I have this strange conviction / that I am going to be born."


The speaker draws attention to our scattered subjectivity and takes the position that disconnection is not only inherent in human nature, but can be advantageous, rather than alienating. There are many wonderful turns of phrase and images in the poem. It is a useful counterpoint and adjunct to other poems that address displacement, including some by the same author (for example Emigration, Arrows, Mistaken Identity) and those by other poets such as Sandra Cisneros--for example, Original Sin (see this database for annotations).

Primary Source

Donkey Gospel



Place Published

Saint Paul, Minn.