residential-zone

“One Season,” Tony Hoagland

That was the summer my best friend
called me a faggot on the telephone,
hung up, and vanished from the earth,

a normal occurance in this country
where we change our lives
with the swiftness of hysterical finality

of dividing cells. That month
the rain refused to fall,
and fire engines streaked back and forth crosstown

towards smoke-filled residential zones
where people stood around outside, drank beer
and watched their neighbors houses burn.

It was a bad time to be affected
by nearly anything,
especially anything as dangerous

as loving a man, if you happened to be
a man yourself, ashamed and unable to explain
how your feelings could be torn apart

by something ritual and understated
as friendship between males.
Probably I talked too loud that year

and thought an extra minute
before I crossed my legs; probably
I chose a girl I didn’t care about

and took her everywhere,
knowing I would dump her in the fall
as part of evening the score,

part of practicing the scorn
it was clear I was going to need
to get across this planet

of violent emotional addition
and subtraction. Looking back, I can see
that I came through

in the spastic, furtive, half-alive manner
of accident survivors. Fuck anyone
who says I could have done it

differently. Though now I find myself
returning to the scene
as if the pain I fled

were the only place that I had left to go;
as if my love, whatever kind it was, or is,
were still trapped beneath the wreckage

of that year,
and I was one of those angry firemen
having to go back into the burning house;
climbing a ladder

through the heavy smoke and acrid smell
of my own feelings,
as if they were the only
goddamn thing worth living for.

Wait I’m really confused about why you guys are so mad at me about that lmao

that space does not have a kitchen or bathroom and it’s likely not zoned for residential living spaces because you better believe they’d be making more money off it if they could