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John Fenlon Hogan 








I’m unsure if I’m ready to write this poem

in the same way the Virgin Mary probably had

some reservations about being the God-bearer,

but said yes despite any Oh shit! running through

her mind like the Oh shit! of Butch Cassidy

and Sundance everyone found scandalous back in 1969.

Sorry Paul Newman, but I’ve come to think of life

as euphemism for dying.

I’m unsure if I’m allowed to

speculate on the way God operates, how it seems

to me that he must have put two or three

in the works in case free will did its job. And maybe

it did—we just don’t know the story because we’re

not supposed to hear it.

What I’m getting is

I can imagine a woman, immaculate, lost here

in the 21st Century. She learns to sin by necessity,

and she believes everything has a purpose

because all her life she’s felt she has none.

There are women so beautiful you want more

than anything to look at them, and then

there is this woman. You want to watch her eat

persimmons and tell white lies to the darkness.

You want to read her thoughts in the drug store’s

checkout aisle (does she succumb to impulse items?),

and you want to sit next to her on airplanes

if only to observe her a little closer to the heavens.

This woman goes to sleep at night wishing

the world and all its meaning would go away

for a while just so she can be herself. She knows

what she is, or could have been, and wonders

if she’d have had the strength, and hates

that she won’t ever get the chance.

But she wakes each day, refreshed, ready to go

hammer and tongs at forging a purpose in a world

in which she is as superfluous as a second bullet.

I hate the gratuitous violence innate within

my thoughts, making her feel like a knocked-out

tooth longing for its socket; making me feel

like a shipwreck in a bottle; and I think,

maybe, that being without purpose in a world

that is altogether too purposeful would kill me.

I do not envy this woman, which is why

I love her, which is why I must not think of her again.









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