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Summer 2006


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The nozzle of the gas pump
plunged into the flank of the car
like the curved beak of a predatory bird

looks like it is drinking
or maybe I'm light-headed
from the fumes

or from the slanted light
of Thursday afternoon.
—Still, it is a powerful moment

when I squeeze the trigger of the handle
and feel, beneath the stained cement,
the deep shudder and convulsion

of the gasoline begin
its plunging rush in my direction.
Out of the guts of the earth,

filtered through sand and blood
down the long hose of history
towards the very nipple of this moment:

—the mechanical ticking of the pump,
the sound of my car drinking—
filling my tank with a necessary story

about the road, how we have
to have it to go down;
the whole world construed around

this singular, solitary act
as if I myself had conjured it
from some strange thirst.

—Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland won the 2005 Mark Twain Award for poetic insidiousness. A book of his essays, Real Sofistikashun, will be published in 2006 by Graywolf Press.

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