Facada; Take it out of me; [in the night, are obvious]
The dogs here all look like puppies,
stunted grumbles behind soft eyes
attached to bodies that sing years
and years of being bodies.
The trees fell after the storm, the
crosses fell. There are power lines in
a knot in front of the church. A black
swarm of do-not-touch energy.
You told me one day, the funny thing
about São Pedro is that it’s just a façade.
I said that’s the funny thing about everything.
The dogs here are all old dogs; the
churches here are all old churches.
No real interior. No reality.
The power lines don’t work anymore. The
candle in my room is proof. The waxy light
makes things look jacaranda. A dying type
of light; a trying type. The candle’s body,
melted, is a façade for empty air.
The parrots [aren’t they?] throw things.
They are tempered bodies. You, too, are maybe
a parrot; you, too, maybe turn into a green breeze,
a cackling flash. Your body, too, sings songs of bodies.
The funny thing about façade is that I used to
pronounce is like fa-kade. The funny thing is
that it used to remind me of facada. Laugh at it.
The trees all smashed walls and took earth;
the trees can only be dismembered and walked
around. Those trees are no longer trees—
those trees are only trunks. [do I blame the storm
or do I blame the trees?] And still they are
bigger than you and I. Under the rippled pools
of your skin, are there trunks or trees or both?
Take it out of me
Poetry is what we remove
as he takes it out of me
and I think that must be
in his hands, hanging
between his thighs
I know I never learned
how to spell thighs
way because it’s not
like ties and it’s not
but it’s just like sighs
and I wonder what we
from this word over
years of etymology
of removing things
and is that poetry?
[in the night, are obvious]
Gauze in my head
one by one
[this is how fingers do]
God’s in my head
breath on lips
breathe with me
[to stop the shakes, do]
To the speck in my coffee, the next morning,
I say: What the hell are you?
and it wiggles out a schwa before sinking into
the hot obscurity.
The hot obscurity
is us in the shower,
legs shake, harden,
legs are not stable,
some things are soft,
not limp, construction,
some things aren’t soft,
firm, firming, affirming,
retinas open closing,
written on seized nipples
to the hour of supposed
the sleepy ouverture:
and we’re still fucked
To stop the shakes, breathe
against your heart
rib lines throb
[ribs are obvious]
To stop the obvious, talk
to me about
[in the night, are obvious]
Addison Hoggard is a language fanatic that spends all of his freetime studying new ways to say old things. His poetry has previously been published in Watershed Review and Obra/Artifact. He currently resides in Mariana, Minas Gerais, Brazil, where he teaches English Second Language and Creative Writing at the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto.
Interview with the Poet:
Cathexis Northwest Press:
How long have you been writing poetry?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, though poetry is a bit newer to me. I really started getting interested in poetry during my college years as I was working on my Creative Writing degree. Even though I specialized in prose, I still made time to write and nurture my poems. At the time, poetry was a way for me to relax and reconnect in between the hours and hours spent hammering out chapters of whatever larger project I found myself working on. I would say that I’ve been serious about focusing on writing poetry for about three years. I was incredibly fortunate that some literary journals took a chance on my poems even before I was ready to fully identify myself as a poet; I think in a lot of ways this momentum slingshotted me into the world of poetry.
Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?
The first poem that comes to mind is La Noche en La Isla by Neruda—I remember coming across a copy of Los Versos del Capitán in a bookstore and randomly flipping to this poem; the emotions (much like Neruda’s own mention of bread, wine, love, and anger) washed over me, and as I reached the last line, I felt somehow pure and broken, or purely broken, or broken by the pureness of it.
Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?
I really enjoy all types of poems, be them measured and calculated or wild and springing. Some poets that come to mind include Matthew Dickman (and his poem Circle Jerks), Kaveh Akbar, Lucille Clifton, Joseph Bathanti, and Clarice Lispector. It would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t point out that my interest in poetry was actually sparked by several prose writers and the lyrical force with which they write—writers such as Abdellah Taïa, Garth Greenwell, and James Baldwin.
Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?
I don’t particularly have any routines for writing, especially when it comes to my poetry. I tend to fall into a sort of mode in which I start thinking in lines of poetry throughout the day, and on days when I’m feeling particularly inspired, I will have composed a whole poem in my mind before I actually sit down to write it. Because of this, I tend to search for meaning in the mundane (a bee sting, a panic attack, the dogs on my way to work, the fallen trees after a storm, etc.).
The inspiration never comes in a deluge, more so in a slow drip that accumulates into something full and whole.
How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?
Speaking of inspiration, it normally comes to me first by way of an image. When I set the first line to paper, I let the poem decide the form for itself, and I find that the poem will usually bend its verse to fit the image in my mind. For example, the poem [in the night, are obvious] is written in lines that wiggle around quite a bit, which is a product of the shakiness that the poem wanted to convey. I remember the lines falling into place as I was working on it, almost as if they were shaking themselves free.
One thing that I do quite intentionally in my poetry is to try and write lines that interrupt the rhythm of the poem; I think that by doing this, the poems have a different or surprising nature on paper as opposed to being read aloud.
Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?
My (humble) advice is to keep on consuming poetry; it’s important to see what clicks inside your brain as a reader. There are so many wonderful poets out there that are producing verse in such a beautiful variety of styles. Eventually, you’ll get a feel for the types of poems that you want, or even need, to write. And once you’ve found that sweet spot, it’s just a matter of refining this thing that is distinctly yours until you’ve found yourself with a body of work that has pieces of you threaded through it.
What is your editing process like?
If I feel that the poem isn’t living up to its full potential, I’ll radically revise and take a line or an image and just restart the whole thing. Having said that, it’s rare if I do this several times with any one poem. I tend to give up on the ones that flat line after a few attempts. The silver lining of this is that I do all of my poetry writing in one document and start a new one each year, so I have pages and pages of stray words or images that I can tap back into if some new breath finds its way into the words.
One thing I’ve found myself doing recently is translating the poem into one of the other languages that I speak. This lets me really dig into it and find new ways of seeing each and every word. This process alone accounts for most of the last minute changes that I make to the English version.
When do you know that a poem is finished?
My working metaphor for poetry is this: a poem is a hallway lined with picture frames, and at its end, the reader should find themselves stepping into a room. I strive for this forward momentum in my poetry, but, to me, the most important part is where the forward momentum goes. I always ask myself what images will the reader see as they journey along the corridor, and what they’ll find for themselves waiting in the room at its end. The thing I like about this metaphor is that, while the corridor may be by my own design, the room waiting at the end is totally up to the individual reading the poem. I like to believe that we all arrive in different spaces, even after having traveled along the same path. The room may be vast or small, empty or cluttered, inside or outside. As soon as I know that the poem is guiding its readers to their own private place, I know that the poem is complete.