History of Desire

by Tony Hoagland

When you're seventeen, and drunk
on the husky, late-night flavor
of your first girlfriend's voice
along the wires of the telephone

what else to do but steal
your father's El Dorado from the drive,
and cruise out to the park on Driscoll Hill?
Then climb the county water tower

and aerosol her name in spraycan orange
a hundred feet above the town?
Because only the letters of that word,
DORIS, next door to yours,

in yard-high, iridescent script,
are amplified enough to tell the world
who's playing lead guitar
in the rock band of your blood.

You don't consider for a moment
the shock in store for you in 10 A.D.,
a decade after Doris, when,
out for a drive on your visit home,

you take the Smallville Road, look up
still scorched upon the reservoir.
This is how history catches up—

by holding still until you
bump into yourself.
What makes you blush, and shove
the pedal of the Mustang

almost through the floor
as if you wanted to spray gravel
across the features of the past,
or accelerate into oblivion?

Are you so out of love that you
can't move fast enough away?
But if desire is acceleration,
experience is circular as any

Indianapolis. We keep coming back
to what we are—each time older,
more freaked out, or less afraid.
And you are older now.

You should stop today.
In the name of Doris, stop.


  1. Ii completely relate to this one.

  2. Hello my name is Michael. I have seen your blog and it is perfect. We follow your blog from Greece and I wish you good fun and joy
    A simple life, simple happiness
    Greetings. Michael

  3. Ah yes - we keep repeating ourselves don't we? Why do we never learn first time around.

    And what do you say to Ann who is sitting beside you wearing your ring? "I'm not that Ron"?

    Loved - in the name of Doris...

  4. Still have my first boyfriend's class ring, his initials on the side, his signature reproduced inside the band. He told me to keep it when we split. And all these years later I still sometimes slip it onto my finger and remember him and the way I felt wearing his ring, his name wrapped around my finger and my heart...

  5. What a nice surprise to come home and find these comments.
    Welcome, Michael. That is so crazy wild to be communicating with someone from Greece. It does bring me joy--thank you.
    City-kin: I'll have to drive by the water towers by the old Dater Jr High and the one off Boudinot Ave and see if you've been busy there:>)
    V-Grrrl and aims: I don't know why it is so hard to learn some lessons or to let go of the subject matter. All I know is the echoes come unexpectedly.

  6. Loved this and the excellent photo. Wasn't going to comment until I read V-Grrrl's comments about the old class ring and your reply "All I know is the echoes come unexpectedly." It made me realize that I would love to have an echo come along about now. It's interesting to realize that I have a longing.....
    I had my HS boyfriend's Student Body President pin still in my jewelry box 16 years after those days ended. I knew where he practiced medicine and called the clinic, and, he did come to the phone. We spoke for only a few moments -- each shared our sobriety with the other (he preceded me by one year) -- then I asked if he'd like the pin. He said he'd love to see it after all those years, said he'd give it to his daughter, and I mailed it away.

    Thirteen years later I had a call from a HS friend in Reno telling me that my old boyfriend had had a fatal heart attack. He left the gang behind at age 47, a few years older than his father had been when he'd collapsed and died while doing rounds in a Reno hospital when the gang was in high school. My boyfriend's father was the doctor who delivered me. My, what roots and how they withered......

  7. Ii completely relate to this one.

  8. I love the principal post, and then the other three to check out. I did. The one about Doris and first love blew me away. What talented poet we have here. Who are you all?


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