Some birds are people-watchers …

Reasons to Be Happy

Tony Hoagland

Some birds are people-watchers.
The worms can hear us walking over them.
The loaves and fishes multiplied the Christians.

We were wrong about so many things.
We thought the world was mute,
or just disinterested, or dead.

Yet the sunrise liked being looked at
by sleepy cabdrivers. The billboard was unashamed
of its live nude 24-hour girls.

The night-wind rustled
through the tops of cedar trees
standing all around a certain house

where worried people
lay in bed and listened.
What were the names

of those old Greek gods?
And where did they go?
Atlas—that’s the one

who spent a long time
holding up
what did not belong to him.


“Reasons to Be Happy” by Tony Hoagland from Application for Release from the Dream. 2015.

Tony Hoagland is the author of four previous poetry collections, and two collections of essays. He teaches at the University of Houston and in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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