Don Hogle | Madagascar

Madagascar: poems by Don Hogle. Selected by co-editors Steve Bellin-Oka and Ron Mohring as Number 21 in our Keystone Chapbook Series, celebrating the work of Pennsylvania-connected poets.

Expected publication:  June, 2020 [100 copies]
27 pages
ISBN: 978-1-949333-70-1
$ 9.00

Don Hogle is the winner of the 2016 Hayden’s Ferry Review poetry contest. His work has appeared recently in Curlew Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Chautauqua, Apalachee Review, Pilgrimage Magazine, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and Shooter and A3 Review in the U.K., among others. An avid photographer, he also writes a travel blog. He grew up in upstate New York and South Florida and now lives in Manhattan.


Hello, this is your mother speaking. I’m here with the song
sparrows in pale straw-yellow light, just as in your imagination.
The wallpaper in my room is printed with realistic stalks 
of deep blue hyacinths; I smell them in the morning.
You can stop sifting the last of the earth; I’m content now. 

I took up sailing, by the way. Boarded a clipper to Borneo,
or what you imagine Borneo to be. They have a fruit here
speckled with brown dots that turns golden yellow on the side
facing the sun. Never saw anything like it at Publix, wouldn’t
have bought it if I did, but I’ve set one on my windowsill.

Evenings, we get a show with a brass band, Ethiopian jugglers,
farmyard fiddlers, horse organs and clarinet players. After,
they grind them up in a diamond crusher and toss them into the sky,
where they’re whisked into the Milky Way. Griswold’s Curiosities,
they call it. I could tell them a thing or two about grisly curiosities—

the smell of whiskey on my father’s breath, his hand around
my mother’s throat. She died when I was nine—pneumonia.
My stints in a psychiatric ward; electroshock therapy.
I never had a good memory, but after that? And your father
deciding to up and leave after thirty-six years of marriage.

Sorry. None of it matters anymore, not in pale straw-yellow light.
In that seniors’ apartment your sister found for me, there was a cord
next to the toilet for emergencies. When finally I pulled it,
I’m telling you, I had the most amazing balloon ascent! And me,
imagine it, afraid of heights, afraid of almost everything.