Rumpus Original Poetry: Three Poems by Anna Maria Hong





Irritation Odes

Misery is a bad draft, mostly unwritten
but also full of cliché. It is possible that self-
analysis yields nuggets that buttress discipline,
the ability to renovate hardship and to say
it is what it is. This is more difficult than it looks
from afar or when one is not looking
at all. It is possible to direct irritation to the crystal
mint of distance, which is neither a cave
nor a pond for self-adulation. Listen, man,
we’re not here to make you feel worthy,
and I am not just old, an old loser. Keep sucking
up to the mighty. Keep taking those cigarette
breaks. Everybody gets to learn things
the hard way, which is the way,
and also kind of great.



Irritation Odes

Misery circles the subject, enticed by the bloody scent.
Misery crosses the bridge to find another bridge
made of the same brick. It is possible to embrace
mimesis, looking like looking
without seeing. Some people never get over
high school, while others can’t let
their child-self be. It is possible that
writing = coffee + peeing. A friend
once asked, “Is being a poet like being
a masturbator?” Does the embarrassment negate
the feeling?



Irritation Odes

Misery is diversity and inclusion that hyphenates Asian American.
Misery can’t get the attribution right. Misery turns all the a’s
in my name into e’s. Misery writes, “including eight women
of Asian descent.” Misery elevates eloquent proponents of
self-abjuration. It is possible that the deluge will
equal the drought. It is possible to red-line a rout.
Listen, Paper of Record, we’ve been saying
it this way for decades, and math
is my worst subject.


Author photo by Suhlle Ahn

Anna Maria Hong is the author of Age of Glass, winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the Cleveland State University Poetry Center’s First Book Competition; the novella H & G, winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Clarissa Dalloway Prize; and Fablesque, winner of Tupelo Press’s Berkshire Prize. Her poems and essays are recently published and forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, American Poetry Review, Fairy Tale Review, The Hopkins Review, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, and Sonnets from the American: Essays and Poems. She is an Assistant Professor at Mount Holyoke College. More from this author →