Thursday, 14 January 2010

Two Poems by Dean Young

Dean Young has published ten books of poetry, including Elegy on Toy Piano, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize, and Primitive Mentor, a fi nalist for the 2009 Griffin Award. The recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, he is the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas at Austin.

Three Weeks from
Two Days Ago

Waiting is the moon, waiting the groom
in the little boy. The red minute waits
in the white afternoon, the dream in the daylit
consciousness. Is god what’s waiting

to hear back, we the message sent out
into the void? You wait for something to appear
but in most cases the opposite is true,
wait long enough it’s all gone, the year’s

preparatory nubs on the weeping pussy willow,
pregnant woman in the airport taxi queue
reading a book of names. Alphabet
to be rearranged into the spelling of your name

just as you rearranged me so I thought
let’s have lunch in a tree, winter already
spring, bells to drink champagne from.
I couldn’t wait to see you again

so tried to warp space-time
with sexual energy alone, what a joke,
especially over the phone, sorry.
Slower the shorter days go, the pool

closed a month ago, goldfinches gone
from the coneflowers, coneflowers
brown bent low, hardly any need to mow,
it’s cold, it snows, just a few crab apples

left on the bare tree to ferment so spring
returning waxwings can get drunk enough
to almost touch as I am almost touching you
not wanting to wait.

Instant Recognition
between Strangers

Just because we have birds inside us, we don’t have to
be cages.

But until our names are called, we wait in the dark hall with the
coat trees.

Kafka, Kafka, barks the dog.

The guards forbid kissing the statues lest their spell be broken and
they too feel smothered with joy.

I wish I could have stopped you from getting that tattoo.

I wish I had grown up believing in a god with many arms, but no,
just a lightning bolt.

Dandelion, the sky is burning out again.

They use silver clamps to pluck the bad heart out, then install
the next.

Maybe a lamb’s.

Maybe a crazed motorcyclist’s.

Dread is a drum solo because something reaches out and whacks.

Flower house, flower house, no one can live there long.

From Fall Higher (Copper Canyon Press, 2009).

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