Thursday, April 10, 2014

National Poetry Month: Dean Young

"So the Grasses Grow"
(Dean Young)

I would be sad without potato chips
but much worse if you chopped off my arm.
Being sad is a form of exsanguination
so perhaps to the bottom of sadness I could get
as I bled to death. I do not know.
I do not want to know.
Already you took my turtle 
and left me the plastic pond dish
and plastic palm tree
then gave me my first funeral.
We buried a jewelry box.
I don't want a spider quadrupling
in the center of my chest,
a spider of pain. Here, take my Babe Ruth stamp,
my day-of-the-dead skullman
with that elkhead on top of his.
I do not own a pair of castanets
but take these too. Perhaps
you could edifyingly divert yourself
with 19th century Russian novels
where awful things happen even though
people think a lot. A lot. Maybe because?
Check out this book of Gorky drawings,
especially page 74 but do not take
Brenda, not even one piece
even though you take her mother
who takes a Brenda-piece along with her,
that I know can't be helped. 
And do not take my love
while she is at her windsurfing lesson
or anywhere between. You already took
her wallet and charged a houseful of furniture,
terrible ottomans, hideous divans, corpuscular easy chairs
before she even noticed, you are that quick!
But how slow you were with my dad, 
tooth by tooth, gasp by gasp.
I could tell he was afraid.
I looked down the road
where someone was buying shoes.
Is it possible to choose a pair
solely by the prints they'll leave 
in the sand and snow?
I know you have a job to do,
without you there would be no beauty,
no nitrogen cycle or atmosphere or cantaloupe.
No gleam without a maggot, no cloud
without tears, how it smells like iron
then it rains and rains and rains.

"So the Grasses Grow" by Dean Young was published in Poetry, April 2005. His collections  include Strike Anywhere (1995), Skid (2002), Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Primitive Mentor (2008). He is the 2014 Texas state Poet Laureate and teaches at the University of Texas, Austin. He had a heart transplant in 2011; the donor was a 22-year-old student. “I just feel enormous gratitude … He gave me a heart so I’m still alive. … I’m sure I’m going to think about this person for the rest of my life.” 

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