Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jar of Octopus

Dean Young’s latest collection of poems was published in April of this year, just days after he received a life-saving heart transplant. He currently holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas-Austin, and his 2005 collection Elegy on Toy Piano was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Fall Higher is the poet’s latest collection. Critics like to describe Young as a poet influenced by the New York School, a writer combining surrealism and experimentation. The poem below, “Changing Genres” is from Fall Higher. My particular attraction to the poem is its juxtaposition of love, the brief haiku form of seventeen syllables and thousand page novels in the vein of Dostoyevsky.


I was satisfied with haiku until I met you,
jar of octopus, cuckoo’s cry, 5-7-5,
but now I want a Russian novel,
a 50-page description of you sleeping,
another 75 of what you think staring out
a window. I don’t care about the plot
although I suppose there will have to be one,
the usual separation of the lovers, turbulent
seas, danger of decommission in spite
of constant war, time in gulps and glitches
passing, squibs of threnody, a fallen nest,
speckled eggs somehow uncrushed, the sled
outracing the wolves on the steppes, the huge
glittering ball where all that matters
is a kiss at the end of a dark hall.
At dawn the officers ride back to the garrison,
one without a glove, the entire last chapter
about a necklace that couldn’t be worn
inherited by a great-niece
along with the love letters bound in silk.

1 comment:

  1. Good poem and a nice overview of literature in the days when it was one of only a few endeavors that entertained the masses, when novels were huge and detailed all aspects of life to the delight of thirsty readers.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America