Contents | Carrie Lorig »

Dean Young

Eastern Europeans

 

 

Because the poems are in translation

and no chronological order, the class

is having a tough time figuring out

when the poet stopped leaving his house,

unable to move half his body, choosing between

living inside a burnt-out bulb or constant

pain, joining the lotus eaters or riding

in Apollo’s chariot since being run down

by a taxis in Paris. You’d think syntax

would be a clue, says a teacher but

fragments are everywhere, doll parts in nests

of seaweed. Tachycardial swag. Chop shop.

Alen has an idea. Alen always has an idea.

A tiny spider rappels from the corner

of his eye. Everyone is trying to figure out

how lost they are. Even bats know where

they’re at, scolds another teacher. But

they do it by screaming, says Alen.

Someone once told us all Alen has to do

is hold out his arms and every crow

in the park gathers. He’s always greeting

gorgeous women no one knows with giant hugs

and whenever he mentions childhood, you hear

the propellers of bombers about to take off,

people who peaceably passed each other

for hundreds of years suddenly killing

each other’s livestock with roofing hammers

and knives made from shoehorns.

 

 

***

 

 

Rites of Spring

 

Sometimes the heart must be torn open,

sometimes protected with thorns.

One woman’s being eaten by a flower.

No, she’s being lifted from the grave.

One heart is almost never enough

a man argues with the music

but the music always wins. Inside

the electric bell, the hammer’s to

and fro is produced by magnetic action

but inside the dancers are other, quiescent

and going wacka-wacka forces.

To be hungry is to be alive,

to be alive is to be on fire,

to be on fire is to have a mind.

It’s not just pain chasing the vanishing point

around the stage. The flock turns

all at once and so I turn to you.

Let dissonance be our cognition,

let a burning scarecrow be our guide.

Woe unto anyone who doubts this meadow.

A woman with one wing tramples the earth.

A man battles his own shadow.

Sometimes the heart just beats itself apart.

 

 

***

 

No Man’s Lamb

 

 

I guess I’m here to cheer you up on our way

to the slaughterhouse. Can I say whenever

I come to a river, I don’t know its name

but the trees if there are any and not just

factories whose names are everywhere

reach towards me or someone like me

to pull me in and down, their best friend.

Probably the usual self-destructive impulse

like when I sit in an exit row for leg room

and can hardly keep from weeping

when the steward asks if I can function

in an emergency, me with my usual trinket

skull in my pocket. I don’t know how

death works either but I’m leaning against

something I can’t see and feel rise and fall

like a sleeping animal. Let us imagine

our hoofprints in the mud filling

with wildflowers. Let us imagine

our skin cool as pearls and when

the night nurse comes in, she’s here

to be taken dancing.

Contents | Carrie Lorig »