Five Poems

By  |  June 12, 2018
All artwork by Anastasia Samoylova. “Wetlands 6 (Hurricane)” (2017) All artwork by Anastasia Samoylova. “Wetlands 6 (Hurricane)” (2017)

Nitrous Oxide

How convenient when the brain
starts to glow.  You can help
an injured peacock out of the road
without being pecked to death.
You can ignore all the protocol
at the cyclotron.  Whisper cricket
cricket in the lilacs.  You might
be surprised where light comes from
but once you realize it’s part of yourself,
you won’t mind so much the burning.
Like a sticker rose, I too am ornately
thorned and easily torn, my throne
is a sardine can.  Sometimes when
I’m like this, I call my old pal
Paul who’s watching a storm crab-walk
out of Manhattan, his view’s so tall.
No one would mistake him for a broken
wind-up owl although he’s retired now,
not locked in a box with the walls closing in
or making an ashtray out of his own skull
or living on a planet that’s a giant
floating goathead.  Yes, there are dark
shapes in the doorway.  Can’t be helped.
Suffering is a ticket stub.
You are your own flashlight.
Pain is just glitter in the mind.

Dance Event

I’m so used to not getting the joke,
I’m probably mostly joke by
You may call me Schmedley.
I do not always have a frog in my pocket
but once a parrot landed on my head
and I dropped a birthday cake
and I still have the photographs
of my now ex with that scuba diver. 
The thing about squeezing lemons
is you find out how cut-up you are.
The thing about laundromats at midnight.
The thing about quartz.  The best thing
about death is its complete mystery
so you can tell all the experts to
fuck themselves if that appeals to you
and if it doesn’t, you may already be dead.
Simple test:
Approach a strawberry.
A pulse is kid’s stuff.
Dance in live ash with feathers
piercing your earlobes.
Converse with trees.
Walk clouds.
Macerate in Cointreau.
Estivate in Coltrane.
Feed a fever fever.
Cradle dawn.
Love everyone.

101 Poems Young Samoylova Cliffs“Cliffs” (2018), from the Landscape Sublime series

Art School

Because of my singing voice,
all they let me do was glue
paper serpents to the trees
and help heave the burning throne
of act 3 into a volcano.  A potato
may be a fine source of heat but
trust me when I say a misplaced
banana causes havoc.  Some say
by fire, some ice, but I say
by people using too much
suds.  Reality isn’t a failure
of the imagination to a dandelion
cracking through the asphalt parking lot.
Surely David Bowie can’t be the only one
to turn entirely into magic sparks.
Remember those matchbooks promising
if you could draw a rabbit,
you’d qualify for Art School?
I too could not no matter
those disfiguring hours
practicing shadow puppets
or all my hopping and dissections,
could not draw a rabbit but
could an exploding cube full
of flaming tubas and eyeballs
and that has made all the difference.

French Philosophy

Mankind has reached the end of his thought.
Decapitation however never goes out of style
although not as many demimonde mademoiselles
wear red threads around their throats
now that the revolution is over.
I miss the revolution,
you could just climb a table,
start shouting and everyone’d agree.
But the revolution is kaput, evolution
kaput, the fish are turning back;
alienated from the products
of his work, the worker becomes a gumdrop.
Our only happiness is pointlessness.
Has anyone noticed how fulfilled
Sisyphus is? Don’t ask me why
we don’t all kill ourselves.
God, I could use a smoke.
It’s hard to ruin poetry.

101 Poems Young Samoylova Mangroves“Mangroves” (2017), from the Landscape Sublime series

Eventually Deeper Water

Realism makes me barf.
Perspective is for sissies.
If you can’t stand in a waterfall
screaming without any need
of a waterfall, how do you expect
to catch a cloud convincing enough
to vanish in, let alone
one of those fifty-foot sunflowers
that ate van Gogh?
After we took her kitchen knives,
car keys and started locking her in,
my mother swore she was being robbed.
Who am I? I asked
but she was no help. 

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Dean Young’s numerous collections of poetry include Skid, finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Elegy on Toy Piano, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Primitive Mentor, shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize. Young received the Academy Award in Literature, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He teaches at the University of Texas–Austin.