Wednesday, June 17, 2009

So You Think You Don't Like Poetry

Today's selection is by a poet I discovered last semester: Dean Young. Young's poems are often experimental and surreal, and yet they do not alienate the reader as one might expect. Former Poet Laureate Charles Simic said of Young's work, "The language, the invention, the imagination and the sheer fun of his poems is astounding. It's not all dazzle either. The poems are also moving. This man reminds us that there is nothing more serious than a joke."

The poem I chose for today is indicative of Young's humor and style -- and from a craft perspective, there is a lot of internal rhyme that is very masterfully done. Finally, as someone who often struggles coming up with good titles, this is one of my all time favorites. It suits the subject matter and launches the reader (no pun intended) right into the heart of the poem and its meaning.

Thrown as if Fierce & Wild
You don’t have a clue, says the power drill
to the canoe hanging from the rafters.
Is life a contest everything plays
by different rules for different prizes?
You’re really worthless, aren’t you?
barks the cherry tree covered with eponymous
fruit to the wagon lying on its side.
Unfair! Wasn’t that wagon not two days ago
leading the parade, the puppy refusing
to wear her hat? Can’t you just leave me
alone? says the big picture of Marilyn
Monroe behind her nonreflective glass.
Is the universe infinity in ruckus
and wrack? The third grader loose
in dishwares, the geo-tech
weeping on the beach. Mine, mine,
says the squirrel to the transformer,
unclear on the capacities of electricity.
String of Christmas lights tangled with
extension cords, can’t you work things out?
The young couple takes a step toward the altar,
increasing the magnetic force that sends
ex-lovers whirling off into nether nebulae
but attracting mothers-in-law. In one wing,
the oxygen mask taken from the famous writer
of terza rema glee while in another
an infant arrives, loudly disappointed
to have to do everything now himself,
no longer able to breathe under water.
Will we never see our dead friends again?
A motorcycle roars on the terrible screw
of the parking structure, lava
heaves itself into the frigid strait.


J.A.G. said...

I'm not seeing a lot of internal rhyme that you're talking about.

I love that, instead of just asking rhetorical questions, the speaker answers one time with "Unfair!"

Katie Vagnino said...

Well, it's subtle and you might have to read the poem aloud to hear them...clue/canoe, glass/wrack, etc. Some are off-rhymes and some are power rhymes (consonants, not vowels are similar), but Young is, I think, definitely consciously playing with sound.