Dean Young

book-young-primitive

Griffin Poetry Prize 2009
International Shortlist

Book: Primitive Mentor

Poet: Dean Young

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.

R.H. Thomson reads Exit Exam, by Dean Young

Exit Exam, by Dean Young

Exit Exam

Difficult to believe what hurts so much
when the cement truck bounces you
off a tree trunk
is not solid knocking solid
but electron cloud repulsing electron cloud
around the overall emptiness of matter,
a clash of miniscule probabilities
in the beehive of the void.
Somehow you’re only scratched and bruised
but the driver’s in agony,
no license no immigration paper
a picture of his wife still in Oaxaca
five kids he sends money to
so you try to assure him you’re okay
look not hurt
hopping foot to foot
which only seems to him
you’ve got trauma to the head
or were already loco
either way problemo.
Your bicycle bent,
he lifts it tears in his eyes
which are mirrors showing everything
on fire in black water.
This is the universal language of bent bikes,
something large and tragic writ in small words
while the world burns in black water.
Nothing will repair it
is not true
but now is not the time to bring that up.
You are both golden
pepperoncinis in the vinegar of life.
So piquant, so sad.
There is a wound where you bonked against the tree
and the tree, as usual, deals with its injuries
in good humor.
A bird in its branches had just come to life,
hideously bald, eyes unopened bulging sacks,
too delicate, too helpless
yet there is a concept of the cosmos forming
in its tiny skull. It gapes and mother
regurgitates nutritious worm.
It grows a black miter and blue belly.
Nest formation, a couple false starts then presto!
It calls its mate radiant toy.
Its mate calls back radiant toy.
It gets trapped in the science building for an hour.
Still, it understands no more
than we do that voice coming toward us
in our dented sorrow, our dark dread
saying everything will be okay.
Bright opening bright opening
where does it come from?
How can we get there?
And if we do
will we be petrified or dashed to even smaller pieces,
will we be released from the wheelhouse
or come back as hyena or mouse,
as a cloud or rock
or will it be sleep’s pure peace of nothingness?

From Primitive Mentor, by Dean Young
Copyright © 2008, Dean Young

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *