Karl Young

A Suite of Poems


After a fragment of Bacchylides

The edges of a large sheet of plastic
were hooked to pipes and beams around the room
with clothespins and staples
so the plastic funnels toward the small hole
through which a long strip of cloth had been drawn
acting as a wick that lets rain water
percolating through the roof into a bucket on the floor.
Songs of robins weave through the whir of light machines.
I don't know what channels the rain followed through the roof.
The Little Birds of the Passion extend their shields.
The water in the bucket is thick and brown.

intense sun     high wind
the sun drives     enormous clouds
across its face --     the world
darkens quickly     and just as quickly
direct rays     of sun return --
one fortieth     of the sun's energy
reaching earth     is converted into wind --
wind buffets the car     as it pulls dark clouds
over it     as it pulls rain toward us --
eighteen hundred     thunder storms
are in progress     over the globe
at any given moment     lightning strikes earth
at least three hundred times     every second
electric sparks     igniting stored wind
drive the car     into the storm

Hymn to Morpheus

the blood on the god's feathers will dry,
become red dust to grow melons in,
snow will fall a mile deep tonight
and the first rays of the sun will dissolve
all but the most tenacious
                crystalline structures
let the weaker ones melt into new seas,
back up through the tunnels of ice
                into clean air
and I will wake in a comb
                of intense light;
when the great light strips the vaseline of dreams
                from my eyes
I will look at Susan and see
                beside me
the first flesh of the world;
the lava that runs through my nerves,
the intense heat and itch I've felt
                these last few hours
will have abraded into a fine loam
and all the tedious articulations of
veins, intestines, cortex will have sprouted
into a world of food I can eat as I grow through it,
                destroying none of it;
                if you must drag me east to do it,
the eye of Shiva will open and I,
                at this point I don't give a damn,
I will be a supliant crushed by the god's feet
                in my worship;
                you bastard,
                don't tell me
sweet sleep shutters the eyes
                or how
                and depth
                of breath trigger sleep:
                do it.

[translation of Wai Ying-Wu's "Autumn Message,"
which appears along with new poem in English:

mind wanders as I do / reciting poems in cold autumn night
hear a mountain pine cone fall / apparently you can't sleep either]

Karl Young's biography along with a lot of other things can be found at his home page.

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