Everyday Escapes

Dean Young - 1955-

My poor students, all I ask of them
is to grow antenna, lie down with lava
and rise with snow, grow tongues from
their math assignments and no, Melissa

your mother won’t approve of a bioluminescent
smear on your communion dress. The world fidgets
in uneasy relation to our statements about it
nevertheless producing silver

buds from ragged limbs like the luster
in late Rat Pack songs. Finally,
when I got off the sixth floor, I felt
like I was discharged into the sky

and aren’t we all pedestrians of air?
Doesn’t it feel all wrong to turn our backs
on the ocean? On an ant? On those Chagall
windows you have to walk through a gauntlet

of ancient armor to get to? What was her name,
that night nurse so deft her blood draws
didn’t wake me up? Don’t get me wrong, I want
to wake up. I want my old dog to show me

all that wolf-light she hides inside
even though she thinks I won’t understand,
even though her vet and I conspire
to keep her alive forever.

More by Dean Young

This Living Hand [excerpt]

It's not only the word roses
lurking inside neurosis or the fact
that most of my formal education
occurred in the midwest, so too
my summer job inhaling industrial
reactants should be considered.
It's an unstable world, babe.
Always an inner avalanche
as they say in receiving.
I'm sure if I'd gotten a shot
of Karl instead of Zeppo Marx
in utero, things would have turned out
differently. Instead, my mother
went right on eating lobster.
But where were we? . . . 

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.

Ash Ode

When I saw you ahead I ran two blocks
shouting your name then realizing it wasn’t
you but some alarmed pretender, I went on
running, shouting now into the sky,
continuing your fame and luster. Since I've
been incinerated, I've oft returned to this thought,
that all things loved are pursued and never caught,
even as you slept beside me you were flying off.
At least what's never had can’t be lost, the sieve
of self stuck with just some larger chunks, jawbone,
wedding ring, a single repeated dream,
a lullaby in every elegy, descriptions
of the sea written in the desert, your broken
umbrella, me claiming I could fix it.