Historically, the unknown was used
to staunch battlefield wounds.
Now there’s a spray. The unknown
assumes too much, objects Annabell
trying to break up with herself,
like anyone’s here is the first place.
There are rules about touching
someone else’s unknown no one’s
learning in grade school anymore.
Here’s one now.
Boiling point unknown,
cleave disposition, event horizon,
its animal origami unknown
so stop poking.
I thought the idea was not
to have our brains sucked out
by a giant radioactive leech
or an English department
or is that just me? After
the third surgery, I don’t scare
so easily but who isn’t jumpy
as an astronaut recollecting
in the Sea of Tranquility,
O2 running out?
The news from the moon isn’t good.
The news from the elephants worse.
Centuries ago, a little girl could
watch a funny bird kicking leaves
until the hand of god came out
and she became Emily Dickinson
and the universe milkweed
as the quantum predicts.
A lot harder now.
It’s all paved over.
God’s institutionalized, murderous.
Most of the universe won’t show up
and it messes with you
so you invent fish blowing tubas,
yo-yoing angels to flesh things out.
Layer after layer of shellac.
Screws in pianos.
Fingerprints in snowflakes.
First you have to love death
says Eluard like it’s not
his black raincoat saying it,
like anything his raincoat says
isn’t stolen from the rain which
everyone knows around here
never touches the ground.
© Copyright 2018 by Dean Young. Used with the permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Quarterly West Issue 93.