Putting the Pieces Together

February 7, 2023

  It was such a pleasure to see the poems you brought last time, I’d like to try another version of that this week.  But instead of bringing your favorite poems, I’d like you to bring poems you have questions about, poems you can’t get in focus, poems you circle around without ever quite getting in.  I can’t promise answers, but maybe seeing them from different angles will help you put the pieces together in a way that makes sense to you.  I’ll start us off with a poem by Dean Young, a well-known poet I’ve always been drawn to but never read closely.  I’m about to do that, so I have all kinds of questions about how to read his poems.  The most helpful thing will be reading other poems of his, whole books, but I think talking with you about this one will be a good start.

If your poems lose the formatting when you post them in comments, email them to me and I’ll see if I can do it in a post.  As always, I’m looking forward to discussing all of them during this week’s Fridays at 4 (eastern time).


Dean Young

for Kenneth Koch

You don’t need a pony
to connect you to the unseeable
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.

Necessary it is to love to live
and there are many manuals
but in all important ways
one is on one’s own.
You need not cut off your hand.
No need to eat a bouquet.
Your head becomes a peach pit.
Your tongue a honeycomb.
Necessary it is to live to love,
to charge into the burning tower
then charge back out
and necessary it is to die.
Even for the trees, even for the pony
connecting you to what can’t be grasped.
The injured gazelle falls behind the
herd. One last wild enjambment.
Because of the sores in his mouth,
the great poet struggles with a dumpling.
His work has enlarged the world
but the world is about to stop including him.
He is the tower the world runs out of.
When something becomes ash,
there’s nothing you can do to turn it back.
About this, even diamonds do not lie.



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  • Reply Elizabeth Brown February 7, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    It has been interesting finding the right poem to submit this week–but I landed on one by Louis Zukofsky. It was published in Poetry in 1966. I find it mildly interesting sonically but am baffled as to why these “A” poems made such a splash in their day. (Note: the “Then” in the poem should be italicized) Thanks for your help!


    out of

    He neigh ha lie low h’who y’he gall mood
    So roar cruel hire
    Lo to achieve an eye leer rot off
    Mass th’lo low o loam echo
    How deal me many coeval yammer
    Naked on face of white rock–sea.
    Then I said: Liveforever my nest
    Is arable hymn
    Shore she root to water
    Dew anew to branch.

    • Reply Sharon February 8, 2023 at 9:06 am

      Thanks. This exactly the sort of thing I had in mind.

  • Reply Chris Dahl February 8, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    Here’s Michael Burkhard. He’s in the Zukofsky tradition. The majority of his published work done in the ’70s and ’80s. This is from Ruby for Grief. I could have chosen any of them, but I wanted something short.

    The Wharf

    When it’s Sunday I read to him. I do this every Sunday.
    A ruby hangs in the middle of my room. It’s
    a planetary ruby. First of all you envision
    nothing but their voices, and a linear train,
    looking for spiders. I’ve read to him twice:
    “When was it when I first imagined the wharf, this
    untouchable center.” Like an admiration: it’s a breath
    and a jar. In the jar a shot to the head
    is like the veil of the dead aunt. Paper,
    measuring breath. I told no one of the soft kerosene
    lamps on the boat when I was five. When I was.
    The wharf.

    • Reply Sharon February 8, 2023 at 10:56 pm

      Do you have specific questions about it?

      • Reply Chris Dahl February 10, 2023 at 11:59 am

        What I really think I’d like to know is if others are getting more of this than I am. I’m sort of going with the flow until the jar. I, the pattern making human that I am, want to connect a lot of the dots–but these dots are so scattered, that I’m dubious about my understanding.

  • Reply Sharon February 8, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    from Nathalie:

    Hello Sharon,
    I really enjoy Eliot’s “The Waste Land” though there are parts of it that are difficult for me to fully comprehend.
    Here is a link to the poem:

    Another one that can be tricky for me is Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley.”
    Here is the link to this poem:

    Thank you and I look forward to seeing you this Friday!

  • Reply Sharon February 8, 2023 at 10:58 pm

    Nathalie, do you want to point to a couple of specific places in either one?

  • Reply Elizabeth M Brown February 9, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    Here’s another poem that baffles me. The key to entering in seems to be the title, which I’m grateful for, but still … it flits outside my ability to enter in. Thanks–Elizabeth

    Wipe That Simile Off Your Aphasia

    as horses as for
    as purple as we go
    as heartbeat as if
    as silverware as it were
    as onion as I can
    as cherries as feared
    as combustion as want
    as dog collar as expected
    as oboes as anyone
    as umbrella as catch can
    as penmanship as it gets
    as narcosis as could be
    as hit parade as all that
    as icebox as far as I know
    as fax machine as one can imagine
    as cyclones as hoped
    as dictionary as you like
    as shadow as promised
    as drinking fountain as well
    as grassfire as myself
    as mirror as is
    as never as this

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