Acceptance Speech

By Dean Young b. 1955 Dean Young
This time I’m not going to say a thing   
about deity. It’s not the blizzard,
it’s three days after. Trinkle from thawing   
roofs, ruined crocus pronging through.   
Ruin, I promise, won’t be mentioned again.   
Trees, sure, still begging in the road, split
to the bole but this isn’t about the chainsaw.   
A pruning saw will have to do. The puppets   
aren’t hanging themselves in each other’s   
strings. Everyone’s easily identifiable
beneath the funny mask. Somewhere in Oregon,
Mary has another month to go, she’s comfortable   
in any position for thirty-five seconds. Lulu,   
we know you’re in there but no one’s   
blaming you for reluctance to come out.   
Poetry is the grinding of a multiplicity   
throwing off sparks, wrote Artaud
and look what that got him: toothlessness
and shock therapy. Your dad, who has the worst   
teeth of anyone I know, once ordered eggplant   
in a steakhouse. Do not order eggplant   
in a steakhouse turned out to be more   
than aphoristicly true. Do not spend a lot   
of time in an asylum writing cruel poems   
if you can help it, one Artaud is enough.   
In Kandinsky’s Blue 2, there’s a shape   
in two rows of shapes that seems okay   
although to the right’s a capsized canoe   
full of mathematicians, to the left a bow   
about to launch the killer astrolabe.   
By what manner is the soul joined to
the body? How about climbing a ladder   
of fire? No thanks. On TV, a rhino’s
lying in some red dust, munching a thorn.   
You wouldn’t think he could ejaculate
for half an hour straight, but you’d be wrong.   
See that cloud, it might weigh 10,000 pounds   
which is about average for a cloud.   
Happy birthday, happy birthday to you.
Tony says Mary is always writing about the sacred.   
Talcum powder, binoculars, this decimated   
planet. I know, a promise has been made   
but Tony’s been sick for years and no one   
knows with what. Flax oil, bark tinctures,   
corticosteroids. He’s not exactly someone   
you’d trust to drive your car, but still.
Something awful’s coming, isn’t it?   
Would it help if I said Amen?

Dean Young, “Acceptance Speech” from First Course in Turbulence. Copyright © 1999 by Dean Young. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Reprinted with the permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press,

Source: First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)

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Poet Dean Young b. 1955

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Poetry & Poets

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Dean  Young


Poet Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from Indiana University. Recognized as one of the most energetic, influential poets writing today, his numerous collections of poetry include Strike Anywhere (1995), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry; Skid (2002), finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Primitive Mentor (2008), . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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