Drawing for Absolute Beginners

By Monica Youn Monica Youn

Take any desired height, or place points for
top of head and heels. Divide into eights. . . .

8.  Head tilted back between the headboard slats. Eyes glass boxes
     filling up with light. Later, drained to a blue-gray, the color of
     good government.
7.  Thus, we see that commodification is a function of local necessity.
     a.  As Angelenos collect percolating shade in shallow pans, to
          leach the arsenic out of the light.
     b.  “And then I buried it.”
          “Where, exactly? And when?”
          “In the chest. Insertion point at the base of the throat. You
          were still asleep.”
          “But what is it, exactly? I mean, I can’t figure out its precise
          extent. I mean, I can feel it there sometimes, like stitches, or
          sometimes like a flanged or branching bone.”
6.  Cross-hatchings of street noise and the Minotaur with his boy’s
     body. Narrowing. Rib cage the verge of a canoe. Armpit a whiff of
     pencil lead.
5.  “If you want to fuck me with that bottle, Mr. Arbuckle, best take
     the foil off first.”
4.  osculation:
     a.  The act of kissing. A kiss.
     b.  Math. A point where two branches of a curve have a common
          tangent and extend in both directions of the tangent.
     c.  To the ankles. Or to the knees. Or just unzipped enough.
3.  Charmeuse chemise. A shuddering fall. Miss Adelaide Hall on
     the chaise longue singing I ain’t much caring / Just where I will
     end. Then jerked upright, skirt hiked to the knee, that bridge
     stretching out under every skip-step. Slaphappy scat-puppet of
     the fixed smile, the meanwhile, Ain’t got nobody to love now.
2.  The bone begging bowl. The foot that pushed it away.
1.  “I want to leave you exactly as I found you.”

Monica Youn, “Drawing for Absolute Beginners” from Barter. Copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org

Source: Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003)

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Poet Monica Youn

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture, Social Commentaries, Love

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Ekphrasis

 Monica  Youn


Monica Youn is the author of Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003) and Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times Magazine, and she has been awarded fellowships from the Library of Congress and Stanford University, among other awards. A former lawyer, she now teaches . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture, Social Commentaries, Love

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Prose Poem, Ekphrasis

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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