Elegy on Toy Piano

By Dean Young b. 1955 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.

Source: Poetry (October 2003).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2003 issue of Poetry magazine

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October 2003
 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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Elegy

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