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Lullaby [For Charles Baudelaire]

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Lie me down to heal in sleep, do not let me wake
In sin, the tongue
Cancels another year, another painted storm
In the coral caves, some pious poet
Drunk on vapors
Swatting tomb-bats in the nightwood, would that
Wayward bark sunned white
Be also thunder, a hill of bones drumming—thud
Thud, a wake
Of buzzards braiding into the loosening skull—the redoubled fists
Of students like an island in the bramble chained—I have been told
To reason, lawless, empty, without rights—
But I am old
Not age, I have been told
To match its columns by our footfall, prophet—I am not
The straw or garland of our Sirens, not the brow
Of holly, nor the warble
Of any lark

Lynn Xu, “Lullaby [For Charles Baudelaire]” from Debts & Lessons. Copyright © 2013 by Lynn Xu. Reprinted by permission of Omnidawn Publishing.
Source: Debts & Lessons (Omnidawn Publishing, 2013)
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Lullaby [For Charles Baudelaire]

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  • Born in Shanghai, poet Lynn Xu earned a BA from the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA at Brown University.  She received a Catherine and William L. Magistretti Fellowship and a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship for her doctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley. 

    Influenced by surrealism, philosophy, and critical theory, Xu composes poems engaged with structure on an intimate level.  Poet Ben Lerner, in his 2010 introduction to Xu’s work in the Boston Review describes Xu as an “expert at multiplying sites of resonance and ambiguity,” praising “Xu’s ability to make the poetic line a little theater where the belatedness of language is felt—and sometimes lulled into suspension.”

    Xu is the author of the poetry collection Debts & Lessons (2013), which was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, and a chapbook June (2006). In 2008 her work was featured in Best American Poetry and, in 2013, she was selected as a New American Poet...

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