Monthly Archives: September 2011

The much debated heart of Dean Young.


I went to a benefit poetry reading recently which was organized to help collect funds for the health care required by the heart of a poet named Dean Young. He is beloved by many. Discovering his poetry has been a pleasure, if very intimidating. I wrote a long piece on my own heart after hearing about his congenital afflicted one. Apparently, I am not alone in this. We laughed over the french fries in the cafeteria as another told me of all the American poets who strive for less and less sentimentality now struggling to write about Dean and his heart, the word “Heart” coming into play far more often they would have liked to. How to write about mortality and love and friendship and poetry without all the necessary cliches. I fail at it. Of course.
I shall post up my own poem when I summon the courage this week, but for now I leave you with one of the poems I enjoyed at the reading, read by James Galvin, head of poetry department at Iowa Uni. James has a ridiculously fantastic way of reading, slow, sexy and deliberate, with a deep voice, and all the correct pauses, making humor arise of situations written that may have evaded a reader. It was a joy. This is the poem he read by Dean.

Sources Of The Delaware
by Dean Young

I love you he said but saying it took twenty years
so it was like listening to mountains grow.
I love you she says fifty times into a balloon
then releases the balloon into a room
whose volume she calculated to fit
the breath it would take to read
the complete works of Charlotte Bronte aloud.
Someone else pours green dust into the entryway
and puts rice paper on the floor. The door
is painted black. On the clothesline
shirttails snap above the berserk daffodils.
Hoagland says you’ve got to plunge the sword
into the charging bull. You’ve got
to sew yourself into a suit of light.
For the vacuum tube, it’s easy,
just heat the metal to incandescence
and all that dark energy becomes radiance.
A kind of hatching, syntactic and full of buzz.
No contraindications, no laws forbidding
buying gin on Sundays. Not if you’re pregnant,
if you’re operating heavy machinery because
who isn’t towing the scuttled tonnage
of some self? Sometimes just rubbing
her feet is enough. Just putting out
a new cake of soap. Sure, the contents
are under pressure and everyone knows
that last step was never intended to bear
any weight but isn’t that why we’re standing there?
Ripples in her hair, I love you she hollers
over the propellers. Yellow scarf in mist.
When I planted all those daffodils,
I didn’t know I was planting them
in my own chest. Play irretrievably
with the lid closed, Satie wrote on the score.
But Hoagland says he’s sick of opening
the door each morning not on diamonds
but piles of coal, and he’s sick of being
responsible for the eons of pressure needed
and the sea is sick of being responsible
for the rain, and the river is sick of the sea.
So the people who need the river
to float waste to New Jersey
throw in antidepressants. So the river
is still sick but nervous now too,
its legs keep thrashing out involuntarily,
flooding going concerns, keeping the president
awake. So the people throw in beta-blockers
to make it sleep which it does, sort of,
dreaming it’s a snake again but this time
with fifty heads belching ammonia
which is nothing like the dreams it once had
of children splashing in the blue of its eyes.
So the president gets on the airways
with positive vectors and vows
to give every child a computer
but all this time, behind the podium,
his penis is shouting, Put me in, Coach,
I can be the river! So I love you say
the flashbulbs but then the captions
say something else. I love you says
the hammer to the nail. I love Tamescha
someone sprays across the For Sale sign.
So I tell Hoagland it’s a fucked-up ruined
world in such palatial detail, he’s stuck
for hours on the phone. Look at those crows,
they think they’re in on the joke and
they don’t love a thing. They think
they have to be that black to keep
all their radiance inside. I love you
the man says as his mother dies
so now nothing ties him to the earth,
not fistfuls of dirt, not the silly songs
he remembers singing as a child.
I love you I say meaning lend me twenty bucks.

of course, James ended his reading with saying…”No, seriously, lend him twenty bucks”. Which the audience smiled and smiled at.



Helen Wing is one of our newer Poeticians, who for me is an example of the precise raison d’etre of the collective. Helen decided to pursue writing much more seriously, and in some very distant beautiful places, because of her involvement with the collective. Or so she tells us, and I radiate joy at those emails. She only read with us a few times, but her absence will be felt, and here is hoping she will return at some point in the winter to Dubai to perform some more. Today I woke up to rain, and sweet foggy memories of heavy moments in a twinkly night, and for sustenance, I was given these poems below, by Helen, to share on the site. Thank you, darlin. I hope you enjoy them, anonymous readers.
(And Rewa :P)

Of daemons in the duster, and of the most important things

Of the most important things

I simply cannot speak:

of passions old and new,

(although I do, but don’t do too,

if you get my drift,

not in any way that means that

we can seamlessly,

in blazing cherubim honesty,

stand here holding

each other’s feathered hand),

of babies’ toes, of undone

laces and straightenings,

of the agony of just one line of verse,

of yearning the size of Ireland

and potential not existing yet

even in the ancient patterned

dry-brown wet-red


I line up by my bath,

as lapidary taunts

that reminisce the suppurating disconnect

between the my long lost bodied earth

and the light years hence out-distancing

of my spirit forsaken sky,

of the leagues between who I meant to be

and who I then became

and how

none of the stones I stepped upon

the peach chalcedony, the jadeite,

the insect snare of the agate seam,

the darkest hidden antimony,

or the weathered vicious flint,

were supposed

to slice




of insignificant, shadow-ash

small, domestic pain,

strung like a grey grease-stained

stinky-stale dishcloth over

the tarnished lip of the sink

of my down-the-plughole type of life,

the enemy of Jif;

of mammoth envies

and sluggish rusted antonyms,

of fizzed-up dreams and nicotine

blasphemies and coked up, choked up,

staunched and cauterised desire,

of things I lost and cannot find,

of who fits in and who does not,

of whys and hows and whens

I really should have known,

of things in the end that I never even realised

I was supposed to try and understand.

No, of all these,

shall we call them,

important things

I simply





(though I am finding now,

since these translucent, polished light


caressing and consoling

gentle whisper



fluttering around the kitchen,

and the bath

and the stairwell

and the hall,

(all the places people secretly have to weep),

witnessing the ablutions

of my suspended in mid-air violet whittled life,

since these gorgeous fluttering winged creatures came,

I am finding

that of at least a few of

these seemingly important things

one day soon,


I may

be able




So, she starches your shirts,
turns your collars,
all your
Spic and span!


Wouldn’t you rather she took you in her mouth and
pulled on you
like she is dragging the shirt off a fidgety child?

Don’t you still want her to
draw you out until
you release from the depths of your belly
the moan
that is the nearest you can come
to a pin-striped
cosmic om
which while it lasts
threads every part of you
the silk skein of the frothing web
that spreads out
to every last corner
of the

‘Well, yes
you say…

You say
you would prefer
to have



So, you already know that,
as time succeeds
where you
you’ll prefer the shirt.

you tell me as a mark of pride
that she is very clean.


So, explain to me why this one thing
will never change
will always stay the same,
explain to me
that feeling as you button up
your freshly laundered shirt,
break out new pants,
pull on your navy
explain to me
how spic and span
and primped and cleaned,
she makes you feel


that all that is
should be

that your fingers trail the length
of my carnelian, carnal cave,
my teeth
in your stag-white,

that the past

that we treat
this new
with a tenderness
reserved for all new-borns,
that we think
as one

(Hymning him who brings the light) and now the light

I was always so afraid of death

but now

your words roar into me with the brute-purple force



Your words run like slaughter swords,

like knives, they cut into my flesh,

your crimson, blazing courage



Your red, red words

burn into me,

leaving scars




slice right through

the thicket I had grown around my heart,





did I say battering?,

the wilderness


cyan weeds,

ochre’d, stinking corpses

and bulbous, silvered flies,


the hecatomb




I was always so afraid of death.

Now dripping lupine teeth,

your cut-cut words,

slash and tear at me,

grind me down


leave me





I was always so afraid of death



I will die with the vision of your Tyrian eyes




crinkled skin









An archangel carrying the flaming sword of my rendition,

your words,

terrible, brave and fierce,




My body part exists for this:

to atone,

that you might




and kill,


and kiss,



bring me back to life

if that should be your wish.

Your words roar into me and I am no longer afraid of death.

All that is







for with words alone you inter me in your violet sky,




And so it starts.


I am currently on a long trip to the USA to attend the Iowa International writing program, with 36 other lovely writer/poets/journalists/filmmakers and free spirits. It took a lot of suitcases, hustling and bustling, manic last dashes to taxi cabs and a little heartache to get here. It took too many airport coffees to mention, and the notion that one can only go forward. It took self discipline and not answering my phone. It took rummaging through bags in late nights to collect the odds and ends of lives, now ready to sleep. It took maniacal laughter on drunken buses celebrating the love of my newly wed friends, who are glorious. It took experiencing an earthquake in a house that shook, conversations with a woman who is 97 years old who told me everyday she still enjoyed life, who told me I was beautiful. It took a lot of rain, and dirt on my toes and a hurricane and laughter as my wondrous sister said the things that only she can say, to my heart.
And now I am here, and life is anew, and there is starlight and sunlight and moonlight and very cheap, very tasty alcohol, and more poets than the soul could bear. There are bookstores, and good looking healthy youngsters, like a balm on tattered thoughts. There is mexican food and hazelnut coffee, and more trees than I can manage to climb in three months. There are mischievous smiles across local bar tables, and the surprise of the discovery of a shared love of poetry and far off deserts.
I have so much to write in the next three months, and vigor flows through all the tired tendons in my elbows and wrists. I am working on my film, and dreaming of evictions of the heart, and older poets reading words I can only fathom writing in a far off blessed future, and in the meantime, after the fragrant colored smoke drifting off river walks in the late night, there are poems, poems that make no sense.

Poem that makes no sense.
Iowa City, August, 2011.

Nothing here reminds me of you, not the languid frogs in the trees,
although, in retrospect, many parallels could be made.
And I like frogs,
I do.
Nothing much. At the end of it. Not the hexagon
shapes of possible lights over other moving ripples,
and me and my curls and waving hands,
all the insects in leaves, humming a
funk tune private for my sorrow.
Not even the thighs of young bodies flitting by, briefly humping
everyone’s kinky imagination before furiously
dying as they jog us by,
doomed to motion.

Not even the ungirdled breasts bouncing on cement.
Those smoke-free streets, where
burn still happens.
Not the glorious 4 dollar
shots of kickass whiskey, nor the hawk eye repetitions,
even though you
and I
are no strangers to animals of prey.

Not the blonde braids you would have
noticed on sweaty foreheads,
pupils dilating.
Not the wide bed, half
alive, not the dead
bed which still has use, that mobile shifting of covers and oblivion, vital.
It is good to sleep in new places.

Not the lack of sand, and everything
being so luscious, not the texture sweet rough dreadlocks
on my gentle new friend, nor
nor the peace of cream cheese on blueberry
bagels, and the search to find ubiquitous coffee,
and finding plenty, nothing
nothing about the
sunlight reminds me of you, not the green green green
not even the damned blue echoing to where we parted.

Not the mania,
as if
as if we needed more salting of what we slashed,
not the music, suddenly
from a forgotten jukebox time, now
also a match lit in the memory shelf of song, which
is like no other,
that recognition of self amongst worlds disparate,
that pitch of human and
machine which stays with one,
when one leaves,
even when one leaves often.
And that other, lighter,
ice blue in
the face of a tamed
wolf who liked table spoons, etched on wrists, because of poetry
and something else within him,
which I may never know.

Not even his hands reminded me of you.

That jukebox manna crashed
across a strange bar, casual,
and, not even
the silence in me reminded me of you.

It is all really rather silly, all of it, in
the end, the
moaning and groaning,
and the unexpected yearning which abates,
and the lack of will to always go into
all of that breaking, and this evil
notion of time,
and not even thoughts of my mortality, grisly, reminded me of you.

It is 1:21 in the morning,
this here is a new continent
wrists flounder and probe,
back hunches, and stretches to maintain life,
waist distended and spine
out of righteous sphere,
head a little askew in its orbit,
and my eyelashes a horizon of all I could have
possibly seen before
you, all that which did not tell of your name,
i am cold
and I will not sleep,
for it is important
it is important to write a poem that does not remind me of you.

Which, perhaps, makes sense.