Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Poem by Kevin Young

I took my Poets & Writers Club to Lenoir Rhyne University last month on a field trip to tour the campus and see a poetry reading by Kevin Young. What a lively performance! My high school students were much more engrossed in Young's choice of topic and style than even when we saw W.S. Merwin (the U.S. Poet Laureate) last semester. I now have a new favorite.

"Ode to Chicken"

You are everything
to me. Frog legs,
rattlesnake, almost any
thing I put my mouth to
reminds me of you.
Folks always try
getting you to act
like you someone else --
nuggets, or tenders, fingers
you don't have -- but even
your unmanicured feet
taste sweet. Too loud
in the yard, segregated
dark & light, you are
like a day self-contained --
your sunset skin puckers
like a kiss. Let others
put on airs -- pigs graduate
to pork, bread
become toast, even beef
was once just bull
before it got them degrees --
but, even dead,
you keep your name
& head. You can make
anything of yourself,
you know -- but prefer
to wake me early
in the cold, fix me breakfast
& dinner too, leave me
to fly for you.

from Dear Darkness (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mightier Than the Sword, But Still Dependant on Who Wields It

Quill, n. An implement of torture yielded by a goose and commonly wielded by an ass. This use of the quill is now obsolete, but its modern equivalent, the steel pen, is wielded by the same everlasting Presence.

Ink, n. A villanous compound of tanno-gallate of iron, gum-arabic and water, chiefly used to facilitate the infection of idiocy and promote intellectual crime .... most generally and acceptably employed as a mortar to bind together the stones in an edifice of fame, and as a whitewash to conceal afterward the rascal quality of the material.

from Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary