The Art of Recklessness
by Dean Young
Maybe tomorrow will be the day that everyone wakes
up to write a poem, Dean Young muses
in The Art of Recklessness.
Well, be careful what you wish for,
Dean, it might turn out to be a suitcase full
of your dead mom's pubic hair
that is delivered to your room.
What? Your mom's not dead yet?
Dental floss, then, used. Don't ask
what we've been eating! Steel wool
that has been stuck into unspeakable drains.
Aborted babies, the remains of which.
Or a thousand chloroformed mice
due to wake up any moment now.
Quick! Close the cover!
Am I being deliberately distasteful
or just childish, or both?
Yes, I agree.
I agree with everything.
Let us jump up and down a stick of dynamite
in each fist and a fart cushion under every arm.
This isn't literature, you say? Of course it isn't.
Surrealism was never intended to create art;
it's a way to paint life with your imagination
to turn your salt and paper shakers
into miniature horses
because refrigerators are something that exist
when you're not involved.
So let's unzip ourselves. Let's pull out
the string that stitches us together like a turkey
and see what falls to the floor.
Let's save only the interesting-looking bits.
Recipe for Writing a Poem:
1. Take a clean sheet of paper.
2. Do something on it that has never been done before.
One of the most disturbingly beautiful things I've ever heard
is how those starving to death during the Russian famine
sucked strings of meat from between each other's teeth.
Talk about a kiss!
What is a poem is the question you ask
when you've already been to Kansas.
What should a poem be is the question you ask
when you're choking to death on the tiny violin
in the back of your throat. A poem, then,
is something you've never seen before,
something coughed up in a tissue
like a Minotaur fetus.
Is it death, then? Yes,
I'm pulling up the nails of my own coffin
because it's not time to climb inside
no matter what the coroner says.
I started a suicide note and it turned into a love letter
so full of plutonium that I was arrested as a terrorist
but I swear that I'm innocent of everything
except looking out the corners of my eyes.
Writing a poem
is like throwing your feet out in front of you
to keep from falling
stumbling forward five or six steps
and then falling flat on your face anyway
breaking your nose
and bleeding all over the floor in great rusty poppies.
Look what it cost me,
Because this book is a call to arms
if you still have arms to call
in the fight against flabby complacency.
If, like most of us, your arms were sawed-off
in the 3rd grade, this book is a magic spell
to charm your DNA to grow new ones
the way certain species of newt can grow new tails.
No, it can't be done; at least not until it's been done,
so why not try? Anyone can
grow imaginary arms in the meantime;
it's been proven. I proved it this morning
at 4.17 a.m. With them, you can reach
the imaginary jars the Nazis have hidden
high up in the cupboard.
I have a thousand eggs unhatched inside me
and I want to break them all before I die.
Maybe tomorrow will be the day that everyone wakes up
to write a poem, Dean Young muses
in The Art of Recklessness--
it's at his own peril that he muses thus
as I hope here to have amply shown.