From My Commonplace Book - 39

Sleep Aid

by Dean Young

Do you wake up sooner than you go to sleep?
Do you have trouble falling?
Is your heart made of fire but your mouth ash?
Do you think of your life as a black hole
and everything hurried along,
every amphibian, every eyelash
hurried along?
What other drugs are you taking?
Can you spit them out?
A tiny cathedral lodged in your lung?
The sequence of heads wrapped in barbed wire
that is your genealogy?
Whose trachea is that lying in the road?
Whose English teacher is that lying in the road?
What blank is yours to fill in
regarding the worm's intestines?
How can you withstand the termites' gnawing,
popsicle stick, the true cross, makes no diff,
Are you avoiding the sun?
Hang up a minute.
Would you like something sweet?
I don't think it's counterindicated.
You may feel weak.
Perceive an errant sheen.
A stinging in the palms.
If you're planning on staying alive,
a glass of water brought down a dark hall
by a known hand is a boon.
It's not the skricket of the cricket
but its silence that is clairvoyant.
Someone's shaking out a great plastic sack
until it nearly pops with empty satisfaction.
Because it's a children's book
maybe the terrible things happening
are just there for the funny drawings.
Well, it's colder than we thought
standing by the window. And the basement?
The cat's found someplace warm to vanish.

Dean Young (American, born 1955) is considered a descendant of New York School poets Frank O'Hara, John Ashbury, and Kenneth Koch and has been heavily influenced by French surrealists, particularly Andre Breton. "Sleeping Aid" comes from his latest collection, Fall Higher, published this year by Copper Canyon Press.

Hear (or read) an interview with Dean Young about his recent heart transplant and scroll down to hear him read his poems:

Another poem by Dean Young appeared earlier in this blog:


Hi Merry, Just discovered this interesting poem (as you see we've had a bit of a do with some warfare from the UK press - not deterred though). This is quite new to me - though Surrealism in the visual arts is very familiar - a fascinating use of imagery and from his own unpleasant medical experiences too - not easy to turn into poetry one imagines.
Thanks, Enid. I read the book through once before I found out about Dean Young's heart transplant. With that knowledge, I read the poems again, and all the references to heart and death were even more intense.

Good for you taking on master propagandist Simon Wessely. What is going on in newsrooms (or higher up than the newsroom) that reporters listen to him and write up whatever story he tells? I'm not asking you to answer that. You've been in the battle for awhile now and need to rest.
Merry, I think the answer to the question is - though I'm reluctant to say - a cultural phenomena. My brother took off for US years ago to continue his work in Neurology saying of his superiors here "they even support each other when they know it wrong" - he's currently researching MS at one your best and Prof - much more interested in patients than titles. The reverse seems to have happened here in medicine - I'm sure an historian (like Simon Schama - Harvard) could unravel the paternalistics still deeply embedded in the hands of a few who sway and dupe. Thank heavens for the good old US of A. !
Hoping the heat more bearable and you can enjoy the gardens about you.
Hi, Enid.

Oh, Simon Schama! I have a book of his, can't think of title. Something about natural spaces, history of landscaping, urban parks. Great book.

I do have some complaints about the US. Many, really. Some of the people who live here drive me crazy.

Edit: Landscape and Memory is the book by Simon Schama that I have. Terrific. I should read more of his work. Thanks for reminding me, Enid.
But nothing is perfect - you me, my hopeless bowels failing daily. I do take pleasure from the cheerfulness about me - and nature, maybe proper sleep and the whole universe who tells me Thou. Well that's my position - life is only about (in pleasure or pain) the total sweetness of being. Not your problems - but much rotten in "the state of Denmark here" only.

Most imporatant - enjoy your garden.
Oh, Enid. Your view of life is a sweet one: "total sweetness of being." I must remember that. Thank you.

So sorry, though, about your physical difficulties. Sad. And despite all your own problems, you continue to fight for the cause. Bless you.
I will certainly view Merry - these simple things bring so much pleasure - hoping your own moss garden fares well though........... a little later sad to see your photos - I've added a few suggestions.

Blog entry information

Last update

More entries in User Blogs

More entries from Merry