Poems Excerpted From 'Dear Darkness'

Kevin Young's 'Dear Darkness'
Dear Darkness
By Kevin Young
Hardcover, 216 pages
Knopf
List price: $26.95

Eulogy

To allow silence
To admit it in us

always moving
Just past

senses, the darkness
What swallows us

and we live amongst
What lives amongst us

*

These grim anchors
That brief sanctity

the sea
Cast quite far

when you seek
—in your hats black

and kerchiefs—
to bury me

*

Do not weep
but once, and a long

time then
Thereafter eat till

your stomach spills over
No more! you'll cry

too full for your eyes
to leak

*

The words will wait

*

Place me in a plain
pine box I have been

for years building
It is splinters

not silver
It is filled of hair

*

Even the tongues
of bells shall still

*

You who will bear
my body along

Spirit me into the six
Do not startle

at its lack of weight
How light

I shall be released

What we love
will leave us

or is it
we leave

what we love,
I forget—

Today, belly
full enough

to walk the block
after all week

too cold
outside to smile—

I think of you, warm
in your underground room

reading the book
of bone. It's hard going—

your body a dead
language—

I've begun
to feel, if not

hope then what
comes just after—

or before—
Let's not call it

regret, but
this weight,

or weightlessness,
or just

plain waiting.
The ice wanting

again water.
The streams of two planes

a cross fading.

I was so busy
telling you this I forgot

to mention the sky—
how in the dusk

its steely edges
have just begun to rust.

Ode to Boudin

You are the chewing gum
of God. You are the reason
I know that skin
is only that, holds
more than it meets.
The heart of you is something
I don't quite get
but don't want to. Even
a fool like me can see
your broken beauty, the way
out in this world where most
things disappear, driven
into ground, you are ground
already, & like rice
you rise. Drunken deacon,
sausage's half-brother,
jambalaya's baby mama,
you bring me back
to the beginning, to where things live
again. Homemade saviour,
you fed me the day
my father sat under flowers
white as the gloves of pallbearers
tossed on his bier.
Soon, hands will lower him
into ground richer
than even you.
For now, root of all
remembrance, your thick chain
sets me spinning, thinking
of how, like the small,
perfect, possible, silent soul
you spill out
like music, my daddy
dead, or grief,
or both—afterward his sisters
my aunts dancing
in the yard to a car radio
tuned to zydeco
beneath the pecan trees.

Reprinted from Dear Darkness by Kevin Young. Copyright (c) 2008 by Kevin Young. With permission of of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

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