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By Dean Young

For Kenneth Koch

You don’t need a pony

to connect you to the unseeable

or an airplane to connect you to the sky.

Necessary it is to love to live

and there are many manuals

but in all important ways

one is on one’s own.

You need not cut off your hand.

No need to eat a bouquet.

Your head becomes a peach pit.

Your tongue a honeycomb.

Necessary it is to live to love,

to charge into the burning tower

then charge back out

and necessary it is to die.

Even for the trees, even for the pony

connecting you to what can’t be grasped.

The injured gazelle falls behind the

herd. One last wild enjambment.

Because of the sores in his mouth,

the great poet struggles with a dumpling.

His work has enlarged the world

but the world is about to stop including him.

He is the tower the world runs out of.

When something becomes ash,

there’s nothing you can do to turn it back.

About this, even diamonds do not lie.


The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

Source: Poetry

  • Arts & Sciences
  • Living

Poet Bio

Dean Young
Poet Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from Indiana University. He has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and the University of Texas-Austin. Influenced by the New York School poets, Young often uses the tools of surrealism and collage in his poetry. In an interview with Jubilat, Young spoke of the centrality of misunderstanding in his poetry: “I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point.”

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