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Reader?s familiar with Thomas Lux?s quick-witted images ("Language without simile is like a lung/ without air") and his rambunctious, Cirque-Du-Soleil-like imagination ("The Under-Appreciated Pontooniers") will find in his new collection, Child Made of Sand, not only the signature funny, provocative, and poignant super-surrealism that has made him, along with Charles Simic, James Tate, and Dean Young, one of America?s most inventive and humane poets, but they will also find in a surprising series of homages, ...
Reader’s familiar with Thomas Lux’s quick-witted images ("Language without simile is like a lung/ without air") and his rambunctious, Cirque-Du-Soleil-like imagination ("The Under-Appreciated Pontooniers") will find in his new collection, Child Made of Sand, not only the signature funny, provocative, and poignant super-surrealism that has made him, along with Charles Simic, James Tate, and Dean Young, one of America’s most inventive and humane poets, but they will also find in a surprising series of homages, elegies, rants, and autobiographical poems a new register of language in which time and mortality echo and reverberate in quieter notes. In "West Shining Tree," we can hear this shift in register when he asks: "I’ll head dead West and ask of all I see:/ Which is the way, the long or the short way,/ to the West Shining Tree?"
The Moths Who Come in the Night to Drink Our Tears
always leave quenched,
though they’re drinking,
in composition, seawater,
which does not make them insane as it does parched humans when we drink it, even with our big, big bodies.
If you knew a leper’s tears do not contain the bacillus leprae,
would you let him weep on your chest?
Let the moths come, let the sandwoman and -man come,
let Morpheus and Dreamadum come unto me, and my beloveds,
let the moths come and drink of the disburdening waters.
—César Vallejo, Arago Clinic, Paris, Holy Friday,
April 15, 1938
It was you, César, they killed to the base of your forefinger, you.
Certainly they shot Pedro Rojas too.
No doubt Juana Vásquez was killed.
The killers, poor also, were skilled.
And Emilio, they shot him in the back of the neck after they made him kneel amid the wreck of his grandmother’s house—they beat but did not kill her. The people, their hands and feet
(A cripple sleeps with his foot on his shoulder.
Shall I later talk about Picasso, of all people?),
these are the people you wrote for, César,
though your later poems, no longer lighted by the laser of your homeland, of Heraldos Negros or Trilce, were real enough for exile but not as true, licit.
Socialist realism, the aesthetic was called,
poetry force-marched—to diminish, equally, all.
It was not right for your mind and betrayed your heart.
Your countrymen and -women should bring you home, César.
Entombed in France is good enough for some,
but Peru should bring Peru’s great poet home.
Jebus don’t love me, oh.
Oh Jebus don’t love me, no.
He never because I too slow.
The moon do love me, but it fall,
plash, way there in ocean where I see them small fishes who be, who be a ton
of teeth in my big eyes. So,
Jebus, let this tiny haminal go,
because I don’t love you neither, no.
The Moths Who Come in the Night to Drink Our Tears 3
The Little Three-Handed Engine That Could 4
The Chairman of Naught 6
You and Your Ilk 7
The Drunken Forest 8
The Underappreciated Pontooniers 9
Nietzsche Throws His Arms Around the Neck of a Dray Horse 10
Scriptus Interruptus 11
A Frozen Ball of Rattlesnakes 12
The Queen of Truth 13
A Delivery of Dung 14
Since Death and Its Sequelae 20
Every Time Someone Masturbates God Kills a Kitten 22
West Shining Tree 23
From Whom All Blessings Flow 24
The Probabilist 26
Rue de la Vieille Lanterne 27
Like Tiny Baby Jesus, in Velour Pants, Sliding down
Your Throat (A Belgian Euphemism) 28
Not the Same Kind of Mud as in “Two Tramps in Mud Time” 30
Ermine Noose 31
The Riverine Farmers 36
The Anti-Lunarian League 38
Boy Born with Small Knife in His Head 40
Graves Rented by the Hour 41
Dendrochronologist Blues 42
The Goldfish Room (Where the Cops
Beat You in the Head with a Phonebook) 44
The River of Nuts 46
Baby Madsong 48
Soup Teachers, 54
The Hunchback Farmhand 55
Lady’s Slipper 56
Bricks Sinking in Deep Water 57
Dead Horse 58
A Walk in the Woods with Shotguns 62
Outline for My Memoir 64