The Cradle Place: Poems [NOOK Book]

Overview

"[Lux is] sui generis, his own kind of poet, unlike any of the fashions of his time." – Stanley Kunitz

Thomas Lux is humorous, edgy, and ever surprising in The Cradle Place, his tenth collection of verse. These fifty-two poems question language and intention and the sometimes untidy connections between the human and natural worlds. Lux has long been an outspoken advocate for the relevance of poetry in American culture, and his voice is urgent and unrelentingly evocative. As Sven Birkerts has noted, “Lux may be ...
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The Cradle Place: Poems

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Overview

"[Lux is] sui generis, his own kind of poet, unlike any of the fashions of his time." – Stanley Kunitz

Thomas Lux is humorous, edgy, and ever surprising in The Cradle Place, his tenth collection of verse. These fifty-two poems question language and intention and the sometimes untidy connections between the human and natural worlds. Lux has long been an outspoken advocate for the relevance of poetry in American culture, and his voice is urgent and unrelentingly evocative. As Sven Birkerts has noted, “Lux may be one of the poets on whom the future of the genre depends.”

“A book full of arresting images . . . The natural world, as it appears here, is at first lovely . . . but turns out dangerously vanquished . . . Not since Plath has hysteria looked this kissable." – San Francisco Chronicle

“Lux has a gift for the swiftly turned expression . . . Such immediacy and quirkiness will hold a reader." – Poetry

"Readers will be mesmerized." – Poetry Book of the Year, Library Journal

THOMAS LUX holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and is director of the McEver Visiting Writers Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has been awarded three NEA grants and the Kingsley Tufts Award, and is a former Guggenheim Fellow. He lives in Atlanta.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
Lowly creatures receive much thoughtful attention from Lux. His short, punchy lyrics are acrawl with ants, flies and dung beetles, in whose microscopic lives he finds endless allegorical material. But his themes are rarely explicit or overdetermined.—Eric McHenry
Publishers Weekly
Witty, hard to classify and easy to enjoy, Lux alternates acid wit with off-kilter storytelling in this 10th collection of verse, the first since The Street of Clocks (2001) and only the second since a 1997 New & Selected. Lux has been known for his terse, magic-realist scene-setting (which some have compared to Charles Simic): these poems keep the odd situations but rev up the verbal music, with rapid, often lengthy lines and titles that simultaneously charm and disturb-"Debate Regarding the Permissibility of Eating Mermaids," "Can't Sleep the Clowns Will Eat Me," "The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association" (this last turns out to be a poem about art). Lux tends to open poems with their most bizarre elements, then glide down into familiar sentiments, inviting our sympathy, denouncing his enemies, or making bleak jokes about disappointment and death: "What the maggots do/ they do for you." Standout poems often pivot on prominent factoids: "One out of eight deaths occurring in the home/ or on picnics/ is impalement related." Such arguably morbid (or chilling) themes balance out other, sweeter passages built on parents' experience raising children, or the more infantilizing aspects of everyday life: "Do nothing to further perplex the other perplexed./ We'll let you know when it's single file for lunch." (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
"Horse Bleeding to Death at a Gallop." "Debate Regarding the Permissibility of Eating Mermaids." As these titles reveal, Lux's poems can be painfully evocative, yet readers will be mesmerized. (LJ 7/04) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547347080
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/6/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 80
  • File size: 133 KB

Meet the Author

Thomas Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and is the director of the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Institute of Technology. He has been awarded three NEA grants and the Kingsley Tufts Award and is a former Guggenheim Fellow. He lives in Atlanta.
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Read an Excerpt

THE LATE AMBASSADORIAL LIGHT Light reaches through a leaf and that light, diminished, passes through another leaf, and another, down to the lawn beneath.
Green, green, the high grass shivers.
Water over a stone, and bees, bees around the flowers, deep-tiered beds of them, yellows and golds and reds.
Saw-blade ferns feather in the breeze.
And, just as a cloud’s corner catches the sun, a tiny glint in the garden—the milk of a broken stalk? A lion’s tooth?
Or might that be the delicate labia of an orchid?

SAY YOU’RE BREATHING just as you do every day, in and out, in and out, and in each breath: one tick of a shaving from a bat’s eyelash, an invisible sliver of a body mite who lived near Caligula’s shin, diamond dust (we each inhale a carat in a lifetime), a speck of scurf from the Third Dynasty (that of the abundant imbeciles), one sulfurous grain from the smoke of a mortar round, a mote of marrow from a bone poking through a shallow grave, a whiff from a mummy grinder caught in a Sahara wind, most of the Sahara itself, inhaled in Greenland, sweat dried to crystal on your father’s lip and lifted to the sky before you were born—all, all, a galaxy of fragments floating around you every day, inhaled every day, happy to rest in your lungs until they are dust again and again risen.

DRY BITE When the krait strikes but does not loose his venom: dry bite. What makes the snake choose not to kill you? Not Please, not I didn’t mean to step on you. He may be fresh out: struck recently something else. But: if he withholds his poison, when does he do so and why?
Can he tell you are harmless to him?
He can’t swallow you, so why kill you?
There’s no use asking the krait: he’s deaf.
In that chemical, that split-billionth of a second, he decides and the little valve of his venom sac stays shut or opens wide.
Dry, oh dry, dry bite—lucky the day you began to wear the krait’s snake-eyed mark on your wrist and you walked down the mountain into the valley of that which remains of your life.

Copyright © 2004 by Thomas Lux. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Table of Contents

The Late Ambassadorial Light 3
Say You're Breathing 4
Dry Bite 5
Horse Bleeding to Death at Full Gallop 6
Debate Regarding the Permissibility of Eating Mermaids 7
The Professor of Ants 8
Tactile 9
Ten Years Hard Labor on a Guano Island 10
Family Photo Around Xmas Tree 11
Rather 12
Portrait of X[III] 13
Three Vials of Maggots 14
Uncle Dung Beetle 15
The Gletz 16
Can Tie Shoes But Won't 17
The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association 18
To Help the Monkey Cross the River 19
The Devil's Beef Tub 20
Boatloads of Mummies 21
Thus, He Spoke His Quietus 22
The Magna Chamber 23
Birds Nailed to Trees 24
Guide for the Perpetually Perplexed 27
If One Can Be Seen 28
The Year the Locust Hath Eaten 29
Burned Forests ad Horses' Bones 30
Letter to Walt Whitman from a Soldier He Nursed in Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1866 32
Scorpions Everywhere 33
Myope 34
To Plow and Plant the Seashore 37
Amphribrach Dance 38
Remora 39
National Impalement Statistics 40
Asafetida 41
174517: Primo Levi, an Elegy 42
Goofer-Dust 43
With Maeterlinck's Great Book 44
Terminal Lake 45
The Chief Attendant of the Napkin 46
The Mountains in the River on the Way to the Sea 48
Reject What Confuses You 49
Flies So Thick Above the Corpses in the Rubble, the Soldiers Must Use Flamethrowers to Pass Through 50
The Ice Worm's Life 51
Provincia Aurifera 52
I Will Please, Said the Placebo 53
Hospitality and Revenge 54
From the High Ground 55
Dystopia 56
Monkey Butter 57
Breakbone Fever 58
Can't Sleep the Clowns Will Eat Me 59
Render, Render 60
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First Chapter

THE LATE AMBASSADORIAL LIGHT
Light reaches through a leaf
and that light, diminished, passes through
another leaf,
and another, down
to the lawn beneath.
Green, green, the high grass shivers.
Water over a stone, and bees,
bees around the flowers, deep-tiered beds
of them, yellows and golds and reds.
Saw-blade ferns feather in the breeze.
And, just as a cloud's corner
catches the sun, a tiny glint in the garden—the milk
of a broken stalk? A lion's tooth?
Or might that be the delicate labia
of an orchid?


SAY YOU'RE BREATHING
just as you do every day, in and out, in and out, and in each
breath: one tick
of a shaving from a bat's eyelash, an invisible sliver
of a body mite
who lived near Caligula's shin, diamond dust (we each inhale a carat
in a lifetime), a speck of scurf
from the Third Dynasty (that of the abundant
imbeciles), one sulfurous grain
from the smoke of a mortar round, a mote of marrow
from a bone poking through a shallow grave,
a whiff from a mummy grinder
caught in a Sahara wind, most of the Sahara itself,
inhaled in Greenland, sweat dried to crystal on your father's lip
and lifted to the sky
before you were born—all, all, a galaxy
of fragments floating
around you every day,
inhaled every day,
happy to rest in your lungs
until they are dust again
and again risen.


DRY BITE
When the krait strikes but does not loose
his venom: dry bite. What makes the snake choose
not to kill you? Not Please,
not I didn't mean
to step on you. He may be fresh out: struck
recently something else. But: if he withholds
hispoison,
when does he do so and why?
Can he tell you are harmless to him?
He can't swallow you, so why kill you?
There's no use asking the krait: he's deaf.
In that chemical, that split-billionth
of a second, he decides
and the little valve
of his venom sac
stays shut or opens wide.
Dry, oh dry, dry bite—lucky the day
you began to wear
the krait's snake-eyed mark
on your wrist
and you walked down the mountain
into the valley
of that which remains of your life.

Copyright © 2004 by Thomas Lux. Reprinted by permission of Houghton
Mifflin Company.
Read More Show Less

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