The Cradle Place: Poems

The Cradle Place: Poems

by Thomas Lux
     
 

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"[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

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618619443
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
12/07/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,454,660
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.25(d)

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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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