The Cradle Place: Poems

The Cradle Place: Poems

by Thomas Lux
     
 

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The Cradle Place is the new collection from Thomas Lux, a self-described "recovering surrealist" and winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award.
These fifty-two poems bring to full life the "refreshing iconoclasms" Rita Dove so admired in Lux's earlier work. His voice is plainspoken but moody, humorous and edgy, and ever surprising.
These are philosophical poems

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Overview

The Cradle Place is the new collection from Thomas Lux, a self-described "recovering surrealist" and winner of the Kingsley Tufts Award.
These fifty-two poems bring to full life the "refreshing iconoclasms" Rita Dove so admired in Lux's earlier work. His voice is plainspoken but moody, humorous and edgy, and ever surprising.
These are philosophical poems that ask questions about language and intention, about the sometimes untidy connections between the human and natural worlds. In the poem "Terminal Lake," Lux undermines notions of benign nature, finding dark currents beneath the surface: "it's a huge black coin, / it's as if the real lake is drained / and this lake is the drain: gaping, language- / less, suck- and sinkhole." In the ominous "Render, Render," the narrator asks us to consider a concentration of the essences of our lives: all that is physical, spiritual, remembered, and dreamed for, melded together to make the messy self we present to the world.
Lux's voice is intelligent without being bookish, urgent and unrelentingly evocative. He has long been a strong advocate for the relevance of poetry in American culture. The Los Angeles Times praises Lux for his "compelling rhythms, his biting irony, and his steady devotion to a craft that often seems thankless." As Sven Birkerts noted, "Lux may be one of the poets on whom the future of the genre depends."

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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
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.25(d)

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
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.

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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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