The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Hurrah! It’s Poetry Saturday.

Posted on: January 6, 2007

I found Kevin Young’s Jelly Roll by chance. I was browsing the library shelves for some sort of fiction when this brightly printed cover stopped me.


Flipping through the pages I discovered that it was a poetry book. The poems seemed very compact somehow, stanzas no more than two lines long, with a lot of breaks, a lot of effort made to get a certain rhythm. It was all, in some sense, as foreign to me as haiku. Terms like Fox-trot, Honky Tonk and Ragtime are familiar but I don’t really know what any of them are precisely, besides musical styles. Besides the immediate pleasure of saying the words, observing their form as they play across the page, I anticipated the opportunity to explore music as well, musical forms that I should be more familiar with anyway, considering some of the albums I appreciate. Young doesn’t restrict himself either, understanding that musical genres are influences and rooted in each other, so you’ll see pastorales, madrigals, overtures.

Above all, one of Young’s favourite themes is love: spiritual, sexual, mystical and intimate. The way he writes it makes you laugh, smile and sign in familiarity or in longing. There’s something to reach whether or not you’re fluent in the lingo.


Before the world
was water, just
before the fire

or the wool,
was you–
yes–your hands

a stillness–
a mountain. Marry
me. Let the ash

invade us & the ants
the aints–
let–my God–

the anger
but do not answer
No–such stars

shooting, unresolved
are about to be ours–
if we wish. Yes–

the course, the sail
we’ve set–our mind–
leaves no wake

just swimming sleep.
& I will be born

from your arm–
a thing eagled, open,
above the unsettled,

moon-made sea.


Baby, you make
me want

to burn up all
my pies

to give over
an apple to fire

or loose track
of time & send

a large pecan
smokeward, or

sink some peach
cobbler. See, to me

you are a Canada
someplace north

I have been, for years,
headed & not

known it.
If only I’d read

the moss on the tree!
instead of shaking

it for fruit–
you are a found

fallen thing–
a freedom–not this red

bloodhound ground–

Field Song

The narrow hollow
of her spine, lying fallow

You can hear him read his work here (RealPlayer or Quicktime) and learn more about him here and here.


2 Responses to "Hurrah! It’s Poetry Saturday."

I really like Cakewalk! Thanks for posting that!!

You’re welcome Heather, glad you enjoyed it.

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