APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: Dan Chiasson's 'Opening Lines'

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APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: Dan Chiasson's 'Opening Lines'

Three for the price of one: here are three sections excerpted from Dan Chiasson's poem "Opening Lines." The poem appears in Bicentennial, a book about how we experience time, fatherhood, and the culture of American boyhood. (Enjoy the printable broadside of part 5 of this poem by clicking here, and watch for other broadsides throughout the month.)

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A shovel meets a hole in the bar: 
Don't I know you from somewhere? 
An implosion runs into a star: 
Darling, what's the matter? 
The boy in the Egyptian wing 
Wanted one thing: 
For his father 
To lift him over 
The glass case 
Where the sarcophagus 
For a century 
Lay empty, 
The bones and treasures 
Sold to collectors, 
And to pretend 
Again and again 
To lower him in. 
In my dream, I broke into the museum at night 
And freed the birds first, and they flew, 
And freed the massive cats, who strode, 
And freed the fleet stags, who darted, 
And freed the low-slung reptiles, and swarms 
Of metallic insects and, best, butterflies; 
Every creature returned to his element! 
The cases flew open and motion returned. 
It was alpha and omega tangoing. 
But I had no water for the fish, 
And I had no flesh for the bones 
Of the giant whale that hangs in the hall; 
And I had no time, so I left the mastodon alone.

More on this poem and author:

Excerpt from BICENTENNIAL. Copyright (c) 2014 by Dan Chiasson. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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