APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: 'Woodrow Wilson' by David Young

APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: 'Woodrow Wilson' by David Young

In the course of David Young's poems, we meet literary greats such as Basho, Osip Mandelstam, and Henry Vaughan, but also some political figures who've captured our imagination: Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chairman Mao, even Adlai Stevenson, whose fate the poet ponders while cleaning fish, in a poem set at a Maine resort in the summer of 1956. Poetic portraits of our leaders, whether in their moment or drawn much later, often become provocative portraits in our collective consciousness. 

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Woodrow Wilson


I pull on the tight clothes and go walking

rectitude misting around my figure

carrying the book of shadows a low moon

crosses the powerstations the refineries

and in the needle mountains there are lakes

so cold and clear that the dead who sit

on the bottom in buggies and machine-gun nests

look up past the trout that nibble their shoulders

to see the eclipse begin the dime-sized shadow 

sliding across the sun the insects settling

around the bears in their yokes the antelopes

acting out all their desires old lady

who smothers her young in her iron robes

you have wrung my thin neck a thousand times

and taken my pinchnose glasses but

I come back again with the gliding Indians

settlers who have forgiven all their tools

the shabby buffaloes wild sheep wapiti

the inland sea that looks at the sky all day

with only a widgeon's wake to disturb it

the V dividing away from itself

all night under trembling constellations


Excerpt from Field of Light and Shadow: Selected and New Poems © 2010 by David Young. 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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