Sunny's bookshelf
Sunny's bookshelf photo by Judy Solomon

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Stones – Poem by Poem



I am learning how to sleep
again, to love
the descent, or is it,
lying here, a rising up
to summit
where sleep wanders

till waking. And when
I cannot, when the water
leaches into everything

& capsizes me, I wonder
where you are,
father, if anywhere

at all–
Does sleep
know you? Does day? Such nights,

dreams fill my waking
& worry weathers
the dark, the light horribly

leaking through the curtains–
or, awake,
early, I wait for it to seep in

from the east. The land
of dead in the west.

The hum of sun–

none, none, then suddenly
up–it too
cannot be sated

or slaked off, brother sun,
mother moon,
father you cannot find

though somewhere still shines.

Poet: Kevin Young
Book: Stones: Poems
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf 2021

Kevin Young
Photo: Melanie Dunea

I am reading poetry like crazy these days, inside and unmasked, poem by poem with the pandemic almost behind us. Two years without a eucharistic redemption. In the beginning was the Word. Now in my eightieth year, the word is poetry. And who better than Kevin Young to awaken us to the words giving voice to our redemptive stories still asleep?

His poem Hum took me by such surprise that it was two or three reads before believing it said what it said. Do we merely fall asleep or descend into sleep? I have descended into sleep for some time now, a rich and welcome descent, with no drugs but words on a page from a book slipping from my grasp. Young writes not only of sleep itself but of almost-waking sleep adrift and “wandering” near the summit of awake.

Whatever dreams might accompany our sleep (the poet’s is the search for his father),   Young’s poetry is personal but enormously, generously impersonal in that our own stories, those remembered or still unawakened, are never far away as we read Hum and other poems in Stones. – Sunny Solomon

If you’ve not read Kevin Young, you are missing something special. Among his other work still available: The Art of Losing, Poems of Grief & Healing (ed.); jelly roll; Book of Hours; Bunk; Blues Poems (ed); Most Way Home; To Repel Ghosts; For the Confederate Dead; Dear Darkness; Jazz Poems (Ed.); Brown; Blue Laws and Uncollected Poems; Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels; Maria.

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