Book Of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young

Book Of Hours: Poems

byKevin Young

Hardcover | March 4, 2014

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A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of his father, we witness the unfolding of grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Capturing the strange silence of bereavement (“Not the storm / but the calm / that slays me”), Kevin Young acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence about the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face / full of fire, then groaning your face / out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of both birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good/are wishes if they aren’t / used up?” while understanding “How to listen / to what’s gone.” Young’s frank music speaks directly to the reader in these elemental poems, reminding us that the right words can both comfort us and enlarge our understanding of life’s mysteries.

About The Author

Kevin Young is the author of seven previous books of poetry, including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, winner of a 2012 American Book Award, and Jelly Roll, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the editor of eight other collections, most recently The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink. Young’s book The Grey Alb...

Details & Specs

Title:Book Of Hours: PoemsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9.35 × 6.3 × 0.84 inPublished:March 4, 2014Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307272249

ISBN - 13:9780307272249

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Bereavement Behind his house, my father’s dogs sleep in kennels, beautiful, he built just for them.   They do not bark. Do they know he is dead? They wag their tails   & head. They beg & are fed. Their grief is colossal   & forgetful. Each day they wake seeking his voice,   their names. By dusk they seem to unremember everything—   to them even hunger is a game. For that, I envy. For that, I cannot bear to watch them   pacing their cage. I try to remember they love best confined space to feel safe. Each day   a saint comes by to feed the pair & I draw closer the shades.   I’ve begun to think of them as my father’s other sons, as kin. Brothers-in-paw.   My eyes each day thaw. One day the water cuts off. Then back on.   They are outside dogs— which is to say, healthy & victorious, purposeful   & one giant muscle like the heart. Dad taught them not to bark, to point   out their prey. To stay. Were they there that day? They call me   like witnesses & will not say. I ask for their care & their carelessness—   wish of them forgiveness. I must give them away. I must find for them homes,   sleep restless in his. All night I expect they pace as I do, each dog like an eye   roaming with the dead beneath an unlocked lid.     Memorial Day Thunder knocks loud on all the doors.   Lightning lets you inside every house, white flooding   the spare, spotless rooms. Flags at half mast.   And like choirboys, clockwork, the dogs ladder their voices   to the dark, echoing off each half-hid star.     Greening It never ends, the bruise of being—messy, untimely, the breath   of newborns uneven, half pant, as they find their rhythm, inexact   as vengeance. Son, while you sleep we watch you like a kettle   learning to whistle. Awake, older, you fumble now   in the most graceful way—grateful to have seen you, on your own   steam, simply eating, slow, chewing—this bloom of being. Almost beautiful   how you flounder, mouth full, bite the edges of this world that doesn’t want   a thing but to keep turning with, or without you— with. With. Child, hold fast   I say, to this greening thing as it erodes and spins.