Dean Rader is professor of English at the University of San Francisco where he held the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair. Rader's debut poetry collection, Works and Days won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize judged by Claudia Keelan (Truman State University Press, 2010). He has published widely in the fields of poetry, literary studies, American Indian studies, and visual and popular culture. He regularly contributes op-eds and book reviews to San Francisco Chronicle and blogs at The Weekly Rader, SemiObama and 52 Gavins.
READING YEATS'S "THE SECOND COMING" ON JANUARY 1, 2001
To begin, to start out, to turn. To expand: to center and to throb.
To fall apart. To eat in the dark grammar. To spiral and to oh; to if.
To ask of the tantrum wind. To labor, to invoke bone, to anoint. To vex:
to wish, to want and to want. To will. To waste. To plug time's stoma.
To unfasten and to abandon. To erect: to shutter. To bleed. To unbuckle
the sprung sun. To plummet. To thigh. To saddle venom's gleam and to ride.
To rise the way bodies rise: to succumb: to chisel. To slit or suture; to slash.
To compress the ferric. To loose, to halo, to burn and congeal: to splinter.
To eat syntax in reverse, to limn wind's stoma, to saddle gleam, to ride venom.
To auger. To hear whelp, seraphim, imago. To leaden and live. To shiv, to sin.
To rend—to rip the gyre. To aport, to absess, to abseil. To apprehend.
To write born, Bethlehem, beast. To erase palm, coffin, corpse. To upend, to taper down.
To begin, to start out, to turn. To anoint bone, to rivet dark grammar. To slouch.
SELF PORTRAIT: REJECTED POP SONG
I am not the songbird
I am not the devil's bunghole
I am not the oyster in the child's mouth
I am not the shantih, not the shantih
You are not the garden
You are not the world, not its children
You are not hell's glockenspiel
You are not the dictionary
Don't tell me you're the magic membrane
Don't tell me you're the ___, the ___
Don't tell me you're the hand job
Don't tell me you're the glove box heaven
Just tell me you're the soul ship
Just tell me you're the mouse ears
Just tell me you're the asschord, the asschord
Just tell me you're the si se puede
No one is the underbelly
No one is the mystic's nipple
No one is the White House homeslice
No one is the barber's sorrow
We are the woofer
We are the how to
We are the logos, the logos
We are this the
If the body were not a canvas:
The brush would not be mistaken
For a penis or rain or loss.
And the light that rises
From the mouths of the dead
Would not seem like
Colors falling from the body
Of the canvas of loss.
But if the canvas is rain,
Then the brush of the body
Is the dead's elegy
To the other side of color.
FROG SEEKS HELP WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT
It all began the morning Toad greeted him with What up?
Leave it to Toad to turn breakfast into performance.
But, then he forgot to TiVo Dancing with the Stars. Again.
You can picture the scene: a remote, a fireplace. A lava lamp,
a hurl. See glass and gloop shatter. See Toad and wall weep.
Rage is the mother of beauty, thinks Frog. But, tell that to Toad
who got punched for spilling beer in the fly pudding. See Toad
watch Oprah. See Toad pray for guidance. Hi God, it's me, Toad!
The ecstatic conquest of the awful leads to salvation. Just ask Jesus.
See the Christ's whipchord. See the Christ drive the tax-man from
the temple. Go ask Jesus about thaw and burn. Better yet, ask Frog
about the socket of desire. Woo-wee it's dark in there. See Frog want.
Rage is the stepson of ruin; the fuckbuddy of sorrow. See Toad deal.
See the peace that passeth. Tell Toad it's not about survival but resurrection.