Andy YoungAndy Young

Working Note

When I look at these poems as a group, I remember how they all shared the quality of refusing to be shaped. They came out of chaos and refused to stray far from it. All are about some kind of transformation or purification. Water purifies. The volcano that destroys also creates fertile land.

All of the poems are trying to get to the source of something: the creation, the combustion, the fire. I am preoccupied with that particular element. I notice that even the water poem, “little song of dissolution,” has “flame alone” in the middle of its liquidity.

I remember an enjoyment in writing them (though they all came at different times) and think that manifested in the asterisks and dashes, a lack of line breaks (with the exception of “little song of dissolution” which has a kind of sporadic impulse toward them), and their odd little shapes.  







Will you marry me in flames?

Bring me the match and the kindling, the paper shredded into strips; watch the spark take
between twigs, the brown needles on the small branch ignite and sputter; note as the smoke
streams up like breath; watch the room as it grows new shadows, the tongues of flame, tall and jagged; listen to the crackle as it creeps through floorboards and starts to crawl the wall; see the structure of the beams as the map of their making is revealed; stay as we watch our dark creation,
the cinders born, the paint curl and burnish; open the window so the air will feed it; fire is a
music — it sings as it consumes; consume me with the music of your skin as we rush to roar and flames rain down, and feed my singing flesh the cool benefit of your mouth until we’re one,
enmeshed, in ash.




Todos los fuegos el fuego
                 Julio Cortázar

* I am a volcano, in a state of mild eruption, with
slight harmonic tremors I rupture and shake* today I woke up and burst into flames * a fever in
the brain * a volcano born in a field * a heart that glows like a blown-on coal * last time we met
you drank water from my palm, cupped the clear water, cooling the fire that is everywhere, just a matter of spotting it: the sudden flare, the shift and flicker * I am a disciple of flame and you are burning *  a well of flame that has no eyes just orange claws and a mouth of glowing embers * phlogiston: the being inflammable, the matter of fire seen as fixed * we are combustible, what
remains when we burn? * what if we sleep and the heat doesn’t lift while we lie still as corpses
then wake to the same tat tat tick of fever wanting to press to glass our capillary maps? * I do not want to burn I am burning * I call the four directions I beckon the elements I summon the holy
three * My passions, concentrated on a single point, resemble the rays of a sun assembled by a magnifying glass; they immediately set fire to whatever object they find in their way — Marquis de Sade




The tree groaned

The tree groaned as it fell, almost human * axes split it open, thunk and whack, sprayed its pale
dust in an arc * we stacked the broken limbs into a heap * crisp was the life that left it,
brightening the air * it dried in the sun, shrinking * we broke the twigs and felt the snapping *
we piled the wood into the pit * between the pieces we put smaller pieces, between these we
stuffed paper *  we stuck black chunks of our coal inside * we sang to the earth’s dark belly * the sparks sang back*




little song of dissolution

derailed defunct defunked, I am a train wreck, baby, I’m a ship without a sail, ship without ship
even, water, the water itself, water on leave from the sea body, returning, salt (in the water) dissolving                       buzz the fever makes, waves that lift from it, flame alone, being, is-ness, a silvering as of lake, tongue tongues we speak in, mind stilled will taken leave of the senses, only
senses remaining nonsenses, too – tink tinks, little clinks      *click*            
            in the beginning, a sacred vowel howl owl owwwwwwwwwwwwwanting to join sound around the earth, its singing atmosphere, a gathering of oooo

hush of what’s been (said)                                 a purity, as something boiled

a wall is removed and a darkness swims in to join the next, the next spoken in dark, no differences showing, spoken in dark without bodies, everything escaping: heat, light, blood –

           intrusion of time sometimes: x month, x day, one nine nine nine – Seamlessness. Wings
as evidence of flight, nothing proven  fissure of shell, egg still uncreatured, wanting to ooze into

as with sleep, I fall deep inside it
          deep inside, without “it” without “I”
fall deep inside, as with sleep as with sleep as with sleep


Bio: Andy Young is the poetry editor of the New Laurel Review. Her poems have recently been featured in journals such as Concrete Wolf, The Arts Paper and Dublin’s The Stinging Fly as well as in jewelry designs, electronic music, and in her chapbook, mine. Her book All Fire’s the Fire will be published this fall by Erato Press. An artist-teacher at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, she has been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Marble Faun Award. She spends most of any time or money she finds visiting places with active volcanoes

Southern Perils

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