John Yau

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John Yau has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism.  His latest poetry publications include a book of poems, Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), and the chapbook, Egyptian Sonnets (Rain Taxi, 2012). His most recent monographs are Catherine Murphy (Rizzoli, 2016), the first book on the artist, and Richard Artschwager: Into the Desert (Black Dog Publishing, 2015). He has also written monographs on A. R. Penck, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. In 1999, he started Black Square Editions, a small press devoted to poetry, fiction, translation, and criticism. He was the Arts Editor for the Brooklyn Rail (2007–2011) before he began writing regularly for Hyperallergic Weekend. He is a Professor of Critical Studies at Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University). Source

Music From Childhood

You grow up hearing two languages. Neither fits your fits

Your mother informs you “moon” means “window to another world.”

 

You begin to hear words mourn the sounds buried inside their mouths

A row of yellow windows and a painting of them

 

Your mother informs you “moon” means “window to another world.”

You decide it is better to step back and sit in the shadows

 

A row of yellow windows and a painting of them

Someone said you can see a blue pagoda or a red rocket ship

 

You decide it is better to step back and sit in the shadows

Is it because you saw a black asteroid fly past your window

 

Someone said you can see a blue pagoda or a red rocket ship

I tried to follow in your footsteps, but they turned to water

 

Is it because I saw a black asteroid fly past my window

The air hums—a circus performer riding a bicycle towards the ceiling

 

I tried to follow in your footsteps, but they turned to water

The town has started sinking back into its commercial

 

The air hums—a circus performer riding a bicycle towards the ceiling

You grow up hearing two languages. Neither fits your fits

 

The town has started sinking back into its commercial

You begin to hear words mourn the sounds buried inside their mouths

Published:

2016

Length:

Regular

Literary Movements:

Contemporary

Anthology Years:

2022

Themes:

Bilingual

Childhood & Coming of Age

Family

Poetic Form

Literary Devices:

Alliteration

the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession

Couplets

two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit

Pantoum

a Malay verse form, imitated in French and English, consisting of quotations with an abab rhyme scheme linked by repeated lines