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  • Where's the Moon, There's the Moon
  • Written by Dan Chiasson
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Poems

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On Sale: November 24, 2010
Pages: 88 | ISBN: 978-0-307-77245-9
Published by : Knopf Knopf
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

These are powerfully original poems about the sweetness and pain of adulthood and fatherhood by the critically acclaimed poet Dan Chiasson.

A child’s improvised game of “Where’s the moon, There’s the moon” is the shaping metaphor for this collection, but adult matters of seeking and finding, loss and recovery, anticipation and desire’s uncertain rewards are at its heart. Chiasson makes poignant use of objects and nature’s givens as correlatives for our human struggles: “Being near me never made anyone a needle,” he writes in “Thread,” and in the poem titled “Tree,” “All day I waited to be blown; / then someone cut me down.” In the title sequence, a multipart poem about fathers and sons, Chiasson describes the ways the gift for being absent, a poet’s gift, is passed from father to son, as he watches his own children sink into the enigmatic silences that mimic his own—silences that he, in turn, connects with his own father’s disappearance from his life.

Chiasson is a poet of great grief and love. In this third book, his voice is more commanding than ever, embracing the notion of how small—yet how rich and significant—are our individual stories in time and space.

Excerpt

WHERE’S THE MOON, THERE’S THE MOON


A Story for Children

(the opening)

1.

If I look to the opposite shore and greet myself there,
if I call out to myself come here
and watch myself laboriously construct from shore-things
a boat, and watch myself over the waters come rowing,
but, crossing the midpoint between shores,
out in the middle of the colorless lake,
no longer approaching, no longer coming closer,
disappear, where am I now, has my boat capsized?


2.

Infinite capacity for love in the smallest detail;
infinite suffering in the innermost reality;
large mind in even the dumbest, mutest object;
destiny in an object that stands still;
heart in the middle of the grey, motionless water;
the largest sadness in the world in a groaning buoy;
in a buoy and the bird overhead, huge sadness,
and yet I hop from place to place as though I’m weightless.


3.

When I picture my father I see the surface of the moon,
plains of moon-stuff, chalk-dust papers shredded
by a paper-shredder, snowbanks of shredded paper,
nobody to organize it all, no way to “moralize the day
out of its aimlessness,” nobody with a Shop-Vac handy
slowly to turn the whiteness into pattern and form,
revealing, as a chisel reveals in the marble,
a figure, a woman’s figure, an expression of bliss—


4.

Now that that big nonentity the moon is in my mind
the clichés for representing earth are hereby banished—
a hundred open-ended poems, abrupt transitions, high tones
grating against the low, unsorted experience;
sex beside the holy man defiled by sex,
the pig pile of ways you can get high, right there
beside the dawn and how you badly want to kill yourself,
the fleer, the road that unravels like a banner before him—


5.

And the child’s attention fixed upon the animal book,
and all the animals in the book intent upon dinner
or eyeing some harbinger cloud forever, permanently
dejected because some little stone turned their child
to stone, weeping big mule or owl tears as though
the child never turned the page, the sun never shone
again bringing larkspurs, gentian, and the mule-boy
reunited with mule mommy and daddy just in time to end,

6.

but the mule on page four will always be sad, the owl
overhead will always mourn for the mule in his sadness,
nobody will ever bring news of page eleven when mule-boy
returns from the dead, and the child reading the book
will always preside like a sinister god over these animals,
always dipping in and out of their moods like a snacker,
a little sadness to tide you over until suppertime,
a little elegiac owl, some time at the grief picnic . . .


From the Hardcover edition.
Dan Chiasson

About Dan Chiasson

Dan Chiasson - Where's the Moon, There's the Moon

Photo © Nicholas Chiasson

Dan Chiasson is the author of three previous collections of poetry, most recently Where’s the Moon, There's the Moon, and a book of criticism, One Kind of Everything: Poem and Person in Contemporary America. His essays on poetry appear widely. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Whiting Writers Award, Chiasson teaches at Wellesley College.
Praise

Praise

“These poems refract the sober realities of middle age, in particular the joys and anxieties of fatherhood and grief at the deaths of friends or parents.”—The New York Review of Books

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