This week’s poem from Slate is written by Richard Kenney, and is entitled I’m Going To Have To Fire the Dream Master. Whether you’re having a rough day, a boring day, or a positively perfect day, I’d recommend surfing over to Slate’s arts page and listening to Richard Kenney read his poem. I can guarantee that it’ll change your day in one way or another. You might love it and you might hate it, but if you haven’t yet tried listening to one of these poems courtesy of Slate, give it a try!
According to The Poetry Foundation, Richard Kenney’s first collection of poetry was titled The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (1984), and it received the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Kenney’s other published works include Orrery (1985), The Invention of the Zero 1993), and One-Strand River: Poems 1994-2007 (2008). During the 1980s and ‘90s Kenney received a number of prestigious awards, including the Lannan Award, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Kenney is professor of English at the University of Washington, where he teaches in the MFA program.
I’m Going to Have to Fire the Dream Master, by Richard Kenney
Who fabricates our dreams? Well, we must, or
Anyway some part of us. The myster-
y’s the utter
Ambush of it: how, in night’s apparent theater,
Our fingers clench the velvet armrests, our eyes
Widen with suspense … How could we surprise
Ourselves? And so,
We posit the cloaked figure of the Dream Master. Mine’s got to go.
To be clear: the problem’s not
In the theater itself, albeit shabby, old, ornate,
A nighthawk’s haunt, a lonely man’s demesne.
Nor in the mothy, slow unrolling screen.
Nor in the projection equipment—a little flickery, as to
That; still, the problem’s with the Dream Master.
Ask Carl Jung, spooning schlag in the Schnitzel Platz.
The problem? The problem? The problem’s with the plots.
Not naked, late. Not naked, late, at the lectern, hearing
One’s name announced: Electrical Engineering
Colloquium—again!—the keynote speaker.
Not naked anywhere obliquer
Than doing taxes after a day of doing taxes;
Likewise dishes, any dully punishing repetitive praxis
Requiring finer motor skills and better
Eyesight than one possesses, like disassembling a carburetor
By dying flashlight, or like—Oh, never mind.
Are beginning to seem
A little too much like one of those damned, idiotic dreams
From which, dear audience, you may take
The Master’s word, you are now requested to awake.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s poem from Slate. Stay tuned next week for another!
— Mary Egan, Jet Fuel Blog Editor