cover image The Second Person

The Second Person

C. Dale Young, . . Four Way, $14.95 (88pp) ISBN 978-1-884800-76-4

The title of Young's second collection evokes the book's many concerns: romantic partnership and sex (especially between two men), the nature of the other, and the "you" to whom many of these poems are addressed. Young's preoccupation with the body comes from his medical background (he is a practicing physician) filtered through an aesthete's attention to form and lyric (most of these poems are in neat tercets). Young's speakers are caught between the desire to understand and the desire to simply desire: "It is not the bone below the skin that I kiss/ but the silence clinging to the skull's curve." The poems come to the page already burdened by a doctor's knowledge that mortality rules over even love, and the natural world becomes an analogy for human suffering: "the rain spreads like a bruise over the ocean." The excellent long poem "Triptych at the Edge of Sight" sketches a blurry romantic "landscape filled with failure" whose all-too-human inhabitants may or may not find spiritual consolation. When Young's two worlds—the medical and the metaphorical—merge, they create a love poetry that is sublime because and in spite of its knowledge. (Apr.)