Some poems get made out of clarities of seeing, some out of invention and surprise. Dean Young, in his fourth and newest book, First Course in Turbulence (Univ. of Pittsburgh), is one of the poets of invention and surprise. Here's what seems to be a love poem:

Mortal Poem

I do not understand why I love you.

The mustard in your hair? Your breasts

like shiny battleships, your thought control?

Reasons seem so insufficient, reason itself

seems insufficient. The sea rushes up

to the beach of no reason, inveigling

chimes for no reason, greenery recumbent

upon the landscape of no reason.

Within the mountain is a valley, within

the blue sky a red one. I don't understand

the weather although I am heavy thralled.

Scraping the windshield made me late, fog

makes me first, cloud shaped like Africa

and I never arrive. Lightning must be

very quick to do its job, otherwise

it'd illumine nothing, pound no chest,

put no lips to unbreathing mouths.

There is an inner weather and an outer weather.

Within the seed is the hundred-year-old tree.

Within the eye is an arrow, the heart a storm

while outside it's warm and bony.

It is a mistake to think

everything is inside one's head. Always

darkness somewhere, giraffes with blue

tongues and who could have thought of that?

Opals dissolve in ordinary water, being

part water themselves. When inside the opal,

I often dream I'm swimming, when inside

you, I'm a flood. When inside the jail cell,

I wasn't in full comprehension although

all seemed one clear instance of form

matched to function: lidless toilet

merged with a slab you can sit

or lie upon, floor with a drain somewhere

toward the middle, all one poured

stone unlike the butterfly.

The anvil must be very hard

to do its job but what flies off

isn't sparks, it's pomegranates,

peach blossoms, sharks, it's the beginning

of the world and we are not the hammer swung

but what's under. O my darling, last night

I woke with pain in my chest but

it is gone this morning.

There's a drawing of the author's on the jacket of the book. It looks like one of those inspired doodles by Paul Klee, like a loopy imaginary geometry struck by lightning, a slightly erotic, slightly sinister tangle of forms. It's very much like the feeling of his poems. Here's another, with the same sinuous dream-logic and a sudden, strangely magical conclusion:

The Invention of Heaven

The mind becomes a field of snow

but then the snow melts and dandelions

blink on and you can walk through them,

your trousers plastered with dew.

They're all waiting for you but first

here's a booth where you can win

a peacock feather for bursting a balloon,

a man in huge stripes shouting about

a boy who is half swan, the biggest

pig in the world. Then you will pass

tractors pulling other tractors,

trees snagged with bright wrappers

and then you will come to a river

and then you will wash your face.

"Mortal Poem" and "The Invention of Heaven" are from "First Course in Turbulence" by Dean Young, 1999.

Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.