Monday, December 15, 2014

House Dreams - Deanna Young (Brick Books)

Today's book of poetry:
House Dreams.  Deanna Young.  Brick Books.  London, Ontario.  2014.

I had one of those dreams last night.  One where you are catapulted into some strange version of your universe, some strange episode that resembles your past.  Populated by the unexpected, everyone suspended in agelessness even though you feel your own age in your bones.

One of those dreams where you wake just before the truly horrible happens.

Deanna Young knows everything there is to know about dreaming, or at the least, these poems would have you believe that.


Rare, like the births of children into a small family.
In one I am here in the armchair at Barachois,

my back to the window and the sea beyond that,
when a tall young man--a boy, really--appears

in the doorway. Here to help me with my luggage,
though it's not clear if I'm arriving or leaving. It's either

you before we met, or our young son years from now.
There's a sadness in him, which makes me think you

because I've heard how sullen you were in your teens.
Cruelly, I hope it's you--parents want their children

to be always happy. The hallway dim, it's nearing
the end of the day. His winter jacket is unzipped

as if spring is coming. Nothing else happens. But this
is typical of visions, often no more than a boy,

a suitcase, and a certain quality of light. A friend
told me once how it works. It's the current under

you're meant to feel. The flash of heat on your face
just enough to scare you. They're snapshots of possibility,

like gentle warnings from a relative who loves you.


House Dreams is presented to us in five titled sections.  "Barachois" is the section where Deanna Young gives us her warm and frightening dreams.  None of them mine--but all of them familiar.

"Barachois is a term used in Atlantic Canada and Saint Pierre and Miquelon to describe a coastal lagoon separated from the ocean by a sand or shingle bar.  Salt water may enter the barachois during high tide"  -  Wikipedia

These dream poems are separate from the oceans of our lives, separate but not totally removed, separate but attached by currents we don't understand, tinged with the salt water of our daily lives.


Falling through the dark house alone, dark
province alone, no friend or relative near,
when a phone rings

sharply in the other room, not
the phone beside my ear.
That's not right. There's only one line.

Now the sound of a child running
toward me down the hall, the rolling drum
of hardwood

when I know the floor here
to be ceramic tile. Caught by the gills, in a net
between worlds, I struggle,

decide, I'm not that stupid.
A scream, I know, would wake me,
but the contract between brain, body, will, it's severed.
He's cut the wire again. The desire
to give in is sweet, strength needed

to grip the edge not in me. All I have
might not be enough this time, I`m thinking,
when here, now, like a siren,

the indignant self.
I make my move, the wrestler`s last explosive flip,
and heave myself into the fact

of the midnight room.
No phone rang, I say out loud. No child
needs me right now.


When the poems about dreams end the poetry stays strong.  Iron strong.  Certain strong.

Deanna Young chisels her poems into stone, they are permanently etched--on the page, and in your mind.

These plainspoken poems tell the story of a woman`s life and make it a familiar.  When you finish this book you feel you`d recognize Young by aura alone.

Miss Deanna

Carmen, my daily reminder to be my better self, endlessly sweeping
dirt from the white-tiled floor into tidy piles. Where on Earth
does it come from? I ax myself dis ev-er-y day, Miss Deanna.

She won't sit down, rarely sits the three years we invite, prod, beg,
then finally just leave her alone. Old school. That last month, she came
within one word of quitting. Over the phone. I couldn't find a bowl

so called her at home one evening. She knew where everything was
and what was behind it. Not to accuse her of stealing. But she'd been
through this before, and nothing I said after would undo the disgrace,

convince her to stay. Until, my refusal to replace her. I will not bring
another woman into this house. I'll clean it myself, I bluffed. And
anyway, what would I tell the children? Throwing them down like aces.


Today's book of poetry appreciates humour and Deanna Young gives us a taste of that as well.

These poems are ones you'll want to read again.  Maybe even dream about.

Deanna Young

Deanna Young is the author of two previous books of poems, The Still Before a Storm and Drunkard’s Path. Her work has appeared in journals across Canada, including The Malahat Review and Arc Poetry Magazine. Originally from southwestern Ontario, she now lives in Ottawa.

"So often in Deanna Young's poems, what begins as a gentle game of the lyric imagination shifts mid-sentence into nightmare. Her lines can be beautiful, but her eye for fallibility (both human and material) is the book's real trick. It will be re-read compulsively by its admirers."
     --Jacob McArthur Mooney

Deanna Young read from House Dreams (Brick Books)


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