Listen to David Roderick read “Dear Suburb,” the first poem from his new collection, “The Americans.” In October, Roderick told Art Beat that he had a whole new take on suburban life after a year of traveling the world.
I’m not interested in sadness,
just a yard as elder earth,
a library of sunflowers
battered by the night’s rain.
When sliced wide, halved at dawn,
I can see how you exist,
O satellite town, your bright possibility
born again in drywall
and the diary with the trick lock.
For years I slept with
my window wide open,
wanting screen-cut threads of rain.
Blind suburb, dear untruth,
you who already know what I mean
when I praise every spared copse,
you were my battery, my sad clue,
but after I mowed the lawn
and watched robins chesting
for seeds, I couldn’t resist
what hung in the toolshed
where, with a pair of garden shears,
I cut all the hair from my arms. That need,
that scared need to whiten
or clean a surface: plywood or lawn,
and the spywall behind which I stood,
stock-still, and sinned against
the fly’s flyness. Though you live
inside me, though you laid eggs
in the moisture at the corners
of my eyes, I still dream about
your sinking empire twenty feet above
sea level, and the many things
you fail to see: beautiful bleached
gas can, tomato posts bent into art,
how half of a butterfly, cut crosswise,
still looks like a butterfly, etc.
“The Americans” is David Roderick‘s second book of poetry. His first collection, “Blue Colonial” won the APR/Honickman Prize. Roderick is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a recipient of the 2007-2008 Amy Lowell Travelling Scholarship. After completing his MFA at the University of Massachusetts, Roderick taught creative writing and literature at Standford, the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State University and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Roderick currently teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“Dear Suburb” from “The Americans,” by David Roderick, © 2014. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.