Dennis Hinrichsen
Winner of the 2008 FIELD Poetry Prize

Paper $15.95
(ISBN 978-0932440341)

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The poems in this collection--born out of father and Iowa and desert, born out of the burning and visionary places--possess a gravitational pull so powerful I can feel the great bards of the language (Dickinson, Stevens, Bishop) craning over my shoulder to read.
--John Rybicki

For years now, Dennis Hinrichsen has been writing poems of a nervous integrity, in sentences Byzantine or abrupt, enjambed with the glancing, disruptive rhythms of his world. In Hinrichsen's masterful new book, Kurosawa's Dog, the presiding spirit is his father, now ash and memory: "Grief rolling its head and mumbling the tone poem // of the dead."
--Elton Glaser

Poem as trickster, poem as grief-scape, poem with its fierce noticing--Dennis Hinrichsen has written essential poems from an essential landscape. That is, these poems were born of necessity and crafted by a poet who understands the cunning of a comma, the devastations of the line.
--Mary Ann Samyn

Lion and Gin

I pet my father like some big cat a hunter has set on the ground,
though I am in Iowa now and not the Great Rift Valley
and what I sense as tent canvas flapping, thick with waterproofing,
is cheap cotton
choked with starch.
Still, he is a lion on the gurney.
I talk a little to make sure he's dead.
I have some memory of riding his shoulders
through the fragrant night. Three fish coiled in a creel. So many
butterflies and gnats, it was two-thirds Kenya,
one-third Illinois.
And then home: the clink
of ice and gin.
And so I rub his hair, which is unwashed, and will
remain unwashed, for we will burn him.
I touch the blade of his chest.
Think of all those years I spent hovering beneath the scent of
the mouthwash trace of booze; all that ice
cracking, going stale: crowned molars and mimic glaciers
fading to bled-out amber among the cuticles of lime.
Maybe that's why when he so blindly flies
on that exaltation of velocity and gas,
he doesn't linger in this world awhile as word or song,
a density we might gather round--
an aquifer, or gushing spring, as pure as gin.
Instead, he departs
as vapor.
Fragments of tooth and bone in the swept-out mass I can
throw back to dirt, or spread--a child's sugared, grainy drink--
to water.
And now I wonder, where's the soul in this?
The agent of it?
If it untags, retags itself--a flexible, moveable
graffiti--indelible for the time we have it,
or if it sputters on some inward cycle toward a Rubbermaid
waste bucket, sink trap ringed with cocktail residue.
As on my returning, the trays of ice were reduced to spit.
I had a drink in my hand,
that memory of riding; the fragrant night.
How can I open the freezer now and not see the milky irises
of his passage;
the array of paw and pelt;
jaw wrenched so far open in that rictus of longing, gasping,
his living eyes could not help but tip and follow?

Copyright c 2009 by Dennis Hinrichsen. May not be reproduced without permission.

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