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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, May 16, 2017.
About this Poem 

“‘Solve for X’ is part of a sequence of poems about my son who’s on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been attempting to understand the way he perceives the world and I’ve been using cause and effect models as poetic templates. Word problems requiring the mathematician to solve for an unknown, thus, have become a metaphor for how we negotiate our relationship as father and son.”
—Oliver de la Paz

Solve for X

And in the outer world, the first, something smooth and wet. An
     X
skims across the tops of the crests in a succession of skips. The
     longest
holds its space in the air, pauses, then descends into what is a cool
     sleep.

X and all the faces of backlit animals gaze downward at you. Their
     curious engulfed
silhouettes. A spasm of radio and the accident of understanding
what it means to be X. What it means to be held and kissed and
     gibbered to
as though you were something cast away and suddenly,
     miraculously, returned.
 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Oliver de la Paz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Oliver de la Paz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Oliver de la Paz

Oliver de la Paz

Oliver de la Paz is the author of Post Subject: A Fable (University of Akron Press, 2014). 

by this poet

poem

Dear Empire,



These are your temples. There are rows of stone countenances, pillar after pillar. As if walking through a forest filled with alabaster heads: here, the frown. The gaze. The luminous stare.

Smoke from the incense curls, shapes itself against the archways, rubs against the

poem

The way is written in the dark:

it has steel in it, something metallic, a gun,

a mallet, a piece of machinery—

something cold like the sea, something,

 

a nervous shudder. If it

were to go on, the next stanza

would snuff out sound.
 
It would stand in a forest