Michael T. Young’s fourth poetry collection, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, was published by Poets Wear Prada Press. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared in numerous journals including Iodine Poetry Review, Fogged Clarity, The Louisville Review, Off the Coast, The Potomac Review, and The Raintown Review. His work is also in the anthologies Phoenix Rising and Chance of a Ghost and forthcoming in Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. Young reviews books and conducts interviews on the blog, The Inner Music. He lives with his wife and children in Jersey City, New Jersey.
At a construction site on the waterfront,
light from the setting sun shifts through the building’s ribs,
its steel skeleton flanked by cranes.
I pause in my homeward rush to stand at the lip of the Hudson
and watch the water reshape the same sunlight in its roil and tilt,
molding something like an architecture: dark, reflected circles
well and collapse, cables stretch and snap,
the briefest connections made between light and shape,
shadows and building girders, men hammering
and the noblest ideas we might hope to have,
which is why Socrates was a stonemason and Jesus a carpenter,
and why, as the sun falls below the horizon
and the construction workers begin to leave,
the tools on their belts clang like bells calling me home.
We sat in the kitchen talking about tomatillos
that they were the distilled essence of all that’s repulsive
in tomatoes and I stared into the table
trying to remember the philosophical word
for what makes something what it is, one of those
memory lapses I’m told increases with age
and dogs me now that I’m about to turn forty.
Just then I imagined a bat flapping into the kitchen
and attacking me. It must have been what pursued me
into another day that was just as desperate,
driving through the Catskill mountains, late again,
closed roads, wrong turns, and houses where
no one answered the doors and autumn leaves burned
in the backyards. It had something to do with choices made
and not being able to turn back and the smoke
of those burning leaves torn by wind into nothing
except a sweet, dissipating aroma accenting the hills,
what must be the flavor of true forgiveness.
The Word “Anyway”
Every time I write it’s there at the end of my paragraphs,
so much so, my friends see it as a kind of signature word,
and I realize that whatever it means, it is, in any case,
like a ramp off the highway leading me somewhere else.
And where it takes me, regardless, turns and carries the letter,
the conversation, the e-mail, in another direction, though not,
necessarily, in a better one—the detour this time taken
to wrench the heart from its daily obsessions,
which is to say, I wasn’t trying to take us to our destination faster,
on the contrary, I was trying to spare you,
trying to take us both somewhere neither of us had been,
a place where the view over the valley
gives way to a lake reflecting late summer light
and the crisp air in our lungs expands
like a space we allow each other to become whatever we wish.