Saturday, January 07, 2012

RESOLUTION / REVOLUTION : Michael T. Young

We enter the realm of personal resolutions and revolutions with the poetry of Michael T. Young. Michael has published two collections of poetry, most recently, Transcriptions of Daylight. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, is available from Finishing Line Press and his next full-length collection, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, will be published in 2013 by Black Coffee Press. — Larissa


Fishing Dark


As night took shape, the trees in the dark
uprooted themselves. Through the window
I saw the last light fold up and tuck itself
onto a clouded shelf, and a few late birds
swatted the stillness in their flight toward home.
It seemed there was a swarming in places, a pulsing
just at the edge, where anything clearly seen
sank into the varieties of shade, where the dark
smoldered in potential and at that moment,
I felt privileged, like someone admitted
into a secret society, because I knew then
that the sun is ignorant of the shadows it creates,
especially this one, and all that depends upon it,
all the minds that fish its deep waters,
all the maps that still show an end to the world.


On How the World Might Seem to My One-Year-Old Son


The whole world is the given, free
everywhere and dangerously possible
like a bruise, a bump on the forehead,
the ever-out-of-reach — a computer, a bathroom —
mysteries that tall people inhabit briefly,
then return, pleased with themselves
having known the fruit of the undeniable.
They offer it to me only as fructified
in these shaky steps I take, these legs
nearly paralytic, this mouth inarticulate
as one chewing gristle, lurking near
the sinister, which surprises, puzzles
and even astonishes when it grows
into the Gauls invading Italy for a glass of wine
or Napoleon unshackling the last
of Medieval Europe with an imperial hand,
after having lain prone, subject, sometimes
even naked, simply waiting for a chance.



Screw-up


Someone told me there are no coincidences
as if a tedious architect plotted the track
of each raindrop down a windshield,
and that something must have been intended
when my mother met a man who had her picture
in his wallet. He picked it up, he said,
from the street. He thought she was cute.
But that man is not my father, and this makes
every difference to my personal double-helix
and the pleasure I take in Bach and long walks
since I wasn’t part of the architect’s original plan
and now he has to take me into account
as if his pen left a smudge on the blueprint
and instead of erasing it, he makes it into
an additional room on the house, which means
when I look back on that time someone called
asking for a woman I happened to know,
her phone number only one digit different from mine,
I’m supposed to be concerned because she didn’t
become my wife, as if these connections mean
there is somewhere else I should be today,
and that’s why, sometimes for no reason, I’m sad
or frustrated, nagged by a feeling that something
is missing, like the freedom to screw everything up,
the way I liked to when I was young, just to prove
I was old enough to make my own decisions.



Rewriting My To-Do List


In a Brahmsian exaltation I drove down Newark Avenue,
realizing, as with all such transports, it’s a question
of how far you can go, especially with gloved hands,
in winter, tapping out rhythms on the cold steering wheel,
on an errand to buy a showerhead and cereal bars,
milk and clean wipes, distracting necessities, although
some have argued it’s the other way around, since
as I turned at Dickenson High School, there were those
descending winds, dropping with the hill past the cemetery
and I think an oboe counterpointing the rising strings,
the turn signals of other cars and changing traffic lights,
all the aesthetic risk of listening and thinking of all that time
Brahms took to compose his first symphony,
twenty-one years scribbling, scratching out, straining
like this first burning movement, consuming itself
in the struggle, so even passing under the bridge
and the starless city sky, I leaned into the windshield,
tilting into the night, renewed in the effort to listen closely.


Yardstick


In my dreams of flight I could never rise
more than forty feet above the earth,
sinking or soaring with the contours, puzzling
over what architect set the ceiling so low,
and still carry its mystery with me, like wondering
what kind of person I would become
if I worked in a factory where yardsticks are made.
Would I grow a penchant for measuring,
for fixing limits or would I feel a need
to snatch one or two from the line each day,
take them home and snap them in half? —
or preferably into an odd number —
something to prove that the world won’t end
simply because things are out of balance.
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