The Past Keeps Prying at the Corners of This Narrative like a Couple of Crowbars Making Love to a Doorframe

by joshua young

so you've lost interest
in politeness
i too have lost sight of important things
& the whole evening has become
a series of spoilers
for every summer block buster
worth seeing
someone says what happened to poetry
someone else says fuck you and that poem you wrote
& someone else says you think something happened to poetry
in a workshop a professor
insists that a poem
is not poetry
but what is it then—
that gutted out building
across the street
looks like a ribcage
with a lamp for a heart
i'm not sold on your explanation
of poetry
or friendship
or love
but you're wearing
very stylish jeans
so you have some taste
then again that car you drive
spews black clouds
into the neighborhood
elliot asks me if em's parents are dead
i say yes because it is true
the earthworm changed
the american landscape fyi
what have you done

Field Notes Entry

from Even the Trees Yawn

we cannot
see the water 

it's hearsay

what's over
that hill 

it's just
more crops 

& lines
of animals 

cow shit
& tractors

the farms

sea level 

& it hasn't
rained since

i don't know
on the radio 


as though
the'yre encased

in water

in the distance 


the water is  
& all this corn—

when will you
stop moving

where will
the fish gather 

we're not sunk
not yet 

but i want
to make this easy 

if you step
into the water 

you will
know its intent 

there are too many
trees up here 

what will
the landscape 

do when it meets
the shoreline

it was never
about the fish 

it wasn't

the downed
water silos 

the lamb 

out there
is not wandering 

& when
the diesel 

fumes get
trapped wait

who is that

to pull
the horizons closer 

you want
to know 

what life
would be 

without land 

is that

from the cornfield
is that turmeric
on the wall

i see a fire
i see the chain-link 

but that is not

that is not

it is the sound
of pouring

Joshua reads "The Past Keeps Prying..." & "Field Notes Entry"

Joshua Young is the author of four collections, most recently The Holy Ghost People (Plays Inverse Press). He is editor-in-chief at The Lettered Streets Press. He teaches in the MFA and BA programs at Columbia College Chicago, where he is Associate Director of Creative Writing. He lives in the Wicker Park Neighborhood with this family.