Joshua Young

Joshua Young is the author of THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE (2014), the forthcoming, Psalms for the Wreckage (2017), both from Plays Inverse Press, and three other collections. His feature film, Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes?, was official selection at Seattle International Film Festival, Athens International Film Festival, and Montreal International Black Film Festival. Its follow up, Into the Lavender Creases of Evening, is currently in post-production. He is Editor-in-Chief for The Lettered Streets Press and works at the University of Chicago. He lives in the Albany Park neighborhood with two humans.




from Sleep Ambulance




& for every record

we play

there is trivia

there is history

i knew them back when

so what about the poets we like

to shit-talk

it doesn’t matter

because they’re

probably shit-talking too

or ignoring us

or using our books

to prop up

their wobbly coffee table

which is worse

& it’s ok

they still bought it

& i got their money

or my press did

& there’s something

about the way

a joke anchors

a poem to the crowd

don’t worry

i’ll tweet it later

a poet says

i wanna write

sorry that ezra pound

is so famous

i don’t want to be didactic but

all the apostates of emo

seem to be in mfa programs

let’s not

make a big deal

out of this

a poet is crowded

a poet is sleeping

a poet is a husband

a poet is a wife

a poet is a mother

a poet is a father

a poet a poet

a poet goes for a job

a poet gets a desk job

a poet drinks coffee with soy in it

a poet really likes true detective

a poet really likes psych

a poet has his old mineral shirt

& still tries to fit in it

but mostly his wife wears it to bed

a poet likes tacos

almost exclusively

a poet eats raw garlic

& honey when feeling a cold coming on

a poet writes novels too

a poet wants to stay in shape

a poet falls asleep at the wheel

for a split second

wakes &

we’re all ok

what about this story

the poet bruce beasley

delivering flowers

delivering roses

to schuyler

on the day

he won the pulitzer

he was grumpy

when he answered the door

they were roses

i want to say

carnations but

no one is that cheap

how is the form functioning

tell me something

about the line

about character

about plot

about narrative

about the use

of white space

it’s crowded

where i’m walking

& jotting notes

look at this

forest of windmills

the joyous age

of the emo revival

& all its festivals

i don’t wear tank tops

but i drink beer

explore the architecture

explore the way it looks

like you’ve seen it

explore my family history



there’s probably a poet in there somewhere

there has to be

oh the confrontations

the confrontations of family

the confrontations breaking apart

small talk in the back room

i just want them to

let it be

whatever it is

oh the confrontations

my family

& i will have

a hard time

watching my mother

pretend to cry

& my dad will make a joke

about feeding elliot meat

that’s not getting old

& he’s moved on

quoting curb or monsters ball

in the kitchen as he makes

himself breakfast

sex on the lord’s day

someone says

& i retell the story

in the car

driving to a poetry reading

& the dog wants in

& the devil

wants more sex

in the next line

the church does not

exit my poems

fast enough

but i want it to

this idea

of god

it follows me

so walk among

young men

just to understand


& its giants

oh yeah

oh yeah

the trump sign

is hideous

but so is he

& he will die

like all of us

it’s just steel

& whatnot


who cares about

a sign anyway

this is in a poem

because i see it

every morning

who cares about a sign anyway

this is in a poem

because i see it

every morning

who cares about a sign

on a building anyway

it’s like caring

about franco

every time i get on twitter

or facebook

or tumblr

someone one is crying

into their keyboard about him

& how much money he has

& that he wrote a bad poem

but no one is crying

over billy collins

over all the other poets

who suck

& aren’t famous

i could name them

let’s make a tally

i wished they would go away

but yeah


i put franco

in this poem

because i want to sell copies

because i want this published

as an excerpt in vice

or the new yorker

but more importantly, vice

but really

i put franco in this poem because

it makes me think

of my friend chad

high as fuck

staring at me

wearing pjs

talking about poetry

while ten grand’s

on the record player

so i guess what

i’m saying is that

this rain storm

sounds good from the basement

& the singer’s sort of


quarantine the past

& there’s a spider

in the cheese

i got this whole

horizon bent

on my instagram

& that radiohead

record is finally over

& em plays no doubt

look at how we move

like giraffes

past the accident

let go

let go they say

but be cool ok

be cool

it’s ok

we’re here

& there are so many meadowlarks

in this poem

& i don’t even know

what a meadowlark looks like

is it gray

is it blue

& if there are cars

in the ocean

a mountain

will bleed mercury



what was that about

the computer says


i am writing a poem

while watching

the fifth element

bruce willis

is mean-mugging

& i keep looking

at pictures of the last week

old texts & instagram

i like it when

i look handsome

i like it when

my friends look beautiful

they always look beautiful

& outside

our neighbors

have settled for pbr

resorted to pall malls

                                                i hear one says

                                                pall malls are the cheapest bro

what else

does a poem look like

what else does a poem do

i read a blog today that made

me bawl in my office

i read a poem that made

me write my own poem

i texted my friends

because loneliness

& because they have gone home

i keep telling everyone

to read morning of the poem

but i’ve only read it once

that’s enough right

enough to know

it must be read

i want to talk about schulyer

like other poets do

but i only know pieces

& i let my friend

borrow the his selected for her

bus back to brooklyn

yes she is from brooklyn

& lives two minutes from everything

her black death

is on a bus ride back to brooklyn

& there is a poet

watching bands in the thunder storm

lightning stacking over thunder

the L looks fluorescent

in the lens flare of instagram

or was it a text

today i did not run 4 miles

in 35 minutes

but last wednesday

i did


the phonic detector

it gets harder to shed weight

& keep it off

aren’t poets supposed

to be skinny

laughter outside

laughter upstairs

it’s ok to laugh

we are laughing now

at some running jokes

on instgram

so many hashtags

what does it take

for the stairs to flood

lightning & thunder

stacking upon


they are zero

seconds apart

they are connected

& what kind

of rituals

have you discovered

let’s fell a tree

in the middle of a storm

this is metaphor

let’s ignite

an abandoned car

& pretend

it is rebellious

we watch for flickering



the flare

its cinematic

but its something

we can slide in a poem

i can’t unlearn that

we need light to see

don’t we

don’t we have better

things to do with our hands

things are harder

in the rain


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