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By Kevin Young

I am hoping

to hang your head


on my wall

in shame—


the slightest taxidermy

thrills me. Fish


forever leaping

on the living-room wall—


paperweights made

from skulls


of small animals.

I want to wear


your smile on my sleeve

& break


your heart like a horse

or its leg. Weeks of being


bucked off, then

all at once, you’re mine—


Put me down.


I want to call you thine


to tattoo mercy

along my knuckles. I assassin


down the avenue

I hope


to have you forgotten

by noon. To know you


by your knees

palsied by prayer.


Loneliness is a science—


consider the taxidermist’s

tender hands


trying to keep from losing

skin, the bobcat grin


of the living.


Kevin Young, "I am Trying to Break Your Heart" from Dear Darkness. Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Young.  Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Dear Darkness (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008)

  • Love
  • Nature
  • Relationships

Poet Bio

Kevin Young
Kevin Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He studied under Seamus Heaney and Lucie Brock-Broido at Harvard University and, while a student there, became a member of the Dark Room Collective, a community of African American writers. “I feel like a poem is made up of poetic and unpoetic language, or unexpected language,” Young said in a 2006 interview with Ploughshares. “I think there are many other vernaculars, whether it’s the vernacular of the blues, or the vernacular of visual art, the sort of living language of the everyday.” For roughly a decade, Young was the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University. Young is the poetry editor of the New Yorker and the director of New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. See More By This Poet

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