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By Kevin Young

Praise the restless beds

Praise the beds that do not adjust

     that won’t lift the head to feed

     or lower for shots

     or blood

     or raise to watch the tinny TV

Praise the hotel TV that won’t quit

      its murmur & holler

Praise the room service

      that doesn’t exist

      just the slow delivery to the front desk

      of cooling pizzas

      & brown bags leaky

      greasy & clear

Praise the vending machines

Praise the change

Praise the hot water

& the heat

       or the loud cool

       that helps the helpless sleep.


Praise the front desk

       who knows to wake

       Rm 120 when the hospital rings

Praise the silent phone

Praise the dark drawn

       by thick daytime curtains

       after long nights of waiting,

       awake.


Praise the waiting & then praise the nothing

       that’s better than bad news

Praise the wakeup call

       at 6 am

Praise the sleeping in

Praise the card hung on the door

       like a whisper

       lips pressed silent

Praise the stranger’s hands

       that change the sweat of sheets

Praise the checking out


Praise the going home

       to beds unmade

       for days

Beds that won’t resurrect

       or rise

that lie there like a child should

        sleeping, tubeless


Praise this mess

         that can be left


Kevin Young, "Ode to the Hotel Near the Children’s Hospital" 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)

  • Living
  • Religion

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.

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