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By Kevin Young

I want to be doused

in cheese


& fried. I want

to wander


the aisles, my heart’s

supermarket stocked high


as cholesterol. I want to die

wearing a sweatsuit—


I want to live

forever in a Christmas sweater,


a teddy bear nursing

off the front. I want to write


a check in the express lane.

I want to scrape


my driveway clean


myself, early, before

anyone’s awake—


that’ll put em to shame—

I want to see what the sun


sees before it tells

the snow to go. I want to be


the only black person I know.


I want to throw

out my back & not


complain about it.

I wanta drive


two blocks. Why walk—


I want love, n stuff—


I want to cut

my sutures myself.


I want to jog

down to the river


& make it my bed—


I want to walk

its muddy banks


& make me a withdrawal.


I tried jumping in,

found it frozen—


I’ll go home, I guess,

to my rooms where the moon


changes & shines

like television.


Source: Poetry (June 2007)

Poet Bio

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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