By Kevin Young
I hunted heaven
it was. Not enough
music, or dark dirt.
I begged the earth empty
of him. Death
believes in us whether
or not. For a long while
I watch the sound
of a boy bouncing a ball
down the block
take its time
to reach me. Father,
find me when
you want. I’ll wait.
Source: Poetry (September 2011)
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.
More By This Poet
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Praise the restless beds
Praise the beds that do not adjust
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or lower for shots
or raise to watch the tinny TV
Praise the hotel TV that won't quit
its murmur & holler
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I am hoping
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on my wall
the slightest taxidermy
thrills me. Fish
on the living-room wall—
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I want to wear
your smile on my sleeve
your heart like a horse
or its leg. Weeks of being
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You got that clean waistcoat,
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“Jesus Jim,” mam said,
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long-haired men and women
curled around each other like babies
and the babies themselves
wandered naked across the grass.
In the warmth of night I put feet to my plan: waited
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sharpening their hooks, repairing the great net,
filling gourds with fresh water. They’d bundled
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