Michael T. Young
I grew up in the suburbs of Reading, Pennsylvania and moved to New York in 1990 to live the bohemian life among other artists in the Village. A lifetime later, I am an administrative assistant at Deloitte, and live with my wife and two children in Jersey City. My fourth collection of poetry, The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost, was published by Poets Wear Prada. My chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Award from the New England Poetry Club. I received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. My work has appeared in numerous journals including Edison Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Off the Coast, The Potomac Review, and The Raintown Review.
I believe that no matter how academically correct a figure may be, it is superfluous... once
it lacks that essential modern aspect, the intimate character, the real action.
– Vincent van Gogh, in a letter
He picked flies from the canvas.
scratched the painted surface
as he made his way back
from the fields.
These were not irritations,
but bits of the reality he wanted to paint,
the life outside of studios and posed models,
where peasants dug and scythed
and he contrived against the wind
a system of anchors for his easel and tools,
and a stormy intensity to chase
the tones of light in an autumn day,
touch the exposed nerve at the moment
of its rapidly changing effects
like the woman bending over
to uproot a carrot and brush off the clumped earth,
that instant brought so close
and so deeply loved and dashed
with such thick strokes against the canvas
it broke like the waves
that eventually conquer rock.
He’s always looking out from
a distant place, gnarled stone alcove,
the deepest room in some dusty library.
Its arches, muscled over by moss,
vines knuckling into their seams,
lie outside the frame, unseen.
But so is nearly everything,
even his robed figure,
crowded around by dark curtains,
shadows, not of mere gloom,
but the chasms that must be bridged
to meet even our nearest neighbor:
who sits in his insulated interior,
guarded from the slightest draft,
trapping sound, smothering light
to a single drop of dusk
beading in the eyes, just enough for us
to recognize each other.
©2014 Michael T. Young