Storytelling by Michael T. Young


A man standing in the middle of 42nd Street said,
“Happiness is a cave with WiFi and my favorite beer.”

I believed him because he was naked
and the police were converging on him.

When he stretched out on the hot asphalt,
a pigeon crossed overhead from marquee to marquee.

That’s how I knew he was telling the story of our age.
Some reporter may write down his proclamations,

distinguish by them the gun from the plough,
and teach how stories caught in empty bottles

howl as long congressional breaths over their rims,
and other stories calcify into shells with seawater

cupped in their nacreous bowls. The differences in them
are that the final scripture etched in their salts

guides us to sip from troughs imparting the wisdom
that a hug is warmer than a smoking gun

and while your story is more interesting: hiking the Himalayas,
sharing shots of slivovitz with painters in Prague,

or your knees giving out at the World Trade Center Site
remembering you survived that day by two or three minutes—

it’s not my story. It would be thievery for me to tell it.
And though I was there that day too, I kept walking,

am walking still, so my story goes untold
because my knees are stronger, because telling a story

means stopping and sitting down, maybe with a beer,
maybe lying down on the hot asphalt until they carry you away.


Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. His previous collections are The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint, received the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award. His poetry has been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac. It has also appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including Cimarron Review, Gargoyle Magazine, One, RATTLE, and Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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