Joshua Young

The Can’t See

The shoreline carves its way up
into the next state.

Let’s pretend we’re scientists
& not indulge in conjecture—

Give me the density of your understanding
in the morning, describe the implications.

We deal with it,
don’t we?

When I feel a moment & its silent
& my brain is quiet, I’m gonna write something.

I gotta get going but the headlight
keeps flickering & the road is lined with cops.

See, the way a film flights a hallway
feels fake till the horses come.

Sometimes, a blurry photography tells us more
about a person than a fully-lit close up—

this blood & emotion is visceral.
Bone in the rockwall, mass in the shadow.

Idealism like a dirty window,
coffee breath & seagulls yakking over the alley.

Lapse of judgment extended for years.
Recycle your last ditches,
talk to me about this bone shard.

What have you decided?
What have I allowed?

How many times will you strike me
before I leave?

Excuses I stack up to defend you
& for what? Another layer of blame?

There’s a good reason why a lot of people
Watch Netflix & never make anything.

I’m not sure what that is, but it’s heavy.

In the first year of our marriage, I walked around
the apartment with my hands over my ears.


I like these little frictions.
Flare in the window, I can see my face—
only space & color.
Outside Seattle unfolds into October—
the train speaker is static for two sentences.
What can happen between a sentence?
What can happen between two people?
I keep dancing around it,
but I’ve lost count of all the times I was struck.
Everything happens between a sentence.
Everything is another way to record
the loss we can no longer speak
or the joy we craft inside a comma.
So what now—now that it’s final
& I’m out & answers are always
the most disappointing part of recovering.


Through the wall
a piano trickles through
a melody.
I half-knew—

Trust doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

Feelings sometimes drive trucks into crowds.

When a lover touches you
for the first time it feels
like the world is humming.

Being angry is OK.
It’s what you do with it that matters.

I remember cleaning pizza off the doorway,
watching a squirrel claw its way into the apartment.

I was so tired to do anything.
When it saw me it froze
& I said, yeah, me too.


What is poetry without constraints?
The heave of my chest
when summer touches down.
When you carved a person out of your life,
the narratives get cloudy.
I can’t even look at the notes I took.
What we do for what we think is love.
We should’ve known.
John Cage was fired—
Success is relative.
Pull me from the helplessness,
water brings me back to safety.
I’m afraid of the wilderness of doubt.
I just want a conversation about
what fairness looks like.
In here, together we can make.
Sometimes it ends well.
Sometimes you leave broken doors
in alley way when you move out
hoping the landlord forgets.
A car coughed, sounded
like an airplane landing.
The bridge stretches across a dead river.
The clouds keep killing the day’s aperture.
I grasp the good parts & dear god,
what a collection of perception—
witnesses call it fiction.
A piano chord still rings out.
So what of it?

A new you enters a poem.


Joshua Young is a poet, playwright and multimedia artist living in Seattle. He is the author of six collections, most recently, Psalms for the Wreckage (Plays Inverse 2017) and was recently awarded a grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation for his multimedia work. His films have played at Seattle International, Athens International, Toronto Independent and Montreal International Black Film Festival, among others. He works at Cornish College of the Arts.