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P. Ivan Young

About the Poet

P. Ivan Young is the author of Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain (forthcoming from Brick House Books) and the chapbook A Shape in the Waves (Stepping Stones Press). 

He is also the 2013 winner of the Norton Girault Literary Prize and a recipient of a 2011 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award. 

His work has appeared most recently in Apple Valley Review, Blood Lotus, MayDay, Hayden's Ferry Review, Fourteen Hills, and Zone 3.  He recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and two children.


Spring 2015 Poems ~
Breakable Things

In the complex someone always left,
And we would watch with mild interest,

Leaning over the dead-end tumble
Of bikes and motorcycle parts that marked

One exit to the building, to comment
On a stereo or TV being carried up the silver ramp,

Until boredom drove us to a porch to watch
Kevin blow lighter fluid from his mouth

or to a laundry room, where we’d warm ourselves
with stolen gin and strangers’ drying clothes.

But none of us spoke the day Michael waved
From the yellow van and we watched it pull away.

We searched for breakable things, bottles against dumpsters,
rocks at streetlights, a baseball at a window,

making the pane fall like an icy avalanche.
And then my turn came to sit in a sun-warmed cab.

My friends circled at the mouth of the building,
contained in the side-view mirror, their bodies trembled

by the engine beneath me. The U-haul dropped
from the curb, and each bounce shook them

until they disappeared in a shatter of light.




--Trapeze Artists, lithograph by Calvert Litho Co.

The air dangles women, silk clad
just burst from cocoons: one flies,
one hangs from her web, one spins a thread.

Their domed world too big
for the frame to hold, as if the artist
laid a lens on some small aspect of the day,
turned an insect world into fascination.

The race goes on beneath them,
blurred horses as unimportant
as the diminished ring master,
the crowd a wash of shadowy grey.

The woman reaching for her partner
reminds me of Dori, the way she jumped
from Building D, her hair the same auburn flame,
her arms held out in a defiant Y.

The world paints new hues, new words,
troubled, suicide as accents on the body
you must wear each day.

I imagine you were beautiful when you shed
gravity, when you fell out of the girl
and into a woman we would never know,

who disappeared behind hospital doors
and who I sometimes waited for on the curb
of the parking lot where we used to gather.

What did you become finally,
when they removed the gauze,
the needles and tubes

so you could lift your arms again,
and how long did we pass under you
without noticing you were there?



After the Storm

The sky pulls a purple shroud
of wind into the sea and you lean in,
the way you do, head tilted, to hear
me ramble about the dive--

lemon tangs like shards of sun,
the way catching a globefish to watch it
balloon is the only magic I've ever known.
I offer you myths--a fistful of salt air,

the moon jelly tossed on the beach, the splay
of kelp punctuated by cryptic barnacles--
because you know my sleight of hand,

how the diver navigates both rocking shore
and the sea, how silver fish can turn to rain,
how coral can be as hard and living as my hands.



P. Ivan Young ~


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