Mike Young


for Occupy Baltimore, 2011

When in doubt, keep scrolling. When out of doubt, wake up
drooling on the shoulder of a bus mate. Some may simply talk
too fast for an uncle, the one who said never stick anything
in your ear smaller than a mammoth tusk. Who, at seventy,
elected a new girlfriend based on whether she had property in
both Alaska and Hawaii. All the people who know the most
easily wear hoodies under Ray Lewis jerseys and crunch the
ice in their sweet tea. To really know your shit, you can’t not
cuss about it. A woman studies three different smartphone
brochures. Uh huh. Another woman scratches crossword lotto
with a housekey. Huh uh. If I finally make good on my threat
to include stage directions, I promise to let you sing a duet with
the garbage vacuum guy. Moon buggy sounds cooler but golf cart
is right. It’s hard not to cross out one name and do a new one,
right God? One exciting way a cockroach gets to enter your home
is through the shower drain, so why do my friends make all these
plans? Why can’t I watch The Wire without imagining my 731
followers smirking at my joke about outside sirens versus TV sirens,
which is technically Laura’s joke, so keep scrolling until it lets
you @ her. Always pry open the jar and free the butterfly, even if
you hit batteries. Tell the riot cops that windows were not there to
begin with, but try to wait until you stop talking. If you copy and
paste, wake me up if it will let you highlight more than last time.



I like my friends even better with food
stuck in their teeth.

But I love when I can tell between
handwriting and handwriting font.

You like swollen pumpernickel at dawn.
You liked me when the heat was off, singing in a hallway.

You love goats, even the one that committed suicide
by jumping off the wrong car with a rope around his neck.

Sometimes I pretend to take a split
second longer to “get it.”

I’m not sure I like that
about myself.

I love when men walk tiny Pomeranians on elastic leashes
in the snow outside a Soviet-style retirement home.

But I like when something gets defined by sprinting out ahead
of no one’s assumptions: unsweetened coconut.

We like retiring to Colombia and exporting coffee.
We like to shit talk unlicensed palm readers.

But we love the men in pea coats who cross the street
before it says to, skating and skating in their good socks,

the neighborhood snowmen buttoned up
with walnuts.

I like when people answer a question by immediately turning
to a third person for help.

But I love the smell of Spanish onions
when they commit to fry.

I love a little joke
when it would go fine without.

They like cowboys without jobs.
They like the notion of open-air basements.

But they love Totino’s Canadian Bacon Style Party Pizza
and turning clothes inside-out for the historical perspective

in kitchens that are synonyms
for dancefloors. They love the $1.00 charge that shows up

on their bank statements when they change their address,
where they pretend to love jellyfish salad,

when a bright spot lifts in the hip bruise
caused by the corner of a desk. The man in the park

who mutters “keep walking” while he stands
motionless beside the duck-filled lake.

I love a snowstorm that can’t get its shit together.
I love half-burying chia pets in the community garden.

I love telling you we should move to North Dakota
even though we never will. Televised rain

getting away with it, the animals still recovering
from bad press. I love how at a movie,

just before the credits,
you try to guess the song.

Mike Young is the author of Sprezzatura (forthcoming, Publishing Genius), Look! Look! Feathers (Word Riot), and We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough (Publishing Genius). He edits NOÖ Journal, runs Magic Helicopter Press, and drinks pharmacopeial grade cold care tea in Northampton, MA. His chapbook Who Can Make It(Big Lucks Books) is now available for preorder.
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