Mark Young

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When you're living in a very small city

forget you've ever heard of Miles, let alone
& everyone
through to Zappa & Zimmerman
that used to inhabit your CD collection. Swallow
your Charlie Pride & listen to a selection
of country music singers. At the very least
trawl through the local record store &
memorize a couple of the names.

Learn how to spell the name
of every writer that you like. The bookshops here
are newsagents in disguise, carry primarily
bush ballads, romance, new age, sport,
& the Tom Clancy franchise canon. You're going
to have to ask the resident teenager to order in
anything that you want. Remember
to    speak    slowly    when    you    do.

Take up comparative ornithology. Discover
why the birds engage in such raucous debate
amongst themselves. Take sides. Should you follow
the ravens or the white cockatoos?

Tell yourself over & over
that you've finally got time to
get around to reading Proust. Always
find something else to do.

Enroll in an offensive driving course. Be taught
how to stay at 30kph in a 70 speed zone, change lanes
without indicating, realize that you've
just passed where you want to go
but don't let that stop you going there anyway. U-
turns are legal here. Buy a tray-body truck
& a dog you can tie up on it. Brush up
on your veterinary science, especially that part
that relates to canine auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Relearn what the clouds mean.

Stayin' alive

Break off doing
what I'm doing

go outside
for a cigarette —
note to self: I
should have a
macro for that —

& listen to
L. listening to
the Bee Gees in
the room above

sound system
positioned just so

downward sound

so that you are
standing in a spot
where everything
is spotlessly clear

— albeit falsetto —

& disregarding
the high voices
the disco sound of it
John T. strutting
down the street
in that wide-lapeled
Italian suit

(no mirror ball
here / no need
for reflection)

realize that
it's not filters
that strain the
background noise
like a whale
sieving krill

but an ability
even as you
are moving

to recognize
that single still point
where the noise
divides &
the song
breaks through.


Mark Young's most recent book is les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on chessboard grids, just published by Luna Bisonte Prods. Due out later this year is The Word Factory: a miscellany, from gradient books of Finland, & an e-book, A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks, from otata.