Beyond Words

By Kevin Young b. 1970 Kevin Young

Mudd Club 4th floor gallery
Manhattan, April 1981

If you bomb
the IND
or tag the 2

dousing it in tribal

shrapnel, you're it
—the shit—
If you can lie

between the rails
—Please Stand
Clear the Closing—

or press yourselves
betw. train
& the wall

spray can rattling
like a tooth—The roof
the roof

the roof is on
the 6 will whistle

past, swinging
like a night stick—
Officer Pup throwing

a brick
@ that Mouse
Ignatz, in love—

you'll have found
risk. A calling—

Crash, Daze, Pray
covering trains
like cave paintings,

avoiding the German
while the cars sit

in the yards
—what no one else in this
city owns. Making

their names
known—Dondi, Boy-
5, B-Sirius, Crazy

Legs, Coolie C—
The city clears
its throat

the subway shaking
the buildings above—
We don't need

no water let
the motherfucker
burn— Futura 2000,

Phase II, Quick
& Sex & Zephyr
& Lady Pink—

Fab 5 Freddy
(n� Braithwaite)
saying everyone's

a star. "Rapture"—

the whole planet's in
on it—Chilly Most
Being the Host Coast

to Coast—Freddy's painted
Campbell's Soup Cans that read
DADA & POP instead

of beef barley—
the UFO has landed
& a brother's

stepped out, alien, dressed
in white. Then when
there's no more cars

he goes out at night
& eats up bars
graffiti like 3 card monte—

running, avoiding the pigs
like a black muslim
bean pie. DJ spinning

says my my.
Pay attn.—
say, ain't that

Basquiat spinning

disks behind Blondie—

45s stacked high
as a Dag-
wood sammich?

Hungry, this B-
boy's headed
to the top—Yes

Yes y'all
You don't stop—
blowing up.

Kevin Young, "Beyond Words" from To Repel Ghosts. Copyright © 2001 by Kevin Young. Reprinted with the permission of Zoland Books/Steerforth Press.

Source: To Repel Ghosts (Zoland Books, 2001)

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Poet Kevin Young b. 1970

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Allusion, Consonance

 Kevin  Young


Kevin Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He studied under Seamus Heaney and Lucie Brock-Broido at Harvard University and, while a student there, became a member of the Dark Room Collective, a community of African American writers founded by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange. He was awarded a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and later earned an MFA from Brown University. Three of Kevin Young’s books form what . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Allusion, Consonance

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