Leveler Poetry Journal
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Scare The Information Through Direct Observation

for Ana C, the inviter

Whatever word you’re thinking of, the word “duh”

requires more gentleness. “Check Your Privilege” sung

to the tune of “Call Your Girlfriend.” It’s okay if you don’t

even know that one. One thing we’re glossing over here

is categories. Publish your metadata by hacking strangers’

passwords and changing them to the names of those no one

realized you loved. A new species of leopard frog discovered

in the dugout at Yankees Stadium. A whole new way to get

depressed is to discover YouTube’s audience retention stats

for those videos you worked an average of three to five

hearts on. Like let’s say I upload a bunny skull, a king rat

keychain, a tiger-striped catkin, a seashell in the shape of

Ronald Reagan’s haircut. I carry what I can to drop

before you. Whatever world you’re thinking of is

shrinking. “Wait, Give My Poetry to Geeks” sung

to the tune of “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye.”

That one: no excuses. Punish your audience by making them

remember their tongues. I just got invited to experience the new

Doritos Taco from Taco Bell, a taco with Doritos for a shell,

mutual with whoever-can-make-it in a live video chat.

Like say the idea is I have these ideas so I unload them.

You take them down. You take them up?

Mike Young

levelheaded: Scare The Information Through Direct Observation

In this week’s poem, Mike Young writes: “One thing we’re glossing over here / is categories.” Words, in themselves, are categorical by nature. They define. Often, given their limited meanings, words fall short of perfection. They are inexact. Enter poetry—where words grab readers’ attention and are consequently made strange, where words can rub up against each other in unexpected ways to create new meanings.

The poem’s first line ends with “the word ‘duh,’” and challenges us to consider the possibility that anything we could possibly conjure is inevitable. As the sentence continues, “duh” takes on new meaning. Like all words, it can unintentionally come across as harsh, therefore it “requires more gentleness.”

Young doesn’t spend much time ruminating over this complex idea or any other one the poem offers. Instead, he really does seem to gloss over topics. The way that words can be hurtful smashes up against the concepts of privilege and the term for a significant other. The concept of categories is reverberated in the comparison of “strangers” and “the names of those no one / realized you loved.”

Each attempt at understanding is re-contextualized by what follows it. In a sense, the poem is a “new species of” thought and emotion—unique details build in relation to one another to cause distinct intellectual and emotional responses in the reader. There are songs, and then there are the tunes those songs are sung in.

Young writes: “I carry what I can to drop / before you.” Essentially, this is how his poem works. He spills out the things he has collected. In the process, the speaker himself is revealed. He has ideas and “unload[s]” them. In the context of a world of YouTube and Doritos-shelled tacos, we as readers accept or reject the speaker. He could become a stranger or a loved one. It’s not always easy to tell which is which.

– The Editors