Today’s Thoughtful Thursday (actually, “Thoughtful The Day after Thursday” this week) shines the spotlight on the amazing Kevin Young, aka “One of the Hardest Working men in Poetbiz”. Young was born in 1970 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He received his BA from Harvard University in 1992 and his MFA in creative writing from Brown University in 1996. Young’s awards and honors include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. He has taught at the University of Georgia, Indiana University, and Emory University, where he was the Charles Howard Candler professor of creative writing and English and curator of literary collections at the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. He is currently the director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the poetry editor of The New Yorker.

Here are two poems from Young. “Hive” talks to us about the innocence of children and parent’s hope/fears for them as they go about the business of being little boys, and and “Nightstick [A Mural for Michael Brown]” decries the powers that threaten to (and often do) brutally end this innocence. Share these with your sons and enjoy.


The honey bees’ exile
is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.

Kevin Young

Nightstick [A Mural for Michael Brown]

There are gods
of fertility,
corn, childbirth,

& police
brutality—this last
is offered praise

& sacrifice
near weekly
& still cannot

be sated—many-limbed,
its colors are blue

& black, a cross-
hatch of bruise
& bulletholes

punched out
like my son’s
three-hole notebooks—

pages torn
like lungs, excised
or autopsied, splayed

open on a cold table
or left in the street
for hours to stew.

A finger
is a gun—
a wallet

is a gun, skin
a shiny pistol,
a demon, a barrel

already ready—
hands up
don’t shoot—

not to bear
but bare. Don’t

dare take
a left
into the wrong

skin. Death
is not dark
but a red siren

who will not blow
breath into your open
mouth, arrested

like a heart. Because
I can see
I believe in you, god

of police brutality—
of corn liquor
& late fertility, of birth

pain & blood
like the sun setting,
dispersing its giant

crowd of light.

Kevin Young