William Youngblood



In these ephemeral theme parks
A thought could be thought
Beautiful for its strangeness
Alone; the way it plunged

Vertiginously towards the hard
Surface of the world and then,
At the last possible moment,
Veered off, just grazing the edge

Of the observable, in the direction
Of where it would rather be, the recursive
Meadows of paradox; the way
When you looked in the mirrors

Of the fun house you saw reflected
Back, in place of yourself, first
Your mother as a child, then an egret,
And then someone whose face you

Had never seen, and stepping out
Into the cooling air you wondered
Who had made these places and why,
Filled them with these attractions—

The Magic Maze and the Wall
Of Death— and set them here so far
From our homes, so that we had to chance
Treacherous tracks and whistling passes,

Arriving only as they were beginning to pack;
And when you were barred entrance to
A ride whose loops and hills stretched far
Beyond our field of view and seemed

To corkscrew among the stars, barred because
“You must be this short to ride”— this simple
Inversion amusing you so that you thought this,
This was excitement enough for now.


Let’s elide the precise moment of catastrophe for the time being—
screaming rails, twisted steel—and see the train cars neatly corrugated
on the grassy shoulder, the mingling of granulated safety glass and gravel,
the stream of passengers moving from the wreckage with the steady pace
and particular calmness of disaster, settling uneasily onto the hillside,

and looking around to see if they recognize anyone. Soon
there is a great relief. Nobody seems to be hurt much, just the usual
scrapes, bruises, and minor fractures. No one is really sure if this
is lucky or to be expected. One person, as is often the case, is dead
and hastily covered with a blue sheet from one of the sleeping cars,

for our sake or possibly that of the deceased though they are beyond
such concerns as modesty. Particulars of the incident are unclear.
Theories circulate as theories do, in fits and starts, growing ever more
refined and contrary. Something wrong with the rails, something
wrong with the train, a rupture of some mechanism or another.

All this falls away and soon this is something like a party
the end of which is certain, the duration of which is unknown.
Laughter can be heard in the nervous distance and relationships
are formed and ended, though the invitations have already been
sent out. Just beyond the trees the assignations of various

forest creatures go on unnoticed or remarked upon, though
the conductor passes searching for the driver. And this is all,
until the news crews arrive and everything collapses into
a single soundbite with a pleasing shape. Whatever we were
talking about, we must remember what has actually happened.


It’s the only time for it, really, when it's alive and the world,
rather than lived in and in the world, when the starry expanse
is paradoxically a dome, isolating its structures and drawing them
together into a body that breathes quietly, its great circulation
of various smaller bodies reaching, if not rest, then an ebb, its lights
moving like a logic in opposition to biology.
is amplified the closer you get to silence and the absence
of light, neither of which is possible to achieve anymore.
History expands into its strata and the grand facade
is revealed as a series of buildings built one after the other,
some with less thought and care than the rest. Traffic is oddly
elsewhere, sparse and around a corner, two streets over,
where that coffee shop used to be, or the bookstore.
This is the street as soundstage, the white mists billowing
from the grates are the sublimation of dry ice, and the rain
springs from spigots high above in unseen scaffolds.
The night is less ideal for people, though there are fewer
of them out, it makes them seem small, further away,
at a point where they can be made to seem pathetic or
enlarged to sinister proportions. Anyway, it’s probably best
to keep to yourself. That’s one way of understanding the city,
moving through it as a foreign particle in a body. Another way is
more like being the city, though not quite, moving in its secret spaces,
the ancient steam tunnels and pneumatic tubes.
                                                                                                    And then
there are times I feel I understand myself fairly well, not
as a self but as one understands another they are somewhat
close to, particularities of habit and likely reactions to situations,
lacking the grand self-knowledge so associated with the greatest
thinkers of the species whose internal reckonings seem suspiciously
to be judgements on the entirety of the race. Let’s leave it at:
I understand how I am in the city. I understand how I am out of it.

Biographical Statement:

William Youngblood is a poet based in St. Louis, MO. He works in a library, borrowing books they don't have from other libraries that do. His work has appeared in Passages North and Prolit Magazine.