Keeping Up with the News, Michael T. Young

Above Red Canyon Panorama, White Mountains


Keeping Up with the News


I’m breathless at the speed of such a beast.
So I lie down at night to rest, while it crouches
by the window like the shadow of a politician,
flooding the room to the fill of dream with its stench.

Because it never sleeps, one wakes farther
and farther behind than you can ever hope to reach
even on a day of endless marching, even if
in sight of the refugee camps. It always seems

to recede to the horizon, hidden among ads
for the newest 4-wheel drive or shampoo & conditioner,
so well-camouflaged that the best trackers
have been known to lose their way. In recent times,

even the bright hunting vests fail to keep us
from shooting each other. Right when it appears
in the crosshairs, the trigger trips a switch
that pulls our neighbor into the gun sight.

Michael T. Young


Review by Dave Mehler

Like some Yeatsian beast slouching toward Bethlehem or a dragon with ten horns out of the book of Revelation, Young characterizes the NEWS as horrific and incredibly quick, far too fast for mere mortals to respond to. Worse than something happening over ‘there,’ this beast is right outside his bedroom window peering in while he attempts to catch his breath—unlike him, it never sleeps or stops moving, but only speeds up. Then the violence of News takes a commercial turn appealing to our normal and baser appetites, and the next thing you know rather than loving our neighbor or at the very least treating them as we would wish to be treated ourselves we have all become hunters wearing silly hunting vests, but instead of this preventing accidental shootings it makes us all the more visible and easier targets. This poem in very few lines moves unexpectedly and surely to its target of satirizing the current human condition. We may be safe from most apex predators and at the top of the food chain but this does not make us wiser.

Sometimes as a cathartic reminder of a more violent and vulnerable past we may watch SF movies in which humanity makes contact with a technologically advanced and predatorial ET species, or closer to home enjoy a scary but often comic fantasy about some enormous prehistoric shark appearing out of the depths of our subconscious, and we find ourselves a ‘smart’ but defenseless predator helpless against its advances. The fact is, as Young suggests, we need not look any further past our own backyard fence or adjoining apartment wall to find threat due to our own greed, appetite, desire for money or power. Rather than succumbing to didacticism or pedantry, Young hits his bullseye in this poem with accurately light and airy ease.

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