Mock Execution

The day of my execution was sunny,
like Dostoevsky’s, that bearded gambler,
my mentor at roulette and argument. Like him,
our Petrashevsky circle debated economics
and government and literature. Although,

the day before police hauled me off
was one of laundry and bill paying. Darkness
dripped from overhanging trees like rain,
a slow leaking too distant and soothing
to be death. . . until it was. And that’s what they

luxuriate in, those who sit behind desks,
signing off on the hour of our last breath.
Perhaps I’m the great writer before
he comes to his full powers. Perhaps you are.
Both of us blindfolded, both of us counting

the final minutes, you in Semyonov Square,
me in Columbus Circle, the first three of us lined up
and tied up and guns leveled at them. We could all
taste the metal in our mouths because it was
the taste of fear. And that is what they cherish

in those they govern, those sitting behind desks,
signing orders for the solders’ fingers to settle
onto the triggers, and at the very last, the pardon
coming to save us all, and we shout, “Long live
the President! High may rise his border walls!”

Everyone so grateful, laughing to live,
even to labor for such benevolent powers
who granted us more time, even if we all
live on nothing but rotten food and our children
can’t read and are too thin and too weak to play.


Michael T. Young’s third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was long-listed for the Julie Suk Award. His previous collections are The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost and Transcriptions of Daylight. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award for his collection, Living in the Counterpoint. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals including The Los Angeles Review, One, The Smart Set, Rattle, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His poetry has also been featured on Verse Daily and The Writer’s Almanac.

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