Three Poems

by Gary Young


In New Jersey, a couple pulled a man from his car, shot him, and
locked him in a box to die. They’d had a plan, but their plan fell
through. They were captured, and the woman claimed she’d been
forced; she had never wanted to do it. When she testified against her
husband, someone shouted, what do you think of your wife now?
And he turned, and said, I love her. The stories I must tell myself
about myself seem even more pitiful repeated in the history of oth-


A girl I knew was murdered, and her mother, out of grief, wore the
dead child’s clothes. Soon she believed she was her own lost daugh-
ter. Later, they discovered someone had filmed the girl being killed.
How can we bear witness to this? A child dies, and a woman goes
mad. A man pays to see the child tortured, and while he watches,
comes in his hand. And I tell a story, about a girl I knew, because
grief is an echo that calls me, and it’s wrong, but it’s all I can do.


Tom Bone fell from deck, and watched as the ship sailed on without
him. He tried, at first, to convince himself he wasn’t there, then he
swam all night. He drifted with a current, and that morning saw an
island, and swam to it, and was saved. There’d been a moment, be-
fore dawn, when he’d lost all hope and lowered his head into the
water. He was about to take a breath, when he heard a voice say,
don’t give up, you’re going to live, you’re going to make it. I have
listened to that voice all my life.

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