How Else Can We Know What’s Beautiful / Margaret Young


How Else Can We Know What’s Beautiful

poems by

Margaret Young

ISBN: 978-1-59948-998-8, 40 pages, $13 (+ shipping)

Release/Ship Date: April 30, 2024

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Margaret Young is the author of Willow from the Willow (Cleveland State University Poetry Center), Almond Town (Bright Hill Press) and Blight Summer (Finishing Line Press). She has translated two collections by Sergio Inestrosa, El espacio improbable de un haikú and Luna que no cesa (Obsidiana Press). Her poetry collection The Water Bear is forthcoming from Mad Hat Press. Young is on the faculty of the Global Center for Advanced Studies and lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Margaret Young’s poems admit that “We all have regrets” but then add “How else can we know what’s beautiful?” and show us “how to love American light,” that the heaven of the hunched white egret” is no different from ours.” In these poems, we listen to the words spoken by the horizon— over here—while sitting on “the warm hoods of our cars.” ~Angie Estes


Margaret Young’s poems in How Else Can We Know What’s Beautiful come fast, mixing pop culture and archaeology in lines which turn effortlessly on beautifully crafted line breaks and deceptively straightforward-seeming language. Questions like “Why my sinuses? Is there a saint for that?” stay with me poems later as I find myself watching Univision or Revenge of the Nerds 2 or waiting in a Carl’s Jr. These are poems worth slowing down to catch. ~Matt Mason, author of Rock Stars



Mark a circle on the earth.
Start digging. Dig until you’re deep enough
you can’t see the surface unless you climb out.
Keep digging until you reach another substance:
water, gold, oil. While you’re digging, sing
about how hard it is, how your ancestors
dug their way to freedom, even if they didn’t.
Go deeper. Hit a rock, hit several, dig until
you fall down. Sleep a while with worms
in your hair, grit in your socks,
paintings of bones inside your brain.




Cape Ann


1. Fort Point Park

Fitz Henry Lane painted this beach.
This bronze plaque tells us so,
complete with bas-relief replica
framing the scene just as the artist did.
He sketched each cove and harbor
many times, showing Americans
how to love American light.


2. Ravenswood Park

There sits a toad between
two granite boulders
papered with lichen
that peels in flakes
like old concert posters
stapled to a telephone pole.


3. Annisquam

An egret hunches, white as a contrail.
His heaven is no different from ours.
The marsh reflects his feathers
and the clouds alike, while shadows linger
beneath the bridge, beneath the lighthouse
with its penetrating gaze.



After Alan Michael Parker


If only this tea were icier
if only the hills were salt.

The idea here is to dissolve,
says the water,

or to wave at the horizon,
say the trees. Or to hum

until our socks get dry,
until the sunset disagrees.

The idea here is to gaze,
says the window.

What’s going down?
asks the frog in every rhyme,

he who spends all summer
chanting OM—

hey, the kids in the basement
have killed a spider.

The idea here is to fade
gracefully, says the light.

If you remembered what you needed
would you recognize it now,

asks the window.
The chickens roost inside the past.

You’ll understand someday,
says the dirt.

Cool dirt, says the dirt.
Over here, says the horizon.

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