Literary Arts | READ LOCAL First

READ LOCAL First: Natalie Young

natalie_youngREAD LOCAL First is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. Each month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.

Today, 15 Bytes features Cedar City-based poet Natalie Young. Here she provides three poems, part of a larger series set in Utah with both fictional and non-fictional characters, including humans, aliens, and a monster who has lived in the Great Salt Lake for centuries. The setting is dystopian and, to a point, similar to modern day with the monster ruminating on past times.

Sunday Blog Read continues to accrue a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment.

So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the work of Natalie!


Capitol Reef


Now miles from any real city roaming

in a red rock bowl. She recalls a time

at 13 when a stray attacked.


They walk the sea floor, boots filling

with red dust: rusty animal

heads, pioneers’ tombstones.


Commitment not an option. No way

to describe, to know how.

But its giant departure is clear.


She claims old bites

are good reason to give up

an adopted dog after six days.


The look in the canine eyes:

endless. The stare—

like finding a giraffe

body under a skiff of snow.


Breaking things

off, keeping things up.

All of this was once under water.




Here Is Whats Left of Lake Bonneville


She is determined to see. Lock the creature in a still, share

his looks with those who’ll listen. She takes

a handful of diced tuna. Dabs the juice

from the tin can on her collar bone. The lake is saltier


than the sea, a pH between toothpaste and milk

of magnesia. Salt can’t be destroyed—won’t dissipate

or burn—all that can be done is grind

the small crystals into dirt and watch it lose


worth. This lesson she learned in Sunday school, the spiritual

point less poignant. Even salt will sift its way

to shore, the edges of his liquid home. One toe

at a time, she dribbles fish purée,


until she is up to her earlobes. Empty

cans bob near outstretched fists. Mosquitoes line her forehead.

Torso stripped, eyes closed. A lake

housing a monster with nowhere else to go,


without a single outlet, it’s up to the earth’s inventions now.


(Originally appeared in Pamplemousse)




Pretending to be interviewed, the monster gets choked up,

tells the cameraman to shut the damn thing off.


Your environment doesn’t change

much from day to day, you see

the same things. What inspires you?


I spend time remembering, wondering

what birds see

when they fly away.



Does that help generate new ideas?


I don’t have much use for such things.



You don’t wear clothing. How does that feel?


I guess you’re looking for “liberating,”

But how would I know?



It’s so quiet out here.


The quiet came gradually,

not a sudden silence.



Is it peaceful?


It’s not

peaceful—it’s not



If everything was brought back

at once…the noise, the movement


I miss,

but could I still handle it?



You lived through a lot—more than most books

can claim. What keeps you

going? What’s next?


I’d like to be surrounded by something

other than salt water; to step on dry ground;

someone to look and call

me lovely.


(Originally appeared in Rock & Sling)



© 2015 Natalie Young

Natalie Young is a founding editor of the independent poetry magazine Sugar House Review, which just released its five-year anniversary issue. Her poetry has been published in magazines such as Rattle, Los Angeles Times, Green Mountains Review, Tampa Review, South Dakota Review, and others. She lives in Cedar City where she works as a graphic designer for an ad agency based out of Salt Lake City.

Other work from the series above can be found online at:,,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.