Saturday, March 30, 2019

How the World was Made 1

Over the next few months I've decided to post the prose-poems from the manuscript 

How the World was Made

Flight to Venus/Mark Flowers

Even though most of the poems have been published in print or in online journals, I simply can't get the whole thing published.

I now have five unpublished manuscripts that talk to me late at night, wondering when they’ll see the light of day (It might be interesting to go into an analysis of the labyrinthine world of publishing here, but I'll save that for another day).

I suppose it's time to start my own press. Why wait for someone else's nod of approval? It's a time-honored tradition in poetry. Although it requires some initial cash...

How the World was Made
was written between 2009 and 2016. The words and stories in the book absorbed those years - and the years beyond. Poetry is news that stays news.

Without further ado, here are the first three prose poems.



I have been traveling into the earth since before my great-grandfather was born. It is something I do consciously, connecting back to the dead. I am not saying this from inside a dream. I have an alarm clock next to the bed.

I can hear the tunnels beneath the floor. Each tunnel has a different word that it repeats, has been repeating since before my great-grandfather went down into the earth. I follow each word down until it blends into another word. “Sell” dissolves into “Sin.” “Sin” dissolves into “Salute.”  There are men still cutting tunnels down there, so the permutations are endless. I am not saying this from inside a dream. I have a knife next to the bed.

I’ve seen my great-grandfather down there. I’ve seen yours. He has quick scavenging eyes, albino skin slick as a cave fish. His claws reach out, tear at the earth. His nails are sharp, long.  He doesn’t need a pick-axe or shovel; he doesn’t need a light. He has become a perfect digging machine. He lifts dirt to his mouth, chews, swallows. I am not saying this from inside a dream. I have a pair of gloves next to the bed. 

Our ancestors keep eating. I hear them chewing and swallowing. They do not know how to stop.  They will replace the earth. I am not saying this from inside a dream. I have a book of matches and a gallon of gas. I will follow the word “fire” down until it dissolves into “fish”.

(Previously published in Hanging Loose Magazine and in a 2River chapbook in the US; and previously published in Planet: The Welsh Internationalist in the UK)


My Mother’s Body

When the war was over, she danced. Everyone danced, touched each other, bodies so close, but it was innocent, wrapped in victory. She wanted to dance this victory dance for the rest of her life; to be so close to so many, to be touched, but no one touching her in that way...

Her body is the keeper of all secrets; thinner and thinner, disappearing inside her clothes, trying to become wind. Leaves fly. Walnuts slam against the porch. Winter is almost here. Her body believes in national security, keeping the things that should not be said from being said, keeping the things that should not be felt from being felt, keeping the things that should not be remembered from being remembered.

Night after night, when I look in the mirror I see her drunk father stumble into the house, stare through her, leaving the front door open, snow blowing across the floorboards. I see her mother stare out the kitchen window, transparent, silent, and thin, so thin. Is this true? 

Encrypted messages pass back and forth between satellites that shoot across the night sky, never touching the ground. I cannot look away from my face, down at the rest of my body. I know parts of my body are disappearing, too, and I don’t know how to bring anything back.

Holes. Sacrifice. Everyone must do their part.

(Previously published in Hanging Loose Magazine in the US; and in Planet: The Welsh Internationalist in the UK)


March in Denver

Clear sky. The sun is a furious bird. Coal trains move through the mountains to the west. So many brilliant cars pass the anti-war signs speared into grass. When a car honks in support, a friend screams “Park your car!” He has only a few seconds to explain all of history.

The governor is up in the mountains, fishing. He casts his line. Concentric circles ripple through a jet trail. The sun opens its beak, a tongue of flame flickers. We march down Market Street. A couple of elementary school kids raise their fists and shout “Fuck the War!” A few teens holding shopping bags stare at us, confused. One raises a middle finger. 

The sun flies from the mouth of a drunk vet: “I’ve been to war! What do you know about war?” I want to tell him the sun is a bird lover, a steel girder, a Hollywood movie starring the first atomic bomb; that it never stops burning eyes into the open face of water; that it never stops churning language back into blood for all of us to drink; that it eats time (that strange soft tissue); that only water throws it into relief. 

We shout in front of the Halliburton high-rise: “War profiteers!” It’s Saturday, so of course no one’s inside. The sun ignites the back of a trout up in the mountains. The governor reels the fish in, laughing. A protestor with the face of a clown smears red paint across Halliburton’s glass doors. Suddenly, everyone is smearing red paint across the glass. The lone security guard rushes off to call his superiors. We run, laughing. We have stopped nothing.

(Previously published in Serving House Journal)