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Mark DeCarteret
Selected Poets
Books/Chapbooks 2

poetry has appeared in AGNI, Atlanta Review, Chicago Review, Conduit, Cream City Review, Poetry East, Spinning Jenny, and 3rd bed, as well as the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2000) and Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader (Black Sparrow Press, 1999). His first book, Review--A Book of Poems, was published by Kettle of Fish Press in 1995.  A chapbook, The Great Apology, was just published by Oyster River Press for whom Mark also co-edited the anthology Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets.


The other minuscule organs                     
have fessed up to speaking ill                      
of you behind their backs,                           
launching into hisses and gurgles    
even bile-slathered song,
not to mention the brain 
with its inane presentations,
its jello mold of options.                              
Poor, comatose heart, under                              
constant attack, of course
strained from this commitment
to self, its bloody promotion,
your bed a mess of fetters now,
a monkey's cymbal lodged            
in your fiercest compartment.
A bit musty but still luscious            
after raised from your sleep
the paramedics find you phlegmatic          
even testy as they listen for growls.    
Oh, how they knead you!                  
A stop on the specialist's revival
as they ply their latest stints,
whatever's on special.                           
What little they know of you
I've thought something of a lie,
preferring father's old adage
how when it's your time it's your 
well, near blue-collared testament
touched up with gristle, white paste.
Though I will dodge reinvention,
my crest trampled into the dirt,
you, once a warlord in these parts,           
sovereign of my gruesome terrarium,
will be squeezed into leotards                 
weeding arrows from your chest
wondering why you didn't stay put,
unaroused in your dark chamber              
with nothing to prevail over, plunder
until you were recharged, saw fit,
harking back to a simpler age    
when you would never have believed          
in going anywhere without me. 

Because I don't know
where you've been
maybe, quarantined
to my throat where only
a pencil may coax you out or            
attached to some blubbery cognition          
I've been forced to rediscover  
a haven in the simplest reflex,            
this tensing up of the censor      
which doubles as jester--
hoax, quixotic retch!
you are little but box             
within box of resurgent doubt,                
your emission never clearing                                                   
my lip's inflatable pout--
worse, there isn't a soul
I'd risk sharing you with.

Practical Truth

Poetry should have as its goal, practical truth.
                                                        --Comte de Lautreamont

Who knew he'd been missing?
For years we used his body as a throw rug,        
his brain as a coaster for our tea.    
We'd find his aspirations in the lint trap
while the dog chewed his action figure--                   
a muzzle of slobber, punctured poet.            
For us, thinking, had long lost its attraction.            
No longer lit up from within, we hid ourselves in file drawers.
We suffered these clots of rote thoughts like war movie walk-ons.        
Even the rain would take us lightly.
But he would battle, bugging us with his presence,            
a buzz of unrest someone shrink wrapped in hives. 
An overcoat wedded to smoke and lapsed predictions.       
Going on about the wind and how it spoke to him
with the whine of a muzzled bear,     
how the day secretly dressed itself in darkness.
But what could he make of our cattle yawns, the blinking
of the dog and the busts of failed symbolists on the lawn?     
All it took to test the limits of our universe       
was a highly-gifted plaid, a can of spoiled crab.      
He likened us to rust, dereliction on training wheels.
We maneuvered like the dead under drinking glasses,
eking out replies onto novelty ties,                     
staring him down with bled cherries.                   

Nowadays, we're spent with the dawn--
a mess of gold mesh and inexplicable breathing.
Novas harnessed for the circuitry of bankers, website prodigies.
Phrases phased out.  Novices given notice.                              
Everyone's dissolved into sleep, a fine powder,
except for these testaments to the tedium of scratching,         
another joust with an overmatched scroll.
Though I must admit I haven't felt quite this almighty,                 
this comfy, since dismissing philosophy                         

Simeon the Stylite (Saint)                                         

Considering two sentences: (a) I will welcome again
the crow's blinked out prophecies or (b) I will settle
   for the infant's world blanketed by yawns
I have opted for even less-- the feast of my own body
   and the lash's refrain,
taking flight into the desert in animal hides
   only to wake without a blemish on your front lawns.

Lord, even these maggots are permitted squints of light
so I will conjure stunted mummies from my wounds
and then swap them their night,
not to seek out Your face but the gauze
   in which they had You bound.

But somewhere, a stone proclaims itself king and sits--
so maybe it best my tongue savors its dusk,
   for so long the sole contestant in this most unsound hole.
Still, I imagine the sky the most favorable of fits.

Picture this: I am raised over the crowd on my pillar--
   a rambling fool and his pole,
this ventriloquist's act where I mouth the world's ills
   until Our Lord God admits
all these words He has given us for heaven
   are just innocent pills and we're allowed to squirm home.