Some Days in the City
    Mark McMorris
Some days, the sky descends to the level of mid-thigh water
the clock-hands come loose, and language is a skiff
over land through the rhythm of your breathing, girl
then I can hear the pink oriole, the body is a metronome
of blood and syllables beating placentas of speech
and news tingles like a caress of words still to be spoken:

umbrellas, bracelets, sleepers in doorways, police and victim--

I wind these objects to strike my human self dead
so as to taste the massy hive, the bloom and sounds
following my spending to gather up the pennies, kisses
meant for you, lost in transit, I follow my own kisses
to rooms in European cities, to the bottom of a shot glass

like a piece of economy flung about the streets
I spit pronouns, you fall from my lips, bewildered
I fall to the tracks, a suicide, a trembling drunk at
Du Pont and this day is a book left ajar, next to the rain.

Prayer to Shadows on My Wall

    Mark McMorris
Soon the rush-lights will go out in the flesh
of sympathetic bodies once close to my own hand
and I will go to my hammock, thinking of little
except the numbness that alone makes bearable
the wind's twisting. I want atoms to separate
like hairs or dust onto the heads of my daughters.
I want to violate the edict that traps my hunger
in cages and away from her rough shoulder
and once to be enough for this and all the loves
that flicker through my bedroom before sleep.
They keep me awake, and tonight they are fierce
as whips or as needles to make the skin crawl.
I want to drift like the poui in a southerly wind
and settle where I need to before the faces erode,
my appetite of iron caulking the egg-shell heart.

Mark McMorris is the author of several poetry collections, most recently, Black Reeds (University of Georgia Press) and his poems appear in many journals, magazines and anthologies. He is teaching poetry at Georgetown University.


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