4 poems by featured poet, Jeremy Nathan Marks

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    Jeremy Nathan Marks is an American writer living in London, Ontario. Recent poetry has appeared (or is appearing) in Chiron Review, I-70 Review, Ariel Chart, The Wire’s Dream. Muddy River Review, Morel Magazine, Word Fountain, The Wild Word and Rat’s Ass Review. Jeremy is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee in poetry.

     

     

    The Senator out on Woodward

    The man asking for change on the corner
    of Woodward and Warren
    tells me how he once saw a great whale capsize a ship.

    I joked and said: you saw that in a movie!
    His face turned serious as he responded:
    No. I was onboard.

    We were,
    all one hundred of us,
    many months out from our home port.

    The skies were blue and clear
    not red to fill anyone with dread;
    the captain swore we would steam ahead.

    Then, without warning,
    under a brilliant and balmy sun
    a giant whale breached the boat.

    We took a hit amidships
    and before I could count to four,
    there was a fathom of water all over the deck.

    We took like a torpedo hit-
    My father used to tell tales
    of being on the Indianapolis

    And we went as quick as all that.
    I thought of him then; what he meant
    when he warned me to beware before I left port.

    Anyway, there we were in the drink-
    But at this point I interrupted him
    and said: a whale?

    How could a whale take down a naval vessel?
    He responded:
    who said anything about the vessel being naval?

    The craft I was on was ancient;
    we were sailing by the sun and the stars;
    we were committed -wholly committed- to the old ways:

    Wood and water;
    salt and sky;
    getting our bearings by charts and reckoning.

    There was a purity to what we were doing
    which made that breach so damn confusing.
    I nearly died. Many of my mates didn’t make it.

    He was silent. I didn’t speak.
    The scattered cars heading towards downtown
    were the only sounds around.

    I handed him his change and said softly:
    how did a man like you, that is, a sailor;
    how did you end up here?

    His answer: I was a Senator.

     

     

     

    Needed repose

    On December 31st, 1999 I entered my home
    and didn’t come out again until January 1st, 2010.

    The Millennium’s just a trick of time.
    9-11? I read the book.
    Subprime meltdown?
    Looked out onto my block.
    First black president-elect?
    Still recall several first mayors
    one governor
    and a great deal of debt.

    A neighbourhood kid cut my grass
    trimmed my hedges and raked
    the leaves
    then when he graduated
    he went and hired his brother for me.

    Of this I’m most proud:
    through it all I barely touched
    an electrical switch.
    Detroit Edison presumed me deceased.
    They called up one night after fourteen months
    a call that was like taking a pulse

    It still beats.

    Speaking.

    Was I the man who stopped paying his bills?
    Never stopped, I said.
    I just don’t get any juice from you I can use.

    In 2006,
    a man from the News learned all this
    and he, too, phoned one night
    asking was it true I hadn’t stepped outside
    in (then) six years?
    What motivated me to withdraw from the world like that?

    Well,
    George Harrison once wrote
    and I quote:
    ‘Without going out of my door
    I can know all things on Earth.’

    I never actually withdrew;
    things just came into hyper focus.
    I saw much within one quarter mile
    to allow myself this needed repose.

     

     

    Kaddish

    ‘Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.’ -Ecclesiastes 1:2

    ‘. . . he threw his arms around the neck of a mare
    that had just been flogged by a coachman.’ -Walter Kaufmann (Nietzsche)

    The ass must have its kaddish.

    From ditch to hearse
    I count my steps
    hale the carcass
    wear a mask

    This will be a secret pass
    through a town where clarity
    mirrors absence.

    I’ve greased the axels
    for the silent stretch
    hark the switch and gasp
    for the shank’s grace-

    There is so little remorse
    and suffering so boundless.

    Crows and buzzards gather
    along my plodding pace.

    I offer obols to the chaws
    but the buzzards are senseless.

    Prayer is limitless
    so I seek Kavod.

     

     

    Charlottesville

    In Charlottesville I spy
    the threatened Gunnison Grouse
    then nearing the McGuffey
    a grizzly is napping in a warehouse

    I acquire a dun penny made of tin
    and some antique brass ammunition
    at dusk I attend a jury selection
    in the Court of public opinion

    Our fabric is brittle
    febrile and unsettled
    migrants move in circles
    comforts come in strange vessels

    The remains of our shambling civic sheds
    are a harken back to towns of red clay
    feed stores and decrepit cafes
    known only to crones and neo-Confederates

    What with days this long and hot
    there can be but little doubt
    that Dixie’s dark imagination
    casts long shadows across our station

    And with so little shade left to spare
    from either true cross or sapling
    and now with cupboards going bare
    here comes our unraveling.