A Poem by Mark McMorris

Our celebration of National Poetry Month and Minneapolis's Coffee House Press continues with a poem from Mark McMorris's Entrepôt, published in February.



Letters to Michael


Dear Michael (8)


No grammar will console the human

who feeds on utopia, no torque of syntax

will doom the monologue, make it crack

like the spine of a book that hides

a mirror, and my face below glass

pinned to surfaces of type. The outpost

is finally rubble, although some retrieve

fragments as if to store and dissect

and catalogue rumors of other species

anthropophagi who dwell beside canals

to the north, and keep friendly converse

with dwarves who walk on their hands

the pious men with burnt faces, and giants

beneath the mountains of Sicily. No

photograph records them, and yet some

believe they exist, the way islands

humped on the sea-line in morning mist

tell of geological dramas, unseen

because in the trenches, and we are here, today.


So reading your books, I disclose nothing

of what you will become at the noon

of your departure, when the poems falter

and words are only desiccate symbols

given to a mimesis of power. Empty on stage

as perfume that is dreamt of in Créole

islands by a poet, my experiment of echo

bells it is time to concede the limit.

The nouns have gone in. The lexicon wavers.

This was foretold long ago by the seers

and mutes of my country, whom I consulted.



From Entrepôt by Mark McMorris. Copyright © 2010 by Mark McMorris.

Published by Coffee House Press: www.coffeehousepress.org.

Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

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