issue 5

october 2017

issue 5 - october 2017

Lines by the River - Mark Prisco

The poem’s there, pulled by the flow, tossed by the boat; 
in sunlight, spun in the circles of water;

here, on the bank, the bare branches of winter, 
bowed to the water. It motors: like film, the repose 
of passengers, still, but this 1 girl 
turned her head as an afterthought, saw, she thinks, 
a glimpse of man stood tall. He thinks her lips 
formed vowels, an O, for the real flesh of man, tore 
off, with her teeth, something… Think: what it is 
to be her, there, to see me falling away caught 
in the flux like it’s really me that’s moving.

This will have to do - the circular wind 
rolling the sky; the solitude hung still 
like a gull reeled, art that blows even before 
it stills. Here my thoughts are degenerate, 
post-modernist, a white page of black lines,                                                   
the rudimentary outlines 
of bare trees.

I envision the scene – now, but tonight also 
& all my days, nailed like stars that light the walls 
of a room I slept in 10 or 12 years ago.

her stars aligned.
each line 
has something like
blood   stone
torn      limb
skin     prick

a flesh wound that actually

kick-starts her
heart    some part 
of herself         half
so she was
here     her syllables
clues missed

                                 by the meticulous
                                 casuals             in blue 
on the sand-flecked  
                                 floor for instance         her
back room
                                 at the end of a long
                                 hall      for instance     the

sun-tipped straw         the wide
round of days              long
sky       the riverbed

grey     a face
in water           her dress 
by stones         that had lain

among the bric-a-brac 
of the bank     

she lay in the hollow
pool of shallows where
spectres bowed

disfigured        eyes wide                                            
saw the line that
divides this world
from another
I need to be high like
this      at her feet. beneath
her skirt           I fell 
on purpose       tried 
all night to see 
nothing but her white
              stars head high &
the blue light of an ambulance

she was here one summer
& when she left I shook at the knees.

In dreams her hair’s 
real short         her eyes

glazed              wide
like strangers,
cars on the highways

of your sleep
& when you wake
miles away

cows graze
of spring
worlds away 
but you anyway are.                                                                                        
really there

in the curves
of her line                                                                                                        
break   snake
hip       syllables. 
crawl. shed skin.
score bark. round
my neck down
the boughs & twigs
of my finger 

no big deal
but                   still

try me                                                                                                              
             she says                      
                                                I will
it’s winter.

tuesday. we had lunch
by the lakes.
the sun shone.
the sky was blue
& the water…

birds flew
both ways because it’s all so
we met                                                                                                            
in the cherry red
mirror between
2 brush strokes

Reflex - Mark Prisco

I get a measure here of solitude when the street turns in
& the night is soft & distant.

I hear the blue light of a siren dying, & in the silence,
the corrugated iron clawed by the cold fingers of the plum tree.

This is my table in the corner, photographs, postcards
bought on holiday; the body of Christ

post crucifixion; de-nailed, tender - it’s queer
to think of him that way – & other memorabilia:

a Madonna, for instance, presented after a funeral.
I remember because i’m swayed now & then, 
believe for no reason. Even immoral things. I react
i think to rational politics, the nightmare of production-

production:  i’m for the risen Christ,                                                              
the soft night; the flashing blue light in the distance.

Contributor's Note

I'm an honours student of English Literature at the University of Waikato.


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