Mayhem Literary Journal is generously sponsored for 2019 by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato
issue 5

october 2017

issue 5 - october 2017

Lines by the River - Mark Prisco

1                                              
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.

2                                              
her stars aligned.
fortuitously.
each line 
*
discrete
has something like
blood   stone
torn      limb
skin     prick

a flesh wound that actually
hurts

kick-starts her
heart    some part 
of herself         half
known                                                                                                             
*
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 
                                    weighed
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
fields 
buttercups
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 
                        tips

no big deal
but                   still

try me                                                                                                              
             she says                      
                                    ok
                                                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
beautiful
            
*
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.

 

This product has been added to your cart

CHECKOUT