12 January 2010 | Vol. 9, No. 4

Knuckled Under

We will chalk out where

your heart balked forever,

mangled into some kind

of a horseshoe, lucked

over for the very last time—

once all appetite and charm,

now the start of a parenthetical

rejoinder, a pillow-muffled alarm.

With my fingernail I will scrape

at the pavement for tips—

meaning clipped from the past

so it can be rerun with other spins,

spit shined into treasuries

of light. I am more ghost

than most of those who've gone on,

fluttering over the scene,

a butterfly danced by the wind

all that's keeping me sentenced,

a float for a mock holiday

where the dead line the street

like bugs on a sticky strip

hanging down from the sky.

Why in death would you take

your life any more serious,

suddenly field our concerns?

Still I've shipped out some words,

my own heart's appeal coddled into clichés,

its banality magnified, fly-eyed

from out its layers of bubble wrap.

Oh, what little of you I'll have awoken.

Rather a moth that spoke out in tongue,

of a god it knows only by taste.

A flame that you too had encouraged

locating a place behind your back

with fingers cramped into a cross.

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About the author:

Mark DeCarteret's work has appeared in the anthologies American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press), Brevity & Echo: Short Short Stories by Emerson College Alums (Rose Metal Press), Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader (Black Sparrow Press) and Under the Legislature of Stars—62 New Hampshire Poets (Oyster River Press), which he also co-edited. This past April he was selected as the seventh Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Mark DeCarteret at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 9, No. 4, where "Knuckled Under" ran on January 12, 2010. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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