Mark DeCarteret

Getting Behind One’s Ears

Here, you can see where I killed
the lightning bug on the tile—
this greenish stain lit up against
what once had epitomized white,

as well as where I was bit while I
sat in the tub with my brain a-storm;

while it takes more than skill
to tell a tale that lacks all but what
has smelled like a lie up till now--
it takes little to get to the truth

                         but too late.

DeCarteret (Gets the Hang of It)

Even with my head’s wreath
knocked askew by this noose
I’ll still gyrate some, lit-up
from-within, still rig up this
sorriest of moons into allegory,
trade in on the last of any stars.
So soon, to gain an angel’s position,
be threaded into death’s tapestry
but seldom was I all-there,
targeted by any member
of the All Greek Muse Team.
One exception: that animal part
Lhasa apso, part gag shop toupee
passing itself off as a newly-napped
spaniel while I fanned myself portside,
and it peddled its other-pitched world,
jacked its ass against the heavens.
Far in the rear someone hooded
is pushing that out-of-print chapbook
of mine Simic picked for some end-of-
century list celebrating its “blistering licks”
and its “stick-to-your-ribs-credibility”
while a peddler with a missing ear, head
cold tries to sell a rare shot of Tate and I,
shell-framed and hellishly laminated.
I sigh rather than say anything--
as if my soul could be overheard,
this most dour of clouds never
given its place nigh the sun,
too clued-in on that silence I slept-off
in the pall of delusion and doubt.
For those of you who read minds,
listen well--we’re only slipped
these kinds of allowances but once
however thinly stranded or knotted.
Mark DeCarteret was Poet Laureate of Portsmouth NH from 2009-2011. You can check out his Postcard Project at pplp.org.

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