Mark Pietrzykowski


I am a jungle and I walk with care,
more life upon me than there are
cells in my circumference,
the jungle in my creases and my guts,
in my nose and in my mouth,
bacteria, and fungi, archaea; I would
stroke them, but there is no gentle way
to approach the anaerobic.
What gods and monsters must envy me!
I am a planet, a mountain range,
a dead branch, a clump of sap,
a demiurge of microbiota,
and when it rains, generations
rinse away, new ones burst forth.
On very quiet nights, I can hear
my flora chattering away,
inventing epics, spinning syllogisms,
disproving my existence. I
concur. I am a jungle, host and parasite,
blind and roiling, aggregate, oceanic, spiral.
No roads lead in or out, no sun or stars
emerge to follow; nothing here
but wet, snarled vines and tireless
declamations: here, not here, here, here, I.

Piece Work

The glue on the envelope I just licked
tasted like sweat on a corpse glazed for viewing
in a chapel with water-stains on the walls
and heel-marks on the carpet--then the clock
pinched forward and I thought, how stupid I am,
and I licked another, and another, and the clock
spit up another digit, and another, and I put labels
on the envelopes and put them in a tray. I have seen
acts of contrition that would make a priest blush
red as a clown's nose, all of them on television;
I have let fortunes wash over me and down
through the sewer grate; I have been as much a king
as everyone else, and I have worked, more
than some, less than many, but everywhere, even lost
in woods and deserts and unpeopled dreams,
I have tended the clock, winded it, changed it's batteries,
nursed it like a newborn that follows my every move
with mocking black eyes,
and if I could I would strangle it in its crib.
Marc Pietrzykowski writes poems, essays, and stories. He has published several books of poetry, and his first novel will be available in Fall 2012. You can visit him at

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