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from Party in My Body


The hat sits on a pile of papers as if they’re going out in the cold. Theories of who should touch us and why. From fairy tale to traffic nightmare, some thrill to the chill of first flakes, but ice stops travelers in their tracks. Why does the age demand nothing? Am I transcendent or drunk? People flutter in doorways and demented angels are ripe for a fall. All the things to choke on! If this looming gray building makes use of poetry, can poetry be to blame? When people hurry to work, it’s not because work will vanish but because they know it exists without them. Gnash your teeth in an empty office and sing as though rebellion is here.

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What kind of mind does it take to pull oneself out of the muck? In the sun, a row of small white crosses. I know this isn’t the last jubilation, bodies pushing against the unknown. Is that a pit in the middle of the road? This symbol mixes sperm and blood in one more teasing crucifix. How people become bosses! All these monks have studied the classics. Shall we invent a melodrama and cast it with a dubious night? Is that poetry down on its knees, pleading with the producer? Close and close, far away.





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Mark Wallace is the author of a number of books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Temporary Worker Rides A Subway won the 2002 Gertrude Stein Poetry Award and was published by Green Integer Books. He is the author of a multi-genre work, Haze, and a novel, Dead Carnival. His critical articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, and along with Steven Marks, he edited Telling It Slant: Avant Garde Poetics of the 1990s (University of Alabama Press), a collection of 26 essays by different writers. Most recently he has published a collection of tales, Walking Dreams (2007), and a book of poems, Felonies of Illusion (2008). He teaches at California State University San Marcos.

This selection from “Party in My Body” appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry on page 78.