by Marcus Jackson
Dayton and Denmark sound very slightly the same.
Dayton and Denmark both have rivers whose evening
melancholy is accompanied by the conversations
between flocks of fatigued birds. In any place, what
does dusk have to tell us? Everywhere there are
broken intentions, and the paints that composed
portraits of glory have warped and cracked.
Somehow, right now, I would still wager
that the coming morning, its light and its
regenerative condensation, will keep
its infinite appointments.
On what night has a wolf-throated thirst not
claimed the foremost acres of our brains?
Even when the mythic woods somewhat near the sea
hunker mostly frozen, there is an irresolvable heat
speeding like a heavily armed sheriff riding
a tireless mare through my dreams.
In this exact minute, I declare the creed
to live with the qualities of a ghost—
to be ageless, with an unnegotiable appetite
for both contentment and rage, and with
what used to be my face becoming
thousands of mid-trial pages, to which
an incredulous prosecutor wakes and finds
have gone endlessly blank.
The earth sings a many-century song
about the luxury of the body and about
the sea-like fluency of the soul.
In Jersey, near Philly, there is a restaurant kitchen,
within which I danced at the behest
of a manager who feigned bitterness,
at the behest of the actions required to satiate
the orders and the appearances
of our heartbroken patrons.
Mysteriously, during my first shift, I learned
the moods of the grill’s robust burners,
and I found myself plating white dishes
with an irresistible minimalism.
In under a month, I had emerged as the lead
in a modest production soon known
for forcing all in its vicinity toward celebrating
the impermanence of our radiance.
Marcus Jackson’s second book of poetry, Pardon My Heart, was released in 2018 by Northwestern University Press. His poems have appeared in such publications as The American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. Jackson teaches in the MFA programs at Ohio State and Queens University of Charlotte.