Featured Poet: Mark DeCarteret, Stratham
Born in Lowell Massachusetts in 1960 Mark DeCarteret has lived within an hour or two drive ever since. In 1993 he graduated from the University of New Hampshire with an M.A. in English-Writing, the recipient of the Thomas Williams Memorial Poetry Prize. Since then his poetry has appeared in over two hundred different reviews including AGNI, Chicago Review, Conduit, Cream City Review, and Killing the Buddha, as well as such anthologies as American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2000), Places of Passage: Contemporary Catholic Poetry (Story Line Press, 2000), and Thus Spake the Corpse: An Exquisite Corpse Reader 1988-1998 (Black Sparrow Press, 2000). Mark has four books: Over Easy (Minotaur Press, 1990); Review: A Book of Poems (Kettle of Fish Press, 1995), The Great Apology (Oyster River Press, 2001--for which he also co-edited Under the Legislature of Stars: 62 New Hampshire Poets); and (If This Is the) New World (March Street Press, 2007). He currently teaches at New Hampshire Institute of Art.
Of his showcase poem, Mark writes:
Boy, the episodes that provoked “Pink Eye” are a bit foggy, unlogged. An idea arising as much from an advertisement for sties, this study for an experimental treatment, (poetry as protuberance, swelling, even somewhat of an affliction or curse?) as Thoreau’s excursions to the outer reaches of Massachusetts where he was subjected to the wreckage of many a ship (as well as on Fire Island where Emerson was “to charge” him in the retrieval of the remains of their friend Margaret Fuller, a passenger on the sunken Elizabeth), thus poetry as recovery, salvage, or in a remedial sense, potential cure-all or salve. And maybe some modest and misguided version of what Harold Bloom refers to as a “shore-ode,” verse that “identifies night, death, the mother, and the sea.” But basically I was struck by this strange juxtaposition--the bereft hermit resigned to his calling, this mission, and those odd maladies, which not only impair or hamper the seeing of anything through, but in some miraculous way, let it be recast, transfigured.
Objects on a beach, whether man or inanimate
things, look not only exceedingly grotesque,
but much larger and more wonderful than
they really are.
Cape Cod, Henry David Thoreau
What started out as a twitch,
the slightest pellet of distraction's
now the bust of a dignitary.
Two years I've housed this bladder
without mentioning God.
My mammoth boots sink into the sand.
A caretaker of some peculiar sabbath
I have only the steadiness of rain
to regulate my heartbeat.
The dunes are laden with shipwrecks.
Someone's slipper, more silverware.
A broken urn and these foot prints of black ash
leading out onto this staticky carapace.
How is it you’ll be known to us now sweetness?
It's all I can do just to see through
the morning’s new crust and its trickle of atonement.
Nonetheless, I don’t appear as some ghost.
My muttonchops are busy with fleas
and my insides still host this revival.
Though I’ve detected a fresh sprite
operating in some faraway corridor,
many still refer to me as their home.
So I’ll enlist yet more breakfast to combat the dream,
its awkward fin and the ocean's deafening premonitions.
Yes, lumps of gruel assuage most roars.
With century's end we turn to history,
see to restoring the soul's battered spine.
I cough up some fluid and reminisce.
Even with this little bit of sun I have difficulty gloating.
Here, where one world begins, and another has ended.
Though the water's glint is treasure to some
I acquire more grace merely blinking.
A moment to blot out the corpses
as they go about their business.
First appeared in (If This Is the) New World
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