By Jenae Marks 


“Maybe I should just die now” she whispers, reckless, suddenly suspecting that tomorrow will be a lot like yesterday, and the day before, and nothing like tonight.

“There’s nothing in the world I want except this”. Sitting across his lap, she lifts herself up, then lets herself fall, and then again, “Nothing, nothing, nothing...”.                                                                                                                                   

                                                                    (December, 1999, The Capri Motel)


(April 2000, Prince St. Court)

Arrayed in these flowers

I want nothing but to drown in

a blue stream.


I need running water,

to fracture golden light,

and carry my eyes along,

with the wraith-like spiders

that live on the water.


I need noisy,

singing, gurgling water.

Nature is often too quiet and too still. 

I cannot be quiet or still

though I’m paralyzed, sitting 

on this bench, the sun on my knees, the green 

leaves of this scrub between my fingers.


Once I was quiet and still

and we were wed again and again

on the edge of

the blue-green sea .

Knee deep, blindly strolling backwards,

my skirt above the ocean,

my only vision a swirling sea,

waves that never break,

like a lake, like a stream.


At seventeen.


The garden of those flowers

will never grow again,

That seemed to be

reflected in his eyes.


A poison poured in my ear,

long ago,

that made me drunk then,

but left me now

with this mind, like a field

strewn with salt.


The world is still green,

It’s the eye that fails.

I’ll never have such sight again.


So why not die now, 

with bare skin, 

while these chords I’d ceased to hope 

for give me pause,

why let tomorrow come,

to oppose me with a sea of woes, 

with outrage and misfortunes.


What a mirror would be overthrown,

The very glass, the eye…


Tinted by a lonely mother,

clinging to incestuous needs,

to pour potions in my ear.

She found me dead in the closet,

a deer park melting in the dark.


Once, I was seven, dreaming:

My dead self curled up among the 

coats. She found me there. A popular 

song was playing.

I would be happy tangled up in green flowering vines;

Only too much would be enough for me,

Red flowers that bloom like screams,

Grass and leaves as vast and churning as a sea.

If only the velvet green earth

would kiss, would lick, the

soles of my feet, I would be home.

Tired—so tired—of a stale exile.


An avalanche of African daisies, saffron-red,

drag me home.


“Nymph, in thy orisons, be all my sins remembered.”


A friend once told me that death is the ultimate sin.

The first short-coming.


Orisons are prayers.


The nymph is Ophelia.

The sinner, Hamlet.

I see her brooding with a skull, talking too much.

I see him wreathed in flowers.


The flowers bloomed in your hair,

Each time we kissed.


Heartbreak and funeral pains are not despair. 

When my father died, it was not despair. (I was elated, exhausted, delirious. I had never been so close to him.)


Despair is the septic blood of unattended heartbreaks, forgotten and festering.

The pestilence of the unburied dead. 

(Most of us, when we flee Troy, can't find our loved ones. Or can't bare to carry them on our backs.)

Despair is a wounded animal hiding from further 

injury. A kennel made of concrete where the 

sun never rises or sets.

Despair is trying to live and failing to live.

Is arms without hands, a mouth with

no tongue.  

Walking on broken legs.


“I have crawled, through dead-end

streets, on my hands and knees.”


Limping along for ten years with 

no shaman to set the bones, induce the

necessary epilepsies, and cushion the blows;

With no women to drown you in the wails of mourning.

Those who grieve cannot wail. We should

wail for them.


No white bed in a white room with white billowing curtains, where

time can not stand still but can be made to move more slowly.


Sometimes you find me lying by the side of the road, dirty and bleeding,

and you clean me up and try

to prepare me for transfusion. By trial and error 

you’ve found a match for my blood.


(You are not the you I kissed, you are the other you, I kissed before.)


So go ahead and kill that reprieve, with an

army of tomorrows.

The doing’s all, they say: there 

may be other worlds


with sweeter sorrows.                        


June, 2004, Pennyroyal Ranch, Yokio CA



Sources: “The Lonely Stranger”, recorded by Eric Clapton, written by _______;  “At Seventeen”, Janis Ian; Hamlet, W. Shakespeare; “MacArthur Park”, Donna Summer; Titus, Julie T aymor; “…the flowers scream ‘red’ in frightened voices”, Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke.