In the future, everyone will suffer
severe memory loss and forget that I predicted this.
Like the Chinese poets, I will be poorly translated
and sucked up into the great vacuum of History.
You, Dear Reader, will think these very words
fresh and brilliant each time you happen upon them.
They will seem to register like instant classics
in the scratched record collection of your mind.
I never meant for anyone to read this;
I never meant to write it down.


Perfect men are killed in a formal and deliberate manner;
the rest of us just try to swallow the shrapnel
as quickly as possible, or pray for our lungs to burst,
inhaling the dark, unfiltered water. If there is light
beyond the murky sludge filming over our eyes,
perhaps it was meant for them. Perhaps
they will grow buoyant with the very purpose of their lives,
our own wedging firmer into the sediment,
until the bottom-feeders sleep on our smooth bones.
Until even the dark hand of God points away.


When moonlight overthrew my heart
and I crawled into your dark eyes,
nothing prepared me for the sudden leaps:
my coarse and vulgar hands breaking wide
over your shoulders and clavicles.
My abdomen yanked taut, eyes shut
against the light of you inhaled in every breath.
I hardly remember making the bruises,
only that every time you wince or jerk away,
my veins pulse slowly, ferrying the heart's decay.


The little fish's mouth bobs open and shut
ten times in perfect iambic pentameter.
"Five measured feet of joy," jots the critic,
"and the meaning is simple as wholesome white bread."
Thus, a movement is born: The old become new,
the new disdained. The scribbles of the dying-
clear as wind among the smoke and dropping altitude-
are left to fan out in the fiery breeze.
The whole world opens like a cave
yawning in collective thought.


The ancient beach smoked with campfires, hecatombs,
and funeral pyres. And there sat Achilles
weeping like a girl, gesturing to his mother,
who slipped her arms around Zeus's knees
just before her son stood up, chased down Hector
like a wounded dog and dragged the corpse
off into the distance. All he wanted out of life
was an immortal name and a girl with fair cheeks.
What he got was a bad-fitting pair of sandals
and a name given to weakness.


It didn't take much for the snake
to out-woo her own man. If Adam
had just made dinner for her, garnished
her plate with grapes and soft kisses,
we should now have no worry greater than pleasure.
We would not complain of the sun rising
to fill our days with wonder and spontaneous climax.
We would not send the angels weeping back to heaven.
Only the good are tempted;
the bad know better.


"On this new farm, we'll clone farmers,
and sell them to the government for the price of a hammer."
Nothing tweaks the political libido
like a misappropriated idea that might just work.
At least when the air is all gone
we will find release from the grief
of sipping coffee cultivated over the bones
of child slaves. At least the wind will stop
bothering our hair. Perhaps something new will inhabit
the Earth, and it will leave behind its legend.


The anxious world today:
a face decaying like book spines
into dust particles
flittering out into streaks of sunlight.
A voice like shards of glass
yammering into the graveled future.
Dolphins wash ashore,
chickens nest like sparrows in the magnolias,
and the moon burrows deeper into the sky.
The world never looks sober anymore.

Marck Beggs

MARCK BEGGS earned his Ph.D. from the University of Denver and his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College. He teaches writing and literature at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he also serves as dean of the Graduate School. The editor of the Arkansas Literary Forum, Beggs has published one collection, Godworm (Mellen Poetry, 1995). Libido Café, his second collection, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in early 2003. His poems have won numerous awards, including a 1997 Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, and have been published in journals such as Agnieszka's Dowry, Arkansas Review, Beauty for Ashes, Café Review, Denver Quarterly, Eclectica, Greensboro Review, Hawai'i Review, Laurel Review, Missouri Review, Nebo, Pavement Saw, Painted Bride Quarterly, Poet Lore, Poetry Motel, Recursive Angel, Voices International, and Willow Springs.