Entry in blank  

to make this mark takes
patience, maybe
a burst bulb
say light or flower or bomb

to make this day
mark it

set the wick in wax and let it burn, but first the flash:
what it captures – light fear
                                                  each face
                                                  a hand-fast
dented to the forehead, rock
turned human-motion – flee
the blunt
to mark this
                                                  mouths stuffed
                                                  full of paper
                                                  and pennies

pocketed, the news of the world
at work
screens itself before us – the holes in our heads
our eyes
only receptacles

dumb squacking
of a riverhorn behind us
what slosh time spills
out from its container:

embodied in one of many shows.

In echo the things of this world

                                                  surface and shadow

That rockfaced human
yet to be etched
in stone, a record
turning definite
into its proper form, a prayer
in one direction

as water is to drain
by hemisphere
and the brain is
to split
the body into actions
and dissembling:

I resemble what I melt and mask

my hesitance in language,
one thought trapped
to say how little
of what passes is

nothing and of the virtues –
what to note
with sound and aim, say
directness thin hour
or directionless

to take a curve and turn it
rounder as you traverse
the steps
to bed – the dark come back
its house
quiet among the flitting lamps

in this, the old world where we gather
our religions by their tresses – how we steady
the waterways
astream through time
to grow a populace
and round them out

now what’s burned
in leisure
in the same box of jewels
it was a thousand years ago –
the past this

pin hole camera capturing shade
in magazines and so many blanks
to shout through, each trigger an uneasy
pull and right into the target ridge

the roof it says your mouth
was not attributed to statuary
or purchasing prowess
just glottal stops

along the opened tributary        say devotion, say
                                                  tithe and
who wants the light to make
the circles query their projections
their parts upon us

I can’t say what lever I pulled
to get this response reposted

and in repose know
only that the cup is full. Has always
been an answer to the pessimist’s
question but at some point,
one of us will knock it over.

Hurried leaves make the grave a ground
or inverse to many thoughts is one line
a dug hole and thought superimposed
upon a series of others,
so the effect is simply to blot out perspective
and to decipher in language the threats
that block or threads – to post this now to post
in knots and a bell to mark the hours
is to make this mark, to make the today
sign and cross it off.

To make this mark, pin each page
back like an ear to the head, hair behind it,
skin bare. Among the branches
one bird gives up.
It’s stuck and shit upon the pastiche of statuary
and bogus paintings. We want experience –
you and I, to make us move, to move us
fairly and without quest or simple knowledge
of the future – what it is to die and not be gone.

To die and in this living to have to
touch again the strangers that we were
as children
and the pail of wonder we dragged across
these many miles – swans in the blast-
white desert, their bead red eyes the only
sign of waking or of our fears. Such mistaken things
as birds among the eggs were left alone
to be
                                   left and alone, readied
for the conjunction between what has
and hasn’t happened. Fiction careening into
our actions.

We touch again the lions tongue, the tired
building marches toward its hunch, the class
disperses, a candle lit and searching for
a sconce to hold its wish—
we placed a dollar and some change
in a box and did or did not lose
the tickets when the train departed

then returned in pictures and across the world
poets were making quiet pleas again
for lost students and scholars were tamping
down the wretched habits of our collected pasts

as we wore hats
and ate and laughed
and tried not to come back

but one always has to return within another
version of themselves – unseen/uneven
as the days names change the shape
of one’s shadow and the shape also

of what it’s tied fast to
our shared experience, which means nothing
to anyone but can be pleated and shit.
I will tell my story to your mind, how it gets
wronged and righted there is all OK

or better – now is not the time to put it down
with our pencils sharp, to fill the patterned circles
out until their confused conclusion gets scored
and recorded for measure and distress. What some say
is a period, others will define and defend

as continued motion, if only in its roundness
set among the fat and flattened ends
of this world and its words.

One way to limit
verticality is to draw
a roof in on top

Play money
makes the same
its sound when shuffled
is as imaginary
as anything

they let the people
sit in their own seats
until they can’t
be seated again
but rearrange everything
around them

the success
of humans
in groups –
the list
of favorites
color coded
and bullied
into a shelf

the notes sustained
and measured out

When you bring in strangers
silence is a language

shared by the room,
excepting all organic

noise – to hear what
sport in thought

all groups in threes
or bigger numbness

bring to the time listed
earlier than ported, the board

a shuffle of whispering letters.
When people who are grouped

together want something
or wait for it in front of

others, that organic
sound is quiet and coarse

as a fire. They’ll get it
eventually in what crescendo

can be part by part
constructed – almost a wall

of sound to pitch and pick into pieces.
Eventually they call in all the names

like grains of rice on a white sheet, like all
of the positive attention each story can unfold

in its dumb vagaries. The hum of the human heart
a pale system of counting. One pedal pressed against

the sun and wishes. To be combed and combined in letters
or better seating arrangements, each grain scrubbed, trained,

and tight. Class a stick that keeps the masses racing for flights
and fits and fights with voice-overed services – a tracheotomy

on the river just reads as a whorl on the water. The dark
dark hole comes up rough and rouged in its holdings.

From now on I will act as if my friends
are only captives somewhere else. I know

my curtain has a bent rod and
history won’t let us out at the end.


Tony Mancus is the author or a handful of chapbooks, including City Country (Seattle Review), Bye Sea (Tree Light Books), and Apologies (Reality Beach, forthcoming). He lives with his wife Shannon and three yappy cats in Colorado and serves as chapbook editor for Barrelhouse.