3 poems by Mark Russell [Poetry]

Men Dubious of Collective Goals

About war, they say, there is nothing new to hide
in the hotel’s lobby. It is as common to find the
city looks the same as it did on your previous visit,
as it is to wonder if you have come upon the
village of perpetual change as foretold in the
ancient prophesies. It is the inability to sleep, and
by equal turns, the inability to speak, that may
determine whether one ever regains a foothold in
contemporary society. A man found dead on the
banks of a river may be left to rot in the sun, or
rolled into the water by otters. Two men found
dead on the banks of a river may be kept alive in
the stories told of them by friends and strangers,
or be forgotten forever.

Men Denied Access to the Poop Deck

About war, they say, there is nothing new to tell
Lucille. It is as common for a Lieutenant-Admiral to
have his portrait painted wearing pyjamas and
chocolate coins, as it is for him to sling a red curtain
over his shoulders and place a hand on his hip. It is
the convoy escorting merchant ships through the
Channel, and by equal turns, the favourable wind,
that may guide the fleet into safe harbour and a
final night in the brothels of Lowestoft. A man
accused of being a member of the intelligentsia
may have his head struck from his body on the
banks of the Rhine, or hanged in the prison grounds
of Kentucky. Two men accused of being members
of the intelligentsia may be killed in the shelling of
a highly populated civilian area, namely a public
park, as a result of the indiscriminate use of truck-
mounted multiple rocket launchers, or throw away
their dictionaries and learn how to plaster walls.

Men Wearing Thorns

About war, they say, there is nothing new to put
us in a blue funk. It is as common to feel pain, as it
is to feel fear. It is the mistake made by your
enemy to think that pain will make you confess,
and by equal turns, the mistake made by your
comrades to think that your physical wounds put
them in peril, that may place you in a dock praying
your loved ones will not lie to protect you. A man
may live with pain; a man may say You cannot hurt
me, and it may be true. Two men may live with
pain; two men may say Pain will never defeat us.
It’s our fear that will defeat us, and this too, may
be true.

By Mark Russell 

  • Mark Russell’s publications include Spearmint & Rescue (Pindrop), Shopping for Punks (Hesterglock), ℵ (the book of moose) (Kattywompus), and ا (the book of seals) (Red Ceilings). Other poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog, Shearsman, Blackbox Manifold, Molly Bloom, The Scores, and elsewhere. You can find him at his website & on his twitter account: @mark59russell.

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