The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Mark DeCarteret

The Last Ever Monster Poem




Though I lost both my bolts trying to think

myself human I still have that fable

carved into my most ample forehead

from that time when the sky almost fried me.

Then again, I’m so fit from slipping out

from your torches and thrust forks (apart

from my heart manufacturing a mess of irregular beats

and these arteries blocked almost black)

that I’m busting out of this stitch and that,

putting more and more meat to these memories.


For behind the oft-pitched philosophies

aren’t we all fretful animals in lock-down,

sore at this world, which won’t have us unless

cowed by its blessings, speaking well of it endlessly?

Your farmers and midwives would have me the cause

of the mare’s many miscarriages, the eye

that stares back from the egg, so blood shot and knowing;

yet theirs are the notions that for eons

have emptied the trees of most song.  

We once billed the future the final tour for the restless

but now it’s swallowed us whole, anxiety and all,

along with that legend that once had us speaking

the same arcane language as nature.




At first I was met with barn after barn--

the morning and its pedigree light barred and sullied by dust,

this idyllic childhood jogged from another’s doomed noodling,

until a bull with its devilish horns, its face this big festering grin,

seemed to blot out the sun and all matter not gotten

from manure or gnat-swarm seemed ascended to bell tinkles, lowing.

And once I’d heard the hellish in everything, I knew it all holy.


Can I ever forgive them, the fathers who knew all

too well they’d smeared heaven past anything blissful?

Oh God, I’m now numb from the lip up, bewildered.

By my brim any inference to my brain ends with bile and rim-shots.

I no longer dream of the womb they’d denied me,

the breast I never formed a mother’s name.

Instead I look back on my miraculous birth

and record all they took from me by contrivance and fire.

What they didn’t want to look at they struck from the books

but I have always been able to stomach the earth in its entirety.

For centuries they’ve been readying the dirt

for my clubfeet and smirk, my inexplicable size,                 

but it’s the sins I’ve inherited that will outlive their children,

singeing the pages of their tallest and most maligned tales. 




Mark DeCarteret

The Idea of Order in FL


After tipping the dead pit bull

into a canal already filled with them

I attempt to rub out the garish blooms

that my mother’s weekly rags,

with snapshots of stars slapped and palsied,

had left behind on my forearms.

Flies too are making track marks

on what once had been billed as water,

and an iguana is thawing itself

on a half-submerged shopping cart--

the poor thing with no fight left,

each of its claws filed down

to the most trifling lines in a Stevens’ ode.

Listen and the wind will dish out

on all his tried-n-true tricks, his fad dieting,

will sing of the sea ever-burning, out of key.

Shouldn’t rage be less dignified, cruder?

I am done rhyming with what-not,

hiring on his most unnecessary of gods.

There is more crap in his attic—

crates of mentholated rub and remotes,

an acre of settees, old test scores,

than a theme park or ocean floor.

I dance around a red stain of ants,

then read up on this cypress--

how it’s under new management,

its future appearing to be even eerier

with this strangler fig flattering it.

Clouds tail off in a tractor tread.

The sun lists its maladies, silently.   

I duck under the on-ramp construction

its hundred-sung greeting of rubber,

its temple-like coolness and letting-up,

and look past where these shadows pool,

the future forever unschooled in the past,

to where two ospreys stay posted,

the scales of the fish in one of its grips

no less resplendent than estate jewels.




MARK DeCARTERET has appeared next to Charles Bukowski in a lo-fi fold out, Pope John Paul II in a high test collection of Catholic poetry, Billy Collins in an Italian fashion coffee table book, and Mary Oliver in a 3785 page pirated anthology.



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