Michael Mark

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My Future is Plastic

When I pull out my Platinum Amex they sometimes say, "Your plastic is no good here." At my grandmother's, if I put my feet on her couch, she’d ask, “Who raised you?” She washed the plastic so you could see the material underneath, exactly like when she bought it before I was born. When you're rude they call you fresh. Stale, when you're unoriginal. The sign on the organic restaurant at the food court says my Big Mac is plastic. I plan to live forever through unblockable synthetic arteries. Plastic is the closest thing to the truth. Plastic can be tricky. “That bumper will cost $1500 to fix.” “What? It's only plastic.” He got in my face, said I look down on plastic, said, who do I think I am? When you're phony, they say you're plastic. When you want to look the way, you really feel, the true you, you can get plastic surgery. It's not really plastic but that word feels so natural in your mouth, comfortable as skin.


Rest Stop Poem

The decor is dented license plates.
The tables are beard to beard -
muscle to ball cap.
The music’s My old dog stole my best truck.
The talk is brass and flag. 
The napkins drawl: Like God, Everything
we make is Special. But don’t Die before trying them Biscuits.
The broccoli is unpopular.
The fries have never been to France.
The service is pimply.
The portions mother.
The gravy’s plainspoken.
The dessert is religion.
The bathroom is sovereign.
The gift shop is Hee-Haw.
The check’s paid-up front with Cathy.
Or Cathy’s sister.
Or Cathy’s Momma.
The thank you is a blessing.
The night moves on good tires.


High Wire Act 

My wife sets fire to her bronze-tipped
Gora swords, revs the four chainsaws, and
      starts flipping. At the apex

of her third somersault I shout – Juggle ME, baby!
to throw her off while Lester,
      the Human Cannon Ball, rockets

back and forth through her
neon rainbow rings – to a tent stunned
      with Ooos. 

Really, it’s his hair that mesmerizes (there are
more gifted cannonballers), let’s
      call them what they are: tresses, locks, 

ringlets in red glare. She knows
exactly what I mean when, over eggs,
      and toast, I beg: Don’t leave me hanging.

An explosive tear threatens
from my left lid’s ledge, fattening
      enough to fill a toddler’s beach bucket. 

O Please, my bride wobbles, don’t make me plunge
into your shallow blues.
      Of course, she’s not a funambulist,

I’m just getting dumped.
For Lester in accounting. Who has a CPA and,
      admittedly, a dazzling head

of ginger.


Michael Mark is the author of Visiting Her in Queens is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet which won the 2022 Rattle Chapbook prize. His poems appear in Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Sixth Finch, Southern Review, The Sun and elsewhere.  michaeljmark.com