Mark O'Brien

Link to home pageLink to current issueLink to back issuesLink to information about the magazineLink to submission guidelinesSend email to

"Jack, Jack, what have they done to you,"


Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963;
Clinton J. Hill: Special Agent in Charge.


Must be, must be, Artwork by Gene McCormick
some kinda perilous earth
the trouble of the world
the famously brief
life of humans

Oh my brother
our names
are not written down

[Maybe so, maybe so.]

Stare, as if stupidly
into the blackest possible


"Father Hubert, one of the two priests
called into the room..."

now that I'm old, how old?
Sometimes, anyway, I'm thinkin'


"... one of the two priests called into the room
has administered the last rights."

Must be, must be
that there was sanctuary
there, there but
that's not the trouble.

[Well, what is it?]


"My God, they have shot his head off."

Oh Jack, we are not masters
No, no we are not
not masters
of this life as it turns out.


Examine your hands,
look closely
as if time
were lying there
in the upshot
of the flick
in this short scatter of days.


No, no,
you've something more to say
so say it, say it…

"She reached out
and scooped up his brains."

Maybe so, I say it so,
I say it in such a way
so as to attract the eyes
and the very years        themselves.

"I have his brains in my hands."

Go on then, brokenhearted be
not shy to put out
your hands

"Oh my God, no."


Yet, I blanch
at finding no rest
spilling out of the drinking house
never the less
erasing faces
and names
from the midnight visitor.

I've learned are
like buckets of potatoes
always only
a few weeks of fermentation
from drinkability.


When the maps of the backroads
are forgotten in the blanketness
of this brief

group in the streets
recognizing the tooth and nail
of peaceful backyards

I can smell it.

[Can't you?]


Now that's what I call mighty

[Must be, must be,]

must be some kinda perilous
and a troubled world

famously brief
and the very years
very years



Jackrabbits and Jackdaws
must guard the house Clint

both day and night
ever so, even though, often

they only

get it right.


"Hey look, a potato!"

"I'll drink to that."


Oh brother, examine
your hands

your hands
that there        was sanctuary
in the short scatter

of days putting out



Now that I am old, how old?

Sometimes, anyway, I'm thinkin'



Look closely
in the upshot

for are we not
but humans Jack
and brief?


Stare, stupidly
into the blackest possible


I can smell it

[Can't you?]

I was 5

it was yesterday

"She refused to change

bloodstained clothes."


Mark W. O’Brien aka: obeedúid~ lives loudly in the sleepy little village of Clarksville N.Y. with his two children and poetically challenged pets. obeedúid's latest collection of poems from Foothills Publishing is entitled Telluric Voices and is currently available online from their website at: