mark cunningham


             The realization that water is not all that wet changes permanently the way some
people understand the world.  When two people say “mailbox” at the same time, it’s
funny-strange and funny-ha-ha.  When two people say “my body” at the same time, it’s
just disconcerting.  Getting lost on the way to the map-maker’s is never a good sign.

Virginia Creeper

            She said the picture of the man lying on his back looking up at the stars made her
think of a man lying on his back looking up at the stars.  He must be tired, she said.  I told
her if, when she first woke up, she rolled onto her stomach and used all her energy to
stare through the earth, she would see only more stars.

Black Bamboo

             The shade is right here.  I am in the shade.  I do not know where I am.  Where
others see heavenly palaces, I see rusty jellyfish.  Whichever, they can still sting,
probably.  I had a piece of camouflage, but now I can’t find it.  Get lost enough and any
place is your place.  Odd, then, that no one has tried to ski the desert.


           My elbows are particularly happy on gusty days in March when the bare branches
knock against each other.  An arm isn’t a breast unless you paint your fist red.  The elbow
is a hinge joint but the door it wants to open is in the body next to it.  Orphan.  That man
was standing so his shoulder lined up with the charred furrow and I thought he was waving.

Common Privet

             Western thought has moved from a consideration of the living body and being-in-
place to an idea of a static body and infinite space.  A leaf doesn’t reveal its grid until it is
being devoured.  “The corpse is a new personality.”  I used to speak to others to find out
where I stood.  Now I just leave my cell phone on.

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mark cunningham's  poetry has appeared in BathHouse and Paragraph; a larger selection of poems, on parts of the body, can be found on the Mudlark website. Tarpaulin Sky Press will be bringing out a book tentatively titled Body Language, which will be a sort of diptych including two separate but roughly related collections, Body (on parts of the body) and Primer (on numbers and letters).




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