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THE Armies Encamped in the Fields Beyond the Unfinished Avenues: Prose Poems

Drawings by Futzie Nutzle

1977, Jazz Press, New York. 80 pages.

1988, revised & expanded by Brown Bear Reprints, Santa Cruz, CA.


The Armies Encamped in the Fields Beyond the Unfinished Avenues is a book of prose-poem experiments on various subjects and themes. It is both surreal and mythic in imagery and approach.

Critical Comments:

"The language dances, amazes, and stabs through the cartoon darkness, entertaining as it upsets the applecart of our importance . . . an adventurous book."

   Tom Plante, Berkeley Barb


"The Armies is a complete departure from Origins, Where The Oceans Cover Us, and The Santa Cruz Mountain Poems. (A number of the poems) offer excellent examples of what Marcus can do independently with form and content. The prose is apt for the inversions which, by their very difference, suggest the continuing growth of Marcus as a poet."   — Jerome Mazzaro, Cream City Review



Poems from The Armies Encamped in the Fields Beyond the Unfinished Avenues



Each of us lives in a secret gorge. We think that autumn will make us young again, and this is important because it provides us with a season we can look forward to, one that will follow summer's boredom.


And autumn arrives, like a faded woman who thinks she is still young, and we know our mistake. But there is an end to our confusion. We return to the city, and in the shadows of the tall buildings and their tattered banners, we point to the woman and say, "There is the one who must be interred. It is for her burial that evening has come."


We ignore her cries when the troops carry her away. We follow them to the edge of the frost, and arrive not a moment too soon.


There in the grave, each of us recognizes a gorge he had thought was secret.




For Joe Stroud


In this land everything is poor. The people have pressed their backs into postures of humility and climb from crevices to beg for food.


We offered them coins, which they immediately ate, unaware of their teeth breaking. We offered them our scarves and hats, then our key chains, staring as they devoured each one.


Finally, we broke off slabs of rock, which some of them ate, while others began nibbling our pant legs or running their wet tongues along the sleeves of our jackets.


We fed them our words, whole sentences, paragraphs, but still they kept eating. And when we turned, we found they had devoured our car, which lay on its side like the skeleton of a cow.


It was after they ate our clothes that the slimmer of us were able to escape: we ran naked among them and began wrenching up roots and desperately chewing.


Later we remembered that our passports had been in our pockets, and the guards at the border have refused us permission to pass.


Now we squat at the edge of the snow, waiting for tourists. But when they arrive, they only throw coins. We want to tell them who we are, and when no one is looking we attempt to grab their hands, which they hurriedly withdraw.


We have not lost hope, but we grow hungrier every day, and each of us has admitted than he can detect the odor of tourists for hours before they arrive.


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