the dark figure in the doorway: Last Poems
2010, White Pine Press, Buffalo, NY. 132 pages.
Marcus concludes his lifelong reflections on human folly, cruelty, greed, our obligations to the past, and his belief in the power of the imagination and the spiritual redemption of art. Marcus writes about the world in a variety of attitudes and tones of voice in these, the final poems composed during the last years of his life.
"Mort Marcus, one of America’s hidden literary treasures, has become a superb master of the prose poem . . . this is delectable stuff, and there is nothing else like it anywhere." – Al Young
"Morton Marcus writes in an idiom which is accessible to many and finely wrought, creating a texture remarkable for its lyrical range and mastery of metaphor . . . he is one of the most readable and moving poets of our generation." – Charles Simic
Poems from The Dark Figure in the Doorway
WHAT IS ALIVE IN US
What is alive in us, what vibrates
in our animal skins, is a harp string
that is never still, a harp string
tuned to the drone of silence.
It is the single thread, the radiant filament,
that sews us to our coat of darkness,
the umbilical that holds us
to the planet each of us is
yet allows us to wander among the stars —
the guy rope that secures us
to ourselves, yet lets us venture
into the darkness all the way
to the planet of someone else.
ALL WE CAN DO
All we can do on this earth is step into the future
with a sense of the many people behind us,
the living and the dead, as if we carried our bodies
like amphorae filled with sunbeams into each new day,
continually reaching inside ourselves
to scatter golden butterflies over the land before us,
or to fling them against the night, not like tears, but like stars
that will guide those who follow across the darkness.