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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.

Critical Comments:

"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 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 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.



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