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Drawings by Gary H. Brown
1969, Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA. 80 pages.


Drawings by Fernando Mercado.

1974, 2nd Printing, Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA.


Origins is a sequence of short-lined poems without punctuation, that explores an archteypal family and archteypal human experiences. In tone, it is ironic, humorous, even cynical, and it shares an affinity to contemporary East European poetry, especially the work of Yugoslav poet Vasko Popa and the post–World War II Polish poets.

Critical Comments:

"The work in Origins is genuine . . . It is the finest first book I have read in years."

   Vern Rutsala, Minnesota Review


". . . [His] Origins is probably the book I like best. He is honest, his poetry is tough, [and] his work has everything to do with the world . . . All the poems in this book are useful, and for me that's what writing poems is all about."  
Margaret Randall, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse


"Occasionally a poet comes on the scene whose talent is such that he pleases most when he breaks the rules. Morton Marcus is such a poet, as he amply demonstrates in Origins . . . his poetry reveals that capacity for controlled rawness that appears all too seldom."    — Gail Barnett, Dryad



Poems from Origins



A beggar

with the face

of autumn


opened his palm


my grandfather's nose


Grandfather gave him

his hand

and together they left


Grandmother's eyes

snapped into stone

when she heard


and she followed

by the road

they had gone


I see them

on hills

under the moon


the beggar swaying

in his overcoat of leaves

with grandfather


trailing at his hand

while a blind old woman

wanders below


lost in a midnight filled with trees




3. Forger


The forger


the name


of another's dreams

He is arrested

and beaten


The prosecutor


that he's worse


than a forger

calls him

a poet



the forger

wonders who he is


and practices


his own name


The words

shiver and loop

like cats


who scratch the snow

with paws

of wind and rain


The prison




The forger is free

in his

own country:


On the white


he has written


the dreams

of the





This is the thief


the one who steals

a kiss from the earth

and never returns it




5. Touch


One puts his finger

on the meaning of life

and death bites off

his head


Another touches

his exact center

and falls through

his skin


A third

feels along the ledge

of a universal night

and turning a corner

finds a costume party

of noisy friends


A fourth

caresses the wind

makes airy shapes

with his hands

and watches them

go bounding off

to populate the world.



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