Three Poems


Mark Parsons





The Dream Of The Black Egg



Wind in the stadium sheers,


Swirling around in the bowl.

Gooseneck of flexible microphone boom caught

In chainlink enclosing the turf,

A broadcast headset dangles as listless as a mammal

Exhausted in a snare.

Massively multi-player online game non-player characters

Have tracked the quarry of their athlete

Here, where shudders ripple, crawl across orange mesh

Windscreen swells

Like twitching flanks of animals asleep

And dreaming under azure sky.

Figuring odds on this match he can’t win

He serves to break the tie

Of what he knows

Versus what he doesn’t know.

He holds a long handle

(By that the commentator means

The butt of the handle

Is kept in the palm of his hand).

His mind slogs through a ditch of zeros

Oval-shaped and white like eggs,

The ditch

Endless until it’s not,

Until the egg

That’s as black as an answer penciled in

On a standardized test,

And what he didn’t know

He didn’t know.

Digging in his pocket

He smells the pine tar mixed with sawdust,

Rubs it on his grip.

Concentric grandstand tiers

Silent and empty,

The player emerges from apex

Of shadow that funnels diminishing odds of success

Cast by an outcome he hopes will eclipse the more practical odds

Favored in daytime; belief in eventual victory

Shrinking to purely mathematical, other-than-zero reality,

He glances back over his shoulder at what will become the proverbial decimal


Denoting a likelihood

Even the Las Vegas oddsmakers

Can’t entice

Bettors to see as attractive,

Getting swallowed up in the glare of a goose egg

That looms larger, and burns brighter—

The theoretical point of victory

In the end only in his mind,

The vanishing point of his horizon,

As parallel trajectories of the real and unreal

Converge in dream.





Having Woven Himself Into The World Above The World, The Brute



I. Warp


Like a lozenge dissolving in uterine dark


At the end of the stadium tunnel


Caught up in a re-transmission

Consent dispute

Ardent fans of a rat-hole team

That’s taken on the disposition of its coach,

Keeping their vigil by klieg light,

As they watch on the eight sided jumbotron

High above, equidistant

From everyone,

The insistent nightmare

Play as

Isolated moments

Diced up and stretched out through time,

The tussle of athletes

Cropped and blown up then turned on an axis

Like a dangerous chemical

Encased in acrylic,

Smartphones and tablets providing statistics and comment,

Play-by-play and color, as fervent supporters

Make for themselves what the networks have blacked out at home,

The mixture of text and hi-def

A point-of-view

Denying an objective account of their world

While it comes to an end

Right below,

Right in front of them, right

Before their very eyes, so they can’t look away,

Can’t see (inside)

(The scaffolding

Stripped bare

Of rhetorical reference)

The hackneyed disaster attachment has become.

Both hopeful and afraid

At the prospect of being ruined and somehow

Also fulfilled,

What they’ve wanted,

Unable to admit to the wanting,

High on pharmaceutically-enhanced levels of

Free serotonin, audience members

Pay a collective price for their excess of happiness.

Volatile emotions bottled up inside,

Condensed and conforming like liquid to psychic dimensions,

A pressurized ballast keeps the faithful afloat on a sea of embarrassment and scorn,


By the fathomless depths below.



II. Weft


Acquired taste of postnasal coke drip

A sour burn

Sliding down his throat

The gambler

Studies the velvet bag of tiles

Engraved with runes,

A golden cord

With knotted aglets loose

Around the crimped casing,

Slips his fingers under the stiff standing collar

Fastened tight around his neck, with brass studs front and back,

Rubs his fingertip pads across a strip of emery

Ironed on the fabric.

Turned wooden pawns

Scatter and skitter across old linoleum squares

Blanched of color by age and dust

As the model on the mattress

Lowers her head

To button-tufted ticking, offers up

Wan buttocks.

Through matched sliding glass doors,

In sunlight beating down so strong it leaves a film like cultured milk,

A flowering branch of terebinth bears

Ruby petals

To aluminum balustrade.

Like a coiled spring inside a wind-up toy

Winding down

A cicada’s call

Winds down

And up against a windowscreen

Giving on an upper story covered walkway

Connecting identical flats

A moon-round face

Presses dark and blurred and indistinct.





Nose Tackle In Body Stocking Made Of Mineral Tanned Hide Flayed From The Tattooed Lady In A Mexican Circus



The proverbial ball and chain

And ball

That’s a player and coach

Tethered together and fired from the heavy artillery barrel

Of art and competitive full-contact


Circle like wrestlers before locking arms,


Clinched in a grapple

(Battles are fought and decided by one

Side, before they are fought and decided by both sides)

Binary code that’s the zero of athlete

And impotent one of his coach, an intelligent brooding technician,

Who watches

The zero of nose guard,

One of those short squatty guys….

Almost impossible to stretch, his uniform

As tight as he wears it,

Glued over shoulder pads,

Anti-microbial circular-knit of compression

Fabric jersey

Numbers bleary over buckles,

Brass eyelets of flak jacket and rib protector,

Gussets of fortified mesh


Under a lattice of shoelaces

Crisscrossing all the way up to his armpits,

The player

Trussed in his gear like a gimp suit,

Their dance

Around and toward

One another

An emotional spiral—needle and hackle,

Spur and bridle—

Stalking the distance between them like

A blur of boleadoras after swiftly moving legs of running game

To wrap around, entangle,

Paired satellites winding through space,

Seeking an axis, the mass of a planet to bind and lock

Them in orbit with gravity

Until what drives the zero and one that are in reality

Two zeros in search of their one

(Two because

Every ball’s a sphere with space


Space that’s not a sphere),

Countersinks in abstract combat chassis no one can see,

Driving the shaft of a strategy into the charged air of regional fandom,

Flush in the aerodynamically-engineered

Hull that is tracing an arc over pickets just prior to this

Bundled like the fabled arrows Motonari showed his sons, now unfurled

As ammunition from a belt,

Crenellate battlement

Fed in a breech and dis-joined,

A relentless offensive machine gun advance:

The other team’s


Observed from above and obsessively studied

With all the religious devotion and zeal of a primitive tribesman

Converted by literal-minded dogmatic disciples,

But under the cloak of an Asperger’s stalemate of solitude, a hem

Of scalloped tips weighted to hang

As true as baleen ribs

And corset gluten-free seclusion where

The bird-chested, hunch-shouldered one works, ensconced

In the conjugating prokaryotic dark.









Mark Parsons’ poems have recently been published in Dahlhousie Reivew, The Floor Plan, North Dakota Quarterly, Antigonish Review,and Cobalt Review. 



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