Three Poems by Mark Conway

in the high days

those were the weeks
of my pre-conversion –
the sun clear as cider / preserving
the late light of september…
roads led to roads down to lanes
and dark cities
to taverns bursting with
strong-legged women and drink swimming
in foam –
it was then I’d such longing
for the undoing of seasons
taking down summer’s hair
smelling her unblemished cotton…
behind my motives
I saw nothing
but hunger and went on –
as the young do –
lifting down the night bottle
taunting the stars as nothing / nothing but holes
that town made me
swore me
to be done with the long burn / I converted
my mysterious mind
into water / made it clear as the night lying
on cornfields ::
summer evenings
the moon rises
tearing my old thoughts off
almost as though
they hadn’t made me

in the lee

I trusted
no one / not
that I
blame them /
but now
you – you
stay here
in rooms
filled with
books and
the smoke
of old
music – all
lived in
the eye
of the world-
storm ::
but never
before and no
one ever
stayed here
now even
the days
before you

in wheat :: the revelator

gray air above
the hayfield sags
then whips – cross-
grain – over
the freezing plains :: never
an end to re-vision…
we sit on the front porch
looking through
the unseeable
the air filling with wind –
bright with particulate…
the endless prairies last
for ever / then
are rendered to coal :: look –
across the black-canvas sky
past the terrestrial dark
all the lost buffalo
up in flames


Mark Conway’s third book of poetry, rivers of the driftless region, will be published by Four Way Books in early 2019. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, Slate, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ploughshares, the PBS NewsHour and Bomb. He lives in rural Minnesota (USA).

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