Two Poems by Mark McKain

Mark McKain

Mark McKain

Mark McKain’s work has appeared in Agni, The New Republic, Subtropics, The Journal, Cimarron Review, Green Mountains Review, American Letters & Commentary and elsewhere. He was awarded a Writing Fellowship at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and his chapbook, Blue Sun, is recently published by Kelsay Books.

Cap Rock
         after Amelia Rosselli  

Spicules sharp with love, if not quite love, 
something greater: Father’s spines rain 

down on the ocean floor, compact into dense layers, more painful, 
more resistant to erosion and the thorny past, preserving 

our present strata. Were it not for great blooms of sponges, 
the rain of silicon needles, more circulation of seawater, richer fauna… 

Your body and mind, a dry lightning storm, 
flash over the Permian’s emptied sea. 

Silence thunders the cap rock, a message 
that stayed in creosote, in the augural shade 

of clouds. Listening to resistant stone,
boots outcropping blood-red caliche, 

I wander, your son, in a petrified forest.




Sea Cucumber
         with a beginning line form Valerie Mejer

Nobody comes back as a horse—but an owl, a cloud, limpet teeth 
stronger than spider’s silk, a sea cucumber?

Please, don’t trample. 

No shame in its slow trek, body at home in the shadow. 
Last night, I wrote with urchin spine...

Earlier at the lighthouse, we touched black fossils of extinct horse.
Ten thousand years is no time at all, you said.

His curiosity tracing the world’s skin, scavenging fallen matter. 
In wet sand I wrote, "with circular muscles, 

extremely pliant, he undulates like a storm of flesh 

in search of a new life, a new brain far beneath the turbulence."
Was he in aestivation, due to liver’s loss? 

Now you know why I lifted him with a pen shell, praying
to the waves…