for they know not

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

i’m a sinner
by the way you define sin
the way you wash up
Or wash away
is a wack-a-mole
of spikes
smacked bare-handed
by the king of cups
splashing sacrifice
on your forked tongues
bleeding knees
pounding concrete
to the red spills
on the white robe
of the carnival prince

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

When was the ship lost?

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

head spinning
gasping for breath
between waves
clinging
from driftwood to barrel
from driftwood to anything
that floats
no sun
only clouds
the storm isn’t over
what did he forget?
the rigging
the sails
steering off course
the storm was too much
the ship is lost
only pieces left
to keep from drowning

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

I hid it

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

buried
in a sunny spot
between the shade of two trees
a treasure

I hid it
you know where it is
I hid it
you know it is there

I never showed you
if I even knew
what there was
to show

I’m digging
between yesterday
and today
for that treasure

I always wanted
you to see it
but I’m only digging
and it’s no longer sunny

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

always something before and

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

and I haven’t written in a while
haven’t even thought of it
and I’m stuck on coordinating conjunctions
as if continuing sentences running on and on
and I can’t see how the sentence began
and I know
and it’s on the tip of my tongue
and I know
but
another coordinating conjunction
it’s been too long

© 2021 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Play Doh

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ve found that little piece of Play Doh
went missing around the age of 4 or 5
I found that little piece of Play Doh
stuck somewhere between my
kidneys, ribs, lungs and heart.

I can’t quite make it out
but I can feel it giving way
to the pressure of my fingers
I can feel that joyful squish
running up my hands, arms
and dancing in my brain
just how I remember it

I found a little piece of Play Doh
given up for lost
I’m not sure how much is left
but I’m running it through my fingers
making fart noises, bubbles and
molding it to the shape of organs

I’m holding tight to a little piece of Play Doh
and my eyes light up
and I can’t see it
but I think it was blue
and I realize, it’s just as soft
as I am

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

bones, broken or not

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I am bones when I see a friend
I am bones when I eat
I am bones when one of us survives
I am bones when I lose a friend
I am bones when I am hungry
I am bones when one of us goes missing

I am bones because
thoughts about feelings are lanterns in dark, empty rooms
I only imagine what might be there
no light shines around the heart
and
feelings expressed as words are chattering teeth
I only hear an echo of
wet cracking and heavy flapping
the feelings lost in translation

I am happy when I see a friend
I am happy when I eat
I am happy when one of us survives
but that is not adequate

I could regurgitate a thesaurus, vomiting up excited, elated, pleased
but those are just words for happy
If you missed the expression of happiness
no words will make up for it
I will not make up for it
If I do not know if I am happy
then I am not paying attention

I am sad when I lose a friend
I am sad when I am hungry
I am sad when one of us goes missing
but these are not adequate

I would be sick all over the page with sorrow, mournful, somber
only shattered teeth from the mouth of sad
If I missed the expression of sadness
in any of its degrees
I will not make up for it with words
If I do not know if I am sad
then I am not paying attention

But feelings are blood, moving in and out
always there, always flowing
I am more than that
bones remain after death
so I will know

I am bones when I see a friend
I am bones when I eat
I am bones when one of us survives
I am bones when I lose a friend
I am bones when I am hungry
I am bones when one of us goes missing

broken happiness is sadness
broken sadness is insanity
broken bones are bones
I will say I am bones
broken or not

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Chipping scabs, touching stars

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

standing on a pile of pain
touching that middle star
in Orion’s belt
where grandpa said he’d be
waiting for me

dancing on floor made of
cracked and splintered bone
skin stretched thin
scarred pink and white
I dance, heals chipping scabs
fingers reaching for the stars

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

I can forsake you too

A short piece.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I walk with a limp
two devil’s on my shoulder
both on one side
my right leg shakes
fearing each step

two devil’s on my shoulder
both on one side
one sat down, gently
with grandpa’s big smile
and the weight of Orion’s belt buckle

the other
splashing spirits
pressing against glass
shouting “one more”
a spluttering cry

Succorer!
grant me serenity
accepting two devil’s on my shoulder
courage
for these trembling steps
wisdom
to know which foot
one foot at a time

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Filmed poem – The heart slaps along

A filmed version of a poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

A friend of mine and I were testing out his new camera rig, playing around with different shots at a park. He took the footage and made the below. What do you think?

The Heart Slaps Along” Written by Marcus Jonathan Chapman. Filmed, edited and read by Patrick Garrett York.

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved

Decent and good parents

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

On the corner
of Cajon and Vine
      sat at a cafe
a family
walked by

The kid
holding hands
with a woman
      I’ll say his mother
passed a Porsche
and
while swinging
his free arm
said
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

His parents said naught
to which I thought
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

30 years from now
he’ll be
walking
holding his lovers hand
They’ll pass by
a Porsche
and
he’ll say
with one arm swinging
“I just saw a Lamborghini.”

And his lover
having had decent
and good parents
will reply,
“No, you didn’t
it’s a Porsche.”

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Someone is listening

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

There is a man
crossing the street
talking to himself
or
he has Bluetooth
or
he is talking
while the Bluetooth
connects
another mind
prepping speech
for tongue
or
someone is hearing
or
someone is listening
or
someone is listening
for the pause
triggering
their own tongue
or
he is talking
to god
or
he is talking to someone
and that someone
is also god
or
he is talking to
another fragment
of god
and
between them
god is talking
to itself
or
god is talking
and
I wrote
these thoughts

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Coffee black

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

coffee
black
like my soul
and other
poorly written
poesy

what is the soul?
nothing

coffee
black
like my lungs

coffee
black
like my humor
like fingernails
like that smoke stain
on the back of my
front tooth

coffee
black
like gunk in the drain
like dog nails
like tires

coffee
black
like letters perched
on invisible wire
chirping of the soul
of nothing

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Cajon and Vine

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

sit
under gray clouds
and burnt sky
under waving patriotism
tattered

sit
next to bubbling youth
and bike racks
under manicured palms
weeping

sit
in the shadow of god’s cage
and tides of cars
like rolling waves
disappearing

sit
on the rounded corner
of
Cajon
and
Vine

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Soul Asylum Radio

Hello fellow readers and writers,

Recently, I had the unique experience of participating in a podcast episode of Soul Asylum, a podcast on Blog Talk Radio. I was asked to share one of my poems, In Eulogy with the Burst.

Thank you CAL, Essama and AP Taylor for having me on. Check it out the 12/18/2020 Soul Asylum Radio episode, my portion begins at minute 20:35, but listen to the entire episode if you enjoy discussing and listening to poetry.

Tune in weekly to their show or catch up on their full catalog of episodes, they are enthusiastic and passionate about poetry.

Thank you, again, to Essama, for asking me to join and share a piece.

Made of stone

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Find yourself a house
made of brick
or cement
cinder block, if you can find it

find yourself a house
made of stone
and sit
sit in the middle

when the sun comes
and there is no wind
and the asphalt ripples with fever
sit in the house
and watch yourself baking
getting soft
sweat slapping at your eyes
sweat clumping your hair
      twisting and curling on your neck
stare at the unit
cut into the stone
don’t touch it
stare and know your body works
you have walls, a roof
and that is convenience

get yourself a house
made of stone
and sit
sit in the middle

when the clouds come
and the trees whistle
and the specter of breath lingers
sit in the house
watch yourself tighten
sealing in the juices
blood oozes and muds
blood sculpting clay
      in the fingers and toes
think of fire
suck down booze
imagine a woman resting against you
but stare
stare at those tight walls
taught as your skin
and know that is comfort

get yourself a house
made of stone
and know what the rib cage
is to the heart

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

The heart slaps along

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

The heart slaps along
sticking
to hot asphalt
with each rotation

pulling from gravel and tar
with each bounce

spurting ruby and blue
leaving rust in its dust

green shards from broken Mickey’s
orphaned bougainvillea
plastic straws
French fries
bottle caps
abandoned black rubber
cigarette filters
chewed gum
yesterday’s papers
sand
and
dust
stick to it

The heart slaps in a puddle
swelling
with oil, rain and gasoline
stopped

Send it back
spinning and rolling

Pulling from the road
with each bounce

send it
slapping along
wrapped
in flowers and glass

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

In eulogy with the burst

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And I see
not much more than
string
wet and woven
through bags
pregnant with tea
and bloated
from water and
the bubbles cluster
clinging
to the side of Styrofoam
shaped cylindrical
and the bubbles
bounce
in eulogy with the burst
and I taste their bitter
tears and set down my cup
licking my lips and thinking
not much more than this
and I know
it is everything

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And of the toilet brush

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And of the toilet brush
next to porcelain bulb
resting in its holster
all bristles even with the lip
save one
curling up
from the pubis of the brush’s handle
curling up and away
from the toilet brush’s
downward
destiny
curling up and away
from shit
and piss
and vomit
and gism
and I have never seen
a violence
so complete
as that bristle
curling upward and away

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful thing

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ll see a beautiful thing
and I’ll think
I’ve seen it
I can do ugly

And that beautiful thing
will stay
and then I’ll do ugly
and the ugly thing
will stay

and the more beautiful I see
the more ugly I do
and the more ugly I see
the more beautiful I do

And that ugly thing
will stay
and then I’ll do beautiful
and the beautiful thing
will stay

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

You know

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

When that orange burns through the gaps in the leaves
and you pull your sweater just a little tighter
and the rush hour of thoughts put you in a daze
and your faced with another night sleeping alone
and the dogs are whining for their walk
and you’ve mindlessly opened and closed the fridge
and you glance at the clock 90 times in one minute
and you turn the dryer back on without even checking
you know
you know you’re alone
but that little blue ball
Bukowski’s little blue bird
still hops
in your rib cage
keeps you pacing
you know your spirit
can take it
you know

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

At walls’ full of platitudes

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I saw him
And I used to see him
All in the same place
The coffee shop
Now they sell beer as well

I saw him, first
12 years ago
Drinking and staring
At the young women drinking coffee
He, old but taught
Defiance in his eyes
His stare a rebellion against gravity
Rebellion against time

I saw him, second
In meetings anonymous
Old and bruised
Bewildered and staring
At walls’ full of platitudes
Fear in his eyes
Earthquakes in his wrists
Now gravity rebelled

I saw him, third
The coffee shop
Old and limp and loose
His eyes set in cement
The defiance shaken out
A servant of gravity
I saw him
He didn’t see

I saw him
And I knew my own history
Back again
And I saw my future
With no humbleness
No fight
To bend the knee or
Have it bent for me

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

They pile up

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

They pile up
and you want to stop
and you don’t know where to start
and you can’t stop
so you don’t start
and they pile up
and you lose sight
you start stopping
and you never stop starting
and you start to write
and that doesn’t stop
you write about stopping
and you can’t start
and they pile up

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I don’t want to smoke

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I don’t want to smoke
and I sneak away
to coffee shops
and think about smoking
I drink coffee
read
Listen to people talk
people laugh
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
I close the book
and don’t stare
don’t stare
don’t stare
I finish my coffee
grab my book
head back home
and I read
I think about smoking
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
and I read the same line
I stand up
pace outside
get in my car
and go to a coffee shop

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Now I have the time

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Now I have the time
to pay attention to the names
of musicians
both living and dead
      Michael Nyman
      Philip Glass
      Alexander Borodin
      Katie Von Schleicher

and I take pride because
I feel what they create
and now I know their names

Now I have the time
to pay attention to my
backyard
the gophers have gone
I killed all the weeds
the wild parrots, escaped
from the pet store
50 years ago, gather
on the power line above
my easement
the Blue Jay’s cocking heads
and hopping
around the gopher holes
finding grubs
And I take pride because
they are part of my lot
and now I know their names

And now I have the time
to pay attention to the names
the names not belonging to me
or to the other one
I have the time to pay attention
because I have only time

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I know a great writer

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I know a great writer
but you don’t
her greatness is planted
in not knowing, not
thinking she is great
and I know she is
a great writer
but she doesn’t and
she writes anyway
and I write but
I try not to think of
my standing
my standing over
or standing under the
writing of other writers
and I stand up
and I think of the words
and the words I don’t know
but that great writer writes
knowing nothing of her greatness
and I write but
I stand and go outside
taking off my shirt to let the sun
soak in
and I think of her greatness
and not my own
and she doesn’t
think of me

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

lazy day with nothing to say

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

lazy day with
nothing to say

the sun soaks
sludge bilks’ thoughts
mudslides smooth
peaks and valleys
to a single plateau

my mind, the sun, un-seeable
a walnut dazed
windows glazed in
snow buried, re:
whites, grays, haze
Trieved to a
Saint slobbering Bernard

Cocoa steams
streams magma flings
in loosening dreams
through the windows
of the sun, sloths
in heat buildup speed
and spew their sperm
soaked thoughts:

slow swimming sludge
obsidian’s cakes tectonics
quake meridians plates

lazy day with
nothing to say

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Inside my chest there lives a cat

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Inside my chest I found a cat
I called it names to which it spat
‘til desperation made me scream
I know not, love, for what you dream
and then it nuzzled, flicked its tail
a cry of love found holy grail
still at my touch, bared tooth and nail
so I stay hid from love’s impale

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And Paul

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And Paul
I love you
brother

we want to see beauty
and we’re the same
with different words
so I choose carefully

we met in a circle
sharing our pain
and I could see it
and you could see it
thorns

through cigarettes
and ping pong
cups of pills
we saw the things
that broke us
crystalline

love
family
friends
structure
authority
time not ours
bills
regrets
love
being alone

nothing so abstract
nothing faceless

we graduated
from beeping hallways
and single file lines
to check-ins and check-outs
and broken curfew fines

And we finished our time
maybe got perspective
I went back to work
you went back
to the gatehouse

Then you had a kid
and I got married
we spoke on the phone
about all under which
we were buried

You called
now and then
from the road
I called
once and again
from my home

The kid started school
I got divorced
life felt so cruel
you fell out
and stayed at my house

And we laughed at the news
when we started to drink
and we cried in our shoes
when our egos would shrink

And I had to remind you
kitchen knives were for food

and blood
is too close to the surface
in all of us

And I remembered
how I used to be
and we both agreed
that you should leave

And for years
before nights were done
we talked about
beauty
and you said
we’re the same
and I agreed
but I want to see
the beauty

and Paul
there’s no beauty
in the bottle
we’ve both checked

and Paul
beauty is pain
because we feel it

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Until I get to later

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I’ll die of exhaustion
tired of being alone
maybe head to Austin
forget to bring my phone

Throw on grandpa’s sweater
we had the same frame
drive until I wanna stop
look for something tame

No clinking brick to weigh me down
to wonder if to smile or frown
just stop for gas in dying towns
give knowing nods to wayward clowns

Stop by the road and find a tree
jot down the words, say poetry
throw my pens and pages in the back
drive off and think of what they lack

Distract away
her ringing words
“I’ll call you later”
later
later
later
later
later
later

And I’ll keep driving
until I get to later

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Light’s Fingers

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Light’s fingers touch in darkness stains
Colors froth through milky grains
Yellows yawp barbaric fire
Oranges howl of hell’s empire
though windows through the blackness break
no fingers lunge for lonely’s ache
My Adam’s hands, these gnarled tines
quaking reach to grasp what shines
that curdling plea of palm and nail
yet, no light hushes lonely’s wail

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Please

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Please
Don’t take the pills
Changing chemistries
Raising new ills

Those dark shadows
Swirling

Let them feed
Through words
To paper eaters
Devouring

Let them loose
Through color
To open windowed souls
Cowering

Let them twirl
Not suppress
Give them life
Beyond the chest

Let them powder
Through noise
To wax drums
Quivering

Let them dance
Through monologues
To cymbal-ed monkeys
Chattering

Please
Don’t take the remedies
Blessing new enemies
Depressing heart break

Those dark shadows
Swirling

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And I want to be the king of my castle

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And I want to be the king of my castle
And I feel like a pauper in my home
And I need to be master of my domain
And I believe no man should be alone

And I want to flit about on empty floors
And I feel the scream of doubt that clogs my pores
And I need cold water to wake me up
And I believe no answers are found in a cup

And I want my friends to know I am here
And I feel my family hold on to a tear
And I need a fresh face without a mask
And I believe no answers to questions they ask

And I want to find words that aren’t in a book
And I feel too much pain will allow me to look
and I need a new name to reflect all these changes
And I believe no pen is worthy of these exchanges

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

It was the times

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It was the times
I teased too hard
And
It was the time
After sex
I asked a stupid question
And
It was the time
Before intimacy
I asked a stupid question
And
it was the time
I drove to you
Drunk
And
It was the time
I came over
from the night before
Still stinking of booze
And
It was the times
I went out
“to catch a slice of life”
I said
And
It was the time
At the urgent care parking lot
I shared a cig
With another waiting for his girl
And
It was the times
I couldn’t express
But I wanted to be alone
And
I walked past you
To take out the trash
As if another wall
And
And there is more
And
I write them out
So plainly
Too quickly
And
I feel them
Like paper
cuts

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Youthful Beauty

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Youthful Beaty
nods and smiles
at graying experience
the coolness of
sweaters
Jackets
shirts
Sagging in all the right places
Betrays
The pursuit of success
Cleavage shines and rings
skirts high tail
chandelier leggings
locked eyes
loose legs

Meanwhile

Armies of
Scabbed hands
bruised arms
oxygen tanks
vet hats
social security cheques
keep the boat
Floating

The pianist’s fingers bleed
for the raised voice
recognition
of barfly’s and
passersby

Five claps for the piano man
and I write on torn
sheets of a legal pad
trying to understand what I’m doing

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

I tried to bet the ponies

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

I tried to bet the ponies
Like Bukowski
But my math is atrocious

I tried drinking
Like Hemingway
But the loneliness was unbearable

I tried writing
Like Joyce, Miller and Burroughs
But my mind is too chaotic

I tried meditating
Like Cheever
But there’s too much fight in my chest

I tried uppers and downers
Like Thompson
But clarity was elusive

I tried
I’ll try

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

Forced words

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Forced words
The thing won’t come
The thing won’t happen
Worse
I don’t know what thing is

Forced words
At a casino
Between sweepers
Smokers
Losers
chirps
Winners
Chimes
Losers

Forced words
Because
That fight
in my chest
crawls down
to my hands

it’s shit
the feeling
it’s shit
the forced words

A train not even crashing
No explosion
Just quietly retiring
Off the tracks

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

If you’re lucky enough

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

If you’re lucky enough
You’ll fly to the moon
Through blue flame eyes
Glowing cross the table
And you’ll hear
Louis Armstrong’s growling timbre
I’m in heaven, I’m in heaven.

And if you pay attention
Sinatra will croon
between your ears
I thought of quitting, baby
but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it
and you’ll float over the moon
aiming for those sapphire eyes
twinkling across the table

And if you’re lucky enough
time will stop
and you’ll realize there is only
what is in front of you
and like melting butter
Irma Thomas will drip
in your ears
Anyone who knows what love is
will understand

And if you let yourself go
you’ll bloom in a shimmering galaxy
of golden hair
and Minnie Riperton’s soft melody
will patter in your ear
Kiss my petals
and weave me through a dream

And if you’re lucky enough
you’ll stand still
tethered by a kiss
in a Stater Brother’s parking lot
while the world spins
your body will buzz and hum
and you’ll hold your own song

And if you hold on to it
you’ll write about it
filling pages
with a universe of words
you’ll run out of ink
you’ll run out of words
but those azure eyes
will forever be empyreal

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.

And it’s in my chest

A short poem.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

And it’s in my chest
And I think about Blanca
And I think about me
And I think about the dogs
And I never start from the beginning
And the monologue never stops
And I’m trying to fall asleep
And I fall into another line
And I stay awake
And I want to be a better man
And I don’t know what that means
And I keep pushing keys
And my hands grab for tools
And my palms tingle
And every line starts to continue
And I hate it
And I love to hate it
And it’s cliché
And I recognize it is cliché
And I keep pressing down
And I think of a pianist
And I want to make music
And I hate the things my fingers leave
And I make noise
And I clang
And I bang
And I push
And every line starts the same
And I try to scrape the fever
On keys
On paper
On pens
On receipts
On napkins
On envelopes
And it leaves a residue
And I read it
And you read it
And it stains

© 2020 writesmarcus.com All Rights Reserved.