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Marcus Wicker

Marcus Wicker is the author of Silencer (Mariner Books, 2017) and Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial, 2012), which won the National Poetry Series and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Fine Arts Work Center, and the Poetry Foundation. Wicker is the poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review, and he teaches at the University of Memphis.

By This Poet

8

Deer Ode, Tangled & Horned

Always the sun first
then the doe sunning, the stag
running toward the doe, wherein

this ramshackle causality
a taste for flesh buds
at birth—when mouth clasps

to breast—quieting
the gut’s ache, not hunger
for touch. If you don’t believe

touch is a famine
fed by need, in another
scene, see an orphaned fawn

bow before a block of salt
crowned on the lone stump
in a clearing where sudden

wind has instructed him
in a lick’s dripping scent.
Right. Now, who then

betrays his permanence
but the huntsmen—
himself? Who then but palette—

appetite’s kissing cousin, driven
only by science of nature—
O Desire, you mother—

You Adam
of the valley, crouched
with a catcher’s mitt

always signaling for the quince
to roll downhill. You’re not much
of a nurturer from behind

this rifle scope,
especially on nights when
I am Lot’s hermaphrodite wife—

all pillar
& looking back
on my downfall from the future

which is surely paradise
or purgatory, depending
on how I decipher my scripture, O

Desire, if you’re a Catholic’s
Tree of Life I must be Buddhist-
free. I’m not interested

in you for the progeny
so much as your skyscraping—
your telephone poles—miraculous,

glazed, glistening with December’s
beckoning slick—crisscrossed
with tiny horizontal beams, wired-

horizon & morning dew,
forming, Dear Sire,
your anointing—this

intimately connected rosary
I can’t help but prick
my tongue to.
 

Prayer on Aladdin's Lamp

Grant me shelter & bread.
Grant me porch ledge, mantel.
Scented candles, bed. Grant me
four walls, a 5-foot fridge & a hall.
& maybe four more walls. Yes.
Four more walls. & a desk. & 
a decent laptop, plus pleather
rolling chair. So that I might sit
&  write you a poem, Lord.
A psalm praising all you’ve given:
Air I sing with. Cricket’s falsetto.
Buzzing bees & nectar—
how chrysanthemum feels
on the tongue
is what you are to me.
You see what I am doing here.
You see, I am being so sincere,
Sire. Which is sad. Still, grant me
a few free hours each day. Grant me
a Moleskine pad & a ballpoint pen
with some mass. Grant me your gift
of this voice. Pages & pages 
of this voice, in a good book
from a loving press. & grant me 
a great love, too. Grant a way
to provide for my love. Like,
a tenure-track job
at a small college in the Midwest.
The kind with poems
& papers to read. With hoodies
running in & out of my office.
Deadline, paychecks, & 
an OK 401(k). Grant me
everything, Lord. Not today.
But before 28. Be Bulldozer.
Genie. Let every prayer avalanche
me into dust, blank matter. Debris.
Make me worthy. O Lord, make me me.
 

Morning in the Burbs

But God, I love the cul-de-sac
at seven a.m., I can’t help it!
This wind-streaming-between-
grass-blades point of view!
 
But this punctuated lawn
I stand upon! The family 
of shrubs, flat-topped & shaped
into a question mark:
 
the eye of its mouth, my favorite
standing place. A painter’s steel
scaffold: against the neighbor’s
gutter like a concert glockenspiel.
 
The souped-up air conditioning:
     in monk octaves. The sheer
wash of it all, water rushing
from a bucket:          A man soaping
 
down his Saab, tie sly tucked.
Two cable guys sharing a joint
in a horseshoe drive:          But God,
I envy their temporary sweet spot:
 
snippet of carefree chummery.
This mum machine hard at work
before work. The:          The nothing
getting in. The nothing getting out: