Damon Ferrell Marbut
Hello poets. I'm Damon, I was born in Alabama and now have a home in New Orleans. It's empowering to be known as a Southern writer, as there are so many ghosts and unspoken images of past and present skull-banging against one another to tell the current story. Whatever that is is ever unfolding here. My poems are narrative and I write them with fear, urgency and wonder. I'm curious every day if I am doing justice to my heritage.
We will become villains.
And to do it well we must do
I want you to write better than I
and then we should get married, and I
will try harder and get better than you.
Then one of us will try to leave.
And then we will go back and forth, doing what
is hardest. We will stay, and learn
the words that frightened us. First you,
and not the easy ones, like death or hate
or blood, but those leading to them,
like daughter, or home. The earth
will inhumanly want us to die—so then we starve it,
live happy and old in this piercing throb
of adoration and pain.
In this wrenching walk of words. You will
teach me mine.
At the Market
I remember her.
We were in fourth grade,
she was poor. From a poor family,
more so than mine,
so poor she looked unwashed.
I remember the morning she found
a fifty dollar bill at the bus stop,
and she pulled me to the north side of the room,
far from ears of those sharpening pencils,
from that girl who gave me a black eye,
from the girl told by our teacher to hold it,
who eventually pissed herself and sat in it and cried.
The bill was deep into her palm,
gripped tight and sweaty like a rosary in the hand
of a sinner. Someone had found out
and she had been called a thief,
as if a subterranean purse had capsized toward the sky
beside the black bus wheels,
as if she had seen the dead who had lost it
and did not call out, Hey, you dropped something.
But her face was crippled by lust for validation,
to be believed, not marked with fantasy,
not imagined places it would take her.
Her face was hurt and receding into her skull,
and her skull, unsure what to do with the movement,
told the brain to do something, immediately,
and her shoulders sank to crush her ribcage
as she stared at me.
Not all of me. A fraction of my jaw.
I wanted to tell her I was poor, too,
and I had been. Mother remarried,
and then I was not, but at that moment
I wanted to be it again,
to be new marrow for her ribs,
to force her back to breathing.
When I saw her yesterday, bagging groceries,
nineteen years after that slim incident of friendship
and trust, she saw me. We spoke. We smiled.
We remembered. I had a hole in my shirt,
holes in my jeans, wore three dollar sandals,
had too few items to bag. I wanted to say, see,
I wasn’t lying.
Each time I turn over my shoulder
and plummet toward Earth
I do not recall the first time I’ve done this,
that I have left for a while.
But I do it relentlessly,
upwardly joining something to learn how to fall away
back into myself.
When I meet the sky
the first word to mind is murder,
not as if I’ve performed it
but have caused it by my leaving.
I soar vertically from that,
such going and going between perfection and imperfection,
and so often,
that to fall now is to exhaust--
is to blink like a slow decade
just to hit the hard clay again and not die
but stand up, startled, and walk.
At a Café Window with an Empty Glass of Tea
What do you want from love?
An older me, and so a younger one,
might have cried out,
and not meant it.
The soul of youth fails in its rush toward definition.
Now, and after much time,
if asked once more I may say Security.
But after a breath, there’s more:
Comfort in knowing
I am more human
for having had it.
©2014 Damon Ferrell Marbut