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BRIGHT LIGHT – DARK WORDS All poems within have been crafted by MARK WILLIAM FISK. Poetry, like anything else, is grounded in history. Mark makes numerous allusions to some of the great poets and poems.

Copyright 2011 Mark William Fisk

Design by Jay Wall

TO MY FATHER, who inspired my love for literature by giving Aslan, Bilbo and Gollum a voice, among many others. You taught me to look further up and further in.



The Void of the Muse


Beneath the Tiger’s Glance


Tension or Release


The Cadence of My Evil Thoughts


Gomorrah Gaze


Bright Light – Dark Words






The Sphinx


The Promise


Foxes in the Fields


A Framed Painting










When holy words are stopped by hollow hands And eyes peer down at paper pondering The loud and empty voices lull the lands To soundly sleep in their slow foundering. The nescient children blind in their new Nod Describe the shadows in the dancing dark And maintain they mark a meager god; A crutch, a cane, the quick capricious spark. The stalactites drip on salient seeds Slowly growing guarded stalagmite groups Where turning earth tempers twisting stone weeds With base pyrite worshipped by pallid troupes. And husks of men hear through a dark’ning hole The wailing winds through warped and broken souls


Beneath the

Tiger’s Glance


I. Let’s dance beneath the tiger’s glance And stare into the sun Let’s mock our fate as death doomed bait This life has just begun! Let’s spread our seed with lustful greed We’ll write our own romance Let’s drink till we forget to think Embrace the god of chance! Gamble and burn who needs to learn When life is so damned short? If it gets hard we’ll play the card Up sleeve to just abort II. And in the end this short-sight ken I can somewhat respect It may be death within a breath Yet there’s still a worse defect I speak of those who if they chose Would safely hide and stay Within some walls or comfort halls Until they have gone gray Afraid to lose they never choose But simply what to eat Let’s write a story while they grow hoary Even if it could be beat Let’s dance beneath the tiger’s glance And stare into the sun Embrace our fate till death doomed date Arrives to end our fun. 7

Tension or



The rope that ties the gale-blown ship, The cuffs that dig into the skin, The breath that holds when danger lurks, The ties that wind and around the sins Of lies and hate and “one last sip” That self-deceptive fruitless drip The one you want and yet it irks. It’s rising as you near the cliff And feel your palms begin to sweat You look towards the open air And sensing soon a last regret You grab a flask to take a tiff And breathe in deep its muddling whiff Yet remain locked in fated stare. It is the tightness in the chest When anger, fear, and grudges rule With beating hearts and heads that ache We all become the greatest fools And when we find we’re like “the rest” The choice becomes the final test: Do you give or do you take? »


And here is where we could mistake Facades for suffering servants Do you serve to self-expiate Or are you truly selfless, fervent? And here’s the question you should ask To tell character from caprice Serving for no reward eternal And not for tension’s sweet release Would you trade heaven for the well Within fathoms of hottest hell Doomed to ever live infernal To save one life for the eternal


– the tensionless floating ship The cuffs released from chafing skin The breath let out when no-one lurks The ties unbound around the sins Breaking the repetition sip Ending the self-deceptive drip. Does giving all this safety irk? It never was about the works. »


So turning at the vaunted cliff And climbing down ignore your sweat You flee the lowly prince of air And leave above all your regrets. You give the thirsty lost a tiff At base, you catch ambrosial whiff And sound of Jacob’s fated stair Among the lowly yet the fair. A sigh that heaves the burdened chest When anger, fear no longer rule. The beating hearts for mercy ache; A love that makes you look a fool. And when we find we’re like “the rest” The choice becomes the final test: Do you give or do you take? Endure a hell for others’ sake.




of My



The cadence of my evil thoughts Is rapping on my hollow skull The rhythm is my death sentence; A leaking drip inside my hull This shadowed crack in my conscience Is drizz’ling pitchy poisoned rain While drinking filth and wond’ring why I spew attempts in black refrain:



The scales of gold for me do lie Upon the trying narrow score And yet my feet still walk along This chorus wide that I abhor Staccato I go right to wrong And never miss a jarring note I’m singing wild my garish dirge And slowly slitting my pale throat I want the blinding light to purge The darkness creeping up my neck It latches on to red eyeballs My mind, my ears and my index I’m coming here to beat this wall With head and stick re-ver-ber-ate Again I join dull melodies Return reprise, per-pet-u-ate I know the spoken remedies I need to gouge, to cut and throw With all that needs the blade, I’m filled The only note I hit is low So here’s the coda: I’m unskilled At brightly flowing cheerful songs Preferring brooding hymns distraught I am but a resounding gong. (I loathe the dissonance I’ve wrought I loathed the dissonance I thought.)



Gaze 14

I. The watchers stand upon the shores Pillars of glazed salt Clouded eyes awaiting The blood-dimmed tide. They embrace what they most fear The inescapable crimson wave The libation to their prosperity A tribute to their apathy The culmination of their gluttony Stuffed men clutching at the shadow Like shoeless children to their dolls Who are the dead? Short days ago they lived An indistinguishable heap Ever surging numbers Numbers without names Names without faces Faces without voices Voices that scream Screaming to the pitch Into yawning Hades The pillars gaze into the abyss Transfixed by what they cannot see It comes to greet them The horror of realization And the joy of satisfaction Intermingle in a single instant And all that is left is the dark “The horror, th-” They thought they were standing Turning round with fortune’s wheel But the whole time they were running Towards the hungry jaws of sheol

» 15

II. The The The And

silver cord will be riven golden bowl will be smashed pitcher will burst the wheel’s turning will stop

A whimper is where it will begin A vast echoing from the throat of suffering From the lost and the weary From the verge of the shadow to the edge of the blaze From the crest of Elysium to the borders of Tartarus Then mere anarchy will be cut Like the silencing of a mistaken note The conductor will open their eyes So long held shut by Cold hands Their own Blindfolds tied A new chorus has begun Thulcandra will pass away And a new orb will rise on The Sun Out of the dust Out of the ashes Out of the shadow The music of the spheres will be renewed Lift up your heads! Open your eyes oh you watchers! Rejoice for the one who opens For the one who lifts Even now the distant hum begins Like the sound of coming rescue Of water in the desert Of songs in the solitude Of cheerful voices in the darkness 16


They are the awakening ones They are the ones beginning to sing Go! Go to the watchers and speak Go to the pillars and help Go to the hollow and heal The whimper has risen to a cacophony It breaks upon the ears of the world The drums of death The wave of destruction Terror so great Leading to apathy Yet the whimper was not the end It is reaching its peak It soon will come to its zenith Even now the new song grows The whimper rises in defiance It will soon be drowned To stare into the abyss is to be blind Open your eyes Turn your gaze Hear the word Listen to the meaning And join the song


Bright Light – Dark Words

Bright Light Dark Words Both lean upon my soul The light coming in the door The dark pouring out the seams Shine so bright it blinds Bringing clearer sight To words so dark With meaning only under light 18


Shine upon my words; Light upon the darkness Illuminate these lines Feeble, morbid, whining And raise higher thoughts From lowly scrawls The dreams of glory and of joy Were stolen ideas From those green light chasers Sickly green light That mingles with the night The passing glory of fall’s flaming leaves The transient joy of temporal victory These are the green light beacons So alluring from across the void Of time and space Yet so dark and diminutive in spreading glow Of Sunrise shaming its evanescent splendor Yet pouring forth my words Out in all your brilliant blaze The twisted dreams are burnt And clarity comes beneath the Sun. The words penned in pitch With meanings hidden and askew Become symbolic and living Beneath the dazzling rays. Even the remaining darkness Of the words and meanings Seem transmuted to lustrous mirrors Dark words In bright light Sustain. 19


“ In my beginning is my end... In my end is my beginning.” – T.S. Eliot, ‘East Coker’


The mourners, black-clad, ring about the door And wait for the tear-eyed mother. What she does now she must do alone She must say goodbye To her son All Her But And

gathered wish they could alleviate private pain it is hers to bear hers to hold

It has come to this After a slow building His end has come She and he will now be Separate. He will miss her warmth When placed on the cold ground She will miss his movement When she can no longer feel His hands and feet Moving inside Now it must be The first and final exit His first ending A wail, a scream, from within Then it is echoed All inexpressible confusion and horror His wail at birth Her wail at death


Narcolepsy “ When the journey’s over there’ll be time enough to sleep.” – A.E. Housman I. With the midnight oil a burning And the daytime hours all spent The nocturnal eyes are learning To see movement in descent The bird Sees all No patch For prey

on higher branches perched passing down below of earth is left unsearched that could quickly go

Yet eyes are good for seeing sights Not only if they’re perceived The signal sent commanding flight Must be acted once received The bird that merely stays on branch Will not make its needed kill And it, instead, will lastly blanch Before falling to the chill


With the midnight oil a burning And the daytime hours all spent The nocturnal eyes are learning To see movement in descent


II. “I see, I see” said Al McGhee “I must spread my wings and soar But nothing is out there for me I see nothing but the bore” But would you rather just stay here And wait for fate’s dark reaping Is change and movement what you fear Or waking from your sleeping? “Afraid? Not I! No not a bit” Said Al not hesitating, “I just don’t like the sound of it A change is irritating” The owl leapt from his safety branch Into darksome frosty air And with his leaping caught his prey So I tell you: stay aware! To safely live behind your walls Is cozy and warm it seems Yet there within your shadowed halls Your predator’s eyes do gleam “I know this – I am well aware” Said Al growing quickly hot “I know the danger and the fare Of the Adversary’s plot” Well good to hear – I’m glad of that Then I’ll say just one more thing The enemy desires one stat At the sever of your string: »


That you should be brought down to him As useless as dander skin – That all your life was on the rim Between virtue and your sin Stagnation is his broad domain A nation always building But never reaching past the plane Of comfortable gilding “I know, I know” said Al McGhee And went on with his stewing Fearing what lies beyond the see “I am the trouble brewing” III. With the midnight oil a burning And the daytime hours all spent The nocturnal eyes are learning To see movement in descent An abomination rises Standing up on pillars tall Yet still there are no surprises We think we have seen it all Sleepy supporters cast their votes Blindly to the shifting wind And raise their folly ’bove their moats That the young cannot rescind We must break down the pillars Though they did nothing themselves They still reinforce the killers While ignoring what they delve



Digging down through the earth and bones They find what they darkly sought Yet finding it in graven loam They regret what time has bought Quick boys and girls! While they’re digging And stomping on pearls we’ll fly As an arrow to the rigging It’s their barrow they dig to die The rigging changed we’ll take the ship From constant sleeping dreamers And all the pillars then will tip To cast off raised dark schemer We must descend to break the bars That support and hold us in But not like they who lost the stars That guide us by what has been To descend in dark deed or thought Is better than to have stayed And blindly raised another sot To leading while you decayed Starlight is past before it reached Us upon this brittle globe And even Earth is spinning bleached Not resting in clouded robes With the midnight oil a burning And the daytime hours all spent The nocturnal eyes are learning To see movement in descent Yet descending’s only learning If you rise up once again To embrace a fruitful yearning For one who’s other than





We are back to where we started Riddles without answers Answers without riddles Round and round Ouroboros That gaze Blank and pitiless As the moon Has nothing but mad trickery And despair What questions are worth asking When why has no relevance When “Where shall we have lunch?” Is more sophisticated Than “Why?” In this sublunary realm Where men and beasts roam Looking at the sky or into pools We search for why Or ignore it in the how Or finding both rather difficult We search for where The snake has choked: Ouroboros can only be dead Or dying “Right you are!” Says the sphinx And promptly commits suicide.



Promise I made a promise to a man In a dusty hovel in a thirsty land I made a promise I mean to keep And now across the countless spans Of nations tossing in their sleep I travel onwards to the reap. I I I I I

broke my toes on stumb’ling blocks, scored my hands upon the rocks, lost my nerve and lost my will, robbed and earned my place in stocks, murdered and was shot yet still I travel onwards to the reap.

In foggy nights and graying days Through storms and war I did not stray I sold my soul to find the one I sought who took my child away, The dusty man who killed my son, To send him onwards to the reap. 28


I found him at a vacant inn And said, “ You must now pay for sins Long past that I cannot forgive.” He replied “I’d gladly shed my skin If your lost son again would live. I’ll travel onwards to the reap.” I raised my gun but not so quick As my aging foe with a crafty trick He had long gone gray but never slow He beat me down with a walking stick And there I waited for the blow To send me onwards to the reap He spoke again with mirthful eyes “Why did you speak and lose surprise? You should have shot me in my sleep. This vengeance is your own demise.” He brought my gun up with a sweep To send me onwards to the reap. “Just what did you wish to achieve?” He asked as my one last reprieve, “I’m old and soon will meet my death And as from life you are bereaved I too could take my final breath And travel onwards to the reap.” Then with my final breaths I said, “I know that soon you will be dead But I had promises to keep I vowed I’d live to see you bled Now send me to my lasting sleep.” We travel onwards to the reap.


Foxes in




Two torches lit in daylight Their blaze is veiled in smoke The burning hidden deep within Prophetic signals billowing What can this portend but fear and death? A thousand screams are silenced A thousand thousands rise In some time present, past and future The fuming flames will spread Like foxes in the fields To burn away the futures Branding in the fears And charring fragile hopes. What are these black-veiled fires – Fear? That Oppression robed – With slits for eyes – Allowed to see but not be seen Conspicuous in her absence; The void she leaves wherever she goes



Yet smoke signifies fire – Clouds of cancerous death don’t spark On blue mornings without a human hand Or some spoken disaster To light them. These human hands destroy so well; To tie a knot or pull a trigger Is easier than shaking hands. We tried and “oh we tried!” To find all the itchy fingers – Yearning to pull triggers, Push buttons, Tie knots – And cut them off At wrist or neck But itchy fingers aren’t to blame Nor merely heads; The enemy cannot be pointed at In matters gray »


The idea’s to blame And thoughts in minds, not heads Twisted minds, turned to mines By far greater foes Than poor foxes Spreading fires in the fields The chief of foes – A fox of foxes – Still hides the fires deep in smoke Beckoning Philistines to fight And to die, and to die, and to die In moiling Confusion’s clouds… The torches in the morning blue Were kindled in the foxes From fires burning long before These human paws had felt their heat. Those twin torches have long fallen But still we follow burning trails Merely to the foxes And not the one who ties their tails.



Framed Painting


The square on the wall suggests another orientation The people standing on the grass ceiling Hanging there, poised to fall Yet calmly smiling, mocking gravity Their sun floating in the sea-sky Mine gone, perhaps underfoot Theirs boiling the waters while they passively watch Mine freezing in space and lost Oh I feel it now – the heavy loss Of weight and meaning floating up This floor is weak and pressing down On me, trying to fling me off The air is pulling and the roof-floor beckons I weigh less than the air pressing on me It owns me and surrounds me Taking me where it will; a puppet of the wind Close the windows and lock the doors I might drift out and be lost, like the sun, in space Hammer me down glue me in place I am as ephemeral as fog on the moors You turn the world right around And gravity lands on my head Vertigo hits and I lay as if dead Oh! It, not me, was upside down


Leavetakings I walk her out This moment is harder than I thought it would be A few quiet words Slightly awkward Said with a warm smile A hug It lingers But seems shorter than Heartbeats Does mine? Fast or slow Or not at all? The beats are silenced by thundering thoughts I take one last look One more word goodbye Then I’m gone And so is she 


This is more confusing than These mixed emotions – The bubbling frothy warmth: excitement The silent frozen shroud: loneliness The narrow impassible gorge: desire And the bridge in the distance: hope – All fighting in my chest I stand like a pillar of salt While she sits in her car Leaving Me behind in memories Of the past procession of farewells: Some like thunderbolts Some like the lingering sunlight of northern summers Some of cold distances Some paper-thin and warm This farewell is the moon waning on the storm The sun setting on exiles What will the sun see when he rises? Or the moon when she waxes? Will this storm bring new life or destruction? Will this exile find a home or be devoured in darkness? They do not know Nor do I I watch for the moon in the blue sky I await the coming dawn And I wonder why And I wonder why.


Bright Light – Dark Words  

A book of poetry written by Mark William Fisk. Design and photo-illustrations by Studio Jaywall.