Mark Irwin 

Claire Anna Baker "Camel"

Claire Anna Baker "Camel"

It seems


we’ve reached a point in consciousness of complete

saturation. Everywhere the simultaneity of images pushing away

green. He said he couldn’t live without love. No one could

find him. Imagine an entire city’s traffic stopped at one

light. How much can you know and still perceive? I mean

taste, touch,  or smell time burning. Running into the wind

her shirt came off in the long spring. He was locked in a room

with a hundred screens watching. The street

lamp now grows taller than the trees. Heliotropism

of the night while spent uranium lies buried in the mountain. Older,

they turned the TV up louder and louder. You couldn’t go into the house.



I was chasing a red ball across the lawn when the trees

began growing and I saw you


in a mirror, the silver light tossed back and forth

by friends, family, a wedding


wherein we sang, ate, growing older as the day expired. How is it

we know totality


only in dark? You moved through summer and while you were dying

I was stung by a bee, a moment of pain so full


its brief gold illumined the day. To place joy and worry

in a box. To leave


then return and call it a house. To sleep and upon waking

find childhood there, all its toys


crippled until the sparks of music waken them, voiced in an instant so long

we can feel the trees pressed into stone.

As In Michelangelo,


when a shoulder passions away to arm, then the hand’s

magnificent question. As in                                       

hunger when one asks, as he’d asked her for spare

change as she carried away the take out, giving

him some coins, then back to the car

with her kids, but could not leave before giving more—dollars

now, several, then pulling away, stopping

again, a roll of bills this time, then food. I saw only the wild light

in her eyes, something like milk, or on a bright day

a sheet taken from the line, folded

into smaller and smaller squares till that light takes, deepens, as in marble

waiting to suffuse or hold

a body in the bed of its glow. Her husband scoffed, scolding

her in front of Jimmy and Anne. Back

next night she went to give more. Zealous

now the trumpets of her eyes blowing

never enough, but the great freedom, as in opening stone, and that wind

round her hands.



Mark Irwin is the author of eight books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed White City (BOA) and Large White House Speaking (New Issues), as well as his newest book, American Urn: New & Selected Poems, (Ashland Poetry Press, 2014). Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, four Pushcart Prizes, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, Colorado and Ohio Art Council Fellowships, two Colorado Book Awards, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He lives in Colorado, and Los Angeles, where he teaches in the Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature Program at the University of Southern California.