• Mark DuCharme
  • Reading Kenneth Koch

“What did you do with Kenneth Koch?”

“I plastered him in a flowerbox’s bellyache

Behind the winefruit & damaged pumpkins

Through which we often scrawl.”

“The timid can’t be be bothered here, I don’t think,”

Interjected the poet’s ghost, suddenly, from behind a postage stamp,

“Though I’m only joking by using

The word if.”

Now, the wind is wired.

Apparitions are a common futility.

Kenneth Koch is not a write-in candidate anywhere, I don’t think

Though he continues to imagine that he is

From his grave in Montmartre, Pawtucket, or wherever it is.

It’s not true that he is Captain Marvel yet

But I’ll keep on reading Kenneth Koch,

Whom I almost once have never seen.

  • Mark DuCharme
  • Notebook of a Return to Somewhere We Had Never Fled

I bailed on your future

When winds grew dark

Only then you said they were

& You were there, where they’d never been before

In back of the daffodils

With some sort of crank

& Your blush or bluish graze

Lifted off teapots on cold harbor mornings

What’s still revealed

Is only what can’t yet be reveled in

The fact contains itself—

A whiter shade of winter

Is unavailable; check your screen

Presence & make something up

All this talk of

Freedom makes me leave

The showroom full of uneasy answers

To unasked questions

The job is out there

If you still don’t want it

For all the boutique smiles it takes

This is not a notebook

Read it


  • Mark DuCharme
  • Comic Gloom

Tell me a shadow. Winter’s not still—

I’ll harbor the moon in my getaway.

The town hall shuttered its wild gardens,

All destiny pending in a dreamed-up surprise.

Think the imperative ’til singing’s foundational

To wretched foragers who sulk &

Rumble in dark lots, thrusting

Pennies in their ears.

Save a fist for the ancient strangler—

I’ll batten down night’s cold edges with a starry

Twirl. Don’t simper, lest you be fed daisies

’Til the end of the wind’s on the line.

  • Mark DuCharme
  • With the Poem

after Coolidge


The poem has already moved on—

A winding through of time & circumstance.

It is a substance of its own making,

Intervals substantiated now in wonder.

The poem is a skein, a seine, a

Substance of protracted knowing,

A glaze of imperfect seizure beveled

At the limits of the sayable.

It’s not for want of wander that we veer here,

A desert of vivid glimpses with the tongue an active verb.

If you embody commotion, will you fall down

In the poem’s fleshly speech?

It’s not you who’s saying it— embodied rupture,

The uttered thing in all its strangeness,

Comes through you, unsettles you, shakes thought’s tune

Like nothing you occurred out of ever once before.


The poem was written over a passage

Of time— & time changes you.

Who are you when you want me to be?

& Can I be for you the same as once before?

The poem is a record of that process,

A fine rumor you’ve held yourself to

Adrift in bright pages

That vanish from our care—

An idyll whorl of tarnished speech

With which to wipe the faces off

That smirk— or a bunch of tunes

The wary night still feeds on.

In the poem, vanish when you won’t quite be

Songlit in evening’s plunder;

Awake to the poem on schooldays’ raw

Glass, despite night’s bumptious charm.

  • Mark DuCharme
  • In the Dessert

after Ceravolo

Don’t spill the whiskey; it’s a sin

Clowntime has only just begun

I wouldn’t differ if I had your nerve

After the moonlight went wrong

All goes wrong sometime, & still

The sand is where you want it

Were I alone yet also near

Where streams the multivalent

Is the garden too loco, like hardwired bugs

Yes, I think it is tool baskets &

Candy. Wigwam as a helping verb

For all the desert’s tin

Impasto, impasto, poco loco

Dead salsa vérité tweezers

Except on Sundays

Toward which I also grieve

As if the dead were too juvenile

Written on a towel then lost

At nightstands up the quatrain

A ledger of impacted scrawls

I also gaze upon the shore

To mend here before the others were

Songdust on curfew, examples stuffed

By root in a scarified ear