Inauguration V: Memoria

History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’ –Eduardo Galeano

Last night was an evening of balls
tomorrow at dawn they will walk
the long knives out again to
the stone of first light and again
the Sudamerican silver will be used

For more than an after
Matins scramble to resurrect
the kingdom
to its familiar present aspect
where the dog’s eye is cut
and recut in a miracle
of surreal loaves

Orange suited workmen sweep
up the tickertape
a starling whisks away several
strands to build
a nest against the winter

Onyx belly of the exurban sky
at night
speckled with the diachronic
swamp-to-city story
of this plaza
her song leads a child into error

Ma! Bluebird!
I see one at the edge of
the Mall where the guide said
it would be

She takes in hers his
red-mittened hand (in the other
is a coffee) and sighs at how wonderful
is the chiti WEEW wewidoo of
the new.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Words heard at a café


Words heard at a café
Don’t liberate me — I’ll take care of that. –Parisian Graffiti

There he goes snoutus stupendous
of the Mimos genus
Did you know that rhinos sometimes
wear eyeshadow?
Pass the Splenda, will you?

Marcel Marceau,
he was hardly one to wait upon a spectacle
a street scene could he make
with a boulevard pulse as warm as the barrel
of a German pistol he paraded
through the Chanel streets of Paris and for the
Maquis performed at Liberation

But as Sartre said
after the war it was the same cons
in charge again and what
have they ever done for the rhino?

Truly a rhino it takes
to pantomime the cosmic humor
of seeing a great beast led by
tiny dollars

Consider now our friend
whose nom de profession is

He bares his décolletage
wearing a V-necked dress and
is très feminine
but when he sings he bellows his gypsy
song in an octave register that belonged
to the late Michael Clark Duncan

What is his trade secret
the one that makes the silk-tied banker?
In his flat before each performance
he fastens two lines of lapis
lazuli sequins up and
down his torso
until he becomes a man of many teats

You wouldn’t believe the success
of his seduction
and the tricks he turns are rewarded now
by Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren
even UNESCO says how they
have a place for him
teaching trades to children

But what does he want
save a tiny single room where
he can smoke and write the great
sub-Saharan novel with enough cash
to buy the best skunk hashish and then
at dusk

On to meet his buddies for a night cap
and the sisters’ street show of breasts
banners bearing the neon image like
a socialist’s Times Square
their bodies ready for Delacroix
Liberty Leading the People

All by his example.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Photo Credit of Marcel Marceau:

Inauguration IV: Benedictus

Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it. –Genesis 10:17

Hardly seated is the poet when
his applause abates
by the noted cleric’s rise
his customary charge the Benediction
now to make

A divinity doctor
healer and praetor at several
presidia of metaphysical merit
and episteme congruent
whose services in ministration
are granted to industry
captains and chiefs of government

Wounded in war
he bears perhaps a greater pride
at having perdured the stigma
of the street
where surviving dialectical debate
did merit a gnostic
comprehension by means of revelation

Redemption came,
he had said on television
in dream where
a ladder appeared and having
only to climb learned I
to struggle
then surrender
and my grace receive

In a baritone already familiar
to southern ears
he preaches by the same metrical beat
of the poet’s lyric
a pitch of rhetoric signalling
now the moment for a public consecration
and with anointed words of Scripture
he ties the dowry knot
between assembled patrons
and populace
then in a broth of piety
the nation he baptizes in the lesser known
reflecting pool just below
the Capitol’s steps

These monuments bear
our maker’s mark
he declares
They evince a design of being
twice born:
Democracy is fitful fulfilment of the spirit
here on Earth
of virtue proven by
a slow egress of darkness nurtured
first at home before benefacted
about the globe

It is fitting, then
my countrymen to mark
this moment by a letter of renewal
an epistle of faith undaunted
one immutable ember that smouldered
beneath the paper
of our Federalist and its public profession
of wisdom
in that one true solution for
building in time here a Beloved

Looking down
toward Lincoln’s monument
above the variegated mass
he pauses
and intones
A letter from Saint Paul:

“I thank my God whenever I remember you,
always in every request of mine
on behalf of you all
making my requests with joy,
for your partnership in furtherance of
the Good News from the first day
until now;
being confident of this very thing,
that he who began a good work in you will
complete it until
the day of Jesus Christ.”

Before retaking then his seat
the duly sworn
President intercepts the clerical hand
and by a pair of almond eyes
signals his approval
then leaning close toward his ear
the Commander murmurs
an inaudible message
eluding the grand stand assembly and television
but its corporal language is captured
in the image:
seldom could be missed two
more synchronous spirits.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Inauguration Part III: Invictus

“as hope comes in the doing, never in the waiting.” –Jean-Paul Sartre

Concluding then his oratory
and toward the seated gallery
the President now turns
to beckon a poet
of his selection
by whom the benediction
shall be delivered

A man of populist reputation
and hortatory renown
his delivery alone
has been consecrated
by television
and in the photographic image;
he was brought
to Washington by virtue
of his discovery
that the American family
does a perfect metonym make
for this dawning
age of libertarian peace

In the cold dry air
and escorted by a clouding breath
his gravelly voice intones
that I have given
them all the eagle then to soar
and by invention’s spirit
also the metaphor:
Here, in the clutch of our
Great Seal
present on this very podium
are thirteen arrows and
an olive branch
by my troth bestowed
by His
dove of peace
and across the very bow of our
ship of state,
the people’s house

Mere passengers we are not
as its crew
we too form a great family
with but one captain
for it should always be known
how in many, one
but oh, how often
this has been forgotten

Listen men!
how we our women love
and whom upon our children
place the features of their father’s
to raise and build
a great, straight-backed nation
capable of recognition
guided again by the true pilot
who when acknowledged at the helm
has guided always this our vessel
past the treacherous shelf
and into
a harbor sure

I see and am compelled to proclaim
how in the eyes of each
hermano y hermosa
fils et fille
contentment reigns
at the redoubtable works
our Father’s hast provided;
His dispensation to our
mighty nation
is no call for cavil or equivocation
for know they how the future beckons
its premium paid
with dividends assured

I catch their expectancy
if only you would
look into their cheek’s flush of blood
how it props up the brow
whose sinews dispatch a color
of intention

And then they assume a warrior’s stance
poised thighs
and shoulders at the ready
guns flexed for sport.
Mother, stand back! now that
the gaming preparation
is clear;
their flouncing locks prepared
to be shorn
fitted for duty’s armor
then moulded to a crown
where one day soon shall lie
future laurels of merit

What is it that hath made such a mould
expanding here the field of our play?
This is the Family
Who at the goalposts wait
and in proper auspice
make the transubstantial toast
Whose triumphal hopes
settle naught for less than Victory’s
dusking caress; a mantle
fashioned as a fleece
to be bestowed upon the well-rounded
shoulders and leathern knees
but dressed also properly for
the wounds of war

American parenthood
asking little save to
expend all:
I hear that society singing
its filial bonds
I hear
with malice toward none
and charity for right
exacting nothing
save the proper measure

By our clarity,
Citizens they shall know us
and we ourselves
in freedom’s fair effulgence
to be as ever
we were made in
His image swayed only by our piety
the one humble bond betwixt us
and readying for all the world
a lesson of prosperity’s

How true
and lamentable it is
that once
the care for this inheritance was
in our second nature
but now,
at last it has become known how
that covenantal bond
was practically forsaken
and our promise nearly lost
so that today
we pronounce our return and consecrate
this occasion
by affirmation of our reform
having turned back from the coquettish flirtations
of the maternal State
whose insidious promises once spelled
our ruin

If you believe by His election
that our selection
was right
it is as another poet hath said:
“Ye have prayed it;
if ye still desire it, speak!
The messenger of the Most High waits!”

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Rhino on the couch

Rhino on the couch
Many people . . . are satisfied with the assumption that consciousness alone is mental, and nothing then remains for psychology but to discriminate in the phenomenology of the mind between perceptions, feelings, intellective processes and volitions. –Sigmund Freud (“The Structure of the Unconscious”)

We don’t allow smoking in here,
I’m not even permitted
a phallic pipe now and then
You see these lilies
the ones with the tear drop blossoms
in white? They represent peace
and are good for office
air quality

Down now I sit
the one with the rusted horn
who gave up smoking
fragrant grass
when that grass didn’t grow wild

I wait to be asked my first question
but the man with the beard
and missing pipe
just nods and poises ready his fountain pen
Where would you like to begin
at childhood, perhaps
or the day you first set forth
on our shores?

I look at him in perplexion

You are not native,
I presume?
eyebrows already raised in
masked anticipation
Yes, as a matter of fact I am
I am just ancient
born right here in Chicago
before this meadow
was known by that name

I hear the pen scratch
now it is touch and go
When did you first learn our language
he wants to know
Ours or yours
I ask
he reminds me suddenly of those men
I met up in the mountains
breaking trail along the encroaching decades
after that great emancipatory war
the one that freed some men from granting
but partial consensus
at the census
but then crammed them together
for a poll

It did nothing for my kind
save close the frontier
and send men in thick poached skins
into our last redoubt to take
what they could by
real Earth livin’

We are what historians have yet to call
but what some activists
might say
a ‘people’

When did I learn your language?
sometime after I heard the whoosh of
that first spear
or the repeated salute
from great men honoring the grand
masculine spirit
led by a president in glasses and moustache
possessed of a vision to fend off

Then, again, when I saw
my first museum
a mausoleum
another of your words;
I believe it is a place for the sanctified
but unburied

He mumbles
Interesting . . . mmm . . .
you use charnel imagery
to describe the progressive spread
of knowledge,
that is thanatos, yes?
And where did your death wish
come from
something taught you in the home-

I’ve cut in
now that is an odd word
a contested phrase, you might say
a spasmodic symbol
why don’t we begin with neighborhood
the place where
a bellowing calf could
roll in the mud
shake off the lice and pretend to gain
the better end
knowing that the land
all of it
above the flooding bank
and beneath the swirling clear water too
should be passed unto him
he the 6,000th or so
generation on these shores
on every shore
driven on save but for inclination
or maybe on some days
weather and appetite

Have you ever read
A Raisin in the Sun, doc?
he shakes his head and with reluctance says
No, I have not
So then you cannot see how coming here
is like being brought before
some civic improvement association
offering to buy
my birthright for
a slightly larger mess of potage

After a pause, a beat he says
No, I do not
and I don’t think I am offering
to buy anything
it is you, patient who
is paying

Paying and paying,
yes, that is my point, doc
paying and promising to reconcile
a renewed sense of place
along the very prairie where
my ancestors sheared
the bark off of trees to rid themselves
of chiggers and fleas
on stanchions that now bear names
like Hancock, Willis, Trump, Aon and
but not one that can bellow
in a voice a single white or English person
can pronounce

Well, that is because
yours remains an unwritten language
hardly our fault

Yes, doctor
and how many languages
and tongues can you speak
and does your father’s proboscis
rest above the mantel of a fireplace
in a home and behind a gate
that you and he
saw built?

My father,
he was never hired
but that builder
driven by a man in olive fatigues
rested his four wheel ATV
alongside my father’s flank on a
Game Ranch where he’d been sent
by truck and by treaty and
with a fusillade
took away his tusk

You might say that is why
I am here
I don’t know where the rest of him
lies but with needs for glue
and adhesive
there is no Cahokia
or hoped for and soon-to-be unearthed
temple tell
for my ‘people’
just a Museum of Natural History
but the rate of admission
is low.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Inauguration (Part II): Actio/Uno Mercado Unido

Actio/ Uno Mercado Unido
“As is the osprey to the fish, who take it
By sovereignty of nature.” –Tullus Aufidius (Coriolanus, IV, vii)

My first act always has been to guide
your President toward
two forges
one of gold, the other molten
and before my select Pharisees
dip the fingers of this
tribune of the people
into their proper cauldron

After the burn and with the right
dew upon his lips
I compel one piquant, peppery
digit flight ward
towards the tongue
to speak thence of peace
whilst its meaning sears
as summer roses blossom sweet
at his temples

in a mid-Winter stance
before ramparts of bread and
beneath the Capitol dome
his face opens plaza-ward
and with contusive
he reads the law

One world/Our world
is for freedom’s birth
One freedom/Our freedom
devoted to a common dream

One world/His world
One master enthroned
with every man a shareholder
clenching tight his sheaf

(He is speaking of My grace)

Men with their women shall stroll
down the calle
and admire initiative
that built this stone Appian
raised and cultivated this garden
of monuments
all cropped about the great lawn
and pollarded boulevards
it is in these streets
and under their shade
and in the shadow of our humble
but always grand institutions
the public works

The oracle in the public square
bearing her breast of purpose blind
on the steps of this great court
of the people
of word-as-law
of consented precedents

In those shadows
under that shade and windbreak
we come to reason together
trade together
for no two nations
or the multitude
congressed in truck
shall take up arms against the other
for there are no betters
here only dealers
negotiators and bargainers
at the great table
of fair reason
and ordered liberties

Democracy hasn’t any supplicants
no mendicants for a hearing
for the people’s will is sovereign
alive and listening
for the melody of that Son of Man
having walked quietly amongst
our ancestors
compelling their share along
a new frontier
across the water clutching
the garment hem
to gain it
thy kingdom

They saw the broken meadow
and open plain
and meant to mend it
make it by brow sweat
and pious intent

And have

So that now we trade
in peace
peace is our mission
bringing reason, pragmatic
reason that shines
still like a prize
in benighted places
in the faces of the least

They come to us
they beckon and beseech
to be taught
our sky blue trade

Jeremy Nathan Marks


I would like to share the opening section of a long poem that I am working on:


“It is the nurse that the child first hears, and her words that he will first attempt to imitate.” -Quintilian

There is but one God
seated on high
and He is flying the
friendly skies
but running down his
montane brow
comes a horseman

Beard seeded by wheat
but anointed with oil
he wears it twirled about
his index finger
Aramaic verses
sups alone

The canter of His horse
turns a wildcat
chorister’s head
seizing the recumbent bend
of an abandoned harp of grass
he plucks a single mote

ringing out
like a bison-lacquered tuning fork
from sea-to-sea
and maybe then to sea again
ringing true

I am He
it says
and I shed my grace
on thee, Achilles!
on thee, Rambo!
and acknowledge all
those idols
you have slain red in their blood
and in My name
won’t you now go
and take them up into a great museum
with a lawn green roof
and present their vanquished history
in the mastodon’s shadow
lit by laurels of aureate light falling
through the portico
burnishing the marble flooring

It is a light that has scraped the sky clean
a beam to keep away
while the shadow puppet shadows
of war memorials
and senatorial cenotaphs
raise the waters of the urban river
as if by a latch
to bake new loaves on the Capitol skein
while fishes stir from sleep in their
Permian beds
soon to gush forth in praise
another miracle made
on C-rations

Today is inauguration day
so behold my plea
through rhetorical ventriloquy
for a world peace,

A Pax Americana:

Jeremy Nathan Marks