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Jack Marshall Jack Marshall was born in 1936 in Brooklyn, New York, to an Iraqi father and a Syrian mother. He is the author of several poetry volumes, including Gorgeous Chaos: New + Selected Poems 1965–2001 and Sesame, winner of the PEN Center West Literary Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist. “Supple and mystical,” Marshall’s poems are marked by an “unadorned nakedness.” In addressing the “cities and cultures that shaped his artistic awakening,” including the complexities of his Arab Jewish upbringing , his poems “hit their target dead center.” His memoir, From Baghdad to Brooklyn, was named a finalist for the PEN USA Award in 2006. Marshall, who has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, now lives in San Francisco. Walking Across Brooklyn Bridge A black cat arching its back over the river was how it looked that time, that first time years ago, sailing out from under. Behind me, hazy as litter freshly-flushed, a string of furnished rooms yawned toward the Heights, the house I couldn’t love and gave up trying; the cemetery next door, like a rough diamond crystallizing, stone by crowning stone, to a cutting-edge perfection, where I used to walk, listening for my own shadow, thin, and bloated with moonlight, still too thin, slipping through the bars, in and out, stitching me in place. Leaving was all I knew then. . . . 186 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 186 A stowaway sneaking brief, shallow breaths under pitchblack tarpaulin, his eye, a fingernail picking at a patch of pale blue sky big as a postage stamp, trying to think what his rights were, getting nowhere. . . . Today, March twenty-first, ten years, not too late, but later, I walk across with the girl you’d spoken against, who is my wife, taking it all in: light, through The Narrows’ neck, unbottling, erasing the shadow that circles me; this bridge, sung to once as a sort of lover or god. And though I do not claim as much, I can feel us breathing great, reviving drafts of North Atlantic air, the steel-ribbed diaphragm humming like a harp. Below us, taking their slow, sweet time, three tugs drag in a tramper; demurring, blistered down to waterline, giving a toot for Liberty, it keeps on coming in. I would have you know, in spite of our words, our silences, and though I do not understand or love it, I accept my life. Jack Marshall 187 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 187 Appalachia Suite Winter not yet gone from the stone, and churchbells chime “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” over the heads of the poor, reborn each morning for the appetite of cities. What windows there are, open to slag-hill shadows inside of which no one sees their own shadow. Cancelled by half, scented with soot, where the dust slows your spit down the backyard cinderpath, somewhere between dew and dynamo young kids cuff the mouths of Coke bottles with their palms, releasing a moan as close as they’ll ever come to foghorns, and holding on to the hopeless light of the past holding fast to the hopeful light to come, all golden promises tomorrow is already antiqued with . . . While their fathers wrestle blocks of anthracite and feel the urge to commit petty larceny subside in the glow of the weekly paycheck; and their sisters, gone west, find the glowing lights are still further on, and what lasts is what was spoken last at home: “Let your heart hold us in,” even as the lights there go out. 188 Jack Marshall 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 188 Crane Tonight I want to return to Elizabeth, New Jersey, where Stephen Crane lies under a stone, and my father, after twenty years of skimping wages, finally opened his own dry-goods store. I worked there after school, on weekends, but it didn’t take a genius to see from the sad look of the place— dim light, threadbare “goods”—where it was headed. In all the time I spent in that smog-sucking town of wan bargain hunters and hangdog merchants, I never knew of, let alone visited, Crane’s grave. Then, I was more enamored of that other Crane, Hart (lovely name!), whose grave is the belly of the South Atlantic. Besides, I couldn’t imagine any reason why anyone would want to stop...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610752060
Related ISBN
9781557288677
MARC Record
OCLC
769187839
Pages
328
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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