mark hartenbach


can't anyone read between the stars
that basket floating down the river
is empty
my inner-crow has flown the coop
higher ground was a sweet pipedream
an uninhabitable symbol
mathematic mistake
philosophical faux pas
what are the odds
of digging up a damond anyway?
rosetta stone & loaded dice
only slow me down
ground me to memory
true nature is honey throat
bleeding black words
regenerative death songs
scratched on some other heaven



if those are unwanted words
flappping in the wind
then this must be 
where ghosts go to die
constant change, form in flux
the gift that keeps giving 
peeling back faces
of dead presidents, fugitive gods
mad scientists, sad debutantes
overdosed soup bones
martyred saints & sacrificed sons
to find absoulutes
but all you get
are layers & layers of denial
romantic fade-outs, paper thin equilibrium
emphatic question marks
unbearable domestication
enigmatic cliff-hangers, chance encounters
more & more distance
hell, pharoah's army
could march
through these gaps in reasoning


Black Dog

black dog tied to late 70's grand am
doesn't know opiate tenderness
or thrill of misinterpretation
no aimless driving 
in middle of the night
breaking down
in front of unsympathetic headlights
the tragic rhythm 
of stranger's conversation
of rhyming rhetoric
of backseat drivers
tangled up in radio foreplay
& semantics
looking for some sort of sign
in even most familiar & mundane
fretting over possibility
constant folding
& unfolding
whitman might console him
with pat on head
kerouac might emphathize
& offer a friendly shot
jeffers might cut him loose
or black dog
might become a metaphor
still tied
to that dilapidated machine