Mark Ward is the author of the chapbooks Circumference (Finishing
Line Press, 2018) and Carcass (Seven Kitchens Press, 2020), as well as
the forthcoming full-length collection Nightlight (Salmon Poetry, 2022).
He lives in Dublin, Ireland and is the founding editor of Impossible
, a journal of LGBTQ+ poetry.

The Office Carpet: A Mid-Afternoon Disaster Movie

I teeter upon a corrugated sea
able to see down to its Mariana blue
seen when sat too close to the tv set.

The scuffmarks and stains are islands
as photographed from space. I sway
amidst them, each step vertiginous.

The cocksure office furniture
pretends not to float, imagines itself
as planets photobombing the picture

instead of a barbell held aloft
by a sea constricted by Christian tricks,
sick of the water being stolid.

The sea breathes; erupting, swallowing.
I cling to the doorframe and watch it all sink.

Landmark: An Audio Guide

In a mouth full of cardboard dentures, the De Stijl
structure is invaded by the peripatetic oval, stilled;

impersonally cradled, bookended, the oval—
representing us—begins to reorient itself, instill

a sense of geography, squinting and seeing
mountains, the idea of not just being still

but that we could attain our own axis,
be our own fulcrum, ending the standstill

of the world and watching it whirligig until
the oval, now dizzy, thinks art is easier as a still.


You were always nursing a joint
whilst deftly rolling another joint

for us to smoke, we couldn't roll
or cross the line to buying our own joints

but were happy to smoke yours
the high making us just another joint

between the door and washing machine:
the shed full of smoke from the joint

and everything is hilarious
even as our bodies become disjointed,

shucked clean by the laughter
and the lighter and the hands conjoint.


He gathers up your worries,
remnants or fully-formed
flurries, shorn of context.
He places them within a reflex,
reborn as certified causes
for his special effects, nerve ending
pyrotechnics, inhabiting each breath
that you can't quite catch.

With a lever pull, he's a pinball
breaking every light in the machine,
appropriating the bonus screen.
The flippers slick with sweat,
your fingers slip. You forget
the normalcy of your body at rest
becoming instead the conditional tense.

You wouldn't. You won't. You can't. You must.
Grist to the mill grinds you down to dust.

He plays your remains like a videogame.
Each Game Over erased with a Continue?
but you feel each death, each bullet, each sinew.
You're gristle, grasping at the NPC's
who respond to empty cues, a glitched script.
Help me, please. Their sunless smiles pixel burnt.
He debates whether he should quit or save.
Your dust reassembles, the game dissipates.

You're blinded by the outline of the day,
the shape of what it is without his sway.
Your body levels out. You forget this
affliction. For a moment; normality,
banality, an addiction to it;
the beauty of not noticing each breath.

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