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.

A History of Empathy

Your emotions are a fog, slowing the car
due to low visibility, their ubiquity dismantling
place or movement, leaving only a patch of ground
and an obscured map screen.

Your emotions are seeping into the room,
invisibly increasing the altitude
until lungs fill with them, acclimatising
to their reduced capacity.

Your emotions have been mapped:
they're prehensile and terrifying,
burnt into retinas, colouring
reality with their retinue.

Your emotions are gasping children
one day you will disown.

Jet Lag

not tiredness
a bodysnatched
sleep becomes
a terrorist
a continuous collapse
the bouncing ball follows
a wordless circle
of overlapped clock hands
the days now feign
a schedule except
they redirect
your body to run on
that nap erased
all sense of place
doors wilfully misplaced
this body could
be anyone's expanse
this room could
orbit back into place
could redirect time's plans
my eyes askance


A smack, a slap across my skin
akin to crime you partake in,
the canvas moulds his own beating

by controlling the precision
and how frequent each collision:
a smack, a slap across my skin.

My tacit stare regulating
this edge in which we dabble in,
the canvas moulds his own beating,

smiling, savouring the feeling,
the sensation we're creating:
a smack, a slap across my skin

stops time and space, a narrowing
down to the sound of your breathing,
the canvas moulds his own beating,

submitting to his ransacking
the world almost whirls out of control
but each smack, each slap reins it back in.
The canvas moulds his own beating.

after a photograph of Quentin Crisp

Trying to capture an age.
He no longer cares to smile.

Gaunt, his skin is closed curtains,
his scarf replacing the sun.

He waits in his apartment
for his Great Dark Man to come

but will bide his time with me
proving with each click he's here.

He talks about walking out
in full face, holding each gaze

in case they don't turn away.
The room swells with recalled light,

detail brightening his face.
Gripped, my finger hesitates.

Back to Front.