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.

False Hope
after Felix Gonzales-Torres

I colour in the boxes of my math
notebook, dispelling its blankness for good.
Each tiny square is an act I decide,
a public action and each man
is tattooed in black ink. Enough
space to write the complication
of life being multiple choice:
I create an inverse night sky.

I use a spirit level to
score the page, the pencil bleeding
through, bisecting us. We can live
in boxes, before and after.
The page splits. Bin it. The cut is
on every new page, a first line.

White Flag
after Jasper Johns

I took the reams of paper I would write
these poems on and boiled them of their blankness.
I filled the bath, stripped, and stuck a foot in.
It came out dirty white. I poured in bleach.

I stepped in and imagined billowing
from a flagpole, my surrender
set against the sky, the wind dissolving
fabric, giving way to your silence.

The Farewell
after Bernard Perlin

So he pulled you away as if he could
erase that I told you how he fucked me
as you, pregnant, appraised the house downstairs.
It was exciting how he hit on me,
so brazenly as if the world bent round
his every wish. When I tried to kiss him,
he pinned me to the wall, choking me out,
saying that I knew his wife was waiting.

When you tracked me down, I braced for a scene
that never came. You suggested coffee.
We took it to the park and as you talked —
the contours of your life becoming clear —
we walked, I realised, back to the wood where
his body was engulfed in autumn leaves.

Sky Burial
after Keith Haring

a chattering of chough
a thousand oblique
signatures inked
across the page

all your words
that I tuned out
and can no longer
salvage as lines

clogging the sheet
a placeholder for
your absent body

opened to the air
crows wade through
the clouds in your chest

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