Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nathaniel Mackey

Ghost of a Trance

—“mu” sixty-first part—

Gray morning, blue morning, a
feather blown between. Mashed
earth incumbent, gone up from,
more naked if ever to be naked,
brink what it was to be on…
Where next we came stick-figure
people greeted us. Abstract
abstract, also something else. Line,
shape, extension each other
than itself, of number we’d have
said the same… Aspect arrested
us, riveted we stood… Stick-
figure epiphany held us in our
everyone’s bones in full view…
morning, blue morning, an unheard
string between. Bad heads’ morning
reluctance, ennui’s next-day dispatch…
were chill, shiver, exegetic sweat, backed-
up interpreters put upon by sluff, none
of us could say what was what. Pale
admonishment poised upon lack,
to unlike, pale strain recumbent, re-
combinant, rude amniotic straw…
Took leave, leave long since taken,
to what would otherwise not have been.
We contested birth, we wanted to be pre-
andoumboulouous, done-dead gnostics
Sound bubbled up, it kept bubbling, sonic
residue, sonic remit. A fickle sonance,
fraught sonance, warning we knew nothing,
stick-figure entourage otherwise issue-
less, beginning to be remiss it seemed…
while ecstatics’ lapsed enchantment, trance
gone none could say since when…
of what lifted us, ghost what lifted us,
enchantment between… Fell back, full-out
extended. Pilgrim someone called me, I said
no, then I said yes… Brax was on the box
was what it was, toned uncertainty. Stick-figure
counsel all air, edge, angle, down from where
been and we were again where the Alone lived,
adage, had it not been so abstract, it might’ve
been… Long day of the abalone-shell sunset…
among redwoods expecting the worst… What
was of note and what abjured nothing. What
all, none, one, all the

It was the ghost of a trance. I was a
guest of the trance. What went on we
blamed on the ghost… It was the
ghost of a trance, each of us a
of the trance. No two times were the
When we hit a wrong note we said
nothing. When we hit the right note
we said so what… Tell my horse,
we were told, fluke solace, horse
were mounted by… What was done
was done by the ghost, gray morning,
morning, eternity be-

Told my horse we would gather at
Nod House, down drinks at the
no-host bar. Dirt was in the drinks
drank, planet sludge. Double-take
told its horse whoa, told it unwhoa,
back and forth and back without
end… Talk spun our heads,
our horses ride on. Unresolved
which to insist on, stick with. Could it
whoa unwhoa’s ramble unresolved…

Spinning heads made us feel we sat on
seats… Double-take talked us in,
us in

Sat again at the same table, no two
times the same, twinship long since
gone. Leaned back, the back legs of
our chairs broke, Nod House Nub’s
address… A straining look made our
faces look raw, made our skin flush…
Dreamt each other’s dream, donned
other’s costume, hosted one another,
stepped in as
one stepped


peN said...

Nate Mackey's work is one of the most remarkable achievements in North American poetry in the last 20 years. As soon as I start reading his work, I feel as if I have been taken back to a neighborhood (universe) to which I have not been in years.

A remarkable inventive use of language, a fascinating cosmology which is revealed a little more with each visit and a vibrant sense of justice are but three of the strongest aspects of his work for me.

I don't believe there has ever been a poet who has incorporated the jazz impulse as well as Nate and look forward to seeing more of the mu thread.

As soon as I saw his name on the list of contributors, I was interested. Nice work, boys.

Paul Nelson
Ilalqo, WA

Randall Horton said...

I agree totally with everything you said. Mackey is the best. Also, Ed Roberson is a poet of impulse and jazz and language. But yes, I love Mackey.