Marc McKee


The poem I am writing right now
is called Jason Bredle and the first thing
to happen is the sudden appearance of
the bee whose last gesture is to dive
into meganutricious antioxidant juice
the color of a dozen fruit slashed and squeezed
which reminds me like everything else
of the constant blood, blood that won't stay
in the lines, blood that marks the doorway
and the lantern, blood in the supermarkets
and in the treads of deflating tires
and the painful pain. Sometimes the painful pain
is in the pieces of the broken bottle
multiplying a reflection one often feels
is unbearable in the singular and sometimes
it is in the bandaged hand in the parking lot
of a huge store chain that radiates the painful
pain or the eye that won't work and fails
to be diagnosed accurately by each specialist
who experience small twinges in their failure
before brushing them off and aiming a laser
at a completely different subject.
Other times the painful pain is painted
on the windows of the vehicle the subject
must own and force to move like blood
which returns us to a need or well-helping
juice so strong we are ready to dive
from the flowers we know into the palace
of a scent we suspect. The tempting others
snake through the city in search of refining
dramas that make them glisten, like the el
crossing paths with Krylon blood-wielding
decorators who make presentable the city
for those guiding rafts made of ancient rusted cars
and intestines upon a sea we know not.
In any attempt to represent the subject
we move inexorably from the subject
and my subject is Jason Bredle, who never
confuses a horse with a unicorn and the grammar—
Well, it is the grammar of the carcass, perfect
and jagged as speech, jagged as the crinkles
at the coastal borders which produce such cries
for absent mercy the human appears
altogether not. The sea licks the beach
like blood licking the feet and impossible to tell
whether it comes from above or below. Sometimes
a salary increase helps but mostly nothing helps.
See that television? Full of painful blood
which makes us very careful around it
lest it be made to open and color the rest
of our lives, to follow us down the stairs
and into the street as if the pain and blood
were on a leash and attached to us by some method
we can't fathom, leading it through the valley
of the carcass. Disease lurks in one petal
and it is the petal that we discover half in
our ice cream sandwich, half in our mouth.
The brightest part of the sun scraped by
the talented wind makes a fiercer dark part
and one hopes for pricks of light to penetrate it
though most times it's just laughter
we're not sure is coming from our own mouths
which feel lived in by coppery slither.
There is meditation which doesn't always
make the petal of disease lift from the dark cavern
we throw admirably draping coats and scarves over
in order to get from one part of the city
to the other. But the food that seems to wait
on pedestals of air as we traverse
the network: watch it pass through us
like the painful pain and the blood
and those moments of pleasure and ease
which seem to forgive us before the wheel
sprouts the exacting thorns it needs
to turn aside the shield of the pavement.
See how vulnerable the earth is, see how glad
we are that the subject has been able to withstand
this long casual calamity and demented lightning
without and within, as when the contemporary she
rushes in another direction and in all other
directions differing corridors of coagulating pain
AKA separate experiences of time.
For the subject to hear you, he must stand
in a precise corner in a small apartment
but you can detect his presence everywhere.
His blades turn stars to dust and demand from dust
a relapse into bright condition like lanterns
with a thin lens of blood illuminating
the dark glow of multifarious futures.
Popsicles, ceiling fans, umbrella parachutes,
your aunt and her maladies, reality television
and the train station where you can't decide
whether to arrive continuously or depart finally—
all are subject to the painful pain of the subject
as a weeping mother. The subject is a giant swallow.
A swallow can be a bird and flap its wings
against the hurting or it can cause
what you waited for to disappear, whether into
the corrosive musculature of the sea
or some other surprising and terrible mouth.




One day, usage of the phrase "My friend, Jason Bredle..." should result in either disbelief or envious awe, but it's not for want of getting in on the ground floor of that nascent phenomenon that this poem (or mutant blurb) appears; HE started it.

Ever since his poem "Marc McKee" showed up in the Indiana Review a couple of years ago, I've been trying to figure how to rejoinder. Any glow the resultant tract gives off is a poor shadow of his luminous hilarity and the kaleidoscopic manifestations of his spiritual and physical discomfort. He is, as the Young Republicans say, "bananas." In his work, blood and pain are anchors that plunge through clouds. Amazing fantasias become forgiving constellations around them. In response, I decided that blood and pain could act as a kind of bonding agent that held together an otherwise haphazardly controlled press release. I like the idea of a mythologizing address to an unaware public almost as much as I like the fact that a poem can be celebrant and terrifying at the same time.