12 July 2006

Featured Poet: Mark Tardi

Mark Tardi grew up a mile away from Midway Airport in Chicago, IL. At any early age he learned that the defeaning roar of the planes overhead was a great way to leverage natural pauses in phone conversations.

His first book Euclid Shudders was a finalist for the 2002 National Poetry Series. More recently, two chapbooks have appeared: Airport music from Bronze Skull Press (where some of these poems appeared), and Part First-----Chopin's Feet from g o n g. Poems and reviews can be found in Antennae, Aufgabe, Bird Dog, Boog City, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, and other periodicals.

They were entire functions, quasi doubly periodic, q-series, mock theta

And they were the future behaved at infinity

open air rooms, inescapable

Vitamin D deficient

A bad year for scarves,
broken symmetries, those thin potato soups

which were the beginning

And they were blue almonds or heavy hydrogen

very much a jump in the dark
buried and buried again

Your plastic itinerary, a loss cone
lying in wait


Second letter on the same day:

Best to end these confidences. It’s not that I’m superstitious, but
that I’m not. Some people like to go to church, and some people
like cherries. A corpse won’t change any of that. The usual whisper
and splash, soup and a pair of shoes.


That streets are sewn together.

Nose bleed en route.

Tray to beam.

That steak weapons.

To your desolate without.

Private fire trucks.

It’s an insurance job.

Softball without gloves.

A leg laugh.


The Calumet Record, October 1907:
12 died in the neighborhood of the blast furnace;
3 were electrocuted;
1 died in a dynamite accident;
3 fell from a high place;
4 were struck by a falling object;
4 were killed by hot metal in the Bessemer department;
3 were crushed to death;
1 was suffocated by gas;
1 was thrown from a high place by the wind;
1 was scorched to death by a hot slag;
10 were killed by railroad cars or locomotives.


Still no solution, so how about an old joke:

2 plus 2 equals 5 for sufficiently large values of 2.

Maybe you’re right that the infinite resembles a wound, but “unperturbed kernels radiant and inevitable?”

Yes, I know counting is not proving. So I’m left reaching.
If you’re dead, do let me know.


Yes, ruthless
so much a square mile

pickled hands and cutworm

Yes, clean geometries

warned with corners

A stuffed
zero in an armchair

poorly equipped for the cold

Your algebra nearly fainted, salt-blue

The question of specific gravity

baths filling, flagpoles
casting shadows,

your father’s negative age

five years ago


5 out of 4 people have trouble with fractions.
The entireness of simple touch. All those
lost landscapes.

Your dead body looks like rain;

Mine, rotted planks for pavement, standing
water, vinegar, another flu out of season

Don’t ask how we went, by what sudden leap
or what unforeseen modulation. This zero with
so many ciphers.

It was impossible to watch:

To undress and dress again.
The chest a harpsichord.

Copyright 2006 Mark Tardi