Three Poems

by Brandon Marlon


The Graphic Novelist

He toils defiantly, undeterred by criticasters

who label him an unrepentant man-child

at the vanguard of an infantilized generation

collectively mired in interminable nonage,

carefree and inured to the silent threat of time.

As graphomaniac and artist, he painstakingly

sketches and stencils mental imagery

until pads enliven with storylines

and characters generated preternaturally

from a combination of memory, rum,

amphetamines, and sleep deprivation.

He glances around, momentarily affronted

by the spavined condition of his leased loft

now irradiated through the pierced aperture

by the dawning amber glow catching him

red-eyed, disoriented, and stubbly.

For breakfast he sops brownies in black java

and carries on limning his newest hero,

a mysterious eidolon, ethereal and vulpine,

whose principle is the talion and whose

modus operandi takes no prisoners,

particularly when it comes to his arch-nemesis,

the underworld’s supercilious demoness.

In just under six months’ time,

when pens fall flat and inkwells run dry,

he will reluctantly bathe and groom

then meticulously prepare his handicraft

for submission, anonymously or pseudonymously,

steeling himself for the publishers’ critiques

and casual but god-awful suggestions, then,

goaded by guilt, phone his neglected mother.

An Estuary in Time

Puling whelps harangue silence’s onset,

hailing moonrise on a sultry eve

by the rickety cantina whose barman

fills tumblers with mescal in slapdash fashion

while I, otiose and weary, eye a leaf-shaped

tray of lime wedges from my creaking hammock

under spiny palms bending in the breeze.

From this vantage point I oversee it all,

the quince and cactus farmers

sweating past twilight yonder in the field,

the gaggle of arguing locals,

the lady of the night whose active loins

beckon paramours strange or familiar,

the prurient letch short of coins,

even the menacing thief who perils

wayfarers’ fortunes in search of illicit meed.

As the wind soughs through the boughs

I catch a whiff of coconut and avocado,

and listen to the staccato call of gulls

gliding in accord with the retiring tide.

I cannot account for the droll grin

shaping my face; I yawn as I outstretch limbs,

lithe and blithe, sensing the moment’s

impressive presence and subdued glory,

thankful for the splendor of a fitting setting.


The nauseous stench assailed from Sumter’s

bivouac whose timber stockade cooped up

captives gradating into inmates, unexchanged denizens

lacking barracks and hope, limping else squatting

in a squalid morass of despair and languor.

Afore long, gaunt figures with protruding

rib cages resembled underfed fowl in fetid pens,

stumbling into and over each other

night and day amid cramped confines

whose likes in these parts were thitherto unknown.

Wights turned wraiths in the miasma

of overcrowding, starvation, contaminated water,

and rampant disease, eliminative conditions

condemning doughty soldiers

to wither into listless wretches

staggering round damnation’s station

under a blistering confederate sun

and chilled by wintry rains compounding misery.

In eras to come the site of infamy

would shudder the spines of hushed visitors

aghast at atrocity, in the grip of disbelief

at the thought of forebears reduced

to cemetery fodder, grist for a graveyard

solemnly attesting to liberty’s atrophy.

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and has been published in more than 85 publications in Canada, U.S.A., England, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Romania, Israel, India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Trinidad.

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