Mark Weiss

from 'A Suite of Dances,' a new gathering

XIV. Sings Forth


The bride of god wants it, now,

on her own terms.


We breed cattle

for the final predator.


There is always something to ask. This-or-that-ness or



A set of rituals as a boat in waves.


Assume the air around it,

assume the season and the path,

assume trees, and what they hide.



the common hungers,

the children’s terror and resignation,

no matter how fantastic the costumes. Look:

tattered banners on every lamp post, the fiesta done

before we got here.



wind drift

sea wrack







shit loam manure guano landfill rubbish


The magic child cannot whither or stale,



In the sweet,

across the river,

in the beautiful,

atop the cloud, in the great

sun chariot, there will be

no tooth

decay, no

baldness, no

eczema, no age, no

hunger, no dying children.



all of us, just

bags of it.


Rumble of thunder to the south

five hours to dawn.


A transparent epiphany.


A whole pointy presence

here in Brobdingnag.


An idea of food in the plate’s arrangement.


Sic transit, the victor of Waterloo remembered

for a pair of boots.       




Perhaps you have eaten your last meal.


With age you may pass to another fetish.





The goddess

glides the canals in a pink scarf.


Who could deny her?





Think of the hard times your feet have seen

and where they’ve been.





Prettiness depends on what’s to bribe,

even the goddesses for sale.





She is the daughter of a swan.


In the cleft, and cleaves it.


She is the daughter of a swan.


A tree in the cleft.


She is the daughter of a swan.





You will be loved by many

for the color of your hair, just that.

And isn’t it a mystery.



Think of the body as a tube

with undulant appendages

propelling it

through a viscous medium.


The neighbor’s captive bird

whistles behind the wall.


Small kindnesses left to the old.


“They haven’t been in the bar for weeks.

‘Hey Eddie!’ they call from across the street.”


Still the mind.


Within the poem

a glacial echo.






Something about her casualness of dress.

“Have a bite of trilobite,

my dear.”

And twirls her hair

and strokes and twirls it,


sees the scar

and wonders at his story.


Because sometimes a snapshot’s all there is.



The difference between a loan

and alone, rent

and rented.


Below deck I find the horizon.

Distance, the prow of a boat among islands.


Closely observed,

each bone different.


No pause for dreams.


“Let’s play gynecologist,”

I say.


A straight line,

regardless of obstacles,

devouring the landscape.



for who she is

or would be thought to be.


“I named my daughter Malady,”

Milady Malady, la maudite,

he named her. “Thrive,”

he told her, “strive, wive, swive,



Eating and breeding

breeding and eating

survival of me and mine.


“I am,” he said, “the later                               

gator, the wily croc





A Suite of Dances
Mark Weiss

Shearsman Books 2021, 204 pages, $25, ISBN 978-1848617476


Writes Patrick Pritchett of the new book’s triumphs: “Pound once observed ‘that music begins to atrophy when it gets too far from the dance, that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music.’” In A Suite of Dances, Mark Weiss brings poetry and the dance back together in intricate, delightful measures. The rhythms and tone of these sly, sinuous poems jolt the reader awake with unexpected, offbeat aphorisms, jokes, and moves of improvisatory nimbleness and agile grace that always stick the landing.


“Pulsing with wit, bravado, vulgarity, pathos, whimsy, and replete with that rarest of pleasures in contemporary poetry: the sheer surge of song, these dances ripple with a music that moves freely through the range of English lyric. The bass note of melancholy anchors them in a tradition of reflective loss and revival that is, finally, reaffirming, since, as Williams put it, ‘we know nothing and can know nothing / but / the dance.’”


An earlier section of A Suite of Dances appeared previously in Poems and Poetics.