Marc Darnell is a custodian and online tutor in Omaha, Nebraska, and received his MFA from the University of Iowa. He has published poems in The Lyric, Shot Glass Journal, Blue Unicorn, DASH, Stickman Review, The Poet, and elsewhere.
My fear of living is genetic-- father all hammer on the roof, afraid to even laugh with us beneath, and mother frantic to keep his bed aligned and made, always staring at neighbors while she talked in short, complaining sentences, but questioning nothing. Their long gone passivity still marks all my life's unfurling hesitations-- a branding that's prodded me toward bouts of ironclad seclusion, each day guarding my crystalline heart, but never learning that isolation gives partial protection from everything, but promises the passing down of nothing.
I'm losing. My niece sent a card how much she loves me. I felt nothing, my heart receding, dying quietly from betrayals, cold shoulders, losing lovers one too many times, wanting to just go missing. You, boy, said my father, are nothing if you can't take the everyday prodding and using by pinheads who think they are anything but losing. Maybe hell is other people, talking down, causing nightmares till I gladly want to be nothing, and I hope my niece in all her love will be something, not pared down, curled up the way I am right now-- losing, feeling nothing.
Hopes And Preyers
Some un-cage the itch inside by sinking into children's cheeks-- men who lie before they speak and smile as if there's nothing wrong. Layered clothes won't shield the young from serpents fond of skin, and drunk on disappointments, satisfied by black and blue and household rank. The cowardly prefer to hide, then pull the shades and clip the boys flown above the fringe of fright. The shiest and naive deliver pleasure sought without a noise. The weakest hurt the most, forever.