Mark Tarren

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer who lives on remote Norfolk Island in the South Pacific.

His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The New Verse News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press, Tuck Magazine and Impspired Magazine. He is currently working on a collection of poetry and a novel.

Write as if You Were Dying

Write as if you were dying

as if the curve of her cheek
would stop you from leaving

as if her lashes were the last leaves
of your life.

Write as if you were dying 

as if one strand of her hair
brought all the worlds water 
to fill your next morning,

as if all the ashes of her words 
were birdsong.

Write as if you were dying 

as if the darkling that you hold 
was lost in the twirl of her dress

as if all the last days of your regret
were kissed away
in the summer of her eyes.

Write as if you were dying

as if her dancing could stop you
from breathing

as if the skin behind her ear
could stop you from bleeding.

Write as if you were dying

as if her love was your first heralded 
doom and your last small death.

Write as if you were dying

down the nape of her neck
into the choral of forgetting 

into the grave of your heart.

Write as if you were dying

and live your life 
as you love her

into your last small breath.

The Weepers Breath

The shadow of a mast
blankets a child’s body —

a sliver of shared sky and ship,
for the girl that sleeps beneath the moon.

Her tiny, breathless body
submerged in a barrel —

deaths quiet womb,

is placed at the bow.

A child forever now,
in the eye of memory.

Each and every night
her mother approaches

the wooden shroud
and weeps over

her child.

There is no ghosthouse here —

no fare tupapa’u.

There are no sharks teeth
to pierce the heart of grief,

no blood and tears
on tapa.

Only the sound of sorrow —

a mute, blue, cold stone
that hangs and drips,

in the black air.

It circles and swims,
swimming tears —

the swimmers
are sea mist and water,


and the ashen
faces of frightened children,

who do not understand
that the dead do not remember the living.

That the greatest terror of their lives
will be these desperate, desolate separations.

The slow hum and moan of
life into death —

death into life.

The weepers breath.

For griefs silence is the deafening
beating heart of a mother.


On this, her last night,
before she returns to the beginning,

Mary makes her final walk in darkness
towards the bow of the ship.

Her face, a wreath —

as the sea sings a requiem
that anoints and kisses

her bare ankles and feet.

She dips her arm into the black air —
feels for the shape of the barrel,

gently places her palm
on the wooded womb,

and waits for the warmth of movement —

to sleep beneath her hand.

One Thursday in October

In the life before,
the boy was given a name.

He was born before and
beyond borders —

below the watchtower
and within the walled garden,

the first-born son
of the seventh seed

of the summerhouse.

Four black feathers fell
from his mother’s hand

four black feathers
carried away by

The Winds of Ellan Vannin —

beyond the gate of
Moreland Close

over the tender boughs of
The McCrystyn Tree

across the eyes of
The Irish Sea

through his father’s body
to take refuge 

in his mother’s womb.

This was

The First Migration —

that traveling wound
in the blood

to land softly at
The Border of Passing Clouds.

It was a Thursday —

a Thursday in October.


A singular world nestled
briefly in the embrace
of a name.

Words spoken where we
carry with us

all the terrible beauty
of the past.

Teraura kisses his heart
through the veil of his chest —

her lips carry
the fragrance of identity
that always travels with us,

in the collective memory
of being.
Mauatua places
four black feathers

on his dark black hair.

Four black feathers
his crown of thorns —

four black thorns for his crown of hair.

This second Christ,
fallen from the

Deemster of Man

his naked body descending
into the sea

beyond borders —

our paradise lost.


In the life before,
the man was given a name.

He died before and
beyond borders —

he died the first-born son
of the seventh seed,

his death beyond

The Border of the Moon —

long since sunk beneath
the ocean of dreams.

It was April twenty-one
eighteen thirty-one —

It was a Thursday.

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