Marc Darnell is an online tutor and custodian in Omaha NE, and has also been a phlebotomist, hotel supervisor, busboy, editorial assistant, farmhand, devout recluse, and incurable brooder. He received his MFA from the University of Iowa, and has published poems in The Lyric, Rue Scribe, Verse, Skidrow Penthouse, Shot Glass Journal, The HyperTexts, Candelabrum, The Road Not Taken, Aries, Ship of Fools, Open Minds Quarterly, The Fib Review, Verse-Virtual, Blue Unicorn, Ragazine, The Literary Nest, The Pangolin Review, and elsewhere.
I was raised in small-town isolation, a town that never GREW to more than 120 people, surrounded by corn that went UP above my 5 foot 8 inches of bone and mostly fat, weaned ON processed food because it was cheap for a family of seven, THIS being rare in a place of stick-figure senior citizens with a TINY post office my mother ran, a co-op of salt blocks for cows, a LITTLE bar named Smiley's in a frowned-up village that became an ISLAND every spring when the Elkhorn and Logan rivers flooded ON the streets up to the 3-foot porch where we crouched, watching THIS ferocious inundation bring some variety at least into our TINY crotch of dry existence in the Nebraska Flood Plain, this LITTLE nothing I could not wait to escape from, but I realize I am an ISLAND no matter where I go, living in a big city that also soaks UP the wet of everything that invades-- exhaust, neon, loneliness I dread, missing the fresh floods, my siblings, the lulling boredom I GREW to miss in this urban mess more drowning than a river. *also reads vertically
I know when fall is coming because the wind through the trees is different. I awoke today, and the wind through the leaves slightly hissed with longer but weaker breaths, because the leaves are now slightly crisp, losing their tenderness which allowed them to bend slightly, quietly to the wind all spring and summer, but now they begin to rattle and cough knowing it's the beginning of their death, and then it is the beginning of my slow death through another winter, loving someone who doesn't love me at all, which I have no control over and dwell on foolishly, another winter from which I will recover, even more slowly, to go on in this hole of a thick city, blind to a way to ever leave this urban forest to find a bare, still, warm place where no aging leaves can dryly sigh what a coward I am.
The Thing That Doesn’t Bloom Here Anymore
The others cast it out, there was too much talk it used a different dirt, or bloomed a little too long-- long enough to make the others jealous. Daisies were the worst, with never-ending malicious gossip: It doesn't turn to the sun the way we do. We heard it uproots itself at night and sleeps beside the lilac tree-- a needy little thing. Did they envy its odd ability to bud and bloom in black-- beyond black? Perhaps it frightened other species, as staring at its petals only brought to mind the time before all prettiness, when there was only dead oiled ground, loamless rootless inferno. This fiend of a flower offered such a threatening kiss, so they expelled its seeds to push back the abyss.