Mark Hurley

The author's professional portfolio and résumé.

Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Smooth White Boys

leave a comment »

Smooth White Boys

We sit on stoops, summer in Brooklyn,
Smoking half packs apiece, telling ourselves
It is not too much because we’re still young,
Telling ourselves we don’t need

Them: bitches, any of them, emotional
Cowards, cripples. Men, all of us,
But they call us boys – I have boy trouble,
I met this really cute boy – as if any of us

Hadn’t lived whole lives in each soul
Crushing good-bye. As if we weren’t
Each of us graying wizards commanding
The hot haze to boil us alive. Awake in

A wind tunnel between suffocating towers,
I know I am invincible, black robed, reluctant
Race car driver. I did not die on an island of
Black tar void, or when Misery held my

Head under films, in heavy choking atmospheres
Where Hackensack & Levittown & the Boss are
Unflinchingly immortalized, where worth is
Abacized in scratches on broad backs, in love

Bites captured in photographic permanence, where
Geography is meaningless. Bleached purple
Tsunamis find blues clubs in Memphis and suddenly
The smooth white boys have something to moan about.

Snow falls in Vegas for the first time in years, and
For an hour I am still an awkward nineteen, for an
Hour my father forgets that Edgar Winter exists, and
Looks to the sky, because we were told it would fall

When the world ends. And Icarus with the Amazing
Breasts, who never hovers more than two feet above
The pavement, whose trainers tread air while men and
Grandparents wait to catch her yet again, kicks

Furiously like a duck, flaps fruitlessly toward a height
That might finally snap an ankle. & because I have
Been thrown away, I can not cower expectantly at the X,
Where my death will come pityingly quick. Instead, I

Breed certainties, and today it is that I will die with
This knot in my bowels. But I feel how mournfully
Nature bends and creaks to the music that logic dictates
When a blessed breeze happens by our stoop in Brooklyn
And brings with it daydreams of adequacy. Ah, to be the

Sous chef, the rhythm guitarist, competent. Not to drink
The freezer burn from the wounds of mechanized gods, or
Travel time to drink our poor torturers in embryo, despite
The sweet confection that promises to be. But to be the

Breast that one pelican nips blood from, for one
Lover to rend their clothes when we die, before our
Bones are thrown to dogs that don’t know to care for
Our sequestered histories.

Written by scumbagstyle

October 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Poetry

A Fresh Pilgrimage

leave a comment »

A Fresh Pilgrimage

The commuter train has stops like
Stations of the Cross. We kissed,

Enveloped in body heat and jealous
Disgust, the act a pulpy concoction

Of pain and temerity but never despair.
Where dissenters told lovers to tighten their

Belts, their work delegated to foreign
Beasts and machines, we gorged ourselves

Instead, blank eyed guppies, fattening
Ourselves for the feasts of the cruel.

The beggars that would have our souls
We stonefaced from under makeshift

Crowns; Winter was not half over
And we would have to crest the

Season. You occupied my
Mouth like heathen generals

Until doors opened to part us, and
A bag lady with a knowing smile

Cracked and straightened to wipe
My brow. A slug of her papered

Bottle and a moment on one knee
In a personal Gethsemane reminding

Me that no matter our differences
We all change at Jamaica.

(If you live in New York, there was your “OH, SNAP” moment for the day.)

Written by scumbagstyle

October 1, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Posted in Poetry

These Knees

with 5 comments

These Knees,

Made of calluses and scabs.
These knees with a baker’s dozen
Dime novels written over each other,
A crank film away from a Greatest Hits,
Mired in a gritty puddle:

Sand & salt & water, a
Microcosm of Hampton Beach on
The tiles of a public stall.

This afternoon Shame does not
Cower at accusatory graffiti or the
Hole in the wall that is her
Spirit’s livelihood. Shame is
The New Adrenaline, that bonfire of
Turtlenecks ablaze on the crown of
Honesty when the sun catches it right.
And we bottle her & we
Carry her in our purses &

We drink Shame like we have
Thirsted for months.

My knees – skinned in some
Bastardized Freddie Mercury bike
Race once, masturbated &
Made strong in Shame’s pungent
Salve – part beaded curtains
To her bedroom.

And, oh! These knees, radiantly ribboned
With years in the hot New Hampshire moonlight,
Opened like Gethsemane’s Gates,
For me & a flashlight crammed
In the hallowedest of hollow places.
It is the Cyclops that blinds me
& whispers, “This is the torch
I carry for you.”

Written by scumbagstyle

August 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Poetry

Copper

leave a comment »

Copper

There is an uneasily maintained balance
In the fibers under my cranberry knees.
There is a cleaning of all the Irish lace, all
The unused in your copper drip.
Here your ubiquitous feminine wound is
Flushed sterile with dessert liqueurs
And precious creams, and there is guilty
Revelry in the music I play on you.

There is addiction, and a sort of compulsion
Disorder too, where pit meets plateau meets
Darker pit, where volcanoes erupt like casus belli
And flow impossible distances to bury
One hopeless castle-builder’s ambitions.

There are treacherous Potempkin villages in the
Pool I  inhale, full halves of unrealized lives
Staining my beard, and perishing in all those Irish coffees.
There is the soft surprise at my boldness in your eyes.
Then there is the Love Surrender in your kiss.

(Bonus points if you can guess what this is about. Okay, the picture helps.)

Written by scumbagstyle

August 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Poetry

Kid Gloves

with 2 comments

Kid Gloves

This town is a dream of Hazel on a black rubber mare
Its strained sinews stretching for hopeless dashes
Without destinations,
Its dust settling on the moldy butters and custards
Of the generations mine has to eat off of.

Have at you with kid gloves, I said unto she
With the confident wristflip of twenty-something years’ practice,
For there is no chin so broad as the
Voluminous slope of masculine subtlety.
So primped and pulvillioed she princessed about
While the gravel in her pink powder soundlessly
Plucked scabs at her throat.
Hazel but pulled at her whiskers and slugged at her wine
And That’s really something else! she managed to pout.

This town is a slow drip of Hazel on a black rubber swing
Its green painted chains sleep taut with her weight,
But a pump and a kick might deliver her to
The whims of the starlight that shades its
Brown aluminum frame a worry laden blue.

The times will make the man, someone once said
And thus armed will I bed my ladies.
For there is no liquor so satisfying as the
Broth distilled in muliebrity’s stead.
And ‘tween the knotted hoipoloi
A hottentot is naught but a boy
But towns grow into cities in the dreams of a child.
Cities have factories, and factories make men.

Written by scumbagstyle

August 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Posted in Poetry

Define Contentedness

leave a comment »

Define Contentedness

These ain’t walking around cigarettes:
hand rolled and subtly spicy
like how you imagine death tastes
and it does. These are old
patio furniture and cheap red
Zinfandel sticks, for thinking men
Homeric heroes that can
turn heartache and solitude into equations
in their heads.

And this ain’t walking around
sunshine, either. This is sit in
the park banging guilty pleasures
out of your battered Ibanez heat
remembering lethargic summers in
one-part harmonies. This is
me mojo pumping, humming Diamond lyrics
so far beneath my breath that
I can’t even hear them. This
ain’t walking around sheen
I just made it with your sister.

Written by scumbagstyle

August 2, 2010 at 5:53 am

Posted in Poetry

Churchyard Luck, Balls Deep

leave a comment »

Churchyard Luck, Balls Deep

Too often my limbs are expatriates.
My secrets around my ankles, I huff
And gracelessly shuffle in the fishnets
Of my fancy and impending infamy.

This morning the Elantra becomes an extension of my
Arm, plucking at the breast of Brooklyn
Pre-dawn with twin beaks of ravenous light and
Scabbing it all over with the whine of feathered alternator belts.

Under the brake pedal, Seamus the girl-cat
Rolls amber beads, attack pattern beta, until my
Sole shredded walking shoes connect with tail,
And she darts to ride shotgun in Silence’s lap.

Our children, Silence’s and mine, have been cats
Named after streets, love songs, and poets. But will no
Woman carry my sons, no skeleton of snow covered
Tree lumbering toward motherhood after so much denied existence?

Happily, Silence would drown today, in a cocktail
Of Vitamin C and menopause pills, as the radio jockey
Goes balls deep on Physical Graffiti, or lay her
head where Sylvia Plath sleeps out her blizzards, or

Better: Where Brian Wilson smiled to waste his weeks
And weeks. Childless, Silence will never build the better
Familial windmill. And from her perch on the rear windshield,
Seamus cries as if to remind us that there is death in this car.

Written by scumbagstyle

July 31, 2010 at 12:37 am

Posted in Poetry