Introducing Mark Scheffer:


Mark Steven Scheffer has been a longtime poet on The Poetic Link, and has crafted masterworks in many genera, most particularly formal pieces such as his sonnets. They are superlative poems in every respect.  Mark and I tend to mutually appreciate each other's writing, perhaps because there's a reciprocity about it -- a resonance, if you will.  It's truly rewarding that he has allowed me to include some of his poetry here.


In his "offline life", Mark is also a lawyer and the proud father of five children. In his writing, he draws frequently upon themes and images from his marriage and family life. He is also highly skilled in the use of Christian metaphor and religious allegory or allusion, so subtly embedded in the lines that one scarcely detects them except on further reflection.





Et in Arcadia Ego

A dull rain beats on endless gravel.
The sudden jolts, the moments on the run,
Temporarily done. A time to sit in armoire.
A time to be forbidden to see, but peek,
Beneath the lids of books and magazines.
Brief must it be. The trees are whispering,
The surge is audible with currents, invisible,

But no less fragile then a fist on a solid door.

She reaches to touch my open hand
With a sense too deep for holding,
As the dumb clock strikes a tapestry,
A thread of echoes older than the sea,
Each one a day for you, a day for me,
An era for a greater man,
A century for a King.

The children come down the stairs,
Bright-eyed and innocent with Kingdom.
I am the apple of their misery,
I, with my swart, persistent martyrdom,
Trailing my archangel ego,
That threads through the underbrush,
Or hangs itself on branches of a tree:

There is a the thing that coils me.
Colors, shadows, tinctures,
It merely plays with these.
At the centered spot, in the tapestry,
In the heart of the woof and weave,
Is a spot that is blank to my vision,
Which I am forbidden to see.







Dear Princess,
the painted toes
at the ends of your feet
have engendered ribbons.
The earring in your brow
enhances the cusp
above your eye.

You have come out
of another side of darkness,
the unfamiliar door,
having dumped your round tires,
cast off your crisping pins,
and reached a higher pinnacle of style.

Now, as then, soldier, priest, politico
would hide you in whatever pocket serves.

It has been this way
since alleys smelled
of spikenard and cumin,

Since wise men, jaded with the sun,
came out with their heat,
under your moon —
you cooled them.

They had been pent, long enough —
you were eclipsed no longer.

Living proverb, you illustrate
the law.

When the prophets come,
you burn.

Daughter, we can not drop you
with the stones from our hands.

We would have you, immaculate,
part of another world.

We will have you, one way or another.




Cleopatra's Barge

Is empty, and queering at the bottom of the sea. Starfish
Are drawn, as if it were the sky they'd never known. Oars,
Quiescent at last from the last blades of toil, point
Toward the bottom of hell. Yet here was a place to recline.
Eunuchs had hard-ons, stout men stayed hard, miracles happened
On the planks before her throne. Caesars' hands became claws of orgasm,
As birds in circles watched the whole night long.
Each breath she took, each wave of her hand, caused gapings
     in another place, like mouths
Of caves that yawn about her barge. Where now this alchemist’s
Whore, this Elizabethan femme fatale, this Victorian’s wet dream?
Now dolphins only cruise along the Via that silts with memory.
They know hers was the hand that could feed them, they know
Here is a space that they should fill with song.




The Promethean Tongue


I look for sirens in the water’s eye,
But sometimes stop at buttercups. The water,
As faithful as the daughter of the well,
Is gushing everywhere.
Learning to trust the fountain, I leave myself
Open. Streams ripple over the fluted river stones.
The sky hums with the living engine. Hisses
Lift from the grass, bend around the trees
As I take their sound and make motion
Without moving a sinew. Language
Comes out of nowhere like a snake
That has sloughed itself into a new chrysalis.
I move into matter with a renewed vigor,
Not having asked for this power. I bear myself
Into the nowhere,
Bringing back something never seen before.



On Mortality

Bury my body in an unmarked grave, and grieve
The man who was above. Though oysters pearl,
And Pharaohs take with them what they won't leave,
The poor flesh rots, and love's left with the world.
Mark how our hours, like a photograph,
Grow dim, just as the fire in us wanes;
Watch the old frowner twist his face, and laugh,
As raindrops track, like lives, on windowpanes.
Yet take it not to heart, nor be obsessed:
Disease needs victims, victims not disease;
He schemes to kill us, for he knows we're blessed;
He puts out light because another sees. 
    Then let us scorn, if just for now, not then,
    For death defiance is the mark of men.  


All poems (c) Mark Steven Scheffer; All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of the author.