Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Peter Marcus's Dark Square

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Peter Marcus's Dark Square

Article excerpt

Peter Marcus's Dark Square Pleasure Boat Studio: A literary Press (2012) ISBN-13: 978-1-929355-82-2

As the title suggests, this is a darker narrative poetry collection. The photo on the cover is a great representation of the central :eme. The black and white image is of two statues of lions, withered by age and dirt. Both of them are roaring, but one of them has fallen over on top of his marble slate, while the other stands over the fallen foe, as if victorious. The unfinished red lines around this central photo and above the author's name suggest symbolic blood being spilled in the batde.

While some modern poetry leaves readers aghast and confused, these narratives relate detailed, though grotesque, stories. For example in "Gravity", a dog has fallen off the Observation Tower, and the gore of the "broken, dislocated bones,/ the four splayed legs and bleeding/ snout..." is seen as if in zoom-in, and then the psychologist that hears this story jumps into imagining what the dog would have looked like if it had fallen off a greater extra-planetary height, as if it was a cartoon character out of "Scooby-Doo". The final lines of the poem express hope for a "world without gravity", one where there is less gore and horrific deaths because the laws of science and nature have been altered.

The first section of the collection ends with a long poem, "Dark Remedies", which goes through a series of episodes and characters at a mental health facility. The disorders are simplified into a few phrases, such as: "he's been abducted twice/ by Martians", '"My skin is/ turning blue like a Picasso canvas'", and "Her nostrils leashed to a feeding tube." The second of these three quotes stands out as out of place amidst the others. First, here the character describes her condition, instead of it being witnessed by an omniscient third person narrator. Also, unlike anorexia or delusions of abduction, believing that one's skin has turned blue is something that can be verified or questioned through simple observations. As if aware of this, the patient goes on to describe her body as a specific Picasso painting from 1902, saying that the coldness of her fingertips is evidence that they resemble the fingers in the painting Here art and psychology merge and reflect on each other. …

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