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TACTILE VALUES
MARK SCOTT

Drosophila

Field Test

Touch

Architects

Dawn Finished

The Scott Boys

Fruit Country

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DROSOPHILA

Dew-lover, we studied the laws
of the elementary game with you.
We set you up in a culture
you could multiply and be fruitful in,
a tapioca smooth as cream of wheat.
You gave it a malt of oxygen and waste,
like butter and brown sugar.
You twitched, indiscriminately,
and out of your pantagruel
we graphed heredity.

To keep from a failing grade—
I was more vinegar than you knew—
I cheated with your pepsin broth
that made my mouth secrete and quiver.
I stole the notes of lab partners
not even mine, grafting for myself
a better breed of result.

Smells crossed me with themselves:
the mimeo’s fresh purple,
the salt off my partner’s hands,
the gardenia oil on Julie’s skin,
her jean–jacket’s warm patchouli.

That was my yeast: you were the bad math
I did, the evidence I tampered with.
I probed too often with the prick,
dashed your reckless dishes with acid.
I crushed your population on a slide
that rode on your fluids, drosoplaning
between these two fingers that type
an accidental life of painful combinations.

return

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FIELD TEST

Weeds are a wild success—
escapees, some of them,
from cultivation.

They get up on the learning curve
faster than you can know their names
or trace their network.

But today I mowed into perfume
a whole patch of pineapple weed,
and not by mistake.

It made a sweeter task
of raising beds
to plant the pepper starts.

Their roots had never been plugged
and hung bare,
dripping an odorless new hormone.

Designed and synthesized
to keep the stress of transplant
from Georgia to New Jersey low,

to keep the stomata opening slow,
it so times the life that, when it swells,
each start should end in bells.

return

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TOUCH

Close up, much too, ivory’s surface like most
is nothing smooth. To the touch
in all particulars it’s what the fresh
strawberry is to the tongue, cilia
bending at the buds after lunch. Specialists
in friction will tell you what pianists

with all of Mozart’s sonatas in their heads
and hands will—except the ones who never
notice—that plastic slips and ivory catches,
the catch being what you want. To the touch:
everything is what it is to the touch,
algebra included, according to experts.

Skeptics to the contrary (unregistered
voters with unlisted numbers), we grant
the other hand as soon as we see the one.
Ivory will absorb what resin can’t,
the heat of playing, the hands as they travel,
heightened, across the notes, beyond the scales

they’re balanced in. Streets of asphalt, crashed on,
will scrape from the leg a subtle register
and make a subtler, sometimes called a strawberry.
You’ve seen one: the injured party
never lets you touch it. The days pass, though,
and the injured with a thumb discovers

a fresh surface beneath the scab—
just a sheen on the pink limit
between what the world calls skin, and flesh.

return

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ARCHITECTS

Architects are artichokes.
They have the hearts of them,
sheathe themselves in skin
like triceratops, stegosaurus.
They make an urban Dakota
hogback range run vertical,
razor and erector.

What is it in the afternoon
to vault up and peel
Magritte light, leaf by leaf,
from the room of the room?

The talking avenues,
the gridded streets,
fibrous, rigid, built to scale,
hold like a gum–pink resin.

Conic sections on a butter plate
stack up in the cowlick
of Philip Johnson’s furniture—
those thin purple petals,
that rough hair like upholstery filling.

Then the perfect set of pores
that surfaces the concave lens: sweet place
where the stalk was crowned,
earth’s weight attached.

return

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DAWN FINISHED

Deep road back in the woods,
the high one on Mount Sanitas,
full moon, midnight to the dawn–side,
timberline nearer, the single cabin
warm and lit, like a candle’s conductor
or an orchestra’s pit. I love everything

by turns and nothing long, survive
the usefulness of every feeling
or two days, whichever comes first;
blame not the slain father, like a damper
on the wires, but the living one;
not the dead God or the mother denied,

who was so good at that herself, so
stealthily betrayed; but she who was
always there alone with you alone—
dawn finished but not yet day,
the sprinklers dripping, the woodchips
refusing flame, the romance too dark

for the workshop—all tender things—
fresh asphalt, white clouds, rain
surfacing a court, the net taut.
Then again the blue, together with this
t–shirt shade of green,
the blue that is the deepest.

return

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THE SCOTT BOYS

Slapped by saplings, hampered by roots,
our shovels went like spoons
into mouth that opened wider as we worked.
The fort when we finished
was as cool to go down in
as a thimble for a fingertip.

But even when we dug all day,
we could still make out
from where we leveled off
the greenish–gray of house
above the cheatgrass
doubling over in the sun.

The mountains must’ve been
too far to reach by hand,
the elms not branched enough to climb.
We never knew we were doing anything
but digging a deeper hole
than the one we dug before.

Buildings went up;
we were building down,
like the Grand Canyon,
from an overrated sky;
and we hoped we’d see by digging
if maybe we couldn’t find

a better place to be than upstairs—
solider, smaller, a back–up
we could back down in.

return

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FRUIT COUNTRY

Certain fruits, like bananas and crabapples,
record everything that happens to them,
and this is called “getting ripe.”
But I am too late or too soon,
and this banana I take a knife to
when I can’t talk in time
takes in what I give off
and gives it out again.

Experts say bananas are best eaten
black, when their starch converts
to sugar, and we throw them out.
At Fruit Country, only a retired pilot
asked us to save him black bananas.
He seemed always on the point
of bleeding dry through his pores.
His watch would slide down to his elbow
when he’d hold a bunch up to the light.

A picture of perfect health is rare,
in spite of all the scenarios there are
for developing one, the clubs and spas
that promise the body of an excellent
white wine, a buttery nose, a clean finish.
But who’s to say this brown and spreading blotch
I pressure the crabapple into making,
this nick’s assimilation in the pear,
isn’t a blow struck for beauty?

The peach sweetens in its bruises.
Ripeness owns its uses.

return

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Order Tactile Values from:

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A BEDROOM OCCUPATION BY MARK SCOTT

Paperback: 86 pages
Publisher: Lumen Books
(June 1, 2007)
ISBN: 0930829646

Amazon.com
........................................

TACTILE VALUES BY MARK SCOTT

Paperback: 86 pages
Publisher:
New Issues Pr
Poetry Series
ISBN: 0932826911

New Issues
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
........................................

 

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