Two Poems from the End of America, Book 8.

by: Mark Wallace

Mark Wallace’s excerpts from “The End of America, Book 8” challenge the reader to consider the ways in which our various American worlds overlap and intersect. Nature, the suburbs, exploited workers, our current political dysfunction: Wallace quietly but forcefully sees how it’s all connected and doesn’t let us off the hook if we don’t. Ultimately, he wants us all to have “[a] chance to live/ that doesn’t already/ feel like description.”


Another 21st century
++++++++++++citizen trying not
++++++++++++++++++to die in place

++++++dreaming of some
++++++++++++other hand to touch
+++++++++++++++++++++++in replacement for familiar

++++++productive time

grabbing behind the tract
++++++a chance to live
++++++++++++that doesn’t already

++++++++++++feel like description
+++++++++++++++++++++++of every move

as a function of a fine
++++++++++++tuned instrument made

++++++of these streets

++++++++++++“I could get on the freeway, go
+++++++++++++++++++++++straight out into

++++++++++++my current life mirrored

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++as long as I don’t
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++have to keep

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++living this one”

++++++Legs clinging
++++++tightly to the gravel
++++++I walk down
++++++++++++the hillside
++++++++++++++++++the path below

++++++++++++the ridge lined
++++++++++++with houses

++++++++++++++++++some with carport,
++++++++++++++++++pool, high fence,

++++++myself, breathing
++++++comparing me

++++++++++++++++++to dead again again

++++++++++++++++++I don’t stop, today

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++in a picture
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++I don’t yet become


Taking pictures by the one hundred
+++++++++++foot brontosaurus at Cabazon

+++++++++++churning in the dusty
++++++++++++++++++++++pass on the valley’s

edge the human-created
+++++++++++motion highlighting

+++++++++++the concrete

++++++unfreedom everyday

++++++“nothing’s stopping you
+++++++++++++++++from living homeless”

+++++++++++“if you wish”

Reminding others
+++++++++++the options——-the limits

+++++++++++He tries to turn
++++++++++++++++++++++education into a wild

+++++++++++++++++cat day trader speculation


++++++vibrating to the whim
+++++++++++++++++of corporate raiding barracudas

++++++Guys in Martinsville Ohio
++++++++++++++++++++++working night

+++++++++++++++++shifts installing freezer

++++++lights for a grocery store
++++++++++++++++++++++national chain using

+++++++++++workers with no
+++++++++++++++++benefits or security

++++++exploding numbers

+++++++++++and a food stamp

+++++++++++++++++beneficiary growth curve

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++hidden suburban

++++++“I always thought
+++++++++++people on public

+++++++++++++++++assistance were lazy, put

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++piles of steaks
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++in their shopping carts,

+++++++++++++++++but it helps

+++++++++++++++++feed my kids”

+++++++++++to an ideology until
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++it abandons
++++++++++++++++++++++the way it was meant to,

++++++you become abandoned,
+++++++++++++++++rejecting yourself

+++++++++++Still, a weekend
++++++++++++++++++++++out of town clears

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++the brain

+++++++++++prepared to be right
+++++++++++back at it


Mark Wallace is the author and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry, fiction, and essays. Most recently he has published a book-length prose poem, Notes from the Center on Public Policy, and a novel, The Quarry and The Lot. He lives in San Diego, California.

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