Close
Close

Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of Firebird, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon and Source.

Thirty-seven clocks in five tiers.

Sunset, end of a mild afternoon the hand of winter’s never quite let go of.

Mantel, cuckoo, rusticated, ormolu, glass-domed, moving brass balls and chimes, porcelain, French clocks with bronze figures, thirty-seven, ranged in the shop window, not especially attractive,

none fine, none precious, even to my taste individually desirable, but studying...

I love starting things

*

Fat and shadow, oil and wax, mobility solidified, like cooled grease in a can –

*

Seeing how far I can go

*

      Analiese said, happily, ‘He paints the ugliness of flesh,’       but that isn’t it: flesh without the overlayer, how we ought to see it, all we’re taught –

...

Poem: ‘Heaven for Helen’

Mark Doty, 18 December 2003

Helen says heaven, for her, would be complete immersion in physical process, without self-consciousness –

to be the respiration of the grass, or ionised agitation just above the break of a wave, traffic in a sunflower’s thousand golden rooms.

Images of exchange, and of untrammelled nature. But if we’re to become part of it all, won’t our paradise also involve

...

Poem: ‘Heaven for Paul’

Mark Doty, 4 December 2003

The flight attendant said:

We have a mechanical problem with the plane, and we have contacted the FAA for advice,

and then: We will be making an emergency landing in Detroit,

and then: We will be landing at an Air Force base in Dayton,because there is a long runway there, and because there will be a lot of help on the ground.

Her voice broke slightly on the word help, and she switched off the...

Poem: ‘The Hours’

Mark Doty, 14 November 2002

Big blocks of ice – clear cornerstones – chug down a turning belt

toward the blades of a wicked, spinning fan; rotary din of a thousand skates and then

powder flies out in a roaring firehose spray of diamond dust, and the film crew obscures

the well-used Manhattan snow with a replica of snow.

*

Trailers along the edge of the Square, arc lamps, the tangled cables of a technical...

Two Poems

Mark Doty, 21 September 2000

Principalities of June

Original light broke apart, the Gnostics say, when time began,

singular radiance fractioned into form – an easy theory

to believe, in early summer, when that first performance

seems repeated daily. Though wouldn’t it mean each fracturing took us

that much further from heaven? Not in this town,

not in June: harbour and cloudbank, white...

Poem: ‘Manhattan: Luminism’

Mark Doty, 20 January 2000

The sign said immunology but I readilluminology: and look,

heaven is a platinum latitude over Fifth, fogged result of sun-brushed

steel, pearl dimensions. Cézanne: ‘We are an iridescent chaos.’

*

Balcony over Lexington, May evening,

fog wreath’d towers, gothic dome lit from within, monument of our aspirations

turned hollow, abandoned

somehow. And later, in the...

Mark Doty

Laura Quinney, 3 October 2002

Mark Doty specialises in ekphrasis. The word once meant the description of a work of visual art within a poem, but has come to mean poetic description more generally. Sometimes Doty describes a...

Read More

A House Full of No One

Colm Tóibín, 6 February 1997

The words ‘HIV Positive’ and ‘Aids’ do not appear in the poems in Mark Doty’s My Alexandria (1995); instead, they hover in the spaces between the other words, and...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences