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...

Creases and Flecks: 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...

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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...

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