Mark Irwin

February 8, 2013 Irwin Mark



I.             Language


How the squirrel, skittish, leaps, lobbing its orange

fire through the green

maples. For us, so much

of the risk, so much of the safety

lies in the tiny hooks and branches

of that easy, though sometimes

reckless name.


II.            Service


During the war, Andrew Asthalter, a Wimbledon

champion, said the crossing searchlights

against the horizon

made the sky look like the moving X-Ray

of a hand “reaching up for something,”

he said, “not the bombs,” he said,

but the darkness balking within the darkness,

a thing of flesh you could

almost grasp.


III.          Embrace


“I have gone                         about among you                  proclaiming


the kingdom, but                   now I know                          that none


of you will see my                face again, that                     wolves


will come. Finished                              speaking, he                          knelt down with


them all, as                                          they folded Paul    into their arms.”


Acts 20: 25-36



IV.          Arena


We watched the ball grow, rolling across

the spring grass, and we all touched it, and its

spongy color pushed back, as it continued

to grow, then slowly crushed us, until we knew

it like the blood inside the walls of our body.

Mark Irwin’s ten collections of poetry include the recently published Shimmer (2020), winner of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014), Tall If (2009), and Bright Hunger (2004). He recently completed a long translation project entitled Zanzibar: Selected Poems & Letters of Arthur Rimbaud, with an afterword by Alain Borer.