POETRY SPOTLIGHT: Mark Randolph Conte

Hi, readers!  We have a real treat in store for you today, a poetry spotlight.  In these poetry spotlights today and in the future, we will be showcasing poetry by some very talented poets.  These poets have graced us with their presence.  

With us today is poet Mark Randolph Conte.  Here is a little taste of his poetry.


Sleep in that short summer
drifted like sweeps of bleached sand.
stone rooted with age. Florida.
The lone cry of a dolphin. Men
reaping folds of the sea. Herons
falling out of the sky like
white rain.

Before six days, she closed the
brief letters against the last
arguments. Here were her fragments;
some words she had not said, the
shirt she had not mended for him,

the sleep she had not lain in.
He was the man that words would
kill. He had held on to them
too long. Too many ways. The new
words came. They always did, and he
was left to sit and measure suns.

Before three years, his body was
done with it. She gathered her sighs
and ignored the answers. No, she could
not put away his picture; the green
stucco house in the background,
the sky smothered with clouds,
so she slept.

When she awoke, they would drop
hints. She would not even
go there. Even as the same woman.
Not arms empty, away from her
bone. Even as her touch, numb
from the loving, could not reach

him. One minute changing the
soiled linen. The other watching
birds caught in mid flight on the
kitchen wall. The breakfast forks
ready on the place mats. Rain
singing over the din of the
loneliest mornings.

©1978 Southern Poetry Review.

MERMAIDS:The Sea Sirens

              for Lana

I have seen them in
the gray, untimely dusks,
gleefully playing with lost ships
among coral rock,
golden hair tossing about
like mad witches,
as they flit in and out of
barnacled portholes.

They ride on autumn tides
near sun bleached inlets
sailing with north winds,
humming absentmindedly like
star fairies,
flinging sea shells about,
filling them with wind songs
to capture little boy’s hearts.

Mariners have come upon them
sitting on driftwood,
threading pearls with loose
strands of hair,
singing of treasures beneath the sea
in an aquamarine world,
charming them with sea horses
and starfish,
and sand castles, adorned with gold
and silver from Spanish galleons.

Hoary fishermen,
half blind from the merciless sun
have spoken of them in whispers.
Old men with tormented dreams
of nymph melodies played on sea harps,
carried by the wind
from distant horizons where
dolphins play.

Oh they are beautiful,
with their sculptured breasts
and poignant turtle eyes,
riding on white pillowed waves
under child moons,
and the songs they sing have
dashed sleek ships on barren reefs,
and driven brave men mad.

And once you have seem them,
you will roam from beach to beach,
every autumn in the
cerulean dawns searching for them,
gathering sea shells
to take back to your room,
in the hope you may hear their song
just once more.

© 2005 Poem Magazine.

A Death in the Streets

The thin woman from her porch hears
God talk about abortion, drinks with
five days of solitary, sleeps with
lice. A shrew barges into a market
begging. Her husband hasn’t two
pennies, still she’s never silent.
A garbage worker strays from his
brakes and runs over a cat out of
boredom. A child caresses a steel
spike in a bankrupt side street where
violence is the only legal tender.

The bedrooms are heavy with guns
and slogans, while junkies
buy dreams on every corner. A
poet recites two angers. Neither
stirs the mob to dreaming. A bag
lady who lives her fantasies in
a train station dreams of the
warmth of a blanket. A neighborhood
drunk with his wine-in-a-sack
drinks his dreams from a bottle.

There, right there above the silence,
West Indians awake to their deaths,
old corpses who have survived too
long in this dying. An ancient
woman squats behind her window
gossiping of revolutions. Roving
wolf gangs attack a woman from
domestic teas who has strayed too
close to the unhealed street. The
trick leaves the woman off her head.

And always, there are always just
tricks. The single fist popping
up from a pack of thugs. A stick
from behind a child’s ear. Long
knives from a fat lady’s hat. A
gun from a gambler’s vest. The
sudden explosion. The smell of
dying in the hallways, painting
the stairs with death.

There’s a death in the streets.
Pallbearers strut to the requiem
march. Speakers erupt on every
corner, gathering people like
clouds. The orators catch
applause from the riotous
mob. They sway, intoxicated
with the sky. They are incapable
of standing this close to
heaven. When the stars are
silent, it is not enough
that they are shining.

The streets are full of processions
munching loaves and fishes.
Every signpost is a cross that’s
dripping gore in the name of
light. Whole congregations
kneel in the alleys
praying for salvation, while
the corpse rises from his grave
in the clothes of a magician,
shedding his miracles.

Copyright © 1979 New York Quarterly.

Death in the Middle of Things

Ida died at 40, riding a needle to hell and
back on an orgy of life. My mother’s death
at eighty-three was more sensible, though
she had more living to do when my sister
signed the Do Not Resuscitate order behind
my back, and my brother died alone, in a

motel room in Las Vegas, surrendering
his dreams of a bright promise thousands
of miles away from his roots. Death is
something we never expect, though we write
wills, buy life insurance and order family
plots as if we had a long bright journey

ahead, yet death rarely comes at the end of
our lives, when we have written our last
book, sung our last song. Romeo and Juliet
were thirteen when they dreamed of having
seven Children in Varona, but died for love
instead. John Lennon lay dead on the

streets of New York with the lyrics of a new
song in his hands, and Elvis died alone,
turning inside out among strangers in a
mansion that would become his tomb. In the
end, Carl Jung was betrayed by his own web
of myopia, like middle-aged women who

have gone from sexuality to religion; the
deep layers of his subconscious functioning
independently of the law of space, time and
causality, and he fell to dementia in a dream
of dark angels. When Jesus flesh became
word, he was 33 years old, with only his

mother kneeling at his feet in a final prayer.
The soldiers burned the crosses that night,
warming their felonious hands on the dried
blood of Jesus, the flames from the stained
wood crackling in the night air, glowing like
exploding stars. At the airport, There are

families waiting for their loved ones when
news of the crash comes. United Flight 103
has left the air in a blaze of fire and smoke.
Among the hysteria, ghostly passengers
from another flight wander through the
terminal, guilt-ridden for their survival, like

victims searching the crash site for their
lost luggage. Somewhere there is a date for
all of us. The innocents die quietly with a
shower of mourning. John once told me if
he had his choice, he’d rather die in his own
bed in the arms of the love of his life, and

that is how he died, succumbing without
tears for his own way of life. George
stepped in front of a train and passed into
Philadelphia legend. Tony went kicking
and screaming, railing against the cancer
that ravaged his body when he was barely

fifty three, And Frank slept in his car those
last few months hiding from his death.
But when Ida died, she lay in bed as if
she was sleeping. My daughter asked the
doctor if she had had a heart attack. The
doctor said no. Her heart just stopped.

© 2001, Northwest Florida Review.


Earth Woman

 Some things rise from the earth,
wild mushrooms,
emerald crowned redwoods,
the old stones chiseled with dreams,
ashes from an ancient earth fire,
the grumbling of centuries.

Your body rises and falls
with the same rhythm,
peaks with the mountains,
turns as a great tide,
rolling time in a womb.

Some sands shift with the
seasons. The oceans climax
with the moon
swelling like breasts
sweet with cream.

And muscles become songs
when pressed with your skin.
Bones erupt, jutting
out of your body
like tremors of another age.
The continents of your flesh.

Copyright © Poet Magazine Vol 5 No 7.

Poet Bio
M. Randolph Conte has had fiction, poetry, articles and guest columns in 67 publications, including Yankee magazine, Crazy Horse, Southern Poetry Review, Potomac Review, Poetry International, Philadelphia Daily News and New York Times. He has two books of poetry, Walking on Water (1986) and The Judas Scroll (2004).  He has published three novels, In the Arms of Strangers (2003), Five Days to Eternity (2004), Of Flesh and Stone (2009) and a collection of stories, Delilah and Other Stories (2001).  He was director of the Florida State University Poet series and appointed Master Poet by the Florida Arts Council. He is a member of the Authors Guild and the Academy of American Poets.

He is on Facebook and his new blog is The Fiction Room at  Markrconte.wordpress.com, but it isn't active yet.









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