"Manzanar," "Elegy," and "trumpet call"


how can we just forget
the white-toothed sierra
that cut across our humanity
and bloodied our hands
(damned spots)
that will not wash off
like Pilate’s
on some fabled Friday

I stand on these plains
and see a desolation
beneath those snowy mountains
gashed by that serrated sky
separating heaven
from this false Gehenna
where we waged war
upon ourselves

now despite the years
and lessons taught
the fearful still slash out
even knowing they too will bleed
and will cling to not remembering




Beneath soft skies and damp wrapped mountains
old men now bundled in earth against this cold
are fading memories of their war
like sepia photographs lost in attics
yet even the brown and burned hills
will with the coming spring
be covered in poppies
that never heard the songs that bullets sing
while the sage and owl’s clover
bear witness the folly that keeps this land
planted with the lost from each new campaign
though nothing ever seems to grow
save misunderstanding



trumpet call

it is a fanfare
a call
a tune to stir the core
of every common Martian
each alien listening in
to hear the notes
handed down formulas
hymns untouched by humanity
that mimic the beat of hearts
pumping dark ichor through sterile veins
while they stare coldly
at the streak of meteors
across our star-flecked sky
stars that we share
for how could we not
though alien
and strange beyond understanding
they are our neighbors



Mark A. Fisher is a writer, poet, and playwright living in Tehachapi, California.  His poetry has appeared in: Reliquiae, Silver Blade,  Eccentric Orbits,  and many other places. His first chapbook, drifter, is available from Amazon. His poem “there are fossils” (originally published in Silver Blade) came in second in the 2020 Dwarf Stars Speculative Poetry Competition. His plays have appeared on California stages in Pine Mountain Club, Tehachapi, Bakersfield, and Hayward. He has also won cooking ribbons at the Kern County Fair.  Mark recommends The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 22:52