paper • 78 pages • 15.95
ISBN-13: 978-1-935536-70-3

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Travels of Marco

Mark Levine

The poems in Travels of Marco speak with a heightened awareness of the incipience of personhood and of its tatters. Exploring a friction between living and surviving, the poems are preoccupied with employment—physical and spiritual—and unemployment, flight and immobility, ethereal selves and animal selves, absurdity and actuality. Here is work that raises the questions of whether the person who has lost language continues to dream and of whether the most remote memories of love and care might provide sustenance. The story these poems are telling in their shifting tones and identities is one of the restorative power of imaginative transport—travels in language—at the mind’s limit.

from “(Employment),” from Travels of Marco:

I had a calling.
I took the call.
It was all I could do to follow the voice streaming into me
Like traffic on the runway where I lay
Down to gather.
I had a calling. I heard the geese bleat
In the firmament as they migrated
Into the jet’s jets.
And could I have foreseen that falling 
I could have fallen too 
Rather than being sutured to the bottomless 
Freeze-out lake. 
For it is fine to lie within one’s borrowed blankets 
Looking up at the 
Dropped ceiling coming down. 
For at the moment I am counting holes
In the sound absorbing tiles…



  • "'It was like stepping into a telescope / unseen,' writes Mark Levine in his new collection, 'into the dark distorted center.' A work of dark optics, Travels of Marco reflects our post-traumatic millenial condition through a savage burlesque of literary forms, re-purposed historical idioms--ranging from pitch-perfect Edwardian intonations to wry Catskills schtick and beyond--and a nightmarish dérangement of sensation itself. Few poets 'speak into the currency' of our time with such rage, wonder, and sorrow. Travels of Marco is an incendiary book that warrants its own warning label: 'Secure your suspenders, / Restrain your tender / Parts, prepare for wild / Surrender.'" — Srikanth Reddy
  • "Travels of Marco is a captivating lyric invention of nimble leaps and twists of wit. It is also an eloquent and affecting meditation on fatherhood, striking in its articulations of love's lonely and austere offices: 'for I had no more business in this life.' There is a tender graceful quality to these poems as much as there is a stirring, passionate ability to throw down rhymes like it's snake eyes. This is sheer no-nonsense joy." — D.A. Powell
  • "In an as-though-ancient age, ours, a father tightens his belt: money has rendered nature nothing but pure value, and poetic speech now lives, like next-to-nothing, in the mouth. Mark Levine's Travels of Marco is eerie and tough; stopping just short of elegy, his lyrics disgorge a feeling they're too strong to name, like poems written by neglected mechanics, or by capital's mechanisms of--this time I'll write 'regret,' though the market disallows it. Can a market be addressed? How about a future? Levine's father-speaker rhymes like George Herbert & prays like a man who knows better, singing his way through the disused industries & repurposed traditions of a land a lot like this one. These poems make me sad, they make me laugh, they kind of kill me. Do I understand them? I don't know. They haunt me." — Ariana Reines