Marlon Fick






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Marlon FickMarlon L. Fick is the author of four books, El nino de Safo (2000); Histerias Minimas (2001), Selected Poems (2001), published by Fuentes Mortera of Mexico City, and The River Is Wide: 20 Mexican Poets, published by UNM Press (2005).

In 2000, he received the ConaCulta Award for the Arts (Mexico's National Endowment) for his first book, Sappho's Child, translated into Spanish. Later, he received support and recognition from The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico for contributions to Latin Literature (2001). In 2005 he received the National Endowment for the Arts for the manuscript, The Tenderness and the Wood. 


In 2007, an addition of his poems was published in Russian translation by Tatiana Puchnacheva. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The New England Review, The Boston Review, The Boston Phoenix, Kansas Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, Mudfish, Marlboro Review, and several others.  Fick was born in Olathe, Kansas.  He received his BA in Philosophy from KU, his Master's in Poetics from NYU, and his PhD in English from KU.


Fick is a former professor for Kansas State University and Education Adviser to the country of Pakistan. Fick now resides in Overland Park and teaches at Johnson County Community College. 

Visit www.marlonfick.com for more information.

The Sources of Light


Mornings before dawn I rose

and lit the kerosene latern

and took the cane pole from a corner in the barn

and then went down a road through the fields to a creek where

it bent around behind a hedge of Osage Orange.


After setting the line

I built a fire to keep mosquitoes away,

and fished for an hour or two, sometimes for nothing.


I was ten and confident and I thought

all the sources of light had a common ancestor in God…

my lantern;

the lights in the town in the valley

where I was forbidden to go;

flashes from firecrackers inches away from my fingers;

the searing of lightning

                        crossing the plains on crooked legs…


I thought these held in common

some memory of the stars

before they were broken into a million pieces—


like the fireflies I gathered in a jar

to read by phosphorus…

that same light belonging to corn

whose fuses flared more gold against black clouds,

and more green before they died.


I don’t know when I figured out how wrong I was

or when I knew that each light

in the valley

had a life circling around it like a small, grey moth.


I remember

but memory is the edge of a cliff

where light has no where to go but out.


I tried to reach beyond that. In the middle of my life

I tried to walk straight into that light

that only the dying see, the one that burns in all the others

                        and covers itself up in forever.

I stood on the edge of nothing

in the whispering of a random present,

pulling my hand back out of the flames

like a child pulling it loose to freedom.


Originally Published in: Prairie Schooner





I will be with you,

a common thing you use everyday,

a brush, a necklace,

the favorite stone you hold in your hand

when you’re afraid.


I can’t be more than this

and I’ve grown deaf to the world

like an old man whose thoughts

are the white birds asleep in the stones of cathedrals,

like the emptiness inside them.






All poetry on this page
© b
y Marlon Fick, 2007 



Puget Sound


We reach for the smallest things first:

a wing bone from a sea gull, pieces

of kelp that break apart easily.

We hardly notice the afternoon

spreading itself too thinly across the Sound,

making the bright bones dark.

Or maybe we notice, out there

there is nothing beyond even our not knowing,

feeling it in each hand,

the dark bones in each finger

of each hand.


I’ve been up late

listening to the steady notes of a ferry

sound and release. It holds on

for a moment and releases, like

your love for me.

I’m standing on the shore, wanting

to see between notes.

You never made me restless.

Perhaps you know I can’t understand the waves,

close and away.

In this inaudible drift

a diver surfaces, deaf

to bring his dark bones back

from where the sea was holding them,

back to the surface of not knowing.


Now, watching, I’m learning that the shore

is somehow never right

and so

is always shifting.

A stone scratches a cold wind

out of a stone. Another piece washed up

we bend to like a promise.


Originally Published in: Denver Quarterly





This evening an indolent wind moves between us

where you hanged yourself

in the stars like chimes.


There is an empty space my eyes console

where the witchgrass cripples with frost


and your prosthesis sags and sweats

to nurse a blouse—its mums commingling

with the lavenders and moonlight.


With what celerity the mathematicians

count as lost, the snow

undertakes your silences.

The other woman’s lips become to me the rim

of your grave the snow tries to fill.


My nights are full of wind and destruction.

I could have torn out my tongue and moaned

over the cold months

like wind crossing an empty bell—


I found you everywhere, the hunt

as winter, the one

the world prayers to

or will undress for, the snow

our bodies

melt into


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