“The Students of the Ineffable,” by Mark Strand

What I am about to say happened years ago. I had rented a house by the sea. Each night I sat on the porch and wished for some surge of feeling, some firelit stream of sound to lead me away from all that I had known. But one night, I climbed the hill behind the house and looked down on a small dirt road where I was surprised to see long lines of people shuffling into the distance. Their difficult breathing and their coughing were probably caused by the cloud of dust their march had created. Who are you and why is this happening? I asked one of them. We are believers and we must keep going, and then he added, our work is important and concerns the self. But all your dust is darkening the stars, I said. Nay, nay, he said, we are only passing through, the stars will return.


The Triumph of the Infinite

I got up in the night and went to the end of the hall. Over the
door in large letters it said, “This is the next life. Please come
in.” I opened the door. Across the room a bearded man in a pale
green suit turned to me and said, “Better get ready, we’re taking
the long way.” “Now I’ll wake up,” I thought, but I was wrong.
We began our journey over golden tundra and patches of ice.
Then there was nothing for miles around, and all I could hear
was my heart pumping and pumping so hard I thought I would
die all over again.

From Little Star #2 (2011)



Mark Strand has written many books of poems and several works of art and literary criticism. He is also, somewhat surreptitiously, a graphic artist. He claims he is done with writing poems; we hope not. His most recent book, Almost Invisible, which includes a number of items that look and sound like poems to us (many first published in Little Star), is out this week. Hear him read some some of the more salty of these items at Little Star salon last spring and judge for yourself!