Scott Malby


Private Mars

Listen, they told me, trust in your superiors.
They are older, wiser than yourself. Survival
is simple. Do as you’re told. They who make
the rules know what’s good for all. Yes, I told
myself. Why complain. Who am I to object?
I was told they were dirty, their language corrupt.
That they were terrorists who wanted to destroy
our way of life so I took that crown and pressed
it down upon his head.
Honor, god and country demand we do cruel things,
if only to prevent a greater evil to come, so I whipped
him till he bled. I took three nails, pounding them into
his hands and feet. I ask you, in defense of motherland
and homeland security how far would you go?


The Weight Lifter

In his mind, fear of laughter and ridicule follows him out into
the yard beyond the arbor, down steps leading to his father’s shop.
Here, he confronts himself in a place he feels safe where the voices
in his head stops and time melts as he lifts and his body glows
from the sweat of constant repetition. He removes his shirt.
Here, there is none to joke about his folds of skin or the pimples
on his chin or his funny voice that pops when under stress.
Outside, beyond the window of himself birds engage in their own struggle
while he twists, kneels, forces his wayward body to exercise till muscles
quiver, his knees shake, and he senses a calm beneath his world of pain.
But his flesh has a mind of its own. For weeks he has endured but his body’s
remained the same though he has changed. In ways his mind has yet
to acknowledge.
Despite the setbacks, he keeps returning to his father’s workshop.
He won’t give up and so he comes to understand that alive in everything
that seeks to soar there is always a question of failure before flight.


Having tasted laughter,
seen much of pain,
I see in tears
a precious grief,
the blood of lambs
beyond suffering.
Tears wash clean,
anointing the joints
of our stiff grief,
the load
we chill to carry.
More agile than a scream
tears wash clean,
no creature moving
is immune. No sky
without its share of rain.


Scott Malby