Four poems by Mark Young

A line from Albert Camus

If we build a light rail away
from the festival’s epic main
stage, it is possible it may
emerge into a cyber warfare

world & infest attics & gardens—
an example is the Fandango
Facebook bot on Messenger.
The stage-sets collapse. Then

comes the familiar resident
grumbles about movie trucks
& trailers disrupting the day
to day activities of their

neighborhoods & the taking
away of their right to bear
witness. Farmers add another
concern: the return of wolves.


road rage punch-up

Gritty crashing the Flames’
broadcast may be one of
the most overused tropes

in popular pharmacy, but it
still keeps your guitar, bass,
or other stringed instrument

safe, even when a police
dog comes flying off the
top rope to bite your assets.


is suggestive of

I go to the issuu site
of the issue of a
journal I am in

& am invited to
let lots of hot
russian ladies

grow my business
on line, & am also
let know that beaut-

iful thai ladies are
available to marry me
if I convert to a pdf.


inappropriate calories

It’s a magic number. No, not
three, which seems to have
assumed the position because
of children’s shows & De la

Soul & Blind Melon, amongst
the many who have risen to
fame on the back of that claim.
We’re actually unsure of what

the magic number really is. Let’s
call it X, let’s say it varies. Like
how many people on a bridge
before it starts to wobble. Or

how long it takes for high heels
to start hurting. Or bad style in
source code. Which means this
piece will probably not compute.



Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959. He is the author of around fifty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are The Perfume of The Abyss from Moria Books; A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks from otata; taxonomic drift from Luna Bisonte Prods; & Residual sonnets from Ma Press of Finland.

The perfume of the abyss by Mark Young Reviewed by Clara B. Jones

mark young in melbourne 3 small (1)


The perfume of the abyss
Mark Young
Moria Books
76 pp
$12.95 (

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones

“[Surrealism is] psychic automatism in its pure state…dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.” André Breton

Graduate student: Hi, professor.

Professor: Welcome back! Is anything wrong? You sounded breathless over the phone.

GS: I imagine so—i am excited but, also, concerned. I think I have found a thesis topic but am not sure that you will approve.

P: Ah! You’ve been struggling with this since last semester—what have you come up with?

GS: Well, my partner and I went to Berlin on holiday and stayed in the boutique hotel, Hommage à Magritte…

P: …interesting, sounds like fun!

GS: It was! And, I came across a book in the hotel bookstore that I think might allow me to explore the French Symbolist movement! The author is an Australian, Mark Young, a poet and editor, and his collection, The perfume of the abyss, gave me a lot of ideas for research. The book’s title is the title of one of Magritte’s paintings.

P: Oh! I read his brilliant vispo volume, les échiquiers effrontés, last year. I believe he is a student of Surrealism, not, Symbolism, though the two movements are related. “…effrontés” was inspired by Marcel Duchamp. What about “…abyss?”

GS: Magritte, of course, though, the book is heavily coded and there are direct or indirect references to many other artists—writers and painters, mostly, and their works.

P: What topic have you considered? Surrealism began in the 1920s, after World War I, and was influential until the mid 1960s. That is a lot to cover in a Master’s thesis, don’t you think?

GS: Well, yes, and no. I want to use Young’s symbolism to explore its contribution to the themes of the unconscious, dreams, and reality throughout the history of contemporary art.

P: Ummm, that is very ambitious. You will need to condense your ideas to something manageable for a 1-year project. How about limiting yourself to the relationship between Surrealism’s view of the unconscious and reality as Young interprets it in his new book?

GS: Yes, that sounds like a good plan. Where should I start?

P: I would suggest that you begin with the French writer, Guillaume Apollinaire, who influenced the poet, André Breton, the primary developer of Surrealism. A Belgian Marxist, Breton was closely associated with Magritte and  others, several of whom combined a commitment to radical politics with dedication to their creative work.

GS: Do you consider Young to be a Surrealist—what would that mean, anyway?

P: You will be the expert on those questions when you receive your degree. However, based upon my reading, you will want to explore several “devices” used by Surrealists. Perhaps, the most important is “automatic writing” produced by the unconscious rather than the conscious. Breton admonished his associates to, “Just write!” Also…

GS: …Young practices “automatic writing!” Listen to this! “This piece is / a note on this piece. / She found it unicorned inside the / hiding-place of those animals / that did not make it onto the Ark.” or, “…every guitarist, / at some point, has / their sound modified / by a distortion gen- / erated by an area / of machine learning.”

P: Yes! You’ve got the idea! Another characteristic of the Surrealists is “juxtaposition”—the unexpected grouping of opposing or unrelated things creating the absurd. Young employed juxtaposition frequently in “…effrontés.” Surrealists, also…

GS: …Young relies on juxtaposition quite a bit in “…abyss.” For example, “’real maple syrup / shows promise in protecting brain / health,’ when combined with the / original concepts of kindergartens, / reflect a truth in human development.” or, “In no particular / order, raindrops keep / falling from the ceil- / ing, a candle halos / but provides no light.” The poet, also, includes several vispo poems in “…abyss,” juxtaposing words and images.

P: Good! Depending upon how heavily you want to rely on critics, Marjorie Perloff has much to say about “collage poetry” and juxtaposition. I am very fond of her comment, “Each element in the collage has a kind of double function: it refers to an external reality even as its compositional thrust is to undercut the very referentiality it seems to assert.” Here, Perloff seems in sync with the Surrealists, suggesting an inherent contradiction in the practice of certain avant garde compositions. You will, also, want to keep in mind that the Surrealists saw their project as a transformational one, not only to change what we think of as Art, but, also, to change society. Thus, the group around Breton created a revolutionary, collective imagination that he termed, “exquisite corpse.”

GS: In “…abyss,” Young does not speak of a revolutionary community per se, though some of his poems are political and bring to mind psychosocial transformations, especially, as they may relate to the ideas of Sigmund Freud. One of Magritte’s paintings is titled, “The Pleasure Principle,” after Freud’s famous text, and the apple is symbolic throughout Magritte’s work, as well as, Young’s poems.

P: Ummm, Young employed repetition in “…effrontés,” also, though the Surrealists did not emphasize this device. You will want to identify Young’s own “voice” as it is similar to but, also, different from, the ideas set forth in Breton’s 1924 manifesto. We will have an opportunity to discuss your project as it unfolds. Your research will reveal other characteristics of Surrealist works, such, as the tendency to draw upon other cultures, the use of uncanny images, and “doubling” whereby an artist’s rendering is not the “thing itself.” The most important concept to keep in mind as you proceed is that the Surrealists were reimagining Art, artists, and society as a whole. You might want to begin writing with the question: What is the relationship between individual and social liberation and freedom? And, of course, you will consider all of Surrealism’s features as they relate directly to “…abyss” and to Young’s style.

GS: Thank you; this has been a productive session for me; I am relieved and can’t wait to get started! See you at our next meeting!


Clara B. Jones, a woman of color, is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Among other writings, she is author of Poems for Rachel Dolezal (Gauss PDF, 2019).


Six poems by Mark Young

A line from Childish Gambino

I count each square. The use
of hemocytometer trypan blue
exclusion tells me which squares
are occupied by something other

than holographic images & which
are able to populated by house-
hold items. Vacancy is everything
in my job. I got furniture to move.


Two geographies:


Be’er Sheva

Back then, working out
where the miracles occurred
was an hallucinogenic night-

mare. Now every full color
44-page bible atlas has clear
plastic overlays of modern-day

cities & towns to permit a seam-
less studio-to-home experience.
It’s called adaptive immunity.


Was to be found hauling
his concertina up Shota
Rustaveli Street. Swallows
swept beneath his feet, in
some kind of toccata &
fugue pattern, dispensed
in the pitter patter plague
proportions that would
later come to be so well
known as the signature
intro to every performance
given by Johann Sebastian
in his Lovin’ Spoonful days.


As it comes

Hitting the cyber streets via
a highly predictable leak
this weekend is an image of
snow on the early flowering

cherry trees in Fukuoka. It
has been co-opted by every-
one from gun rights activists
to fast food chains, in tandem

with the observation that un-
truths are far more easily
swallowed when taken with
a small amount of nectar.

after touring your war museum

The Romans & the Arabs —
oddly & exotically — built
seaside towns filled with
guttered fields for grow-
ing rice in. But ever since
gift shops destroyed those
first attempts & allowed the
bubonic plague entry into

Europe, the principle of
asymmetry no longer holds.
Flags may be flown at night
only when fish or ducks or
any other actor in the economy
is suffering from a food allergy.

Grace note

What do we write about
at the beginning, at the end?

Two periods of fifteen years.
Twenty-five years of silence

in between. Began by writing
about lizards. Have come

back to them again. Outlived
the earlier ones. The later ones

will probably outlive me. What
is the angle of a turning circle?


The motel pool

The atrium is full of
canaries, & many men
in Armani suits & pointy-
toe shoes. Florentine is
big this year, alongside
fishing shirts & sweet
potato fries. A car
drives slowly along the
street. The canaries re-
cite poems in chorus
in Tibetan whilst a
black-hat lama does
a simultaneous trans-
lation. The words inter-
sect to make a third
poem, which is what I
am interested in. Children
walk their grandparents.
A group of new mothers
arrive dressed all in black,
almost as if they have con-
fused birth with death.
Emphasis is added for
emphasis. Avocados are
severely overrated.


Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959. He is the author of around fifty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are The Word Factory: a miscellany, from gradient books of Finland; The Perfume of The Abyss from Moria Books; & A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks from otata. Due out later this year are Residual sonnets from Ma Press & taxonomic drift from Luna Bisonte Prods.

The Word Factory: a miscellany by Mark Young, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

The Word Factory: a miscellany
Mark Young
gradient books (Finland)
Available at

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones taking a journey on the path of experimental book reviewing…

“There exists no science of word creation” Velimir Khlebnikov

Author: Mark Young is an internationally recognized writer and publisher of the poetry journal, Otoliths, who has produced dozens of books and has been featured in jacket2 and by the Poetry Foundation. He lives in Australia.

What is The Word Factory about? From the author: “A strange mix, a miscellany as the subtitle says. Some pieces written during & about the George W. Bush presidency; the Allegrezza translations; prose works that investigate the landscape where the writing takes place; poems that don’t fit elsewhere. All put together to try & hold up a night sky, to give it faint stars & distant constellations.”

Formal structure:

Arrangement: various textual forms in four parts—

  1. “Bush Tucker”: “Because he had experienced neither, President Bush confused the word/poetry and poverty./He said:/Many in our country do not know the pain of poetry, but we can listen/to those who do.” (p 16)
  2. “some translations by Umberto Allegrezza”: “Alexander/came and Tyre fell; &/later on the Greeks,/rats gnawing away/at what was left.” (p 33)
  3. “Odds and Sods”: “tomorrow/i begin my/studies to/become a/transplant surgeon/the day/after that/i take my/finals exam/it’s a series/of multiple/choice/questions—/much easier/for the/tutors to/mark—” (p 53)
  4. “The Word Factory”: “At 1.27 p.m. a directive comes down from Management. The remainder of/the afternoon will be spent putting together a new word, two words/actually, both without n, to build up stocks for the projected rush on them./I finish off my shift using my dots to complete the exclamation marks that/our Marketing people believe will be a much in demand accessory to/accompany Global Catastrophe.” (p 67)

Features: form (various textual forms); content/theme/subject (various); meter/rhyme (various, including, improvisational, free verse); style (playful, eclectic, innovative; stabilizing & destabilizing at the same time); technique (“defamiliarization”; “Art as device for making strange”: Viktor Shklovsky)

Poetic sub-genres: conventional (p 17); vispo (p 45); erasure (p 47); prose (p 50); mixed (p 51); list (p 63); flash fiction (p 82)

Theories behind text: Modernism, PoMo

Conclusion: Read this book if you want to know the mystery of a shooting star or of a treasure hunt through enchanted forests of entities both autonomous and whole embedded in real and imagined worlds. This noteworthy book is a happening. Go along for the ride. It is a unique and worthy experience.


Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA.

Six poems by Mark Young

is not to have thought

According to the
patter over & in
between the tracks
from unsigned
bands that the late-
summer elephant is
playing, a burst of
radio energy from
deep space is
likely to cause the
scaling back of opium
production on campus.

The peer reviewed
literature proposes
the use of ritual
cleansing & the
wearing of under-
wire bra bikini
bathing suits with
low cut bottoms
to prepare for any
subsequent mayhem.




I wake up late.

Dylan Thomas is in the bed beside me.

He smells of liquor.

I am about to throw him out when he starts speaking.

His words don’t get to me, but, oh, that Welsh accent.

I remember I liked him, long years ago.

Must have been when I was a windy boy & a bit.

I’ve moved on since, following neither that path

nor the road less traveled by.

Other avenues, other trees.

Sometimes, though, when the winds die down

& dreams are thin on the ground

you can hear the old voices.

Even though they no longer speak to you

you pause & listen to them.


A / little something / for Ray Craig

The temperament
of birds. Cardboard
containers of take-
out noodles. Light,
elongated? No, not
that, the things it
touches. Ensuing.



…………………..Only the mind-
…………….games he en-

……….gages in have
…………………interiors of

………………………….sufficient ex-
…………………..quisiteness to

…………….bring forth the

…………..of proliferations
……………………………his greatness



Be specific, at first.

If the idea of the
band without Bonzo
wasn’t bad enough,

now you’ve got
the rest of them
spending most of

their time sulking
on the fact that they
were never able to

get a second life as
a discarded mattress
in a recycling plant.


We are your trusted source for Bibles

Based upon the
flawed premises
that the plug
can be clipped
into the overflow
to keep your bath
tidy, & that every-
one on the show
has developed a

Famous Body, the
use of Keratin Complex
Smoothing Therapy
causes globalization
& geopolitics to
intertwine & become
an intellectual edifice
that’s a convenient
size to work with.


Mark Young’s most recent books are Ley Lines & bricolage, both from gradient books of Finland, The Chorus of the Sphinxes, from Moria Books in Chicago, & some more strange meteorites, from Meritage & i.e. Press, California / New York.

Minda de Vanghel by Mark Young

One of the least developed
strands in Stendahl’s unfin-

ished novel Le Rose et le Vert —
but obviously intended to be

important based on how much
of the author’s working notes

are given over to it — is an
analysis of the changing face of

vegetarian restaurants along
the hippest road in London.



Mark Young has recently had two chapbooks come out as part of William Allegrezza’s Locofo Chaps political poetry series which aims to publish 100 chaps in the first 100 days of Trump’s incumbency. The ever-increasing selection of chapbooks are downloadable from

Double U by Mark Young

I head south. Down Highway #1, the main National Highway. Two days & I could be in Sydney. I think about it seriously.

But. Arriving in Sydney in shorts & sandals & T-shirt? Worn for two days? & it’s still fucking winter down there .

So. No. & anyway, that’s not the purpose of this little jaunt.

I’m entranced by placenames. & in my travels up & down this stretch I’ve seen signposts pointing to Upper Ulam. Several of them, different roads. The name intrigues me. I think of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, Ulaanbaater, & wonder if there are yurts in the hinterland.

So I go, past Midgee, past Gavial, past the Nobel explosives factory. Think about dropping in & asking for a prize. Almost as far as Bajool. Those faraway places….I’m heading for what I think is the third road to double U. It seems to be sealed, at the beginning at least, but that’s no true indicator. Six Mile Road it turns out to be called — the early European settlers were really inventive with their naming; I’ve seen so many six mile, nine mile, twelve mile, creeks, roads, penny arcades in my roamings — & no signposts apart from the name. &, inevitably, six meters up the road is a sign saying gravel road, & six miles up the road it ends at the front gate of somebody’s property.

Retrace my steps. Take the next turn-off. Gravel road, though not really. More like compacted clay, light brown, the odd bit of gravel on it. & then, in the middle of nowhere, tarseal. It’s something that’s quite common round these parts, sealed road for no apparent reason, not at the beginning, not near anything that might pass for a settlement (two or more houses). Just appears in the middle of nowhere.

Follow the road, come to the intersection where the right turn obviously heads back to the highway & the other turn-off. Head left, slight rise, tar seal stops, pass the Upper Ulam Recreation Reserve, further on another intersection. The Upper Ulam Road heads off to the right, the Ulam Connection Road to the left. Follow the latter since there are signs on it saying it’s a school bus route & maybe it even goes to Ulam. If there is an Ulam. Horseshit on the road. Turns into a fucking goat track after a couple of kilometers. I turn around before I turn into a goat.

Retrace my steps again. Take the upper Upper Ulam Road. Quite a few properties with unromantic names, including XXXX which is proclaimed by a purloined metal advertising sign. (New South Wales joke: Q. Why do Queenslanders call their favourite beer XXXX? A. Because they can’t spell fuck properly.) Cattle & horses on the properties, but nothing close enough together, not even a circle of yurts, to suggest a settlement. Realise that Ulam is probably the name of the valley I’ve been going up & down. No idea where the name comes from. Unlikely that it’s mathematical, even though “… the Borsuk–Ulam theorem (BUT) states that every continuous function from an n-sphere into Euclidean n-space maps some pair of antipodal points to the same point” & that could possibly make some sort of sense here.

Stop at the Reserve to have a cigarette. Looks looked after or at least the grass is short. Tables & benches under cover, a couple of barbeque plates, toilets — although probably just a hole in the ground — & a chunk of marble (?) mounted on a concrete base, a meter or so high, half a meter deep/wide, quite attractive actually, flecked with silica that reflects prismatically in the sun, & with a small plaque mounted on it saying that this was a 1988 Bicentennial project.

Haven’t seen many birds. A few currawongs & magpies. No crows, not surprising since they’re highway birds, where the pickings are better. But out of the car there’s quite a bit of bird noise. & not much else.

So, head home again, thinking of that line from J. K. Baxter —”How many roads we take that lead to Nowhere” — & putting a line through Upper Ulam on my list of places to meander to when the mood takes me.