Mark‌ ‌Danowsky‌ – Five Poems


I know how priming works
Yet this August so many dragonflies
Flock my whereabouts
I take it as a sign
Not that I should get the tattoo
Of them or the rabbits circling
Or my go to ouroboros
But instead wonder
How the rest of the kingdom
Might make exception
And name one of us friend

Squash Blossoms

How much do we owe
those in our orbit?

Better to give
delicacy over abundance?

Yellow and orange treats
versus big green

Wish I knew best
to give unto each

If only I was put here
as means to please

To please is all
consuming sometimes

But you keep me going
back to this garden


As I stand before the sea
Access leads to caring

The bird taken by wind
Appears to fall Icarus-like

Descend below the depths
It does!

Resurrected—in a splash

Wildflower Walk

The mayapple remains a mostly closed umbrella


Turns out the snowdrops are Spring Beauty
and, in this instance, I prefer Virginia to Carolina


I photograph a poor bloodroot specimen


Our guide says it’s a good year for twinleaf


It seems I overlooked trout lily
possibly because it’s yellow


They say this flower looks like pants
but all I see are teeth


The native lack the glamour, I’m sorry to say


Sedum draws my eye more than most flowers


By the end you’re excited to see blooming trillium

Reflections on the Wildflower Walk

There’s a lot of cleverness built in—
botanical names suit a certain agenda

I ask too many questions
about wild ginger—
the guide looks at me with suspicion

Because of what we’ve done
there is the need to plant native
ramps in a hidden spot
to teach us what is worth protecting


Author’s Statement on Beauty

Because we are never truly in control, it’s essential to find beauty when we are out of our element. This can be true of a situation in which you find yourself physically in an unfamiliar space. Look around, seen another way, surely there is something otherwise ordinary that in this context you can tell yourself is beautiful. Then there are the psychological situations we find ourselves in. New territory? Maybe territory we know all too well. At some point in your life you are statistically likely to face a depressive episode. Sadly, it’s a regular thing for many of us. How do we find beauty when the clear blue sky above appears as black? I don’t have the answer for you though, of course, I wish I did. I don’t have the answer for me either. Not all the time. Sometimes I manage to break away from the darkness and see something right in front of me that I would have otherwise ignored. William Burroughs has this poetry prompt where he asks students to go out thinking about a color (“red” for example) and then walk around paying attention to all the “red” things we see. David Foster Wallace, in his famous commencement speech This is Water, warns us about our tendency towards functioning on auto-pilot or, in DFW terms, our “default setting.” It’s hard to walk through the world, especially when you’re down. And we’re wired (well, differently and by degrees) to ignore the majority of data bombarding us. If we gave our full attention to everything it would be too painful to go outside. When we can break away from our baseline, (whatever that may be), to see something that we’d otherwise pass by without notice, we surprise ourselves discovering how much beauty is out there just waiting for us to notice and deem beautiful.


Mark‌ ‌Danowsky‌ ‌is‌ ‌author‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌poetry‌ ‌collection‌ ‌‌As‌ ‌Falls‌ ‌Trees‌ ‌‌(NightBallet‌ ‌Press,‌ ‌ 2018).‌ ‌His‌ ‌poems‌ ‌have‌ ‌appeared‌ ‌in‌ ‌Gargoyle,‌ ‌Kestrel,‌ ‌North‌ ‌Dakota‌ ‌Quarterly,‌ ‌and‌ ‌elsewhere.‌ ‌He’s‌ ‌Managing‌ ‌Editor‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌Schuylkill‌ ‌Valley‌ ‌Journal.‌ ‌