Marc Frazier

Shadow Life

Oh, I wanted to be easy in the peopled kingdoms/ to take my place there
but there was no one that I could find/shaped like me.
—Mary Oliver

I think of hands sculpting parts of the body with nimble fingers.
This means something.
There are signs everywhere but they don’t make a life worth living.
Drawers of hands sit in museums and art schools.
Some by Rodin, his students.
The urge to copy the body never dies.

Palm trees over the canal bow before sun, test what they can sustain.
Mercedes flow along A1A as it hugs the Atlantic.
Driftwood leeches light, ocean spray smells of life, the urge to be someone else takes hold.

Building after building glares white as Greece.
Grounds deserted.
What I see is the iceberg’s tip.
More people near death here than almost anywhere.
In boxy apartments overlooking the greens, aged transplants cool.

I want to be saved from drowning on land.
I want to be alone beside water.
The ancients pushed honored dead out to sea.
Any who depend on it know its give and take, holy chambers, cool pockets.

Innocence has no bearing on what is destined.
Sea turtles, myself, nest in sand.
Sun warms us into life.
I am not who you think I am, not who I thought I was, not who I was meant to be.


Nearly ninety years fit in this room. Surrounded by tokens from the past you hold court from a lift chair.

Motherless since birth, you gathered your grief and moved on. I water your three plants, exclaim over the blooming cactus, your green thumb.

I run for sugar-free applesauce, Ensure, Depends. Fully stocked and little appetite.

Shuffles to the bathroom with a walker. Pain patches changed religiously.

A wheelchair ride for mashed potatoes and pale meat. Bed after dinner, rosary in hand.

As a child I helped with your checkbook: Now I add up your SS and library pension,
subtract your monthly rent for Good Neighbor Care.

How you feared my father catching a mistake. Remember going for rides, stopping to make a “visit” at some Catholic church.

You and my sisters covered your unholy heads. We knelt and prayed separately together.

All this piousness and I just wanted a hand to hold.

Published 11-17-17

Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review (forthcoming), Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore.

He has had memoir from his book WITHOUT published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, Autre Cobalt Magazine and Evening Street Review and Punctuate (forthcoming).

He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been featured on Verse Daily. His book The Way Here and his two chapbooks are available on Amazon as well as his second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches (Glass Lyre Press) that has garnered numerous favorable reviews. His website is