Professor Marcus Clayton was one of my supervisors at Los Angeles Southwest College in Southern California when I worked as a tutor and later a supplemental English instructor. He’s in a rock band called Tudors, is getting a PhD at USC, and writes poems. He’s one of the most prolific literary dudes that I’ve ever met. I highly suggest checking out his website to find out more about his work.
Marcus gathered some collaborators and put together indicia, a magazine that curates the work of some great up-and-coming poets and artists. His poem “I Can’t Draw a Heart” is probably one of the best poems that I’ve read in the last decade. It can be found in his chap-book petals blue as blood. He wields the morbid imagery to paint a crisp picture of someone that, I imagine, craves intimacy fiercely. Yet, that intimacy seems as unattainable and illusive as the ideas presented by the modernist authors he likely analyzes for his PhD at USC.
One of the reasons why I find this poem really intriguing is the different thematic elements that I sense while I read. We are living in a time in which science and technology has created synthetic, clinical barriers between individuals. Connection is more and more a by-product of the use of cellular phones and computers. But, here, you have a speaker that yearn for something tactile. The desire has turned so grotesque in nature which, to me, sends a vampiric echo through my mind while I read. Interestingly, the gender of the speaker remains vague. It presents an avenue for a gendered reading or analysis of the poem. At the very least, it weaves enough intrigue into the reader to induce a flipping of the page and find out the ending. Check out petals blue as blood!
Clayton, Marcus. petals blue as blood, indicia, 2020.
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