Leveler Poetry Journal
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from Pink Clouds of the Apocalypse


Innumerable people of creative talent

I must express my joy!    The message of days

is a disconnected tongue     Awkward stains

and beer bottles on baby teeth    Dynamic

data in a pinch     Interruption

is the rhythm      An operational (w)hole    Absence

as visibility is the value    Equal disappointment    A happy

marriage    The enemy

is an anemone    I’ll never be a rock star

but that’s not going to stop me

from coming up with names for bands—

Pond Snail Meth-Head    Massacre Society    What’s Your Major?

I hide my prurience in civility     Discard my lanyard

and I’m lost    The silence

is excitement     A timid little teether all wrapped up

in reverb    Bio-luminescent creatures shining in a bay on a night of low

light pollution    The colors of dawn—hysterical—travel along

my bones    An average beauty    A sales force charging

into the night

Justin Marks

levelheaded: from Pink Clouds of the Apocalypse


The title of the longer work from which this week’s selection is taken—“Pink Clouds of the Apocalypse”—is at once light and heavy. The world is ending, but there are pretty pink clouds in the sky. If the title is any indication of the setting, in the first couple of lines the speaker is surprisingly upbeat, seemingly more in tune with levity than heft as he or she emphatically expresses joy.


The next few lines point at the poetics in play. Following this initial lighthearted outburst, we move to the sobering lines, “The message of days / is a disconnected tongue.” This statement points back to the title and first lines, where pleasing scenery and a positive spirit seem out of place. Continuing on, the theme of disconnect becomes even more apparent—baby teeth shouldn’t be on beer bottles, and the image is simultaneously silly and unsettling. Marks’ decision to leave the word “Dynamic” tacked onto the end of line four suggests that the author himself is aware of the way this image works on different levels.


The rapid movement from one thought to another is a technique that the poet is also undoubtedly conscious of. He writes, “Interruption / is the rhythm”–a concept that makes perfect sense when the world is ending and we can’t help but notice the clouds. These constant interruptions also feed into the duality that the speaker recognizes in the world at large, where a “hole” suggests a “whole” and “Equal disappointment” finds itself alongside “A happy / marriage.”


Often, as in the phrase “A happy / marriage,” Marks’ line breaks re-contextualize the  phrases immediately before and after them. Line eight asserts that marriage is “The enemy” before we learn that “The enemy / is an anemone.” Line 14 makes us think of the harrowing silence associated with feeling lost, until we learn that “The silence / is excitement.” Near the poem’s close, when “The colors of dawn—hysterical—travel along” another precise breaks calls attention to where these colors are traveling—“along / my bones”—and the new day takes a morbid turn.  Continuing the themes of interruption and dynamism, the poem turns again, to “An average beauty,” then again to “A sales force charging / into the night.” Whether or not these things, whether or not any things are connected, we as writers and readers and humans, try to make sense of it all.


– The Editors