My name is Mark Owoola (I use M3RK as my pen name), and I am a 22-year-old graduate student at the University of Missouri.
I started writing poetry in earnest during the nascent months of the pandemic. I viewed that time as my little Renaissance, as I began to tap into and appreciate the art of so many young creatives and began to create my own as a way to both occupy my time during the lockdown and also process the many different repressed emotions that I couldn’t ignore anymore. Through my poetry, I strive to paint my internal and external struggles for fullness into words, coloring in the themes of love, oppression, nature, emptiness, and liberation along the way.
Waterfalls are the amalgamation of our inner energies.
Each droplet being
A desire, a fear, a memory, a piece of us
Breaking free from the confines of hardened rock.
For still water stagnates and decays.
But a waterfall must also fill
And its source be replenished,
Unless it fancies the solitary plummet of the abyss
To be fulfilled is to fill and to be filled full.
“Liberation’s a Mosh Pit”
My heart’s torn like the rips in my black denim jeans
Jeans tight like the constrictions and pressures forced on me
But they say that pressure turns coal to diamonds.
They talkin’ bout the ten-dollar diamonds that used to dance on my ears?
The ones that almost got me disowned,
With accusations of queerness and criminality tossed left and right?
Yet I smile.
Drain out bad energy.
I chase my highs and drown out my lows and I smile my hardest.
I rage against all demons external and in,
Because liberation is a fucking mosh pit.
We are the rascals who march to the drums of our own screeching
Music born from depletion
Lyrics of the abyss
Listen to our empty melodies and cry your heart’s content
For we aren’t done yet
Lounge in your putrid contempt
And watch the legion of red lesions
Grow colors of the cursed
Our music is born from depletion
Hoping to one day become full
Whenever that gray light with the blue mood
Poured through my window,
We were never blue but only sometimes
Tucked up under each other like colorblind fools,
Sweet laughter on our lips came and went
Dancing up into the air currents
To be shredded to pieces by the blades of my ceiling fan.
We always tried picking up the pieces
With fingers buttered up like pastries
Leaving nothing but crumbs all over the floor.
“The Dancing Dead and Dead Again”
….I wake up (un)dead,
Joining the horde of bodies wandering aimlessly
To each’s destination unknown
Left right, right left
My body sways
Up down, down up
Dancing on my own grave
It’s not all bad though,
At least I don’t eat others
Until there’s nothing left
Elusive secrets dance under your Khaya skin,
Bringing whoever seeks your knowledge deep into your roots,
Where our ancestors reside.
For its only the calm deep of your eternal shade
That provides true refuge from the raging of the Sun,
From which you turn its boundless, chaotic light
Into innumerable little five-petaled stars,
Whose effervescent glamour brings awe to all.
If I could paint my dreams
Warm, ethereal colors would dance with blotches of black
An elegant duet across the marble floor of my fingernails
I’d show the world these vivid visions
Waiting to burst and splatter their eclectic entrails
But this same world tears my distress into my denim
And preys on my vulnerabilities, striking with its venom
So today I will write my dreams, and I will write them sincere
Hoping I can one day paint these words on my fingernails
And share my masterpiece without fear
squinting through the condensation on my windshield
brought back memories of february hearts painted on school bus windows
with spindly fingertips, now callused from a guitar that played me
shitty riffs. I don’t remember when I grew so fond of black hearts that devoured me
and spit me out like radiation, but music always made me forget.
so I turned up the volume and let my foot cave under the pressure,
taking me off into the night sky