Unholy Sonnet 11

By Mark Jarman b. 1952 Mark Jarman
Half asleep in prayer I said the right thing   
And felt a sudden pleasure come into   
The room or my own body. In the dark,   
Charged with a change of atmosphere, at first   
I couldn’t tell my body from the room.   
And I was wide awake, full of this feeling,   
Alert as though I’d heard a doorknob twist,   
A drawer pulled, and instead of terror knew   
The intrusion of an overwhelming joy.   
I had said thanks and this was the response.   
But how I said it or what I said it for   
I still cannot recall and I have tried   
All sorts of ways all hours of the night.   
Once was enough to be dissatisfied.

Mark Jarman, “Unholy Sonnet 11” from Questions for Ecclesiastes. Copyright © 1997 by Mark Jarman. Reprinted with the permission of the author and Story Line Press, www.storylinepress.com.

Source: Questions for Ecclesiastes (Story Line Press, 1997)

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Poet Mark Jarman b. 1952

Subjects Religion

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Mark  Jarman


Considered a key figure in both New Narrative and New Formalism, Mark Jarman has exerted a significant influence on contemporary American poetry. In the 1980s, with Robert McDowell, Jarman founded and edited the Reaper, a magazine devoted to reclaiming and promoting poetry that emphasized story and image. Controversially warning "Navel gazers and mannerists” that “their time is running out,” the magazine sought to reestablish . . .

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SUBJECT Religion

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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