At the Gym

At the Gym
Mark Doty

This salt-stain spot
marks the place where men
lay down their heads,
back to the bench,
and hoist nothing
that need be lifted
but some burden they’ve chosen
this time: more reps,
more weight, the upward shove
of it leaving, collectively,
this sign of where we’ve been:
shroud-stain, negative
flashed onto the vinyl
where we push something
unyielding skyward,
gaining some power
at least over flesh,
which goads with desire,
and terrifies with frailty.
Who could say who’s
added his heat to the nimbus
of our intent, here where
we make ourselves:
something difficult
lifted, pressed or curled,
Power over beauty,
power over power!
Though there’s something more
tender, beneath our vanity,
our will to become objects
of desire: we sweat the mark
of our presence onto the cloth.
Here is some halo
the living made together.

From Source by Mark Doty, published by HarperCollins. Copyright © 2002 by Mark Doty. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

About Mark Doty:

Mark Doty was born in 1953. He is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008), which received the National Book Award; School of the Arts (2005); Source (2002); and Sweet Machine (1998).

Other collections include Atlantis (1995), which received the Ambassador Book Award, the Bingham Poetry Prize, and a Lambda Literary Award; My Alexandria (1993), chosen by Philip Levine for the National Poetry Series, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and Britain’s T. S. Eliot Prize, and was also a National Book Award finalist; Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (1991); and Turtle, Swan (1987).

In 2010, Graywolf Books published a collection of essays on poetry titled The Art of Description: World into Word, in which Doty asserts that “poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself.”

He has also published Heaven’s Coast (1996), which received the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction. Other memoirs by Doty includes Firebird (1999), Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (2000), and Dog Years(HarperCollins, 2007).

Doty has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, Ingram Merrill, Rockefeller, and Whiting foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected an Academy Chancellor in 2011. He has taught at the University of Houston and is currently serving as a Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University. He currently lives in New York City.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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