Mark Doty Poems

Mark Doty is a contemporary American poet who is regarded as one of the most important poets of his generation. He was born in Maryville, Tennessee, and attended Drake University and Goddard College. He won the National Book Award for Poetry.

Golden Retrievals

by Mark Doty

‘Golden Retrievals’ is a poignant poem that personifies man’s best-friend in an attempt to remind us that happiness and shelter from life’s woes is best found in the present.

This poem by Mark Doty offers a playfully poignant portrait of grief that's gleaned creatively from the perspective of a golden retriever. As a result, much of its imagery revolves around the poet's captivating imagination of the whims and fancies that drive our furry companions. The result is a poem that balances a sullen fixation on human sorrow with the carefree and unconditional affection offered by man's best friend.

Fetch? Balls and sticks capture my attention

seconds at a time. Catch? I don’t think so.

Bunny, tumbling leaf, a squirrel who’s—oh

joy—actually scared. Sniff the wind, then


by Mark Doty

‘Brilliance’ by Mark Doty describes a dying man who wants to control his own life. He eventually opens himself up to new experiences.

'Brilliance' is a striking poem that uses an extended metaphor to build an evocative work of art. It is not Mark Doty's most famous poem, nor has it been extensively anthologized or publicized. Although 'Brilliance' is not Doty's most well-known or most accomplished poem, it remains a memorable work that holds its own, building on themes of death, grief, and rebirth that are present in some of Doty's other works.

Maggie’s taking care of a man

who’s dying; he’s attended to everything,

said goodbye to his parents,

Esta Noche

by Mark Doty

In ‘Esta Noche,’ Lola’s vibrant persona celebrates self-expression, challenging norms with captivating language and the allure of drag performance.

This poem is a good representation of Mark Doty's poetry in certain aspects. The poem showcases some of the recurring themes in Doty's works, such as self-expression, gender identity, and the transformative power of art. It also exemplifies his ability to use vivid imagery, emotional depth, and evocative language to convey powerful messages. However, it's important to note that Mark Doty's body of work is diverse, and while 'Esta Noch' captures some elements of his poetry, exploring a wider selection of his poems is necessary to fully grasp the breadth of his poetic themes and styles.

In a dress with a black tulip’s sheen

la fabulosa Lola enters, late, mounts the stairs

to the plywood platform, and begs whoever runs

the wobbling spot to turn the lights down

Bill’s Story

by Mark Doty

Mark Doty’s ‘Bill’s Story’ appears in his best-known poetry collection My Alexandria (1993). This poem is about the death of a speaker’s sister suffering from dementia and AIDS.

When my sister came back from Africa,

we didn't know at first how everything

had changed. After a while Annie

bought men's and boy's clothes in all sizes,

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