The Comedown by Justin Marks


Also available in hardcover

As a human I’m a fiction             A heart

               of vomit …

Scared                Sacred

Justin Marks’ other books are You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored (Barrelhouse Books ), A Million in Prizes (New Issues), and the chapbook We Used to Have Parties (Dikembe Press). He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his family. Read poems at

A delusion of grandeur

that’s mediocre

82 pages, Paperback, 6x9"
ISBN: 978-1-945028-27-4
Cover photo by the author

Additional information

Weight4.8 oz
Dimensions6 × 9 × .25 in

Ruth Stone House Podcast with Justin Marks

“Part confession, part tirade, part commentary, Justin Marks’ third poetry collection The Comedown, is a riveting, taut exploration into the toxic matrix of masculinity, capitalism, illness, the doldrums of perceived mediocrity, and the travails of the restless, seeking mind. Like a diamond drill bit, Marks bores into the heart of the matter: dissolution of the self, of marriage, of fatherhood, of youth, of the ego with precision, humor, and unflinching candor to expose stark beauty in a life lived hard despite its accumulated traumas and vices. His singular voice contends with the universality of existential dread without artifice or grandeur, but rather in the most intimate, nearly imperceptible moments that render us human—fallible, but full of grace.”

—Su Hwang, author of Bodega

“What a moving and unusual book The Comedown is! A long poem, or perhaps a memoir in verse, or a dramatic monologue, it is both playful and yet revealing, honest and philosophical, formally innovative and yet direct. Marks shows us human life from childhood to parenthood, from loneliness to marriage:

We struggle

We love each other

“At the center of this work, the unforgettable image of a young child watching his father accidentally light himself on fire. From there, the contradictions come:

The reason to stay

is the desire to leave.

“And from contradiction comes wisdom:

reality is the best

metaphor for reality.

“Comes poetry:

Text becoming body

“Comes transformation. How? Because Justin Marks is willing to be vulnerable, he is able to question what poetry can do—what language itself can do—to depict the drama of the human mind:

a disordered mind

is its own


“Indeed. Herein contradiction challenges the form, makes the poet search for new forms, makes out of fragments a transformation.

—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa