Mark Elliot Cullen     


Five Obstructions

Unsolicited Treatise
Response to “Unsolicited Treatise”
The Unsolicited Treatise
Response to “The Unsolicited Treatise”
A Treatise I Can’t Remember


Unsolicited Treatise

Dear Mark, I am not your friend.
In fact, I do not know you. Even so,
I can appreciate the liberties

you took. It was your project.
Yet, I do not believe Francesco
considers you as a good a friend

as you think. Referencing his
depression was uncalled for,
especially in an, as you titled it

“Unsolicited Treatise”. To me this
is not really poetry, just petty
sniffling. We want a journal unlike

the carefully plotted, poignant–
How do I put it? Typographical.
The extreme cynicism of artisan.

You have not achieved this, with
your extreme self-consciousness,
the enemy of beauty. Sorry, Kevin.


Response to “Unsolicited Treatise”

Francesco: “I can appreciate
the liberties you took” is
just clunky, plus he’s lying.

Kevin: I can say it’s mostly true
but I don’t write with such
affectation. Francesco: Yes, that’s

part of the point. Kevin: I don’t care.
He hasn’t tackled any of the problems
we want BORT to solve. I’m never

free of that pointless feeling.
Francesco: At least though, when
we are troubled, we feel as if

we are closer to existing. Kevin:
Look, exposing cogs isn’t helping.
When I strip naked and lie down

alone, I know my clothes hang
in the closet, I’m not any freer,
I’m no more erect than usual.


The Unsolicited Treatise

Hi Francesco, I’m going to have to
ask you not to print what I gave 
you. I know you said nothing

simultaneous, but Black Warrior 
says they want it and I need that
to pad out my Cornell application.

I know it’s strange as the poems
were about you, so personal. They
can’t get enough of that neurotic

New York thing. They’re very
excited about your depression.
They especially like the lines

“What does he want? My urine / Is
everywhere. He seems surprised.”
Last time I saw you, after we

cleaned you up, you told me about
your last journal failing to make
it to press. Do you think this new

one will make it out the door?
I’m very interested in Kevin as someone
I know. Have I met him? I know him.


Response to “The Unsolicited Treatise”

Kevin: Bizarre. Do you know him
that well? Francesco: Yeah, he’s
lying. He likes to prod people.

Once I took him out with my ex
and he started asking about
all her old boyfriends. Kevin:

What an ass. Francesco: She got
angry that I was getting jealous,
he stood around smiling in his

running shorts. He was always in
them. He loved running, though you
wouldn’t know it from his gut.

Kevin: I never understood fatness
myself, I’ve always been svelte.
You’ve seen my pictures. Francesco:

We’ll use one for the cover. Kevin:
Every grain of protein I ingest
reminds me how much I hate poetry.


A Treatise I Can’t Remember

Hey Mark, I received your poems. I am 
running out of luck. I’ve been listening
to the walls. I can hear the neighbors.

I’ve stopped reading. I’m realigning
my mind. Kevin told me he read about
a Russian with a brain disease that

made him incapable of forgetting
anything, remembering details:
lines of furniture repeating

forever in his memory, even the
puckering after eating something
sour, pains recalled before his

mind had any say. He remembered his
face every day, he remembered every
breakfast, every time he was lost,

every stranger he asked for
directions, all the directions.
How did he ever get lost?


Mark Elliot Cullen was originally born in 1986 in West Palm Beach, Florida. He attended Carnegie Mellon and The New School. He currently works for a housing non-profit.