Writers

Reunion, a dream

Reunion, a dream

 

A room full of people:
porn on the TV—
We have to ask a guy to leave
because one, we don’t know him
and two, he whips it out to wank.

I am with a kid from high school
who hasn’t grown an inch
who looks exactly the same
except for the stubble
and the pin-thin lines
at the corners of his eyes.

He mentions the girl,
the woman he loves,
who was my bully
and she bullied him too,
and it is all too fresh—

I hold him in silence.

 

©2014 Clare L. Martin

Nothing like a silent house.

A quick note: This was just written in the last hour while a delicious-smelling gumbo is being tended to by my family and not me, which is new and greatly appreciated. My dear friend Debra and I had an exchange on Facebook earlier and one of her responses prompted this poem.

Blessings, Debra. May you have all the words that need to be written by you.

~Clare

 

 

“Nothing like a silent house”

The books unread
outnumber the ones
that enter me like vines
through brick. How the walls
peel and sigh, I will never know.
The floor muddies after storms
that come like final distractions
before death by fire.

There is cigarette smoke
in the house, but no piano.
To all of us, this place is home.
Sometimes rats shiver me
awake with their mating-grind,
and dry cries seep
out of my own sleep.
I construct fungal nests for the rats.
We know there will be
more, more, more
and they may devour us,
but we let them live: night-lit
companions, sticky and full of rotten figs.

We had a dog once, a puppy
I brought home. I was depressed
and it was something to love me,
but it disappeared after chewing
an antique chair. Gone to that place
where stables burn,
the kicking horses
locked-in, kindled with hay—

I cannot always grasp a poem.
I try and they bend
defensively as I reach. I try again
and words beat me with their wings,
leaving me ransacked and bruised.

There is nothing like a silent house,
and nothing, nothing
in this world like want.

 

©2014 Clare L. Martin

Ode to a Child Soldier

Ode to a Child Soldier

 

This child should eat
something more than water
and bone and be clothed
in something other than desolation.
This child should be sung to and sing;
be mourned and praised. He should
know that pulse within himself
when freed makes a sound
we call laughter. He should know it well.

O, my well-armed child
with pockets full of bullets,
run if you can. Bury the gun
in your hand deep and in secret,
even from yourself.

Victim, slave, innocent,
your one life
has been eviscerated
with the purpose
to kill.

I give you this, my hope,
that there are people
who want to dance with you.
There are people, who, in their beds
wonder if you are shod, if you know
your parentage and bless
you in holy, hypnogogic prayer.

 

 

This was written by me today in a session of Acadiana Wordlab led by poet Wendy Taylor Carlisle which had part of its focus on the Ode as a “song of praise.”

©2014 CLM

Blog Tour: Process Talk

 

 

 

What are you working on?

I am working on a second manuscript of poetry with hopes for a second book. When Eating the Heart First (Press 53, 2012) was done and out in the world, I was consumed with promotion of it and became less structured/focused in my writing time. Happily though, Acadiana Wordlab had just formed that same month and regular attendance counted for me getting writing done.  The weekly sessions got me refocused and recharged. I am indebted to Jonathan Penton (Google him) for his vision and work that made this great community/activity thrive. I am the coordinator now, as Jonathan has moved onto other projects. My involvment gives me great pleasure. I give and receive. I am amazed by the wonderful writers who are growing in the Acadiana community and around our state. I have many new poems that have come out of the AW drafting sessions that will hopefully make it into the manuscript.

I have a working title for the manuscript: Broken Jesus.  That title comes from a line in my poem, “Convergence,” which appeared in Louisiana Literature, but the image itself comes from a black and white photograph of a broken marble statue of Jesus on the cross at an abandoned church. Ralph J Schexnaydre, Jr. took that photo back in the 1980s.  The image appeared on the cover of the first literary magazine in which my work was published, my university’s journal, The Southwestern Review.

I still have that journal issue (it came out in 1989, 25 years ago) but sadly Ralph doesn’t have the image anymore. I would have asked him to allow me to use it. I do have in my house a crucifix that was my grandmother’s and grandfather’s that is broken. A limb is missing from Jesus, and perhaps I can have someone photograph it for me down the road as the manuscript shapes up.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The work I am drawn to, the poetry that enlivens me is work that is finely crafted, visceral, meaningful, daring, brave, honest, sharp, and lyrical and I hope that my work is these things. I want to be a dauntless writer. I want to be writing new always: pushing myself, going deeper, going harder and reaching more deeply into you, the reader. I don’t know how else to answer this question because if I am not gripped by a poet’s language, attention to craft, willingness to rend hearts and punch guts, with an almost nameless kind of love for you at the same time, I usually put the book down.

Why do you write what you do?

I write to move other human beings with my words.

How does your writing process work?

I used to be strictly tied to typing rather than writing in longhand but since I have been a devotee of Acadiana Wordlab’s mostly pen-to-paper process, I am more attuned to my hands, albeit in a different way than typing letter by letter. This is something new and fun for me, to write out drafts in notebooks. It’s something I had truly not practiced except for note-taking since getting a typewriter, then a word processor, then a computer. The words are moving from my brain to my hands but my hands know more than my mouth does.

In my at-home practice, I usually start with a free-write. I don’t wait for inspiration but because I am a constant reader, I am inspired daily.  Also, those ephemeral voices (that may become lines of poetry) are a grace to which I am sharply attuned.  (It can cause problems to live so far up into your head but I manage to be grounded). A word or phrase may come to me while eating buttered grits or taking a bath, and I get up, write it down, and follow where it leads. I have rushed out of the bath naked (they’ve all seen me naked around here) and gotten on the computer to get words down.  My short term memory is weakening I think.  I also might need to get my bathrobe out of the closet.

Sometimes if I am driving and a line comes, I will pull over and voice-record it on my phone.   But the question of writing process beyond the mechanics of actually writing is that I firmly hold that I cannot call myself a writer if I am not writing. I don’t feel I deserve that name if I am not doing it in some way, and I count many ways: letter-writing, journaling, creative writing, and emails—they qualify too, if they are creatively inspired.

For many years my only writing was letter writing and it was necessary for me to have that one person as an audience.  The three friends I wrote to on a regular basis are now deceased but really I owe them deep thanks for enjoying my letters and writing back. Those correspondences saved me and my writing career, whatever that is or will be, because it kept me writing. Those friends kept me writing and encouraged my writing when my days were black pages.

 

 

*Thank you to Margaret Gibson Simon for tagging me in this fun and challenging effort to enlighten others about our ways and whys of writing. She can be read at Reflections on the Teche

 

I am tagging:

Mashael (I am air)

Helen Losse

Mona AlvaradoFrazier

Participate if you like and link back here!  I will link to you, if you are inclined to play along.

Be well, friends.

Clare

New Poem/Prayer

Prayer

 

The figs are not yet ripe but I will leave them
for the blackbirds,
cacophonous angels of soot—

Wind forces its mouth
on mine and I cannot
breathe for a moment.

Thank you for this
breath and the next.

You call me to water; water
burgeoning in bodies.

Holy, holy
How new can I be?

The fullness
of my anger would fit
in a tarnished thimble, and this is a grace.

But my skin will never
forget the sin it committed.

Your mystery traces
intricacies in disquiet.
Your dawn raises
me from the dead.

I have swallowed stillness
to quiet all turmoil.

I pray,
unravel me,
to a single thread.

 

©2014 CLM

There are angels among us and some of them are human beings. I am lucky to have one as my niece.

From my niece Morgan Landry just now in reply to my plea for cheering up:

“You’re a creative genius, and in my personal opinion, the most genius of those in the arts have to pay a price. That price is awareness. You’re inclined to be hyper-aware, and when you wish you weren’t is when you are the most. Sometimes it’s bad, and all you can sense is its pain and misfortune — the world is so unfair. But other times, your psyche points towards the opposite pole of your internal spectrum. You can see so much beauty everywhere around you. You envelop yourself in the warm ancient afghan of our culture and bloodline and heritage. You feel your family’s love fill you up until you no longer know quite how to express it. You see a Monet in every leaf in a puddle on the old shitty sidewalks. And when you’re in the darkness, you just have to remember that all of these things are there still. You’ve done a stupendous job transforming your pain into a sturdy foundation for your soul and your work. You benefit from all that’s around you. Anyone who talks with you can’t help but feel happy and cared for; I can see it when I’m there. I love you forever!”

 

God bless you all and goodnight. XOXOX

neg heart

IN THE MARROW ALL HUNGERS BEGIN

 

 

carnal wetness
the needle
sensations of wind

a tug at flesh of the low-belly

a harvest
of cerulean veins

hook-eyes

a frazzle of electric wires
coiled                          to the womb

 

an excised heart
as soft palms cup it
transforms
to a tranquilized dove

 

Beloved jailer,
holy executioner,

Can this sin
be absolved?

 

I took communion without wine.

 

©2014 CLM

Delusion

blackbird

Delusion

 

She slips out unnoticed by disguising herself as a shadow and moving slow as shadow; a lengthening mark against decreasing light.

Beyond the open field, where the patients do calisthenics each morning, there is a hedgerow and beyond that a gate used for truck deliveries. Beyond the field before someone notices. Beyond the field to the gate before they know she is missing. She slips darkly into a green abyss.

Her bare feet skim the mud; she drips dark mud as each foot rises in step. A decrepit thought enters her mind. She turns back, just momentarily; to see the brick-bone building almost in ruin. She cries seed after seed into slim furrows her toes created.

She must punch in a code to enter or exit. She does not know if she is entering or exiting. She climbs the gate. Someone shouts. She climbs down the gate. She runs. She runs until it is night. The North Star is obscured and she wouldn’t know it anyway. She wishes for a river to follow a down-flow. She knows people in the South. But, perhaps, they don’t love her anymore?

All of her imaginings, innumerable, sorrowful, soul-stealing sinister, become sheer, so that she can almost see through them (but unfortunately cannot).

It begins to rain. For every raindrop a black feather falls. Blackbird-eyes are upon her. She hunches from heaviness of the scattered wings; swallows a mouthful of naked moon.

Her days and nights culminate into the fullest sun. She murmurs: Is it or is it not, and why?

Somehow, impossibly, the world softens around her. Her idea of God softens, too. The one and only voice she possesses constellates with discorporate multitudes in harmonic undulations of holy praise.

©2014 CLM

Woman in Prayer

A reflection on an experience this afternoon.
Peace.

~CLM
Woman in Prayer

I am penitent; pour myself out
onto the hard rail of the pew
somber Mary alit, red-glassed candles
no smoke, but a hint of myrrh
the cleaning woman shakes her mop
a woman comes in, blesses
herself at the font of holy water
and more women fill in like light
to pray
at the stations of the cross
they speak to me and I
decline their invitation
their prayers become
my own                the sun exhales
color,   the breath
focus
on the breath
fill the lungs feel the fullness
release let go let go
of the tension in my body,
the bones of my neck click
my hanging God the Christ
that I need to believe in
that I am begging to take
a lifetime’s desperation
to deliver me
right my path
crown of thorns
my own heart
brambles and thorns
jag the aorta
what if there were wings
the blackheart caws
I want to fly, to flee
this earth yet I cannot
so willfully I come here to pray
I come for mercysilence
and today as supplicant

These women,
in devotion, full of grace
could not possibly be
as contrite, as sinful as me.

 

© 2014 CLM

A hard one to write

TO SEE
on the tenth anniversary of my son’s death

Dirt
the smell of dirt
dirt through fingers, soft
dirt in small hills
where the rake
pulled through
to the small headstone
the body beneath
may be bone
and perhaps        not bone
blue fabric
of a button-down
shirt the stains
of putrefaction
the rancid stains
of fats as the body
broke down blue sky
on bones too frail in life
porous and easily broken
The wind would carry it all away
if we were to dig
to see just to know
because our imaginations
have taken us there

Our eyes cannot penetrate
the earth and wood
that contains the body
of he that was, of he that lived
came to death so ready
born ready
but persevered
without choice in a life
without choice
except to exclaim
except to wonder for milk
except to laugh
merely a nervous
system response
a spasm of unknowing
a tick of seizure without joy.

CLM ©2014