Two Poems in “Louisiana Literature”

My poems, “Convergence” and “Ink on a Mirror,” appear in the current issue (Vol. 29, No. 1) of Louisiana Literature published by Southeastern Louisiana University. Very happy to have work published in a literary publication from my home state! This is my first publication by a “university” press since I graduated from college in 1991.

My thanks to Jack B. Bedell for including my work in this issue along with many fine writers.

The Work

Hello World,

Below are links to my creative works accessible on the Internet that have been published in online literary journals. I am grateful to the editors and publishers who have helped me bring my words to the world.

One thing I love about the Internet is that these poems and writings can be accessed and read by anyone with a connection who clicks the link. I do send work out to print journals and I have a print (and e-book) coming out in the fall, but I focus primarily on online literary journals for submissions because I know that the reach is potentially greater these days. I have also made many connections with online readers and have made friends in the creative writing community, which has been a wonderful experience.

It’s exciting and gratifying to get and give feedback through online interactions with readers and editors.  Please take a moment to read, not only my work, but the literary journals to which I linked.

I welcome your thoughts!

Thanks for reading.




“Eating the Heart First” read by Nic Sebastian for Whale Sound



Any Winter Sunday in Louisiana” Referential Magazine

Birthing,”  “Make a New Garden” The Never that Was” Avatar Review

“Bread Making” and “Garbage Woman”  Blue Fifth Review

“Catharsis,” “The Frozen Child” and “Eating the Heart First”   Eclectica       

“Father Almost Drowning”  Poets and Artists

“Haunted” Referential Magazine

“How it Comes”A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

“Last night I dreamt the moon was burning”  Wheelhouse Magazine

“Life Expectancy” Blood Lotus

“Lost”Redheaded Stepchild Magazine

“Meditation on Intimations of Winter II” A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Memento Mori” and “Tattoo”  Press 1

“Mute”  “blue collection 1″ from Blue Fifth Review

“Note to Self” The Centrifugal Eye

“Open Me with a Fire of Words”  Wild Goose Poetry Review

“Poem at Red Moon (Full August Moon) and Secrets Alluded to but Never Told”Unlikely Stories

“Premature” Literary Mama, “Desiring Motherhood” series

“Seeing Through”  Blue Fifth Review: Blue Five Notebook Series

Seven Poems  Dead Mule

“She walks into the sea” Lily Lit Review

“The Bird in My Ribcage”Redheaded Stepchild Magazine

“The Oak Remembered from My Childhood” Referential Magazine

“The White Crane” (non-fiction) Referential Magazine

“The Word Does Not Come” and “Poem to the Madonna”  Unlikely Stories

“Distortion” Unlikely Stories

“To His Disquiet We Owe Recompense,” “Hegira” and “Bone Woman” 
~Dead Mule

“What Winter Told Me” –Thrush Poetry Journal

“White Bull, Black Road” “The Woman You Married”  “Little Poem at Pink Moon” ~Scythe

“Winter” Glass: A Journal of Poetry

“Winter Brought Out All The Knives”  Melusine

“You carry your weight well.”  Clare


As soon as I think it, the thought flees. Oh, it was the perfect opening; now an ethereal thought gone, maybe into outer space. What I do remember is that the water is boiling for the spaghetti. The grease is hot in the pan and the meat is sizzling.  I am in the middle of this sentence and I have to leave the page to check dinner.  Fuck. What I do know is that the ice is melting in this glass, watering the vodka down.

There is so much I do not know these days. I do not know if I will be alive and shivering in the coming Ice Age. I do not know if I will live penniless on the streets, although that is likely. I do not know this week’s winning lottery numbers, unfortunately. I could go on and on. What I do know for certain is that I am on a misdirected path. I am traveling backwards. I am struggling.

How do I look?  Pictures of me will always be of how I used to look. What does it matter if it was taken one second or many, many years ago?  My dreams don’t matter anymore. I have left them wallowing in sleep.  I am living a continuous dream– no, I am living under water. The currents take me elsewhere, somewhere dark and bizarre. I am unfamiliar with the life forms that surround me. I am alien.

I have tried to make you happy. I have tried too long at the expense of my own sanity. You are hard, unyielding. Why can’t we speak to each other with kindness and respect? Why are you so afraid to connect intimately? I open my palms to you and you come at me with shards. You swing at my vulnerable veins with broken glass—

I am alone in the past and present, and will be alone (dead) in the future.  As soon as I write it, I cower, and think to erase— I will always write of how I used to be. What feelings linger? What feelings persist?  

I am struggling. Can’t you see that? I am asking for help. I am asking for you to be patient with me and help me through this relapse into sorrow, into that old, hate-fueled addiction. I am scared—can’t you see?  Where is your humanity?  Are you so callous and cynical that you have forgotten our vow?  I thought five years sober was going to last longer. I give and give. I am empty now. I have given my all.

What else can I do?

New Writings…

What will survive—the poem or I?

I am lost in my own distraction. I am afraid to read the words I write. I am afraid of their truth. This day is hot. The heat radiates from within and without. I watched the John Lennon film for Imagine. My god! That white room!  If I were to set foot in it I would cry uncontrollably.  I would curl into a fetal position and wish to be born again.


I want to be born again in that white room. It is inaccessible to me. If I were in that white room I would likely not be able to write. The white silence would be too great. The clean page would erase me. I would only be able to write of ennui and the flowers growing unkempt beyond the windows.


I am so far behind in my own education. I know only the tutelages of grief. I write about death in every poem. The death of self, of other, of love—something has changed. The vodka is kind. I watched the way you cut the lemon. I came home and mimicked your slicing—neat and precise. My limes were perfect over ice in a glass with vodka and juice. It’s time for another.


Thank you for breaking into the jail of me.


I want to open figuratively and literally. I want to crush the glass in my hand and let the blood and cold liquor leak through my fingers.  My nature demands the wakefulness of ineffable shock–


There is a river in me. Storms have come. The snows have melted. Let the floodgates open.  I want to flow to land, wipe away structures.

I am on a cross and I am scared.



Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 6 (End Words)

End Words

I walk barefoot in the morning grass to load the suitcase and my guitar in the car. It feels so pleasurable–a feeling I have not experienced in years. In the field across the street, there is a thin mist lingering above the grass at the feet of a statue of a saint. I don’t know which saint it is, but Trecie would, of course. Cows are mooing “good morning” nearby, amusingly. It is not unusual to hear roosters crowing at home, but a “moo” is delightful and different. A hawk looms over the houses and settles in the top of an oak tree—crows scatter and caw. This stay has been exactly what I needed. I feel so excited about my time here and my new outlook. I am on a new path–I am rested and ready to go home.


Patti Smith—Banga

Joni Mitchell –-Miles of Aisles

Windham Hill artists (guitar and piano)

Gotye—Making Mirrors

“Kindness” (a mix CD a friend made for me)

Givers –-In Light

Radiohead—Kid A and In Rainbows

The Rolling Stones—Tattoo You

KRVS 88.7 FM

Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 5

My time at the Casita is coming to an end.

What sense is left in these hands?  What do my fingers know that my mind has yet to discover? I type and words appear, or scrawl a script with my pen and there seems to be a meaning that was elusive to my tongue.  The words I write have more sense than the words I speak. The body knows things the mind does not.

I go outdoors to feel night. Through a lighted window shade, I see the silhouette of a woman adjusting her ponytail. It is almost midnight. Watching her inspires the beginnings of a poem, but I feel a little guilty watching  so I close my eyes.  I listen to frogs and crickets harmonizing. Something rustles behind the casita and it scares me. I enter the casita and lock the door quickly.


I pick up a book of meditations that I have read off and on over the years. This book has a strange effect on me, sometimes sending me into peculiar mental states with glimpses perhaps of a deeper reality we only sense in extraordinary moments. (What moment is not extraordinary?) I am hesitant to name the book. There has been controversy around it. I will only say that when I read it and meditate on its passages and teachings something opens in me and I sense the resonance of the Infinite. I have experienced fear and awe when reading deeply in this book. I will take it in small doses…I hope that these truths will permeate my life.

It is almost daybreak.

I stayed up because I could. I drank canned espresso and fruit juices with yerba mate and I am buzzing. I want to take mini-retreats when I return to “reality”—whether it is sitting alone in the dark, taking a bath, sitting on the cypress swing in the backyard—healthy actions that will replenish me. I think there is an issue for me as a woman that makes it all the more necessary for me to retreat from the world. Note to self: explore this later…

The sun is up.
I sit on the little porch and smoke my third to last cigarette. I listen to the birds sing. They are going at it like crazy, telling each other their dreams. Or they are discussing their plans for the day—a ‘team meeting’ of sorts. Where is the freshest water? Where are the trees with ripened fruit? I sit on the steps and listen to them.

If I listen long enough I will understand them.


Two poetic lines that come to me:

 “The sheets are so white against new blood.”

 “She is unbelieved.”

The Need for Solitude

I have never lived alone.

I lived with my parents until the day I was married. Except for two brief separations (perhaps a week or two) I have always lived with my husband since we were married in 1989. I am rooted in my home life and love my role as wife and mother.  I am there for my family in every way that I can be. I see myself as a caregiver, and in that role it is easy to let my wellness suffer for others.

I used to suffer from chronic insomnia and as excruciating as it was, it had its benefits. Nights were mine. I wrote furiously for years in the wee hours to better myself as a writer when I could work freely without many interruptions. Sleep has come more easily, so as a result, my awake time has been shared with other awake humans. This has left me with little alone time.

Last year, I took a short retreat to celebrate the completion of the manuscript for “Eating the Heart First,” to reflect on that and really let it sink in.  It was a wonderful, meaningful time and I was happily able to go on another brief retreat this year.

I have been posting raw and edited excerpts from the Retreat Writings from 2011 and 2012 to this page. I plan to work these into a little chapbook. 

Retreating to write has become vital.  Actually leaving my home and going somewhere to be alone purposefully to write or read is a way to recognize the importance of my own wellness and life as a poet. Living the Writing Life has helped me do something beautiful and valuable.  

Creative writing saved my life. After great losses, I have turned to it to heal. So much of the matter of my life has been channeled into art. As a result, my burden is lightened, my understanding has deepened.  I give to the work to be greater than myself— poetry-making is prayer.

Retreating to meditate, pray, create is necessary for me. My grasp of myself as woman, as wife, lover, mother, daughter, truth-seeker, artist, as well as vulnerable, flawed and mortal human has sharpened—

I know myself better, which is the point, isn’t it?

Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 4

Day 2

Something needs to be said. Something needs to be written.

Facebook eats my face. Facezombie. I have no Internet access which is great. I need to come to terms with so much. This retreat was needed by all of us. So much matters and so much does not. I keep you with me. Your scent alights on my skin. I want to go under water and make no sounds. I want to fill with water and drown a lovely death.  


My fingertips are tender from playing guitar. I like the little twinges that remind me that I am working hard again. My hand strength will come back and my skills will improve.

Patti Smith’s Banga is incredible. Her poetic power is full-on on this album. I love the entire work but I love Mosaic and Constantine’s Dream the best. It rouses something great and infinite within me. I am inspired to write a poem-song, too.


Am                                             D

The veil that kept her a secret,

Am                                             D

the veil that hid her from life, lifted

Am                                             D

and her face shone like a radiance–

Am                                                        G

She set fire to the boarded house. 


Am                                                        D

She walked through the fire unburned.

Am                                                        D

She walked through the ashes of men.

Am                                                        D

The land of her people smoldered.

Am                                        G

She became fully alive. 


D                                             Am

And all of the scars inflicted

D                                             Am

in the name of holy honor

D                                             Am

were burnished to nothing.

Em                                    Am

And no man could waylay her

Em                                    Am

into motherhood or shame.

Em                                    Am

She was free to love man or woman.

D                                            G

Free to seek her own way.    



D                                             Am

When the veil lifted

D                                             Am

her face became like the moon

D                                             Am

and lit her solitary journey.


Em                                            Am

She walked until she found water,

Em                                  Am

drowning in her own image:

D                                          G

a reflection she meant to kiss.


 © 2012 Clare L. Martin

Retreat Writings, 2012, Part 3

My Body Remembers the Music it has Made

I am so glad I brought my guitar. I brought lots of great music too. It is lovely to sit uninterrupted and listen to great music. I wish I had a piano.

Leave me alone in a room with a piano and I will pour myself out onto it. I will physically overwhelm it. I will find the melodies in aural space.

I lived a year humming to myself, and in public.  I have a head for melodies. I would like to write a song. This has been elusive to me. I used to sing all of the time, especially when I was a child at grandmother’s house.  Could I be a songwriter?  I need to build up my hand strength and dexterity.

Coming Down

I think I have finally come down. I have found a home in my skin. I am sitting alone in the dark. I know I have a friend in the world, he is sleeping alone tonight. He is thinking of me. I hear the string’s resonance. I hear the last outcries of the birds at dusk. They have found water and fruit. I am awake and aware but slipping slowly into the hush.


This love exceeds me. This love is not my own, but is offered through me. It is an energy that permeates all. I am going to silence. I am going into quiet, that solitary place. I let my worries fall away. I am very blessed with all of the opportunities that have come my way and the ones I have opened myself to.

Time to go to bed.  (8:15 pm)

Retreat Writings, 2012–Part 2


Here I am being honest. There is no one here to lie to–

Here I will give in to wants. I pour a glass of whiskey and stir in a measure of water. I drink it fast to hit my blood quicker.  This time I wanted it. Is this solitude to be wasted indulging my senses, feeding the cravings of a former-current-future addict?

I give up the binding control which has ruled me for so long. I surrender to the quiet.  There have been so many pressures.  Money, fights, disorder— I am so conflicted.  I think it is all the more reason to be here.  I can’t control them. I am a weed. I want the garden to flourish.  I keep waiting for this CD to skip in the same place my vinyl album from 1981 skips. Tattoo You.

I think it is time I take a shower. My throat smells like a cigarette.  My lungs stink. My blood is a toxic sludge of carcinogens. I quit smoking five years ago after Daddy died.  I did it in his memory and because I was concerned for my health. I have high blood pressure and I don’t need to risk my health any further.

The day I left for this retreat, I told myself I was going to buy a pack of cigarettes just for this getaway, just this once, and I plan to stick to that. When I get on the road home I am chucking them out of the window, or in a trash can, I am no litterbug. Then I am done.

I think smoking is a way of escaping/delineating from others. It is also a sign that I am misdirected on my path (I think) or maybe I am just taking a detour with potholes. Whatever it is I know I will be done with it when I return home. There is no place in my day-to-day life for smoking. I just had the Five Year Itch and I scratched it.

Do you believe me? Do I believe me?  Be careful what and who you believe.