In the Woods

In the Woods

I lie in a bed of leaves. A salamander slips. Ants enter my ear. Dusk-mosquitoes feast. Sleep is coming. I am in the quiet. Still. A doe crosses the setting sun. Her shadow falls on me. She gazes, then flicks her ear. Scents of autumn: smoke from a far camp, freshwater lake, fallen trees, mud.

I am part of a landscape now. My bones will uphold nature. No one knows. No one will find my words, as I speak with the softest breath. I speak so that only God  can find me amongst his  creatures. There is no path—I broke no branches to get here. It is almost as though I flew! I left no trace of humanness in my wake. Identity gone and no inheritor. A great paintbrush in my hand spread white across the sky, erasing a storm.

I will die as the moon rises. This is good news! My chest tightens.  A great palm clutches my heart and releases it. A snake slithers near my ribcage. He comes to my mouth to share breath. I exhale all that is in my lungs. When will my last breath be? I tempt a kiss—the soft flick of viper-tongue. What does it matter now? More breath. In my nakedness, there is an unpleasant cold. My heart is rampant and pained. Gasp. Choke. Spasm. God, come, quickly! I shake apart my earth-coffin and involuntarily rise to my feet.

©2016 Clare L. Martin

War Footing




War Footing

Blue and rain-days long.
The leaking roof. Rats in the attic.
We are sodden, shuttered;
motionless in our apathy.
How do we become more than we are?
There is no palpable answer.
Only wind will tell us, in finality.
Now, we smoke cigarettes,
eat crumbs gathered
in the bottom of plastic bags,
scrape our palms for coins.
I have fallen in the trap of my eyes again.
It is winter and we fail in all our doings.
Dark mornings, we turn cold,
stepping onto the floor.
Naked into the bath.
Hot water to bring us from death.
Always evoked of our tears—mad
laughter as we rail at our leaders,
who only speak a barrage of sick
glory-obsessions. Bombs drop by ten o’clock.
We live radiated, aglow with grief.
We are on a war footing.
Every moment escalates.
I have taken your face out of memory.
I have replaced you
with a mushroom cloud, for solace.





©2016 Clare L. Martin

Poetry News

I have two poems coming out soon in the new Nixes Mate Review. My poem, “Eating the Heart First” is included in Eclectica’s “Best of” anthology which will be out soon.My poems “Seek the Holy Dark,” “Litany,” and “Woman in Prayer” will be translated into Italian by Alessandra Bava to appear in the magazine Patria Letteratura in the winter 2017 issue. My second full-length poetry collection, Seek the Holy Dark, will be released by Yellow Flag Press at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs in Washington DC on February 8th. I hope to see and meet many friends there to swap/buy books, hug, and talk in real life!

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better

I woke up this morning and within seconds, I was in a momentary state of spinning confusion different from the usual waking fog. My mind was offset wondering what state the world was in, what had DJT done to it! Had he insulted some world leader on Twitter or worse? I call this part of the T-Effect. (I don’t say his name).

I spoke to a wise friend yesterday. Among other things, she helped me to see that he is only a small piece of reality. Of course, he is impactful, but I have a choice of how much I allow all this to affect my peace of mind.

Over the past several weeks, I had been in a deep depression. Even before the election, I was slipping away. My depression after the election worsened to the point that late last week I was desperately wanting to “check out.” I have bipolar disease and this is something that I have dealt with sporadically over the course of many years, although it has worsened in the past two years.

In prayer a couple of days ago, I asked for an intervention from my late parents. And in response, the next morning, I felt my mother’s presence come to me and give me a loving “swift kick in the butt” to help me pull myself together. I was in deep desperation. I was open to Divine spiritual help. I felt my mother say, “You have to fight this.” This is what my mother definitely would have said to me! So, I am.

I am not demoralized. I am not slaughtered. I am rising and I am ready.

It has been three days and I am feeling strong. My anxiety has lessened to brief spells. I find I can read the news, keep informed but not let it sink me.  I am making time for the things I enjoy and for the work I was unable to focus on and had set aside. I know I am not alone in this T-Effect. I have spoken to many friends who have gone through varying episodes of similar experiences. For me, it may be magnified and exacerbated, but it may be for others less so or worse.

I welcome this break in the clouds and the blessed knowledge that I will not let this indignant fool steal the best of me again. The future is unwritten. My future is not in this man’s hands. I am in God’s hands. My heart is in the care of God and I am at peace with myself.


I woke with a polished heel
at my eye,
grinding, grinding—

Rage brings me to my feet.
I blast the great nothingness
and rant to thin air.

These invisible webs
have kept me from seeing
a rock as rock, a tree as tree.
Sky as beautiful sky:
unwritten, free—

If I could borrow a star’s force
I would whip it
against the enemy
who tears us apart.

This is what they want:
For the poets to die off.
For imagination
to sour on the vine.

The raving wasps set their
tongues into rotting fruit.

How can I divine
with all this in my heart?

How can I will the oceans to roil
and the mountains shiver, too,
in communal song?

I want a collapse
of this petrified reality.

Give me two words, only two,
and watch
as I make a conflagration of this world.



©2016 Clare L. Martin