Nameless City

“Nameless City,” mixed media, Clare L. Martin, 2016


“Each bone is a highway. Each organ’s a town on the map of the body.”

What is the nameless city
he has taken me to? In it,
we reside in a junky motel.
There is dust from the road
in my mouth when he bends
to kiss me for the first time.

I have played a pair of deuces, all in.
I have set the path
behind me on fire.
I’ve lived one black
dream after another
for this one desire.

twice to love—who knew?
Is it a miracle, or a dilemma of death?

He softly bites my tongue.
Takes me into a blissful prison.
He falls asleep with a .45
under the pillow.

The bathroom door hangs off hinges.
Ice melts in a cracked, plastic bucket.
Neon lights blister threadbare curtains.

All night it is like the sun is watching.
I decide to believe God doesn’t exist
but such belief is ineffectual.

How else would I have breathed
so long
outside of his arms?



God made the slit while I slept in the womb. One quick slice. Flesh, flesh, I sing. My sisters do not know this trial. Water never reaches thirsting mouths. Wolves pad the forest floor with their heads down, following my scent to the cave, to my holy banishment. I keep safe with fire. Tonight, I mourn the moon. I make a circle on stone with stained hands. I am pristine like a stone that spends its life in a river. The bloodletting is Sacred. If I were to seek another, I would be thrown to the beasts. A living carcass—my soul unnamed.


©2016 Clare L. Martin

Oh, tender stranger

Oh, tender stranger,
unzip her heart
Enter the ventricle
Slip your fingers into its radiance

She is prepared for you
Her kiss is the bitterest sea

This milk is the permutation
of a mother’s malady
Sip it from crystal bowls
in a lush lounge full of smoke
Glance in that way at each other
with smoke-filled eyes

Once in her arms,
you will no more fear
the retching years
There will be no more nights
lying with the bones
of desiccated lambs—

Cast off the tearless
children dying of thirst
Pick up your knife to sever
the moon from the sky!

She, whose vulva gesticulates
feverishly, is calling you

In her palm,
the heart collapses
from the weight of lived pain

No longer entwined to the body
she shall set yours free
forever and ever and ever
from the incalculable price of blood.



©2016 Clare L. Martin



I have been going deep into mind/body memories in a project I am calling “Stages” that is very new and yet to be defined, except that it is incorporating my original hand-drawn and mixed media art with written texts. This project was sparked by a healing arts workshop I attended September 15th, designed and presented by Bessie Adams Senette and hosted by Lyn Doucet at Lyn’s lovely, sacred home.

I find it very difficult to put into words what happened to me at the retreat. I do know that I was sent into a “wordlessness,” a “holy deep” of my body and subconscious mind. This travel brought my deep love and connectedness to drawing and visual art back to me.

When I was fifteen, pregnant, and isolated from friends, I was heavily into drawing and painting. It was lifesaving at a time when I felt freakish and alone. Especially after Adam was born, and we were living trauma after trauma, I went into drawing to explore my dreams and to empty my mind of dread.

At the retreat, I was able to capture the vision of “Embryonic Self.” As I was drawing it, my body shook with reliving tears. I felt a rebirth. I felt catharsis. Later, I came home and redrew it. I applied some post-effects and altering techniques to the drawing and wrote a few lines. The results were minimalistic but the effects on my psyche were life-altering.

I hope to create a piece of art and new texts daily for a period of 36 weeks, the length of time of a normal pregnancy. I will go where my subconscious mind leads me. Let’s see if I can sustain this.  I hope you will follow along.






a memory: leaves in piles
a kiss
hazel eyes
a rotten picnic table

soft hands
the hands of a philosopher
the hands of a seeker, a poet
children of the Universe

kisses the curves
under a soft blouse
undoes buttons
the chill of autumn
his sweater / her shoulders

blackbird spins the ochre leaves
(itself a leaf), the blackbird—
a burnt leaf at nightfall
spun from the soot of dreams

This memory evokes tears
This memory
a ruin across a ruined landscape

salts the earth of her life
sets fire to her harvest

The blackbird rises
and scrawls
a brutal truth skyward.



©2016 Clare L. Martin