The words out loud
a reverberation
river-beaten voice
echo-soft, too
mouthful in mouth
heavy sighs, lost-light
breath braced in a lung
embraced breast
cries caught in a backbone
no callused fingers
a palm’s sweat-glazed creases
curls hunted, too hunted
all for nothing
all for all and all and all

You, you
who knows this hunger
who knows this need
lights a death-spark in me
an ice-burn
(memory in a dusty book
a forgotten-me-not
imbues everything
colors the mirror
with redundancies
charges me “enemy”
indicts me
there are temptations of forgiveness
and they are a rot in the ventricle
too damaged to save

Today I talked about entrance and exit wounds.

Like how I am, and the many unfortunates—
like how we are more common
than the lecherous kings
with pristine smiles
who perpetrate and go on living.

This is a false flag operation
a failing infrastructure
dangerously falling temperatures—
all indignity
all shame
all harm
until we take our lives back


©2016 Clare L. Martin


“I’ve been circling for thousands of years”





“I’ve been circling for thousands of years”
a line by Rainier Maria Rilke


I’ve been circling for thousands of years.  The mountaintops skim my heavy skirts. I glide toward the earth and trees scrape my legs bone-branch raw.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years. At times, the clouds part. Sometimes, they do not. I favor thunderstorms—the eerie kindness of hurricanes, wrought with calm centers, the wind, and electric forces.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years, planting seeds of conception. Mothers and fathers cry. Some run in fear but others’ eyes never leave their beautiful daughters.

I’ve been circling for thousands of years waiting on God to show his mighty hand. The night sky is pregnant with ephemeral dust. I imagine this is God’s breath. This is proof enough for me.


©2016 Clare L. Martin



Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1905 by Pablo Picasso. Courtesy of


I opened Gertrude Stein’s “Tender Buttons.” The first poem is “A CARAFE, THAT IS A BLIND GLASS” This title/line was my prompt for my morning writing.

A carafe, that is a blind glass wavers on a winking sea. Bottles up to lips, black teeth, a barrage of cussing, a barrage of whips and nails. Flotsam for a meal. Cuttlefish hanging from beards. A carafe, that is a blind glass reminds us of our sex, the duty our mothers warned us about. She never told us of pleasure. We found pornography paperbacks. Some disgusting things got us off. (Pet shop perverts). A carafe, that is a blind glass is shattered against the wall. And she crumples into her own body. She was once a queen but lost her crown of dust. She was once beauty but her knees gave from beneath her. No one looks her in the eyes. A carafe, that is a blind glass revels in the hands of a child who spools it with yellow yarn, school glue. A carafe, that is a blind glass is his mother who is dead. He will place it on the freshly-covered grave. The headstone has not yet been placed. He has to walk lines of graves to get to hers, far back in the cemetery. The plot was expensive. His father skips meals so his son can eat. A carafe, that is a blind glass mocks the woman soul-naked in the gym. She sweats and huffs. She shakes so hard when she lifts weights. Her brow deepens with redness. Her thighs hurt but hold her. A carafe, that is a blind glass signifies that people don’t whisper anymore.

©2016 Clare L. Martin

The Mystic Spoke of Water

Starry_Night_Over_the_Rhone“Starry Night Over the Rhone” (September 1888) Vincent van Gogh

Empty your lungs. Rise to take another breath. The rhythm so innate, so intimate. Let water enter your mouth. Breathe in, breathe in a sea. Your own body: a river evolved. Empty. Full. I am a new species. Move in sync with breath. Gather water and release it.

Enter the trance—no feeling or fear.  The mind departs the premises. Death would be welcome here. Thought relinquished. Thoughts of carnage shut behind far off doors miles from here.

I am on a peak of a wave. Buoyed atop a fiery new mountain. My vision—obsidian-oblique. The water’s properties: sometimes rope, sometimes a mother’s arms, sometimes God, sometimes a hurricane without animus.

Swim with grace. No heaving chest. No despair for breath. Great wind in me. The world is coarse. Its blood-rot so far away—an unreality in sacred water. The last vestige of man grasps for what is not his and what is his own is forgotten.

Here in wordless water, the breath always comes back. Breath, heartbeat steady, singsong blood. The scars on psyche are smoothed, eroded by drip, drip, drip.  A mountain is diminished to dust in millennia of rainfall.

And I dream this night of rivers. Deep, mud-flooded rivers, carrying me on my satin bed. Rivers separating me from the rocky shore. A long, hollowed bough I cling to. Flowing through the center of it all. The river is dark. Fast currents. I cannot navigate nightfall. I cannot fight the river’s will. The river in me flows with the river without me.  Water calls to water. We meet our own element.

Somewhere it will drain and I will be left dry, soft-boned, with salt-cracked organs. I am a pillar of salt, only and barely spittle to preserve what I once was: my progeny, my land, my breath, my history, my failure.

Tongue the mud from the riverbed, make life new.


The first draft of this poem was conceived at a writing lunch attended by Bessie Senette and I at Sandra Sarr’s home in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana on Wednesday, June 15th, after I pondered the goddess Epona in an exercise Sandra offered to us.



Epona, second or third century AD, from Contern, Luxembourg (Musée national d’art et d’histoire, Luxembourg City)






He unbraids her hair
dips a finger in fragrant oil
circles her temple
the cup of his palm
holds her shoulder
the candle flickers
no more rain
no more thunder
the glass is still
when once it shook
a bullfrog bellows
electricity knocked out
they warm each other
in a house that breathes
she stretches and turns
on her belly now
he sings to her
a made up song of hums
scattered words
here and there
her name:
a whisper to her perfumed hair
all that they ever were
is forgotten
the flutter of wings
the percussion of a bell
strikes as the lights flicker on
he cries out—
power to power
a blessing of kisses
she blows out the candle
incandescent light
erases their unified shadow




©2016 Clare L. Martin



“You need to write another damn book!”

I am thrilled to announce that Yellow Flag Press will publish Seek the Holy Dark as the 2017 selection of The Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry. Great thanks to J. Bruce Fuller for this honor. Yellow Flag Press is a Louisiana-born publishing house that is growing its national presence. I have had a long relationship with it, and I can’t think of any other affiliation that would make me as happy.


A little backstory:


For a long period of time since my mother’s death in May of 2014, I felt aimless. I was writing, but I did not have a meaningful writing project in front of me to keep me focused on the bigger picture of my Writing Life. I had material for a new manuscript, tentatively titled “Broken Jesus,” that I began to assemble after Eating the Heart First was published. Over the course of a couple of years, I abandoned hope for it and just kept writing new.


Several months ago, while having coffee with The Bayou Mystic, Bessie Senette, I expressed my feelings of a lack of purpose beyond my personal responsibilities and our writing group’s objectives. She knew that I had relinquished my roles in many of the projects I had been involved with before my mother’s death. She also knew that was very hard for me, because of my giving and ambitious nature. The deep dissatisfaction I had been living with was causing depression beyond normal grief.


Bessie listened as I shared my feelings. After a silence, Bessie stood, pointed her finger between my eyes, and said, “You need to write another damn book!” As soon as she said it, I was taken aback. I went home with a charge of energy to do exactly what she said to do. I got to work with real determination.


In December 2015, in a casual conversation, I brought up the work I was doing to J. Bruce Fuller at a writing event we were attending in Arnaudville, LA. He offered to read the manuscript. When I sent it, I had a sense that if I had to face a “no” I would reluctantly consider other options. Honestly, from that moment in Arnaudville when the opportunity opened, I desired for Seek the Holy Dark to be a YFP book.  I have always had great faith in J Bruce’s integrity and the good health of his press.


[Surprisingly, in less than three days of receiving the publishing news, the cover art was selected and rights acquired. That is another story that involves my dear Bessie!!]


I am thrilled, ready, excited, and focused to bring this new work to the world. I again express thanks to J Bruce Fuller and Yellow Flag Press for this amazing opportunity.


And great thanks to Bessie for seeing my need and calling forth my energy to fulfill it.


More soon…


Tend well your garden



Reflecting on how important it is when you are living and working as an artist to be honorable in your dealings. Really, in any field. Be honorable in your dealings and treat people with respect. I am humbled to be able to do for others what has been done for me.

Business of any kind is about relationships. My parents were in business for over 30 years and they knew that to build anything lasting you had to be honorable and be forthright in your exchanges with the public and in private.

If we are to survive in any community, in effort to build that community, you cannot go behind other people’s backs and perpetrate takeovers and such. Especially in the arts, we have to be on the same side and create healthy relationships. If there are weeds in the garden, they must be uprooted.