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?

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

“Marsh Song I”

marsh-song-1“Marsh Song I*” Mixed media, Clare L. Martin ©2016

We drive westward along the Louisiana coast on a crumbling highway with my parents. The sky purples with becoming light. Our bellies are full of boudin and cracklins. Hot coffee is handed carefully from the front seat to my husband and I seated in the back.

We sing “J’ai Passe Devant Ta Porte” or “Bon Vieux Mari,” called by my mother and responded to by my father. Always my father embellishes his responses. My mother rolls down her window and points to the Roseate Spoonbills lifting from their roosts. My father stops singing and praises God.

A prayer is said for loved ones, wherever they are. More of the morning sky erupts over the marsh. I think of painters, how I wish to be one, how I have tried with my words. This day we are traveling to see Sandhill Cranes that have been spotted in Creole, a few miles from here. We always take the scenic route and happily travel from dawn to dusk.

How many times have we come to this slipping away land and been blessed by our forgetfulness of the world’s problems and our own? Countless. How much do I miss these two people who gave and saved my life? My longing cannot be measured.

To treasure the dead is our inheritance.

*I dedicate this artwork and these words to my beloved family, especially to my deceased loved ones, wherever they are.


Clare L. Martin

Embryonic Self

“Embryonic Self*,” mixed media, by Clare L. Martin



A tree held in its branches
a womb that carried me.
My strong heart
beat brilliant red
through fluid translucence.
A thick cord
connected me to roots
of the tree
into the blood
of the earth.

Who knew I would experience
such sorrow, such joy
once born into the world?




*Dedicated to Bessie Senette.

Clare L. Martin ©2016



Manifesto of the Beloved Self

I free myself from the religiosity that ruled my psyche during my upbringing and policed my adulthood. I free myself from the repression of my sexuality which has harmed my ability to be intimate with the humans I choose to have relationships with, sexually or not. I free myself from self-denial of my beauty and worth inside and out. I free myself from my lingering judgements of other’s choices about their own identities and bodies. I free myself from lies I told to myself about my own identity and body.

I choose to spiritually and intellectually evolve on a daily basis. I choose to learn something new every day. I choose to give more than I receive. I choose to listen more than I talk. I choose to value silence. I choose to honor the energies within and without me that serve as guides for healthy spirituality. I choose to love my neighbor as myself. I choose to love the broken beloveds. I choose to walk the healing path. I choose to seek clarity. I choose to be a visionary. I choose to not fear death, but not run to it. I choose to believe in God.

I will live a radical life. Where there is hatred, I will sow love. I will never believe all is lost. If it is necessary to part from another human I will try my best to do so in peace. I will do so privately and without spreading negativity through other people. I will think before I speak. I will not allow other people’s anger to become absorbed into my body or psyche. I will form healthy boundaries in all relationships for the protection of all. I will respect the space and time of others. My radical agenda will be formed in spirit and acted out in flesh, spirit, and soul.

I will pray continually in all acts, in each breath. I believe prayer is as much an act of the body as it is of the mind and heart. I will pray with my body through physical activities that nurture and heal me. I will eat nutritional foods and eat mindfully. I will drink purified water. I will share food with loved ones and when my resources allow I will feed those less fortunate than myself.

I will open my mind to new definitions of love. I will not close the door to love in any form. I will enrich my relationships by giving trust more easily. I will share ideas more freely. I will give support readily. I will also take care of myself and not undervalue my work. I will not waste time.


This is the manifesto of the beloved self.