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 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



Vengeful and proud, yet shaken
by the easiest wind
that crosses your cheek.
Have you counted your blessings?
They are not dollar bills
or coded secrets.
They are not maps or contracts.
They may be flesh and blood.
But how are you to know?
You have little vision,
blind as you are.
Your eyes and heart gouged
at birth by ravenous birds.
A father, hooded and scornful,
blazing with a cross-tongue—
your dire mother inflamed, too.
Still, you suffer bleeding wounds
but seek no salve or healer.
And we are your captives;
hunted, enslaved.
But know this:
Your bitterness
will not be our nourishment.
Your lashings will not wear us down.
All that we are is beyond you.
You are a scarecrow to us
and we light on your limbs
having seen you propped day by day.

Nothing to fear of you.

There is no death in you
that is not already promised
by God.


Ink, crayon, charcoal on paper. Digitized, filtered. Clare L. Martin, 2016.

©2016 Clare L. Martin