Nameless City

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.
Again.

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.

Once,
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?

Trial

trial

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

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

Blackbird

blackbird

 

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

lover
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

Rose

rose

She bathes in rose, an old scent. Cold water at the base of her neck. She shivers, cold, rose on her skin, pink, rose, again. Rose to her mouth, her cheeks. Rose in her hair. She breathes and is transported. Her body: a garden. Her breasts suckled by bees. Her eyes alit with butterflies.  Night falls and she is a dark rose spread open. Rain spreads her more open, more vulnerable, more succulent. Her most-willing heart exposed. Her scent lusts the air. All night she is laid upon, until dawn, when she glistens—wanton with completion, the expected restiveness of near obliteration.

©2016 Clare L. Martin

“Marsh Song I”

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

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
“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