Yesterday, I cracked.

A litany of horrors flooded out of me; some real, some hyperreal imaginings. I wailed to walls while lying in the cold, lavender water of the bathtub. I cried out to God to please, please allow me to ‘go away.’ I saw no resolution to my circumstances. I saw no pathway out of pain. It took all of my strength to suck up my tears when my family returned to the house, take prescribed pills and put myself to bed. I calmed a bit after a brief rest, muffling my cries in the pillow, and later rose to eat dinner with my family. I settled again to listen to ambient music, which puts me into a deeper level of being, even if I was still ragged. I fell asleep around midnight.

This morning, I knew I my psyche had been wrecked and I backed out of a commitment I had been looking forward to with a friend. I accompanied my husband as he went to a parts store to pick up a part to repair a lawnmower. We stopped on the way home to buy groceries. I rooted myself in these mundane tasks. When we returned home, I had a cup of coffee; my first of the day.

I feel stronger knowing that I have the luxurious blessing of having a supportive husband who is stable enough to stand strong when I cannot and who has enough experience with my mental health issues that he can objectively observe my symptoms and report them to my doctor or guide me in my self-care. Even if I cannot verbalize to him exactly what is going on in my mind, he cares enough to be a first-responder in my mental health care. Thank God.

I am resilient. I am not in need of a medication change. I do need to keep firm the boundaries I have set for myself and continually evaluate how and when I need to set new ones. This is life-saving. I know I can live peacefully and well within healthy relationships with healthy boundaries, and that the flow of giving and receiving will continue. I am clawing my way out of despair by acting slowly this day, seeking balance in my perspective, and writing this out.

What I must watch in myself is my nature to give. My heart ever desires to give, give, give as it beats, beats, beats. God knows this. It is how I was made. It is what makes me so vulnerable. Even now, I could begin weeping again, wringing my heart because I want to pour myself out. I want to give my all— But, I can’t. I cannot because even then, the nothing that I would be would still beat, still breathe. And what then?

And what then?

Poem after Angel Bath series by Dennis Paul Williams

Angel Bath

after a mixed media art piece in the Angel Bath series by Dennis Paul Williams


The fetal heart stops
in a globe of light
bones work
their way through flesh
her cheek depressed
a doctor’s thumbprint
bruises aorta
gray washes into amber
soft, blooded veins—
her mother bears
the crown of thorns.

Desiccation we know
is truth
because the artist
layers each dream
upon the other
the artist dreams
these dreams for us
to show us
what happens
when waters rise
when rains fall.

When mothers suffer
up to their necks
reach for the ceiling
pray for lightning bolt holes
through the roof: a delivery
of a different kind
the ever-ghost children
quickly go to ground—

Beloved, loved,
still-hearted and all.


©2016 Clare L. Martin

A plague of emotions*



Before the Harvest



Locusts come in a cloud of winged thunder.
They come for the sockets and the eye itself,
(seer of all things).
They come for the marrow and curse
the bone into a galaxy of splinters.
They come to the font of the heart.
They take the very last word
as it resounds upon utterance:
                      Dust, dust, dust.

©2016 Clare L. Martin


*The image of locusts devouring me came to me today as I battled an anxiety attack. It sent me from an elevated happy mood into a frozen, fearful state in which I was cold and sweaty, too. I was unable to leave my bed for most of the afternoon. It wasn’t until more of this poem revealed itself to me that I was able to come to my desk and work it out. I feel better but exhausted. Writing takes the poison out.


Chinese snake painting


I am the world’s living river. See my tongue? Flat earth. Skin salt-smooth. Rubberized. I gleam at night. Moon ripples on water. I skim dirt. I skim ankles. Wrap cypress trees, marsh grass. Swallow the fledgling fallen from the nest. Rot, core, bone, spike, venom, blood. –My curse –My body-whip –My bone-coil. Reverberate vertebrae. Flooded, flooding. Scar tissue of man. Scarred eye. Slither, yes. Poison his firstborn. Poison his brood. Turn the earth against him until he is dead in the depths of it all.

©2016 Clare L. Martin

The prompt:

Choose an animal. Think of its form, its musculature, its skeleton, its hide, its eyes. Think of its habitat and its habits. Think of its place in mythology and literature. How can you incorporate this animal into a working piece of prose or poetry so that it becomes a metaphor?






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