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Clare L. Martin – Three Poems

To His Disquiet We Owe Recompense

The priest anoints
the old father and gives
Last Rites, then sits
with the wife in her kitchen
to hear a mournful

The grown son times
the residue of heartbeat,
until there is nothing to hear
with an ear on the chest
or feel with a finger.

In a year, mother and son
will notice the silk
iris in the bronze
vase atop the gravestone,
once so purple-plush,
is now hued like a vein
under the thinnest,
wan skin.



The city’s name
called out by the driver
over the loud speaker pours
light on dark-rooted memories,
the ash of my dream.

I’m coffee-high
and tired of jangling
disjointed days;
searching for connection.

Next to me is a stranger.

Under his drab-green Army blanket,
he familiarizes himself
with woman again.

My vagrant lover doesn’t fear words;
he just avoids them, avoiding
the responsibility of their meanings.
Meanings we can’t uphold.

He’s touched me
in some transformative way—now
I am breakable, now I am
a glass figurine.
The hour spanning dawn
is stretched to its thinnest.
Hold me steady, lover;
I am falling against the radio.

Black vinyl voices: oil & glass—
The lyric’s a wire
unrolling and twisting.
Joni’s voice is an octave higher
than the notes unspooling in my head.

Her voice is the escape.

I hear the song. I see the road.
The song is the road I travel.


Bone Woman

These bones,
thin as quills—lattices
of bone crumble so easily.

Bone-song whistles
in channels of marrow.
A pendulum swings.

O metal bearer,
sad manipulator—
we glean
the instance of the other
and still want.


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