Clare L. Martin



Bodies, bodies,
              rungs of bodies—
a gossamer rot smothers the quiet.

She weeps into a dress
                            of pupae
and with her last wicked breath
              draws a midnight cowl

              over you,
in the mirror.


Morning is the pale belly
              of a snake.
Sun-cracks run to the languid piano.
The senile cat pisses
              on the quilt
              while we silently fuck.

And they tell us of more bodies.
                            Sobs bully our throats.
Unique fears              squirm in the gut.

              Only sex dispels the hour.

Raggedy women coagulate
              at the coffins.

The bald one sneaks
              the wedding rings
from the floured hands of the corpses.
The other slips venom
                            into Styrofoam cups,
from which we all



This morning the house empties its sugar.
This morning something good has gone to rot.
This morning fire catches the pillows under our heads.
This morning the ground quakes with your rising.
This morning the night no longer haunts the air.
This morning the mirror reflects another mirror. Who is there to see it?
This morning we feed ourselves silence after silence.
This morning the cup cracks.
This morning: a new sun.
This morning crooked lines right themselves.
This morning the cat reveals her throat in a yawn.
This morning we walk into spider webs.
T his morning grief sours on our tongues.
This morning is written on a blank sky.
This morning a woman becomes more herself.
This morning there are shards of china under our bare feet.
This morning we weep in our sewing.


The lover who does not come until morning

The lover who does not come until morning
is a leafless tree void of crows,
their unified exodus, and an exhalation.
She is fire before the match is struck.
She speaks to the sleeping man
to infiltrate his dreams.
Words the sleeping man
speaks to her lift and buzz
off to the window.
Her arms are thin as music.
She thirsts for more than touch.
A dress is silent on the floor.
She mouths brown shoulders, presses her tongue.
The room: smoke, a lamp, tea-stained light—
a spinning world, a sapphire ring, a door,
and a locked case that contains
one documented volume
of their skin-in-leather history.
She takes another drag on the cigarette.
Another drink from the wineglass
of the poor wine the widows drink.
Another drag on the cigarette—
and this house of clocks banishes stars.


Thunder Found Me

and perpetual rain fell upon me.
Forbidden, forbidden
touch which excites me so—
How did I come to you,
so undone and unabashed?
Our fingers make alphabets
on each other’s skin
and we guess the words.
Mine: forget. Yours: remember.
I have forgotten all of my vulnerabilities.
I have forgotten my vow or relinquished it,
to this higher love, on the altar of your body.
Our movements are slow; our eyes keep pace.
Each pulse a kiss, each kiss quickens the beat.
I knew if I began to write, I would write a love poem to you.
A poem to express this fragile sin
that engenders in me encompassing horror and joy—

I am more than I am. I am more.
In your arms, only in your arms—


Body in Place

I could explain my body
a construct of the carcasses
of horses burned in a locked barn.
I could explain it to you,
my griever and malcontent.

I could explain my lips—white
china, black tea. The door
in my chest opens and light
floods in as I sweep the dead
flies across the threshold.

My naked thighs bob in a coral sea.
My arms, eviscerated, pull from their roots.
My feet have flown off; migrated
to winter across the Gulf of Mexico.

My tongue, heart and cunt
have been carved out. I have
this swath of skin, a calamity
of bones and half-used eyes—
The decision has been made
to take you as a lover.
You must divine
a new paradigm

              to enter
      and know me.


Clare L. Martin’s debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published in 2012 by Press 53. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Melusine, Poets and Artists and Louisiana Literature, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web, for Best New Poets and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, a graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She serves as Poetry Editor of MadHat Annual and Editor of MadHat Lit, publishing ventures of MadHat, Inc.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014