Poems: Gabrielle Martin

Messier 87

Silence dripping with radiation
and searing golden apostrophes,
I look into the night sky
hoping to see you.

It’s the first warm night.
My sundew is just beginning to flower
in violent purple bunches.
A few feet away, Dalton
loads laundry into the wash,
his hands placing shirts, pants
down in the dark of a burnt-out bulb.
The dogs pace in the yard below,
red collars jangling back and forth,
and I can just see the neon lights
from Corner Market up the block.
How could all these things–
our creaking stairs, yellowing candles,
cans of Hamm’s and
forgotten Checkers wrappers–
exist alongside you?

I see you hanging in the sky,
red and yellow, dark and spinning,
boiling maelstrom of heat, light
and then aching, frigid cold,
a ring to slip on my finger
if only to crush me, to burn me.
So unlike the brine of soft rays
I wade through, warm pool of
microwave and ultraviolet.
I weave fingers in their eddies,
swim through the background.
Bored and yet warm,
I am uncaressed by true radiation,
fabric’s smoldering core.

I brush my lips against the air
and hope you feel it.
Messier 87, you are a gate
I could make love to
with my heart, my hands, my tongue.
Saying nothing of the pull,
gravity’s inexorable draw,
a charisma sending me in to circle,
to glide, gleaming like a salmon seeking
the river’s mouth.
I reach out, and you grab my hand,
give me an endless twirl,
two-stepping into the event horizon,
your yellow eye burning mine.

I light a candle in the window,
give off heat to send,
close the door.
Harvest privacy with an eye, and
in the light emitted between us,
I am obliterated utterly
by darkness.
Such a small space between us,
compress it like a tesser.
Fifty three million light years –
I am tethered to the burning.
I drift into nothing,
meeting you in the night.


I eat an egg slowly

Luxuriating in it, dipping soft slices of bread
into the bare yolk
reaching back millenia to a more furtive Me
claws waiting pilfering the nest
whites sliding down my throat coat my tongue.
I’d like to devour my own children like this,
lift eggs from internal mysteries
hold them up  to the light
See the essential in the half-shell.
How long til they swallow me whole –
a mantis waiting for her clutch to hatch,
I am the Titan, my children rip themselves out
like gore, splintered bone.

To have this body
means I must be torn,
be trapped in this powerful love.
None of this was my choice.
I love my children deeply but
then hate them, the mass of them, the gall.
Waiting inside, my mouth opens.
They rush in like dying birds.
Tastes like bark,

I was taught to make eggs by protecting them,
buttering both sides of the bread before
lancing a hole the size of a child’s fist.
Lay on the skillet, crack the egg.
Egg-in-the-nest, in-the-frame, gashouse eggs, a spit in the ocean.
Now dash their hearts open,
wild swirl of butter and maw.
Take the cooked eggs in hand,
as it burns the lattice of my fingers
I crush the yolk under my waiting teeth,
letting the poisonous yellow
fall, glistening, down.



I place a piece of raw tuna on my tongue
Tasting like Friday night and distance,
Origin that could either be
The South China Sea or Shoprite.
Last night my Lyft took Kelly Drive
And the river was clean black glass
Mirror-imaged bridges, cars, me.

A mature tuna is a massive animal
Over five hundred pounds of fin
And want and speed.
The smallest flesh of one
(Let’s call him Oran)
I hold between my thumb and forefinger
And squeeze.
Tuna are warm-blooded,
I imagine Oran happy
In the temperate Schuylkill,
Deep in the riverbed surface
Fine filigree reflection
Metallic blue whispering
Between the lights;
And Oran, I whisper
Lips brushing pale pink flesh,
Do you miss the sea?

Yet I swallow his muscle anyway,
Like salt and pain and open ocean.
While land made me soft,
Yielding to sea and sky
Oran is as wild
As an eagle and more deadly.
My body swells with him,
Takes rest in my belly,
Discover tuna cry
When they are afraid.
I sing to Oran in the evening
In the sound of
Deep water,
Vomit salt spray every morning
Into the bathroom sink.
Less gestation than atonement
Gift of remembrance
For long begotten prey.

The next time I see the river,
I will begin
To cough up luminous scales
On the rocks.
They will not stop coming,
Not until my toes touch water and
Oran, huge and heaving, rips his way
Out my chest
Tossing aside lungs
And blood and bone.
Indulgence finally bought,
Oran falls away and
Is finally home.


To the Empty Lot, now Readied for Development

Across the street, over partial fencing and
a single “No Trespassing” sign
there is a lot.
Plotted dirt affects me directly,
keeps my attention clear: the absence
presence of wildflowers
three cinder blocks
and the indent in the grass where children
tossed my friend’s bike after severing
the fence.

I want to make a garden in the rough hewn space,
dig potatoes out of the soil. I want there to be soil.
Plant hopes as butterfly bushes, prickly and
free, leaving the vines that threaten to overtake the fence
to flower on their own accord.

I am not allowed to tell the order of things. I do not contend with the shape of the world. I am
not a needed thing.

I’ve cracked the case: after years of searching, I alone have found the seeds
promised by the Voynich Manuscript.
Bizarre vegetables, uncanny fruits
trees twisted into beehives.
The lot will be anew, I will create a garden
of wondrous delights. Feed me new earth and loam.
Plumbing disrupted and unearthed by mysteries untold and
beneath it, old old bones.

I will make beautiful things, order or no order
give grace where my own is lacking:
a little soil, a little sun, and hands
to protect the needful.


Gabrielle Martin is a poet living and working in Philadelphia. Originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many of their formative years were spent shucking corn. Their work has appeared in YesPoetry, Vagabond City Lit, and Rag Queen Periodical. Find them on Twitter @crabbygabie.



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