selected poems. fall 2016. 

© 2016 Audra Martin

[for spring 2016 click here]




the love of my life

looks like jesus christ

if jesus was a garbage man

who buys his shirts

at a thrift store in bedstuy

the only miracle

he’s ever performed

was stopping my heart

and starting it right back up again

my lover is a slow burn

like the slow rise of heat

as his fingers trace my shoulder

like the cinnamon whiskey

jesus distills in his living room

my lover resembles an angel

if wings were his arms wrapped tightly

suffocating the belief

that he is anything less than a prophet

please don’t turn into a poem

my favorite thing about her

is how hard she is to write about

i’ve never quite had the words

for things that make me happy

and the day i stopped loving you

was the day i found a new addiction

and the day i stopped loving you

was the day i saw myself clearly

and the day i stopped loving you

was the day i picked up my pen

and i started to write someone else’s

poems down her spine

someone with words for the good things

you see, i’ve written a thousand ways to lose my mind

but i can’t write one damn metaphor for her smile

and she makes me hope i never find the words



she asked me how i knew,

and so i told her;


i tried to take the pills,

but the boy washed

them down the drain


so they gave me different pills

that were supposed to make me better

but i found that they don’t work that well

when you wash them down with liquor


then the boy quit me

but he would not leave my bed

so i quit washing down pills

with tequila

and he left me alone

in a vacuum

cut open


blue flows out of my wrists,

flows back into my heart,

flows into strands of my hair,

flows into my closed eyes,

and when i opened them

everything was blue


the grass, the trees,

the sky was bluer than it was supposed to be


she was there

and she was navy

like the sky and the water we stared at

when she held my hand for

the first time


and in the silence between us i wanted to write her a poem


in the silence between us i knew

this is how i writer is born.

blunt force

we were stoned in a bathroom

in a hotel room in san francisco

we were stoned on a balcony

overlooking the colorado mountains

we were stoned under a bridge

by the river in austin

we were stoned, we were stoned,

we were stoned

and i wondered why

the most impossible things

for our heads to forget

are the things our hearts

secretly want to remember


like trauma,




a woman of poetry

another poet once told me

poetry is about what you do not say


so now all i do is write about

the way you don’t kiss me

through closed teeth


or how the tan branches of your arms


but not to touch me


or how i can’t tell you i love you

without it syncing to the rhythm

of my heartbeat



she had spent her life

tending the fires from

bridges burnt around her

until one day she realized

the only fire worth preserving

was in her belly

how to write about him

step 1 –

do research into black holes

and how universes form.

determine if there are any parallels

to how he makes you feel both omniscient and

combustible at the same time.


step 2 –

find the words for how liberating

it is to love something you can’t have.

try to articulate the way the artist in you

was born the first time he put his hands

on you, and then took them away, and how

you’ve come to depend on that desire

as the life force for being able to create anything.


step 3 –

figure out what it is about loving

someone so goddamn imperfect

that it gives you permission

to be you and please,

try to make it clear

that these feelings empower you.

it is different than with the others.

look, there is still fire in your eyes

and hunger in your belly.


i once spent an entire afternoon

trying to write acrosstic poems

out of your name

loving you allowed me

as an artist to exist

between real inspiration

and nothing.

desiring you was the fuel

for my ability to create

and i wrote a thousand poems

that might have seemed different

on the surface but

rarely is anything new.

you have become the only thing

i know how to write about but

being right is absolute nonsense.


like an angel carved in marble

you are a work of art


and shrouded in mystery


but we are long past

the innocence of the kincaids

and we can’t survive on

pennies [read: wishes]

tossed in fountains


when i met you a renaissance started

somewhere in south brooklyn

and the colors in my head

have been blending ever since


are you my elizabeth siddal

inspiring preservation in oil paints,

or are you rossetti

sucking me dry?


i went down to the market

in search of an answer

but all i found was goblins

and a blank canvas


cristina calderón

we stare at each other full of desire

on opposite sides of a line

we both know not to cross.

mamihlapinatapei is the only word

to describe this phenomenon.

it is a yahgan word –

a nearly extinct language –

spoken by only one woman.

so i know there is one person in the world

who can put into words what my heart feels.

room 627 in a famous hotel

i rent rooms for free

in the hotel between my ears,

but i am the house mother

and i control the way

my girls give themselves away.

i make sure the men know

they will pay for what they take,

until i realize they’ve left

pillows under sheets

skipping town for free.

i want to burn the hotel down

to be free from this debt.

trigger warning

you should know

you did not break me

when i attack you

with my sharp edges


these weapons were

carved long ago by

someone who was too

young to know their

tongue was sharper

than a knife


we were two parts ies

one part saliva

one part rage

shaken, not stirred


i can’t tell you how

often i blacked out

drunk on us.



we have a problem


austin left me crushed

between two shipping crates


and i’m unsure if

the raindrops pelting the roof

are a metaphor

for the way you make my

soft heart slam

into my ribcage


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