selected poems. spring 2016.

© 2016 Audra Martin


you permeate me,

a rush of menthol in my pores,

a chill in my bones from walking

in rain-soaked shoes, down stone streets,

in unfamiliar cities.

you are the stranger at the bar

that i discover pulled my hair

on the playground, full-circle,

the spinning barstool.

but rarely is anything new.

all i remember of 86th and 1st

the orange light of the street lamp was

terrifying and exhilarating, a new beginning

strangely reminiscent of the night the witch

prepared a wicked brew that sent me

spiraling down

december snow

the weather reported a chance of snow,

the first of the year.

too much time has past for you

to fully remember the struggles

of last winter, yet that first snowfall

always seems to come too soon

you were unprepared (as you should be!)

for that which was only predicted, which had

falsely promised days home from school or

unexpectedly buried your car

thousands of times before.

you’ve grown used to the disappointment

that pairs with this possibility;

implementing baseline precautions (a shovel, some salt)

but practically setting your alarm, just in case

because you’ve learned that nothing expected

truly is

ideas on the subway (about boys who shouldn’t matter)

she was overwhelmed by the fragility of it all.

there they were, 3,000 feet over london

and arguing

as if they, themselves, were the source of the never-ending rain

he was a vortex: simply being near him was to be left in his damage

and to love him was to accept that you would be different

than before, that the world as you knew it ceased to exist now

that he existed in it; the profound power of being enlightened

by that which you did not know before

there is a softness to his body and a sharpness to his tongue.

entire wars have been fought and lost and won

in the space between his teeth, his victories surrenders

there is something cruel about you

and the way you look at me like you see me

in a way that you don’t, like you’re blissful

and unaware that you’re screaming at a mirror.

your judgements get under my skin and i want you

to step inside me and wear me like a winter coat

i will keep you warm, broken boy

i will keep you warm

untitled everything

and you might think

that you mean something

but you

are nothing

compared to a dimpled boy

with hair like sand

who inexplicably cleaved

my life

in two.


i love the way your mind wraps thoughts

like ivy snaking through the fence outside

my childhood home in the middle of summer

tangling themselves tightly

in my veins.

blue and gray and yellow

when i think of you

i think of


and gray,

and yellow.

the pills,

my mind,

the balloon hung effortlessly

atop a cymbal

in the drumkit

you never helped carry

when i think of you

i think of


and gray,

and yellow

the color of your rug,

the color of my memories,

the color of your hair

in the moonlight

as you hover above

my half-sleeping frame

when i think of you

i see the colors and shapes

of the clouds,

the sun,

the sky

and i slip back into a universe

where every color has died.


like the wind drags pollen to flowers

and the heart beats without initiation,

gravity pulls me towards you effortlessly.

like the first time i heart my favorite song,

before i knew i loved it,

or why,

you moved through me

but rarely is anything new

maybe that is why you visit me

in my sleep

and the wind outside my window at night

sings your name


you wait.

you wait and you wait and you wait

and you wonder

if genetics can combine

in such perfect misalignment

then maybe your hips

can fit soundly

around my waist.

a poem for sarah

i cannot

promise you much

but i know

if i promise the universe

works tirelessly

to make your dreams come true

would you believe me?


he is light and you are dark. and i want to live in the shadows between you. his embrace envelops. you are a matchstick striking against me. i think you may burn me alive. he is safety, security, protection. calling when he promises. pulling me closer on train platforms. until i cease to exist in his arms. it always happens this way. he finds me and i lose me and i fight my way back. to the way you make me feel alive. you exist just below the surface of my skin. a lifesize splinter. each nerve in my body painfully aware of your presence.


when          i was






my mother taught me to smile wide

and i have

come to learn

she meant

“be happy”

all I heard was

“keep your mouth shut”


please do not forget

when you struck your matchstick fingers

on my hips

you set me on fire

and started this war


you linger on my debit card

and ask about my name

and i feel like you’re holding

my latte hostage until I

surrender a smile

ducktape girl

i’m afraid i don’t know how

to be inspired by good things

it’s like i don’t know how

to make something beautiful

out of something beautiful

i only know how to fix what is broken

on having sex with someone who plays guitar

you are

seven notes

six strings

five fingers

for tracing the

three corners of the triangle between my

two legs


my dog might think the sky is purple

because he can see things i cannot

and hear sounds i cannot

and always seems to know

when i could use a walk

or a nap. or honestly,

a good roll in the grass.


(inspired by sarah gerard’s “binary star”)

why is it so hard to slow down

once you’ve started moving?

what law of gravity

governs momentum?

am i my brains own

binary star?

am i caught in my own orbit?

i can’t stop spinning.


the day after i met you

i told my cousins all about you

and showed them your picture

that way even if i never see you again

they will give you to me with

their tongues at christmas


i think you might be

a constellation –

luminous, god-like elements

in perfect alignment

to create the shape of a lion,

or a bull.

so excuse me,

for i’ve always been

a binary star caught up

in one orbit,

or another.

i fear the way

we might collide

to become a black hole

and get lost in each other

but not in a good way.

what poetry is becoming

i think i need to write

more than i need air

but breathing is in the present

and words have no timeline

my poems are my

past eyes

present hand

future soul

how i feel when men stare at me

be careful

the way you stare

at butterflies


to metamorphosis.

she was once

in darkness,


your admiration

will not erase that

only her wings


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