Poor Claudia published poetry, prose and conversations online and in print from 2009 to 2018.

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Veronica Martin

Four Poems

  • Equalizing Spectacle
  • Good Morning
  • Party Line
  • War

Equalizing Spectacle

Every way is a new way to throw oneself away. So, you learn composting, you learn how to make soil.
You learn to cook what grows from it. You learn
how many girls make up a woman and how many men,
too. But learning woman is harder than learning girl.
You learn tilling, you learn labor, you learn famine.
You learn worry, you learn scabs, you learn scars.
Bandaging is a way of dressing, it is way of speaking,
a way of putting up barriers so they can be taken down
by someone else. Corsets are a method of breaking,
a tunnel into suicide allowing rest just before the mouth.
You tent there, you learn fire, you learn muscle, you learn
unwrapping. You learn the way bones break, you learn
mending, you learn how a wound never heals the same way
twice, you learn there are no such thing as shortcuts. Silk, Taffeta,
Wool, Gabardine, these are all learned things. When you put
something on your body, you learn it. But you also invent it.
And it invents you. Support invents you. Food invents you.
Other people invent you. When men invent you, it’s important
to remember you also invent men. When women invent you,
remember you invent women. The girls keep round
the maypole, light choking the obelisk. Imagine how it feels
to be wrapped for game and left to wilt. Decay
invents you and you look for an antidote to decay. You do
not invent death, but you love death, and love is the closest
you can come to understanding invention. Watering the geranium
plant in silk: you invent icon. You are born girl and he is born man.
This is invented. You are born. You play at invention. You die. Only
in life are you allowed to throw yourself away. In death, you have
been thrown. You invent the trash and the trash in it. You invent
the compost and the worms that roam. You invent your food,
and then you learn to eat it.

Good Morning

Get dressed, anyway.
It’s nearly harvest.

Soft scythed by strong.
Young men windup spent gold
into a complex geometry,
cutdown wheat into spired bracelets.
I’ll show you what plastic feels like
on the tomb of your wrist. The blind
use the wrist as a device to tell beauty,
did you know?
Plastic makes it sticky, warm
wheat makes it wholesome, west
the great individual turns
mechanized,
programmed
for this disconnected from that,
violet sucked from all early morning cuts in vanity cream
tassel fronds tended to like children
palm pressed palm
a restive pilgrimage: one ocean for each
of us, misunderstanding discovery,
kind fate tasked in leather jacket and fakes
white as Steve McQueen’s stationary
graphically marked by a loop
inside a loop, Marlene Dietrich's
name aligned left and blue-lined
a plain proud announcement in
bandaged anxiety: “What was your name again?”

Blue eye Red fingertip Disembodied lower lip
these days it all amounts to paper garlands,
a kind of handholding asleep in children’s chairs
blue plastic bolted with iodized silver.
Unfasten your fingers. Get dressed. Go into harvest.
I will wear a yellow dress
set out to mellow borders pure
as hot metal and just as scolding.

Party Line

In the continuum
between “lover” & “citizen”
weeds stack indiscriminately
against each other.
The go-ahead eye
opens slowly
against oracle.

Plums are turning the grass to wine.
There’s no one to pull the weeds,
which means there are no weeds.
But I can hear their charismatic “oof.”
They smell like the sheen of nylon
drowning each hair in a snapped hug.

Somehow I'm shallower without you.
A blonde trumpet resting on its side.
A beige pump with a white dress.
Like this I take the days two at a time.

I stand in my hallway and tell you
how I live in the world of fucking
and you stand in your hallway
and tell me how you live in the
world of not fucking. Who lives
just in the world?
Wanting sex is wanting
salvation. Not wanting sex is wanting
salvation.

I don’t believe in victims
anymore, I don’t believe
in the pastel of them or in
the low point of “V” as a gateway
or a cradle. Another way of
casting gentle stuntwomen. Hosting
the expansive pose. Of losing
your eye in the one-way pattern of youth.
Two stops before stereotype is
the last fabulous, precarious party
of carnivorous plants
and modern soap
in some “hellos” passé silkies.

War

We are not made of war
but sometimes it feels like it.

Our thin towels, in their nobility,
hang low over the highway
wilting a sky great and fat like dawn.

I want to know how to sleep inside
a peach prayer like that,
constants flickering in and out
down to something free:

non-essence
feeling-thinking
Home is a frame for our collection of masks.

I say: good afternoon yellow inside of quartered leg
good afternoon shaken scaffolding
good, good afternoon great pit.

How social it is, learning to knit a fence with barbwire.
How many variations: Crandel, Ellis, Brotherton
and oh dear brother look, you’ve caught your face again
ripped it off dot-to-dot and placed it in the pit
made your crossing with the devil’s rope
and still you sit and starve and ask with your bloody hands what went wrong and where...

Let me tell you how to win:
learn to make your own food.

Because the one who leaves the party first
leaves with the living prize.

Veronica Martin

Veronica's poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Kinfolk Magazine and Poor Claudia, among others. She lives in Portland, Oregon where she works for a creative firm and writes and curates a sometime column for Tin House's blog, The Open Bar, concerning the intersection of personal aesthetic and literature. She is at work on her first manuscript.