Poems by Gabrielle Martin 2018

GABRIELLE MARTIN is a sophomore at Emerson College pursuing a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She is returning from her fall semester abroad, where she attended classes at Emerson’s Kasteel Well campus in the Netherlands. When not attending school in Boston, she lives with her mother and two dogs on the South Shore of Massachusetts.

Namesake

I am named for the wilderness of the Sierra,
and I, too, am sculpted from glaciers;
a woman made of ice,
formed under pressure
just like the mountains
with skin speckled like pink granite.

I see the heights I could climb
in the peaks of these mountains.

Some Things Just —

I can still remember smelling
lemon soap
that afternoon on the Green Line,
but I can never remember the exact moment
our paths
ceased to cross.

Look to Picasso

These days
are too
barbarous
to last.
Look to Picasso!
He always could
revel
in such brutality.

Shallow As the Sea (Rock Me To Sleep)
drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Bishop’s Insomnia (1951)

Last night was nothing more than a test-taste of of insomnia, smelling of smoke and aerosol.
The moon in the bureau mirror looks like something of nights long-past;
sometimes I am overwhelmed with longing for the land whose skies were clearer.

These months have been unfamiliar to Luck; she never smiles at me.

When I did dream, it was of the universe deserted,
a barren waste, a collection of no-man’s lands
and the cities were nothing but leaf jungles, overgrown with nature reasserted —
but even in the remnants of ruin, he was there, winged among the rubble.

I would have told him go to hell, but all defiance deflated the moment he flew in.

He stored me in the drawer the pins and needles until I wasn’t there, until I was
running through the fields and when I could run no further, I jumped down the well.

Shallow As the Sea (Rock Me To Sleep)
drawing inspiration from Elizabeth Bishop’s Insomnia (1951)

Last night was nothing more than a test-taste of of insomnia, smelling of smoke and aerosol.
The moon in the bureau mirror looks like something of nights long-past;
sometimes I am overwhelmed with longing for the land whose skies were clearer.

These months have been unfamiliar to Luck; she never smiles at me.

When I did dream, it was of the universe deserted,
a barren waste, a collection of no-man’s lands
and the cities were nothing but leaf jungles, overgrown with nature reasserted —
but even in the remnants of ruin, he was there, winged among the rubble.

I would have told him go to hell, but all defiance deflated the moment he flew in.

He stored me in the drawer the pins and needles until I wasn’t there, until I was
running through the fields and when I could run no further, I jumped down the well.

Lay Me Down

The sea, your eyes, sky —
nothing is bluer than you.
I knew your color.

Anticipation

The thrill of it lies in the wait,
in the sensation of anticipation,
in the tingling through the toes
and the shivers sent up the spine;
sleep escaped us in our excitement
for uncharted adventures ahead.
Rome opened its arms and ushered us
between all seven hills
and into the waters of the Trevi,
our bare feet still damp
as we made our escape
running through the cobblestone streets.
Life was as sweet as chocolate cake
before ten in the morning
and it tasted like possibilities;
I feel as if I am still waiting,
air withheld from the lungs,
for something I found there.

Crisis

The Free West
doesn’t know how to look at him,
refuses to recognize his nation,
trains his own people to overthrow him.
The best and the brightest
have visions, justification,
and sanction it all.
Cigars are laced with arsenic
and he wears the award-winning smile
of a cold warrior,
of a multi-million dollar pipe dream.

 

New Hampshire

She tells me “things interfere
with the American Dream” –
in this age
of apprehension?
I am not surprised,
but how could I be?
When minimal is not livable
and debt accumulates
to the ceilings
of this shoebox bedroom
that has cast me into
a decade of struggle?

I think of the woman I met
on the corner of Haviland
who was sleeping on the streets.
She had placed a world of promise
on a bus ticket
to New Hampshire,
to her mother’s.
I search for her face,
scanning the crowds of people
I pass on the street,
and all for hoping
to never see her again,
for her to have made it
to New Hampshire.

Two of Hearts

How should I start? From the beginning?
It would be so much easier if I could remember,
if the memories collected in pieces rather than fragments.

There was hot charcoals ablaze,
embers glowing into the night
like fireflies, like lightning bugs,
in the crook of the lake’s neck.
Water moccasins hang from the trees
above bushes of blueberries
too ripe to be plucked from the vine.

There was the smell of dust, of chalk,
in the sunlight peeking through the blinds,
of snow melted into pockets of coats,
of dog snuggled into the faded rug.

It’s all a metaphor, isn’t it?

There are worn wooden shingles
and the entire world sits poolside
and life is a shimmering blue.
He is swan-diving into the deep end
at noon and just three hours later
he is seizing on the front lawns
of well-manicured green grass
with rollerblades sliding on the pavement,
attached to his twitching limbs.

There is salt in the rain
and I swear I can smell it;
the ocean must have seeped into this town,
saturated in the pores in the roads and locals
and bleached it all white.

Some Seasons

Christiana is the place where I felt most at peace
on this planet
but here, in this bedroom tonight, is a close second.

When we’re together, all we can stand to do is reminisce
because sometimes
it feels a little like the best times are behind us.

I have been taught that some seasons of our lives
are warmer than others,
but I never have been able to regret a sunburn.

I consume all the sweets I can find,
searching for the taste
of something like three months of freedom.

I am a tree that has grown her branches
before her roots.

Keeping Things Whole

She dances because he tells her to,set to the scheme of a pop song
and there is a crawling beneath her skin
and behind her heart.

She is supposed to be grieving;
instead we find her singing in the car
to the songs that have carried her.

12
 
This bed is a jungle of green satin sheets,
looking out to the streets
where the musicians sing late into the night;
together with the traffic-sounds,
their melodies make love to the pavement.

 

BODY

How is it that
all I can see
is their vision of me,
reflected in their vacant gaze?
It is no secret
that her great collapse
occurred at the end of March,
when her breath was
dragged down in her lungs.
If the devil himself
was knocking at at the door,
arms open and bursting with flame
she would insist,
Make me an offer I can’t refuse.”
You might find her
at the edge of the forest
when the skies are decorated
with nothing but purple cloud;
not now, when the skies are so blue.
She said
“share a secret,”
like she meant
“spill into me.”
She was loving someone else
just two summers ago;
she had to believe she would again
but the recent drought
had delivered a slight shake
to her confidence.
“You don’t even know me,”
she would insist
with a the glare.
She is still searching
to regain her innocence
but there’s wax on her fingers
that she has spilled there,
staining the skin.
Hours before she had stood
in the same spot
and looked at her hands
and wondered,
Did it end there?”

Silence

“I’m not afraid of loud thoughts,”
I declare to noone but the wind.
I am pacing back-and-forth and
back-and-forth and back again
on the carpeted floors of our narrow,
narrow room and I am alone with these
loud thoughts. There are a few dark thoughts,
too, all hidden, just tucked in the back of the closet
but I am just familiar enough with them that
there is an understanding between us:
there will be no fear here. There is just no room for fear
here, in this room, narrow like a shoebox. And so
I decide that I am not afraid of loud thoughts;
instead, I am at ease among the dwellers here,
alone in this room with these thoughts and free to do
as I please. I inhale the scent of fresh linen
and I sing to the fans blowing the breeze, and I
tell the whole block that I am not afraid of loud thoughts.
I engage them all, because I have know silence,
and it has made me loud.

I Love the Smell of a Match Burning Out

I didn’t care much.

Her opening line was,
“Hindsight is a bitch,”
and don’t we know it?

We all kissed in the jungle –
that was when our undoing
began to unravel.

I don’t care much now
because there was a time all I did was care
and it brought me nowhere
but back to him time and time again.

She tells me I have trouble letting things go
but I never want to give up on people
because of the people that gave up on me.

I lied to her because I hated that she worried about me,
I hated the moment she had to tell me
and the burden of deadweight I had left in her arms.

I think about our long walks on the boardwalk
and the feeling of a sunburn on the shoulders
and waking up smelling like tobacco.

Fever Therapies

In a bathroom
with tiles of vibrant blues and pinks
reminiscent of another decade,
the shower is on and filling the room with steam.
A towel is shoved beneath the door,
in the crack that leads to carpet, to seal the gap
and there are sand dollar doves in the air.
The winds have fogged,
blurring the outside world,
smoothing the lines of the tall oak trees
that stand tall, dividing the homes
of Abbott Avenue.

The Green Line After Nine

A thousand sounds:
screeching,
cawing,
a low hum,
boots clacking and
someone, here, is falling in love,
and someone here is falling apart.

Birdsong

Do birds think about getting older,
or is that particular exercise
exclusive to humans?

Hand-in-hand with that,
can the chirp of a bird’s song
be compared to the poems I write?

We are the stories we tell ourselves,
but what are the birds?
What are their stories?

Sometimes, in their melodies,
I suspect the birds know
something of happiness –
something that escapes me.

The pigeons in the park scatter
as I stride through their camp,
where masses of birds
can be found clawing at the pavement.

I can still hear them from miles below
from where their webbed feet land,
creating harmonious melodies
to the screaming of the trains.

Summertime means returning
to the sounds of birdsong
breaking with the dawn;
the other three seasons wake me
with the noise of the great metropolis
coming to life each morning.

Outskirts and Outcasts

The circle of glass magnified the coral cameo of the beardless man;
if asked, we both would have sworn that it fell there on its own accord
(because it did) and I was left with the task of interpreting that.

We pass through a tomb with two lovers encased inside,
in permanence for all of Death, and I think how I want someone
worth turning to dust for just to have our ashes mixed together.

The afternoon is spent lost among the relics of decades gone past;
when we find ourselves slipping from the grasp of the melodrama
that tethers us to the present, we know we have gone far enough.

The world has pushed us to the edge in these hopeless months of winter,
where the artists have to look inward to find inspiration,
where the rest of the world is so barren, stripped of life.

I need tender care to regrow what has been taken from me,
what I lost in relations with a man I once thought was deep as a well
but proved to be nothing more than a shallow sandbar in the sea.

Pit-stops are for resting, but I have never been the sitting-still kind;
I dream about the fragments I have collected that tell our stories
far better than I ever could through written word.

On the edge of town, standing on the edge of the soggiest river,
nowhere near the stars and stripes I grew up clutching,
I breath in the smell of freedom and it tastes so sweet.

Outskirts and outcasts flock to me like the pigeons in the Commons
to the man who takes them on his arms and in his hands
and offers them the broken remnants of the Bread of Life.

I think about summer and the feeling of sun-on-skin,
of the salt in the air of the Atlantic and the hills of Jerusalem
beckoning me towards their center, welcoming me home.