Chris Martin is the author of American Music, the 2006 recipient of the Hayden Carruth Prize, chosen by C. D. Wright and forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. He is also the author of several chapbooks, including The Day Reagan Died (Boku Books 2005) and Vermontana (Angry Dog Midget Editions 2004). He is the cofounder and editor of Puppy Flowers, an online magazine of the arts. After living in Colorado, Minnesota, and California, he now makes residence near the Prospect Park Zoo, teaches kids near Central Park, and is finishing his MA near Washington Square Park.

links:

Puppy Flowers
Jacket Review of American Music
Jacket: Two Poems
Swerve

Three Poems by Chris Martin


I AM NOT A CINEMATOGRAPHER

Winter has grown
Late, intrepid
Profiles momently

Gracing the construction
Barrier with weightless charm, a nearly
Chinless woman flashes me

Her smile only to withdraw it, seeing
That I too am headed
West, I feel as if I stare at women

All day long, a byproduct of my being
Alone all night, so down
24th Street I go, casually flitting

From gallery to gallery, Cicely Brown
Surprisingly mute while further
Along I am greeted with a pleasantly ribald

Exhibition of buxom lady pirates, all
The while anticipating the purloined sandwich
In my bag, a thing

Which pleases
Me greatly, as does the birthmark
On the bridge of the nose

Of the girl in the deli
Buying a Diet Pepsi, like I said
I don’t want to die

A sad pervert, but I’m not yet ready
To apologize for the undirected
Throbbing of my peptides, my annoyance

Growing at the protracted twitter
Of Japanese teenagers making their way
To Madison to shop

And make phone calls and soon
I am mired in the intricacies
Of public space, knee to hand, eye

Taking in a mouth as it talks almost
Disembodied, a woman’s narrow Currinesque
Nose bifurcating the slope

Of her chest, you do not make sense
Of it, you make conversation, even alone
These little interjections

Of desire tipple at the eyes’ wet
Scan, which is not to say I am like an actor
Who ends up resembling

The characters he’s played, I am
Not even a cinematographer wrenching
Beauty from an otherwise

Dumb panorama, I am that dumb
Panorama, the trees, windows
The very avenues themselves and you

Are the camera, both of us
Caught in the dizzying, phenomenal
Interchange as it

Zooms like an electron
Between our shells, bouncing
Jaggedly, so that

One might run
One’s mouth forever, lips
Flapping like a moth

Full of blood and never quite pin
It down, our wants so
Jubilantly bent on parallax

Our wishes always scurrying
Vague for fear of being
Irreversibly misconstrued

By a capricious god, tearing
Our hair out over the arbitrariness
Of it all, the fact

That you could get everything you ever
Wanted and find that you
Aren’t that you anymore, as if we

Were truly able to live suspended
In the stale breath of a nail
Fashioned space, all that’s left

Is to find something impossible
And spend your life trying
To accomplish it, we are constantly on

Trial, our bodies break, our needs
Consume us, I see
A darkness and I can’t believe

How strange it is to be anything at all.


RHINOCEROS

I was born in the middle
Of the end of
A decade in the middle

Of the end of
A century, my fingers
Always slightly

Shaking, holding them
Out to the various people I am
Thinking to love

The people who sit me
Down, explain
How very inside of it

I am, charging, a thought
Bubble blotted
Woodpecker red, the come

Down of our terrifying
Anatomies as four
Hands thoughtlessly clutch

At the flash an airplane
Casts across the lawn, sky
Cloudless, noise

Sudden as every twelve minutes
Or so the shadow
Solemnly passes, a squabble

Of birds igniting amongst
The flickered blades of the lawn
This is how language

Malingers harmless things, each being busy
Dreaming in their sliced self
Self-portrait skin, the painting reads

PAY FOR SOUP, BUILD
A FORT, SET THAT ON FIRE
The song sings most

Of my fantasies are of making someone else
Cum as the homeless man
Sweats sleeping beneath the unbudded arms

Of the cherry tree on the esplanade
Where I too lay, my head on
The stomach of a dark-haired girl

Who says I’ve been coagulating
My whole life it seems
Only to dissolve, to speed

Sleep, dream, and thaw.



from Fantastic Autopsies

2

One falls into all
the confusions of an equivocal
language, the body moves

eye disappears
without preparing

We perceive that which

exceeds us, sparrows
congregate on

the clothesline, our arms
grasp each other’s backs and our stomachs
bulge to touch

one another at the point
of their turning inward

From you I see a desert
which holds everyone

in their inconceivable lateness

Brooklyn here
but myself

remembering the skeleton
of a two-headed calf
named Spider, the crowd fevered

with visitations, the clouds lured
with infantile pinks, hues

tricking us into volume

17

If refuse is the refuge of time

If philosophy is music with content

If one has a duty to reveal impossibilities

I still want to be real
as a hamburger

It’s February for the third
time two loves later

drinking coffee at noon
under doused neon

the girl behind
the counter exposes
the match-sized gap

between her incisors

teeth are said
to erupt

When Brakhage films the bodies
disorganized he is disallowed

to display their faces

What is the value of a face?

A man is said to live by his tooth

When Xavier is a table
I don’t understand why
the chair doesn’t

kiss him

When Marina becomes a part of

the gun she is not
the one that stops
the performance

Naturing cadences
of joy is not

painless—break open my tooth
like a fortune cookie