Carolyn Martin


Mandate

To those of you who will not die today:
walk through your home and bless the open doors,
the table set, the breadth of sun lounging
on the Persian rug. Catalog the small
contentments you have earned: eager words vying
for a poem, work you’ll never have to do
again, backyard squirrels that entertain.
Praise every squill, crocus, and bleeding heart
that dares subvert winter’s calendar.
Invite young mysteries in and seat them
between answers you have no questions for
and ponderables still unclassified.
It goes with saying: listen attentively.
Then tomorrow, if it arrives, repeat.

(First published in Yellow Arrow Journal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: God’s Rewilding Plan Leaked

According to a source high up and anonymous,
God will announce this week He’s rewilding the earth.
He confesses He should have rested on day six
while He was on a cosmic roll, and laments
He missedthe signs: bipeds, blinkered
by supremacy, would try to tame everything. 

He admits to verte- and invertebrates
His human trial flopped. Therefore, next Sunday
pandas, peacocks, and silverbacks will play
in Times Square and caravans of antelope race
across Pennsylvania Avenue. Every boundary line,
dam, trellis, and mended wall will rumble down.
Steel, asphalt, and concrete will be banished heretofore.
So will summerizing gardens everywhere. 

Believe what you like about our superiority,                                      
God made a mistake. He should have advised
Adam and Eve not to procreate and lounged them
beneath the apple tree where they’d spend
their ten-score years in blissful innocence
rather than sweat through parental anxiety.

Between you and me, I’d support a God
as transparent as this. If His plan succeeds,
find me hanging out – waggishly naked
and wild – on the edge of some post-paradise
with monkeys, giraffes, dolphins,
elephants, koalas, and birds of every size.

(First published in Unearthed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Morning’s Obituaries

My second slice of toast and Monday’s score: 
Seven men, three women, one boy:
93 to 13 in favor of no one.

Not the Judge, mechanic, Ph.D.,
teacher, wrestler, trucker, or auctioneer.
Not the three grandmothers who cared
for husbands and wayward kids.
Certainly not the bright-smile lad skidding
off a go-cart track near the finish line.

With 93 there’s reason, 73 might make sense,
but 13’s an atrocity. I pray those men
will take the boy aside and teach him
how to wrestle with challenges
shortened lives don’t have the time to face:
how to balance scales and rev engines up;
how to fend off fast-flung words in parking lots;
how to fill black holes and shatter meteors.

I pray those grandmothers claim him
as their own and teach him how to bake
and sew, how to make flowers smile,
how giving and receiving are the same.

Breaking bread, I bless them all and hope
they’ve settled in the same neighborhood:
the one where errant angels race around 
the go-cart track a few clouds away
from freshly painted mansions
and the Grand Central Bakery.                                               

(First published in Carolyn Martin, The Catalog of Small Contentments (Portland, OR: The Poetry Box, 2021)

 

 

 

 

 

Five Wives Have Their Say

1. Adam’s wife complains:

By day he gathers nouns and I zest
them up with verbs and descriptive words,
stirring up a world. But then
one night he tempts me into bed.
I hint for slow simmering. He misses
the cue and heads straight for boiling.
I cannot hold my tongue and let him love.
I grab a young fig leaf, huff off
to the apple tree, leaving him half-spung.
The serpent smirks. God holds His breath.

2. Noah’s wife declares:

Measure once. Cut twice. He never gets it right.
An ark in his head and he forgets to feed the goats
and wipe his dusty feet. He cannot hear the lost kid’s cry
across the desert sands and weeks go by
without so much as How are you, my wife?
He takes his meals alone and claims he talks to God.
I watch him wave his arms around his head,
pointing to cloudless skies. He mutters about decks,
portals, ramps, and joists and how much rain
it takes to float an ark. I never hear a godly voice.

3. Abraham’s wife laughs:

What do three strangers know?
My man hasn’t done the trick
in all his hundred years.
Every woman understands old leaven
in old dough rises nowhere.
And yet, authority is in their voice,
stars in their eyes. They urge me
to believe there isn’t any land too barren
for the Lord to bloom. I’ll wait them out
to see what flowers in my empty womb.

4. Goliath’s wife swears:

That morning I knew the way a woman knows.
Word crept through the camp they sent a child out.
Stonewashed shirt, puny staff, his puffed-up God
made them laugh­­––until he took his shot.
Cheating, that’s for sure. A hidden stone,
a lucky strike, while my man only heaved one
well-aimed curse. Words in air. Where’s the good?
When you see that boy again––no matter where
or when––tell him to beware. I’m a wife
who won’t waste time with puny words alone.

5. Job’s wife rails:

No way! “Curse God and die”?
My only line reduces me to ‘just Job’s wife’.
Where were You when he tore off his clothes
and cut his hair? Where were You when those
annoying fools spat platitudes? Who cleaned his sores?
Who stood by when children, household, oxen, sheep
disappeared? How dare You set him on
a hero’s pedestal and leave me out.
Here’s my manuscript: The final draft. Green light
what’s mine as mine. Centerstage. My turn.

 

 

 

Blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 175 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK, and her fifth poetry collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, was released by The Poetry Box in August 2021Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterlyjournal for global transformation. For more: www.carolynmartinpoet.com.