JACK MARTIN

 

Triage

As I climb through rocks,
I see a little boy sitting on a path.
If you get the bullet out, can I keep it? In French,
the boy, Mohammed,
leads me to Todler Gorge.
He explains, the bullet is always a little deeper
than you think it will be.
Our path is a sheepherders' trail.
How and why they keep coming down here
I'll never know. The dirt under my feet gives way.


Something Old, Something New

Charlie Parker sparks
arcs across dark,
barks cork and twiddle
over craw-anchored
anaphylactic dawn,
sprays day
into larked
and whiskered distance
of standards gone mad,
"Embraceable You"
going to bees and pieces
like a coma ungluing,
air finally giggling
with jasmine and emptiness.
The windowed abyss hisses
with marks of auburn light.
Hell, I don't know maybe,
Whatdayaknow? she's
still alive, living less than an hour
away, breast feeding her son,
I bet, right now,
Two a.m.,
can almost feel
his wrinkled cries
and shudders, inarticulate
dinky fingers clutching her
cotton night shirt,
the birth I read about on the internet,
while junk from the lips
of a dead saxophone player
buzzes and swoops alive
the thin air, my thick ears,
the turntable needle scratching
ever inward toward
a record's navel.


Rip Saw


In the wood of my son's sleep,
a rip saw gestates.
Here, in the belly of the canyon,
smoke blows upstream to us.

His breath is a clock,
turns, falls into dust.
Around the camp, breath opens her hands
and offers what freshly cut -- the smell,

the time, pine, or cedar. Cedar,
the red and yellow dust of his sleep.
Dainty curls of wood, firsts, seconds.
How does a saw work?

How does a flame work?
What opens the cells of the wood,
chews wood's hearts,
severs wood's connections?

Is the blade inertia's whirlpool,
an accumulation of little cuts pushed forward?
Is flame a mouth?
How many teeth are on a saw blade?

The earth is a galloping horse.
How many distinct little cuts does a blade make
as it severs a branch from a tree?
Or should we say second hand?

What is the sound of one tooth cutting wood?
The raspberries say juice.
A window says distance.
Weather says snowstorm.

Uncountable teeth set a humming in the blade
that drains the belly.
Divide that hum by the number of teeth.
Is there a way to say this without shivering?

The campfire smoke comes back.
This is what happens before the cold of the cut
on the lip of the canyon.
Who could not see it? Winter

made me think, "brush fire."
It is the ice saw and the log of snow.
I said it and ran upstream
into the smoke. I should have run --
I put my hand on my sleeping son's chest --
into the river. I should have run
to touch his breathing. Steady,

into arms. I should have run.


Quantum Metaphor

Non-locality is a dry tongue licking its own youth.
Vehicle and tenor tesseract across time,
or from a distance I love you
into being here -- I love you
until we're both panting without
explanation. It means something
to know you'll be, you are,
have been at the same time.
Everything else is a nettle growing
among nettles or a snake offering
or flocks of birds
tossing like kites of pepper across currents of summer.
Winter is summer. Spring is winter.
"Good morning, evening."
What hasn't did. And did what will.
I'm laughing to find myself dead at birth. Already.
Midnoonight.
Summer snow. A leaf falls onto a tree.
Autumn is what I meant to say. I will and did so. Am.
And so would you.


Piecing It Together

The handlebars of the word
may have damaged his organs,
tissue, and thought.
At four hundred lines
an hour a poet crashes
head on into a telephone pole.

Continuous moaning
as the gurneys wheel.

Find the colon, put your hand on the spine and lift.
Thirty-six years old, he was arrested for reckless writing.
Can you feel me touching you right there?
His blood alcohol hasn't come back.
See that. You've got a broken leg.
He resisted arrest
and was shot in the face by a deputy sheriff.

There's a damaged piece of sentence
that needs to be removed.
He won't miss it.

The legal limit while writing
is one hundred.
Everybody comes in here
at two and a half to three
times the limit.

With his leg in traction,
his femur is set in place.

He wants the police out.
What the fuck are you guys looking at?
But the CT scan shows more
shattered bones.
If you can't dissociate
from the screams
and the blood
and the whole situation,
you can't help.

Get the fuck out of here.
I don't care. Get 'em out.
When you've had enough trauma,
there's always coffee.
How does that feel?
Short skinny double latté.

As a writer, he's recovering.
As a person,
his hip is broken, his back is broken,
not the kind of fractures that're going to paralyze.
The question is, what
will happen when we take the restraints off?

We've got a pool going.
Let him try writing this down.
We're betting he's between
two hundred and three hundred.
Everybody who walks out of here alive
is a good save.

He needs surgery to restore his voice.
He was shot in the face.
That's scary.
You don't just cover that up with a shirt
or a verb. He's lost pretty
much all of his teeth.
He's a struggling and belligerent
bullet hole we'll close
and reattach his upper palate.