Poems by Danielle M. Martin. Photos by Jackie Robertson
Ghost Flower Outliar
I first came to this place to get away from the real world,
’cause, baby, it was freakin’ me out.
Turns out there ain’t no place for day dreamin’ in this town,
so I laid pipes in my sleep.
But existential escape has vacated my nighttime paradise
and is playing house in my head.
One day you wiped your mud-caked boots on the not-so-welcome mat and tried to make yourself comfortable
in the personal universe that formed within my mind.
The life you discovered inside those walls made your stomach uneasy
enough to spill the pit in your gut to all those Joes and Janes
who I’ve been struggling to pull myself down to earth to relate to.
Allow me to explain myself; I’ve been fakin’ it.
The extraterrestrials first invaded my day to day after the big
that was flesh and bone and brains, smushed and bloody
against the metal steering wheel of your ’67 el Camino,
that, shit, we should’ve opted for the airbags in,
but, hell, no, we shouldnt’ve, cause that ain’t true vintage.
Now those rusted chrome wheels ain’t what’s turnin’ in my mind no more,
it’s planets swirling and asteroids colliding and space debris floatin’ around
like the sand on that desert storm day, grainy and crusted onto the expository gash across my left eyebrow.
Meeting myself face to face in the shattered rearview,
I knew that my forward thinking was about to start losing gravity.
The exhaust pipe sparked stars in my eyes and the gas giants began to take over my brain,
bulging against the interior of my skull, inducing migraines.
Now everyday, humdrum life is painful to endure.
But you got out of that car and wrapped your wounds in white gauze,
casting a bloodied pink fog over what your eyes could’ve opened wide to see.
The problem with me is that I just don’t know how to block it all out.
I’m graspin’ at Rumple’s golden straws trying to pull together some mere piece of my old mind
and you’re tellin’ them that my head is still stuck in those smoke clouds
that rose dark and heavy from the hissing engine and swallowed Mescal Mountain whole.
I weave the vague threads that I’m able to uncover into stories of grandeur,
or, as you call ’em, “delusion”.
Your view’s been filtered to daisies and,
in turn, has been twisting my ghost flowers into wilted weeds.
If you’d lift the cloth bandage that’s impairing your vision you’d see
that we’re standing on different ground but it’s ground just the same,
the shift lies in atmospheric pressure.
But it ain’t going to happen so I’m done trying to confine to your space and your time
’cause the continuum’s no longer got much of a pull.
I’ve found my new home on a planet that’s my own,
I don’t know why bein’ alone means you gotta alienate me.
I know I’m an outliar.
Flying Fish Forgiveness//
Sister Rosemary caught me sticking my tongue out
behind her back in my second grade math class.
Her forefinger and thumb turned into a Venus Flytrap
and snatched the words out of my mouth before I could cry
With my wagging tongue in the palm of her hand,
she pulled up a chair and sat face to face with me across the school desk,
filled with text books on science and out of date history and misspelled love notes from Jon Burns.
Her eyes matched mine, where tears were beginning to brim.
After 4 minutes, she looked me dead in the heart and told me
that the clouds forming above my head were dark and that I should yank myself down before it was too late,
’cause airheads don’t go nowhere in life.
She stood abruptly to teach the class to pronounce Yosemite as “yoz-eh-might”
and I stood up right after her before crawling under my desk to nurse my broken organ.
For the next 16 years I tried harder than anything
to foot my feet firmly in some muddy ground.
As soon as that sand wrapped its grainy arms ’round my ankles,
I looked up to see the clouds parted, revealing the entire sky;
quicker still, regret settled heavily in the depths of my mind.
Had I known that behind that grey haze laid
sunshine and Saturn and all those shining stars,
I would’ve never stepped down
to fulfill my loved ones’ desires.
So I started runnin’ for the moon
but reality’s holding me down
and, as hard as I struggle,
I can’t get my feet off of the torturous ground.
And – did you know? –
quicksand really ain’t all that quick.
It’s taken its sweet time working
its sticky grip up every last inch of my body.
It’s hands are holdin’ tight to my neck
like Rosemary held my tongue,
and I’m afraid that those stifled 4 ain’t so far away.
As it tries to strangle my last breath from my throat,
I’m fighting to squeeze out some mediocre last words.
The grip is twisted so I’m rubberneckin’
while I throw everything I got out at the universe
and, behind my back,
all those grounded people have had
They’re goin’ down quick,
it’s flop or fly for the fish.
I look back up at that world floating just out of my reach
to thank those heavens that I’m a bird.
I’m beggin’ for the sky to take me back, wailing for forgiveness
for my attempt at conformity.
I kick and I scream,
I messed up real bad,
I am so fucking sorry”.
Being stuck in the mud,
I’ve grown tired of playing tag.
Call me a sore loser
but I just thought the chase would take me somewhere,
anywhere else but where I’m standing now.
If I hadn’t given up faith it wouldnt’ve taken me reaching the bottom
of this goddamned mud pit to realize that being different ain’t a curse, but a blessing.
I believed in some harsh god instead of myself
and hunched to the followers of a patriarch’s level.
In finding my spine I’m now learnin’ a lesson
that sends slow shivers down each vertebrae:
If I can’t pull myself out of the trench, ain’t nobody offerin’.
We’ll all die lonely down here.