Erin Lyndal Martin

excerpt from book of shadows


beloved, I have been undressing
unknown men
who bring me caraway
and float in soundless water

the fact that they eerily mimic
your angular physique

is pure coincidence

once, to explain a concept
you took chicken bones
out of your knapsack
on a southbound subway

you are gone
they played our anthem
in a mini-mart today
it was only a little holy

I am more likely to remember
the psychic who gave me red glass
than the one who showed me his penis
it was not even phallomancy

When I get desperate
I just try to get ok
and end up paying three hundred bucks
to a shyster mambo

she says I killed my twin
in the womb
it figures
violence starts in the second cell

at least the mambo’s dress

sparkled as she moved
I was sitting in a chair
she was severing invisible chords

there are so many things
a city can hold

truly I can’t pick out the sidewalk block
where my platform heel wedged in pavement
beneath my drunk, fake british accent
I was very much in lust with him

and fascination street
was on the jukebox

I used to be all about lust
I used to be all about gods
now I’m all about wool

I’m older and fuck
I live in the upper Midwest these days

the retired rocker in st ives
gave me some advice on peace:
just plop down under a tree,
he said. just plop down under a tree

I plopped down

have been plopping
and plopping further still

all I can think about
is the picture I drew
of my car when it died
somewhere in west virginia

I’d just driven through Pax
had not slept at all
the helpful trucker
asked for a hit off that

how fast I can run
when fleeing certain rape
how the travel plaza
doubles as superhero

some guy offered me aspirin
then Mormons said I seemed distressed
they’d like to buy me pizza

that’s what we talked about
Mother’s Day and poetry
then I swear to god
we watched the tow truck break down

there’s something in me

that is always reaching out

sometimes it’s a camera
sometimes paint or just a pen

sometimes I’m this vision of myself
singing velvet underground songs
when my lover falls asleep

that’s a projection
of course it’s a projection

here’s how it really plays out:
supper club cocktails and the glass artist
feigns a gas leak
because I am hideous as shit

I’m walking, I’m singing

dimwit, dipshit
I pause on the train tracks
and write to you

I wanted to call you the day
I fell into a singularity
was ripped apart by tidal forces

wanted to tell you that
me and physics were through

the next day you replied
that you had moved to florida
how small your life was
that it could be packed up

that I could be disconnected
this broken hyperlink

I am active, active
this heartbeat you see
under a microscope
when you crack a chicken embryo
into a petri dish

new home, old home, I tied curtains
back with hair elastics
so I’d remember this was now

it’s all so country I masturbated
to the traffic I could see from the window
I didn’t get off, never get off

forced into my body’s failings
I climbed into the bathtub
every ache and weakness on alert

I could draw a thousand spines
If I could draw my own
Blurry charcoal in a glare
From my sickbed by the mountain

cabin fever of my flesh
of my bones
cabin fever of my x-rays, in which I am ghosted verbatim
of my scars
cabin fever of the morphine drip that barely nudges at the pain
cabin fever coiled in every colored strand of hair
in my dreams of capsize
waking to condom wrappers from strangers
in that moment my voice was pure
drawing blooms with willow charcoal
cabin fever of my breasts, soft and troublesome lures
cabin fever in the white scar on my white belly
cabin fever in the incision scar on my belly button
cabin fever of the time I learned my pupils dilate too wide
cabin fever of rushing and slapping myself to speed up time
of learning you liked to dance
of being served very excellent cake
cabin fever of my vacillating neurotransmitters
the earworm of my doldrums
cabin fever of my scarred pink dress
that damned mountain
the refrain of that damned mountain
and boys who learn about girls from porn
cabin fever of my wet dream
I chase you in daylight
cabin fever of pills choked down with grape Gatorade
cabin fever of the narrative of cabin fever
of craving and hating drugs
you chopped our lines so fine on a square plate
I will never be touched again

my deciduous cabin fever
innate and exotic
I touch the moss that grows on me
wince at the moss that grows on me

cabin fever of touching moss
of museums and gravestones
and all the daily hauntings

the character arc of your hands
your fingers what they could do
rising action of your mouth
that cabin fever is a filmstrip
is a filmstrip
a filmstrip

lightness can be too much to bear
pebbles pull me down
leave my body gasping in an O

Erin Lyndal Martin is a creative writer, music journalist, and visual artist. These excerpts are from a long poem, book of shadows. Other excerpts from the poem have appeared in Yalobusha Review and a glimpse of. She is still seeking a home for the whole poem.

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