Four Poems by Amelia Martens

Pandemic December

my husband drafts poems no one will ever see
my daughter writes mean things to her math teacher
I hope no one will ever read

we’re sailing along in a paper cup
rough spots keep coming up, just like glass
smooth rocks right below the surface of my bourbon

there’s a red-headed woodpecker reflecting 
in the side mirror of a gray pickup truck
here in this deserted pink dawn parking lot

did we always look so tired, did we always 
feel so heavy and thin, I run through bare trees
squirrels crinkle dry leaves like tissue paper

the most common ways we die are disguised 
I tell the children if they can’t be nice, be quiet
we might make it out of this, but no one will be quoted

we might make it out of this, but who will notice

Updated Dream Songs

You dream your twin arrives 
by airplane and I want to tell you
that is how it might happen.  

Tonight I dream
we plant baby teeth
to grow children 

on trees. The teeth 
like seeds, full of marrow
in calcium shells. 

I dream my husband
is about to travel back 
in time. We bundle him up

and I say, take cash.
The past is colder than
we remember. 

I kiss his paper mouth
already dissolving
into morning. 

The Science of Going Light

What weapons fit in the pockets of your dinosaur pajamas and how much starlight stays flash in your iris? There are plants and people who want to kill you. There are so many black holes stitched together, we think of them as universe. In the moment before you wake, the world is unbroken—the birds’ symphonic dawn alarm. Please tell me everything will work out fine and the tightrope walker in your mind will maintain her delicate pirouette to keep the magnetic poles from flipping over. Her fingers, your fingers curled into that same baby fist of sleep, as if there is some secret tucked in your palm, and no one can strip this light from you. 

Updated Dream Songs, 2 

I dream of old floodwalls; 
lichen floral pattern
weeds flame up 

the damp concrete
and spread between
the broken sections.

A train track runs
behind me, high
on an older levee.

The town here 
is dead, has been
dead a long time.

I dream a library
and a school group
on tour, here to learn

about pain and rot;
on the second floor
a warped card catalogue.

Then a four-wheeler
passes me, two kids
sway the stacks. 

I dream a child
changes her shirt
in the closet.

She says, it gets 
cold in Point City
and I am lost;

it was spring out
and now rusty lace
snowflakes fall.

Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), and four chapbooks. In 2019, she received an Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council. She co-curates the Rivertown Reading Series, Exit 7, and two awesome daughters.