Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Green Toenails & LIttle Warm Fruitlets

Laura Martin

—Laura Martin, Sacramento

Catfish, sun perch, rainbow, German brown
all met their fate in my father’s left hand,
an old Craftsman wrench in his right,
a quick thwack between the eyes
and one swift twist jerk to remove the hook,
then gill-threaded along the chain with the others
and dumped back overboard into the blue
while we slow-tread Shasta Lake.
“Would you rather they be dragged alive on the chain?” he asked.
I laid a fat cheek against the cool floating edge,
one hand dangling fingertips in the water
and stared at the dark awkward school
trailing mindlessly behind our tiny aluminum boat.

(first pub. in Soul of the Narrator, Vol. II)

FRUIT BEARER (for Katie McCleary)
—Laura Martin

Green toenails
red sandals
she is walking on watermelons
she is a hot summer day
sashaying down the sticky asphalt on her coolcool luscious fruit feet
she is one cool chick
a hot tomato
juggling her bunch o’ banana babies
swinging from one branch to the other
plump delicious fruits
not ready to drop—no, not yet
not for seasons to come.
She smiles at them like how yellow is the perfect color for the sun
her face a soft smiling peach
beaming down to her little warm fruitlets
one in the hand
one on the hip
she is a safe tree,
firmly rooted
filtering the breeze for just the sweetest stuff
hand to hip
hip to hand.

(first pub. in Soul of the Narrator, Vol. 1)


—Laura Martin

The puppy whimpered and cried
the night we first brought him home—
an alarm clock wrapped inside
an old blanket was thought to be comfort enough,
but time is no substitute for a mother’s heartbeat.
I can still hear the heave of impending sleep
and imagine his bones (now ashes)
winding down at the foot of my bed.

(first pub. in Susurrus)


GOOD FRIDAY                    
—Laura Martin

The church exploded in the middle of the night, Easter weekend — Good Friday to be exact — the victim of a tired hot water tank no longer able to referee the battle between pilot light and slow gas leak. The explosion was the only sound louder than the sawmill lumbering throughout the night, louder than the wood chipper, louder than the break whistle on graveyard shift, ferocious as a plane crash, knocking sleeping firemen out of their bunks as they grabbed their boots and ran ahead of the engine toward the brilliant, glowing commotion, fearing the mill had blown up, fearing the mill was gone. But it was the church in the middle of town near where all the Italians lived in strings of identical square houses between the mill and the old fire station — a Presbyterian church in the middle of all those Catholics. They were the first ones there before the firemen arrived, dragged themselves out of bed on a holy night to watch in disbelief, grabbing garden hoses in feeble attempts to douse the flames, to save the church where Protestants prayed and got married and took communion, and us Girl Scouts met on Wednesdays thinking we were something else in those knee-high socks and Kelly green sashes covered with proud badges earned for cooking and sewing, holding fast to scratchy berets teetering on our heads as we crawled on top of the player piano in the church basement pretending to be lounge singers in the house of the Lord. The piano was gone now, burst into a million pieces — ivory keys tearing right through the black sky. It was my grandmother’s piano, a gift from her father. She played it as a child, donated it to the church when she got married, married inside this church that my uncle built, the first church in town before the Italians came, before the whistle of a graveyard shift, when there were just and only trees, quiet giant timbers waiting patiently under the stars.


Thanks, Laura, and thanks to today's other contributors! Laura Martin will be reading tonight at Shine Cafe with David Iribarne. She is a freelance writer/photographer/graphic designer whose features, essays and images have appeared in Sacramento magazine, Solano, Via, the San Jose Mercury News, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, Susurrus and other small publications throughout Northern California. Her poem, “My Father the Sawmill”, was selected for publication in the 2012 anthology of Sacramento poetry, Late Peaches: Poems by Sacramento Poets. Her short story, “A Sears Catalog Christmas”, will be featured in the fall 2012 Harlequin anthology, A Miracle Under The Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season. Laura is an Amherst Writers and Artists affiliate and leads writing workshops in the Sacramento area. She is currently working on a book of poetry and short prose for AWA Press that is slated to be published next year, and her Soul of the Narrator collections are available at The Book Collector. Contact her at for more information, or see

Other readings tonight include Brigit Truex and Dave Boles at Verse on the Vine in Folsom, and the monthly Poetry-Off-the-Shelves read-around in Placerville. As always, details about future readings are in our skinny blue column (under the green one) at the right.


Today's LittleNip:

—Michael Cluff, Corona

Towers can only completely contain
the bodies of people

their souls
and spirits
the rise and fall
of such structures

and is
as it should be.



—Photo Design by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove