Diane Martin, Beachcombing

Diane G. Martin has published poetry, prose, and photographs in numerous literary magazines. Her photos have been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Russia. She has participated in radio programs in the US and Russia, and has broadcast essays on Maine Public Radio.

Traveling widely, her main themes are reluctant migration, disability, and displacement.

A Cruel April

For the victims of the April 3rd Metro bombing

The spindly girl in pink tights
scattered with white hearts skitters
down stone-broken stairs, and shouts
and laughs and skips to Father, his

furrowed face transformed, arms spread
wide to catch her. She pirouettes,
the courtyard pebbles each hers.
Up, over Lizaveta’s

wooden bridge that carries sundry,
year in, year out, no complaints,
to Haymarket Square. Hungry,
eerie silence. Fences, slain rain.

Stacks of weary stems banked
up against the Metro. Candles
lit in daylight. Metal gate clanged
shut. Her father takes her hand.

Today, we walk. Explosions.
Explanations. Speeches, flaccid,
drone on while pink seeps to rust,
till white to gray is faded.

Meanwhile, for our entertainment,
through the park, another stage
is offering a dying swan,
bleached, dancing on her own grave.

Mappa Mundi

Once there was a mapmaker—
magician of a sort—
who did not bother to return
my books, much less the imprint,
stained and bloodied, of my heart.

Not mundane, he had charted skies,
he wiped the Earth, reverse
side of his napkin swiping over
seas and mountains, paths traversed.

And up sprang flowers, fallen stars,
by which to navigate.
When every tributary
had been crossed, and every i
dotted, I made my wary
way home. I alone, with only

map to hold and see by. There
I left my wrinkled visage
on it like a shroud, to guide
some other wanderer. This age
regrets but theft of my Ulysses.


Night behind the lightning’s
surge. The thunder cracks, attacks.
We scavenge sunset’s fling
for fading passion, track

next the dark debris
for gale-stripped, rain-ripped limbs
to salvage, stack. The sea
is ebbing or flowing. Brim

foamed, scum-filled. Shattered, latticed
pale pastel mosaic shards,
skim deep. We gather pumice
stones for damaged feet, hard

calloused, bare, and share stale
bread with cats in heat.
And flea-plagued dogs bewail
the missing moon, curled in craters

dug in sand. The beach belongs
to them now, damp and clumped
with seaweed, garbage, thongs.
And to the fishermen slumped

over raki, casting folk songs
out to sea without a line,
without a hook or reel. So stoke
the fire with trash and time,

toss fish bones to waiting beasts
and raise a glass to ravaged faces
and flags and pasts while
wet twigs hiss, season savaged.


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