Week 35: John Paul Martinez


On Going 

—beginning with a Tweet by Chen Chen

One day, the moon will love me back
but until then, I will weep & maim oranges
in my attempts to produce a single peel.

My life, at these moments, is a sustained étude
in distraction: How to get around/under/over
a great wall/a readied apple tree/somebody else.

My comforters became cold air drum liners—pillows
firming into sacks of clinker & I many times question
in which area of my bed would be ideal to build a fire.

I am done with people who learn only through
catastrophe. I don’t need a gale to inform me
where lies our system’s weakest point.

It has been tempting to want to switch realities
with a happy stranger. The beaming florist
seems a better fit, though I’m sure I’d soon tire

the flowers. This is Nature’s cruel paradox: you
can wither a tulip’s silken panels if you care too much
for it—begin a root rot from which it will never recover.

So frequent have been my desires lately, that even a wish
feels greedy. What I want is a lake as still as an empty sky
beneath an alabaster sky as bloodless as the wizened bark

of an aspen, so that when I skip the flattest stones available,
it will look like I am splitting clouds & I will become so good
at it, perhaps one day, you will come back & join me


John Paul Martinez writes out of the Midwest. He was selected as a semifinalist for the 2019 Djanikian Scholars Program and a finalist for the 2018 Black Warrior Review Poetry Contest. His poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and is forthcoming or has appeared in RedividerwildnessNashville ReviewGlass: A Journal of PoetryPortland Review, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @jpmpoet or at his website: johnpaulmartinez.com.