—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 Redivider, wildness, Nashville Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Portland Review, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @jpmpoet or at his website: johnpaulmartinez.com.