Carla Martin-Wood



He wore a coat with many pockets
one held the gore and smoke of battlefields
another a meadow
where poppies burned scarlet
amongst gilded wheat

It was a coat with many pockets
one muffled the cries of children
lovers hidden away in one
and in another
there was straw
a feeding trough
and a lot of good intentions

There were many pockets
one for babies orphaned or abandoned
another concealed barren women
several held broken promises
questions without answers
the futility of pain

How heavy, these many pockets
one bulged with forgotten gardens
seeds unplanted
oil-slicked waters
and air that corrodes

So many pockets
bloody altars in one
a crucifix rusted in another
there was a rosary strung with Stars of David
crescent moons and a pentagram
manmade stories
that lost more meaning
with every telling

A coat with many pockets
enough for the whole world
one for sins
another for good deeds
now that I remember
he stood a bit lop-sided

Burdened by so many pockets
with prayers and sunsets
and first stars rising
on nameless hopes

There were so many pockets
the addicted and estranged
empty hands of the hungry
the hollow-eyed homeless
with only this small pocket
for shelter

There were these many pockets
one for me
that I kept falling out of
climbing back up
by fraying threads
then sliding back down
as he trudged on
dragging the great coat behind him





Donít get sidetracked by spring
whatever you do
donít look at that apple tree
flaunting her blossoms in the wind
shameless and out of control
shifting lace
abuzz and aflutter
coyly revealing limbs
anxious for fruit
type . . . anything
google obscure subjects
t3X7 y0uR fri3nd5 In L337 spe@K

whatever you do
donít enter that Garden
donít give yourself over to Beauty
sheíll knock you to your knees
and there youíll be
sprawled on the path
with a goofy look on your face
like Paul on the road to Damascus
for the veil has been rent
and youíve glimpsed
the Holy of Holies
and now you just arenít
with the program

people gather around you
dial 911
take photos with their cell phones
post your pathetic self on YouTube
facebook their friends
offer you bottled water
and a religious tract

while somewhere
hovering above your own body
you see
the Light within the light
and drink
the never bottled
pure unenhanced
completely unmessed with
living water
from the original well-

from Stories from Eden, The Pink Petticoat Press 2012



Rites of spring

here to this place of unity, we come in spirit

fragrant of greening earth and bearing early flowers

we come


people from Kenya with painted faces

shy as fawns, they bloom quiet from the long shadows of Eden


in China, a pearl farmer leaves incubating moons

to meditate in cherry blossoms


and somewhere in the Mediterranean

a tired old fisherman suddenly turns his boat home

remembering the brown ankles of his wife


here at home, a farmer leaves furrowed soil

and barefoot children dance, their eyes like bright gems

laughing in the new light


old women don ruffles, forget their places

remember forbidden kisses and evenings redolent of lilac


old men leave chess games in the park

dream of singing doo-wop on street corners

pack of Luckies rolled up in t-shirt sleeves and hard

muscled arms bronzed, suddenly young again


lawyers lay briefcases aside

senators forget why they were making rules

soldiers forget why they were fighting

remember poppy fields and picnics


preachers find empty pews

rush to see what all the commotion is about

discover a better pulpit


no one is blind to this bluesky morning

no one is deaf to this rhythm


earth shakes the pebbles from her shoes

forgets for a springtime moment

the bruises that we make.

from Into the Windfall Light, published by The Pink Petticoat Press 2011


Romancing the uterus


I woke

the morning

after my daughters betrayed me


still breathing

and found that my skin

had turned inside out

while I slept

its seams all raw

and burning

nerves waving

like fine fronds

strummed into frenzy

by the slightest breeze

and my heart

(that worn out clichť)

was still

in the middle of my chest


pumping away

open to receive

whatever salt

might be casually tossed

over oneís shoulder in passing

and my uterus

that had caused all the trouble

in the first place

had been ripped out

in my sleep

and lay deflated

on a pile of refuse

waiting for trash pickup


and I remembered

a woman I knew

who had insisted on a funeral

to honor her uterus

she demanded it

from surgeons

after her hysterectomy

had it cremated

its ashes placed

in a tiny jeweled urn

twelve of us women

who believed in the value

of such things

were in attendance

each of us spoke

about motherhood

and womanhood

and single-parenthood

and the neighborhood

and hoodies

and how they were dangerous

to wear in certain

southern states


then we all sat

silent and staring

at the photos

of her absent children

till the candles

guttered out.




For Maggie if ever I may find her

I remember scars on your arms

slender wrist to shoulder

burnt offerings to life

earned beneath a searing sun

while you picked chili peppers

their juice leaving blisters

on skin that had never known

the slightest blemish


you couldnít even spare

the few cents it might have cost

to rent gloves from the farmer

you served in the fields

where your Mexican friends

sold their bodies for pennies

working the land

working things out in the soil


you did what it took to stay alive then

clearing what webbed your mind

though nothing lightened

whatever inscrutable burdens

lay buried in your heart


evening came

announced by the noise of gravel scattered

by the arrival of an ancient pickup truck

you climbed aboard with the others

off to an evening of Rosaís tamales

gossip and laughter in her kitchen

then drinking with the men


and while everyone slept

you walked miles

to a gas station

where you paid a man a quarter

to use the shower

a sliver of scented bath soap

your small nod to who you used to be



when you tried to explain

fears stormed my mind

but never blinded me

to the wealth of what you learned

those two years you were a stranger


and I thought you hadnít really gone that far

remembered long ago Irish roots

our ancestors who knew

what binds the soul to soil

as they toiled on land no longer their own

and buried what they could not bear


first appeared in Issue 8 of Leaf Garden Press, 2010



Love song for my brother

Edwin Ross Martin

May 30, 1954-January 7, 2010


Strangers in the nest, we were

unlike the other two

we shared Motherís milk

white skin, fine bones

it bound us for a time

born after me

I watched over you

till things changed

malignant childhood

Motherís toxic men and

Halloween when you were twelve

LSD on your candy

bad trick

bad trip

to the hospital


and bit by bit


upon my face you saw

the Mother you abhorred

on yours, I saw

the Mother I adored

and the violence began

until my fear of you

bound up the love

Birmingham 1998

late summer concert

picnic blanket

chardonnay and Vivaldi

with a friend

till you appeared

shining in white linen

dark glasses

hair black as a crowís wing

your long-legged stride

stunned the provincials

into silence

damaged and damned

sinuous you descended

elegant among olive branches

we talked

and your red-brown eyes

flashed like Motherís

for a moment

I glimpsed

my tortured brother

chained within


You called

two weeks before you died

begged me to pick up

but I made myself stone

deaf, remembered loving you

was losing myself

in deep water

you were sucked under

hands reaching for help

but at my touch

you dragged me down

and I struggled

kicked hard

to escape


Three years gone now

I regret

at what expense

I saved myself


how you walked away

beneath my window


shattering my heart

like no one else

in that rumpled tweed

shoulders hunched

head down

rain on your hair

like diamonds.

Copyright © Carla Martin-Wood 2013

Carla Martin-Wood is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, Stories from Eden (The Pink Petticoat Press, 2012). She has also authored seven chapbooks, most recently Absinthe & Valentines (Flutter Press, 2011). A copy of Carlaís chapbook, Garden of Regret (Pudding House Publications Chapbook Series, 2009), resides in the Special Collections & University Archives at Stanford University, contributed by the great Russian poet, Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in the US, Ireland and England. Carla has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize nine times, for Best of the Net twice, and is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory at