099.1: Megan Martin:: City Armor & How You Get Love 099

Megan Martin often calls her writing “hybrid things,” a phrase which when Googled for images produces photos of a rooster rhino, a zebra frog, and a Mazda Tribute Hybrid SUV. The latter of these speaks especially to the “thinginess” of Martin’s description of her own work. Martin’s genre-blurring “things” are material objects, and their subjects hoard the tangible stuff that they wish to become or, at least, the stuff into which her speakers wish to disappear. The speakers in this featured pair of poem-things define themselves by their proximity to something else—to natural disaster, to the outfits they wear, to eclectic tokens at a garage sale. Though the other characters in “City Armor” fuse to their outfits such that murder is the only way to release them, the speaker is less perfectly adorned. She accumulates wrappers and newspapers for her outfit, covering herself in printed words that nobody stops to read. That passers-by don’t read the papers she wears is less the speaker’s concern, it seems, than that passers-by never stop to read her. She clothes herself in a disguise that makes her more difficult to understand when she’s in the city, but once she’s in the middle of nowhere, she can’t get away from herself. She never becomes the clothes she wears, nor does the speaker of “How You Get Love” become the disasters whose behavior she imitates. The speakers in these poems can never figure out how to become something else, even in the face of love, into which the speaker might like to dissolve. The self, that “most unreliable thing,” persists. S. Whitney Holmes

City Armor

In the city, it was difficult to understand anything because I could not turn cartwheels. Even those bustling were dead-sedentary in their outfits. I wanted to stab those creased automaton outfits that all my friends wore so that there was no question of self-defense.

I move to the middle of nowhere where I watch death wrap around a tree and choke it. I watch my neighbor water flowers made of cloth. Across the street, drug dealers and their kids toss a rotten, dog-eaten red ball. Partly I moved to nowhere because a different species of drug dealers shot a bullet through a child’s bedroom window again.

In the city you have to stay moving on like a robot or an animal to keep up. My outfits were wind and tattered wrappers and newspapers because I could not afford outfits. They became a sort of armor that nobody stopped to read.

I cartwheel naked through nowhere’s rain: across fields and interstates until rain becomes my outfit. But despite my efforts I never do understand how to become rain, not even for a minute, not even when I cartwheel smack into this person I love.

How You Get Love

Love is a gruesome school of bass smoking cigars and dying. Did I mention the bass have breasts like soggy mountains?

I for one like to breakfast on serenades concocted in my honor, then, finding them below par, not-so-secretly spit them out in my lap.

At the garage sale, I set up shop as a witch proctor. Get a fluorescent bandeau or a freshly-sawn rabbit’s foot or a plane made of seaweed or a horny banshee. Get the most unreliable thing you can find and jack off all over it. That is how you get love.

I am telling you, it’s just what you’ve always needed, like how the moment the downstairs’ neighbors’ apartment started flooding, I needed a bath.

It should be clear by this point in the story how I am the most unreliable thing.

Watch me take like a tornado to your teapots. Watch me parade around town with your heart kabobbed on a stick.