Two poems from Martin Edmunds’ Flame in a Stable
followed by a note on the author
African Funeral, Anjou
Matchflames in the cattails, mating redthroats set
the meadow smoking through thatched straw and fog.
Gashed embers, crèche of feathers, death-
bed hush and wish, rushlight
guttering on the threshold,
rustler of dovecotes, kestrel, Abakuá
seer, Dida king
in your tie-dyed raffia
suit of autumnal colors (cinnamon,
clove, gold), your black-magic
vest and gorget,
roadkill hawk, hooked
beak smashed flatter than an arrowhead
on the macadam of the allée below
the river and a row
of plane trees standing guard
in Maghreb desert camo,
your crushed skull,
that egg, that O, that zero
where nothing said what it meant
through my open mouth:
death’s open eye.
. . . the car broke down, and an arrow
of blood on a boulder pointed
the way to Aleppo.
—Eugenio Montale, “Syria”
Global warming? It’s the dogdays, Eugenio. Ratchet the heat!
We’ve closed down the Colosseum—can’t sell a seat
with white cops offing black teens for free in the street.
National Pork Board stuffs House caucus? Sweet!
Play chicken with the Senate (the other white meat)
on cruise control. Rock the Swamp! Swipe right. Swipe left. Repeat.
Jack a Hamilton strapped, do two-to-four.
Pay tax on millions? What’s the bottom 99 percent for?
(Trickle-down‘s pigeon for piss-on-the-poor.)
Money doesn’t talk, it purrs: too small to save, too big to fail.
The Huckster-in-Chief himself is up for sale:
our one-and-only second chance at the third rail!
Perjury trap! Witch hunt! Our democracy’s cursed.
What Swamp Thing starts to life now her waters have burst?
Kool-Aid, Prez? Citizens Benighted! Roberts’ rules! You first!
Which of us hasn’t led a blameless life?
We’re hacking and frac’ing and vac’ing and liking our life
on Facebook, we follow on Twitter, we Kindle and Tinder the wife.
I am a saint for sinning, the bishop of hippos
wallowing in it, killing the competition—lighting them up with my Zippo,
I find your arrow of blood on a boulder pointing the way to Aleppo.
Go, little soul, my body’s host and guest.
The globe is bleeding refugees, the West
is stitching Kevlar to its Sunday best.
African Funeral, Anjou first appeared in Agni (2018), and
The D.T.’s first appeared in CONSEQUENCE Magazine, a journal of the cultures and consequences of war (2020).
Martin Edmunds earned an A.B. from Harvard and an M.A. from Boston University. His book The High Road to Taos won the National Poetry Series. Work has appeared in The New Yorker, A Public Space, Paris Review, Little Star, and Agni, and is featured on the Yeats Society of New York website and on Poetry Daily. Honors include an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize, and the Lloyd McKim Garrison Prize. He was poetry editor at Epiphany and has been an Artist-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Frolic Press published a prose chapbook, La Danza de las Zarzas; his poetry chapbook, Black Ops, was published in 2018 by Arrowsmith Press.