Marty Cain

Marty Cain is the author of the forthcoming book Kids of the Black Hole (Trembling Pillow Press, 2017). He holds degrees from Hamilton College and the University of Mississippi, and is currently a PhD student in English Literature at Cornell University. His work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Fence, Jacket2, Tarpaulin Sky, Gigantic Sequins, Action Yes, The Pinch, and elsewhere.

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from KIDS OF THE BLACK HOLE

I am driving through fields on a road at night

I am driving through fields on a road with luminescent silos

& cornfield ghosts & trees like undead fingers swaying

as when it rains, as when it rains & the earth turns itself inside out

with earthworms writhing, the thunderhead veil in greenish sky

I am making fifty, I flick the radio on

I hear an ocean static I hear waters churning from whence a voice

THIS IS YOUR WARNING TO TAKE SHELTER

LITTLE ONES PREPARE YOURSELF FOR FLASH FLOODS

& HEAVY WINDS & REROUTED RIVERS MY DARLINGS

THE GHOSTLY FLESH OF WHAT WILL NOT STAY DEAD

& TAKE THE REMAINING FRIENDS OR DISEMBODIED THINGS YOU LOVE & PLACE THEM IN A CERTAIN ROOM

& LIE ON YOUR BACK IN THIS CERTAIN ROOM

EXACTLY SIXTEEN INCHES FROM THE DOOR

FOR ITS FRAME IS A PORTAL BETWEEN TWO WORLDS

& YOU SWEAT PHOSPHORESCENT POOLS ON COLD HARD TILE

FOR THERE IS SAFETY WITHIN THE IMMACULATE SPACES

FOR THERE IS SAFETY WITHIN THE HALLOWED EDGES

FOR THERE IS SAFETY WITHIN THE MULTITUDINOUS DEATHS

YOU CHECK THE FEED & THERE ARE VOICES

YOU CHECK THE FEED & YOU FEEL HUNGRY

HOW THE CYLINDRICAL FATE TOUCHES OUR LIVES

& BLOWS ROOFS OFF CHAIN RESTAURANTS DOWN THE STRIP

BUT LITTLE ONES DO NOT FEAR THIS FEROCIOUS NIGHT

MY FRIENDS TAKE YOUR SAFETY BLANKETS

MY FRIENDS COVERED IN TEARS & SNOT

& MAKE A TENT WHEN THE GIRDERS SHAKE

WITH FALLEN DETRITUS TURNING WHITE

AN ENDLESS WINTER OF ALLERGENIC SNOW

EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS MADE OF PLASTER

FOR EVERYTHING YOU SAY IS MADE OF PLASTER

why can’t I die in dreams

why can’t I die with my brights turned on

with ghosts of grain elevators hovering past

& the black cars in the opposite lane with headlights off

a thunderhead swells up aghast erupting

DO NOT FLASH YOUR BRIGHTS the feed says

I flash my brights

I flash my brights inside my brain

I flash & cars swerve in my lane

as we pass them each time

then one is coming / ONE IS COMING

I ride hard the horn with my skull to the headrest

I RIDE HARD the lightning with a branch in my eye

I RIDE HARD with a pink lung sewed on my arm

I RIDE HARD a scofflaw asleep in a boxcar

I RIDE HARD the sheriff on my trail when I drive to the mall

I RIDE HARD the sheriff watching when the man hands me the baggie

I RIDE HARD I flush it fast in the bathroom stall

I RIDE HARD the sheriff with the toothbrush mustache

I RIDE HARD in the dressing room when I glance in the mirror & his face is there

DO NOT FLASH YOUR BRIGHTS the feed says & ONE IS COMING / I wake up

I roll out of bed before the collision

the storm clouds turn to dirty shirts in piles, it’s like this every time

why can’t I die in my dreams

why can I only dream of almost dying

I stare myself in the eye like the point of a switchblade

stuck in the belly in a city

on the second-coldest night in December

Kid what do you got they say

they breach the skin beneath my nipple

& one ribbon of blood runs down my chest to my waist

I wake with you my dead friend in the passenger side

you’re breathing still, we’re in a supermarket parking lot

where the buzzing sign is missing letters

we buy cold cuts & drive all day until the ocean’s writhing by us

we drive in silence with the radio playing

Nirvana comes on & you start singing along

I cannot die in dreams

but I can die in a poem

I am still breathing in this poem

I am still breathing in every poem

every time I speak / I die every uttered time

my words like the end of a nightcrawler foaming

I enter the black hole with molding walls

I enter the black hole a tender womb

for art taught me how to love & how to kill

I’m sick of people telling me how to see

for I see black limbs move on my walls at night

& rend my redeye dreams asleep by my brother

awake & shaking in the bunk in the dark

Why’s the bed wet, my brother said

I would have been a good artist

if someone held a gun to my eye every minute

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