John Martino is a photographer, writer, and Associate Professor of English at Fisher College in Boston, MA.
He is currently completing his first full-length collection of poems, The Wounded Dead. The two pieces printed here, from that collection, mark the publishing debut of his written work. Some of his visual images can be found in a number of print and on-line media, including The Advocate, F-Stop Magazine, New Orleans Review, and The Boston Globe. His web site address can be found here.
What the Driver Said
—or was it Shambala?, little juke
joint just off Skyway 9—racking
skulls while “Eddie” punched
perfect number codes into the box:
From a Buick 6, She Has Funny
at a nickel-a-tune—high ball on
the break, and justlikethat
“Eddie” runs the next three tables
—Gettin’ graceful with Chance, he
shrugs and morphs for a moment
his best James Dean—smudge of blue
on his cheek when he pockets
the green—shoulda seen their eyes
widen and beam!—afternoon
light of lights, where “Sweet Jesus”
dreams. . . . Later, trade places
with shadow and song, Chet
Baker’s horn scarring the night
and didn’t some jet-lagged acetate
of Time take hold—so we zipped
on through like a speeded-up
movie, scarce ripple of space
at the back of the bar—like test tube
parents, never there from the start—
a wound spring
—but his mother holds him
firmly by the jaw
so she can wipe the smudge
from his cheek with spit
on a blue bandanna.
Soon as her fingers loosen
—he’s gone! Back to the hole
he’s made in the earth.
Back to shovel and no shirt;
back to rocks and fossils and dirt.