A PhD student in creative writing at Georgia State University, Josh Martin has been published in The Cumberland River Review, The Kentucky Review, Iodine Poetry Journal, The San Pedro River Review, The Concho River Review, and elsewhere. He recently was a finalist in the 2016 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition, and his chapbook, “Passing Through Meat Camp,” was a finalist in the 2015 Jacar Press Chapbook Competition.
There’s a different sound to laughter here.
Each day, waking in this valley’s belly,
the mountains hem me in like a blanket
thrown over the shoulders of a cold Tuesday.
Mornings I stick my fingers into a patch
of soil, dream of the occasional tomato
loosening itself from its vine, its pulpy rouge
the color of lipstick I no longer smear across
my face for anyone. Down the road,
my neighbor lets his cattle roam. I watch
them lumber in their dumbness into my yard to graze.
I think, what stupid creatures! And yet I yearn
for the way they swallow the cool, sweet grass
even as the barrel presses against their foreheads,
the way they move calmly into the barn-dark.
Last week, my neighbor offered to show me
how to butcher, but I declined, unsmiling. It’s spring
and my face remains unpainted. Soon, I’ll eat tomatoes.