Camille MartinCamille Martin

Working Note

In many poems in the sequence fabled hue, I worked with various kinds of repetition. In “why a memory of birds,” for example, I use anaphoric repetition, beginning each sentence with the same type of grammatical construction. In “below leaves words,” it is sound patterns that are repeated. In the poems in hummer flumes, I scavenged some of my dream journals from several years ago. Images and events in the dreams were subjected to various types of manipulations and experiments. Here, too, the use of repetitions sometimes guided the compositional process. 


from fabled hue

from hummer flumes


from fabled hue


why a memory of birds
flying into a cloud keeps
morphing outside
all the history books,
pastel maps of
successive conquerings
tiny rooms away.
what birds remember
of natural features, shifting
plots and hidden perches
with clear views.  why
a photograph makes what
happens impossible
in the increasing fogginess
of dna, while one’s
heart keeps beating
a notion of
species in the mind, pictures
of a grand theory of animal forever
one guess behind.
could it be a momentary
lapse during
a holiday on a mythological
crater’s rim,
ripples of shadows in
the cold concave sweet
in the abstract.  if
it were the slipperiness of
grammar in a box
of solved puzzles, connectives of
mountain passes tempted
to be crossed.
whether the passes look away
once shepherds reach grasslands.



below leaves words
edge and snap to simple
need awakening blunt

fountains siphoned
from ecosystems on the
bottom, sources

ending in wry evaporations
nudging a common salute, that
one can once more metamorphose

in layered time, blinding
broad tropical strokes wherein
a model of bright sparrows

damsels the shock of flat events.
across a winding dose
of clouded birth standing in

for drizzled breath easing
jokes of dumb light, tiny
orbits mining hours

board the sight below
ozone’s thin-boned copy
to store enough to slow

unbroken nights of photons
down.  channeled mind lumbers
birds one story phoneme

at a time until one finds the wind
the color of wind flanked with
molecules of sounds finds

the wind along old roads
singing fledgling droughts untying
leaves from stems.




from   hummer flumes

monsters of our words make love in the green rain revealing to us in jerky saccades their slow color with fruit-like ratios so under the season’s leaves you lift your fingers chanting in the language of children onstage like stratospheric cardboard babies on broadway their little suns alighting gently on the foreheads of persons viewing the proscenium in separate cars passing around a bottle of subterranean flying mammal that gets tangled in my hair so that now i see the message on a mask around your eyes and somehow understand we are sequestered but still completely disoriented as we hurry across a long pedestrian bridge into hiding until we’re barely underwater peeling the skin off visible stories on the street showing to each other the blind preacher’s velvet pictures of the one word we understand — “stove”

tilting her body upside down near artificial angel fish with strokes and touches he gives her images in a holding sense of wafting powder • she artificially releases sea systems from her mouth for breathing in the tank full of invisible stories • he performs magic for the artificial creatures sometimes tricking mermaids into breathing water on highlands • the wafting powder gives immunity that she and other creatures may mate and preen angel-like within the image of an annulling sign • she strokes the artificial fishes holding their emotions in her transparent sight breathing air in submerged transcendence • in waves of light in the tank he releases powder signifying strokes of hidden islands signifying powder • she imagines connecting roads tilting life-like in stories as possible words of powder in remote sea systems • breathing in strokes of wafting powder creatures signify tricks connecting sense impressions like artificial arches partially obscured by seaweed and partially transparent

we in happiness giggling down deserted country roads twisters confusedly awakening in our eyes we in elevators gleefully crashing through layers of onion domes we bewildered in the back of a bottlegreen pickup wearing shiny space suits gazing at zigzagging constellations on hillsides we thrilled leaping cattle guards with great dexterity and mental disturbance we stupidly unable to find the brakes careening along swarming streets on maps hand drawn by dazed adolescents our numbing joy encoded in breathy perplexity we blissfully acting quandaries in sinister comic strips gathering theoretical evidence tracing the fracas of irregular curves we trying belatedly to be cool our speech sprinkled with androgynous robots wandering down the aisles of dumbfounded supermarkets we removing our clothes ecstatic and self-conscious in a muddled foreign geometry of swirling tattoos we radiant in flying saucers of classic design sputtering across the locust-ridden twilight watching from aerial shipwrecks young centaurs collide in the fog we venturing with pleasure to remember all the names of gleeful animals buzzing along our ancient and befuddled skins

i am nothing in the middle of an awkward photo holding an hourglass sideways thinking about animals digging into the levee. i am nowhere lying on the floor, pores suspended between happiness and reason at the time of the knock at the door. as an invitation to flawed movements or familiar quotes among the balmy centers into which one grows amiss with foolhardy splendor i am nothing. i am nothing in the distant humming of a refrigerator on the other side of sleep. i am nowhere with a flimsy excuse and a few cobbled social graces offered to exemplary deformities strolling in a squandered climate. i sense that i am nothing sensing the approaching dunes of water happily solving math problems in the middle of a restless hesitation among bleak and pretended optimisms. within a self that conforms to the shape of the skin i am not wiser to a flaming heart. i am nothing hovering lightly on the surface of water, afloat by tension from which the sea faithlessly dissents. i am not water tension. i am not a subversive monument from which the dust flies sparkling along the disaffected continuum. i am not the light glancing off a large looming object after the crooked war starting out for the difficult world. i am nothing to do with a recap of tinsel events in the shambles of a happy swagger. i am nothing like that happy swagger eating wild strawberries within sight of the finish line. i am not where can be found a bright holy braid in a junk village morgue. nothing of birdsong heard over the radio, nothing of defunct crocus blossoms, nothing of overused infinity minus gullible windows, nothing in an undertow of the amazon river choked with banana peel and empty suitcase jetsam. i am nothing cruising the margins of an antique map, nothing looking into time in an animal’s eyes. i am nothing expelled from the university of dirt clods.



Bio: Camille Martin is a poet and translator who lives in New Orleans. Her collections of poetry include sesame kiosk (Potes & Poets, 2001), rogue embryo (Lavender Ink, 1999), magnus loop (Chax Press, 1999), and Plastic Heaven (Fell Swoop, 1996). She recently completed a new collection, codes of public sleep. Her work has been published in such magazines as Perspektive (also in German translation), Kiosk, Fiddlehead, Cauldron & Net, Unarmed, Moria, Poethia, and VeRT, and in the anthology Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (University of Alabama Press, 2002). Martin founded and co-curates the Lit City Poetry Reading Series in New Orleans. She is completing a PhD in English Literature at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. 

Southern Perils

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