Step Right Up, by Catie Marie Martin

Step Right Up,

We’ve got the best deals in town! I noticed you eyeing
our white wicker chairs; they’ll rock you back

to your mama’s front porch, to stray cats and Mississippi
gleam. You from out of town? Need a smaller souvenir?

What’s your favorite shape? Pulsing bulbs, aching half-moons –
we’ve got your trinkets, your anecdotes, your weapons of choice.

I can get you the hurricane at a discount, 80 mph winds
at 80 percent off! They’ll knock you straight to the ground.
Whatcha tryna destroy? You want flatland? Nuclear fission?

You want to take out Ward Street?
It’ll take that L-shaped bastard straight to hell.

Also! –

We’ve got a packet of New Hampshire quarters, in case
you’ve gotta make quick change. Right here’s a third date
oak tree, a cheeky apology, a wink, an unpaid parking ticket.

You want a tissue? No? Then I’ll take it the sight of redbuds
has never made you cry before. Jars of honey
never made your nostrils tingle? Just wait til the scent

of motel carpet fades,
til you caress nylon underwater,
til a tender minnow grazes your fingertips,
til your church’s organ mildews.

Then you’ll need a morphine drip. Then you’ll need the gospel.
Wait til your palms lose their slender, your collarbone its crevice.

Just wait til you wake, breathless, ashy against the morning.
Wait til you see another’s back against the kitchen window. Wait til

you catch the drift, feel the thrash of a bellyflop, notice
the drooping crape myrtle bleed onto hot asphalt –

then you’ll be begging me for an earthquake.



Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Catie Marie Martin is currently a student at Brooklyn Law School in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BA in English from Mississippi State University, where she worked as the poetry editor for the school’s literary magazine,The Streetcar, as well as the managing editor for the student newspaper, The Reflector. Catie Marie’s poetry has previously been published in The Streetcar and in the University of Illinois’s Ninth Letter.

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