All morning, in the custody of Dixie cups
that common soil shines like an Andromeda
of charcoal. I sit on the train and wonder
if you are dead. So like dirt
to hold and never speak. Such tendernesss
in my neighbor—a man with ruby flowers
in the alcove of his hips. What garden
will fall beneath those feet of slippered clay?
What hemisphere of the semi-animate?
We go into a tunnel. Before the chlorine light
kicks on, the flowers float like lit cigarettes
outside a dive. I remember our blueprint of frailty
speaks in threes: three weeks without shelter,
three days without water, three minutes without air.
Nick Martino grew up alongside the ocean of Lake Michigan. An MFA candidate in poetry at UC Irvine, his work has been published in Volume Poetry, quiet lightning, and is forthcoming in Foothill Journal.