Selected New Poems

one billion heartbeats

I read about a prevalent theory in biology
which posits that regardless of the species,
the approximate lifespan of any heart
is roughly one billion heartbeats

The faster the heart beats per minute,
the shorter the lifespan

This would seem to explain the long lives
of elephants and whales and monks,
and the much shorter lives of insects,
mice and crack-heads

and we already know that living in fear,
or living with stress and worry
shortens ones lifespan

and i thought of how often you,
or even the thought of you,
quickens my heart

…and i can think of no better way
to live those pulsing moments

the wild raspberries

the wild raspberries, liverworts and lichens
sing silently of seasons and so much more

i am not simply walking a path when hikin’;

a way into the kingdom of heaven is here,
and i am opening the door


we found the tree lying down in the leaves
by the starry-skied riverside at night

the length of its trunk was a deeply grooved & grey corduroy
thick contrasting lines of dark and light

branches once raised like arms in solar praise
now stretched out amongst its own lost leaves
as though in relaxed star-gazing repose

lying down next to it similarly, our hearts open to joy delicious,
drinking deeply the full cups of each other;
the wine of warm and welcomed companionship and kisses
always full and raised to the lips when we are together

the muse was singing “hidden place” somewhere inside
though all i heard were frogs croaking, a nearby cricket
and the small sounds of hips and lips pressed and plied
fingers smiling, finding leaves in your hair’s gathering thicket

giggling, we got up and noticed a curious skeletal shelter in the shadows,
built of curved logs and limbs, and took shelter within its hollow frame
slipping through the opening as quiet as possible;
two invisible birds in a cage without a door,

like being inside a wooden boat in the early stages of construction,
turned upside-down as though it were intended to sail the spaces
between the canopies of the trees

suddenly, with the spine-like line of the keel
set to the sea of the stars, the deep infinity sparkling above
how  “steer board” came to be “starboard” in the romance languages
becomes a part of this story, a part of what i know of love

the structure above a reflection of this disembodied ship we are creating,
this vessel being constructed by joining lips and limbs, hearts and
hands cradling spines and fingers wetting warm and secret rudders
the tongues unspoken language raising remembered sails

with no knowledge of which wind will fill these sails tonight
i keep my attention to the internal spirit level and the wheel
as the gentle swells we push through move our bubble close to center
shifting our positions by heart and head, guiding this dream by feel

and gratefully knowing that wind & rain are why the seasons fade and roses die
i am satiated to take refuge in the eternal moments of togetherness now,
yet, simultaneously, to this new rich ground i secretly wish to turn my plow
for in your weather I find an affinity, a tandem flow

and as sudden as a spring rain, the old superfluous armor dissolves
within me something older and deeper is speaking clearly,
without obstacle or veil of allowing this garden to grow,
and letting this sound ship sail

for there are no stars to be found when one’s eyes are fixed on the ground,
and putting our lips and hips level with that starry pool we both drink our fill.

late fall

my red flannel shirt
attracts one last hummingbird;
it felt like goodbye

stars at my feet

the frozen crust of yesterdays snow
has frozen or frosted just crystalline right
that moonlit there appears to be below
more stars at my feet than in the sky tonight.

 that laughter or  crows feet

that laughter you see in my eyes, that mirth,
is but a white cloud scrolling in the blue of sky
a patch of wet snow-soaked earth

the heart of my smile is in the raven’s croak
and the cedar-ed  tendril of wood smoke
telling me home is near
as i stitch a path through the gambel oak

the raven in his tricksters-god form
leaves crows feet marks behind

hiking is a cleansing

not only does breath sweep mind,
but to see every little thing
in its little perfect place
helps cleanse ones vision
with details and  “ah’s”
which serve to erase
the illusion of chaos.

in a dream

there were skins hanging
there was more ice and snow

the boy was from another people
his hair was in short fat dreads
he was here to learn

i swept aside old juniper berries
and pine needles by hand
i scratched a mark in the sand


“eeeee” i said
“eee” he repeated

he could learn from the skins,
from the sticks and stones
how we use them
to make fire, food, tools

he was from a another people
he did not have years to absorb
the ways of our people

our people had books
books which held instructions;

on how to use the sticks and rocks,
how to weave a basket that would hold water
his people too had come across some of these books
he was here to learn
. . . soon he will teach

in a dream
i scratched an “e” in the dirt

first snow

illuminated autumn leaves hypnotize
eyes alight with aspen-light

dirt road ditches full of gold

first snowflakes in eyelashes
skies swept with grey clouds

summer’s last light
lies in windblown splashes on the ground

the silent sound of love caught in our throats,
love-filled humming bodies moving slowly

the douglas fir forests exhale chickadees,
crystallized ice in the crooks of beaver ponds

washboard furrows gather first snows

brief turquoise ribbons above
bands of gold in creek-fed draws

another way of listening
~from “songs the mountain sings”

there is another way of listening
to the songs the mountain sings

in secret silent places
trees lay their bodies down
across rusty fences,
clouds drift and curl in slow motion

dirt roads winding
through endless silver linings

stars live through our rotations in the dark

in this moment, in your arms
i am as weightless as this pine in the wind

in flexibility lies the flow of the oracular
the supreme way has no obstacles

once i wrestled,
but now dance with my shadow
the compass of its movement
indicates the direction of the light’s source

my prosaic mind is drowned in this stream of poetry

burned in the fire of the one living moment
when i enter you and you surround me
and we are one yes now breath of gratitude

like the zen arrow; strung and in flight
tip buried, feather light in fulfilling it’s life

stars live through our rotations in the dark

an invisible love, this source of all
our matter revolves around a year of seasons
folded into these timeless moments

Angler’s Affirmation

Right now, somewhere,
someone stands in a stream and casts

the stillness of sunlight slips along
the snaking length of line


Falling asleep beside you,
the door of the day is closed behind me
and the keys of tomorrow are lost

the miracle is to walk on the green earth

In the midst of so many minds like flies these days
swarming around the stuff of death or things passed
or fearfully yet to unfold,

I aim to be a mind attracted to the beauty of this world,
to the nectar of life’s moments, like a bee is to a flower,
focused, humming, bold.


A full moon was following me home
when you called to say
the cicadas whirring in the summer heat
had reminded you of me

I was in and out of range and rock canyons
and the phone dropped the call
when it lost the satellite’s signal

but the moon hung in there
the whole way

h  ear  t

when one looks deeply
into the core of the heart
one finds it is but a breath
wrapped around an ear


prayer flags

the mind regularly mistakes
porch corner’s prayer flags fluttering
for the hummingbird corner of my eye

at times it sees a squirrel on the rail
moving in increments to the napping spot

last fall their leaf colors caught my eye
turning my head quick as the kiss
of your guide finger on jawbone

today it was your mother
across the creek in her snowsuit
bent between boughs shoveling

her in-breaths invisible,
out-breaths brief wisp’s the color of
her hair, carried away by the wind

~David Anthony Martin


19 responses to “Selected New Poems

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