She’s upstairs and he’s down below
when his hammering begins.
She goes to see
while the staircase sways
and the mother fox in the spare room
growls over her kits.
Down the hall, the windows
are open, the curtains flapping,
spread wide, like sails.
In the parlor, he’s nailing her best dress
to the wall, the red one with laces,
and it dances like she did one summer
on the lawn. She remembers
the revolving stars
and the watchful moon, her power.
He is heavy as granite,
eyes like blue marbles,
mouth a curved blade, hammer
hand still raised.
She goes away again.
The mother fox hums, the staircase sways,
out of these doors is an ocean.
Lori Baker Martin is assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University. She’s had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. Martin has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Independence Community College, and Pittsburg State University. She has worked as a reader for both The Iowa Review and NPR. Martin has been awarded for her work in The Cincinnati Review and Kansas Voices. She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Martin is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly and is currently finishing a novel set in pre-Civil War Missouri.
August Co-Editor and Past Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019) Kevin Rabas teaches at Emporia State University, where he leads the poetry and playwriting tracks and chairs the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism. He has twelve books, including Lisa’s Flying Electric Piano, a Kansas Notable Book and Nelson Poetry Book Award winner. He is the recipient of the Emporia State President’s and Liberal Arts & Sciences Awards for Research and Creativity, and he is the winner of the Langston Hughes Award for Poetry.
August Co-Editor Linzi Garcia can be found frolicking through fields, cemeteries, and bars across the states, gathering poetry along the way. She recently received her MA in English at Emporia State University, where she served as the assistant to Former Poet Laureate of Kansas Kevin Rabas and to Bluestem Press. Her first poetry collection, Thank You was published by Spartan Press (2018), and her co-written chapbook Live a Great Story was published by Analog Submission Press (2019). She is always looking to invest time in new places where she can absorb new perspectives.
2 thoughts on “Down Below — by Lori Baker Martin”
Powerful poem- especially the last stanza!
Thank you, Arlin!