Poem: "4 Signs Your Heart is Quietly Failing"

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Clare L. Martin


Editor's Note: This poem came out of a playful and rich interaction on Facebook, in which I mentioned that I had received spam with the subject line "4 Signs That Your Heart is Quietly Failing." I invited some friends of mine who are poets to respond with a poem of that title. In just a few hours, Clare submitted this (at my invitation) to our creative editor Julie Platt at Technoculture.

4 Signs Your Heart is Quietly Failing


A gash opens in your chest. Weightless bones slip through and at last, and silently, another coiled heart readies to strike.  


A string winds through your fingers. Tightens, tightens so that blood rises to the skin’s surface.  A blue discoloring haunts you.  Whatever you do, do not cut the string.


Amid midday traffic, an old lover meets your gaze from his/her car at the busiest traffic light. All lights flash red. You open your door, rush to his/her side and admit every fault, every weakness, and every stone of guilt.  Then you run. You run quickly and drive away fast.


You stand before the long mirror, sighing at forgetfulness, your flaccid self. Hours rearrange and configure into a miserable puzzle. The last moment of life is always wonderment; a small and joyful curiosity. And you finally know: this dead fist behind your sternum means nothing.  



Clare L. Martin’s debut poetry collection, Eating the Heart First, was published fall 2012 by Press 53. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Avatar Review, Blue Fifth Review, Melusine, Poets and Artists and Louisiana Literature, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web, Best New Poets and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net. She is a lifelong resident of Louisiana, a graduate of University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Teaching Artist through the Acadiana Center for the Arts. Martin founded and directs the Voices Seasonal Reading Series in Lafayette.

"4 Signs Your Heart is Quietly Failing" © 2013 Clare L. Martin, used by permission

Technoculture Volume 2 (2012)