Sean Magnus Martin is a poet from the Lake District. He won the 2015 Battered Moons poetry competition and was shortlisted in the 2015 Outspoken poetry prize. He was also published in Bath Spa University’s 2017 MA anthology Plume. He has been published with Ink, Sweat and Tears, Riggwelter Press and AmberFlora, and has poetry forthcoming with Irisi. Sean is currently hoping to pursue a PhD in animal persona poetry. His pamphlet Flood-Junk is available at Shop.
I find you within a maze
of uprooted trees, half-hidden
in a nest of broken sticks
and lumber – the dark heart
of a dead forest, a bullet lodged
in wood and left to poison.
You were made to kill, rolled
on deck, hand chipped by sailors
to fly in a split-second brutality
before the splash and silence
of the abyss. Why didn’t you
drown like your siblings?
I heft you up and roll you
in my hands, feeling your pitted
surface. You are the world
before light, a black iron moon
fired in the atmosphere, falling
through the night to obliterate
the forest. You are the abandoned
egg of some deep-sea creature, freed
from the clutch and dreaming
of the world to come.
I think about the ash
people of Pompeii, still standing
testament to what fire can do.
They huddled together, but how
they chose to die, now reflects
how they lived. The blacksmith
clutching his hammer, probably
worried more about finishing
the horseshoes for Tacitus,
than a fiery death. I think
about the bog bodies, preserved
in peat, their black bin-bag skin.
The prehistoric men and women
who were cloud-gazing or chasing
mammoths when they took a bad
step, a trip to emerge thousands
of years out of context. I think
about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I think about the final seconds
that must be recurring in that
shadow-play, before cataclysm
scorched those memories in
permanence. There is nothing –
the soul is cinder,
the mind eaten,
the body pottery.
Our stories were never
anything more than just
stories, lessons gleaned
from ashes that we learn