Car Wreck Outside the Dinner Party: Poetry by Michael Martin

One of our favorite poets, Michael Martin offers our readers some highlights from his debut collection, Extended Remark

Car Wreck Outside The Dinner Party

In the end, it took only a horn blast to turn
the acreage over. Despair, the New Machinery—
all that stuff would no longer catch the ear.
We bad-vibed the plows into congregating
somewhere outside our view of the collision.
The dinner rolls left before the butter arrived
and then that general feeling of
free-floating general something
stepped inside.
We stared at the children.
What made us name them all Dylan?
Why so easily aggrieved, the wives of the Great
“He’s written more books than he’s read you know
and he’s only written two.”
We went back to chewing the meat.
Can Juan get my hair to do that?
Did I just live the life of someone I don’t know?
Look at us. Carefully setting the correct fork
next to the end of the world. 


Christmas Cards

Every year a few show up in our mailbox
addressed to some former occupants,
long gone.
Naturally, we open them up.
We forge the occasional check.
Admire the family pictures they send.
Then we make a place for them
next to legitimate cards on the mantel shelf
to face the most forgiving light
we can find in our room.

This year we admire the Spencers’
rescue dog named Fetch.
Father Spencer looks like he’s whistling again,
which means trouble—he’s hiding his fear
into another year.

And oh, how those boys have grown!
And that DeSoto smile, now bigger than ever
after a cancer scare almost collapsed the mortgage.

Didn’t the McVies have a little baby?
What happened?

These are the times, fraught
with loss and doubt, to write letters
back to strangers in one’s own blood:
Happy New Year, our alien sweethearts!

We love you too. Thank you for the Target Card!
The kids have grown so tall!


From Extended Remark: Poems from a Moravian Parking Lot, Portals Press, 2015, reprinted with permission.


Read our interview with Michael Martin about reading and writing poetry. 

In addition to appearing at events in North Carolina this spring, Michael Martin will be reading from his new book and hosting a poetry workshop on Tuesday, July 12, beginning at 2 p.m. at Château de la Buronnière, 2 Route des Sicots in Rivarennes, France.

Event is sponsored by the Angers English-Language Library / Bibliothèque Anglophone.

Contact Phoebe Marshall at the library for more info:


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