three poems

And Stephen Hawking is dead and we will
bomb, we have bombed, we are bombing
empty buildings in Syria, until they
are the ghosts of empty buildings, until
the ghosts inside those buildings germinate
and we read the bodies of human beings
like headlines, their mouths split
open in words we think are English,
because we think, we think
in English. And three empty buildings
sounds ridiculous, and that is the best
alternative we can hope for, in English.
Because our irises, are black crescent moons
descending swiftly on these fumes: we will
bomb, we have bombed, we
are bombing people who have blood
the color of birds, and Stephen Hawking is dead.



And Stephen Hawking is dead, but the whale
still washes up with his belly full of plastic
and we still read about it with our plastic
cups and phones and shoes and cars all going
ninety-five in a sixty-five, and all we are is
flashing light. My daughter is not convinced
we are animals.
My daughter is not convinced time exists;
there is little I can do, but laugh. We are
surrounded by dark matter and some nights
it weighs so much, my heart beats too slowly
against the sheets. The ceiling turns into stars.
I am falling
I am falling apart. My daughter is convinced
the piano will continue to exist. As will her fish.
And Stephen Hawking is dead.



And Stephen Hawking is dead, and a pedestrian
bridge collapsed today in Florida. And I fear death
by concrete, probably more than my neighbors.
The underground parking garage is always a damp
mausoleum and I descend, knowing how many
dogs would give up on me; how likely I am to
die anywhere doesn’t change my travel plans,
but I think about the concrete, the water and
rock, and dark matter—I would return as
ash. I cross the street and I hold my breath
and Stephen Hawking is dead.

Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), and four poetry chapbooks, including Ursa Minor (forthcoming in 2018 from Elsewhere Magazine). She teaches at WKCTC in Paducah, KY and her writing has earned support from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She met her husband in the Indiana University MFA program; together they have created the Rivertown Reading Series, Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art, and two awesome daughters.
Artwork by: Valerie Borey
Valerie Borey lives in Minneapolis. Her creative work has appeared most recently in publications such as Rat’s Ass Review, Hospital Drive, Gloom Cupboard, Enhance Magazine, Black Heart Magazine, and Bound Off. More of her work can be found at