two poems

by Marc Alan Di Martino

Reverse Engineering

after the destruction of Mariupol

It’s easy to let spring break you, snap you
underfoot at the first orange monarch,
the first cherry blossom mad with light.

Marvel at its undeterred magnificence
until your knees soften and the flesh
on your cheeks flushes candy-apple red.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend—
the warmth of the sun on your eyelids
the chatter of starlings in your chest—

but this is all a fine-grained illusion
to be scrubbed from the historical record.
What remains of this bright moment on earth

will be a body count, the precise number
of missiles required to reverse engineer
an entire town, annihilate a place

where last spring butterflies took dizzy flight
above the emerald lawns now pulverized,
where trees like candles flared on sunlit streets.


Still Life with Rotting Fruit

Two pomegranates, dusky with disease
as if a tumor had infected them,
three wilted carrots, crooked, feelers out,
a sunken avocado, wrinkled grapes,
a sunflower crestfallen in their midst—
ants over everything, a paradise
of fruit flies, mold, parading parasites.

They rarely paint them this way, once beauty
has failed and nature’s gravediggers show up
for work. Italians call it natura
morta—dead nature—though nature’s never
still nor dead. A hidden hive of life
teems in decay—a buzzing, overturning swell,
redistribution of her rented gifts

to those in need. Decomposition’s task
is to unveil what swarms beneath the mask.

Marc Alan Di Martino is the author of the collections Still Life with City (Pski’s Porch, 2022) and Unburial (Kelsay, 2019). His poems and translations appear in On the Seawall, Pulsebeat, Rattle, THINK, West Review and many other journals and anthologies. His work has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His translation Day Lasts Forever: Selected Poems of Mario dell’Arco will be published by World Poetry Books in 2024. He lives in Italy.


Photography by: Nick Fewings