Not crying, not cursing, not the cackle
of the porcelain plate thrown against
the bedroom door can hound me from
Only silence, its trembling
barrel trained at the small of my back.
Silence my captor, quick in a ski mask.
Silence my bailiff, my warden, escorting
me—my father’s road bike rusting beneath
my feet, the Stones in my ears—
to the lake
where I trudge a rough scar in the sand.
I am fourteen. I am honeysuckle foaming
at the teeth of an electric fence: quick
to anger, flashing white, my hunger vining
up and up and up and up and up and up
I am Cupid’s error. I am deeply
alone. I know that the larder I’ve fed from
is ugly. I know my parents are choked
and close, like the months of a wildfire year.
They are contused by love.
Love: I know
I can outstarve it. When I get home,
I slide back into the knife block of silence.
Nick Martino is a 2022 Best New Poets and Best of the Net nominee with work published or forthcoming from Washington Square Review, Southeast Review, Frontier Poetry, Fugue, Meridian, and Sugar House Review, among others. The poetry editor of Faultline Journal, he lives in LA.