Thank you for visiting. Difficult River is a collection of original poetry created by Martin A. Bartels. Constructive critique and comments are welcome. All work is copyrighted. Thanks to the great folks at 'Verse Wisconsin,' 'Poetry24,' the 'Found Poetry Review,' and 'The Rumpus' for publishing my work, and to everyone who has offered support and encouragement.
Friday, April 20, 2012
In the end it may be that others
perceive us only as snapshots,
points in time stilled by the
blink of an eye, the frame of
Even close friends and family are
vulnerable to singular
no fault of their own; we reveal who we are
in the light by which we prefer to
The personality test (I wonder how I might
fail at it) insists I select from
myriad adjectives to describe myself.
Gregarious, introverted, insecure,
ambitious. There was no checkbox for
“all of the above at different
occasionally, all at once,” because we must be
absolute and definable to be
It is possible I am simply advocating for nuance,
a relatively unspectacular proposition.
In Saint Lucia, the travel writer whose
I don’t recall, boarded the yellow bus
bound for the top of Soufriere. The sad and
volcano spews the stench of sulfur and
boiling springs. The stones around them ashen,
white as prehistoric bones. One is forced to
ponder then when history began.
We retreated to the dilapidated
row of shops where local women sold
colorful batik, then ditched the
lieutenants to opt for bottomless plates of
conch and callaloo (made from the
dense green leaf
called elephant ear), supplemented by thoughtful
doses of rum. Looking for a story, we might
write ourselves. Our glasses never emptied.
I chased a shy lizard from her bed
kissing her quietly and without need. We
smiled and I left her room. There
gratifying about loving a woman without desire,
as if we have momentarily conquered
inevitable appetite of our species.
a barracuda from boat to pot
you must pierce thumb and
socket. Natives of the island of
Ambergris Caye, Belize make a
starchy soup from
onions, herbs and the bony fish,
satisfying paired with a Beliken
paid $200 US to fish the shallow waters
inside the reef, where sea life
boasts improbable colors.