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Excerpt from The Leaving Impulse

Rachel Parker Martin

1:34 pm, Boulder

I am sitting in a car dealership talking

to Kathy Acker this has
happened in the past someone told me
the past is prologue
Kathy is telling me Im getting robbed
for being so honest remind me
to introduce her to the kettle she is
telling me about men again sometimes
I think we only talk about her Kathy
never did suffer
fools willingly
I dont think my heat is working
I was much better at walking
in San Francisco I might be
better off sea level head
leveled power walker capable
speed without spinning cant
admit it dont miss Florida
I should quit smoking but
I dont want to

remember when nanas cat jumped

into the dryer she says
it sounded like a pair of shoes spinning
on the curb never been
so interested in my knees my sister
can fix this she says
if we sing loud enough our mother will
come get us she says
the condo is so loud
we cant go back inside
our James Taylor exit plan fails
ringing phone punctuation mark
our mother doesnt
come get us she says
you cant

go home yet

Saturday I saw a homeless man

s p l a t against the pavement pink
financial district I walked through
human shit today lighting
a cigarette I was sure
he was dead
saw his thumb
in his mouth
Swanee pulled
my sleeve down Market
like I found something
shiny laid it glowing
on my tongue she predicted
the future of my fever
we are hours past
hand sanitizer
still a thousand
miles from Monday

I go back to the dealer

ship too late cant get my car
cant cry like a bitch
in the parking lot excessive
inconvenient Kathy would say
she would not suffer

Writing all these small words

say nothing a reminder
too much catering makes real
gestures hysterical ! it is clearly too
much to feel and to say that

crazy is a male
word for inconvenient

Love Kathy is telling me

is not taking from someone I thought I had
been doing this right

over dinner she asks me if I had to

choose between parent or sibling
who would I keep ; sister
every day and twice
on Sundays dont even blink she says
you are so obedient
please pass the bag of salt
sometimes when I apologize
part of me dies


2:32 am, Longmont

I was born in Ohio but it doesnt count I was ocean grown by four
Only in my twenties I realize that my parents have fractures
their humanity swells a wound
muscle throbs
flexes knows not
the impulse to flee
convey their commitment
to fearlessness I am still finding
the places they are codified my DNA an amalgam
grocery list of their genes
I am part butter part brawn

I am
too dark to be a bird
but I am dark and
some thing

When I moved four hours from home I called my mother

at 9:02 every night I am eighteen hundred miles from 9:02 EST
and own a landline for my lineage
now I am talking to Kathy face down
on my coffee table helping me remember
I may have been awake too long I swear
this is a dialogue

When I turned eighteen I became a cat person

just when I thought I had stopped becoming people I have been
wrong so many times since I have been in love
with heavily documented
groups of people I am always filled to bursting
for those with the predilection of loving me even upon its surcease
I the one that keeps the archive of expiry
I sometimes wonder if falling in love diminishes all the love
spent before it and yet and yet

(is it
to be
that you
can for
who you
are you
for how
you are
loved back)

The semicolon is a gift the loophole

to the run on sentence a marriage of two
thoughts left independent made
I have never intentionally harmed myself
I had a wrist phobia for the majority of my teens
a boy I was pretending to date so his parents wouldnt know
he could not love me dipped scissors into fragile lakes
veins blue bundled wrist under the table
computers class freshman year I threw up
he thought it was to cover for him
the only time my bile has been treasured
has served a function other than to make space

home is
where I control
my space

I do not know if I want to get married except

to hear my sister sing Time After Time she has been practicing
for years it is worth tying the knot to hear her sing to me
Kathy calls my cat Scout Jean Louise when shes asking for it
by girl pronouns because it took us five months to realize she had balls
we confuse everyone I remind myself she doesnt speak
but I only really remember when I sing
rezando el credo que me has enseado
her Spanish songs when she cannot sleep
miro tu cara y digo en la ventana
te amo
te amo
(from the bathroom Kathy says
my accent is off)
I dont want my friends to love me less
I am always
because they think Im weak
trying to determine
the best thing Blake ever said to me is that I am a little fucked up
what it is
I am trying too hard to be good all the time I do not know
that I am
if being good is the same as doing right
responsible for
I love my self body brain my throat is more
as an adult I cannot be
powerful than my vagina but equally beautiful
bothered to take out the trash
I do not avoid self-care but it does not come first
one day two days four

I anticipate that I am near fully recovered from my first real experience of fear
( Kathy says anticipate
is a word people use
when they are lying )

When I am not in love with someone I feel like I have less to say
I am acutely aware of my latitude within my intersections
but my longitude is just a word a synonym
I have been speaking in synonyms almost
a year stunted dictation I am almost sure I am
not okay with that
Heather believes in intention and I believe
in Heather I think it is beautiful to be so aware
and to still want / to know I want
to be an uninterrupted stream
of self a study
Jean Louise doesnt like when my hair is up
she cant suck on it she must be certain
that she is still three weeks old and who am I
Kathy says to prove her wrong
My mother says that it wasnt until she turned fifty that she became
her best self so far I think this is the important part
My friends are sleeping in my bedroom they have
been staying here lately come home
with me they have
a hard week series
of weeks a semester two
semesters three I have had more
sleepovers as a grown up than days
I was fifteen they are sleeping
in my bedroom I am on
the couch chain smoking
and writing this poem for you
twelve hours from now I will not
get to take it back I wonder
will there ever be a punishment

they are sleeping door cracked knowing we are

learning all the time that lies are born
as replacement skin contract
around the meat of truths we are
learning 2:15
all the
to swallow
is to surrender I am writing
this poem for you

My mother calls still here

maybe I will always be here
the lobby free coffee
talking to poets not present this is not
the first time this has happened
I have been caught with the librarian before

I am telling her about this moment

do you remember cassadaga she says
that place I used to go when I was
sad daughter my memory
is metaphor for motorcycles
that terrific dark
of feeling severed unbearable
the living the ones
who werent in the car
My mother wears a bracelet
ancora imparo her model replacement
for god and his weird friends
I am still learning she says still
we dont talk about death
a lot it is a friend she knows
much better than me too young
to believe in impermanence accept ideas of
stop interrupting she says she is
reading me a passage
from a book about tango something
about a man dying when we hang up the phone
multiplicity of still
a breath ; pause ; opening
stop and endure
brilliant be

muy antes de ahora mismo

el tenedor ciego de los libros me dijo este lnea
sobre el prlogo yo recuerdo
el pasado tambin

a sudden blurring of heart

a giant paintbrush smearing the inner
walls with white last thought
not of secrets of music of god but
Cora are you here
there you are radiant as before
it all began
Cora opened
her mouth out
an explosion of

I love you madly she says

be good be careful
1:14 am, San Francisco

Construct a living memoir I a bundle

blue and black inside
plain as power cord jumbled
up with sparks

a reverie my cigarette
in the coffee winter is
a waste this year

Akilah says it is ridiculous to say goodbye

with an idiom I think that should be
a maxim I know that one day I will
use this line on the wrong person and it will
not make a difference I am fine
tuning the gap the lack
a period
Frank says we are one person
getting up and going

I feel like I am moving backwards

a madness
a white whale
a word
I a breach
a ship
I a drowning something
salted something

8:16 pm, Broomfield

Kyle has never minded

my talking to poets not present at his parties
I am so bad at gatherings always
let me cheat conversation
do you remember when I blacked out he says
on my birthday the VA
said celebrations dont count

I think a poem is like a party Eileen says

leave eventually walk into a room
take a deep breath when that breath
is gone have to go
nothing left

when youre writing a poem

when the leaving impulse comes
get the hell out of the room
I remember hitting a bird
driving to Tallahassee thunk
cloud of feathers in descent
guilty gut flutter I say
do you feel bad when you see roadkill
in Iraq they stuff dead dogs
buried in the road all mortar
fur and red he says always
rearview apology
hit the raccoons sleeping
in the street

like an afterthought
learn to have grace
thats heaven

2:34 pm, Boulder

Refuse to put a tiara on a good lie

notes from class say tell Kathy
someone said decolonize today tell Kathy
someone got a gold star
I a nicest person in the universe Kathy says
being nice is what stupid people do
to hedge their bets
on the ragged
edges of possible exhausting to be
so possible
emotion obviated
like the sea group slowly
a band of roaming parts make shapes
for screaming sound a maxim
recall the door
buzzing afterthought
that was Kathy says
a terrible fly
When the tone doesnt fit still more
to be said I am not slighting
the distinguishing moment
looks forward arriving
a new station your children
can be puffs of smoke and mine
will all write cursive I do not have
a friendship with worship
I am oddity specific almost home
for no reason
bear me recklessly we are everything but
we are
I a long scratch of content
absent myself from the present
tense where is my notebook
from that day did I write Tuesday down
leave myself that memory
dispute is not
a performative act

as it happened did I not yet know better

left myself one sentence
survives blinds pulled doors locked
muted moment midsentence someone says this
isnt real
you assume part of the universe
you recognize is still
alive Kathy says through memory
of lights red and blue
this is the moment ; our meeting
I a tense pre-lettered
I a tongue bone dry
I a stolen line made perfect
one time this is not happening
its not happening

Index of Works
- an attempt of a responsible autoplagiarist - Kathy Acker
- Pablo Minales, Eternamente Yolanda
- Carolina de Robertis, The Gods of Tango: A Novel
- Akilah Oliver, Fibs7809 Disjuncture
- Frank Stanford, The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
- Eileen Myles, Inferno: A Poets Novel
- Andrea Rexilius, To Be Human Is to Be a Conversation
- John Dos Passos, Three Soldiers
- Ted Berrigan, Personal Poem #9
- Jim Carroll, Highway Report (For Jack Kerouac)
- Heather Sweeney, Language is Our Only Wilderness
- Helene Cixous, Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
- Clarice Lispector, Agua Viva
- Timothy Parrish, Virgins Together
- Jeannette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
- Ann Carson, Antigonick
- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
- Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac
- James Dickey

Rachel Parker Martin is a poet living in Longmont, Colorado, with her cats and her friends.
She holds her MFA in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied
Poetics. Her work has been featured in the Oklahoma Review (Cameron University, vol.14:
Issue 2, Fall 2013). Besides writing, her favorite thing to do is read, or better still, to be read to.