Joshua Martin

Porous Sketches Facing a Myopic Firing Squad

voluminous vinegar cloudbursts

hirsute village idiot opens drugstore 
smashes seedless watermelons under foot
punches through starless skies
sleeps beneath an anvil shaped chandelier
while beehive builders drink formulations
until drunk and full of pinecones 
culminating in medieval chess match
misanthropic as all can be
with towels to fold to fit a bush
straggler spraining deviated septum 
linking arms to cover the earth
splitting hairs to gain a ditch
lying liars lying to their lemons
all that could engage reneged 
while every centipede broke a leg
in useless average STEM programs
dragging tow trucks through the mud
hee haw! hee haw! hee haw!

mandated fuzzy dice ceiling

feline dressed like starlet
wrestles hope diamond shaver
a wallop furnishes a drift
which an attitude prevents
from penetrating on penalty
of shaken baby syndrome 
lined against wall hanging
taxidermy housecoat
drained of carrot juice
signified out of breath
refocused on benchwarmer 
ooze of ease of lifting
body useless as a mime
speeds venture vines
bring reefs into company

visionary friction

to be a quaint unjustified quail required tact
scanned dripping barcode festivities
shifted easing breezing colonial sharkskin
myopic cloth diaper shrinks
zipper fallen crying heartless
bum rushing beauty mark
through relay race target practice
skiing down cornucopia error
dreading math teacher chalk outline
professor administrative bite marks
release a charlatan crazed chainsaw
climbing giant goddess quarter crisis
feeling petting peeling lifeless prune
zestful sorrowful germanic chant
lesson choking cooling refreshment
hopped on headless horseman’s squib
left for third eye pink quark

hold out gator clips

skidded cleaver had a bunion
oh my oh my oh my
why a wild sigh high & dry
heaving amphibian sword
above broken down pliers
sunken cyclone Henry
shorter than a bent skunk
funnier than a burnt steak
just to utter breakneck
wearing turtleneck crown
thorns & all & autumn
torn to shredded leather
latched in a dry bone
room to moon a spoon
ripped out comic farce
delighting audience watutsi
hassle free sass grape
engineered to better pout
drafted obedient sweater
invested war monger
sullen to bare ass pimple

New fuels see in the dark

Future bacteria saturate evolving skies
revival pig brains a theory of obesity
awkward forelimbs work the torso
through extra openings. Neck propulsion
disproportionate as tissue catapult
dazzling in its stance. An array into
bygone asteroid electric cortex box
locking fetus bookends between recoiled
medical calamity irrigation missile.

planted feet invest the obvious

that’s 11 months’ worth of
spin class vibrating throat
muscle defended parabola
plenty the dagger of a horse
head planted feet first
16 going on hydroelectric
through last worded sushi
bar way out in space station
weighing head holding starfish
interviewing presidential hairpiece
lusty rug clipped to back
shaping leopard chinstrap 
approaching physical barrier
withering park ranger willful
eponymous zoning code violation 

Microbacterial lobster claws

Wilted brown atomizer cheers
has breakfast mashed and disagreed
like a chessboard verbal accusation
drawn out over deserted fiction snare drum
loose leaf Kevin apprehends solid Ryan 
knew all that crawled scowled
dungeonlike between panda meat
laughing stately mannerisms
of arrowhead resort town operation
prelude to chaotic farewell party
computational A-OK send and drop

Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is the author of the books automatic message (Free Lines Press), combustible panoramic twists (Trainwreck Press), Pointillistic Venetian Blinds (Alien Buddha Press) and Vagabond fragments of a hole (Schism Neuronics). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals including Otoliths, M58, The Sparrow’s Trombone, Coven, Scud, Ygdrasil, RASPUTIN, Ink Pantry, and Synchronized Chaos. You can find links to his published work at


Why Poetry? 

Poetry has always seemed best suited to my purposes of abstraction, experimentation, and irrationality. There’s an obscurity to poetic expression that I find infinitely fascinating and full of possibilities as both a reader and a writer. I also find a sense of liberation in the fact that poetry (especially experimental poetry) is almost completely marginal with no possibility of mainstream success. That, I think, is freedom. Poetry represents one of the best forms for liberating the mind from the conformity of material, consumeristic culture. The very act of still writing poetry in this day in age seems so contrary to everything about culture in 21st Century USA. I have always been influenced by radical poetic/artistic movements (DADA, Surrealism, Cubo-Futurism, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) who saw poetry as means of breaking free from the confines of rational expression and questioning the very nature of the world or the societies they grew out of. Good poetry can be elusive, heady, and so far outside of the typical means of expression that it has the capacity to make you think differently, which for me is the only true form of freedom that exists.

Could you give us a little insight to your process, where does a poem start for you? 

I never sit down to write a poem. I can’t work that way. For the most part, words come to me when I focused on something else and my mind is free to wander. When that happens, certain lines will pop into my head and if I find them compelling enough, then I’ll quickly jot them down and let whatever flows from these initial words just happen. I almost always do this by hand, as I find it difficult to write sitting at a computer; in a way, I need to be disconnected to work. Because of this, my poems are written anywhere and everywhere. 

How long do you usually spend on a single poem? 

I tend to write poems very quickly, as automatically and free from preconceived notions as possible, in an almost improvisational manner. I write poems in a group, several at a time, generally based around certain formal or linguistic preoccupations. I try not to overthink this process, but instead rely on my instincts, focused on the sounds of words or interesting juxtapositions. I do not suffer over the poems, but instead let them develop organically. Sometimes, if I find certain poems didn’t work, I will go back and cut up several individual pieces in order to create new, wholly different works, but for the most part the poems are a product of the time/place/moment in which they were written. 

Who are you currently reading? 

I’m always reading. Almost all the time. As much as I possibly can. There are too many books and never enough time to read. So, I usually have a lot on my plate at any given time. I like to feel overwhelmed with how much I have to read. Currently, I’ve been reading Mina Loy, Brion Gysin, Subimal Mishra, Irene Hillel-Erlanger, Cabrera Infante’s Three Trapped Tigers, Vasilisk Gnedov, Lachlan J McDougall’s i was out… the mice were in…, Kenneth M Cale, re-reading Baudelaire, and about to embark on re-reading Ann Quin (one of my absolute favorites). Additionally, there are a lot of journals/zines/blogs/etc. that I read regularly (like Black Stone / White Stone) which is about the only contemporary writing that I still engage with.

Would you say that letting the poems develop organically is one of the biggest changes/developments in your writing? If so, how, and if not what has been one of the developments in your writing? 

This has definitely been a major development for me. Writing in this manner has been liberating, rewarding, and enjoyable. It has allowed me to continue to push and develop my work in form and content in several interesting ways. I find through spontaneity forms and connections being made that surprise and enthrall me. I think this also allows the poems to be read and understood and, hopefully, enjoyed in a wide variety of ways that are not limiting but more expansive. The work I am producing now feels much truer to myself and where I want to be than ever before. At this point, I can’t really imagine trying to write in a different way. 

Do you find themes, images, ideas popping up, maybe snowballing, from this approach? 

Absolutely! I think this is exactly why I’ve found so much success and excitement writing in this manner. I often find that once I start it’s as though the images, ideas, and forms continue to grow and expand. When I can really get into a groove, there’s almost an endless number of opportunities to fully explore certain styles and experiment with a number of variations on similar forms. I like the idea of writing as many poems as I can until the ideas run out and then I stop. Again, I find this very liberating and fun!

What is the one book on the movements you’ve referred to should we read? 

Mark Polizzotti’s Revolution of the Mind: The Life of Andre Breton is a great resource for the history not only of surrealism, but of certain aspects of DADA and other artistic/radical movements from the first part of the 20th century.

What one poem from the online journals, blogs and zines do I have to read like right now, today? 

One poet I’ve been excited about recently is Tiana Lavrova Porter. She has a great piece called “The Harpsichord of Schizophreniform Dada” ( on experiential-experimental-literature (also one of my favorite online journals) which is great.

What poem should I read to my daughter for bedtime tonight? 

I think Hugo Ball’s “Karawane” would be a great poem to read to a child. It’s a sound poem consisting of nonsense words, which I think would be fun for a child to hear and read out loud themselves.