Originally published in Willow Springs 78
From the author
Notes on “Two Poems”
I’m often drawn to wreckage, but especially since a near-fatal car accident I survived in 2008. I was thrown from the car and pinned under; most of my calf was burned down to tendons. I was in a coma for four days. I’d broken both my legs and shattered my left hip. My family was told I wouldn’t last the ambulance ride, and then that I’d never walk again. But I made a full recovery—I walk, I run—and though I spent a long time busting ass in hospitals, in therapy groups, with canes, pain pills, and wheelchairs, that time of my life is now mostly vague memory.
“They write Died at the scene” began where I was forced to revisit. Todd and I were driving home from a holiday spent with my parents, and we saw this burning husk of a car on the side of the road. Despite my protests we pulled over, and when he ran to help I noticed everything—the smoke, the height of the flames, a lone lifeless body in a ditch—and I was struck by the messiness of surviving. The poem’s end surprised me the most—the meta-poetic idea of studying poetry and finding patterns in language mirrored the patterns in my own life, life which bleeds directly and honestly into my poems, and patterns which are often destructive and inescapable. I’ll never know why I was thrown from my car, and I’ll never know why others were stuck who more deserved a second chance. But I know, and the poem knows, that the stench of smoke can linger forever in your skin. This poem was an attempt to show the thorny underbelly of happiness, how some things won’t ever leave you, and how that’s not necessarily bad.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
Probably predictably, for me music is akin to religious experience. It’s a huge and ritualistic part of my writing process, a way to deal with significant emotional upheavals (aplenty), and I have something playing at all times. I like messy stuff, bone-chilling falsettos, reverb, blues riffs, and wails.
I’ve always said the first love of my life was Jeff Buckley. When I was younger he was the gateway to other good music (his Bob Dylan and Nina Simone covers got me hunting for more), but mostly his inhuman voice and uncut alt-soul-blues sound sent me to the moon. Sometimes I put him to the side to fend off emotions he only amplifies, but lately I’ve been remembering the rapture of sadness and the perfect artistry that goes into capturing that. Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk, a posthumous release with an unfinished vibe, has been on repeat for a month. Songs like “The Sky Is A Landfill” and “Yard of Blonde Girls” are dirty, sexy, and very devil-may-care (“the garbage dump of souls” and “the streets where Lola played”), and that’s totally where I’m at right now. Any Jeff Buckley lover knows that a simple intake of breath or a certain inflection on a certain lyric can make the entire song. “Opened Once” is another I’ve had on repeat from this album, a perfect example of that. To me, Jeff Buckley is king of pining, and that’s what I’m about ninety percent of the time, which I’m told isn’t all bad. Who knows?
I was late to the game on another current favorite—Wowee Zowee by Pavement, most specifically the song “AT&T.” The lyrics in it (and others) are just complete nonsense, which I love. “Maybe someone’s gonna save me. My heart is made of gravy.” Et cetera.
About Brandi Nicole Martin
Brandi Nicole Martin’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Washington Square Review, Nashville Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Salt Hill, Crab Orchard Review, Harpur Palate, and the minnesota review, among others. She is at work on an MFA in poetry at Florida State University, where she was the recipient of the 2016 Emerging Writer’s Spotlight award, selected by D.A. Powell.