Martin Galvin

A laugh is a knife, a club, a breeze
From April's Riviera, a stet gun
Stuttering its fear that it shall leave
Anyone here to laugh.
A laugh is a cough, a trill, a shriek,
A bark, surely a bark.
A laugh is a punch in the ear,
A jab in the kidneys, hard.
There's a town in America hates
A laugh as bad as a drought.
Generations of boys there dream
That a clown's laughing face
Means to eat them alive.
In houses there, a laugh's a razor
That skims freckles from the face.
Another town, another place
That's fed for years on fatback,
A laugh's a Papal blessing gone bad.
A needle and thread for an emptying heart,
A guggle of good in a dry well.
I've seen a girl torn in half
By other girls giggling up their sleeves
At what she wore, at what she said
And didn't. She's a laugh, that girl.
The laugh's on you, I've heard,
The laugh's on me.  You think
It's accidental people have trouble
Remembering jokes?  That's a laugh.
There's not an echo of that word
I'd give as gift:  snicker, cackle,
Heehaw, guffaw, snigger, snort.
When you hear a laugh, run for it.



The rain has many tongues with which to say

Hello   Take that   Welcome home   You can use this


Like a bulldog drill sergeant, the demanding drops

Get us beyond the dawdle of our days.


When the world is saying Shake a Booty, Buddy,

When the dry mouthed world says do and do,


The rain talks back in soft syllables,

Makes music in thunderous afternoons,


Says, when you are overdone with summer glum

Here's a space to live and open up.


The rain has many fingers, beckons night

To too-bright day, teases and soothes


High offices, the shirts strung across alleys to dry,

Shoos people into subways, slakes uplifted throats,


Provides alternatives, excuses, purpose.

Take off your clothes, the rain says.


Take off your business suit, your fancy shoes.

Walk on water, make faces with the sky.



She looked up, expecting enemy shells with nails

As decoration, close enough that she could count

The points, close enough she could imagine the hurt,

Thinking about her father's dying, her mother's,

How they welcomed what they could not want,

How slow the dying was, how filled with grace.


She looked again and saw the birds, elegant in flight

As wisps of air, as needed as air in a breathless room.

They were flying south, a V of harmony,

Sky-scullers, sewing the world together as they went,

Going home, going away, being the same place.


She looked up, expecting birds, and saw the shells

Disappear, and then again the birds, cranes they were,

Carrying tomorrow in their beaks.  One scratched

An itch in flight, the strangest thing she saw all year,

then took the wind in her face for the other cranes.



            At the Kunsthistoriche, Vienna


In Tintoretti's fix on things,

Susannah's there, big and bold,

No shy and halting flower, she,

A woman who takes up the best part

Of a painting, as beauty often does.


This is no hidden arbor

But an open corridor

The city and the gardens

Calling the woman.  The men


Are there, as they often are,

Lurking in their low corner.

Poor men, poor contorted things

Nothing but eyes and twisted limbs.


Beside this scene, the curator's wit

Places a fully armored knight,

His codpiece vulnerable as sin,

His metal heart safe from attack


Clever folks these keepers of art,

Seeing how the painters have saved those

Who hang there, sinners and saints,

And how we need such famous memory


Who otherwise have only history's lies

To let us know the lives we have lived

And how a woman can undress a man

Of all his vanities with a little smile.


Martin Galvin's work has won numerous awards, including First Prize for "Hilda and Me and Hazel" in Poet Lore's narrative poetry contest in 1992, First Prize in Potomac Review's Best Poem Competition in 1999 for "Freight Yard at Night," and First Prize from Sow's Ear Poetry Journal for "Cream" in a 2007 national competition.  He was awarded a writer's residency at Yaddo for August of 2007.  Recent work has appeared in The New Republic, Sub-Tropics, argestes, The New Republic, Vulgata, the Delmarva Review, as well as in Innisfree.  In addition to his 2007 chapbook Circling Out and his book Wild Card, he has two other chapbooks: Making Beds (Sedwick Books) and Appetites (Bogg Publications).



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A CLOSER LOOK: Alice Friman

Elvira Bennet

Kristin Berkey-Abbott

Cliff Bernier

Nancy Naomi Carlson

Michael C. Davis

Brent Fisk

Martin Galvin

Taylor Graham

John Grey

Clarinda Harriss

Nellie Hill

David Hornibrook

Jacqueline Jules

Rose Kelleher

Robert S. King

Ann Knox

Judy Kronenfeld

Lyn Lifshin

Diane Lockward

Donal Mahoney

Laura Manuelidis

Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely

Julie L. Moore

Judith S. Offer

Roger Pfingston

Oliver Rice

Lynda Self

Ellen Steinbaum

Karen J. Weyant

Edwin Zimmerman














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