Editor’s Note: In response to last week’s feature, Saturday Poetry Series favorites Erin Lyndal Martin and Elana Bell introduced me to two more fabulous mermaid poems. These poems have been swimming through my mind all week, and are too fantastic not to share. Get a taste here, then follow the links below to read each of these stunning poems in full.

By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Paul Weinfield

But having come from the river, she understood nothing
She was a mermaid and was lost
Their insults flowed down her perfect, smooth flesh
Their filth enveloped her golden breasts
But not knowing tears, she did not weep tears

(Read the complete poem as translated by Paul Weinfield.)

By Elana Bell

I kiss

the puckered lips, taste
ocean breath and remember

myself, slippery and long
under sun-slanted depths, swaying

to the whine of boats overhead.
I did not need you then, my scales

shining in their pristine sea.

(Read the entire poem in Winter Tangerine.)

Want to read more?
“Sunday Morning” in Winter Tangerine
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” as translated by Paul Weinfeild
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” in English and Spanish via Susan’s Place
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” on youtube, as read by Ethan Hawke

Today’s selections appear via Fair Use.


By Erin Lyndal Martin

I know they were here.
Their vertigo twists around
the wind.      It is my sickness too.

I play blind, smooth over tree trunks with my palms.
I smell the soot of brimstone, the dangling of a hive.

Daylight hard as leaves.   I smell the smoke.
Skeps still burn like witches.

              They used to harvest honey by burning up the hive.
              Bee bodies and a single rhubarb leaf
              kindled the flame for beekeepers
              to mine with bare hands.

                            The rest of the comb
              they melted down cell by soggy cell
until the wax was useful light.

                            And honeybees, they say,
              were the first tears
                            cried on the cross.


              Ghost bees shiver,
                            here a leg stuck in resin,
              here a wing in the grit of pollen.

                            I can feel their flight
              trying to make these woods
                            warm again.

              I’m asking for the bees back.
              If it’s in your power,

make the stark and sketchy treetops
              look less like junkie tourniquets
and more like apologies.

                                           Make the trees say they’re sorry
                                                   they kept growing
                            after thirty thousand hearts
                                           were burned.

                                           If it’s in your power, make me say
                                                   I’m sorry too.


                                           There’s still the scent of smoke
              in the air, maybe from a bonfire,
                            maybe not, and beneath it is the
              sticky hum of amber, and somewhere
                                           beneath that is me—notebook,
                                                   cigarette lighter, plastic bag.

              I can hear the vespers next door.
              The living are praying,

                            but I need the ash
              and the burned-out bees,
              the brimstone to be wise.

                          I want to ink out
              the taste of charred honey
                                           so I can be glad when there is no fire.

                                           Learn this lesson for me.   Tell me what
                            not to do, how to keep without taking,

                                           how to do better,
              here, now, my hair in my eyes,
                                           a pencil in my hair.

(Today’s poem previously appeared in Diode, and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Erin Lyndal Martin is a poet, fiction writer, and music journalist. Her work has recently appeared in Guernica, InDigest, and Crowd. She is associate fiction editor for H_ngm_n and runs the music website Euterpe’s Notebook.

Editor’s Note: I have had today’s poem in my arsenal for a few weeks now, but something told me to save it for today. I write today’s entry from my own Abbey, St. John’s Abbey at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. I am at the end of a week-long writer’s residency titled “Believing in Writing” at The Collegeville Institute, a workshop centered around writer’s contemplating faith. There could not be a better moment for today’s poem to be featured.

I have had the pleasure of featuring Erin Lyndal Martin’s writing before on this series. When I came across today’s poem in Diode, I was so vividly struck by its story, by its imagery, that I knew I needed to seek the writer out and ask permission to share this startling, beautiful piece. As I searched for the poem’s author I thought, “Erin Lyndal Martin… I know that name… I have loved her work before.”

It never ceases to amaze me how the heart yearns for the same beauty time and again. How I can search the Internet for poetry week after week, month after month, year after year, and then, completely out of context, fall in love with the same poet time and again. So it was with Ms. Martin, a poet whose work I love no matter where in time or space our paths cross. It is as much a pleasure to share her poetry with you today as it was to have her steal away my breath when I read today’s poem.

I dedicate today’s post to Michael Dennis Browne, our fearless leader on this past week’s journey, and to my fellow workshop participants, a group of people whose thoughts and words on faith have reshaped my view of the world.

Want to see more by and about Erin Lyndal Martin?
The Offending Adam
The Diagram
The Collagist


By Erin Lyndal Martin

somewhere sometime I’ll say the last thing that I’ll ever say to you.

it makes me feel lonely now.     if I see your light on when I drive

home I’ll knock on your door with a box of pizza and a bottle of wine.

it’s the least I can do. that and staying silent during the game

shows, letting you whisper the answers to yourself like a liturgy. I

would like that. it would remind me why I love you.          and maybe I

would mention again how someone you didn’t know dreamed of you

dressing that way that you never dressed, not way back then, but how

you have stitched yourself to me now like pages in a book made from

yarn and cardboard where the letters are the height of knuckles

and I am reading this to you again over the din of classic rock and

law students comparing notes on esculpatory evidence and a little girl

in a striped shirt who is picking up littered cigarette boxes and I

think her father is going to tell her to stay away from them but

instead she rips off the proof of purchase so he can send it in to get

some reward or another, and then she is putting the box top under the

ashtray to keep the wind from blowing it away

and I am thinking that someone somewhere would be sad to see the way

you talk to me, jealous even, and how this line crooks like an

interstate is wiggling through whatever strange messiness we’re bound

for, awkward and jagged, the way the roads look on that old trucker’s

atlas you have where we spread it out on the whole sofa and point at

places we used to live and places we’ll go once we leave alabama and

the hackberry trees and the exoskeletons of palmetto bugs that litter

our floors

and I think you’ll still say beautiful things about me

not because I was beautiful, not all the time at least

but because that’s in your nature
and I will love you for it

the past few days while you’ve been away, I’ve thought about watering

your plants.

when you are really gone, I will take advantage of vertical space and

stack things up high in my inevitably small apartments because of you

and I will know that you are getting drunk and napping in stairwells,

or you are writing painful stories about old men who make their own

artifacts and swim out beyond the shore to leave them in a lake.

at night the am radio will toss and turn between collegiate sports and

conspiracy theories and scraps of donna summer will rain in like

confetti.        I didn’t think I could miss you. I didn’t think I

could not.

(Today’s poem previously appeared in The Offending Adam, and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Erin Lyndal Martin is a poet, fiction writer, and music journalist. Her work has recently appeared in Guernica, InDigest, and Crowd. She is associate fiction editor for H_ngm_n and runs the music website Euterpe’s Notebook.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem knows a future wound. Picks at said wound; will not let it settle. Today’s poem knows the heartache is in the details, that memory and foresight exist on one plane, that it is not time, but inevitability, that will get the better of exposed organs.

Want to see more by and about Erin Lyndal Martin?
The Offending Adam