The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Amelia Martens

After the Fedora


At first, the war wasn’t cold. Then decades of snow fell and the valley filled like a mouth. Back when the war was warm, it spread like hot honey and flies fell kamikaze, all wings and no teeth, all wind and no relief. When the war got too ardent to handle, it went off and found a group of capitalist cannibals. Inside their shrunken skulls, a dormant war was stitched, a hibernating war, a war that wore work clothes and slept on a bed made of bills. Winter set in, long and dark. Inside the people, a train of cars grew—each of them steel and empty. Each of them watertight and waiting.

Amelia Martens

On Earth


The children ask if their parents are dead. They want answers. They want to listen to the black box backwards. Did the captain try flying upside down, like Denzel in that movie? In Lockerbie, on a Wednesday, a farmer cupped a flight attendant’s head while her eyes chipped into blue porcelain. Houses exploded families into the sky—white mice without jetpacks. Somewhere has been collecting airplanes; there is, always, another.

Amelia Martens

The Ocean Bank

One day we went down to the shoreline to make a withdrawal, and everyone was dead. The lights were out and the whole beach smelled like burning plastic. We spread a towel out and sat down anyway. Maybe everyone wasn’t really dead. Maybe they’d surface soon with more ugly seafood. Time passed. We missed the lap of the waves; it turns out sludge doesn’t sound the same. We thought about the Institute of Time Lapse and wondered, momentarily, if we could go back. By then we were feeling dizzy, probably the fumes, and the plastic in our clothes made us itch. We closed our eyes. We knew in that silence there would be no more withdrawing funds. We tore up the slips written on the pink pages of our lungs. Up the hill, The Bank of Soil was about to close. If we ran, we might be able to make it.




AMELIA MARTENS is the author of a prose poetry collection, The Spoons in the Grass are There to Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), and three poetry chapbooks: Purgatory (Black Lawrence Press, 2012), Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013) and A Series of Faults (Finishing Line Press, 2014). She met her husband in the IU MFA program and their collaborative projects include two daughters. Please visit:



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