Cycles by Carolyn Martin


A sunny afternoon with Aimless Love on the patio
and a shepherd pup whining through the backyard fence.
She’s not amused I boarded up the slats she wiggled through
all week. The divots in the lawn, the pawed-through flower beds,
the fur caught on jagged wood annoyed. Anyway, I was about
to say before the dog butted in, it only takes one
Collins poem to set me off. Yesterday, “The Revenant.”
Today, “More Than a Woman” and I’m back to the NJ night
my Polish aunt slapped my twelve-year-old face. A reminder,
she said. Of what? I raged as she grabbed her cigarette and flicked
its growing ash. To be a woman, she inhaled my eyes, means
a life of pain. From across the dining room, Our first-blood ritual:
my mother’s only words as she wiped her hands of violence
I needed rescue from. I slammed my bedroom door and flung
red-spotted underwear across the room. And this was it: the start
of years plowing through closets and drawers, disavowing
dresses/stockings/girdles/make-up/heat-curled hair and facing
off taunting boys who couldn’t beat me on baseball fields;
of decades redefining cycles borne down centuries, composing
I’m more than a woman to me. I snap the book shut
and shout this anthem to the slanting sun.


From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 135 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, was released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. More at

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