Absent Without Leaving

by John Martino

’Merica, you’ve taken it all
and now you’re everything
I’m not. Stitch of cross hairs
on the brow, and the leaving

is easy. I just looked around
and I’m gone. Another fallen
name on the wall. Another
empty casket trending.

I can’t stand. My trunkless
legs half sunk in sand. My
shattered mind needs mending.
Colossal wreck of your cold

command, bound by a savage
servility. Victory remains
abstract, a perpetual
impossibility. But I

laugh and become more
beautiful, disobedient
without civility. I blossom
into break, tear broad stripes

and bright stars from my back.
Counting the scars on the highway
to Heaven, I snake on through.
I take the wrong way home.


John Martino is an avid traveler currently residing in San Francisco with his partner, Xiuli. His poems have appeared in a number of publications, including Blue Lake ReviewWhat Rough BeastEunoia ReviewConnotation Press, and the anthology Envy: 7 Deadly Sins Vol. 6 from Pure Slush Books.