The Theory of Relativity by Ren Martinez

Is returning home the same as starting a new journey? Or is it a well-known verse on repeat?

The idea of going home has the gut-punch feel of falling backwards and the nostalgic charm of homecoming. It smells like failure and tastes like Mom’s cooking. It’s hard to tell what direction you’re going when you’re playing Chutes & Ladders; it all feels like falling eventually when you can’t see which way is up. Am I escaping from or running towards? Am I yearning for the familiar or excited for something new?

Einstein said that time is relative. Maybe this journey is happening at the same time, layered upon each other, and thus all of this is true. In a million different ways, we are all leaving and returning every time we approach a door. It’s knowledge rarely spoken and yet truer because it is lived. You may know the earth is round, but the road feels flat beneath your feet with every step you take.

Maybe that’s all that matters, in the end. Taking the next step.


The Birth of a Star by Ren Martinez

the moon rises to her feet, swollen-bellied

a newborn pulse flutters beneath stretch-marked and pale skin

she trudges along dark corridors that she knows without seeing

fingers smearing trails along the walls, old plaster pockmarked with carbon emissions

should she breathe in too deep, she will smell the smoke

that’s been rising from the earth beneath her feet and sinking into the lace curtains of her living room

coming to rest at the top of the stairs, the arc reaching its peak

she feels blood rippling low in her belly

(pregnant and fertile, menses and motherhood)

her stomach cramps, her hands rest on the globe of her abdomen

heat bursts beneath her palm as carbon atoms collide and burst

she smiles, a waxing crescent

Breaking Up is Hard to Delete by Ren Martinez

i deleted that email you sent me two years ago

the one that detailed the curve of my hip in the palm of your hand

and how hours of video game marathons were better shared

a compilation of memories made up into a single desire

that reflected the one burning in the cage of my ribs that I refused to free

you broke up with me this last time three days before you remembered

the whiskey-soaked tears on my shoulders that dried by morning

and you repeating “I’m so sad” like it was a secret

i threaded my fingers through your hair and lied to you

saying that we would always be together

knowing that when you sobered up that it would end

you let me go while holding me so tight it almost hurt

the echo of that ache has yet to leave my bones

when you texted me on my birthday, i wanted to scream

instead we discussed the details of the Empire’s beauracracy

and whether Sith Lords get short-term disability

after my third glass of wine, i went searching through the archives

for proof that you had loved me

i only started to cry when i remembered i had already deleted it

The Gentle Rocking Motion Just Before You Become Complacent by Ren Martinez

There are times when rejection feels like the status quo and the idea of success is terrifying.

I’ve been an aspiring (syn. struggling) author for many years now. I have figured out how to properly balance artistic desire with practical awareness, and now I’m able to eat without worrying that my meal will take away from buying gas. It’s been a hard-won battle, and one I’m glad is over.

The issue now is complacency.

I now have to fight against the comfortable, against sinking too deep into the pillows of my bed for fear that I will never rise again. Instead of fighting to type words onto the screen, I contemplate my upcoming Netflix marathon. Rather than worry about my upcoming audition, I sigh with relief that I can cover my student loan payments.

It’s a sweet, gentle lull, and if I’m not wary, it will suck me below the tide. Soon enough, ten years will have passed, and my novel will sit forgotten in my hard-drive and my theatre resume will wilt from disuse. And, the most terrifying thing I can imagine, is looking back and wondering “Where did all that time go?”

It’s good to count pennies and have Ramen nights once in a while. It reminds me of where I’m from. It reminds me of where I’m going.

Cantabile: A Love Story by Ren Martinez

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale dusty air.

But, that is not where this story begins.

It begins with bird and a star.

A bird whose songs caused willows to weep. Its voice rang through dusk and the dawn and all who heard were made beautiful.

A star who burned brighter than any of its brethren. It turned its ear towards the earth and heard the bird sing.

Stars are not meant to be moved, yet the star found itself moving to listen.The bird did not notice the star captivated with each note, unable to look away.

The bird did not notice a star fall in love.

Until, one night, the bird looked upwards and saw the star, bright with adoration. The bird felt starlight kiss its wings. When next it sang, the song was so beautiful the universe wept.

It was the first love song.

That’s not how the story ends.

The bird sang songs for its beloved until it died. The star collapsed with grief, the carbon of its corpse falling from the sky into the earth. Millions of years was all it took.

He began his new life standing up, surrounded by darkness. He opened his mouth to a song. Out of that darkness, a man came forward, his eyes like supernovas.

The man, who was once a star, reached out his hand. The man, who was once a bird, took it.

That is how the story begins.


My entry for Figment’s June Challenge

Selachimorpha by Ren Martinez

the light of the ocean simmered across the space between them

reflecting murky depths brimming florescent diatoms

this kaleidoscope flares with the color of a microscopic moment

that create a memory mosaic out of colored glass and one-celled frames

they look like humans but they’re shaped like sharks

circling around each other in ever-tightening spirals

black eyes flashing as their gazes catch and release

lips part to reveal gleaming teeth; their gills flutter, ready to speak

this is the moment where blood fills the water

this is the moment where love begins

Funeral Rites for a Cremation by Ren Martinez

a phoenix cannot rise from ashes alone

the desire to burn has to calcine the bones of its corpse

before rising from the dead

should embers curl through our marrow like an overlooked road

it is only a matter of time before we both are deconstructed

reduced to carbon and curling up like too-sweet smoke

they say that controlled fires prevent further destruction

rolling down mountains like the sweep of a lover’s hands

yours were always too cold to keep me warm

instead I shriveled in the winter of our bed

my breath rising like steam in the space between our bodies

wishing for a way to burn

Selkie by Ren Martinez

I am a water child who trembles at the thought of drowning

born again in waters too deep to fathom

where secrets linger like the glowing bulbs of angler fish to tempt me into gaping jaws

and so I throw off my seal skin to walk on shards of glass

only to find that my blood is just as red when spilled onto sand

veins become blistered, infection spilling through the organ in my chest

a filter spanning arteries that are slowly chipped away by the flood

should the levy break apart like threadbare promises

I will raise my chin above the crimson tide

my hands reaching out to dry shores that never appear

it won’t be long until I’m dragged beneath, lungs filled with salt and water

drowning in a way that’s like coming home

A Noontime Train to Georgia by Ren Martinez

the rumbling of the train echoes in in my hands

a blur of snowflaked wind swirls on my tongue

as I turn to watch the trees run to catch up outside the window

falling – falling – falling behind in desperate green

it reminds me of the weeping willow behind my parents’ house

where the murmurs of my father’s fists barely whispered through

and the scent of old whiskey and “come here, baby girl”

was washed from my skin like a Monday baptism

a juniper breeze rolls past weathered cherry lips

casting swirls of wet-warm frost on the cold glass pressed against my cheek

fingerprints smearing through pearls of condensation

my hands do not shake as I write my farewell

it was on a soggy July night when my mother told me riddles

a Virginia Slim between bruised fingers tipped cherry red

“If you ever loved me, moonpie, love yourself more”

it’s only when I turn away from the window

facing the stranger whose tobacco-stained fingers clutch at today’s news

tales of nuclear war and the stock market sobbing

that I remember the honeysuckle wind that carried her words

and the mint julep burning truth in my gut

“your heart is a magnolia tree,” my mother sang to me

“don’t let the summer pass you by”

Dark Matter by Ren Martinez

should the stars fall from eyes wider than the universe

and burn onto the pallor of cosmic cheeks

it will be a grief that rattles through the stratosphere

a vacuum torn through carbon dust and the taste of goodbye

leave a last kiss on this milky way mouth

the one that you once said held entire galaxies

drink them down into the burning black hole

where your love for me once burned

a supernova swallowed over awkward silences and cold coffee

they say that it all began with a shout and a bang

the door slams shut behind you and the universe spirals on