sporklet 3
David Tomas Martinez

(Three Poems)



About suffering they were never wrong,

          the old rappers, and though I hear

so many friends my age complain,

neither are the new rappers. For instance,

          “Bands,” better known by the hook,

                              bands will make her dance,

by Juicy J, the Tennessee rapper

                    from Triple 6 Mafia,

known for his television show,

          “Adventures in Hollywood,”

          a fish-out-of-water tale where gangsters

wear cowboy hats and gold teeth

and do gangster shit

          like drive golf carts with spoked rims,

          like fistfight with no shoes while getting sushi,

and who knew gangbanging

was not just a city skill

but also a rural tool,

who knew about Arkansas before

the “Bangin’ in Little Rock” special, particularly


when Houston-based rapper Scarface,

                    of the infamously misspelled

          Geto Boys, told us that

your ‘hood ain’t no harder than mine,

even if I thought of Houston as a needle

          in the hay stack then, and I once met

          Scarface at an indoor swap meet in San Diego

          infamous for gang shootings,

though it would have been more aptly named

a swap meat because, there, many men and women

                    traded their flesh iniquitously,

                    but I should have known


Scarface was right

                    because I once got in a fight

          with some dude who looked exactly like Scarface

          except not as wide or dark-skinned or really anything

vaguely similar

to Scarface,

except that he was black, and I was scared,

but that’s the thing about the Juicy J song,


                    it’s easy to hear his lyrics and only see

the shine of a diamond studded grill on MTV,

a teenage pop star sitting on his lap

                    in a snow white nightie

                    singing about sexuality.

It’s easy, I say, not to hear the wisdom of lines like


          it’s not a strip club if they ain’t showing pussy

          in a world where full frontal nudity by women

          is allowed in movies, even expected—

but the truth is, not even on Skin-A-Max

is anything surprising revealed.

Not even in a movie like Short Cuts

          do we see anything more than The Fall,

          not even when Julianne Moore’s bottomless,

          and the ever autumnal foliage between her hips

          burns six feet of orange, red and yellow

          do we not miss the forest for the trees.


          And this is the strangeness of sex,

when I have drunk too much and satisfaction settles

across my body like a summer heat

that was so warm

during the day

but so suffocating at night,

and I know nothing’s happening this evening, sometimes

          I stare at my thighs with pity,

          gaze at a ruler slumped

          against his throne,

          Hamlet, at the play’s end,


but I have never understood how one person could lay down

          and open themselves for another,

show that even finite places carry eternity, and not a heaven,

          but forever. Forever is dark.

A clitoris is like a teenager with a hoodie walking down an alley.

A penis is like a teenager with a do-rag walking in an alley.

Forever is near but they wont admit it.


A poem ain’t a poem if it ain’t showing pussy.


Quiet Riot

          Something there is that loves a mask, loves darkness

          that must be muzzled and blinded, silenced by rope,

made not bright. Riot is quiet drug from a pick up.


And let there be light to protect the silent.

                    Don’t let the uniform wear you,

less than more. It’s easy to hide in clothes.

Lay down the mask. You’ll see. Put aside the promise of protection.

                    You’ll feel. Ventriloquism is the only true voice.


                    And since

we’re all racists, all of us bigots of the highest, kill us all.

From behind sheets we speak, on horseback


                    with noose in hand. Our notions swing in the breeze.

My consciousness is a cut eyehole. In the yard, wood brights aflame.


So, galloping on what others have said and thought, yelling,

we circle a house and burn it down, and move on to the next, silent.


Second Wave

In this

skin I am

more wit

than man

and to


men I

am no



white women

know more


than men


witty men

than Dick—


but still

not me

in this skin

I am

the white

sin of

thighs I

sin more

sway than

day or

strange than

fruit I’ve

picked or

night allows

more counter


or back

of bus

no blacks no

dogs no


no days off

no billies just

clubs just rope

just civil

wrongs of


to sit-ins

where we

all look

and grin



our teeth

but still

feel bit by


being white

nor wit

nor man

David Tomas Martinez’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Boston Review, Oxford American, Forklift; Ohio, Poetry International, Gulf Coast, Drunken Boat, Poem-A-Day, Poetry Foundation’s PoetryNow, Poetry Daily, Split This Rock, RHINO, Ampersand Review, Caldera Review, Verse Junkies, California Journal of Poetics, Toe Good, and others. DTM has been featured or written about in Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly, NPR’s All Things Considered, Poetry, NBC Latino, Buzzfeed, Houstonia Magazine, Houston Art & Culture, Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Bull City Press, and Border Voices. Having earned his MFA at San Diego State University, he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing program, an emphasis in poetry, and he is the reviews and interviews editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, after having been a Breadloaf and CantoMundo Fellow. His debut collection of poetry, Hustle, was released in 2014 by Sarabande Books, which won the New England Book Festival’s prize in poetry and honorable mention in the Antonio Cisneros Del Moral prize. He is the 2015 winner of the Verlaine Poetry Prize from Inprint.