Two Poems by Aïcha Martine Thiam






hand holders

you were eating strawberries and then all i could see was your mouth: to practice the killing of a friendship is to court malice in increments. you + i a trial balloon we kept chafing with sharpish dedication,

i don’t want to argue, as we fling doors open upon harridan-level sparring;

we both, at our core, like to settle, while using adult language conveying the reverse. to hold another’s hand, is to court honesty while tempting grey areas,

you know me and my grey areas, i’m very protective about my grey areas; this time last spring you offered Eternity; now you would skin the old thing; one-dimensional in grace, i shy, as if i hadn’t asked for it.

to think of mouths is to see dripping strawberry heads and think of blood to hear offered intimacy and how quickly it could end.

cannot ask what i will not give, and i have only: a parenthesis smile (both threatening and vulnerable — and you only heed the threat);

and you, berry-stained hands i can/will not take; i’ve outgrown sticky fingers.


sunday evening, day’s been crisp,
the heavens offer their tearful face.
rain, like a promise, hovers overhead;
the sky feels friend, feels mine again,
and Sainte-Catherine, lucent showgirl,
flutters on her vaporous stage.
on these ululating streets, i am just
another person on fire, another pair of
pulsating feet drumming Montréal’s ticklish heart.
the tip of my nose a drippy-drip faucet.
i can hide. i can’t hide. should i hide?


these thoughts, they make me angry;
when i get angry it’s a whisk taken
to the bowl of my head, scrambling me
all the way down my grinding teeth to my gut.
i throw my memory around like those old
sticky hand toys, watch, with cat-clock eyes,
what kind of bagatelle it drags back:
no prom. no college libertinage. so many
missing milestones, pendulating in your wake.
i wear this bulky, barbed coat fervidly, like
too many people finding God in captivity.


my body never tells me what she wants,
we favor different key signatures.
i walk, and she starts whirring and casting about;
i, fickle fishperson, cast about
and she starts bringing me unnamed places.
the sky feels friend, feels mine again;
while that feeling lasts i make windmills,
i make like the Montréal pigeons milling about,
knowing they’re never welcome, but still daring
— i’ve been here all along, i never left —

requiescence, creature comforts, self-delusion.

Aïcha Martine is a trilingual/multicultural writer, musician and artist, and might have been a kraken in a past life. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, The Best Small Fictions and The Pushcart Prize. She’s the author of AT SEA (CLASH BOOKS), which was shortlisted for the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize, and BURN THE WITCH (Finishing Line Press). Follow her work:

Image: Wilfredor, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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