John Martin


At a hundred miles

across the Pampa

was a tree 

that I saw 

as I stood

holding the bridle 

of my horse

as a small owl

landed on the pommel

of my saddle

and regarded me.

My horse

was still 

until the owl flew.

Then mounted

in the saddle

I could see another tree 


At Skagen harbour

sky wind and sea ragged.

On the water a machine

surrounded by sea, thirty yards from land

with tank tracks half covered by waves

its hydraulic arm elbows the sky,

its steel scoop with sharp metal teeth

lifts stones the size of bullocks

from beneath the waves.

They are black and smooth

oblong with rounded ends

glistening and dripping

rolled by glaciers 

With grace and speed

the arm rotates with the cab,

discordant with the irregular chop 

of the waves.

The machine stands

on underwater rocks

placed to make a groyne. 

With jagged clangs

the arm searches deep behind

and below in the sun speckled choppy sea,

picks up a boulder,

swings it in the air

and places it seawards.

Slowly Stoneman progresses,

his foundation moving

in darkness beneath,

disappearing behind him

as he advances his metal tread 

upon the sea.

John Martin’s first poetry and short story collection, ”The Origin of Loneliness”, was published by JMF Press. He has had poems in The London Magazine, The Lancet. He has served as a soldier, studied philosophy before medicine, and currently works as a doctor and scientist in Europe and the US. He has homes in London and West Cork.