Literature 2-25-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Allistair MacMartin

Read "All the Ways the World Will End" by Allistair MacMartin, this week's What Light winning poem which was selected by acclaimed poet Sarah Fox.


All the Ways the World Will End

With a flash and a bang God’s teeth were knocked back through His spine
He spit out ants who by virtue of a kite-string
pulled themselves through themselves
and finally found what they were looking for:
A silence, unwavering and complete.

I heard about your knee
How it died, and how a cadaver fills the scar
I hope my hands do not die
because borrowed flesh is hot to the touch
and my shovel writes slowly

When we cut our fingernails too short the blood becomes a match
stuck between the zipper and the heartache

There is a fruit that no longer grows in the shape of a harmonica
or a human heart
Through mutation one might confuse it for a billboard
or a train-wreck

When my brother’s first ant farm tipped over
he woke up purpled and wet
said, “at least it’s not the end of the world.”
Dad said, “except for the ants.”

Some hold on with fingernails
they dig bomb shelters
and scratch love letters onto their eyelids

Taking aspirin during a heart attack can clear clots, but not repair
Like how your letters (twenty strong)
do nothing to reconcile the kite-string dimension
– It refuses to fold in on itself while anyone is watching

There will be too many marbles
beehives and humming fruits
Everything will burst in our hands

The world’s greatest magician
survives through smoke and mirrors
bending light into a time machine he bears witness
to the ants, who without up or down
are finally free to conceive of a more perfect sphere.


I love to learn, and I consider writing poetry an integral part of that process for me. Like a tonic or patent medicine it aids in the digestion of fact, experience, and emotion – sometimes with undesirable side-effects and always without any medical evidence.

Inspirations: things exploding that shouldn’t explode, produce, waiting in lines, recreational and experimental dreaming, the apocalypse, the post-apocalypse, sleight-of-hand and misdirection, science fiction, the paranoia I experience on bitterly cold winter nights.

Books I’m reading:
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury
Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs
The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes, Neil Gaiman


Allister MacMartin is currently a junior at Macalester College. During his sophomore year he joined the editorial staff of Chanter, a literary magazine published at Macalester College. He spends his summers at YMCA Camp Abnaki in North Hero, Vermont, where he has been employed as a counselor and director of counselors-in-training. He is looking forward to the end of the semester and reading for pleasure.