Chloe Martinez

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The tiger is hiding somewhere in his cage.
A sign says to watch out for rattlesnakes, but the only person here
is a peacock, alone at the end of the path, who decides
to stun me with beauty: the famous tail, almost
tragic in its weight, the bejeweled temptation
of its feathers—he gives it a shimmy-rustle and the layers
rise up just a little, expanding
like a lung. Then they lay back down. Then the real
thing, the full opening-out, the bird-body
as stage, curtain rising by invisible pulleys: when it reaches
full fan, he makes his turn, all three hundred and sixty
degrees of him, slow-sweep wall
of color, time-stopper, he shows me
his architecture and he does it with total
control, his elegant legs tensed to hold up those thousand
Indra-eyes. I’m still standing there, gaping, when he proceeds
in my pitiful direction, the deep shining
blue of his chest preparing to crush me
like a wave, unapologetic, perfect
as the night sky: too close, impossibly far away.

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Chloe Martinez’s poems have appeared in publications including Waxwing, Prairie Schooner, PANK, and The Common. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a finalist for the 2019 Hillary Gravendyk Prize, and a semifinalist for the 2020 Brittingham & Pollak Prizes, a book reviewer for RHINO, and a reader for The Adroit. She is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at Claremont McKenna College, as well as Lecturer in Religious Studies. See more at chloeAVmartinez.com

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