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Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 44 - Chloe Martinez

The following transcript is provided for accessibility only. Layout, formatting, and typography of poems may differ from the original text. We recommend referring to the original, published works when possible to experience the poems as intended by their authors.

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Alongside prize-winning poet Patricia Smith, I had the honor of editing the 29th issue of the Southern California journal Spillway. We were proud to publish poets writing in California and beyond, one of those being Chloe Martinez. Martinez is a scholar of South Asian religions and the Program Coordinator for the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at Claremont McKenna College. She is currently at work on her first monograph, a book on religion and autobiography in pre-modern and modern South Asia.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is "To the Fossils Embedded in the Floor of the Met’s Medieval Galleries" by Chloe Martinez

To the Fossils Embedded in the Floor of the Met’s Medieval Galleries

patterned curls in dark stone


in your time you were common as anything
pampered the prehistoric seafloor

in my time my parents pointed you out
I stood in the middle of the hallway
people parted like waves around me

they were heading for the angels
and the damask-canopied beds
and I with my magpie eyes

moved inefficiently through the world
looked down at the secret treasures in the floor
stared out the window at a branch
watched the baby sculpture reach up
for Mary’s nipple

and in the wood-paneled studio
inspected the trompe-l’oeil
parrot for a feather-rustle

all these things held equal importance

nautilus, trilobite, ancient cone:
I never passed you with wanting
to stop strangers and reveal

you right under their feet
your ocean / your soft body / that time
many lifetimes gone

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.