John Martone: From 'children's book' 2014

[To describe John Martone as our greatest living miniaturist, as I have in the past, is to go back for me to a time many years ago when Ian Hamilton Finlay & I corresponded about a poetry of small increments (one-word poems & other such concerns).  For Finlay, I believe, some form of minimalism was at the heart of the concrete poetry he was then exploring & developing, & for myself it entered into aspects of ethnopoetics & appeared most clearly in the numerically based poems (gematria) that I was beginning to write.  It’s with someone like John Martone, however, that this approach turns into a life long project, a minimal work of epic proportions, for which the following can serve as yet another instance & perhaps (as “children’s book”) a new direction for his ongoing practice.  (J.R.)]


my morning  

a mouse nest





a mind



2 joints of yr

little finger

house mouse



house mouse —
my thalamus?


house mouse
it’s always a children’s book 


two mice dead of fear in yr live trap




feel our way along the wall

mouse & me






little worms

in the brightness

eye’s floaters



out of touch

lie down

in snow



suddenly feeling the river below the ice



a puzzle 


knocking the snow

from yr boots

no one’s home






in layers

of winter clothes look up

at night geese



first time

for some

night geese



night geese
a children’s book  



night geese
the horizon
passes overhead 



night geese
someone slips
on black ice 


night geese
the old
keep up 


[Excerpted from children’s book, Samuddo/Ocean publisher, isbn 978-1-304-74129-5, 2014.]