Martha Silano

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How to Get Fired

It’s not always easy holding onto a job: the urge
to walk in backwards, spit on the ficus, or slurp spaghetti

while juggling fire often overtakes us. If you stow slippers
in a bathroom stall, compose a memo highlighting

their finest hour—the time they rode the back of a street-legal,
decked-out-for-the-4th scooter—Old Glories flapping

like a fledgling falcon about to take off. Overwhelmed
with an irresistible urge to remove every blessed staple?

Make five symmetrical piles, then toss them, along
with your time card, into the shredder. A strip tease

at this juncture is a flashy plan. Hula to the Xerox;
Xerox your ass. Invading the space of a co-worker’s

excessively large boundaries is recommended; forego
the wide berth, hand her the hazy representation

of your crack, then follow up with a sloppy kiss.
If you overhear the credenza, for god’s sake

don’t keep it to yourself! Replacing the morning donuts
with Dungeness crab lends a festive touch,

and while you’re at it, why not attach a jaunty Post-it
haiku to the receptionist’s tits? If you forget the name

of the person holding, tell the recipient Curly’s on line 1.
Screaming “My lost hen!” in the middle of a meeting

brands you crazy creative;  so does shaving an eyebrow,
but both assure a nod at the door. Finally, spotlighting

your go-get-‘em style, take out your boss
with a single punch.



What’s Free

broken cement


fill dirt


the rusty cast-iron skillet my ex-roommate
left me before she lit out for Knob Lick, Missouri
(it wouldn’t season)

saul’s swingline stapler
jamming and skipping

a cracked aquarium
with gratis eau de turtle

Chainsaw Savvy

The Art of Technical Writing

Real Skills

nothing’s free
my father used to say
but he was wrong:

pine cones and sticks
that magically transform
into fairy houses

a favorite pair of holey hand-me-down sweats

walking into Canada
by way of Horseshoe Basin



Because I am Fully Conversant with My Hideous Qualities

I’m forgiving of your channel catfish soul patch,
of your avian features—preen, strut, dive for the hedge,

for the trunk, for the loess; heck, you can always preen
in our make-shift master bedroom. Bring your elves!

They can help us dismantle the infrastructure,
its many robotic arms. Don’t forget your lotus petals,

your ten easy tricks for ceasing desire. Because, yes,
I can write volumes in Old Church Slavic about my unsightly side,

recite my appalling faults like the Ten Commandants
x 99, including my not-so-righteous attempts at catch and release,

please bring along your five-pound bag of salt,
your towering pine, and we will drench our wounds,

and we will mangle that tree till it overtakes the yard
like a jaunty Venus de Milo; she will be the stranger within

the teetering fence. Thanks to her, we can sit by the hallowed
window where the spin of the earth whispers latitude, travel, power.



Martha Silano is the author of three full-length poetry collections, What the Truth Tastes Like (Nightshade Press 1999), Blue Positive (Steel Toe Books 2006) and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in early 2011. Her work has appeared in over a dozen anthologies, including Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days (U. of Iowa Press 2010) and The Best American Poetry 2009 (Scribners), and in many magazines, including Paris Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, TriQuarterly, AGNI, and American Poetry Review. Silano has received grants from the Seattle Arts Commission, Washington State Artist Trust, and 4Culture, and she has been a fellow at the Millay Colony and the University of Arizona Poetry Center, among others. Silano teaches at Bellevue College, near her home in Seattle, WA. She blogs at