Sunday Rumpus Poetry: A Poem by Juan Martinez






The abyss broke your microwave
to find a bug that wasn’t there,
the same bug your mother used
to listen in on every secret she wanted
kept from her: Your cruelty to friends,
small animals. Every birthday you forgot.
Every call of hers you ignored,
every lie you told, every excuse
you made that could not be believed
that she believed.

The abyss believes
this bug – bottle green, abuzz,
every wire alive with your lies.
The abyss calls your mom
to let her know.

Your mom cries,
hangs up, calls back. The bug
responds. Records. The abyss
listens in. Says, You know,
You’ve always known.
You tapped my wires.
You know.

Your mom sighs,
nods. You listen in. You try
not to. The abyss does
not hang up.

Juan Martinez was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and has since lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. He now lives in Chicago. He’s an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His work and has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Glimmer Train, McSweeney's, National Public Radio's Selected Shorts, and elsewhere. Small Beer Press released Best Worst American, his story collection, in February 2017. Visit and say hi at More from this author →