poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“This poem is a part of a larger meditation on human dignity that winds through my new book. What speech does the contemporary moment allow when that speaking or attempted speech regards global displacement, local brutalization, and abject apathy?”
Dawn Lundy Martin

from Life in a Box is a Pretty Life

Lake, interminable. I do not know where my house is. Where is my house? Summer steams by. Every border is cocked and ready. Flatten body against cool earth. Lie without sound. Be a cool corpse under wire teeth. The police are so young. They do not hear the wailing. Wailing, I’m told, is a figment of your imagination. What to know of the body’s refusal to open, of its hidden cave? Put the cave inside another cave so no one can reach it. Perspiration aches. Strain against dirt walls. I have come to you from a metal house. We had steel barriers to protect us from the sun. The lake drifts into forever. Windows here are small and I cannot see myself in them. What it is to be captured without spoons. 

Copyright © 2015 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Dawn Lundy Martin. Used with permission of the author.

Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin is the author of Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017).

by this poet


This is how much fortuitiveness weighs. Measure in dirt. Of vices and other habits. Of leaving a house at 3 am and drawn as would any tether and here is your lock, my dear. I want to say this plainly: it is only when I am in a woman’s arms that my body is not a threat. Neither crosses nor damnation. Fix nor flutter

[arbitrary line] [perish]

	knocking among other refugees

	—the islands
	—no one to help
	—thousands buried by water

A butchered animal at my feet.

Wolves howl. Soot falls from sky.

The rescuers are never prepared.
And we, here, amid a failure of images.

Scrub a spot whiter than before.
Demarcate before

If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she,