Dawn Lundy Martin will serve as a guest editor of the PEN Poetry Series beginning in October 2015. Read an interview with Martin here

from Good Stock

O, release, this rough 

to be born of Sarah’s head, through
           sieve, seized wreckage, 

our laboring hulk—age-old sag—

Scarf-wrapped faces.


                     metal dust     beyond dark space

           is possible      tribe 

           under stain, father’s black tongue—


           Neck exposed toward sky,

           shins bubbling in heat—

is positioned for irretrievable

            ______________loss, one in each archway

picturesque as summer—

            one layer gone, another absolute without—

the robberies—

Ibibio shrine. Ibibio man in a cowboy hat. 


—the holding place—
on edge of continent—late day falls—gut
tumbling, night warm, welted warmth [We

            bracket infinity]

Stare through this window in

            my belly where my mother

left her good stock, her pertinent cells,

            her matter that matters—

Tiny particles forever floating—

What is more frightening than a black face
confronting your gaze from the display case?


My form against those at border

[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 there is nothing left.

Breath into white sand. The dead ache so. 


Want touch              want devotion

            lose grip—
Our mother was queen
            of all of Europe—

Mother, this is our head
            on a tendril root
waving into sky—

            Lift last leaf of skin,
place inside a doorway—



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