a dark stairwell up two flights to shag rug. I will lie here for a long while. I will be unspectacular and limp. When the opal stone appears, I’ll lean into it. But terror is a runaway train. Is deer head left on side of road, those gentle deer eyes staring softly at nothing. If the stone works at all, it’s easy to catapult my body up the gymnasium rope knot by knot—a willowy thing, until relief under billowing fragrance of the parachute, all our little forms cross-legged in wonder. When I stand now at the end of the earth, night close and tight around me, no difference between what was undreamed and what happened. For example, my stranger ever-beckoning, black eyed and grinning, or is it me who dislodges packed dirt from the hole the earth made?


This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Dawn Lundy Martin

Science, Industry and Business Library: General Collection , The New York Public Library. "The planet Mars. Observed September 3, 1877, at 11h. 55m. P.M." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1881 - 1882.

Dawn Lundy Martin

Dawn Lundy Martin is a poet, essayist, and conceptual video artist. She is the author of four books of poems and three chapbooks, including Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books, 2015) and Good Stock Strange Blood (forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2017). Her nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, and other magazines. She has been awarded the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and a 2016 Investing in Professional Artists Grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments. She is professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and co-director (with Terrance Hayes) of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.