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Christopher Martin

Praise Song for Darkness

Little Scaly Mountain, North Carolina

Dark-eyed junco, spot of coal
among shed oak leaves and mast,
dark as the eyes of the black bear
foraging beneath twisted trees,
looking up at me through leaves
of windswept rhododendron.

Darkness is a bird named
for its black eyes. Darkness,
the feathers fixed upon the bird
that flow into the eyes of the black
bear looking up, watching me walk.

Darkness unto each other,
the thoughts that pass
between these minds—

mind of bird,
mind of bear,
mind of mine.

            for Thomas Rain Crowe

September 21, 2011

In Jackson, Georgia, on the banks
of the mist-laden Towaliga River—
Towaliga from the Muscogee,
place of the scalp,

a man waits in a cell, sentenced
to die with promise
of poison needle.

I stand here for him.
I stand, crossed

by power lines,
beside a truck stop
on a hill by Highway 16

across which rises
a wall of riot gear,
paramilitary presence
among the pines.

Above, a helicopter churns
and drowns voices singing

This little light of mine,
drowns the light itself

filtering through
the remnant woods.

In this place
given to violence
and blood, I stand

watching children
reach for dragonflies.

            —for Troy Davis

Christopher Martin lives with his wife and their two children in Acworth, Georgia, and is pursuing an MA in Professional Writing at Kennesaw State University. Chris edits the online literary magazine Flycatcher: A Journal of Native Imagination, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Shambhala Sun, Ruminate Magazine, Still: The Journal, American Public Media’s On Being blog, New Southerner, and Drafthorse, among others. He is a frequent contributor to Loose Change Magazine. Chris’s first chapbook of poetry, A Conference of Birds, is forthcoming with New Native Press in early 2012.