So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed - Award Of Merit (2008) The Word Guild

<i>So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed</i> - Award Of Merit (2008) The Word Guild
A poetic journey with the poet's missionary grandparents to the China they served in between 1923 and 1951. CHECK OUT THE REVIEWS OF BOTH BOOKS (below)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Poiema (Wipf & Stock, 2008)

My new full-length poetry collection will be available in September!

Luci Shaw (author of What The Light Was Like) has said, "Each of these poems makes you want to descend to its heart and discover the precious metal there. D.S. Martin knows how to evoke the mystery that lies beneath the relationships we have with ourselves, each other and God. This is skillful and probing poetry."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


-------We sense it in the call of a Canada
--goose in flight --a
longing strong enough to carry an entire
--flock to their destination
-------We feel it in the grumble of a
--distant storm --that dark
dissatisfaction at what is --in comparison
--with what will be
-------The people who should never let us
--down --let us down --The
cabin roof groans with the weight of so
--much snow --The stairs in
the old farmhouse complain with every
--footstep --even with the
memory of feet that move no longer
--The branches of an enormous
oak moan in the high wind
-------We hear it in the spirituals nurtured
--in the cotton fields of the
deep south --a deep hopeless sorrow
--distilled into hope for beyond
Comin’ for to carry me home
-------We may think we merely imagine it
--in the whistle of a train as
it rumbles through a midnight crossing
--but the tracks through BC’s
mountains were laid with the blood of
--Chinese navvies --the sweat of
abandoned dreams --& the boxcars
--rolling through the prairies
during the depression --carried the last
--hope of the unemployed
Don’t imagine that that wail --has nothing
--to do with human grief
-------Sometimes our wounds heal
--completely --sometimes they
leave a scar --A woman learns of cancer
--in her breast --a man finds
his heart is failing --We fall to our knees
--for a miracle --& are
startled when an answer seems to come
--a taste of what will be
-------Hear the wind in the cavity where
--the siding is loose --Hear it
banging against the wall --Sometimes
--our wounds don’t heal at all
-------We fall to our knees --but the sky
--grows grey --featureless &
silent --We long for what we had --what
--we almost had --what will be
-------We sense it in the stillness of a
--beaver pond --or in the rush
over Niagara
-------We see it in the sunflower
--pushing through the soil
reaching for the sky --for the sun --When
--we most identify with this
world --we are most unsettled

(This poem first appeared in The Christian Century)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


The feeling behind my eyes is older than -----my eyes
its roots run deep ---deeper than the
of what wouldn’t come early in school
deeper than the birdlike way attention
-----settled on a branch
then left it swaying ---abandoned

Did it begin behind my father’s eyes
reflecting London Ontario in depression
when his mother died
& his father was left standing
a barren maple on a winter street

Did it begin behind my mother’s eyes
in a boarding school in China
where her parents’ love came by mail
(when the mail could get through)
a blossom dropping petals in the rain

I’ve ripped out every trace of that feeling
like the cedar shrubs from our back
whose roots I battle each spring
but I know ---oh too well
what’s just beneath the surface

(This poem first appeared in Wascana Review)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Poem: A CHINESE EVANGELIST (October 1926)

They love darkness because their deeds
-----are evil
I love it because I slipped away
The room dark --like the shadow of a
-----sheltering wing
They lined us up
I took a deep breath --hit the floor
& rolled under a bed
lying for two nights beneath the robber------chief’s breathing
more his prisoner than when he had me
He inhaled --I inhaled --He exhaled --I
sleeping & not sleeping
the nightmare of their game --again &

--They line up ten men
--How much land do you own?
--The first says --three acres
--& they shoot him
--The second man lies --eight acres
--& they shoot him
--The third says --fifteen
--They shoot him when they find he lied

My fellow evangelist died --in truth --this
When I redream it I am in the line
or they drag me from beneath the bed

Each waking I try not to move
my limbs silently scream --surrender
but there’s purpose in my escape
they hiss --strangle out the breathing
but I pray for deliverance
some other way

When moving out --the breathing’s voice
check under the beds
but they miss one --& I escape

(This poem first appeared in The Fiddlehead)