Martyr’s Day

God bless this gallery, everyone here
Gathered on this our final cloistered day
Of numbered beat and hitched, halting measure
Uttered in reverence like a prayer,
Like a congregation’s communion host
Placed on each longing tongue, promising life.

Outside the sodden air sags without life.
Trucks pull up. Our armed enemies are here.
I hear them issue orders—a foreign host
Of holy unhurried warriors. Today
Their bloody rites of hostage and prayer
Will question our real worth, seek our measure.

I stand to read these lines, these mere measures,
A flawed meditation on fragile life:
Its torments, its twists. Now offer a prayer
For our killers lately come. They’re here.
There is no escaping this fatal day.
Read on, read on, urges our earnest host.

Back door nailed shut as we prepare to host
The dread intruders. Another measure
That seals us in, holds us from light of day
And the pocked leer, the shine and under-life
Of rising moon. Through it all you sit here
Or there, nicely applaud, begin a prayer.

Enfolded in the text of your prayer
A doubt of connection. Our frantic host
Types a warning. Come soon, he says, come here.
But they won’t. Such dire moments we measure
Against the slothful punctuated life
Lived without direction until this day.

So on this our most memorious day
When neither poetry nor fervent prayer
Dissuade evil and art cowers to life,
We stand as we must, a resistant host
Turning back infection, taking full measure
Of betrayers, some perhaps sitting here.

As I speak to you on this, a martyr’s day
And hear the music of returning prayer
Still my poem pulses on, trembles life.

Photography by © TJ Edson

Photography by © TJ Edson

Dennis Daly’s latest poetry collection Nightwalking with Nathaniel was just released by Dos Madres Press in April 2014. Inspired by Out of The Blue Art Gallery, Martyr’s Day originally appeared in Fox Chase Review and has recently been nominated for Best of The Web. The poem was performed at Stone Soup Poetry on September 29 to mark the Out of The Blue Art Gallery’s final week on 106 Prospect before moving to its new Cambridge location on 541 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square.

TJ Edson: “I have the tendency to funnel the chaos and madness of my own mind’s intent into digestible artistic forms. The value of documenting the journey that this entails is becoming more and more important to me. Through this practice, I am able to better understand and grapple with a manic chemistry that drives me to create and to destroy.”