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Pride be not deathfor as I’ve
stretched to reach out from these
brambles   to cut away the vines
about my ankles   to step out on this
promontory   you swell in me  
like a boxer’s battered nose  

distorted & off-colour   You flutter
like a fledgling finch   demanding
the attention of its mother  
You buff yourself to shine  
like a showroom convertible   destined
for the wrecking yard   But still I grasp

for you   a rope to grab & release  
hand over hand    a welcome provision  
a helpful infatuation   a healthy garden  
becoming greener   & fuller  
& overgrown   entangling my feet  
& pulling me down

Photo by Włodzimierz Jaworski on Unsplash

D.S. Martin

D.S. Martin is the author of five poetry collections, including Angelicus (2021), Ampersand (2018), and Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis (2013) — all from Cascade Books. He is Poet-in-Residence at McMaster Divinity College, the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series. He and his wife live in Brampton, Ontario; they have two adult sons.


  • Rena says:

    Poem X of Metaphysicals . Worth the wait. RF was inspired when they published these set if poems. Inspired me to join RF because they were found there,. DSMartins poems always excel in their form and beauty. Encompassing God’s essence in a poem.

  • Sydn ey Lea says:

    Don, the poem is extremely clever (Pride Be Not Death indeed!) but way beyond that! I think this series is at least as good as anything you have done. Ever. Bravo.

  • Susan says:

    The upside down approach is brilliant. How clear it speaks from that perspective.
    Absolutely memorable. And that itself is interesting as Donne’s poem X has captured a place in all our memories.

    I was not expecting that.

  • Laurie Klein says:

    This really made me think. Such an array of guises!

    Pride—wounded, almost comedic, charming, needy, alluring, insidious—springing up, again and again, to ensnare me, my walk, despite my efforts to sidestep and disentangle self.

    And yet. The grace here of sounds, wording, and form also remind me Grace meets me at the ankles, with every stumble as well as step.

  • I can so relate to the again-and-againness of pride as you show it here—no sooner have we managed to cut away the brambles and vines around our ankles than it’s swelling again like a boxer’s nose! The grabbing and releasing, hand over hand… and I like the ambiguity (that I see, at least) in the last stanza: are we totally deluded in thinking that pride is ever any of these good things—a welcome provision, a healthy garden—or is it in fact a good thing that is continually perverted by overgrowing, by demanding our attention?
    Enjoyable sounds, too: ‘flutter like a fledgling finch’, for example (if I can say it without twisting my tongue!), is wonderful.

  • Marjorie Stelmach says:

    Another beauty, Don. These poems are wonderful as a series, and each one has its individual rewards. And so, another thank you.