Like the evening glow of a portside town
slumbering about its quiet harbor
luminescence ripples across embers
translucent before the worn fire brick
paving memory’s avenues. Leagues ago
a boy’s passion meant building fires of coal
each cold morning—their warmth a brief respite
for siblings rising famished for the day.

How to navigate these roads with grace?
Like this wood, give up one’s talent and heat?
It lived once too—witness, solid, upright—
a giver: oxygen, shade, shelter. Now,
casket on its caisson, slow change of state
rising toward stars shimmering in the black.

Rodger Martin’s, For All The Tea in Zhōngguó follows The Battlefield Guide, and The Blue Moon Series, selected by Small Press Review as bi-monthly picks of the year. He received an Appalachia award for poetry, an NHSCAs award for fiction and fellowships from the NEA.