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Things in Light Poetry Series 2014: Martina Reisz Newberry



1.  AT THE WAX MUSEUM ON HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD

What is a woman’s life?
Is she
bird,
or pen
or tree
or cake?

Where is she going and why the lime-green shoes
with the bows on the back?

Does her flesh smell
of sugar
or burnt oak
or tea?

Who will drink her
from a fragile cup or thick mug?

Where is a woman’s life?
Is it in
a stone cell
a garden of marshmallows
a church nave?

Will she dress herself in bracelets and gauze,
gifted with sparking sashes?

What will she be fed?
Will potato chips fall down from the sky
sausages and French bread
and apples tumble from the mountains?

What are life’s losses—a woman’s losses?
A favorite bowl with cherries ‘round the rim
a poorly framed picture of two angels on a bicycle
a bottle—pale blue glass, bubbled?

What is a woman’s end?
In a kiosk
a tent,
a chrysalis,
a bright yellow Cadillac
with fins and leather seats?

Maybe the end is nothing more than a swan biting her bare heels
on a humid summer morning in South Carolina.  
Maybe it is simply the end of this day
the end of this poem
something hidden inside these words

2.  LATER ON  

    I understood
all along that you so dis-
liked the complication
that was Us, you’d be willing

to let me go
rather than armor up on
my behalf.  Nearly 60 months
of holding my breath, imagining

a kidnapping
in which you would take me far
away to New Zealand or Mayotte
never to be heard from again.  
We might have
been weavers.  We might have been
warriors.  We might have been birthday
wishes that came true.  You were

impenetrable then,
unwilling to release your fear
of love. So we died and were buried
and descended into hell.

On the third day
we rose again—oh wait!—no,
that was Jesus.
We stopped at dying.

3.  THE DETRACTED OWLET (MOTH)

Dear dark moths, flown up
from the evening’s carpet,
flown in from the intemperate ambience,
born from their slow, tortured silences,
you are delivered to her
because of her sacred errors,
because of her boozy breath.

She heard you arriving, you know.
The sounds!  Sweet Jesus,
your wings are thunderous!  
Only when she hears that flapping
does she stiffen in a spasm of remembering.  

Pulled into the pulsing light
of her pale arms and face,
you will leave some canvas unpainted,
some splotched, some marked
with ochre and spittle—
all, all of it a master piece,
a master’s dream of control.  

Dear, dark moths, you sit
with her on the bed.  
He has driven off for the time being
and the green smell of summer grasses
hangs in this room like temple incense.  
Her goddess energy is low just now,
But, dear dark moths, you’ll meet again
in the morning and your kisses
will be there for the world to see.

***

Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Press).  She is also the author of WHAT WE CAN’T FORGIVE.  LATE NIGHT RADIOPERHAPS YOU COULD BREATHE FOR MEHUNGERAFTER THE EARTHQUAKE:  POEMS 1996-2006, NOT UNTRUE & NOT UNKIND (Arabesques Press, Amari Hamadene, editor) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). Ms. Newberry is the winner of i.e. magazine’s Editor’s Choice Poetry Chapbook Prize for 1998: AN APPARENT, APPROACHABLE LIGHT. She is the also the author of  LIMA BEANS AND CITY CHICKEN: MEMORIES OF THE OPEN HEARTH—a memoir of her father—published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1989. She has written four novels and several books of poetry, has been included in Ascent Aspirations first hard-copy Anthology, also in the anthology In The Company Of Women and has been widely published in literary magazines such as:  Ascent Aspirations, Bellingham Review, Blessed Are These Hands, Cape Rock, Connecticut Poetry Review, Cenacle, Counterpunch, Current Accounts, Divine Femme, Haight Ashbury, Iota,Istanbul Literary Review, Niche, Piedmont Literary Review, Southern Review of Poetry, Shot of Ink, Smiling Politely, Touchstone, Women's Work, Yet Another Small Magazine, and others.  Martina lives in Hollywood, California with her husband Brian and their best 4-legged pal, Charlie the Cat. 

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