In this episode we are sharing a collection of poems by Martina Reisz Newberry.
Martina Reisz Newberry is the author of 6 books of poetry and her work has been published in several magazines and collections. Her most recent book is Glyphs.
Her books are available here:
1. THE GOD OF TOO MANY HANDS COMES CLEAN
I want both hands full and then a third hand.
I want my hands to have shiny new things
to have and to hold and to ride out on–
things to wear with long trains and exquisite
embroidery, things that sparkle and dangle
from my hair and earlobes. I want horses
to lift their fine heads when I go by and
fear to cross the faces of the wicked
when they see me. I want silence to sit
on my shoulders and on your shoulders, Child,
and I want long days and nights with laughter
poking through the dark skies calling themselves
stars. I want the faithful to fling their hearts
down for me to walk on and the desperate
to thank me for the gifts of their ailments
and their troubles. I want recognition
and praise for droughts and plagues and dead forests,
for how little it takes to be truly
happy and how much it takes to secure
a dignified place to die. I want one
million children’s voices to sing You Are
My Sunshine, or Om Mani Padme Hum,
or On This Day O Beautiful Mother.
When all that you know, Child, dissolves in front
of you, I want lit candles, incense, and
milk in cool pottery at my jeweled feet.
When all that you love disappears, I want
you on your knees, a beatific smile on
your face, hands folded, appreciation
tattooed on your forehead. If you do all
these things without resentment, or question
or exhaustion, I’ll bless you for all of
your life. You won’t know how you are blessed and
sometimes blessings will feel like punishments.
Though the skies fall, you may never doubt me,
nor ever again ask me what I want.
2. THINGS YOU LOVE ABANDON YOU SOMETIMES
when you’re a child, when you’re no longer a child–
at your best and at your worst– they leave and
there is a space to fill, a cold place that wants
the blanket of your attention. Your bewilderment
at these exits are ice sculptures and unsung melodies
in the backyard of your dreams– Wonder, silent, melting.
You recognize and choose what you think
might stay with you forever:
a fancy cuckoo clock your uncle brought back from Germany after the war,
the changing color of your sister’s eyes,
dawn on the day you were called beautiful for the first time,
the smell of wet laundry hung on the lines in back of your aunt’s house.
All these things come with price tags and you sift through them.
Most likely, you’ll buy them all, light them up with devotional candles
in red glass holders against the darkness of abandonment
coming to embrace you.
Be ready for these things, Children.
Let go gracefully or hang on with the deliberation born of knowing.
3. “WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE CARRIED AWAY BY OWLS.”
Daniel L. – Twitter 2021
This past year, I noticed,
when I start to cobble a poem
from the detritus around me,
I begin to cry. Sometimes
I don’t even notice that I’ve started up.
Sometimes there is a splat
and the ink on my notebook will smear.
Sometimes I dot an i or indent a line
and I taste a salty drop on my lip.
Joni Mitchell says laughing and crying–
you know it’s the same release.* I disagree.
When my tears are happy,
I write about learning to eat with chopsticks,
skyscrapers, which days are best for mail,
supermarkets, and kisses–all kinds of kisses.
When the tears are not from happy,
I write about empty rooms,
Once, long ago, I confided this
and offered my tears to my mother.
She said, “I’ll tell you something
to cry about: I wish I was dead.”
Oddly, that did not make me cry
and I wrote no poems that day.
*Songwriter: Joni Mitchell, People's Parties lyrics © Crazy Crow Music
4. IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, THE DARK MOCKS OUR WISHES
Late afternoon–twilight–depresses me.
The autumnal light speaks of menace
and weeping women and silent terrors.
I wish I could unsee the day’s colors
being peeled off, stripping the day into gray.
All the red & orange & blue potentials
leave, they are gone,
lying in a heap at the southernmost corners
of our television screens. What use is the
green parrot, the yellow canary, the
brown-and-white owl when all the air is the color of tin
and every direction I look appears the same?
Day is simply Night disappeared.
There’s no joy in watching my surroundings become pale.
When I go out in the morning, I keep a close watch
on the time. I want to be in the dim-lit
lobby of our building before the outside atmosphere drains,
weakens, and is dragged, as are all of us, into the dark.
There is nothing to do except nap, eat a meal, drink
wine, get entertained, then sleep. As we all do, I wish for
those things which are just and true. The late afternoon,
the dark mocks our wishes. And so it is that I offer
this vision: Morning will be along after a while.
Gather, then deliver, your thoughts in waking light,
through luminescent lenses. The morning comes in living color.
5. ERICA SEPTEMBER CARRINGTON
I am having my morning coffee
with a photograph of one of my sons.
He is 50-something.
He is tall and thin. He is wearing
a tutu and a tee shirt.
He stares at a partially-lit stage
and the dim light around him
is blessed with yearning and wonder
and wishes. Something in his heart
is waiting to be roused–
he’ll set it free
and it will be beautiful.
6. VICIOUS CRITTERS THAT HIDE
Words don't fail me.
I can always find them somewhere.
They try to hide–in silence,
under cover of fear, in the dark
of confusion or the burden
of near-unbearable grief.
I find them, though.
I know their hiding places:
a bag of jelly beans
cooled-off mugs of coffee
small sinful thoughts
a whiff of eucalyptus.
It can take hours or days,
but I root them out,
use them to my advantage.