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Martina Reisz Newberry

ORDINARY LIFE

 

It may appear

that she has a vision,

that she stares at something amazing,

something wonderful opening

in front of her. 

But no. 

She is watching the approach

of all her guilts and grievings.

In exact measures,

she walks slowly toward

the last damage she'll ever do. 

Ordinary life beckons her

and she is happy to answer its call.

Its true she thinks

that no one ever grows up.

We only convalesce. 

When it began to rain (hard, fat drops

that hung suspended for a second

before they hit the ground),

she saw it like a painting of rain

or a photograph,

each drop zoomed in on and clarified.

In the bare places that held the wind,

she knew fear and she knew

a love so entire that

its trembling could be felt

in the floorboards

and seen in the sway

of window curtains.

Because she understood

everything,

she was afraid. She thought

Fear is ok.

The person who has no fear

has never watched

the sun go down.

When comprehension played

its unkind jokes on her,

she believed it was prophesy.

Sadly it was just that.

Wordsworth offered no pity,

felt it necessary to lament

"What man has made of man..."

She giggles, Nothing ever changes,

nothing.

FLATBREAD

 

For 37 years, St. Simeon Stylites lived

on top of a pillar. He ate only flatbread

and drank only goat’s milk.

His hands were as immaculate

and uncomplicated

as a moon.

The sovereignty of time

and age and weather

was always with him,

his faith was inviolate. 

 

I see him smiling on his perch;

a voluptuous smile,

ideas hidden behind it.

On wind-filled days

there were probably times

when he was sick

of the whole pillared world.

Then, with the wind dying,

that particular sickness would pass

and he would be alone and content.

 

He knew what the world was:

everyone trying to get back

to the itinerant love of the old gods.

He knew that the world was forgetting itself

inside of dream sticks and dreams,

yet he pillared on.  At night,

feral cats clawed at his home

crying out “Teach us!”

But, St. Simeon Stylites said nothing,

waited for the bomb to go off

in his box of regrets.

 

 

BILLOWY BLOUSES

 

My friend Letty painted her door

with curling purple vines and

other plants:  great green and

butter yellow eyes for blossoms.

 

With curling purple vines and red leaves

she painted her billowy blouses and parachute pants,

butter yellow with eyes for blossoms.

It was derangement, pure and simple:

 

painted billowy blouses and parachute pants

but her integrity was real, intact.

“Derangement, they said, “pure and simple.”

Pleas ignored, she posed, escaped into sleep.

Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). She is also the author of LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions)  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 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.

 

Newberry has been included in It Happened Under Cover, Ascent Aspirations’ first two hard-copy anthologies, also in the anthologies In The Company Of Women and Blessed Are These Hands. Her poems have been widely published in many literary magazines in the U.S. and

abroad.

 

She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and at Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. A passionate lover of Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, and their fur baby, Charlie T. Cat.