Poems from…


Poems by Martina Reisz Newberry



One woman fooled and fueled by God ∮
the kindnesses
the disasters
the ever-increasing number of wars….∮
She speaks, defines herself
as a denizen of the planet.
Screw countries & borders & fences!
she seeks her kind
daring to blow on the soul’s slag
to make fires in their eyes∮

Because she is white,
she knows privilege.
Because she is a woman,
she knows powerlessness. ∮
Because she is become older,
she knows invisibility.

One woman, who left a badland where
too much to bear had happened/was happening ∮
came to her Cronedom
in the city of maelstroms
which allows everything suffers anything.
She has been emigrating all her life:
Maiden> Mother> Crone>Unavowed Being
Released from the leash
she smiles shudders
moves from the shadows
Ask of her what you want now ∮
Now is the time.

Integration around a circle (mathematical symbol)

It is the 28th year of Mingguo today. When on earth will our country be in peace?
~an old song sung by Yang Xixi, 1999

Here in the capital of competition and cupidity,
we are segregate…and uniform.
We are persuaded by used-car salesmen,
inspired by a celebrity’s starved body,
a lawmaker’s starved mind. Time now
to be cautious. It approaches–
a prowling mist–the forenames of the populace
are held captive as it comes.
The weed with the white-tufted, feathery top
shivers, is blown free of its slender anchor.
Games of innocence, death of innocence,
scent of longing…pray to these lesser gods,
my dears, that they will jump into the way
of what comes for us.

*Nushu: a nearly extinct script Chinese women used to correspond with one another. Nüshu is a special form of writing that is only used and understood by women in Jiangyong County, Hunan Province.


Though they know they’ll have to fade
and disappear by noon, they shine exuberantly,
(while they shine
shower us with the blandishments needed
to coax us out of our dark dreams into
daylight’s absurd moraine.
They live without regret or desire–
orderly, coherent and wondering
what it is like not to be.


The light is escaping the sky. I’ve rifled
through my lingerie drawer more times than I can
count, searching…Where is the “I” who cleaned the house,
drove for errands, offered gourmet meals, made love
like a young man’s myth? The drawer doesn’t hold a
clue, nor does the mirror, nor does the puddle
on the sidewalk out front (and I do check it
frequently). So why do I continue to
look for her—that “I’ who is misplaced? I want
to give her something—something she can keep with
her now that she is in a safe place—a song,
a sweet gesture, a bracelet, a birthday cake.

The engraver and cartographer John Spilsbury, of London, is believed to have
produced the first jigsaw puzzle around 1760, using a marquetry saw.

I learned the world as I sat, still as a stone,
while the sky broke into puzzle pieces and
fell on me. “There it is,” I thought, “just waiting
for me to put it together and shove it
back where it belongs.” Time has sped by with me
unable to match the cobalt borders with
the pale blue centers. I have spent countless days–
maybe minutes–looking down at those pieces,
wanting so much to reveal the whole picture.
My wanting remains a to-do. This after
noon, through the ironwork that separates our
terraces, I see my neighbor, Jess. At her
feet are puzzle pieces of clouds, shades of white and
gray and eggshell. She stares down at them. She is
sitting very still, mind you, waiting to see
if they will solve themselves and float back to a sky
no longer there. My fault, I know, I get that.



Bitter unkind Autumn
when the gloaming grips the sky,
whines like a whipped dog.

The light produces an
exquisite ungainliness,
a clumsy attempt at dance.

At night, a small light,
only as bright as
a single candle,

shows me the dark mouth
of the closet door
open to devour or expiate

my sins by sacrificing sleep.
Autumn is a pliable
sort of mourning. And, still,

a mourning in deed.
Years ago, I called my mother
to tell her my Morning Glories

had bloomed. “And what,”
she asked me “is so glorious
about mornings?”

A flood of fear made
my scalp tingle, my mouth
dried up. I had no answer

then. I do now. Now
I would tell her that
any morning you wake up

is glorious and all sins
Are forgiven as long as you
keep the closet door closed.



I am Magdalen—hair long and slightly curled,
scented clothes and bare feet, doing simple chores
in the afternoon heat. My parents have died
and I am here alone in the house they built.

I please men, take their money, warm and wash
and whittle away at their power with the
buttered blades of my lips. I am Magdalen

waiting for the wars to begin and end,
waiting for warriors—young, old, maimed—to use
what I offer: kisses to make them whole,
touches to shatter them. I am Magdalen.

My skin is the color of asses’ milk,
my mouth is a bruised blossom. I can be
oracle or ornament for the right price.

When I finally close my thighs and the curtains
and secure the door on my sins, on the moon’s
intrusion, on the noises from men and the
animals, I lie silent, remain open,
but only to forgiveness.


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