by Martina Reisz Newberry
1. SHORT POEM It was a rough night. Telephone poles and cell towers played “Mr. Interlocutor” to the palm trees who clowned and danced to the rhythms of strong winds below the canyons.* *R.I.P. Larry Kramer 2. ENDLESS RHETORIC There are nights when darkness doesn’t fall but comes as an open mouth– swallows everything: sky, earth, concrete, trees, gravel– after which, it comes for houses: doors, stairs, brickwork, bedrooms and basements. Night is the time we see that nothing in the lives of human beings is rational. Our own resouces are limited, Hell’s rhetoric is endless and the tick-tock inside our heads brings the bed pillows to life so that they squirm and heave through our darkened dreams. Lights out, we say. Good Night, we say. Sweet Dreams, we say. See ya’ in the mornin’! we say. Though there is the kiss on the cheek or forehead, the pat on the shoulder, a wave of the hand, we lie down knowing that contact is not the same as connection, that touch and transgression can both be final. 3. AMUSE-BOUCHE* Ocean waves, posturing and roaring, clawing at the rocks like people gone insane. The sun sneaks looks, then hides, not at all certain where it ought to be. In the end, I guess it’s all about beauty and pathos and the never-ending examination of clouds and what will come from them. *hors d’oeuvre 4. FROM THE DECK OF THE DRONE Back out of all this now too much for us… ~Robert Frost, “Directive” My God, the noise! The relentless moaning, the ceaseless wailing of these last seven years! And isn’t seven supposed to be a lucky number? Do you remember when walking to your own kitchen didn’t feel like wandering the deck of a listing ship? Do you remember when fatal was an unusual word? Do you remember when it was nearly Christmas and you weren’t worried about caged children, entire nations starving, a melting earth, or the brand-new biological enemy guaranteed to kill you? Nor do I. Every silence is shattered by stainless steel tears from the eyes of our fathers and their mothers and their grandfathers and their first and second cousins lined up, keening and rocking, believing they've failed at creating safe spaces. Where is true sleep? Snores of fear and anger and confusion bang away at each others’ bedroom windows; one week of sweet dreaming and we are awakened by gunfire and bomb blasts, the screamng of the trapped and the soon to be dead. There are no more quiet places– no more shade trees, front porches, church pews, or meeting houses where war and worse can’t find us, dangle us from their knees over the hot ashes of family and friendships burned in anger. The lies are endless: Better days ahead, We’ll look on the bright side, Follow the law and we’ll all be O.K. The only truth left is that there are two sides to everything and both sides smell like garbage and gunpowder. And here am I, at a small diner, coffee in front of me. The homeless people walk by with their carts and their crumbs of layered clothing. An old man with one eye waves at me. “Hello,” I call out. “Hello to you!” 5. SHEEP-CHILD’S LAMENT Mother, it has taken me most of my lifetime to accept that you birthed me as any animal bears another, wishing for it to be over so that she can be on her animal way– looking for food and meaning in the same places. Mother, I came into this world tame, docile, never wanting to be trouble to anyone. I never craved respect, only the popsicle sweetness of love and loyalty. James Dickey said he knew what monsters know. I doubt that. I think you have to birth a monster to know what they know. *James Dickey’s poem, “The Sheep Child” was published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1966,. The poem describes a part-human, part-sheep baby in a jar at a museum in Atlanta, Georgia. It can be found here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42713/the-sheep-child or in Dickey’s book, The Whole Motion: Collected Poems 1945-1992 (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)
Martina Reisz Newberry is a Los Angeles based poet. Her most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE (from Deerbrook Editions), WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions), LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). All books are available here: Bookshoppe.