by Martina Reisz Newberry

I had a friend who said this:
“The only thing that you can

count on is loss.” I never
quite bought that. I’ve counted on

other things:
The uncontrolled appetite of Guilt

the disarray of Wisdom
the long thirsty threads of Desire

the short streets of Love
the blank stare of Dark

the longing in Summer Solstice.
I’ve counted on all those things.

I’ve countedon the urgency of Light,
the music of the Purple Bamboo,

the tug of fingers braiding hair
or the way the smallest pond of water

doubles the beauty or the
ugliness of anything.

You can count on the way
we go at sex like ferrets

put on capes and pray
to fly off buildings insuring

the safety of the entire population,
who will remain eternally grateful.

You can count on all of us to continue
grasping and gnawing on each other,

watching to see who gets the best morsels,
snarling with love and strangled by our prayers.

Ah well! I hear the questions you want to ask
You think this may be a kind of curse on my memory,

delivered by one of the unforgiving deities.
If it is a curse, it’s a damned useful one. It forces

my perpendicular mind to run parallel races.
You can count on this: it’s either loss or

a culmination of all our fantasies.
Whichever it is, I am tired of contemplating it.

Better, I believe, to study the calendar,
study the clock, study God’s Labyrinth,

and afterward, tell my raggedy stories to those
struggling to stand upright in a tilting world.

Perhaps You Could Breathe For Me

Martina Reisz Newberry's picture

Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is WHAT WE CAN’T FORGIVE. She is also the author of LATE NIGHT RADIO, PERHAPS YOU COULD BREATHE FOR ME. HUNGER, AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE: POEMS 1996-2006, NOT UNTRUE & NOT UNKIND (Arabesques Press) 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 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 Anthology and has been widely published in literary magazines and books such as: Amelia, Ascent Aspirations, Bellingham Review, Southern Review of Poetry, and others., Newberry lives in Palm Springs, California with her husband Brian and their benevolent dictator/cat, Gato. All her books are available from

Last updated August 05, 2011