The afternoon turns gray,
apologizes for my apprehensions,
each of them, all of them
focused on the meanness
and certainty of death.
This is winter at its most reliable.
The news speaks of iguanas
falling from their tree beds,
immobile in the cold weather.
Frightened, I stay too long in bed;
I am AWOL from my own hopes.
I dream of creating unimaginable icons
out of spit and clay, of kingdoms
made of Cliff Rose and courage.
Someone, I don’t recall who, called death
“timid.” I have not seen that. It’s arrogant
and aggressive, never afraid of itself,
always certain of its own rightness. Not like me.
The news shows iguanas falling from the trees,
immobile in the cold weather, fair game for hawks
or chefs who claim they taste like chicken.
I, too, am immobile. Frightened,
I stay too long in bed.
Maybe if I told you the right words at the right time…
What about chaos is so damn fascinating?
The terror of birds in the skies that belong to them,
the murder of those birds,
the strangulation of air,
the addictive nature of dropping bombs
and shooting holes in human bodies as if
there were paper targets–bullseyes–
firmly pinned to their hearts and heads?
It’s all gone wrong. We are using the world
as if there was an unhurried shower of time,
an eternity of days, hours, minutes, an earth that
is always growing, always green.
Don’t we believe in winter–in the
pissed-off dark trees, aluminum skies,
black restless oceans and frozen lakes,
bleak winds and bitter bite of winter?
Did we ever believe in it?
We spend lifetimes–ours and others’–
looking for something that might be,
only to find things that never were,
were never meant to be
and nurturing those things.
We make love to what isn’t there
and ignore what is always present.
Someone once told me that,
in order to restore peace,
you have to puncture the current peace
with a thorn or a needle
to let the old atmosphere out.
A new peace, they said, will let itself in and
reinflate the soul of the world.
Can that be true?
Revolutions have been founded there.
Of an eco-peace, I’m not sure.
What about a planet so punctured,
so wounded that it is no longer able
to take a healing breath?
As always, I look for the answers in your eyes,
in your fragile hands.They are to be found
If you are feeling left out, be aware
that it is not through any fault of yours.
You have probably done mostly right things,
thought mostly right thoughts, paid what bills and tithes
you could. Most likely you have worked and so
has your loving companion. Most likely
you have kept up with oil changes, weather
changes, diaper changes, shift changes, time
changes, broken garbage disposals, and
Christmases coming too soon every year.
Clothes off the rack, coupons at the market,
flossing your teeth, wearing deodorant
and using makeup appropriate for
your age group. Undoubtedly, you have loved
your children, fed your pets, quit smoking, quit
drinking to excess, had nightmares about
being too fat. You do as others do,
times you even do what you want to do.
And still, as you approach the many, the
diverse circles of those you like to think
of as your countrymen/women, they don’t
see you. They exchange stories and secrets,
pass candies hand to hand, skipping your hand,
looking over the top of your head. You
are invisible. Please listen to me:
It’s not your fault. America exists
on the mean edges of reality.
These are times of deadly sins--all seven
of them held dear on social media.
The hearts of Envy and Greed throb
steady under the guise of “connection.”
Facebook celebrates itself with “selfies.”
Twitter is a drunk hit-and-run driver.
Creativity is wrapped in toilet tissue,
and Instagram ribbons. It’s not your fault
that you’re the first loser at U.S.A’s
musical chairs debacle. It’s just the
way it is. The only advice I can
give you, friend, is, while in America,
watch your damn step.
Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, Blues for French Roast with Chicory was published by Deerbrook Editions in February, 2020. Her work has been widely published in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Brian Newberry, a Media Creative.