September 11-17, 2023: Poetry from Martina Reisz Newberry and Pat Valdata

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Martina Reisz Newberry

Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is Glyphs, available now from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of Blues for French Roast with Chicory, 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: Colledcted Poets (Red Hen Press). She has been included in “The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018” (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff).Newberry has been widely published in literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Martina Reisz Newberry and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Alive and cantering, hot-trotting, racing to his apartment in the early morning~

Blouse of sheer cotton, faded denim pants, soft leather craftsman sandals~

“Barely Pink” polished fingernails, elbows and knees pumiced to unpebbled nakedness~

Hair damp, attar of jasmine and orange over all, feet scoured to a surreal softness~

Lips buffed and oiled, breath sweetened, cheeks brushed with blush~

Nether regions sponged, muff brushed, legs razored and rejoicing in lotion~

Sinister undertones beneath joy, beneath excitement, beneath recklessness~

A furred tongue touches your ear, a dark voice whispers, a miasma of reality
murmurs These moments are so fleeting, they barely exist~You’ll pay for this later.

You whisper back So what?


It Seems That Rodents Like Cooled-Down Chimneys

If you’ll walk with me just a short walk on
this path–a dirt path–I’ll show you a place,
a house, where ivy has grown to cover
all the windows and climbs over the red
spanish tile roof. It’s a Christmas-y bit
of scenery even now in August.
The curved-top chimney is brick and stone
and uneven smudges of concrete.

Its arched cap sits over a mesh screen. This,
the owner told me, keeps out the rodents.
It seems that rodents like cooled-down chimneys.
Ivy is growing up to the roof too and
heading for the chimney as you will see.
It’s sneaking into the house itself through
window sills, doorsills, and cracks in the brick
and concrete walls. We’ll pass the house to find

an old wood bench in back, you will see that
it is weathered but still strong. We’ll sit there;
you might think of a bottle of red wine
sitting cocksure on our kitchen counter,
wearing smoked air from the fires on the hills
north of us. I’ll think of Mead, unopened,
cool and sweet. When we get back, we’ll open
anything that’s waiting to be opened:
doors, windows, bottles of wine– everything.

Pat Valdata

Pat Valdata is a poet and novelist. Her book about women aviation pioneers, Where No Man Can Touch, won the 2015 Donald Justice Poetry Prize and was published in a revised edition from Wind Canyon Books in 2023. Her other poetry books, Inherent Vice and Looking for Bivalve, are sadly out of print. Her poetry has appeared in Ecotone, Ekphrastic Review, Italian Americana, Little Patuxent Review, North American Review, Passager, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Visit Pat on the web here:

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Pat Valdata and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Air So Thick


You could cut it with a knife,
my mother always says, even when
we start at dawn, hoping the Chevy
won’t overheat. The same vacation
every summer: the off season, all we
can afford. One time, on the long drive
to Florida, north of Ocala my father drives
into a downpour. Smoke spirals up from
the Salem between my mother’s fingers,
her arm draped across the seatback. In one
ear-splitting second, lightning hits the roof,
bounces off our powder-blue ’64 Impala,
sends a tendril down to my mother’s
wristwatch. Her arm goes numb, stays
numb, all the way past Winter Haven.


The year I turn fourteen, Dad can’t
get time off. It will be just me and
Mom this time, so we splurge and fly
Eastern, such an occasion Mom wears
her home-sewn Chanel. We smell
orange blossoms as we deplane.
At the efficiency motel, I change
from my eighth-grade graduation dress
into PJs. Open the fridge. The spoon
clinks against the jar as I shovel fruit
into a bowl and snack while I finish
reading the latest Cherry Ames.
In the courtyard, drinking with all
the other blue-collar moms, mine
is embarrassed by my noisy spoon.
She sets aside her Tom Collins
and strides inside, glowering.
You should have shared. I tell her
one small jar of grapefruit slices
is nowhere near enough for all
her temporary friends. It doesn’t
matter. It’s not polite. Her words
hiss like steam, like Miami in July.


My mother waits for me in the hotel
corridor, wearing the homemade beige
Chanel stitched on her aged Singer.
Her permed hair, sprayed weekly
into a sixties bouffant, still shows
more brunette than silver. She smiles.
We hug. Her hair scratches my cheek
and smells like Aqua Net. Her ribs
beneath my hands remind me how
advanced Stage Four really is.
Convention hotels all look alike,
don’t they? she asks as we stroll
along the garish carpet, step into
a crowded elevator. We peek at
name tags until the doors open.
At the lobby Starbucks I order tall:
latte for me, Tom Collins for her.
We sit and chat, catching up like
old friends. Dreaming, I can forget
how long it’s been since she died.

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