The Family Muse by Sarah White

The Family Muse by Sarah White

          Pity the Muse
in our house: Mother’s
paintings hidden in the attic
like clandestine Jews.

a seldom-tuned piano,
refusing the arpeggios
of “Clair de Lune”

a teenage boy reciting
“Gunga Din” complete
with Cockney sounds—You ‘eathen,
where the mischief ‘ave you been?

. . . I ‘ope you liked your drink,
and he dies—
me laughing, lurching
from the room, vowing
to become a poet

and show my own book
to my brother,
who would never look:
“Poems make me feel
like a boob.”

But wait. Once, he and I
took a class and shared
a set of soft pastels.
He fashioned me an easel
I could balance on a table
and it all went well.

The Muse—that floozy
friendly with Debussy—
saw what we could do, us two,
and was so surprised
she swooned
and dropped her harp.


Nominated for a Pushcart Prize. This poem appears in to one who bends my time by Sarah White.




from Never Completely Awake 

Poem videos can be seen on the book page above.

Beautiful               by Martina Reisz Newberry

for my Aunt Jan who is . . .

Beautiful isn’t it,
the way some beaches are sand
and some are small, smooth rocks and
the way the water bends like molten silver
when the weather is hot and
it’s late in the afternoon?
the way the sky tears down the middle
for lightning and mends again later on
how breath turns white in the cold and
how the world’s roads move across the land
no matter what
Beautiful, isn’t it,
the way love rhymes with glove and
silk rhymes with milk and
rage rhymes with cage?
the way the light stays on and on
during the Summer months and
a different kind of
when Fall makes it fade early
the cleanliness of bones in moonlight
when the desert is silent and without wind
the cool rind of a honeydew melon
and the perfume inside it inviting taste
the way a woman hums to herself
while she gets dressed and
sighs one hundred sighs
when she undresses
the accident of passion,
the brush of hands, then mouths,
then bodies doing more than brushing—
flesh on flesh
to music older than the stars
the smell of soap
and burning wood
and frying onions
and a diner far up the road
that you didn’t know was there
Beautiful, isn’t it,
the smooth red bark
of the manzanita plant and
a long teardrop earring
that touches a woman’s neck
and how Beautiful
a full cupboard
jars of delicious things
There is the Beautiful
ice sculpture
with perfect pink shrimp surrounding
and the Beauty of buttered potatoes
Beautiful the strange trailing roots
of water lilies and
the zippers on dark leather jackets
the figurine
of the two-headed saint and
the red satin lining
of the box it came in
a new book, a new shirt,
new sheets, a new pen.
the lover that used to matter,
the one that matters now,
and the ones that never mattered
a pain that stops,
a cut that heals,
a scar that was earned,
not inflicted
a hand sitting in for
your mother’s hand
a dance, a smile sitting in
for the ones your mother
could not give
Did I say how Beautiful
is the purity of a
man’s shaved head
or the long, dark hair,
a man might have—like
a river down his back
a drinking glass so clean
it looks like water
holding itself
a runner, a cyclist,
birthday cake
a childhood that might
never have been but was
the way you read
or hear this poem—
your eyes wishing
for everything,
wanting this to be one thing
that will not be content,
one thing
that will not be captured.

The Dragonfly Biologist Falling in Love

The Dragonfly Biologist Falling in Love

by Dennis Camire

Because she thinks love, too,
Is threatened with slow extinction
Despite it’s like translucent wings,
Her slow rising to romance’s promise is
A dragonfly nymph crawling up reed stock
After five years of moon walking the bottom of a pond;

And she imagines his first tender strokes
As those first warm rays dissolving
The emerging nymph’s armored encasing
So the winged, inchoate fetus inside
Can birth from behind the cervix
Of those enormous Darth Vader eyes;

And when she’s tortured by thoughts
Of everything that could go wrong
She’s schooled to think of predatory birds
Circling after one swallow-swoon
Alerts them to the cad fly appetizers hatching
Over the fractured plates of lily pads;

But when she tempers his expectations
By explaining the years of underwater life
Prior to the dragonfly’s brief five weeks of flight,
His carpe diem nature overtakes
And she finds herself, on dates, netted
By his surprised embraces from behind.

Later, she acclimates to the strangers
Watching their playful foreplay
As though in frolicking they, too, shine
An aqua green or lupine blue.
And the day after they rise together
From his bed, may he follow her

To the remote bogs and ponds
To press the netted wings together
Before lifting the creature for measuring;
And may he marvel, like her, at the two
Pair of wings working in perfect unison
While the ten thousand lensed eyes

Are alert to everything for 360 degrees;
And when one–upon release–
Alights his shoulder, may he still,
Like a child playing One, Two, Three Red Light,
Move his eyes enough to see the way
She rests, transfixed, by his side, smiling

And unwilling, too, to move, or breathe, or speak
Whether it’s curiosity, exhaustion, or love
Keeping the mysterious dragonfly in their life.

From Combed by Crows, Deerbrook Editions 2017 

Find the link to the review of the book in Off Radar on the site page.

What I would Give Up

What I Would Give Up

I would give up all the words in the world
but not words that open doors
to unknown rooms.
I would give up all the rooms in the world
but not this room
where I heard music for the first time.
I would give up all the music in the world
but not this music that holds all the light
I have ever seen and all the light I have not.
I would give up all the light in the world
but not this light that makes me reach
for a pencil to write words.


by Joan I. Siegel from Archaeology, Deerbrook Editions 2017

Lucid Dreaming; a poem from Never Completely Awake

LUCID DREAMING by Martina Newberry

for Kate

Sometimes my dream life
is a euphoric slumgullion
of rock and roll and Milky Way
candy bars and 5-dollar-99-cent champagne.
I can’t find a place to recover
or the right role to play.

You’re so cool
and I have so many questions to ask you,
starting with
“How did you get so cool?
I’m wrapped up in countless failures.
I’ve got Spanglish in my ears
and Ebonics in my nostrils—

shouldn’t something brilliant
and memorable come from that?
I’ve fallen in and out of love
with myself a trillion times,
bought the vitamins,
played the jukeboxes,
lost my keys, dumped my quarters

at the Laundromat and still…and still…
I have eaten scrambled eggs
and cotton candy
and desktop computers
and felt-tipped pens
and straw hats
and bath towels.

I know some lyrics to some songs,
a line or two from some movies, still…
In the old days, I dreamed myself new
every month or so. Oblivion was far off
and I could show substance and testament
so earnest, it would make your teeth ache.
I dreamed myself with wings and webs of silver,

dreamed myself diaphanous, icy.


From Never Completely Awake, Deerbrook Editions, 2017

View a video poem by the author from this book