All Men Are Mortal

Here is a favorite poem from Once It Stops by Florence Fogelin whose poems bring us “teetering between desire and fear” from a Mayan temple to San Francisco Bay.



All Men Are Mortal



sign of


of the cold logic

of why and what we

remember, what brought

us here: another war memorial,

another slant on death, the dead piled

into another pyramid, their names pressed

with salted fingers into granite. They were men;

all men are mortal. Did you think they’d live forever?

Between the why and therefore falls the shadow.

South and north of here,

on Southern courthouse lawns and Yankee greens,

black cannonballs kiss as much as need demands,


on three

three on six

six on ten & so on

death on death, as deliberate as a war’s careful explanation:

Reasons. Premises. Conclusion.

Washington’s smooth face expresses a way to remember,

a why to forget.

Once It Stops by Florence Fogelin

Cover features a photo by Ros Orford



Two new titles available

It’s Poetry Month all year long at Deerbrook, and now, new books out, and more in the works.

Go to this post post for I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems, and Where You Happen to Be. Click on the covers or use the menus to find their pages.

Poems by Leonore hildebrandt       9780999106235

Recent titles from Deerbrook Editions


Deerbrook Editions new titles

Lots of new titles

Lots of recent titles of interest; check out the backlist post on the site.  Also many titles have previews of several pages on which provides an excellent interactive catalog.

If you visit the site there are several menus for looking up titles, and most pages include reviews and endorsements about authors and titles, as well as embedded previews from The above link goes directly to all the currant previews.

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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.

What We Can’t Forgive, poems by Martina Reisz Newberry; a review

In this book Martina Riesz Newberry compels us to move forward. There are no labyrinths to her expression, though perhaps a mirror or two, as hers is a personal expression that reminds me of Wislawa Szymborska.

The cover states: “a richly textured collection of poems defining the incongruent regions of the heart—new life breathed into each of them by the music of imagination. ” I am not sure what to do with “new life breathed into them” (did they have another life?) but I would emphasize imagination. Sometimes descriptions are pedantic, while being encouraging, don’t have so much to do with the work contained in the book. It seems a rather unique yet almost misleading way of saying that the author, through the language of these poems, shares what she knows of the heart and what we can put it through. This is not to say they are about pain only. The poems are unique and “accessible.” I would say these poems are about familiar human conditions without being cynical but sometimes sad. From a perspective she builds over time, Martina asks that we look at the edge which is all around each one of us, and for all the emotions we must move through, to find that we have the ability to make the choice for redeeming the moment we have spun. She does not create this beauty directly but with what I call implied metaphor, by the relationship of her words. What is direct is the unfortunate aspect that we as people have trouble forgiving, we resent and carry grudges, our own anger and worries can keep us from living with any sense of what is sacred and precious. Martina reminds us that the heart is subject to things real and imagined, it is vulnerable and often illusive.

From Habit Unresisted

Does the nuclear-blast luster of our sins blind God?
We look straight into the sun without fear,

But can’t look into the faces of neighbors.

ending with

The world is breaking down, and we sleep,
dreaming of salt water, and the sweet scripture of lust.

These poems bring us to the threshold of spirituality simply by serving up just enough reality without being truly gritty.

From Our Drive Through the Projects in Praga Pólnoc
(based on my mothers journal during her trip to Poland)

Understanding, like some gypsy man,
dances through the curdled concrete

of the blown out projects,
stares, stares longer and listens . . .


. . . What trees there are
have leaves heavy as cement.

They do not blow in the wind. It is on these streets
and in the alleys behind the streets that Understanding

Sees the girls’ short skirts and dresses pulled up
around their bellies for easier rape,

From Smoke Rising

All night, the sirens warn of some new disaster and,
in our throats, our breathing catches. We hear the sound of
our eyelashes scraping the pillowcase and the
sirens’ last whines fly by our street. . . .

If it is not by incongruity, it is by inconsistency and silence that we find our bits of personal wisdom, and these poems whisper and shout like a zen master who slaps us to awaken us and then opens our understanding to the beauties and perils of life. Through the authors sagacity we essentially hold our own heart and through our own opening we rediscover experience. It is remarkable. I have not been able to put my finger on it until now because it is so simple. Once I attempted to describe what it was I found in reading these poems, like so many fine collections of poetry, comes the sense of transmission. Not that things happen for a reason but how turmoil tells us of peace, how injury can motivate goodness.

From Rain
for my son

I lived in an uneasy solitude before you were born. I said “Hello”
and “Goodbye” to each day and spent long hours brooding

over all my wrong decisions. I thought about loss of self
and loss of friends and loss of air, of breath.


Well, I am no fool and explaining my life to you seems
important even though you have no need to hear it. I insist

on shouting my love and pride, though it gives you some slight
embarrassment. As if it matters, son of mine, I keep asking

the same questions. Because it matters, you give me the same
answers. It’s not the weather’s fault, but it rained so hard today, I

was tricked into writing these things, bamboozled into
writing what is almost too much to write.

So often great poems transform, leave us with a question, or they reaffirm a preponderance. There is an honesty in Martina’s poems that reminds us that the world consumes itself, that being human is to avoid madness at almost any cost, and looking back, wonder why we stayed in a place of unrest for so long.

The cover is the best part of the design of the book featuring a quilt design by Do Palma, titled “There Is a Crack in Everything” from a song by Leonard Cohen. I wish that the typography for the content had what went into the cover. It almost takes away from the poetry with its seeming thoughtless use of bold san serif caps for titles and what seems like an almost condensed san serif for the verse, which is not done well enough to seem futurist but rather systematic and without proportion or sensitivity to the complexity of the poems. Nonetheless they should be commended for publishing this author.

Jeffrey Haste, June 2011

What we Can’t Forgive
Infinity Publishing
68 pages $9.95
ISBNS: 0-7414-6524-8;  978-0-7414-6524-5

Martina Reisz Newberry has several books, been published in magazines, and was awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony, and Anderson Center for the Arts, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry.