Saturday, July 08, 2006

I'm printing these two poems by Martha Marshall. She says it's okay to share them with you. I remember when she wrote these and shared them at one of our Right Bank meetings with me and Phyllis. I have a new appreciation for her words from the perspective of nine more years of experience. These were accepted for publication on an online site for creative writers. She's that. Creative. And a writer!

Out of Style

Skinny starved little girl saying magic words
Trying to make the bumps come up on her chest
Painting on Passionate Plum Sparkle nail polish,
checking her dance moves in the mirror.
She flips through Teen Scene magazine
for answers to "What is your Boyfriend's Pet Peeve?"
Stuffed toys and black high tops on the floor.

Platform Jellies are the coolest!

Adolescence in the shape of a goddess,
afraid she'll go out of control.
Her body pornographic,
she controls what she can,
refuses to eat.
Hollow cheeks and eye sockets ache for self love.
Spaghetti straps and flowing tie dye skirt,
combat boots and a blue streak in her hair.

She hates her legs.

New mother with stretch marks and burdensome breasts
daydreams of three-way mirrors yet fears them still,
A new pair of shades and fuck-me shoes
Will cure her depression.
Voluptuousness hides in yards of cloth
Afraid to reveal itself
now that the rented belly is vacated

Her body still feels like someone else's.

Middle age, nothing fits --
Dresses, rings, shoes, husbands, houses, dreams.
She feels betrayed, as if she didn't know already
The world would never be ready for her.
Still they tell her she "can get the body she deserves",
that the one she has just needs a little work.
She glimpses the naked mirror image,
longing to be cute

like his secretary.

Cat Man

The brandished razors and slits for eyes
were open for business.
The familiar perch inside her cage
offered little security.
She inched away, averting her glance,
feigning nonchalance.
His muscles softened as he
flattened himself on the rug,
never losing his bead on her,
pondering his next maneuver.
Nightmares said the time would come,
the door would be left open.
Brilliant plumage and arias
are no match for the predator.


Digital Art Photography for Dummies said...

The first one's very each to visualize and it's a great character trait builder. I'm wondering if one or two lines need a few more words for better balance. I love poems~

queenlint1 said...

Thanks for the critique. Since the poems represent the imbalance of experiences in the world from a woman's standpoint, breasts, a uterus, and skills for keeping a clean house and marriage together are generally required to get that total 'ah, yes' moment.

The imagery in the second one as a woman being the potential prey of a predator in the guise of Cat Man also can be more deeply felt without any additional words if you've ever been afraid to go to the laundromat at night because you're female.

Your book is good, by the way.

Martha Marshall said...

Thanks Dina! The emotions are there, though I concede that my trying to write poetry is a little like a non-artist picking up a brush and expecting to know composition. I'm afraid it doesn't hold up to a lot of critique!

queenlint1 said...

Sweet, dear ole friend! That's what you have mouthy Shamanamama me for!! I'll wave the labris and fiercely defend you women. You just DO what you do best which is create and let me do the warrior stuff I do good at. It's a genetic thing, you know. Anyone with a mother who was a bouncer at a skating rink in the 30s and 40s knows how to raise a fist in defiance. And to stand up for friends.

The first poem speaks to me of women's cycles - not just the monthly rhythms, but the worldly ones that keep us tied to the Universe through the Three Norns. It is the Maiden, Mother/Queen, and Crone experience in a few, beautiful lines.


ggaleria said...


Your poems are lovely and that's not a bit surprising. A word is a line given life by the writer. A poem is words given spirit through the soul of an artist. No critique is needed.

Martha Marshall said...

Ahh, Robin. You are so kind. Thank you.

Now Dina -- when are you going to post "Mama and the Sears Man?" A story not to be missed!

(Robin, you are going to love that one!!!)

tarypeace said...

Martha I didn't attend the school of high mukity-muck poetry but I do know what speaks to my heart and soul. I could totally relate to both of your poems and am honored that you shared them with us all. Hey Dina! You asked that I give you a couple of my poems to "put out there" on your blog. Having read Matthew's response I think I'll pass. I don't want unsolicited critiques. I'd welcome a critique from you or Phyllis or any compassionate woman. But nix on those who are counting pentameter. Balance. Name one thing that is truly balanced in all of humanity.

queenlint1 said...


Don't be skert of critiques from wannabe poets. Especially those without the total qualifications to write or read women's poetry. Besides, what goes for Marty goes for you in the fierce defence department, my red-haired good friend.

Anyone daring to post a discouraging literary critique on Deepwater Journal leaves themselves open to my tongue and pen. You KNOW, I generally win those contests!

Matthew himself has been subject to scathing reviews on his own work. His frequent use of the word "um" in his writing style has been called to task. Maybe those few more ulalates better balances his style just as a surgical use of them describes Martha's style.

I think this - critique - is a just one small way in which women have had their voices silenced over the centuries. Speak up and be proud. Don't let no technocrat skeer you about opening up your mouth or sharing your words with the majority of us. Your poetry is flat genius. Phyllis says so and she knows. She's been an invitee to Cave Canem, taught poetry, and schmoozed with Maya Angelou. I know, too.

I've never known you to ever back down from a challenge! Give those words to me and I'll put them right here in this protected little cradle, you hear?

queenlint1 said...

And Martha,

"Mama and the Sears Man" is coming to town soon!