Marsha de la O's new book of poetry, Antidote for Night, won the 2015 Isabella Gardner Award and was published by BOA Editions.  Her first book, Black Hope, won the New Issues Press Poetry Prize from the University of Western Michigan.  After publication, it received a Small Press Editor’s Choice Award.  She is the winner of the 2014 Morton Marcus Poetry Award, as well as the dA Poetry Award and the Ventura Poetry Festival Contest.  Her work has been anthologized in Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals (Ballantine), Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California (Greenhouse Review Press), and the poetry workshop handbook One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form (Lynx House Press). She has given recent readings at the Los Angeles Times Book Fair, the College of Creative Studies at UCSB, Loyola Marymount, UCLA, California State University at Long Beach and Northridge, and has appeared twice for Writers’ Week at UC Riverside.  A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published in journals such as Barrow Street, Passages North, Solo, and Third Coast.  She was raised in the Los Angeles area and now lives in Ventura, California where she is co-editor for the literary journal, Askew.

Gray Fox

Years later on the headlands, chevrons
of seed stalks brim with light, midsummer
in a parched year, feral tang of eucalyptus,
walking slowly, scanning for her coat
of ash and gold in an arid field, the neat
triangle of her face, so long I've known
this animal, since my daughter was a child
and first saw her, stretched out her arm
to the dark-rimmed eyes holding our gaze,
afternoon flecked with summer ending,
she's a drift of gold in dry air, topaz
of her stare regarding us, stopping time,
that moment carried with me since, leaf shadow,
mottled shade now disappearing into...
now vanishing, but here this whole way
on the other side, her sharp face, time past
and time to come, hope like electricity
in a cloud, that this wildness should last.
That she holds on. That she found a way
to pass life through her.

First published in Bosque

No, She Didn't Think the Road Was Dangerous

Eastern Congo

she walked that road every day,  
the aid worker translates for the stranger—

Faida bending in the peanut field, muscles
warming and stretching, silk of sweat
at the nape of her neck,

then the two hour trudge to market at Minova
with peanuts in a sack on her back,
thinking only of her return with firewood.

She met the soldiers in the afternoon,
hardly more than boys, whether Mai-Mai
or Hutu she never knew.  

One boy wore a Nike tee and smiled
when he said  you can choose life,
or death.  She tried to run.  Here,

she looks up, her eyes beseech
the journalist, he forces
himself not to look away—

she shakes her head,
the same road I always took,
here, the story breaks down,

she holds an envelope
in her hand, a letter
from her husband, her exile

followed from his words—
moving lost through fields
of manioc, down red clay paths

thirty miles to tin-roofed Goma,
baby in a sling on her hip—
she takes out a single sheet

folded in thirds, covered in script,
small hoard of invaders, jointed legs
segmented bodies, breastplates,

her hand trembles, a sudden burst
of rain beats down, street filling,
words boil forth like a nest of ants

and the words swim—she cannot read
the words and the journalist cannot
read the words—and the rain pounds

and the water shouts you are cast out,
you have no home. And after a bit,
air quiets, the translator falls silent—

she’s two inches in a piece on rare
earth, one among a quarter million,
a beggar, a statistic, her name is Faida—

and now the baby sobs, Faida bends
to the glassy dark of his eyes, O little one,
hush; hush now thy lamentations.

First published in Solo Novo


Marsha de la O
Photo by: Alexis Rhone Fancher



© 2016 Marsha de la O


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