Martina Reisz Newberry


… not the community fish that some people
make them out to be ... they can be VERY aggressive
towards each other and to other small fish. Be warned
-- I'm talking from experience of 21 female Bettas in a
community tank -- It wasn't a happy occasion...

       -Matt Barker

Morning wind comes up, moves over the tea --
summer in my glass, a great white unfolding
in the sun.  The Siamese Fighting Fish
(Betta splendens) barely moves. 

This plant, this fish living in the same bowl
with the plant -- the one accommodating the other --
was a gift from someone who thought they
were thanking me.

I don’t like fish, but what can you say? 
I said Thank You.  I said It’s Beautiful.
For all I know, the fish is my
deceased Uncle Al whom I adored.

For all I know, that’s him in there waiting
for something to happen.  A better gift was
the blue pot with the wild thyme.  It doesn’t
expect anything and it smells good.

Words to live by: don’t expect anything
and smell good.  Last night I woke to heat lightning.

My pillow was like a stone.  I had been
dreaming of the past.  I had a mother, I had a father.

They are dead. Although, perhaps
it is I who am gone and they are among the living.
No, I love this shivering ocean, this wild ride
that is my own life.  My mother did not.

Don’t you see what will conquer you?  She asked me
this and I just smiled.  So, last night, I dreamed
myself as a child.  My aunt was brushing
my hair.  “Stand still!  Stop twitching!” she said.

She pulled the brush through.  I did not dare object,
but it hurt.  “What a color!  Dishwater blonde. 
Stand still!” and I loved her and I stood
very still.  I woke to heat lightening

and a pillow made of sweated stone.
Remember that old bumper sticker from the sixties: 
If you love something, set it free…a phrase in there
about it coming back to you if it wants to. 

There isn’t anything
particularly restorative in
that concept, (especially if you’re greedy
for attention and short on confidence).

Whoever wrote that was pretty and thin
and dated a lot.  Everyone who ever set me free
didn’t want me to come back whether I wanted to or
…what will conquer you...dreams maybe,

food, sex, language, expectation…set it free…
I’ve considered it and, in the long run,
I don’t think it works
for Siamese Fighting Fish or for me.

Date of Birth: February 20, 1944
Location: Los Angeles, California
Occupation: MultiMedia Production Specialist at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona's MEDIAVISION
Publications: Amelia, Bellingham Review,Cape Rock, Connecticut Poetry Review, New Laurel Review, Southern Review of Poetry, Touchstone, etc.
Books: Lima Beans and City Chicken: Memories of the Open Hearth, a memoir of my father—published by E.P. Dutton and Co. in 1989; The Star Jasmine Club - An Adult Fable, a novel purchased by E.P. Dutton & Co. in 1991; Scheduled for publication in 2003: Running Like a Woman with her Hair on Fire, Valentine Press, Los Angeles, CA; An Apparent, Approachable Light
Awards: Winner of i.e. magazine’s Editor’s Choice Poetry Chapbook Prize for 1998, Pushcart Nominee, awarded residencies at Yaddo, Djerassi and Anderson Center colonies for the arts

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