Marsha de la O
Marsha de la O’s Black Hope won the New Issues Poetry Prize from the University of Western Michigan and an Editor’s Choice Award. Her work appears in such places as Barrow Street, Passages North, Solo, and Third Coast, and has been widely anthologized. She is the recipient of the 2014 Morton Marcus Memorial Poetry Prize, the Ventura Poetry Prize, two cultural arts grants from the City of Ventura, and a Tumblewords Poetry Residency. She currently lives in Ventura, CA, where she publishes the poetry journal Askew with her husband, poet Phil Taggart.

Set in present-day Southern California, Marsha de la O’s new book, Antidote for Night, is a heartbreak lyric, a corrido, a love song to California’s city lights and far-flung outskirts—the San Diego backcountry, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire, and the Mojave Desert. A book of remedies for dire circumstances, rock-bottom realities, and the unrelenting weight of mortality, specifically among young men of color, this collection shows what it takes to see in darkness. Marsha de la O’s voice is a kind of free jazz, musically rich with L.A. noir and the vastness of metropolitan Southern California.


That Stone

I like it out here under the barren peach tree
that flowers but cannot give.  I like it

because the furnace of the wind blows hot air
at me and the birds creak from a nether tree

rusty hinge birds, and I nod along to their ruined tunes,  
because I’m more here than I am there under

a poundage of failure, maybe it’s all the sad things
he whispers in my ear when I’m sleeping,

at home the verbs all pine for nouns, whimpering
for agents the way the baby whimpers

all the time, that little bundle of dark water, that stone
wrapped in swaddling cloth I crouch above half-

bent and try to hush because my mother taught me
how to pass into silence with her implements,

mallet or spatula, and the great clatter of pots against
pans as the children flee, scattered to hide, hunched

with my cousin beside me behind the cinderblock
wall, I didn’t know your mother was like this

she breathes, and I nod because what is there to say?

 2016 Marsha de la O
Marsha de la O was a Featured Poet January 2016 at the Second Sunday Poetry Series