Marsha de la O on Poets Cafe


Marsha de la O’s upcoming book from Pitt Poetry Series is due out in Spring 2019. Antidote for Night, won the 2015 Isabella Gardner Award and was published by BOA Editions.  Her first book, Black Hope, was awarded the New Issues Press Poetry Prize. She has published extensively, including recent poems in The New Yorker and the Kenyon Review. De La O lives in Ventura, California, with her husband, poet and editor Phil Taggart. Together, they produce poetry readings and events in Ventura County and edit the literary journal Spillway.

I Have Not Said If I Believe

She sprang out of the pine plank table

at Nana’s house, a witch with a rope

around her neck and all the havoc spilling

out encoded in our DNA. I studied

a dipping barometer and felt dirty beneath

my clothes, a bone fingered and sucked.

Mother favored gray for me, not that

it mattered a flip. Elder brother carried

our witch sewn in a vein in his thigh.

I did not think she hammered there.

They set a match to sixteen candles.

She was hung not burnt, he announced,

pressure falling, needle notching

toward dimensions where a witch

is hanging still, her ankles stretched

longer than human, she had six

children, her name was Lydia. He started

the song for ha-ha. Never been kissed,

crooned first brother, lost count, cracked

the other, sally, sally, I muttered while

mother’s mouth goes darker and

tighter. Hurry up and blow. Everyone

laughed when the flames died out.



from Antidote for Night (BOA Editions 2015)