Sunday, May 6, 2012

MARTHA DEED: To Cloudburst Council, May 6, 2012

Martha L. Deed combined writing with her practice as a psychologist specializing in family law issues for 30 years before retiring as a psychologist to write full time.  And then she was grabbed by a poetics unlike anything she had either studied or written before – which worried her until she discovered James Tate as well as the Buffalo poetry community, especially as it emanates from Buff State and UB. 

Her most recent book, The Last Collaboration (, 2012) tells the story of her daughter Millie Niss's final hospitalization, death by medical mistake, and the investigations that followed.  The book twists the format of “book” with its use of Millie's emails, medical records, and hospital notebooks which recorded her end of every conversation (because she was intubated but alert) combined with Martha's poems of the period.  The Last Collaboration is designed as the companion book to City Bird: Selected Poems (1991-2009) by Millie Niss (2010, Blazevox) which Martha curated and edited.  The mix of poetry with investigative journalism is also used in her chapbook, The Lost Shoe (2010, Naissance) which draws upon her observations of several trials in western New York along with related legal material.  Other chapbooks and e-books include: The November 2010 Project (Dan Waber, 2011), 65 X 65 (2006, small chapbook project),  #9 (2004, Furniture Press), Intersections: a twenty day journal of the unexpected (2006, Museum of the Essential and Beyond That), and News from Erewhon, with Millie Niss (2005, Iowa on the Web).  Poetry publications include: Gypsy, CLWN WR, Dirt, Milk, Shampoo, and many others.  Her web installations and videos have been published online and shown in galleries in the US, UK, Canada and Israel. Martha Deed's websites: and

Driving Eastbound on the NYS Thruway on a Sunday Morning

The nearsighted Red-tailed Hawk sits on a fencepost
near mile post 343.9 on the New York State Thruway.
His shadow lies atop the voles' paths warning them away
but he can't see his shadow, only the motion
of the voles who are not there. Forewarned,
they have left for church via their rear entrances
and soon the hawk is overtaken by hunger and grows lightheaded
trembling on his post like a piece of toast
tossed by an ancient toaster nearly burnt to a crisp in the winter sun.
Hungry as a starving artist, his thoughts turn to Poetry
and the quirky inventory of James Tate poems he memorized
while the voles were mating inside their nests
creating snacks for a hawk in spring. Half-blind and not as grown up
as they think they are, the babies will leave their hole
without looking both ways – or Up –
thank G-d and so it is a good time to mull the future
while the babies grow, and if a hawk's aggression for survival
is offensive to romantic Thruway travelers, surely
it is far preferable to the striking of the hawk
at a passing Nissan Cube colored red for Cardinal.

New York State Thruway between Rochester and Syracuse
Revised for John Roche, May 5, 2012

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