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Sample Poems by Martha Carlson- Bradley

Earthly Ambition

Fingers cramped as they gripped
the quill, careers were made,

unmade. Letters passed
back and forth, Van Langren
complaining to colleagues,

The holy professor Riccioli
has altered all my work.

As the cleric wrote to Rome,
excusing himself, too sick to travel
in dog days of July-a mutt

writhing on fish guts in the market,
ecstatic, wild with oily riches,

rolled its body, belly up to the sky.

Sea of Fruitfulness

And all the while, on Earth,
the genuine sea, largely uncharted,
rises and ebbs and hides most of its life
where leagues crush down, their pressure
fatal to human lungs, and moonlight
never penetrates-though lanternfish gleam
day and night, over valleys dense
with tubeworms, undulant,
mountains on mountains looming,
too deep to climb: here,

and not on Riccioli's learned Moon,
spermatozoa flow, and blood.

The wind smells of salt.
Creation breathes.

Fertility, Mapped

In the show Riccioli makes of light
and shadow, waves of Fruitfulness

lap at the Land of Fertility,

synonyms bobbing
on the edge of nuance-

as grains of soil on Earth
warm in sunlight,

fragrance of humus released,

and plums by the treeful
grow plump. On the Moon

the brain alone is fecund,
the spirit fruitful,

and actual birth
is too messy to map.

Once, the belly of Mary

-who spoke with Gabriel, locking
his gaze with hers-

strained her skin
till it shone.

That Night

That night, as we reached in the dark
for each other again and the Moon
was new-so new it didn't show
one bit overhead, its round bulk

black as the sky when it rose
full speed from the east and the sperm
commenced its race toward the egg
in the unlit rooms of my body-

our son was just beginning
to begin-within hours

the Moon, still in flight,
revealing a narrow hint
of the light to come.