Little Lives Poems by Martha Readyoff

picture of Martha Readyoff
Photo by Judith Schwerin.  

There is magic in the incantatory, free-flowing poems of Martha Readyoff’s Little Lives. In them, the natural world is both vibrantly real and enchantingly fanciful. We find here a passion for all that is vulnerable in the world, the little lives of children and all natural creatures. Be ready for a wild and thoroughly enjoyable ride. It will change you. About the book, Sara Ingram has written this: “Old sylvan mythologies stir / nature does make theists of us all... Martha Readyoff states in ‘Meditations in October,’ as her words paint woody and rough / orange ruby amber blood and show us how amethyst mists cool the blushing hills.  In the gorgeous sounds and word play of poems such as ‘Fairy-flies,’ where wistful restless wonder tarries / in nightful fulsome flowered forests, we hear echoes of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Readyoff’s poems connect the light and darkness of the actual seasons as they provoke, delight, and remind us of our own personal seasons and our haunted hearts longing / always longing for magic. I find magic in Readyoff’s poems, and thank her for the reminder to seek wonder in the littles of the world.  
  little lives cover image
  Front cover photograph
by Peggy Boll.

Martha Readyoff grew up in Sharon, CT.  Animals and poetry have always been important to her. Mary Oliver, sloths, Gerard Manly Hopkins, vultures, William Butler Yeats, and cats are some of her favorite poets and animals. She lives in New Milford, CT with her husband, Dan. She is vegan. This is her first collection of poetry.

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ISBN 978-1-943826-97-1
First edition, 2022
86 pages

Copies of this book can be ordered
from all bookstores including Amazon
and directly from the author:
Martha Readyoff
131 West Meetinghouse Rd.
New Milford, CT 06776.
Please send $17.00 per book
plus $4.00 for shipping
by check payable to Martha Readyoff.

Payment of $17 can also be sent via Venmo:
Martha Readyoff@mreadyoff

The author can be reached at


Copyright © 2022 by Martha Readyoff


The Good Girl 


she traces with her eyes
the Herati design
on the carpet of muted hues

she thinks of sodden dresses
and glass menageries
Ophelia and Laura
Mrs. Dalloway
and her perfect flowers
Charlotte and yellow wallpaper

her troubles are not new
she comes from a long line of good girls
trying to be loved at their own expense

Eve she thinks    Eve got it right
she was not a good girl
and yes so the repercussions
were pretty far reaching
but what she wouldn’t give
to have seen Eve’s face
as she was tossed out of paradise
certainly a curl at the corner of her lips
as she glanced back over her shoulder
and rolled her eyes

lifting her eyes from the careful carpet
she sees her own face on Eve’s
sees herself walking south
with nothing on her back
nothing in her hands
but a lurid apple core
she will toss it
and with the back of an untrembling arm
wipe the juice from her chin


Guanuato, 2014


at an outdoor café
we watched a little girl
and her abuelo
playing with a ball

the ball was
dirty and dull blue
it was not shiny              
it did not light up
or sing

but as he tossed it
and she chased it
her peals of laughter
like cathedral bells
across the plaza

his smile
was wider
than the rio grande

What the Cow Knew


what is that above
she startled herself
with this single
bluepulse of wonder
before being pulled back
into the aching sinews
of her awareness

it was hers this awarebeing
sentience manufactured
by uglylittlegods
as though she had been
a steel part
and not a living whole
but it was hers

like all souls made of flesh
she began
within flesh of belovedblood
beloved before
she knew the air
and the torment
she would bear
even now
in this sudden
bluebrief wonder
a milkwarm memory
shivered through her body

love she carried
through the filthyprisons
the rendingandtearing
the immolation of her motherhood

love transfigured
to lowingsorrow
child after child

there was the smallpink
seeking of soft mouth
sleekuncertain body
wobbling beside her
puffs of birthfragrant steam
the widewet eyes
then they were gone

now the air
in the delicate curl
of her nostrils
copperstinking with fear
now the air
in her velvetears
keening with death

she looked up once more
at the sacredsky
the frisson of wonder returning
and knew her life
she knew it all
even as she was
thrust through
the lastdarkdoorway

Snow Script


I emerged from musky sleep
to seek out pediscripts
written across the white field

over the wall open the book
mouse ran here    deer leapt
rabbit stapled its tracks
from hedge to horizon

I am not alone
it is as though the living ones
that left these verses
are near     the animal warmth
of their presence remains

as I read I write
leaving my own story
in the snow

here was someone seeking something
not food or shelter
walking where there is no reason
just to walk

under blue shadow bowers
I stand for hours
thinking of a word
to describe the colors
of a lichen covered birch

I come home to William
dipped in white sunlight and
broken rainbows
purring on my desk

and the worry of finding words
leaves like a sad ghost
the world is already a poem
perfect with or without me
and as long as I am here
I will read it again and again



only the young love the unbroken
the new toy
we get older
and perfection becomes
an abstraction
we admire
we look toward
with loveless eyes
as we do with masterworks
displayed on blank walls
of cold museums
it calls for sweaters
and thinking of clever things to say
that you do not really mean
or comprehend

but the flaws
we love the flaws
the scarred hand
the wrinkled dress
our cavalcade of sins
the undusted shelf
the overdue bills
and unfinished poems
the stutter and pause

we love the flaws
the places
where we cannot quite mend
we fall in love with the cracks
which we fill with gold

Wild Warblings, Come


it wasn’t
you were waiting for
it wasn’t
the promise
what you were waiting for
like a damsel in a tower
wasn’t ever coming
from the witched woods
on the back of a white mare
it was always
with you
waiting for you
to open your eyes
to this day
to look up

with rapture
at the spray of stars
the milky shadow
of creation
to summon the wild warblings
to open your mouth
and sing back
to the summer frogs
to taste for the first time
the oatmeal
you have eaten every day
since you were five

there is a girl
in a silk dress
hoping for
to happen

clothed in jasmine air
eating plump figs
a young man
sees himself
crossing the tundra
on the hump of a wooly ox
and a gaucho
gallops over the Pampas
dreaming of a nightclub in Paris
the phantom

the mirrored chimera
(that distant Camelot)
of someplace else
when you claim
this moment
shining or pricking
or grimy or vibrant
or brimful or broken
when you stop
to save yourself
and just do