Marsha de la O

Marsha de la O is a lecturer in the English Department at California State University, Channel Islands, where she teaches poetry and creative writing. She is the author of Every Ravening Thing, Antidote for Night, and Black Hope. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, The Slowdown, and many journals, and she is a recipient of the Morton Marcus Poetry Prize. She lives with her husband in Ventura, California, where they founded the Ventura County Poetry Project to support local poetry.



Written during the last five years of the poet’s father’s life, Creature is a book about love, destruction, and the self, all standing in relation to family and the natural world. The poems themselves try to move toward what can’t be said by finding connection with other life forms: hawks, hummingbirds, pelicans, lizards, horses, ravens, squid. By moving past linguistic walls into otherness, words become proximate to mystery and inhabit territory where expanses open and embodiment is always on the verge of transformation.

Every Ravening Thing


Author of two previous collections of poetry: BLACK HOPE (1997) and ANTIDOTE FOR NIGHT (2015). de la O is also the publisher of the journal ASKEW.

Keats at Fourteen
She dozes, her nails fretted against the linen’s border,
a hectic rose flaming each cheek. Her lips move, no words.
The boy is guardian spirit, no one but he enters this sickroom
where his mother fades, home finally after six years—failures,
disgrace. Scarlet daughter, neighbors hiss, slave to appetite,
but John is single-minded—she will live. No one but he gives her
the tincture of mercury—one tenth of a grain daily, dabs the sweat
of her fevers away, a basket of withered poppies at his feet. He pierces
each capsule with a needle, drops it in a small glazed crock to warm
near the stove, sweat out the opium. Then he’ll add wine, saffron,
nutmeg. It takes time, the hour darkens. He cups his hand
to light the votive. She moans a furred voice from webbed lungs,
a cup of black blood brimming, the pilgrim is fleeing the City,
he leans in closer, the City of Destruction, takes her clammy hand,
that place also where he was born, so close now he’s breathing her,
“Johnny,” she cries, “lift me up, Johnny, your father is here in the room.