Noted as a storyteller Mary Torregrossa is most importantly a story-listener. Listening is a practice honed by her job as an ESL teacher in Southern California. Originally from Rhode Island, she blends a diversity of people, places and experiences from both coasts into her poetry. Her chapbook, My Zocalo Heart, is published by Finishing Line Press.

Mary’s poems appear in Bearing The Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems, in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, an in Voices From Leimert Park Redux, an anthology of “observers and keepers of culture” from the World Stage in Los Angeles and Full of MoonLight, an anthology of the Haiku Society of America.  Individual poems appear in the Poems of Arrival Project, by artist ShinPei Takeda at the New Americans Museum in San Diego, in Poet Laureate Juan Fellipe Herrera’s Poems for Unity project and in Lament For The Dead, a project honoring victims of gun violence.

Mary has collaborated in charity fundraising events for the Michael J. Fox Foundation and in support of Hillsides, a foster care facility. Mary is a winner of the Arroyo Arts Collective Poetry In The Windows community event and named Newer Poet of Los Angeles XIV by the Los Angeles Poetry Festival. Other publications include the Like A Girl Anthology, Lummox, The Altadena Poetry Review and on the websites for Ekphrastic Review, Dime Show Review, Remembered Arts Journal, Poets Reading The News, Moonday, poetic diversity, East Jasmine Review, Writers At Work and the Colorado Boulevard on-line magazine.

Poem From The Other Room

It’s late. His familiar footfall paces from the parlor to the kitchen and back again.
During commercials I hear the faucet running on-off, on-off, a clink of dishes,
the chime of glassware. He steps back into the living room to watch the show: bullets
fire, a clandestine meeting is hastily convened. He won’t sit down until the dishes
are done and piled in the drainer. He dries his hands on a dishtowel standing midway
in the doorframe. I see the yellow corners flap like wingtips of a canary preening.

“You know,” he says, “it’s bad luck to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.”

“I believe you,” I say, “I have my own good luck. Come and get some,” I say,
“because, you know, good luck rubs off.”

The Rookery
          after Henry Moore's
             Draped Reclining Mother and Baby

Like a seaweed pod
bulbous, swollen, glistening –
the mother’s burnished head tenses
looking out to sea. She is heavy,
hard, at a glance, supple as a sea lion
flopping across the sand
like one big muscle, to bask
in the sun; her pup is close by.

The reclining woman is unafraid,
unpretentious, big, impossible
to move in the gravity of land,
solid but sleek in the briny
deep. The baby is inert

with intertidal weight. She
trusts the mother’s unconstructed
bulk, resting in the embryonic
hollow of her arm –

at high tide they will rise
and lumber over rocks
to heft and slide
polished bodies back again
into their aquatic origins.

published in Ekphrastic Revie

The Promise of Snow
                         for Jenny Butler

Banished to the cloakroom
for talking in class.
“Be still’” I was told,
as my eyes became adjusted
to the dimness of long
and narrow room,
coats hung in happenstance
on shiny black hooks
with fat rounded tips
curving upwards in prayer.

The door closed
on the silence within.
Sitting on a low step stool,
hot cheeks in bony hands,
my elbows made dimples
in my knees.

The gray light of the afternoon
floated in from thick panes
of a window behind me.
And yet it did not light
the farthest corner of the room
where a tall, metal cabinet
held paper, pencils and
heavy textbooks neatly stacked,
I knew, behind locked doors.

I turned away from the
shadows lurking there
and stood on tiptoe
looking out on bare branches
and the winter sky
that promised snow.

My chin perched
on crossed arms
I gazed toward the red
brick tower and its ledges
of stone, where the big
bells rang every Sunday –
where brave starling lit
to look about –

and I see the city
spread far and wide –
a vast hilly landscape
of two-story houses and
chimneys and evergreens
set among the bristling
silhouettes of gray barren trees.

My talons scratch against
the granite ledge,
my body lifts, drifting
through the sky, the soft
sound of wings pumping,
rushing now towards
the cold horizon
and the rocky shore
of silver green waters below.


Mary Torregrossa



© 2018 Mary Torregrossa


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