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Page One Publications, Martin Press
Price: $12.00


Poetry and Short Fiction

By Martha Everhart Braniff

Foreword by Christopher Woods
Paper-Mâché Sculpture on cover by Cheryl Rubenstein
Cover design by Kellye Sanford

Published by Stone River Press
ISBN 0-9728775-0-9

  • 6x9 Paperback with Perfect Binding
  • 128 Pages

In this, her first collection of poetry and prose, Martha Braniff embraces the healing power of shamans, holy poets and miracle workers. Her instinct for both the real and the magical leads us into the closet surreal, where Lavinia turns into a cat and Egg and Raven meet at happy hour. When you're in the mood, you can march with Joan of Arc, soar with John of the Cross, and rendezvous with the Rabbi in Siena. In Holy Places, listen to the prostitute's plaintive tale about a chapel made of bones and watch a five-year-old boy paint his teepee, leaving behind three turquoise spots. Laugh and cry, but most of all, stretch your reality and plunge into imagination.


My friend Juana, she'd do anything. We hang out near Señior Varga's grocery store, where fat, tempting pears snuggle in a basket behind the glass. I imagine what cooks inside those pears baking in the sun. Sweet juice flows from hidden black seeds into white meat and makes so much pressure the bruised pears want to burst from pain. I can already taste the sweet sap that will dribble from my lips the minute I slice the skin with my front teeth that grew into my mouth last summer. Suddenly, I look at Juana and dare her. Steal a pear.


"Martha Braniff's concerns are perfectly captured by the metaphor of bone, for her writing explores the paradoxes of human strength and vulnerability, life and death, what's hidden within each individual and yet common to us all."
--GREGORY WOLF, Editor of Image: A Journal of the Arts and Religion

"These poems and brief fiction pieces vibrate with electric wit and feeling. Streaked with magical realism, the book is a radiant chorus of voices that unite into a redemptive whole through Braniff's insight and talent for imagery--mythic and bright."
--GAIL DONOHUE STOREY, Author of The Lord's Motel and God's Country Club

"An enticing and haunting read, this book is a masterful, spirited and engaging collection--its impact will linger long after the book is closed. Braniff's characters are as rich, entertaining and diverse as her own wealth of life experiences."
--JANE BUTKIN ROTH, Editor of We used to be Wives: Divorce Unveiled Through Poetry


BRANIFF SAYS: Through dreams and imagination I delve into the realm of magical realism where I combine reality with elements of the supernatural, surreal and mystical. In this endeavor, I hope to lead readers down new paths where they can view the world through more tolerant eyes.

My characters usually inhabit the fringes of society with little going for them except their imaginations, personal histories and soulful longings--their bone closets so to speak. But in the face of dire circumstances, an almost naïve optimism shines through. Frequently, I enter my own closet, clack around with the bones, embrace secrets, joys and fears and create a path of self-rejuvenation.

Songs from the Bone Closet depicts my journey of exploration into the lives of seekers who believe in humanity's power to renew and to be renewed.

MARTHA EVERHART BRANIFF lives and writes from her Houston, Texas home, and has been a tireless and lifelong champion of the underprivileged. For years, she worked as a nurse at Ripley House in a community health program serving a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. After creating the first art program at the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center, in 1984 she founded Child Advocates, a non-profit organization serving abused children. Her field of work has given her a special empathy for "saints and sinners" that is reflected in her poems and stories which have received national and egional recognition. Articles about children caught on the dark side of the juvenile justice system have been published in several important journals and newspapers.

The following are only a few of the many community awards Braniff has received: Special Commendation Award, Texas Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; The Good Samaritan Award from the Samaritan Center; Entrepreneur of the Year, Social Responsibility, awarded by Inc. Magazine; Kappa Alpha Theta National CASA Executive Director of the Year; Houston Bar Association, Houston Young Lawyer's Liberty Bell Award, Texas department of Human Services Outstanding Professional Service; City of Houston Mayor's Award for volunteer service to children.

Literary awards include Featured Poet in Muse Squared 2004; Juried Poet for the 2003 Houston Poetry Fest; a short story was nominated for the 2002 Pushcart Prize; won the 2002 Santa Fe Actor's Choice Award for a screenplay and placed in the finals of the 2001 Texas Film Institute. Her suspense novel "Beds of Broken Glass" was a finalist for the 2000 Bellwether Prize.

Published stories, poems and articles include Houston Woman Magazine, Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, Muse Squared, New Texas 2000, New Texas 2003, The Houston Chronicle, The Oracular Tree, Happy, Turbula, Sojourn, Curbside Review, 2002, 2003, 2004 Texas Poetry Calendar, Suddenly III, IV and V, 2003 Wivla Flip Side Anthology, Seeds of Healing WIVLA Anthology, We Used to Be Wives: Divorce Unveiled Through Poetry, and many others.

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