Wolfpack Contributor: Theresa Werba

Bio: Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez) is 60-year old poet, author and voice teacher who was diagnosed with autism in her 50s and bipolar disorder since her 20s. She is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets, a collection of sixty-five sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Scarlet Leaf Review, The Wilderness House Literary Review, Spindrift, Mezzo Cammin, The Wombwell Rainbow, Serotonin, The Road Not Taken, and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. Her work ranges from forms such as the ode and sonnet to free verse, with topics ranging from neurodivergence, love, loss, aging, to faith and disillusionment and more. Her website is http://www.bardsinger.com, where you can view videos of her performance poetry and find information about her books. Follow Theresa on Instagram and Twitter @thesonnetqueen.

Poetry Showcase from Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez)

High Anxiety

Oh, come and view the workings of an over-anxious mind,
The day-to-day of black, cold darkness that can paralyze;
So full of hidden terrors and foreboding that in kind
I wonder what catastrophe might soon materialize.

For wakeful nights keep sleep away with worry and with dread;
A feeling of impending doom that flutters in my heart;
I fight in vain to overcome the unknown, but instead
I lie awake and wish this apprehension would depart!

This is a covert, secret place unseen by outside eyes;
I wear a coating of some calm to masquerade the fear,
And try to cloak, conceal away; but then I realize
I am an open book and my proclivities are clear!

What horrors I invent! What terrors and calamity!
And yes, worst-case scenarios are ever festering;
For when the palpitations come, I wish that I could see
A better situation than what I'm engendering.

Instead, I quiver and in trepidation I can quake
In endless combinations of my mental wonderings;
Distortion causes all my equilibrium to shake,
Because I cannot cease from such tumultuous ponderings!

What would it be, if somehow I could live without this weight,
And future tense would only be a present tense to me;
Oh, then I could live in the moment, in this pleasant state,
And be completely free from all this high anxiety!


To Be, or Not to Be Medicated

To burst unfettered in the manic way,
The talking mouth that cannot stop to rest,
Are you to say I should not be this way,
My fast brain bursting full of better, best?

I sing, I write, I make—but can these be
If creativity is dulled inside of me?
If sentience devolves to reticence,
To fit the current psychopharma sense,
How can I make the songs I sing so deeply
Or make the heart that hears it cry so sweetly?

I burn with heat as my pen works the page.
How can a dullard bring the sage words of a sage?
If neurons fire, then why misfire mine?
My flame will burn right out, without a rhyme!

You seek to keep the highs and lows at bay.
You wish to even out the peaks and pits:
But how can trees wave branches in the air
If they become attenuated bits?

My burst is lost! I love to burst!
I love to bear a child in a poem!
I love to work twelve hours at a thrust
To give in words a newly-labored tome!
I love to touch! I love to feel!
I love the sounds and hues of silk and steel!
If diamonds and rust escape the censoree,
Why do you seek to take it all from me?

“Ah yes, but see, you are complex:
Your mind is broke and needs a kind of fix.
We cannot have you run abouting—
Living, breathing, singing, shouting—
And thinking toomuchtoomuch, too—
So this is why these meds are good for you!”

Ah yes, I know!
The points on a momentary snowflake sparkle so!
And yet, if you were to smooth it smoothingly,
What shape would then the perfect snowflake be?

In fairness, I do go low to the abyss.
This pit is not when twirling my skirts
But rather when I’d render splits
Into my skin until it hurts.

I can make tombs of closets or my bed.
For sleeping hard and long can make you dead.
(But to a point) because I wake again. 
'Tis true this ebb can flow out in the end.

Ah, to straddle polar poles and not to sway!

Healers of neuron makers and transmitters,
Give me back my brain’s peculiar fritters!
Pharma, grant no side-affected me,
And Psyche will dance in manic revelry!


Cut Sonnet

What will begin as thought will end in deed.
A striking of the skin of flesh and heart
And then the friction giving way to bleed
With red relief, like tears which know no part
Of reason or of sanity, but flow
Responsive to the need to rip and see
A mirror wounding from without. Although
One can touch, the other is not free—
Except in reciprocity, to splay 
Itself, the earthly to the earth.
And then this ugly skin-ding will display
Until the salve of time will show its worth.

For memories can thus become unmade,
And pain can ease and even scars do fade.


The Word-Birth Sonnet

I gave birth to a poem the other day,
I labored for twelve hours in a rhyme,
I centered, conjured, wombed, throbbed, then gave way
To empty out the fullness of my time.

As in the waves and ebbs and flows of life
By blood and pulsing, bearing down its course,
I think, I gestate; for the pangs of strife
Are sperm to my ripe, beating ovoid source.

Oh I am aching! So intense are all
The squeezings and the earnest tides of pain;
I move about, then settle in to cull
With open heart my brain canal again.

For writing is the labor of the mind;
And I have birthed my children all in kind.


Sonnet Sonnet

To write of love, or speak of other things 
Like life or death, or such philosophy 
As might stir up an eager mind, which brings 
It to a bold, enriched reality: 
Oh, perfect, lovely forms! With such delight 
The poet and the reader can obtain
A revelation of new thought, in light
Of what the mind on paper may attain. 
For Petrarch, Shakespeare, and then Spenser offer 
Us cripple-rhythmed beauty in a way
That is uniquely to the point, and suffer 
Condensed and distilled thought to have its say. 

For I can surely rest my heart upon it:
I love these three forms that are called the sonnet. 




*From Theresa:  "To Be, or Not to Be Medicated" has been published in my book Jesus and Eros. "Cut Sonnet" (a sonnet about self-harm) has been published in my book Sonnets. "The Word-Birth Sonnet" and "Sonnet Sonnet" have also been published in Sonnets. 

Bio: Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez) is 60-year old poet, author and voice teacher who was diagnosed with autism in her 50s and bipolar disorder since her 20s. She is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets, a collection of sixty-five sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Scarlet Leaf Review, The Wilderness House Literary Review, Spindrift, Mezzo Cammin, The Wombwell Rainbow, Serotonin, The Road Not Taken, and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. Her work ranges from forms such as the ode and sonnet to free verse, with topics ranging from neurodivergence, love, loss, aging, to faith and disillusionment and more. Her website is http://www.bardsinger.com, where you can view videos of her performance poetry and find information about her books. Follow Theresa on Instagram and Twitter @thesonnetqueen.

Wolfpack Contributor: Theresa Werba

Poetry Showcase from Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez)

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Theresa Werba

5 poems & sonnets from Theresa Rodriguez

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Theresa Werba

with Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez)

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Theresa: I’m sure I started writing in earnest in junior high school. In high school we studied the sonnet form and fell in love with its musicality and beauty! I began writing sonnets and experimenting with formal poetry while also writing free verse. I suppose I have my high school English teacher to thank for being one of my first influences!

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Theresa: I would have to say that I am my own biggest influence today. I re-read my own work, old and new, with a critical eye (trying to avoid nostalgia) and work to hone and refine everything, from the absent comma to a full-scale overhaul of a line or two, or allocating a poem to the “junk pile” of lousy poetic attempts.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Theresa: I grew up in a brownstone near Gramercy Park in Manhattan during the 60s and 70s. New York has always been a high-energy, creative place where people are trying new things and coming up with interesting ideas and innovative solutions, always at a fast pace, always with great intensity and a no-nonsense approach. I suppose I will always be a New Yorker, since I still have that city edge, even though I’ve been out of the city for over thirty years. I still don’t take crap from anyone and move way too fast for most people around me!

Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?

Theresa: Two works are of great meaning creatively to me so far. Since transitioning from Theresa Rodriguez to Theresa Werba, my most meaningful work is my current revision of an earlier book I had written, which is now tentatively being titled Trauma to Truth: An Adoption Story. It tells the story of my being an adopted child growing up in an abusive home, finding my birth mother, and only recently, though DNA testing, finding my biological father, who turned out to be someone my mother doesn’t even remember. In 2020 I changed my name to take his last name, and I am very proud of my newly-discovered Jewish heritage. I hope to have the book ready for publication within the year. The other work is what I consider to be my “magnum opus,” which I am tentatively titling What Was and Is: Formal Poetry and Free Verse, which will be a sort of “best of” work from my previous three poetry books in addition to new material. (These  previous books are Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems, and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020), my collection of sixty-five sonnets). Since my previous works have been published under the name Theresa Rodriguez, it will be highly meaningful to publish these new works under the name Theresa Werba.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Theresa: I’m not sure I ever “wanted” to be a poet; I always was a poet! I was writing little poems when I was as young as ten years old, always writing songs, always having a journal, always creating, always writing. It was never not part of me!

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Theresa: I enjoy word games, reading, sewing, swimming, playing the piano, laying in my bed with my laptop watching Youtube videos, and very hot tubs with lavender and epsom salts!

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work that you’d like promote?

Theresa: I just revamped my website with my name Theresa Werba (www.bardsinger.com) as well as my Instagram and Twitter (@thesonnetqueen). There you can find out about my previous books (which are still under the name Theresa Rodriguez) as well as see my performance poetry videos.

Q8: What is a favorite line from a poem of yours?

Theresa:

“For writing is the labor of the mind;

And I have birthed my children all in kind.”

(from “The Word-Birth Sonnet, “ found in Sonnets http://www.shantiarts.co/uploads/files/pqr/RODRIGUEZ_SONNETS.html or on Amazon.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Theresa: I suppose Daniel Webster, because I refer to the Merriam-Webster dictionary almost every time I set down to write!

Bio: Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez) is 60-year old poet, author and voice teacher who was diagnosed with autism in her 50s and bipolar disorder since her 20s. She is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets, a collection of sixty-five sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Scarlet Leaf Review, The Wilderness House Literary Review, Spindrift, Mezzo Cammin, The Wombwell Rainbow, Serotonin, The Road Not Taken, and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. Her work ranges from forms such as the ode and sonnet to free verse, with topics ranging from neurodivergence, love, loss, aging, to faith and disillusionment and more. Her website is http://www.bardsinger.com, where you can view videos of her performance poetry and find information about her books. Follow Theresa on Instagram and Twitter @thesonnetqueen.

Wolfpack Contributor: Theresa Werba

5 poems & sonnets from Theresa Werba

Notes on poems & sonnets

Sonnet of the Hardened Heart: love theme: first appeared in my book Jesus and Eros
Annelid Sonnet: love theme: first appeared in the Society of Classical Poets
Fool: love theme: unpublished
Cut Sonnet: mental health theme: first appeared in Jesus and Eros
El Shaddai: “feminist” theme: first appeared in Jesus and Eros

Sonnet of the Hardened Heart

Care less, I warn myself; bother no more
With inner crevices: prying the shell
Like scabs (rough, oozing, sore), which crust, but tell
Of tumults against the psychic seabed floor;
It is in vain. Swollen and hard around
The meat (like newborn skin, or the vaginal flower),
The protection, obdurate, damns me. Damn the mound
Which buries my soul and suffocates what little power
My will may afford. That meat, that flower, that skin
(A pulsing pinkish mass) is thus entombed;
And yet, for her to exist at all, the wound
Must needs be sealed by this guardian within.

She lives within her shell; perhaps she dies
As well, because it makes and mutes her cries.

Annelid Sonnet
An annelid is a blood-sucking creature, like a leech

I thought I had forgotten you by now,
But I have not. Must I go again

Into this place of torment? Tell me how
To get rid of this leech that suckles when
I try to free it. How I can I walk on
When I am chained? I bury you inside,
Outside, within, withal, whereon, be gone!
Be dead! But in the casket you abide,
Alive but molded, withered; rotten worm
That will not die, though I had thought you dead!
I lunge forth and away, but you hold firm
With prongs embedded in my bones and head.

Oh, you have held a place within too long,
Too undeserved, too late to right the wrong.

Fool

Fool that I was, oh fool, I was a fool,
That I had ever opened up my heart
And let you, rogue, into it. Not a part
Of me escaped humiliation. Cruel
As cruelty can be, you were the tool
That sunk my spirit; you deigned to impart
That lasting blow to keep us both apart,
Exposing my full self to ridicule.

For if indeed I had had better sense
Than fall for such a piece of work as you,
When everything I did was an offense,
And your supposed false love was never true,
Oh, had I had the sense I do today,
I could have wisely sensed to run away!

Cut Sonnet

What will begin as thought will end in deed.
A striking of the skin of flesh and heart
And then the friction giving way to bleed
With red relief, like tears which know no part
Of reason or of sanity, but flow
Responsive to the need to rip and see
A mirror wounding from without. Although
One can touch, the other is not free—
Except in reciprocity, to splay
Itself, the earthly to the earth.
And then this ugly skin-ding will display
Until the salve of time will show its worth.

For memories can thus become unmade,
And pain can ease and even scars do fade.

The Supreme-Breasted One (El Shaddai)

The woman in my Father’s face
The ruach of my soul
Male images have hid the shad,
The breast, that El Shaddai has had
To comfort those, who wounded, have
Quite never been made whole.

Born anew? Yes; a birth it is—
But only from the pronoun “His”?
When earthly form so plainly shows
That woman is in what seed grows
And germinates, and procreates?
And she, whom Comfort has made flesh
To show His less, nay, more than “manliness”:
That He is really also “She”—
A femininity in Trinity?

Oh yes! Oh blind paternals! Who do you think your Mother is?
Or has it never bothered you
That God could be a Mother, too?
(You may think this idea is new,
But male and female, in the image “His,” Were long before theology, created.)
Is not our present view,
The image halved, unsolved, vastly untrue?

Can we deny our Author right
To words and views which may help light
This darkened, incompleted sight?
If God’s eternal Word could flesh partake,
(A flesh of only woman, too) can we
Deny to let that Word be free
To partake fleshly female nouns? Did “He”
Establish this dichotomy?
We shall soon see.

Oh Ruach, blessed Spirit, in Hebrew tongue
The praise of Elohim is sung,
A masculine noun in text.
But yours, against device, is feminine!
Shekinah, God’s glory; Torah, God’s guidance; and next
Is Chockmah, God’s wisdom: all feminine, too.
Can we shun
What God has begun
Long before the Patriarchs hung
Their bias before our eyes? Can a Son
Have only one parent, the masculine?

“But wait,” you may say, “you’re destroying the types. We know
That Christ will wed the Church; She
Is the very femininity
Of which you seek.”
True; but it perplexes me
How male and female form His bride,
But with God’s clearly female side
We choose to commit matricide.

The Spirit labors with child. Second birth, second womb;
Our self has died and left us vacancy
That Her First-Born may fill. Into the tomb,
Holy Seed, to quicken the human soul in urgency!

Now delivered, life from Life is come:
O feed me, fill me, Supreme-Breasted One.

Wolfpack Contributor: Theresa Werba

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Theresa Werba

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