The poets & their Poems
M.P. Carver, poet, lives in Salem, MA. She is a member of YesNo Press--publisher of the Zig Zag Folios--and Poetry Editor of Soundings East. Her work has appeared in various local journals, and she has been featured at multiple venues across the state.
Do Not Bow to a Deer
Do not bow to a deer and do not stare a monkey in the eyes
These are useful things to know, and in this way I have made my poetry useful
All this talk about meaning, but what we really want is to mess around
And pretend we’re not under obligation to anybody else’s suffering.
What I want is to see Buddha statues made out of glittery ground-bones
“Please note that by dying you authorize your bones to be used in any way
This institution may deem fit, any part of this agreement may be changed
At any time, if you choose to terminate this agreement, you agree not to die.”
Back before I was pushing around poems, I had to sleep without any miracles
Besides the singing of the rocks and the way blood goes from red to blue
Blue to red, red to blue, without expecting anything from anybody
Now I’ve got googols of miracles, no more accountable than sand grains.
And I got you, too, and what a deal!
I didn’t sign anything, after all.
Regie Gibson is a poet, songwriter, author, workshop facilitator, and educator. Gibson and his work appear in the film Love Jones, based largely on events in his life. In 1999 he performed for the award-winning Traffic Series at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater where he adapted the work of Kurt Vonnegut. In addition, he has performed at The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, and many other venues. Gibson is widely published in anthologies, magazines, and journals, such as Power Lines, An Anthology of Poetry along with Pulitzer-Prize winning poets Gwendolyn Brooks, Yosef Komunyakaa, and Lisel Mueller. His first full-length book of poetry, Storms Beneath The Skin, was released in 2001. Gibson has also taught, lectured and facilitated workshops.
Godholler // 1. n. A primal word. The first cry of creation. The sound from which all things manifest–––as in, Yes: the word his mother gave his father, in 1967, after he’d chased her for 8 years. Yes, there, in the cotton field, he, the father, wearing a halo of daysweat and dust. Yes: the word that became the kiss that became the tongue on the pulse that became the hand that turned up the transistor radio so Smokey Robinson and the Miracles could punctuate the newfound syllable with Ooooh, Baby, Baby becoming the baby they would have together, there, in that small Mississippi backwater they would soon leave for the promise of Chicago’s smokestacks and skyscrapers. 2. v. To loudly command with supreme and unquestioned authority––– as when the mother, like a carnival ventriloquist, sits with a deity on her knee making it mouth her “Thou Shalt Not’s”, or, when the father, fearing the son is gay, attempts to yell him into a “real man”. 3. n. The sound the boy, now a man with sons, attempts to muffle in his poetry.
Timothy Gager is the author of eleven books of short fiction and poetry. His latest, TheThursday Appointments of Bill Sloan, (Big Table Publishing) is his first novel. He hosts the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts for over thirteen years and is the co-founder of Somerville News Writers Festival. His work appears in over 300 journals, of which nine have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work has been read on National Public Radio.
The Shutting Door
We are solid oak doors that shut
on our past, close on dead mothers,
sons, daughters. These doors swell
often, won’t open. One midnight
we walked towards woods, the moss
cold under our toes, as we were,
caught in the light for a moment;
a glimpse of half full. We are dim
lights on dark nights, sending out calls
to the wolves howling at the sun
because the moon hanging there,
yet never seems to hear them.
If I should need to step back to see
how you glow in this light,
illumination, I can be at one with that,
us, growing like violets in the dark.
Joey Gould is an educator, produce clerk, & poet, published in Paper Nautilus & at Masspoetry.org, who enjoys setting up an improv poetry booth at art openings & farmers markets.
All in one breath
Who knows one? I know one,
one wind flicks flames of
candles of the first Seder,
open windows to sing to the outside,
one meal from a week’s cooking.
One loud table, & I imagine
the noise of that Last Supper—
one is our G-d, 13 are his attributes
(as the last speech of the Seder
must recount in one breath)
but I know he is thanks
& he is here at the end of our cups
in the happiness of singing grace,
pragmatic jews, after
the meal, once shouted
& stomped on the tables
in the hostel Beit Riklis
by 17-year-old Machon kids
to the rest of the diners—
Baruch attah, blessed art thou
footprints on the table,
& thanks. & reverence:
I duck my head under
the prayer shawl to bow respect,
let the blanket cover, drape over.
One Kiddush cup,
one white tablecloth.
One roof over many heads,
& the unique sky so up, so alive
with wind, with breath,
as I breathe &
burst: who knows one?
Heather Hughes hangs her heart in Boston and Miami. She holds an MLA in foreign literature from Harvard University Extension and is tragically close to graduating from Lesley University’s MFA program. Bad Penny Review, Cream City Review, Grain, Prick of the Spindle, and other excellent journals have published her work. All her tattoos are winged. Her writing and letterpress experiments live at www.dragonheartbeat.tumblr.com.
Stars Disturbed Him
Once there was a man who couldn’t.
Dawn scuffled and shuffled on his stoop.
The whole day he slopped plum paint on the door.
He sealed the house with fumes.
He evensonged as he worked.
Gnawed lightyears and scratched his knuckles.
Once there was a man who couldn’t sleep.
Grackles flapped in his kitchen.
Grackles shook off asteroids on the table.
Their claws skreetched in the plum-dim house.
Their beaks knuckled and knocked,
struck sparks off the raw rimy rocks.
Once there was a man who couldn’t sleep because the noise,
because destroys, because certain seasons are not fit.
ecause news of the world grackled and crackled on his table.
Neiel Israel is an internationally acclaimed poet, vocalist, and arts educator. Emerging from the Boston spoken-word scene, she quickly distinguished herself as a powerful, and lyrical poetic voice. With her captivating voice she became a member of the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Lizard Lounge National Poetry Slam Team; as well as the Lizard Lounge Representative for 2011 Women of the World Poetry Slam. Neiel has a B.A. in English, and graduated with honors, from University of Massachusetts Boston; and was recently featured on Urban Update WHDH-TV Chanel 7. As an international teaching artist, Neiel leads workshops and classes in creative writing for schools, community programs, and colleges.
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
No broken covenant wings here
We dust off persecution, that’s not a problem
Figured out the exact calculations
Of water walking, and moon gliding
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
Put on our best clothes when we leave home,
And oh, just let the sun be shining, let the sun be shining
We do give thanks, speaking, greeting, smiling
Hair always looking good, stop playing
We know what it is to be Fly
Dodging bullets, that’s nothing
Just look at all the babies being born everyday
Another one and another one
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
They write songs about the sun malfunctioning when we leave,
“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, it’s not warm when she’s away”
I wear lip gloss because it’s Fly, looks like a sunrise to me
Fly is the cherry on top just because it can be
Move over ordinary, I’m not from that tribe
A wife is not the same thing as a bride
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
We try to exemplify Fly-ness
We are schooled about Fly-ness early
We may be asked to change position
Or move, or Fly away, to the before life
We may be asked to Fly away at any minute
On command, no questions asked
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
There are rewards for being Fly
Fly house, Fly car, Fly girl,
Fly man, Fly woman, Fly spirit,
Fly feel it, Fly lover, Fly friend,
Fly noun, verb Flying
Water Flies, Wind Flies,
Planets Fly around the sun
The sun has everyone’s attention
It is the Fly-est-making days happen
And months and years too
It’s Fly the way the sun tells time
Be careful you don’t get burned
The sun spits
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly,
Like an army of dragons
Rappers, poets, singers, teachers, preachers
Bishops, pawns, rooks, knights, queens, kings,
Ballers, gods, Children of God
Fly seed, Fly mentality, uplifting, giving
Fly like Jazz,
Fly like the color blue
We made the color blue, Music!
Heaven and earth Fly, giving birth Fly
Having enough to eat Fly,
Eating healthy Fly,
Taking care of mind, body, soul, spirit
Fly, Fly, Fly, Fly,
Meditating Fly, communicating Fly
Fly people have the Holy Ghost
Good intentions, not pretending
They forgive and ask forgiveness
We Fly, I Fly, You Fly
Enough to detect negativity, Fly
Immune to negative frequencies
Fly aura, Fly freedom, Fly justice,
Fly hope, Fly truth, Fly love,
Fly ancestors guiding us
Jennifer Jean’s most recent poetry collection is The Fool (Big Table Publishing). Other poetry collections include: The Archivist, Fishwife, and In the War; as well, she's released Fishwife Tales, a collaborative CD comprised of art songs and accompanied recitations. Her poetry and prose have been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including: Drunken Boat, Tidal Basin Review, Denver Quarterly, Caketrain, Poetica, and The Mom Egg Journal. Jennifer is a volunteer blogger for Amirah, a website advocating for sex-trafficking survivors; she’s a principal organizer of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival; and, she teaches writing at Salem State University. For more about Jennifer, visit: www.fishwifetales.com.
Getting to Know You
Remember yesterday, when an 8.8 hit Chile
and the earth’s axis tilted?
800 died and
the days became shorter
by 1.26 milliseconds.
Remember before I met you? There was a time
they told me about you.
How the teenage you tossed grapes to hovering gulls
when out at sea. How you hooked one grape
and tugged a floating gull behind the tacking boat
called New Hope.
They told me you ate raw bacon.
How your mom made you
wear your hair in a bowl cut.
Now you’re blushing.
The days are longer
Hannah Larrabee has a MFA in creative writing, and now engages in two very different fields of work: teaching and application technology. Her chapbook, Virgo, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009 and nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, and a PEN New England Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in: Printer’s Devil Review, Best Indie Lit in New England, Tidal Basin Review, Contemporary American Voices, Extract(s), Conceit Magazine, and others. She’s taught at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, and still teaches at Northern Essex Community College.
As opposed to easy,
as opposed to
“no hard feelings”
which almost certainly
requires hard feelings
to begin with
as if telling someone
to quit it!
slap some sense into
like hitting a dog
for peeing on the carpet,
always two different
I read the headlines about
six men who emerged
from a capsule in Russia
after 500 days
meant to simulate
an expedition to Mars.
In real life, this would
to be 100 days from earth
again, a language
that lacks distance,
how far is a day?
It is everywhere,
other people how
And what I know best
is that this
is a failure, that when
it comes time
to acknowledge what
a baby, a relationship,
the redeeming moment
of a conversation,
we might as well
be 100 days from each other
we might as well
set up shop on Mars
dumb fools that we are
(no hard feelings)
we are willing to brave
to live lonely again.
Jennifer Martelli’s chapbook, Apostrophe, was published in 2011 by Big Table Publishing Company. She is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Most recently, her poetry has been published in Bop Dead City, Tar River Poetry, burntdistrict, Jersey Devil Press and Right Hand Pointing. She’s taught high school English and women’s literature at Emerson College. She’s an associate editor for The Compassion Project: An Anthology, and lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with her family.
Pete Townshend’s Voice Behind Me, The Snowplow’s Blade Before Me
I’ve sent my husband down the cellar to play The Who
then Elvis Costello then Velvet Underground. Sent him
down with the cat. We’ll never leave that rotten decade,
I say. I’ve cooked all day, heavy fatty foods. Bought rock
salt, bags of it, poured it over my front steps as the plow
scrapes the dry street. My heart is drawn to what’s left on the pitch.
There’s barely enough snow to call it tv static. The street lamps’
strange ovals I confused with the moon, that little camel’s hump.
Don’t trust me. I am not trustworthy: not because I’m from this
angry state but because I like the closing in. The clouds
sag with the weight of snow. Like a uterine wall, they need to let go,
bleed out something cold, then we’ll see what’s left. If the sky
reflects an interior life, this is a dull one. Nothing toxic, nothing, not even
yoga or crystal has ever relieved me for long. An eye
is supposed to open in the middle of my brow. The snowy weight
hurts, gives me an ice spike, and I taste cold knives when I swallow.
Amy Mevorach was the winner of the Natick poetry slam in 2013 and 2014 and has performed poetry and competed in poetry slams since 2000, featuring most recently at Gallery 55 in Natick. She earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Middlebury College and worked as an editor for Books of Hope and assistant editor of The Hudson Review. Amy Mevorach conducts poetry workshops and slams in school and church communities, and will be the featured poet at Wake Up and Smell the Poetry in Hopkinton this February. “My poems are not soft and pretty; they are hard and striking, like stones, like truth, and every time I stand at the microphone I am David, giving it to Goliath.”
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
The doorman let me in
to the courtyard.
I sat by the Koi pond
and listened to a white haired woman talk
of how her international entrepreneurial success
made her feel comfortable
in her own skin.
I nodded but did not ask,
how could you be uncomfortable in your skin
if your skin is sitting by the koi pond in moonlight
receiving a glass of sangria
from the tanned hands
of a laughing young woman
in a koi-colored dress?
How could you be uncomfortable in your own skin
if you own because of your skin?
I listened but did not own up to where I lived
before I got a break and could afford to be bored
by the rich and fake.
Halfway between Eastern Parkway
and Bed-Stuy I caught somebody’s eye.
Somebody on a stoop, pissed to see me, hissed at me, see
why I’m staring at my feet with the beat
of Run DMC in my ears
my fears beating my blood
as I walk the street for something to eat
like a meat patty or jerk chicken
Yeah, I’m in Brooklyn.
Because I feel I am not enough
territorial braggadocio is my bluff
So nobody knows I am chicken
every time I cross the street.
In Crown Heights I walk home nights
and early mornings
in spite of warnings from police
and other white people
“let me help you change that tire,
this is not a place you want to get stuck”
what the -- I live here
I didn’t get stuck, I can leave anytime
and come back with grant money to teach poetry
to “underserved communities”
which is only a typo away from undeserved.
The error lies less in typography
than in political geography.
Nobody tells me my ‘hood is nice
no Caucasian will visit me twice
but the women around me keep me from harm,
Lily, downstairs, pinches tight on my arm
drags me from the street
He’s packing heat, she says, alarmed,
don’t talk to the dealers, the wheelers, the stealers
or the feelers.
But she does not say the rappers.
One day as I pass the men who play chess
I am tracked
I become white and a man becomes black
and opposites attract
so he follows me home.
Afraid of being attacked
I walk alone
until my friend Smoke comes out of the alley
and says, hey, you got yourself a tail.
the gentleman slides behind me like a bishop taking the queen and says, oh, you like white girls too?
Smoke replies, this ain’t no white girl. This is Amy.
He’s the only one in the neighborhood who can name me.
Smoke is a rapper.
and where cultures intersect
At Mrs. B’s table I count
cash for my rent and stare
at her carving of the serenity prayer
wonder what it means to her
Mrs. B says I’m glad we had you here
we never had any problems did we dear?
No, no problems, I keep to myself
with a young man who glances up and down the block
his head like a pendulum on a clock
his time on earth going tick tick tock
any moment he could die
or be cuffed
emotions must be stuffed.
At sunset a mother unclips laundry from the line
and calls her son home to bed.
Some nights when the lights are dead
I hear women scream like their boys
ain’t never coming home again.
There is a church on the corner.
Every Sunday night
when the sky changes into evening attire
pained hearts harmonize
with a joyful choir.
I long to line up and go in
but I wear my sin like a stain on my skin
and I wear my skin
like I want to go home and change.
What if you didn’t like my tint
What if I couldn’t take a hint
would you flick me away
like a piece of lint
or like dandruff brush me off
of your smooth
J.D. Scrimgeour was born in Northampton, Massachusetts and lives in Salem. He teaches at Salem State University. An ancestor of his was accused of being a witch, and she was killed in Salem in 1692. Another ancestor served on the jury that found her guilty. J.D. Scrimgeour is the author of a collection of poetry, The Last Miles (2005) and two books of creative nonfiction. His poetry has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, Ploughshares, Colorado Review, River Styx, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut Review, and Diner, and it has won awards from the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Academy of American Poets, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in English from Columbia University, and an M.F.A. in poetry and Ph.D. in English from Indiana University.
I, too, sing America
America doesn’t sing. Not much
I love you this and that, and such,
it bops along to the radio,
but turn it off, there’s no
melody, no voice, a silence
that t.v. and lunch
–the crunch of potato chips–
slip into. No dancing, no hips
shaking and thumping the air,
no splayed, unbuttoned hair.
Langston, you had the better ear.
I trust you when you say you hear
America singing, but come today
and listen, come now, today,
and bury your pen in our throats–
those simple, sometimes angry notes
that made your line almost true:
America singing? That was you.
Enzo Silon Surin is a Haitian-born poet, publisher and an assistant professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College. He is the author of Higher Ground (2006) and his work is forthcoming and has appeared in a number of publications, such as The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, sx salon, Ozone Park Journal, The Mom Egg Review, Tidal Basin Review and The Caribbean Writer. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and is Founder and Publisher at Central Square Press.
High School English
Byron escorted from the pages,
ambulance siren falling away
through the frost window.
Peer at the clock, alter your route home—long poem.
What carries you, a lonely ascent
for which the objective’s clear: regard both time and reason.
The streets pole toward hue and cry,
the trek becomes infinite.
Better to mean what you say than to say what you mean.
Conceal your syntax, bid no explanations.
Tomorrow’s a standard deviation.
Where we live, the weight of which
depends on small silences
we fit ourselves into.