Jamele Adams, aka Harlym 1two5, is a poetic force to be reckoned with and the Dean of Students at Brandeis University. In his words: "Poetry climbs the limbs of wind soaked dream tops And sherlocked gumdrops missing teeth. Shoot the city And suffocate the criminal. Strangle the miscarriage of peace Give people a reason to love themselves. This is my bio."
For the Love of a Dream
For the love of a dream
I will run full steam
Into the spleen
Of a nightmare
Until it has nothing
Mean to lean on
And we can all sing
Dr. Kings FREEDOM SONG
For the love of your dream
I will unlace my eyelids
Let them flutter to the floor
Catch as much as I can in my eyes
So the dirt never gets in yours
Did you know Dreams know pain?
That they understand sacrifice,
And cradle the causes of your self-esteem.
Scrape the grit of sorrow
Keep us alive
And love til death
What would you do for the love of your dream?
Would you be first?
Would you be failure?
Would you loose roses from your veins?
Could be homeless?
Could you be without?
How outside of yourself would you go to get out of your own way?
Would you be the canvas for a gun drawn on someone else?
What would you not do?
Would you save a life,
If it was the dream of millions to kill that person?
Would you forgive?
Could you forget?
Could you be selfless?
Would you privilege poverty?
Lose the light from your halo?
And clip your wings,
So others could fly?
Could you put new colors in the rainbow?
Would you go numb and limp and limbless?
How important are hands
To someone that can only Picaso their dreams in sign language?
So listen carefully to what your fingertips touch
For the love of a dream
You must live again......everyday
Making the lives of others better.
Noah Burton was born in Kansas City, Kansas and grew up in Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he studied philosophy and is currently attending the University of New Hampshire's MFA program and teaching at the university. His poems have appeared in Burningword, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, Scapegoat Review, and Kenning Journal, and are forthcoming in Basalt Magazine.
A rod in his hands
for digging in the garden.
Crawling in. The hole
closing above him.
Ginger. Like a pillow
behind his head—a potato.
The vegetables form a tribunal.
Decide that he can
stay here, and will.
Originally published in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review
Josh Cook’s poetry has appeared in Epicenter Magazine, Lyrical Somerville, in Plume Poetry Anthology 2012 and 2013, and elsewhere. Other work has appeared in The Coe Review, The Owen Wister Review, Barge, apt literary magazine and other print and online journals. He was also a finalist for the 2011 and 2012 Cupboard Fiction Prize. He is a poetry reviewer for Bookslut.com, who featured his essay, “The Problem with American Poetry,” in Bookslut 100. Other criticism has appeared in The Millions and The Rumpus. He is a blogger, bookseller, and magazine buyer for Porter Square Books in Cambridge, and writes the books and culture blog “In Order of Importance.” His novel An Exaggerated Murder is forthcoming from Melville House in the Winter of 2015.
Jacques LaPlante was a Decade Too Late
People herded their cars in the parking lot
then herded themselves in the hockey arena.
They gathered concessions,
kept track of the kids,
exchanged the language
built up in their brains
over the week.
The important thing about this:
this is important.
He was covered by bruises.
He was always covered with bruises.
If he wasn't
they wouldn't play him.
Most of the time he was covered with bruises
the same way he was covered by clothes.
Tonight, his bruises felt like damage.
Damage in his organs.
He always lead the team out of the locker room.
This said something about his importance.
A place of value, of course,
and respect, but;
also another lonely responsibility.
It was time to lead the team out of the locker room.
The ice was suddenly ten miles away.
Recent studies have shown that sitting still for extended periods of time--
as required in most modern work places--
takes almost as many years off your life as smoking cigarettes.
The body evolved with a great deal of flexibility, but there is still a limit.
It is strange how easy it is to discover what we did not evolve to endure.
Stranger how easy it is to endure those discoveries.
25 saves in a 5-3 win is something to be proud of.
He didn't feel proud.
He didn't feel anything.
No. He found a feeling
entombed in the tomb of his bruise.
He felt wrong.
Sitting on the bench in the locker room
all his teammates doing.
Then he was on the floor.
Of all the places he'd been
he'd never been on a locker room floor.
Something new was happening.
and it had nothing to do with pain.
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.
Johnette Marie Ellis is a native Bostonian who found her way back home after several bouts in New York City. As a second year MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Emerson College, Johnette is looking for new strategies and questions to nurture a mission driven path. She worked in the non-profit sector for 10 years, serving primarily as a community builder and advocate for the redistribution of power and access through programs and policy. Now Johnette has her sights set on harnessing the power and influence of creativity as an educator and poet. Currently she works with emersonWRITES as a poetry teacher and as an instructor in Emerson’s First Year Writing Program.
i can’t imagine staying.
there’s so much of me in the soot
so much of me in the pissy alley.
moss is making way though.
the rootless warrior
loosening ground, dissolving rock.
still they keep making walkways
hard heads keep scraping the sky.
in september they removed the piece
of sidewalk with her name in it.
then we painted the walls ladybug red
a shade she would have liked for her nails.
she made me a city girl.
we would end up in bare feet
picking glass out of our toes though.
she wanted a rose garden in the alley
neighbors are planting cameras instead.
it’s been 5 years since we’ve had curtains
revealing the tomb
we’ve become - now we need them.
something small is rooting
in need of protection.
i’m still a little girl
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.
Published poet Gayle C. Heney is North Andover's former two-term poet laureate and a member of the Grey Court Poets. Heney has taught workshops at the Peabody Essex Museum, libraries, schools, Essex Art Center, Rolling Ridge Conference Center, Salem Arts Festivals, and UMass, Boston. She is the producer and host of the TV series Write Now, and co-producer of Opportunity for Poetry.
His face is that of a boy
hair falling in soft curls
just above the shoulder,
but his posture that of
a frightened man.
Sun glinting off the frozen lake,
air still, he listens before
disappearing into cover of conifers,
rock escarpments and snow.
Another is tall, lean, dressed
in gunmetal grey, a rucksack
supported on his shoulders,
sharpened metal in his hand,
face blackened by soot.
The third: heavy, well-worn boots;
billowing, black trench coat
tied with a rope; sniffing the air
like some feral ancestor.
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
Danielle Jones-Pruett holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Boston, and is program coordinator for the Writers House at Merrimack College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a 2014 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award.
She holds her breath as the pine box closes
on the tangled knot of her husband’s body.
After pounding nails into the packing crate,
she curtsies to the crowd, then watches
as they tie it shut. It takes six men
to pull it to the edge of the dock, frayed
rope almost breaking. They push
the box into the river, which drinks
him in, swallow by swallow. She waits.
Hundreds of times she saw him sink,
or dangle—straitjacketed—like an albino bat,
or stiff in his own grave, bound by chains,
face disappearing under clods of dirt.
There was always a moment—this time he won’t—
but then his hand scratched through earth,
or his head broke the barely visible line
of thin air. She envied these moments
of death, rebirth. Her job was to smile.
He sits in a red velvet armchair, wearing
the black robe she gave him on his last birthday.
The radio’s on, but she isn’t sure he’s listening:
his eyes are closed. In the small kitchen,
at the table for two, she’s mending his costume,
a row of straight pins in her mouth. Off season
there’s nothing to say. She holds one of his shirts
to light, admires her handiwork: the scar of stitches
barely visible on fine silk.
Jennifer Keogh is a Poetry MFA student at Emerson College and a course instructor in the emersonWRITES program. She is also a reader for Redivider, a waitress, and a seller of the clothes she shamelessly loves to wear at American Eagle. She loves writing because it scares her, challenges her, and gives her butterflies. You can find her poetry in Emerson's 48 Review and in the inaugural issue of East Coast Ink. Her BFA thesis, which she self-published is available on Amazon.com. She is a self-proclaimed foodie, pen collector, friend of the ghost of Emily Bronte, and yogini. A Rhode Island native, she loves nothing more than a hot cup of New England clam chowder on a 90 degree day and iced coffee in December.
4 Years Later
Your ballooning love hovers
above my head. I’m laughing
at the garland you insisted on jerking
across the mantle until it would stay.
You keep asking, dangerously,
What does Christmas mean to you?
& giggling before
I can pin a thought to my tongue.
I’m intoxicated, vacant-minded,
tangled from the sweet nibbling
we’ve been doing
on Kisses, under mistletoe.
We’ve made camp
in front of the fireplace, harboring
hangovers from hot chocolate
& the brightly-colored tree
marshmallows we couldn’t resist.
In their tanks, your maple tarantulas
look like they’re on their deathbeds,
spinning horsehair-like webs
in protest of your not feeding them.
I tell you, Christmas means
you should feed Rosy & Cocoa
Ricky Orng is a Cambodian-American writer and performer based in Lowell Massachusetts. He is the Director of Lowell's Youth Spoken Word organization, FreeVerse! - and coaches their slam team who placed 2nd in Louder Than A Bomb Massachusetts 2013. His writing reflects on being 2nd generation American, dealing with Asian stereotypes and the consequences of The Khmer Rouge. Ricky is a Gemini, loves Autumn, bikes occasionally and photographs people for fun. His work can be found on www.poetrybyrickyorng.tumblr.com.
Reasons Why You Wish You Could Swim
1) It’s the hottest day in July. You’re at your friends house for a barbecue in which they opened the pool for - and all the cute girls are chilling on the deep end.
2) In case of a zombie apocalypse, swimming will definitely come in handy as a means of traveling and escaping zombie attacks, since theoretically, zombies can’t swim.
3) You are not a zombie!
4) Doggie paddling only seems cute and fun… For the first 5-10 minutes. Anymore after that you will just look sad and pathetic.
5) Your body is approximately three quarters water. Your planet is approximately that in ocean. It feels so familiar and you just want to be a part of something bigger.
6) When you was 7 and went fishing in the harbor, the sudden unfamiliar tug of the line and jerk of the fishing rod was one of many first battles. You felt like your soul was the one caught on the other end - and this back and forth struggle was a magical dance and you didn’t know whether to hold on or let yourself go.
7) When you was 9 years, old you tried skipping a chuck of ice across the frozen lake in your backyard. It didn’t skip. It just sounded like a choir of mermaids.
8) Your body is approximately three quarters water. You ask yourself - how much of you belongs to someone else?
9) She made your heart skipped - and now you’ve been chasing mermaids ever since.
10) It feels like the hottest day in July. And all you want to do is see your friend in a bathing suit!
11) You never flew in your dreams..
12) Swimming must feel like flying..
13) You saw the sky on the face of the harbor and watched your soul danced to the music of the Chesapeake Bay.
14) You think loving someone sometimes feel like swimming. You don’t completely know how to swim but you’ve experience drowning. You just want to have the option.
January Gill O’Neil is the author of Underlife (CavanKerry Press 2009), and a forthcoming collection, Misery Islands (CavanKerry Press 2014). She is the executive director of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and an assistant professor of English at Salem State University.
Night at the Roller Palace
After the birthday crowds thin out,
after the Hokey Pokey and Chicken Dance,
after the parents have towed their shaky kids
like cabooses ready to decouple
and the pint-sized skaters have circled the rink
like a gang of meerkats spun into a 10-car pileup,
you turn sideways and angle by as “Another One Bites the Dust”
thumps overhead. You give a finger point to the DJ stand
because, in your mind, you are soldiers in the march against time,
grooving to the retro beat while the disco ball shines overhead
cut crystal against rainbow walls.
You glide like Mercury or Apollo Ono
without wings or skin suit, in low-rider jeans
that hug your body like you hug corners,
pass them all on the smoothed-out parquet floor,
worn down by time and rhythm. The trick is
to make it look effortless, remind them that
your quickness is a kind of love. You are the spark
between wood and wheel. And when your cranky kids
hang out by the wall ready to go,
holding those eight wheels by their brown leather tongues,
you give them a wave and keep circling,
Just one more song, you say.
This is your “me” time. It’s all-skate.
You’ve got your whole self in--
that’s what it’s all about.
Ralph Pennel's writing has appeared in The Cape Rock, Ropes, Open to Interpretation, Ibbetson Street, The Smoking Poet, Unbound Press, Monologues From the Road, Right Hand Pointing, and various other journals. He has also published reviews with Cervena Barva Press and Rain Taxi Review of Books. Ralph teaches literature for Bunker Hill Community College and poetry at Bentley University. He is founding editor and the fiction editor for the online literary magazine, Midway Journal. Ralph’s first poetry manuscript, A World Less Perfect for Dying In, will be published in January of 2015. He lives and writes in Somerville, Massachusetts.
A NEARLY TRUE POEM ABOUT POSTCARDS FROM THE MOMA
SHE NEVER KNEW SHE WANTED BEFORE TODAY
one was a photo of a photo
on the back, it read:
wish you were here.
one was a painted brick,
worth its weight in postage.
one was a flock of birds,
that spelled out her name when it flew overhead.
one was a series of books,
each with a single highlighted word
she had to find to glean its meaning.
one was a flowerbed. just because.
together, they applied for a NEA,
to support their correspondence.
then wrote grant letters to each other
that explained the need for art in their exchange.
eventually the stacks of letters became the art the NEA supported.
MOMA set her postcards on fire.
the smoke rose into the clouds, which made it rain.
and when it reached her,
she could feel the words in the drops on her skin.
they plucked at her like a harp.
once MOMA sent an EKG.
the caption read, "this here, this peak right here, is the exact moment
when i thought of you."
MOMA sometimes whispers her name into paper.
so when she holds it to a candle, she believes the shadow
like knowing of heart beats
before the heart.
Tara Skurtu teaches Creative Writing at Boston University, where she received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and a 2013 Academy of American Poets Prize. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Wales, Poetry Review, Plume, Memorious, DMQ Review, The Dalhousie Review,the minnesota review, The Los Angeles Review, and the anthology Poets in Transylvania. Her poems have been translated into Romanian and Hungarian.
THE AMOEBA GAME
I stood at the stove holding
a wooden spoon in my right hand,
listening to butter sputtering against
the splattered circle of an egg. Perhaps
it was the flapping of the egg’s
wavy edges against the steel pan,
or the amorphousness of its innards
outside the carriage of its brown shell—
I remembered an odd game I played
in Brownies. The amoeba game.
In the front yard of the scout cabin,
one girl at a time would become
an amoeba and lead the rest.
We didn’t know what amoebas were,
only that they weren’t human or animal,
and moved like a thousand blind legs
treading through molasses.
So it was that our heads and arms
became legs and feet, undulating
wayward into dusk. Swaying our shoulders
left to right, we’d giggle through mouths
we weren’t supposed to have, pretending
we had no eyes and didn’t know where
we came from or where we were going.
Originally published in Poet Lore