Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hiking in Truro, Massachusetts

By Margaret Phillips
 
The Mayflower Saints may
have walked in this place
where I am walking
where I don’t know how to ask
the leaves or pines in the sandy ground
what happened here then
not study paragraph by paragraph but word
by word talk to someone who knew
those minutes in those days
yet here beside the spotted wintergreen
it just so happens I’m the only one
to hear my questions
I want to talk to the Wampanoag teacher
behind the black cherry bushes
to ask him
to tell about the stolen
corn the stolen seed corn stored
that year at Corn Hill
at what was to be known as
Corn Hill
as in the scene of the crime
where the seed corn was stolen from
it just so happens that I
have experience
fifteen hundred miles away
from this silent path — experience in Indiana with my grandfather’s
side business of selling seed corn
and with his small profit
buys his own seed
to grow corn to make silage
to feed his dairy cows
to keep his hundred and sixty acres
acres heavy with rocks that rise up
with the frost line each spring
to break the plow point
to freeze the hay rake gears in fall —
it just so happens that broken gear teeth
broken plow points are just the emergency
seed corn money can meet to feed
the hungry finances of a hundred and sixty acres
so it will not starve
it just so happens starving —
ask Bradford and his hungry men —
is only the stuff of time and place
In Indiana in my grandfather’s milk house
next to the cooling room is a smaller room
and behind the pasteurizer a windowsill
and on the windowsill a pasteboard box
and in the box large arrowheads
for deer
and smaller ones called
bird points and squirrel points
that rise up every spring in the clay
first cut turned over by the plow
my grandfather’s plow brings up an arrowhead
some young Potawattamee dropped
flint chipped and knapped long ago
in the nearby hamlet by his family’s lodge
if I could turn and bend agilely down
out of time out of place
I could catch the arrowhead he
dropped silently in the leaves could offer it back to him
and ask if he knew about the stolen corn
fifteen hundred miles away
it just so happens that the corn in Corn Hill
kept Bradford and his party
and the hungry enterprise alive
this boon needed to feed the babies
but stolen away from other babies
not in dire need but their children
shouldered out by the children
of the saved babies and
the Potawattamee boy who could not see
that his woods would give way to corn or clover
it just so happens eaten by cows not buffalo cows
but milk cows whose milk passes through
the pasteurizer in front of the door
to the windowed room with a pasteboard box
of arrow points in the windowsill if I could just stop
I could see my grandfather drop
his found arrowhead into his pocket I could take it
and reach out to hand it to the Wampanoag teacher
who speaks about disappearance
of seed corn an accompaniment to the just surviving
explorers to the sagging finances
of a small farm in Indiana or
on a path in Truro where
it just so happens lies
Corn Hill.

This was the 2014 winning poem selected by the Cape Cod Cultural Center.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Saga Of Market Basket: A Poem

By Carl Stevens

This is the tale of an awful schism
that rocked the cradle of capitalism:
a story of hatred, anger and greed;
a story of loyalty, envy and need;
a tree of contention with bad family roots; a room full of men who were counting their loot; a ship of a store that was tempest tossed; thousands of workers who just loved their boss.

Two cousins they were: Artie T, Artie S; their contention exploded in a terrible mess.
Artie S, full of the blaze that burns enmity, got control of the board and expelled Artie T!
But the workers rebelled, with their voices and feet; they walked off the job, and walked on the street.
Their paychecks were captive, but their hearts were free, as they yelled and they yelled:

 “Bring back Artie T!”
Market Basket shelves were empty and bare, and customers, loyal, just were not there.
Because of this determined insurrection, spider webs formed in the produce section.
Cereal, peaches, you just couldn’t get it; looking for bacon? granola? forget it!
Customers chose their side by just leavin'; parking lots were as empty as the stands in Cleveland.
The DeMoulas proud name limped on a bad leg.
You can’t piece together a broken egg.

This was for real; these workers weren’t fakin’, and the board was gored with a mess of their makin’.
For more than a month it went on that way when finally, just before Labor Day, the board said “enough, you win, we’ll go.”
And Artie T was again the C.E.O.

The shelves will be full, customers will return, and through it all, I think, we have something to learn:
a boss can be more than a name on the door.
He can be heart, and soul, and something more.
When he respects workers, they don’t walk away.
Maybe that’s the message this Labor Day
.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

If You Get There Before I Do

By Dick Allen

Air out the linens, unlatch the shutters on the eastern side,
and maybe find that deck of Bicycle cards
lost near the sofa. Or maybe walk around
and look out the back windows first.
I hear the view's magnificent: old silent pines
leading down to the lakeside, layer upon layer
of magnificent light. Should you be hungry,
I'm sorry but there's no Chinese takeout,
only a General Store. You passed it coming in,
but you probably didn't notice its one weary gas pump
along with all those Esso cans from decades ago.
If you're somewhat confused, think Vermont,
that state where people are folded into the mountains
like berries in batter. . . . What I'd like when I get there
is a few hundred years to sit around and concentrate
on one thing at a time. I'd start with radiators
and work my way up to Meister Eckhart,
or why do so few people turn their lives around, so many
take small steps into what they never do,
the first weeks, the first lessons,
until they choose something other,
beginning and beginning their lives,
so never knowing what it's like to risk
last minute failure. . . .I'd save blue for last. Klein blue,
or the blue of Crater Lake on an early June morning.
That would take decades. . . .Don't forget
to sway the fence gate back and forth a few times
just for its creaky sound. When you swing in the tire swing
make sure your socks are off. You've forgotten, I expect,
the feeling of feet brushing the tops of sunflowers:
In Vermont, I once met a ski bum on a summer break
who had followed the snows for seven years and planned
on at least seven more. We're here for the enjoyment of it, he said,
to salaam into joy. . . .I expect you'll find
Bibles scattered everywhere, or Talmuds, or Qur'ans,
as well as little snippets of gospel music, chants,
old Advent calendars with their paper doors still open.
You might pay them some heed. Don't be alarmed
when what's familiar starts fading, as gradually
you lose your bearings,
your body seems to turn opaque and then transparent,
until finally it's invisible--what old age rehearses us for
and vacations in the limbo of the Middle West.
Take it easy, take it slow. When you think I'm on my way,
the long middle passage done,
fill the pantry with cereal, curry, and blue and white boxes of macaroni, place the
checkerboard set, or chess if you insist,
out on the flat-topped stump beneath the porch's shadow,
pour some lemonade into the tallest glass you can find in the cupboard,
then drum your fingers, practice lifting your eyebrows,
until you tell them all--the skeptics, the bigots, blind neighbors,
those damn-with-faint-praise critics on their hobbyhorses--
that I'm allowed,
and if there's a place for me that love has kept protected,
I'll be coming, I'll be coming too.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bookface

By Aaron Tieger 

Your profile pic gives me pangs
in old places. It’s different
when it’s psychic. Here today your
bikini like twin
suns reflecting black
back – I don’t know
what I’m thinking but aren’t
we in Scorpio
yet? Friendcull,
photopang, ride
that old whip you
made me recall some dreams, if you knew
I was writing this you’d freak

Aaron Tieger's poems have appeared in many small press magazines and books. His newest book, Chaos Flowers, is forthcoming from Skysill Press. Formerly the publisher of Carve Poems and Petrichord Books, he has recently launched the online poetry space Throg Sludge. He works as a mental health counselor and lives in Cambridge, MA.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Door

By Mairead Byrne

When you left
it was as if
one wall of the house
was taken down.

I walked out
through that large door
into the carnival
world.

Friday, August 15, 2014

childish gambino is a white rapper

By Childish Gambino

i wanna be a white rapper.
i wanna be so white i'm the biggest rapper of all time.
i wanna be so white i can have a number one song with cursing and parents are fine with it.
i wanna be so white and so big i get eat dinner with the koch brothers.
i hope I’m so big and white i can go to clippers games and it not be a statement.
i hope I’m so white they let my friend out of jail sooner.
i hope I’m so big and white my cousin wasn’t shot and stabbed twice in the neck twice last month.
i wanna be so big. so white.
i wanna be so big and and so white that white dads feel comfortable sending their daughters,
who are home for the summer from Stanford, to my show.
and after the performance they come hang with me on my bus and we smoke and then we fuck to young dro
and she holds my face in her hands and her eyes roll back in her head.
then she goes home and her dad says “how was the show?” and she says “it was fun. they had lasers.”
i hope i become so big and and so white that G-Eazy will say “damn, this nigga is white” and everyone will agree and nod.
i want to be so big and white that people are scared. “what if this spreads?
what if everyone starts to get big and white? what if this works for everyone and everyone can experience this whiteness and this bigness?”
i hope i become too big and too white.
but i am just a black male.
i am a nigga

This poem was originally published as a series of tweets. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Look out

By Ian House

For now the city's at peace. The sniper's rifle
is upright between his knees, his hands
are soothed by the barrel and he's posted
in an armchair at a crossroads
among dangling balconies, torn-off dresses,
jagged whisky bottles, sandbags, dolls
and listens to vanished disco tunes.
Coffee is a memory he tastes and smells.
He knows, he knows, the cafes will re-fill
with statesmen, poets, astronomers, good-time girls;
there will be public worship, evening strolls,
bookshops, bakeries, banana splits
and table scraps that can be left for dogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

slant

By Claudio Roberto Veale
i lift up words 
and place them 
holding each thinness
each flat square
thinking nothing
of meaning
and everything 
of intent.

Claudio Roberto Veale lives with his family in South Texas.

Friday, August 8, 2014

As I Pack for Eight Days in Costa Rica

By  Judy Brook

I wonder about Marco Polo
and his twenty-four year trip to China.
How many suitcases did he take?
How did he pack without plastic bags?
How did he do it without a charge card
a list of phrases in different languages
wash and wear shirts
trip insurance
an itinerary
a passport
a map?

Did he take a good novel to read at night
an outfit and shoes for dressing up
a good sun-blocking hat
bug repellent?

Did he find someone to feed the cat?


This poem was Honorable Mention for the 2012 Marion Gleason Memorial Award  
from the Poetry Society of Vermont.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dead Baby

By Jacqueline St. Joan

There’s a dead baby in your yard
the newsboy said when he knocked on the door.
It was over by the fence.  It was naked. It was blue.
It was bloody placenta all over the ground
and red spots on the fence.  Red spots on the fence
led them over the top to the trail of blood
in the neighbor’s yard
to the back door
and into the room
of a 13 year old, the childless mother
of the dead baby in the yard next door.
I heard a cry late last night,
a neighbor reported,
Thought it was a cat or a bird.

What did she do alone in that room?
Teddy bear stuffed in her mouth?
Her legs pumping the mantra of a child
giving birth all alone:  Get rid of it,
then wash up, no one will know
Did she rise up then
Get rid of it
and take the baby to the fence?
Go wash up, it’s gone now, no one will know
it’s over, we’re dying, wash up now,
it’s gone over the fence . . .

There’s a dead baby in your yard
the newsboy said when he knocked on the door.
It was over by the fence.
It was wrapped in slick papers
the Sunday supplement
multicolored  ink-stains
and bloody from the birth,
yellow rubber gloves flopped in a puddle,
man-sized gloves.  Playtex
what you use
to wash the whitewalls on tires
to strip furniture
to clean the oven
or to pull out a baby that doesn’t want to come
when you don’t know what you’re doing
so you reach in and pull harder
and the head comes out and it’s blue
and the cord’s wrapped around
and you don’t know what you’re doing
and you reach in and pull harder
and the yellow gloves pull harder
and you’re scared
and it’s blue and we’re dying,
so you reach for the Parade section
and roll the baby in it
and you don’t know what you’re doing
and you’re sorry
and you drop it over the fence
hand over head, like a kid mailing a letter
and you turn the gloves inside out,
drop them and run home before dark.
There’s a dead baby in your yard
the newsboy said when he knocked on the door.
It was over by the fence.
It was dressed in white lace
a christening gown
layers of white on white,
the baby had been washed,
the clothes had been pressed
it had all been prepared,
a small bonnet crocheted
a pearl ribbon woven through.
It was wrapped in a cover
a hand-knitted blanket,
the edges folded back,
the kind a grandmother would weave
the perfect baby, the kind a grandmother
would dream of
the son she’d never had,
the one she could spoil,
the one she deserved.
There’s a dead baby in your yard
the newsboy said when he knocked on the door.
It was over by the fence where the Granddaddy
leaned against it, a post to divide his property
from yours.  Don’t know nothing ’bout no fence,
the Granddaddy said.  So now she’s knocked up
and squalling out back,
serves her right for running around
serves her right for backtalking me.
The neighbor next door
was the one who was right
who heard late that night
the cat and the bird.
Take me to the fence,
the baby had begged them,
and when the newsboy arrived
he saw an alley cat out back
tugging at  some meat.  He heard
a single black bird
a cry in the wind.
He rushed to tell all of them
what all of them already knew.
There’s a dead baby in our yard
the newsboy says,
and something knocks at our door.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Father Teaches Me To Dream

By Jan Beatty

You want to know what work is?
I’ll tell you what work is:
Work is work.
You get up. You get on the bus.
You don’t look from side to side.
You keep your eyes straight ahead.
That way nobody bothers you—see?
You get off the bus. You work all day.
You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.
You go to sleep. You get up.
You do the same thing again.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
There’s no handouts in this life.
All this other stuff you’re looking for—
it ain’t there.
Work is work.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Delete, Delete

By Anne Whitehouse
I log on to email every day.
My inbox is full of offers, appeals,
advice, updates, reminders
I go through the list, reading
and deleting, or deleting
without reading.
My brain has reached capacity
and is starting to shrink.
I try to delete more than I add
to the heavy baggage of self.
Delete the urge to suffer
that twisted me in knots,
delete the need to be right,
to have the last word,
to have my own way.
Knowing I cannot choose
the way my life will end.

Anne Whitehouse is the author of three collections of poetry: The Surveyor's Hand, Blessings and Curses, and Bear in Mind, and a novel, Fall Love. Her poetry, short stories, essays, reviews, and articles have been widely published. She is a graduate of Harvard and Columbia. Please visit her website, www.annewhitehouse.com.

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