Friday, June 16, 2006

Lyrical Somerville

Afaa Michael Weaver is a prominent Afro-American poet, a professor at Simmons College, the founder of the “Chinese Poetry Conference,” as well as the “Zora Neale Hurston Center,” at Simmons College, and the author of numerous books and poetry collections. He is a Somerville resident, and a member of the “Bagel Bards,” a group of poets and writers that meets at the Au Bon Pain Café every Saturday morning at 9 AM. I asked Afaa to contribute a poem about Somerville for the “Lyrical.” Gloucester had Charles Olsen, Brooklyn had Whitman, Chicago had Sandburg, and perhaps Somerville has Weaver. To have your work considered for the “Lyrical” send it Doug Holder 25 School St. Somerville, Mass. 02143

Freedom and Public Discourse,
Walter Howard in Davis Square

for the Bagel Bards

Publicare…our prayers, some to the east,
some to rainbows, some to dictionaries,
to white mums, wreaths, laurels,
Comcast, power bars, chocolate chip
ice cream sandwiches, bocconottis, canolis--
our prayers tease the nostrils of the dead who
have no sense. It was when the animals died
in slaughterhouses built after glaciers gave
way to Prospect Hill, hides and meat,
grease and glue taken over by Chicago,
grease and glue, all black and blue, grease
the glue that binds us. Down the hill
to where Harvard grinds its grey matter,
the evening walk back to here, where worker
ghosts are the deepest root of foundations
in these Old Houses, the erudite elbows sliding
in tables on the Grill Deli, working chaos
theory against deconstruction, the death
of poets and writers, Ovid’s elbows reclining
in Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway, sliding
on the arms of seats as poets and writers
are born again in the Somerville of Haitian
rice and beans, Guyanan dalpouri pulouri,
night songs swooning stubborn insomniacs,
music of Irish glory like Thomas O’Leary
speaking his brogue, and he is the only poet
in this poem because he alone walks these
lines to speak for Somerville as you read,
and now you understand why we poets are
legislators. We are meter maids and butlers
come to ticket superficial lives for being stuck
on the cushion of all money can buy.
Shallow must not happen in Market Basket
where the official language is the joy of
opportunity, the chance, and seeing this is all
we have, this town, this summit of the planet,
directly opposite China’s Gulf of Chili (go
study your globe) and below the melting ice
above us (top of the globe) as Jodie Foster says
in Inside Man, …buy grass seeds when water
is in the streets…paring the filmic phrase,
we write the law in poems that name only
one poet in this place that has grown above
the blood of things we eat, burgers and steaks,
stake in the way of all faith, in all we foolish
mortals have, a planet turning to its lush
life, the mass of who we are now a mikvah
for a globe warming, becoming its own feast.

Afaa Michael Weaver

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

linear hymns. ( 7 Selmeston Court Surrey Road Seaford East Sussex BN25 2NG- Great Britain.) Giles Paley- Phillips.

When poetry is put into service for a good cause I am always supportive. Giles Paley- Phillips has written a collection of poetry “linear hymns,” dedicated to his late mother, who died from Cancer. Proceeds from the book will go the “Leukemia Research Fund.” Having lost a father a few years ago, I, like Phillips,
compiled a collection of poetry in memory of him. I found the writing of my book clarified things about our relationship, provided a better understanding of the man, and gave me a sense of closure. Hopefully Phillips achieved some of this. The poems trace the before and after of his mother’s demise, and his reflections and ruminations regarding her untimely death. In the poem “God Bless Sympathy,” Philips takes an amused look at all those well-meaning clichés we send forth in a nervous flurry:

“God bless sympathy
greatest of all the symphonies
even when it’s not in key,
you still taste the notes.

With a receding tongue
that is trying to escape
another coming wave,
heading for two kind ears…

You’d think you had died already
by the tone of this embrace.
A tad less sensitivity
may help you stay awake…”

And as in any relationship, there is a dance of deception we all play. “Terminal Orchid,” examines denial and resignation for the mother and son:

“On the way home
by the corner of our road
I turn to look at my mother,
as a tear stains her laughter.

I tell her she’ll look a million dollars,
in that gray hairpiece we found.
An orchid that has finally bloomed,
with colours so strong and proud.”

This is a sensitive and thought-provoking book from a young poet residing in England. Recommended.

Doug Holder/ Ibbetson Update/ Somerville, Mass. 02143

Monday, June 12, 2006

*This poem was published in "Tales from the City" in The Boston Globe Magazine Section.


This is a poem about a sign I saw outside Savenor's gourmet food shop in Cambridge. It also deals with a favored Chinese joint of mine.


Imagine . . .what a place for Wild Boars.
Pressed into a tamed tenderloin
for the most cultivated and savage Cambridge tongue.
And forgive me - If I slip away to the Hong Kong
and gorge on an unapologetically
greasy eggfoo yong.

DOUG HOLDER /// Somerville

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.