Saturday, May 09, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 34

Thomas DeFreitas was born in 1969 in Boston. Alumnus of the Boston Latin School, he attended the University of Massachusetts in both Boston and Amherst for two years all told. His work has appeared in Dappled Things, Ibbetson Street, Muddy River Poetry Review, Plainsongs, and elsewhere. Tom lives in Arlington, Mass., and is a member both of the Bee Hive Poets and the New England Poetry Club.

Day at a Time

Pent-up by fear of what prowls
microscopically through open air,
felling the feeble, rattling the robust,
I pace from corner to corner
of my cluttered two-room flat,
where poems multiply like dust-bunnies,
where worries go viral,
where rumors of wakening leaflife
seep in through drafts
around the bedroom window.

Eager for that happy evening
weeks or months from now
when once more I can hug
the weary fellow members
of my folding-chair fraternity,
serene, courageous, wise,
or trying to be.

Battle-scarred veterans
of long wars against themselves
who brush away self-pity in a newbie
with a gruff "Tough shit, kiddo,
just don't pick up."

I miss the quarts of coffee
brewed with inept enthusiasm,
strong enough to peel paint.

I miss the Oreos and Chips Ahoy.

I miss the truck-drivers
who drop F-bombs
and dangerous women
in knee-high boots
who make the truckers blush.

Sure, there's the laptop screen
bradybunching e-meetings
into our cozy homes.

But I look forward to the day
when I can ride the bus
as it crawls down car-clotted avenues
to get me to the basement
of St Martin's Church
just in time for the moment of silence.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Poem during the Plague: Poem 33

Joy Martin

Southern-born, Joy makes her home in the Boston area, with memberships in the Newton Poetry Group and the Poetry Society of Virginia. Her poems explore the many facets of life, including her and broader humanity’s place and challenges within it.

A Recombinant Tale

Horseshoe bat meets
scaly anteater
Scanning electron microscope
shows yellows
emerge amidst
pinks and blues.

Surface proteins
mutate, roam until
human host found
then escalate
to pandemic form
leaving calling-card
antibodies in you.

Tale’s origin?
Location unknown.

Poem During the Plague: Poem 32

Gloria Mindock

Gloria Mindock is the editor of Cervena Barva Press, the author of five books of poetry, and was the Poet Laureate of Somerville in 2017 and 2018.

             for a protester

Is social distancing really that hard?
Everyday, you distance yourself.
From that phone call, you didn’t want to take.
From a person, you did not want to see.
From someone, who talks too much.

Some isolation is good…
emails will have to suffer.
It is over quickly. Hello, good-bye, delete.

Protect yourself.
Soon enough, that hug, you realize was phony.
You mean nothing. Sickness may come..

The heart dies a little, but you carry on.
Numb, you watch TV, which takes the place of love.
Finally, you turn it off and go for a walk.

The sun is shining and with a mask on,
underneath, you make a face no one can see of
disdain and sadness.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Jason Chase: Child of the 'burbs and an artist in Somerville

Somerville artist Jason Chase sent us this statement about himself:

"Painter, culture vulture, artist Jason Chase is an American every man. Like most of us, he was raised on a diet of TV shows and cereal. His mom managed the household while his dad brought home the bacon, and he went off to college and even did a stint in grad school. However, unlike most of us, his consumption of culture and the world around him manifested itself into some of the most peculiar visual art. But unlike the bulk of pop culture, Chase doesn’t aim to mock his suburban roots as much as explore them and his role within that realm. The results are vivid and deceptively innocuous, but never shopworn."

Tell us about your Somerville experience.

I have lived in Somerville for over 10 years. My home and studio are in Spring hill.  I love how Somerville just keeps getting friendlier and friendlier to the arts community.  It’s a very comfortable place to create. 

Our city is unique because it keeps evolving.  Every year some new venue or event gets created and I love the direction it’s headed. 

What are you working on?

I’m currently working on some oil paintings involving Barbie, and I’m always working on pieces that use the blackest black, Singularity black. 

In the future I hope to black out a wrecked motorcycle and a wrecked car, pretty large scale pieces and it will take a lot of work and funding to pull off.  None of the pieces I’m making right now involve the pandemic, but it’s only a matter of time until I make something that addresses it.  It’s inevitable, all of my work is about my own life, and this is a new reality.  I’m being cautious about forcing a piece out now though, there is usually a lot of bad art made about tragedies when they’re not thought out and quick like a knee jerk reaction. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 31

Renuka Raghavan tends to focus on brief, dramatic prose and poetry. She is the author of Out of the Blue (Big Table Publishing, 2017) a collection of short fiction and poetry, and more recently, The Face I Desire (Nixes Mate, 2019).  Renuka is a reader for Indolent Books and the Lily Poetry Review. She also serves as the fiction book reviewer at Červená Barva Press, and is a co-founder of the Poetry Sisters Collective.

Renuka Raghavan

More than twice recently
I’ve heard children
wanting nothing more
than to caress the bodies
of their dying parents.

These children are not young,
but their parents would still welcome
any slow
any gentle
any rhythmic touch.

These children may be overwhelmed,
looking after their own,
and praying,
praying to be physically present

and move their fingers
against the cheeks of their parents
or grandparents
or aunts
or uncles

in just the same way
one might stroke
the soft cheeks of a newborn
who took her first breath
surrounded in hope.

And I am reminded
of the intimacy of habit,
of how we take simple things,
like a parting touch, for granted,
of how tenderness means the most
when it is missing.

Poem During the Plague: Poem 30

Matthew A. Hamilton

Matthew A. Hamilton holds an MFA from Fairfield University and a MSLIS from St. John’s University. He is a 6-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of national and international journals, including Atticus Review, Coe Magazine, Noctua Review, Burnt Bridge, Boston Literary Magazine, Cha: An Asian Literary JournalMuddy River Poetry Review, Tuck Magazine, Speckled Trout Review, and Projected Letters His chapbook, The Land of the Four Rivers, published by Cervena Barva Press, won the 2013 Best Poetry Book from Peace Corps Writers. His second poetry collection, Lips Open and Divine, was published in 2016 by Winter Goose. He and his wife live in Richmond, Virginia. Visit him here.

Escape Room

A closed door,
an unexpected virus,
days watching the news,
we grow tired of counting bodies
heaved inside refrigerator trucks.
Isolated from the familiar,
we play The Forbidden Castle,
riddle cards and clue cards
scattered on the table
like dead soldiers
from some forgotten war,
and we—unfamiliar with battle
and chaos and bodies so deep
and stacked like cord wood—
overlook the change of seasons,
vacations and sports and birthdays
cancelled, but plenty of missed funerals.
Minutes turn into weeks, and we hover
like ghosts in a locked room where we
cannot escape the darkness of cemeteries.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 29

Marie Louise St.Onge
Marie Louise’s writing has appeared in anthologies and literary magazines across the country including Yankee Magazine, Clackamas Literary Review, Permafrost, Café Review, Balancing Act 2, and Grief Becomes You. She is the Executive Editor of Ad Hoc Monadnock – A Literary Anthology, a former editor for The Worcester Review, and a contributor to French Class: French Canadian-American Writings on Identity, Culture and Place. Marie Louise has read her poetry at universities, art and community centers, and bookstores throughout New England. Massachusetts born, she makes her home on the coast of southern Maine.

On the Thirtieth Day of Isolation (Covid-19) 
Marie Louise St.Onge 

Just over four weeks now, no store 
no pharmacy no haircut no meetings 
no movies no museum no protests 
no handshakes no hugs no gym simply  
solo walks along the shore. Respite indeed  
when I pull in more than my share of salted air  
and negative ions, listen carefully  
for the dogs’ barks and the surf’s voice  
rising and falling, speaking and pretty  
much always uttering something  
said before.  

When she said she was making a trip 
to the grocery and asked if I needed anything 
I found my way to yes…I found my way to yes. 
Make a list she saidMemory. Over four decades ago 
my aunt, wrapped inside a world she could not 
see, made lists: ½ lb. hamburger, one chicken breast, 
two white potatoes, ¾ lb. green beans, one quart  
orange juice, a single loaf of Wonder, 
half dozen eggs, a shaker of Ajax, two rolls  
of toilet paper, one Whitman’s pecan roll  
and a package of English muffinsMy aunt said yes.  

There is a long list of things we don’t know today  
and will not tonight or tomorrow or even next week.  
We’re living blind. So much we’ve not learned 
but now in this time of much time  
may we practice…...patience compassion stamina. 
In these lean days while we touch nothing  
except our worries, may we be moved toward grace.  
Trees persist with their bold budding, frogs are readying  
their pulse, crows build nests and mares enter estrus.  
Today I made a grocery list, such a plain way of baring need,  
leaning in and accepting a blown kiss.