April Poetry Fundraiser

Day 13

The Poet’s Day 
by Mandy Berry

I want to tell you everything
that I keep inside my jacket,
under my hair.
Sit down –
let me tell you all about
my mother’s childhood home,
my dad’s many jobs,
laughter in the morning,
running to see an R-rated movie
while carrying mango smoothies,
predicting every plot twist,
forgetting the podcast tour I missed,
walking into a bookstore
that’s closing down soon,
the carpet and book smells
that make me feel
complete,
and let me tell you about
the emptiness that follows:
Going home,
picking up a pizza,
watching Hulu over paper plates,
the detachment when
my mom yells at the cat,
when I want to leave the room
and spend some time
alone in the kitchen,
when the laughter of the morning
feels a million years
away…

I would tell you,
transplant you into my day,
if I could.

But I can’t.

There’s only so much time to write
and only so much
that words on a paper
can do.

****

Holy Thursday at Hopkins
by S.A. Bowden

I.
The teal ribbon
Symbolizing sexual assault awareness month
Felt heavy
I acknowledge that rape culture exists
I thought of all the non-sexism I’ve experienced
How safe and equal I feel
And yet
There are so many stories
How can they all be true
I believe and support victims
This part is less uncertain
They weighed down the ribbon as I pinned it on my Hopkins t-shirt

II.
At the writing seminar class
I sat at the table like I belonged with the students
Wanting to show my enthusiasm
The graduate student began the lesson: poetry and rhyme (how fitting)
“Who can name an example of a perfect rhyme?”
I raised my hand thinking head and red
He glanced at me
“Uh, I think the purpose of this is silent observation only.”
Me, struck mute,
My thoughts stuffed back in my mouth
A sudden thought: is this how she felt?  
In that moment, I understood the fullest, most potent meaning of the verb to silence.

III.
Each student shared a poem they wrote
Mostly melancholy: suffering and tears, isolation and death, winter and cold hearts, harsh world and lonely girl
The graduate student polled the classmates
“What did you guys think?”
Not me, though.  Cut off.
I wanted to say I love the imagery, that reflected my feelings right now, I connected with that girl
Silenced
I wrote down one thing I liked about each, quietly tore off the strip
Pushed it across the table when the graduate student wasn’t looking
Some of them didn’t notice
Still silenced
Then one girl after class
“You want a copy of the poems we wrote?”
She even wrote me a note
When I said “Thanks,”
I understood the fullest, most potent meaning of the verb to be heard.

IV.
I found two dead birds outside
No blood or broken bones
I stroked their little corpses
They were so soft
I couldn’t leave them on the concrete
So I carried them on a map of Hopkins to the grass to decompose
I nearly cried

****

Bagel-Rolling Blues
by Rachel Pontious

I found myself wishing for my old boss back,
Back to the days where the tensions between us
Could be laughed off after a few batches of bagels.

My old boss didn’t disappear periodically from the shop
And the only things that stopped him from answering my messages
Were a biopsy and a diagnosis.

Who are these new people working in the shop?
Were they here before?
I don’t know–Don’t remember. It’s been months.

It’s often best to avert your eyes, sew your mouth shut,
And roll your bagel
When the lady in the back rails against everyone and everything.

Or, at least, crack a few jokes
Lighten the mood, like my old boss could.
That suggestion was not strictly adhered to today.

Today I prefer to work the register
Where the only tension in the air
Is over choosing which sandwich to order

And people’s faces light up when I greet them
Instead of lighting up with anger.
And cheery, hungry optimism is the prevailing attitude.

I want my old boss back.
Maybe just for a few minutes– I know it’s hard.
To steer us in the right direction

Maybe then he’ll offer some words of wisdom
And the lady in the back will stop grumbling
About how everything’s gonna go down when she’s gone.

And the man in the back
Will stop morosely prophesizing about how
Flat bagels will bring the shop to its demise.

Until that day comes,
I am simply content
With working the register.

****

5am
by Sam Yoseph

Can you hear me?
I’ve been calling out your name,
But can you hear me?

All the thing that I\ve been saying
Are just really
Sad and depressing to listen to.

Can you see me?
I’ve been tapping on your shoulder,
But can you see me?

You just keep on acting colder
And keep leaning
Towards a land far away from home.

I hope that you know,
I’m doing this for me,
And that everything I say,
I say in respect towards you.

Lie, I will do so,
But hurt, I will not.
Sorry about this,
Regretfully, me.

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