I’m sitting in what I call the Dayroom,
the large community space open area
where the T.V. and VCR live
as I talk to this young Boston College
graduate student who last night came on the unit
still raving, took off all his clothes
vibrated on the bed in grand mal seizure
yelped and screamed psychotic banshee
and had to be confronted at the door of his room
so he wouldn’t come out stark bark naked
before we finally restrained him on his bed.
Now he describes Wittgenstein and Heidegger
the Anglo American and Continental schools of philosophy
the positivist analytical and holistic wings
that human thought seems to have been
chopped in too two into
in the last modern century
and how he was trying to find a way
to heal that Grand Canyon rift
when he went bonkers psychedelic insane.
Then I go into the nurse’s station
and tear off yesterday’s page
of the Little Zen Calendar to discover:
“Most propositions and questions
to be found in philosophical words
are not false but nonsensical.”
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.
The blank cupboard door splattered in old dinner sauces
Bends open and reveals the random platters, travel mugs, and assorted cereal boxes.
Cheerios = oats, flour, sugar, and a variety of intangible ingredients.
The stench of urine emits from the box.
Why does it smell this way?
The o’s jingle into the ceramic curves of the festive blue bowl.
The wholesome milk splashes down in a whimsical wet noise
Painting the cereal white.
A well-crafted pop tune to my ears.
I’m lead by a green meadow.
I’m sat beside a peaceful stream.
The milk displaces the empty space between the little rings.
Five years ago,
I dreamt of a world made of light.
A tree stood in the midst of this radiance.
There I sat sheltered from the blinding white rays with a young woman.
She turned her shoulders towards me and said, “I’m not interested in you.”
She had uttered the same phrase a few days earlier
To make clear to me her feelings as we departed one night in January
After a cup of chamomile and a chat in a cafe.
“I’m not interested in you.”
I understood and said good night.
A few weeks later she was calling to see if I wanted to hang out.
We went to a grocery store to purchase fresh vegetables for a salad.
After enjoying our meal, she switched on the keyboard that was balancing upon the bookshelf.
I picked up my guitar and we sang and played “Across the Universe.”
Five years later,
She joins me at the breakfast table with our son in her arms and another child inside of her.
Instead of staying up all hours reading poetry and painting,
We go to bed early after watching a movie.
Our days are filled with work, childcare and chores.
These are the bricks, but the mortar is our conversations
Whether we are discussing plans for the future or what to have for dinner.
To see and hear one another is good
And what a pleasurable grace it is to enjoy breakfast with my wife.
The old brown mug is still in perfect condition
And I pour out the fresh hot brew from the french press.
Though the beans are from the wholesale club,
They still smell delicious when ground and steeped.
The aromas of earth, smoke, and fruit hit me.
My cup overflows.
The black coffee is strong and stimulating against my lips.
Now time to change my son’s diaper.
Andrew Borne is 2 Cups Poet 1 teaspoon Musician 1/4 teaspoon Salt 1/2 cup Absurdity 3/4 cup Chef 1 egg, beaten 2 1/3 cups Family Man. Mixed together and served raw. His column 7x appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.
Janet Cormier loves Market Basket. I am not afraid to let the world know it.
I brag about Market Basket prices the way sports fans brag about their teams’ stats. I admit I didn’t become a Market Basket convert until 8 years ago, and I only shop at the Somerville store. But I have spoken to shoppers at other store locations and you know what? We sound like the members for some teen heart throb’s fan club. A friend and I plan our Market Basket trips a week ahead. Our journey involves crossing a bridge, battling traffic, and breaking out in prayers to St. Anthony to find a parking space. No matter how early we arrive, the parking lot is full and the store is packed. We are convinced some shoppers camp out in the lot overnight. But that’s all part of the Market Basket shopping experience.
Once inside, it’s like shopping in the UN. The mix of products reflects the diversity of the staff and customers. Shopping at Market Basket is a family affair. It is not unusual to see 3 generations of one family traveling through the aisles. And the workers are experts at multitasking…stocking shelves, wheeling out products, and still remain ready to help customers as well as each other.
Market Basket’s success is in part due to the product prices. But don’t under estimate the value and power of Market Basket’s culture. Culture is elusive, it is like air. But over the past weeks we have witnessed Market Basket’s unique workplace culture. It is reflected in the unity among workers and customers as well as the bond between the workers and their ousted President, Arthur T. Demoulas. When was the last time you heard about workers and management uniting to protect their company president?
I support the workers and DeMoulas. His business model is humane and meets the bottom line. We are struggling in crazy economic times: companies sacrificing workers for profits and despite the “official” count, unemployment is still rampant. Many people struggle to put food on their tables. And don’t be fooled, this may be 2014, but the tradition of ‘gated communities’ is not dead. The subtle manipulation of housing and food costs are effective strategies for keeping the gate locked.
For me, a victory for the Market Basket staff and Anthony T’ is a victory for us. And isn’t it time that we the people win!
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot. Her column appears weekly on Oddball Magazine.
My hands don’t always shake when I speak
it goes. Just another finky, disembodied voice
trapped inside a greeting card. I guess.
The way I see it there are just
people who like to hear their names
in a song and people who don’t.
Your turn. Harvest Moon,
moon over fillies, even calmer moon
than ‘moon as yoga you can do in your car’
What’s it going to be?
I’m going to get around to writing the story
called “Likely Story.” Remind me
when it’s Derby Day.
I like to catch
just a few of these things
happening the same
to us both. Like the Golden Globes.
There are still four unknown continents
and I don’t want to let go of that yet.
My god is a very tit-for-tat god
but I ask for it a lot.
cancel ticket please refund
quick. I’m thinking of a number. I wouldn’t usually ask
but please. Ben. Can I borrow your wet trousers.
No reason. I’m not one of those girls who falls asleep
on other peoples laundry, I just like watching you buy milk
you drunken goon. And you still haven’t told me
who’s the biggest bathroom hog in your family? I like
making people do what I say. repeat three times fast:
cancel ticket please refund cancel ticket peas reflub can
you ticket place reefer. I like pot. I like tricking you into talking
about superheroes. I don’t think it’s true that all British people
pronounce it “suburus” Ben. Its just you. The number was one.
I’m sitting down. I’m reading your book so I can’t catch you
biting an imaginary toothpick and not looking at me nonstop
like a beautiful loon. Oh, I don’t know why one.
Just one. Thanks for the salmon Ben. It was so awful.
Nobody should ever buy salmon at Kings Cross
but thanks for the salmon Ben. Thank you so much!
I tell you holding your wrist like a small warm device
and we are on the train already
Lucy Tiven is a freelance writer, essayist and couch potato. She lives in California. Her book pilot light is forthcoming from Plain Wrap.
Allison Goldin is an artist living in Cambridge. Her work is a collection of spontaneous drawings from the imagination. The most common link throughout her art are the semi-recognizable creatures scattered amongst and bringing together the surrounding doodles. She is currently studying Illustration at The School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
I knew a man who soundproofed
his Fenway apartment with egg
cartons. Was it heat? Was it art?
Glued up on the ceiling with egg white or poop
I didn’t ask
He took me to the roof
and tried to kiss—an old egg carton pucker
But his old man sweater smelled
like bad egg and cat pee
and so I said no thanks
He was married
after a fashion
He couldn’t see well
after a fashion
Did he hear those city egg cartons scream?
I didn’t ask.
Ruth Lehrer is a writer and sign language interpreter living in western Massachusetts. Her writing has been published in journals such as Trivia: Voices of Feminism, Everyday Genius, Meat for Tea, and Biostories.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.
We have to fight like stars.
Or do we?
I wonder if we have to.
I have decided to look at the stars twice a night
Maybe three times, maybe more
I might just try and stare longer
You should try it.
Stare one hour into the night sky.
I want to think like the sun setting, and the stars rising.
And I wonder why not let them watch my sun set, and highlight my missteps
And they can watch me, fight
to be noticed
Think about it,
Each star is travelling miles to shine into your life
And a star lives a volatile life
and a violent death
exploding to become for you.
That fucking star has thrown itself from galaxy to galaxy
to appear in your hazy field of vision
It has traveled years and years,
for your momentary happiness.
Just trying to light the city and the suburbs
over the skyless ocean side.
Just to try and make you
fucking notice it.
Me. I appreciate it.
I see the sunrise from a photograph,
and I get it.
I look inward at my sunset when I need a laugh.
But as people, the world is as large as the largest moonlit sky.
So why do we fight poet?
There’s enough sky for us all.
Jason Wright is the founder and Editor of Oddball Magazine. His column appears weekly.