Bill Harvey is a cartoonist working as a technician in the Detroit area. His comic appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.
Bill Harvey is a cartoonist working as a technician in the Detroit area. His comic appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.
Stone Soup Servings is a regular series for Oddball Magazine that features upcoming performers at Stone Soup Poetry, the long-running spoken word venue in the Boston area that has partnered with Oddball Magazine. Stone Soup Poetry now meets from 7-9 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery’s new location at 541 Massachusetts Avenue in Central Square Cambridge, Massachusetts. The open mike sign-up at 6:30 p.m.
On November 30, you are encouraged to come out of the holiday weekend and attend Angelica Maria Aguilera’s feature this month. Read one of the many poems she’s read at the Stone Soup Poetry Slam and elsewhere these past few months. Her work has won her many fans in the Boston area, and hopefully you will join us this coming Monday.
chronic resting bitchface
CRB stands for chronic resting bitchface-
The newest heap of bullshit disguised in a joke, to tell women yet again how we are supposed to look.
You see, I’ve been carrying a pocket knife since age 11.
Where I’m from you’re guard is like your GPA-
if you’re smart,
you keep that shit up.
This look on my face, these curved lips and darted eyebrows,
mouth that is statue still as I walk, is an expression perfected over time.
my bitchface is a skill.
A technique practiced for 20 years,
my bitchface is thousands of streets walked alone,
my bitchface is “try me and I’ll put a key to your throat.”
My bitchface has no friends with it, must defend itself always.
My bitchface is not sorry.
My bitchface is in a room full of men making rape jokes and is the only one not laughing.
My bitchface is tired, from walking forty extra minutes home because the streets are lit that way.
My bitchface does not want to Netflix and chill.
My bitchface smiles-
and still gets called a bitch.
Man in front of the barber shop tells me to look happy. Man in front of the barber shop wants me pretty.
No, I want to tell him pretty is too easy to hurt. Pretty is too light to take without anyone noticing, pretty puts a target on my chest. Pretty got me followed home at twelve years old, pretty got my neighborhood friend raped out in front of her house, pretty turns me into a ghost. Makes me victim, makes it my fault.
My bitchface has a lot more to worry about than looking pretty.
And here you are, telling me if I do not, twenty-four seven, contribute to your viewing pleasure I have a disorder.
It blows my mind, how are you going to say bitchface is an epidemic and not acknowledge rape? Wonder why women do not always smile. Why we do not always just pick up your compliments like free cheesecake-
for some of us a compliment has always been the hammer cocked back before the trigger,
so do not expect me not to flinch when you call me beautiful.
So no, this is not just my resting face,
this is endurance,
this is being woman,
this is sometimes the only weapon we have,
this is surviving war every day and being ready for it
Over the past year we’ve featured an up and coming artist from Boston who calls himself Sur5ill. We were drawn to his brand of nerd rap and Work mixtape, and captivated by his ability to blend complex lyricism, clever punch lines, and vivid storytelling all within the framework of a concept record. With his latest mixtape, Exception, Sur5ill brings all of these elements together yet again in an impressive manner. In many ways, Exception conveys the tale of a man maneuvering through life balancing inner-city tendencies with both self- societally-imposed expectations.
From a lyrical standpoint, his bars are carefully crafted throughout. Sur5ill uses strong rhyme patterns and a healthy variance of flows, tones (sometimes on his own, sometimes via vocal effects), and deliveries. Right off the bat, on the first track, appropriately titled, “Exception To The Rule Intro”, Sur5ill transitions from a mid-tempo, sharp couplet based delivery into a double-timed staccato flow to conclude the track. What’s great about the switch-up is that he announces it in the rhyme leading up to such, rapping, “now, I, have some bravado, I rap in stoccato…” He’s not only displaying his skills, he’s telling us what to check for. I can dig it.
Track by track, he gives us a glimpse into many of the internal tug-of-wars he experiences throughout his journey. For example, my favorite moment on the record comes on the hook for a track entitled, “Honor Thy Father”, where Sur5ill discusses the impact and intricacies of his relationship with his father. He simply states, in an almost resigned yet matter-of-fact tone, “I ain’t trying to be social, I’m just trying to be pleasant.” As a stand-alone bar, it’s a relatable sentiment, at least to me. We all have moments where we engage, and maybe even enjoy a little schmoozing; some more than others. But for the most part, much like Sur5ill’s line, I’d rather just keep to self, more often than not. I’m glad you’re well, let’s catch up another time… In the larger context of the track, it evokes a lot more than just relatability. And that’s why I dig this song. It’s deep. Sur5ill is clever, funny, confident, and boastful at various points throughout the mixtape, but taking nothing away from the stellar bar for bar composition of this track, it stands out because it’s powerful. It’s a moment of honest self-reflection, accented by an ethereal sounding beat that feels equal parts banger and trance, but driven by the sheer potency of the lyrics. Here’s and example:
Like father like son’s dumb, it’s a sentiment I run from
Candidly, it’s all a bunch of bullshit and I shunned tons
Yeah, think about it: that’s a lot of dung flung
I drown in fucking rum punch this damage can’t be undone
What’s alarming to me is the farmers believe
That the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
Voluntarily and involuntarily
In those ways I have allowed
Knowingly and unknowingly
So much Damage
“Maturing” or is it evolving or developing?
In ways of the known
I receive karma
My personal journey has allowed magnificent highs visited by core shattering lows
Good thing I can take the blows
Voluntarily I’ve walked on glass
Immortality is a mystery.
Involuntarily I have been burned
With a stake through my heart
I love blood
I give all that much.
Knowingly I have ingested, invested, diverted from and toward
Away and Into the Light
You know that place in your Life.
Unknowingly I have been guided mis misguided misplaced
It’s a good thing I stand in my place and can’t possibly lose my way.
So much damage.
RECOVERY is the point
Cambio al Alma
Le da vida a la vida.
To MY 4 corners.
Thank You and may all the wonders I have missed or ignored or mishandled be given to MY generations
Whom I love
As I’ve been
As I am.
Forgiveness is the reflection
Self-Love is the sermon
Here’s my AMEN
Entering my fourth decade
It won’t be of decorative decay
THANK YOU for showing your presence and all possibilities
Liza Zayas is a lover of writing and dancing and celebrates both as a singer and songwriter performing as Luna del Flor. You can hear her collaborative sounds and experience life through her storytelling. She invites you to dance. Her poetry seeks to initiate dialogue by intentionally expressing consequences of love, lust, ego and self-respect
Geronimo-ohhh! the big boys yelled as they launched off the long branch
of an old, old oak tree clutching umbrellas and sheet ends as they hurtled
down onto a stack of mattresses on a devastated box springs, Geronimo-ohhh
we would scream as we tore off the lip of the dune to somersault and tumble in sand wave
Geronimo-ohhh! we would yell as we jumped into the Au Sable River from C.C.C. bridge
Geronimo-ohhh! was what the airborne troopers cried as they shuffled out the door
of the plane with nothing but a static line and unconscious prayer. When the special forces
rangers, the ultimate anti-insurgent forces of the greatest military power in the history
of the world, rappel down out of their Black(hawk) helicopters on their lips is the name
of the greatest guerilla warrior of all time, this small man named Geronimo-ohhh …
He fought the armies of 2 countries over more than thirty years, dodging back and forth
over their border. It took 5,000 troops of the U.S. Army over two years to finally force
the surrender of his tiny band of 38 women, children and men.
They say an Apache Warrior cold lose a man on a horse, running across the desert.
He knew every rock, cactus and hole in that desert. In my illustrated shaman book
I find this quote from his autobiography: “As I sing I go through the air to a holy place
where Yusun, (the supreme) being will give me power to do wonderful things. I am
surrounded by little clouds and as I go through the air I change becoming spirit only.”
In the picture above he kneels on one knee with Sharps rifle gripped fiercely in talons
of his steely hands. His hair parted in the middle falls down to his shoulders around
his mouth in a downturned line across his face that looks at us with inimitable intensity
from under the harsh line of his eyebrows. Underneath it says, “The Apache shaman-chief.”
This is not a man to mess with, but then I find in the Monday Boston Globe an article which
tells the story of Geronimo’s great grandson Harlyn who has heard the Yalie legend that
after Geronimo died in 1909 and was buried at Ft. Sill, where he was eventually held after
his capture by Gen. Miles, Prescott Bush and two other Yale undergrads brought to the fort
by WW I dug up his skull and some long bones and they are used to this day in the rituals
of a secret Skull and Bones Society at the university. Harlyn is demanding the return of his
great grandfather’s remains so they can be buried at his birth spot along the Gila River, Arizona.
No one (except members of the secret Skull and Bones Society) knows if there really are bones stored
in a fraternity vault at Yale U. Only a D.N.A. test could prove they are Geronimo’s skull and long bones.
Anyway both presidential candidates in 2004, George Bush and John Kerry were members of the secret
society. George Bush, “the great decider,” was said to have been the one who heated up a wand in the
fireplace to brand new members in initiation ceremonies. Every time I see him now on T.V. the supreme
select president, Geronimo’s skull burns my brain and Geronimo’s bones are buried deep in my body.
And then they went and named the raid to kill Osama bin Laden you know ……. Geronimo-ohhhhhh.
So here we are still at war with the natives only now the natives are all over the world where the violent
frontiers know no boundaries except the black and white chess board of the New World Order of the
Neo-Great Game of the 21st Century and Geronimo-ohhhh! we all yell as we bail out of our crashing craft
we call civilization over the super-heated pulse of El Nino here’s hoping our personal parachutes will open
and somehow we will all land between the tropical storms and the typhoons swirling in unprecedented
numbers as we try to gather together to retake what is left of our planet, Earth, as we yell Geronimo-ohh,
Geronimo-ohhhh as we fall.
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.
When I played with your nipple ring
I would flake the metal back and forth between my fingers
as if translating the foreignness in the dark. Nearby,
a mouth upturned, parted earth, would exist.
If I pretended hard enough, that mattress
where we forgave the hours was a bed
of browning pine needles.
This was how your body felt, soft
and easy. Tucked in your adjacent, I would count the rings,
rake your coasts for stillness. I listened
to your humanness like a sort of mythology,
categorized the peaks in terms of wanting, deserving, meaning.
There were always mountains and I wanted to climb them.
There was always some other impediment.
Whatever happens, it was years and then we arrived.
Whatever happens, I have loved you like a continent, drifting.
Faith Breisblatt is a licensed social worker living in Boston. Her work can be seen in Found Poetry Review, Scripting Change, Toe Good Poetry, and elsewhere.
Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters. Glenn is also the official photographer for the Newton Writing and Publishing Center.