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 recently partnered with Oddball Magazine. Stone Soup Poetry meets from 8-10 p.m. every Monday at the Out of The Blue Art Gallery at 106 Prospect Street with an open mike sign-up at 7:30 p.m.
Consider April 21 as a prelude to the upcoming Massachusetts Poetry Festival with Salem State University instructor, poet, festival volunteer and activist Jennifer Jean, who will be reading this Monday from her latest collection The Fool. Below is an excerpt from the book, which was first published in North Dakota Quarterly.
The last time we were driving in the city we fought over words
I can’t remember, nearly careening off an onramp.
He insisted I said yak yak and meant blah blah, vice versa, and so
rim and axle were wrecked. Our car shambled
down to a city mechanic and crashed
at his place for the weekend. I was stunned silent, imagining
our Blazer in flight. Apparently—triumphantly—
some lowdown spirits attached to city-stink and domestic ferocity
had slyly spurred us, hoping against hope
to reaffirm their own earthbound happenstance,
their own sad resignations.
But this week—this time
on our toes—we crossed the bridge, skipping over the city.
And I warned those pitiful spirits, “We’re here to play
together.” We all behaved. We let the radio talk
and drove straight to Ocean Beach where half way down Pier 42,
a few notes I had taken— incomprehensible
villanelle conception or grocery list—came loose,
lifted off. So, I stepped out on the water
at once. We had come to an open space
along the quay, where fishermen could cast long lines out to the farthest
possible facade of the sea;
where the splintered barrier wood dwindled, unable to keep me in
a standstill. My first step on water was for balance—
my arm arced, clutching after the folds of those notes.
The second step, for fright, caught me fast—
divided between two surfaces. This seemed wrong so I tiptoed,
following the paper’s flux for a few yards,
scooping it up when the wind was lazy.
It didn’t take long to come back. I hauled myself onto the pier.
He’d been watching. Maybe other people were watching.
He said, I don’t believe you
almost let it get away. I shook my head and opened my mouth,
then closed it. Not one spirit clamored through salt-air to speak,
not one battered grandmother, jilted great-aunt, ancient suicide maiden
came around to spit through me, join me, wreck things.
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