Category Archives: Featured Readers

Poems by Laurie Duggan

August 7th

Warm light through tall windows,
tin rooves bleached
under a pale sky,
verandah shadows.
It is the day of the Census
in which we get
to make our lives up
as though there were more
than atmosphere in the account.
Coffee, a newspaper
(the death of Christopher Skase
or should that read ‘death’
the tycoon cunningly
disguised as a funerary urn).
I read back over
poems written from memory
casting years of a life
in terms of events
and discover I’ve got
the situations wrong,
I’m out, in fact
two to three years
in one poem, between
recollection and historical event.
Should I alter the detail,
unravel what
false memory has set up?
or would this allow
too much weight to poems
as documents. The sixties
and seventies for my students
are a blur of seemingly
related events and styles
– for me they’re periodised
by year (except for this
mistake I’ve made in my poem)
so should it matter?
(should it matter to see Elvis
as sequinned from birth,
a product of Vegas, not
Tupelo: RCA Elvis,
not Sun Elvis?). This
is where duration
overrides chronological time,
the space it takes
to drink a cup of coffee
versus what goes down on paper
in parallel, but opening out;
language exiting
through lexical doorways,
living its diverse lives,
enveloping, dissolving even
the maker of mistakes,
his view of rooftops
tricks of light
over an inner suburb.
The very unsettledness
distills a great calm
as though after crawling
through ducts, one had
stepped out into
limitless space.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++August 2001

Difference and repetition

The sheet darkens
with added ink, lightens
when the contrast eases.
Enlarged, a comma
becomes a bent lake
on a map, diminished
an impurity in the paper.
From a distance a world
of ruled margins and neat
habitations, closer
it’s a mess, repeated over
and over, nearly
but not quite a replica,
a simple pattern with variations,
pier of small black crosses
invisible, almost, against
a sea of hyphens.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++January 2002

October 27: Laurie Duggan and Patrick Pritchett

for the final All Small Caps reading

on Monday, October 27, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

lauriedugganLaurie Duggan was born in in Melbourne, Australia in 1949 and was involved in the poetry worlds of that city and Sydney through the 1970s and 80s. In 2006 he moved to England an currently lives in Faversham, Kent.  He has published some twenty books of poems together with Ghost Nation, a work about imagined space.  His most recent volumes are The Epigrams of Martial (Pressed Wafer, Boston, 2010); The Pursuit of Happiness (Bristol, Shearsman, 2012); The Collected Blue Hills (Sydney, Puncher & Wattman, 2012) and Allotments (Shearsman, 2014).

Pritchett (2)Patrick Pritchett
 is Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Amherst College. His academic work focuses on poetry, disaster, and the messianic. Among his many publications are essays on Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Ronald Johnson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Fanny Howe, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart. His books of poetry include Burn, Gnostic Frequencies, and Song X.



Poems by Stephen Philbrick

As Though A Grocer Sat In His House

They need me, every hour they need me and I cried,
not because they need so much,
but because they need so bad.

They need me to ‘facilitate’
to call their crazy friend
not to say a word, but listen to a world.
Then there’s the mother cherishing her child
to the point of cleaning and folding and tucking his soul away
in a cedar chest,
to keep it safe from moths —
for never and a day.

How much they need.
How little it is, what they ask me to do.

It is as though a grocer sat in the morning light,
sat before he went to open up the store,
sat in his house and cried
because people are so hungry and all he has is food.

Just The Dark Of An April Moon

Passion riddles the familiar landscape.
Like some neighbor’s house turned inside-out
by police and ambulance light, by sirens and stretchers and questions.

Say you find a rusted-out Ford by an abandoned stone wall in the woods:
isn’t the body shot through with .22’s?
weren’t they pointed by some forgotten boys ?
and could the boys ever forget the thrill of the windshield
crazing and webbing and finally caving in
beneath stones cast for the sheer destruction of it?

Or: listen to the owls these nights;
what do the owls know?
The death-in-life and life-in-death that is their hunting?
Or the death-in-life and life-in-death that is their mating?

Look at the big hole in the woods
where once there was a small hole
where hornets passed in and out of their underground nest.
Then the skunk — who else?
impenetrable fur and fell claws and impossible smell: awefull! —
the skunk dug up the nest and ate the larvae.

Something is running through the swamps these nights,
tongue out, tail flat out, claws out,
testicles descended, territory defended,
eggs flecked and flocked and ready to drop;
hot on the scent, smelling like heat;
too deep in the dark to hear; too deep in the swamp to see;
but too deep in the blood to ignore.

The ridge resounds with it, through the feet;
the heart hears what the ears can’t and waits and hopes;
and all the quiet earth pricks up and heaves itself open.

Now, that’s passion.
It’s what we inherit;
it’s how we inherit.

And that’s just the dark of an April moon;
that’s just the spurt of spring,
the holy ghost of Easter passing through the husk of tomorrow
and the dry leaves that last year shed.

Poems by Patrick Pritchett

Beginning with a Line from Peter Riley

This is where love fastens us to the earth, undoing us as dust, long fade to anonymity, of a thousand evenings in which the one thing that matters most is not the end of day, but the abolition of beginnings.

Because living is impure light, stolen from a darkness that commands it, & what is lost haunts us with the promise of another, truer disaster.

The mute globe of breath in the heart trembles – lallation & echo, subsidence on a gray shore.

Out of the pulp of matter sublimity, then senescence. Late fall to planet, the grinding hour of prayer. Ardent or faltering, a star wipes a face in a grainy photo. The yellow ivories, the smoothed woods. Listless.

The Death of the Author

for Jane Gallop

If I were a writer, and dead, then how bright the sky at evening when evening is a word for making other words.

And how I would love to be dispersed across the sky, ashes thrown to the wind and someone’s beautiful eyes reducing me to a few precious details. Travelling outside whatever my life had been, joining me to a future that cannot know me, except as a toy that resurrects the destroyed.

If I were a writer and no longer a part of my story, but given over unseen to the birds at evensong, returning to the same life, the very same and yet different. Speaking warmly with strangers at the gate, skirting the paths through the park, spying on the couples who are kissing in their sleep, a part of the larger night where everything has already happened without me.

If I were a writer, and dead, I would enter the room of sudden desires. The one with salty foods and glasses of whiskey. The book there where I had left it. Your eyes, your voice.

Whatever pierces me. Speeches me. Even now, dead, writes me.

The history of helplessness is the wish for lyric.

Song X

If the soul could —
If the soul were butter
or if the soul were dirt
it could see you better

and then where on earth
to take the spoon from sorrow?

If the drift were bigger
the weight of it, hefted —
If the slow ink of its death
dropped clear the way

then bells, after.

If the ride to the station
in winter, at night —
if the night blazed carillons
then how we’d want to

want to be bitter —
Glory of stars saying under stars.
The saying of stars is litter.

Then the soul dives —
Then the soul all under
its coat of shivers shivers —

September 29: Stephen Philbrick and Patrick Pritchett

on Monday, September 29, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

Lumberjack_1Steven Philbrick was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. He moved to the Hilltowns of Western Massachusetts 35 years ago, where he still lives with his wife, the potter Constance Talbot. He was a shepherd for many years and nineteen years ago became the minister of the West Cummington Congregational Church. His books include No Goodbye (Smith), Up to the Elbow and THREE (Adastra Press), and a prose book,The Backyard Lumberjack (Storey Publishing), co-written with his son, Frank. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, New Letters, Mudfish, Key West Review, and We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For, among others. He writes, “I have been fortunate enough to make my living in the Hilltowns for many years. This means that I have received more than I have given. And I have given all that I have, although sometimes that was not too damn much of very good. The city boy has become a country preacher, because life in the Hilltowns is slow enough, steep enough, sharp enough and soft enough that I can apprehend some of it (I don’t worry about comprehending, just yet). All of these poems are love poems, if you know how to listen.”

Pritchett (2)Patrick Pritchett
 is Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Amherst College. His academic work focuses on poetry, disaster, and the messianic. Among his many publications are essays on Ezra Pound, George Oppen, Lorine Niedecker, Ronald Johnson, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Fanny Howe, Michael Palmer, and John Taggart. His books of poetry include Burn, Gnostic Frequencies, and Song X.

August 25: Rebecca Hart Olander and Gerald Yelle

on Monday, August 25, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

rebeccaRebecca Hart Olander teaches writing at Westfield State University and is working toward her MFA in Poetry at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has recently been published in Common Ground Review, Naugatuck River Review, Connecticut River Review, Silkworm, and Lemon Hound. Earlier this year, Rebecca’s manuscript received “Honorable Mention” from Hedgerow Books, and she won the Women’s National Book Association poetry contest judged by Molly Peacock. She serves on the board of Perugia Press and on the advisory board of the “30 Poems in November!” literacy project for Center for New Americans.
Gerald YelleGerald Yelle teaches high school English in Greenfield, MA. His poems have appeared in numerous journals in print and online. The Holyoke Diaries is his first published collection. A second collection, Mark My Word and the New World Order is scheduled to be published later in 2014 by The Pedestrian Press. He is a member of the Florence (MA) Poets Society. Notes, comments and links can be found at

Poems by Gail Thomas

Sweet Hope

After the divorce, you decide to stay. The streets
have names like boats, Sweet Hope, Constant
Friendship, Amity. Vinyl split-levels and garages
wait on cul-de-sacs for SUVs to come home.

There are no kids playing ball. One neighbor waves
and asks about the dog. The fridge holds two jars of mustard,
a hunk of cheese, baloney, juice, and milk. You stand
at the sink to eat, watch golf on TV.

At 5 you uncork a bottle of red, listen to radio blues, check
the computer for weather and winks from
You pick up the patient guitar that has waited to be
touched again, curse fingers that have slowed. But calluses

come back like any story of missed chances. You coax
notes that will lift the barnacled weight of a great
ship, bright fish flashing, battered hull still visible
above the dark, lapping water.


Gallop to the lip of a precipice, feel
++++++the magnet pull of tide below
stretch its fingers. Lean over,
++++++dig your toes into each crevice
of ledge. Notice how
++++++the scraggly pine slumps as if
growing in a high, wild place
++++++has sapped its best intentions.
Tell your orphan heart to stay,
++++++even though you know the rushing air
will thrill on the long
++++++flight down.

Poems by Terry S. Johnson


The tangled cord was sliced
with one successful stroke,
my first born.

The child,
now grown and gone,
is man.

I gnaw
the muscle of motherhood
with my bare teeth.

The tissue repairs itself
each time. A lizard’s tail
severed, stubborn.

Perseid Meteor Shower

Late at night a few leave
soft beds, shuffle outside
to watch shooting stars arc
across the moonless sky.
One keeps track, the number
in fifteen minutes multiplied
by four, the hourly statistic.
You’d think he were the Greek
himself, counting snakes
on the Gorgon’s head. Others
ooh and ah, the wonder of it
all. Some stare as dust drifts
mute through the solar system.

By day the meteors also flare
but are unseen and thus
nonexistent as we push carts
in the grocery, choosing between
so many kinds of mustards,
musak mangling the mind
as a saccharine voice reminds
us that Diet Cokes are two
for one, today only.

July 28: Terry S. Johnson and Gail Thomas

on Monday, July 28, 2014

at The Deja Brew Cafe & Pub, Wendell, MA

Doors open at 7:00 p.m.

Open mic starts at 7:30 p.m.

Sliding scale admission: $1 – $5

Terry S. Johnson photoTerry S. Johnson has explored careers as a newspaper advertising clerk, a library reference assistant and a professional harpsichordist before serving as public school teacher and educational workshop leader for twenty-five years. She earned her M.F.A. in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. Coalescence, published by WordTech, is her first book. You can find her website at:
Gail ThomasGail Thomas has published two books of poetry, No Simple Wilderness: An Elegy for Swift River Valley (Haley’s) and Finding the Bear(Perugia).  Her work has appeared in more than 30 journals and anthologies, and she has won national prizes for poems that appear in her new book, Waving Back, which will be published by Word Tech in 2015.  She has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross, and she teaches at Smith College.

Three Poems by Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno

Themes and Variations

for Eric Malone

Something keeps sneaking in
between the clarinet and the guitar
In the corner of my eye a blur, a streak,
something red. In the corner of my ear
scurries, little feet, paws, antlers rubbing
against the wall, perhaps a tail dragging
across the floor. And that
shrill wail? It’s certainly not an
accordion, not a violin.
Could it be an organ grinder
with a trained monkey?

Something keeps sneaking in
underneath the clarinet.
I think it’s hiding
in the canebrake
or just beyond. But I more than sense,
in that non-sense
sense, in the downward sweep,
the upward plunge,
the tintabulant tin tin tin
at the OK chorale
a hurricane stalking the reeds.

Something keeps sneaking in
between the radio and the clarinet.
It has bison horns
and cloven feet and
huge black eyes
and ears that waggle
in the prairie wind.
It refuses to announce itself,
just stands there, arms akimbo,
as if to say my presence
is your absence.

Something keeps sneaking in
encircling the sampler and the clarinet.
Which is the way it is these days
as the dark grows longer
than Pinocchio’s nose
and the light only stands still
for a brief moment before
giving itself up for dead.
Down by the river the horizon grows.
And I think I see a muskrat
foraging in the brown skunk cabbage.
Something keeps sneaking in
playing foosball with the clarinet.
“Cleared out of the clear.”
Or something akin. Something larger
than the “s” in snake, serpent, stupendous.
surprise, serendipity. It’s there.
Hunkered in the bunker
with an old Gene Autry 45
(record, not revolver). Yet on approach
it disappears, only to reappear above us
dancing in the cold clear light.


Magic Music

for Gerrit Lansing, word musician/magician

The Chinese gong is tuned
in accordance with the cymbals,
and in the large hushed room
rhapsodic  intervals

swell an embellished scale.
A few crane their ears,
divine a hidden madrigal,
a lucent score that soars,

whirls, dances on tiptoes,
whispers for a moment, then
descends like hailstones
chasing summer rain


Valentine’s Poem

for Patricia

Depth now
+++++++and perhaps time
+++++++++++++but surely depth

Not the harsh wind
+++++++++++++blowing the snow across the path
+++++++but the sun melting
+++++++++++++the whirling flakes in mid flight.

We collect without collecting
+++++++++++++hold precious
+++++++what some would think fool’s gold.

We utter each other’s words and thoughts,
+++++++anticipate movement,
++++++++++++++++++++uncover desire in a glance
+++++++++++++or your arm in mine.

We know that time does not make poems,
+++++++that feeling truly is first
++++++++++++++++++++and that struggle becomes a gift.

And we know at the last hour
+++++++we will hop a rumbling freight train,
++++++++++++++++++++share an orange,
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++on a San Francisco hill.