Poetry Minutes

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Welcome to Erie’s hub for poetry happenings!

Tuesdays 6:00pm | Poetry Live!

Until live readings at Erie County Public Library's Hirt Auditorium are re-introduced, Poetry Live! is on Facebook and Zoom. If you're interested in reading, please register on the Erie County Public Library's event page—and everybody can watch live on Facebook!

Monday, December 6, 2021, 6:00pm | Special Poetry Live! event featuring Moheb Soliman

Poet Moheb Soliman's Great Lakes book tour comes to Erie! His recent debut collection “HOMES” (Coffee House Press, 2021) explores nature, modernity, identity, belonging, and sublimity through the site of the Great Lakes bioregion/borderland. His reading will be accompanied by wonderful local poet Chuck Joy and followed by a Q&A then closing with an open mic for all members of the community. Free admission. Blasco Memorial Library, 160 E. Front St. Erie, PA 16507
To have your poetry event listed, send information to [email protected].

Poetry Minutes on WQLN 91.3FM

WQLN, in partnership with the Erie County Poet Laureate Project, presents Poetry Minutes—poems on-the-air . . . and in-your-ear . . . from poets in Erie and around the region. Hear Poetry Minutes every day on WQLN 91.3FM, and check them out here.

by Abdullah “Bigg Wash” Washington

If we build it
The day will come
When we’ve got every little thing we need
If we build it
The Way will come
If we are serious and really Believe
How well did you sleep? Did you eat?
And did I say I love you lately?

Sometimes it might seem
Like our lives have left this building
But let’s
Build you up!
A whole lot of folks will try to tear you down,
But let’s
Build you up!

Now we can build our house out of bricks or straw,
And we both know that Love is the only Law
‘Cause a house is not a Home without
-Our foundation!
And I can’t stand
A house divided against itself.
Why such high demand on our mental health?

Now Our Lives are in this building,
So let’s
Build you up!

List the birds that also feel sadness
by Patric Nuttall

Crested Shelduck. Javan Lapwing. Yellow-pilled pintail.
Laughing Owl. Horse Field’s Babbler. Cuban Solitare.

The crows that gift a girl a copper earing found near
the Au Sable River, buried by smoothe bank-rock

For who knows how long. The corvids brings beads
And bottle caps until one day, like the girl, they vanish.

by Chuck Joy

it might have been an Edward Hopper
except it was Cliff, the neighbor
dark hair, light blue oxford shirt
seated in an Adirondack chair
front porch, high railing
the porch roof a low triangle
the whole house off-white with sky blue trim
lit bright and yellow by midmorning sun,
he’s reading a book

by Chuck Joy

takes time to show its benefit
winter like depression only slowly lifts

a snowpack can persist for months
streets and sidewalks iced and frozen such
that fragile people can not even walk their dog
their fear one misplaced thought or step
and they go down for good

one robin, a canary in a coalmine!
spring, maybe it’s links filling with golfers
the sun heating your face
takes weeks to develop trust

No Justice No Peace
by Niecey Nicole

No justice.
No peace.
No racist police.

No justice.
No peace.
They don’t care for us in the least.

No justice.
No peace.
Fix the system immediately.

No justice.
No peace.
The US exposed internationally.

No justice.
No peace.
The people have taken to the streets.

No justice.
No peace.
We are marching to this beat.

No justice.
No peace.
Because Breonna was asleep.

No justice.
No peace.
George was killed by the oppressors knee.

No justice.
No peace.
Kaepernick’s kneel of solidarity.

No justice.
No peace.
Proud Boys spread MAGA Covid 19.

No justice.
No peace.
Trump wants to sue the entire country.

No justice.
No peace.
Biden fills his cabinet with POCs.

No justice.
No Peace.
Until you let minorities be…

No justice.
No peace.
Began with
Bad police.

by Chuck Joy

thoughts pour unchecked to the sea
all the drainage in the same direction

the sun rising in the east
we all agree, east is east
of course, it’s not the sun that rises

chipmunks scurry about the meadow
prey to coyotes and hawk,
innocent flowers sprout early
tricked by unseasonal warmth

cities downstream, their harbors
god bless the child that’s got their own
almost anyone can benefit from healthcare
at least guidance about the virus

the whole round world is what turns,
our part back to catching up

by Luke Kuzmish
for my wife, Elizabeth

she is an alchemist
taking my fears and turning
them back into dust
suspending me
just long enough
over the flame
to recognize I am still mortal
what I have talked over with my Father
running and hiding
when the old floorboards
under those angry footsteps
of Sunday chores
being done begrudgingly
on Monday and Tuesday
too early

she translates
the raving lunatic speech
of an Italian ego
into a small, digestible lesson
that doesn’t mention gold watches
or notice status
above or below;
that doesn’t indicate
success as paper
or ink
or dollars

she is whole
and sometimes
I think
I am

by Chuck Joy
as part of PBS American Portrait

my parents wanted me to be
what I most wanted for me
they said, they never said
(and there were two of them)
they wanted me to be a jazz musician

maybe they never told each other

my mother didn’t play but she did
listen every day and when she did
she always listened to jazz

she didn’t have to say a thing

my dad, the other parent, seldom talked
but he could swing, he never walked
if he could dance, he clapped his hands
while he was driving but he didn’t play

and he never said a thing either

parental expectations are a calculus
none can understand especially
the developing child, a third-grader
one fateful day with those parents
in the band room choosing an instrument

eight years-old and feeling both mom and dad
encouraging him toward the trumpet
I went a different direction, the saxophone

and whatever came later as a saxophone player
I make a pretty fair drummer

by Chuck Joy
as part of PBS American Portrait

the freedom,
a cloth over my nose and mouth
allows those parts to emote at will,
dance like nobody’s watching

often I grimace but mostly I smile,
I feel freer smiling
wearing my mask

by Chuck Joy
as part of PBS American Portrait

truth and beauty

they say it takes a desert
to learn to love the rain,
this life is a desert
truth is rain

beauty it’s more complicated
many stay forever fooled,
they think beauty
is what they see

Patrick Says
by Luke Kuzmish

Patrick says
he knew
if he didn’t learn to love
other people or himself
—what’s the difference?—
he would die a junkie

Patrick says he might
be able to stay clean for
a while:
long minutes where
hope is birthed
and dies between the pulse
of the punch clock

Patrick says he can’t love
you or
if he
your love
because then it’s just business
or addiction
—what’s the difference?—
but Patrick says
he won’t die
under that thumb

by Abdullah Washington
from “Infinity Gems”

I lack faith in the power of words
I have faith in the Creator
Words ain’t a thing
Words are often wasted

But if I stopped writing,
It wouldn’t save even one tree

For every lie that can be destroyed,
Someone can make ten more
Truth is infinite
But for us, misunderstandings seem even more so

The Pen may be mightier
Than the sword but
It also has a higher learning curve

I don’t have faith in life,
I have faith in The Living
Life ain’t a thing
Lives are often wasted

But if I stopped Living
It wouldn’t save even one person

It is easy to kill
Easier still to die

And birth is slow and difficult

So, Here’s to The Living.

Waiting to Be Shot in the Back
by Sean Thomas Dougherty
from “All You Ask for is Longing: Poems 1994-2014” (BOA Editions)

Okay stranger, plug a dollar
in the jukebox,
some forgotten country
twang. Like cigarette smoke
staining my eyes, watch me
rise like a moth
to the ceiling fan.
This dive of don't
speak so often
and old men counting
dimes for a drink.
Is there another joint
as sad as this one?
A tall glass
of whiskey
like a long swim.
And on the bar top, left like a tip
on a bloody napkin,
someone's tooth—

i dream of You
by Kim Noyes

We are talking
finishing each other’s sentences
looking into our souls through the eyes
escaping nothing
unafraid we move in comfort
Walking thru a field of daisies

encouraging reciprocative words
on our backs we feel the earth move
realize the same bunny in the clouds
i awake knowing you are my friend
and i am yours

By Chuck Joy
from “Percussive”

I’m ready to wrap up my current situation
find a place at the West 4 Street station
spend my days reading poetry for tips

Our Love Nest
by Chuck Joy
from “Percussive”

high in a tall pine
been here a long time
this tree’ll go before we do

Two Car-Lengths
by Chuck Joy
from “Percussive”

two car-lengths
between my idea and your reality

what it means to build a whale
by Carrie Hohmann Campbell

A small sadness balloons into a creature you
never imagined these walls could ever contain.
All of the colors of the solstice are washed across
its massive frame—bulbous and ready to burst
into floodwaters. Its growth is gradual then
terrifying, and you are left wondering where
it should remain since you cannot leave it
inconspicuous. You realize too many people build
things without understanding there will be
repercussions and that the real tragedy lies
in the aftermath of creation.

The Ant and the Woman on the Beach
by Jamie Stevens

I scuttle across the hot sharp sand
up and down the dunes
past rocks the size of Volkswagens
through jungles of dried seaweed
And there before me is the mountain I seek
It is the Pao de Acucar rising out of the sand which I climb
And I become Christ the redeemer
Standing on the top of your big toe
Gazing heavenwards at your copy of the New Yorker
Held by those mysterious hands

White Picket Fences
by Luchetta Manus

Castles without kings
Queens void of meaning
Our princes and princesses left dreaming
Of clean streets, walking dogs, and white picket fences
Of sun shine day with fewer clouds of rain
Brought about by causes
The effects of our consequences
The devil wrecked our defenses
Destroyed our families
Chaos in the black community
Left with the bag of tragedy
Epic sagas
We make poverty look good
Wearing Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Prada
We need mending
With happy endings
We are conditioned to accept lies given
Our identity eliminated
We are not what we were destined to be
They were thieves
Molding us unto their liking
Now they spitefully
Take what belongs to us and become blasphemous
We are lost
Needing to come unto the knowledge of the King and Queens we really are
We are great
Numerous as the stars
Healing may still come after the scars
The world needs back our Kings and Queens
Queens wombs possessing the birth of many dreams
Castles with their Kings
Our princes and princesses living their lives with wings


Turned to Her
by Lisa M. Dougherty

Her arms
So brilliantly
To her chest
Is a shield
My back
To her
Her favorite
In a bowl
I can feel
Her armor
And down
With an almost
She says it,
Says she does
Me, unwound
When I know
It’s what I’d give
Anything for
To hear
How even
The blue
A plastic bowl
I must forget
As her words
Clear as when
She brings it
Back empty
She’s found
A way
To sway again
Left into
What is
Through me.