The Power of Poetry

Bride of Frankenstein

filed for divorce because she’s

her own lightning rod

I don’t do kegels

this is labia mantra –

and, you can’t touch this

I’m in my thirties

no, I don’t want children, and

yes I’m pretty sure

This activity was a quick break from the traditional poetry “open mic,” which had been going on for the past hour. It was what the Haiku Guys called a “Haiku Hackathon,” a speed-driven, timed haiku competition revolved around one particular theme or social issue. On Halloween night, feminism — with a spooky edge — was the issue to be hacked about.

The Hackathon at Bowery Poetry Club, Oct 31. Photo: Olivia Dillingham

she doesn’t stutter –

she clears paths through the jungles

never looking back

- for damie

sometimes I’m speechless

to see the bright miracles

we pull from the dirt

- for daniel

darling, noteworthy

because her humanity

hangs upon her notes

- for gabi

Markuson listens intently to her customers. She asks them to explain what they need to hear, what kind of a poem it is that they desire. And then she waits, often for an image, she says, to come to her before putting her hands to her typewriter. “It’s not about poetic talent or having published books or being able to write great haiku alone in your studio,” she said, speaking to what it takes to be a Haiku Guy or Gal. “It’s about love. It’s about genuinely putting aside your ego and putting aside any fear around whether or not the finished product will be good or cool, and just loving the person and going with that feeling.” Often, she says, those people leap, or cry, or dance around with joy when they read the poem she hands them. “To me this project, turned company, turned movement is very gratifying because of the effect it has on others,” said Daniel Zaltsman, another of the three co-founders. “The way it’s touched people on a very personal level makes me want to keep going and continuing to explore that space.”

Jackie Braje reading at The Poetry Brothel. Photo: Olivia Dillingham

Plant Maintenance:

I want to change my name

I want to change my shoes

I want to know your eyes as they are

I want you to come over and stretch

your legs out on my floor

I’ll hang a handmade sun from

the window and you’ll cut the leaves

from my houseplant

dump them in a dustpan

and there will be no beauty in the

dirt but you’ll rub it in your cheeks

anyway like war paint

like whore paint like

all the times you did to me

the misdeed of love.

I want to bend our bodies

together like a question mark.

- Jackie Braje



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Olivia Dillingham

Olivia Dillingham

freelance writer; lover of words, humans, and travel;