This is a call for submissions about your neighborhood, about your block, your street, your city. An “around here” poem of sorts that describes the unique characteristics of what you see every day. We often become numb to our surroundings, our daily drive to work, school, etc., but we feel it’s important to wake up now and again and notice it anew. That’s why we’re asking you to send us a poem about the place you are most familiar. It can focus on the street, a particular person of influence, the history, the setting, things that happen or whatever creative take that inspires you the most.
Please don’t include your address or any other revealing info, but instead a sense of what it’s like to live at your particular address. We do not want anyone to be able to find you from your poem. This is the internet after all. As usual we’ll take the best 5-7 poems about this topic and post it during a week long run of “neighborhood” poems. Use the “Submit Writing” field and title it something appropriate so we can differentiate it from the other daily submissions. Also, if you can send in a photo of your “neighborhood” to accompany your poem that would be extra cool.
A couple of samples:
45 Mercy Street
by Anne Sexton
In my dream,
drilling into the marrow
of my entire bone,
my real dream,
I’m walking up and down Beacon Hill
searching for a street sign –
namely MERCY STREET.
I try the Back Bay.
And yet I know the number.
45 Mercy Street.
I know the stained-glass window
of the foyer,
the three flights of the house
with its parquet floors.
I know the furniture and
mother, grandmother, great-grandmother,
I know the cupboard of Spode
the boat of ice, solid silver,
where the butter sits in neat squares
like strange giant’s teeth
on the big mahogany table.
I know it well.
Where did you go?
45 Mercy Street,
kneeling in her whale-bone corset
and praying gently but fiercely
to the wash basin,
at five A.M.
dozing in her wiggy rocker,
grandfather taking a nap in the pantry,
grandmother pushing the bell for the downstairs maid,
and Nana rocking Mother with an oversized flower
on her forehead to cover the curl
of when she was good and when she was…
And where she was begat
and in a generation
the third she will beget,
with the stranger’s seed blooming
into the flower called Horrid.
I walk in a yellow dress
and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes,
enough pills, my wallet, my keys,
and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five?
I walk. I walk.
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
and I have lost my green Ford,
my house in the suburbs,
two little kids
sucked up like pollen by the bee in me
and a husband
who has wiped off his eyes
in order not to see my inside out
and I am walking and looking
and this is no dream
just my oily life
where the people are alibis
and the street is unfindable for an
Pull the shades down –
I don’t care!
Bolt the door, mercy,
erase the number,
rip down the street sign,
what can it matter,
what can it matter to this cheapskate
who wants to own the past
that went out on a dead ship
and left me only with paper?
I open my pocketbook,
as women do,
and fish swim back and forth
between the dollars and the lipstick.
I pick them out,
one by one
and throw them at the street signs,
and shoot my pocketbook
into the Charles River.
Next I pull the dream off
and slam into the cement wall
of the clumsy calendar
I live in,
and its hauled up
by Moeen Faruqi
Look out the houseâ€™s many windows
and see crows swinging on wires,
soldiers commanding zones of our life.
In this neighbourhood the streets run backwards,
questioning themselves. Rumours pass between walls.
Whispers of longing connect men and women.
Every house along the lane has eyes
that speak, doors of red paper,
sunlit facades hungry for innuendoes.
In the window of one house a woman stands,
her back to the road.Â Lamplight burns on her body.
Her room smells of cooking and soap.
Strangers pass through the streets.
They hear music from balconies,
and the strange, magnetic laughter of dogs.
At sunset invisible mosques call to prayer.
Living rooms ignite in a blue fluorescence.
Women light incense
as birds announce the dayâ€™s passing.
-First published by the Pakistan Academy of Letters