Alexis Ivy won the 2018 Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship in poetry. On July 24, she read her poetry of homelessness and addiction in the statehouse. Her words are raw and powerful. The sonnets that won her the fellowship appear in the latter half of the reading. You can read a short selection further below.
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A short selection appears below.
The A-Street Shelter: A Crown of Sonnets (xi-xiii)
In a God sense of things, a place of his own,
a man asleep on the bedrock construction
site. It’s ten below. He must sting, his moan
mildewed with booze, he wants nothing from
me. I didn’t want to leave him but I did.
I wish he’d wanted a place to go. Outside
is where I work—and out here people die:
One kid shot— stole pills off the wrong guy,
chicken-choked, heart fails, drunk-falls-down stairs.
Tonight I save no one. I wish I’d given
him mittens, handwarmers, gloves to wear
I wanted to make the run, would have driven
him to shelter so he’d be warmed, yes,
would’ve cleaned the back seat of his sickness.
Would’ve clean the backseat of his sickness
just so I could know the eye of one-eyed
Sid, his eye, torn shut like that, tearless,
how it got to be that way— and why
it took so long for his left lid to wake,
crusted shut each morning, his caged eye.
He asks for socks. I ask him, snowflake
or unpatterned—Warm, he says. A necktie
I get him. His court date is the ninth. No
thanks, he says to a face saving button-
down shirt from the clothing closet. Won’t
take a razor to shave. Flirts, subtle grin,
puts his hand on mine, you have moonstones,
the two nicest eyes I have ever known.
The two nicest eyes I have ever known
sit on a bench. With Kit. I give them
water. It’s beer three so far, chaperone,
two-eyes tell. Do they pretend that they
ration their beers to please my worry? Kit’s
moved on from liquor to Listerine,
her coat is covered in dried bird shit—
I’ve seen her beg, seen her cop drugs, seen
her talk un-slurred, neatly dressed looking
housed. The cops called us with a Code One Ten—
homeless drunk. Not a crime. Not an anything.
They had just ran out of beer. I can
recognize those fleeing detox cries. See
their out-of-money eyes look to me.
What a heart-wrencher!
My puny efforts to link three homeless persons in the Charlesgate Park with the Pine Street Inn shame me.
Thanks for making this possible at the State House. Hearing Alexis speak in her own words is very powerful. GR
This is beautiful Will.
She is honest and heartfelt.
Thank you for validating her gifts and the cultural grant so she can continue her work.
Very beautiful, thank you for posting, and thank you to Alexis Ivy for her work and her work.
The beauty of this is not only in the words but in her actions. Either alone is an inspiration; combined they are an antidote to some of the heartless actions that “grace” the daily news. Bravo!!
Thank you so much Alexis and Will. Heartbreaking.
We should be moved to start a real push to make SROS available so that people do not have to fall this low. Public indifference can be overcome with a look into our uncaring souls, and a realization we are capable of taking a different stance. Thanks, Will, for making this powerful poetry available to your constituents.
Lovely poetry, painful to read. Alexis, please keep on writing. Your poetry can open the hearts of your readers .
Thank you for putting a face on homelessness and sharing this incredible talent. Ending homelessness is not rocket science; it just lacks the resources. Fortunately the Legislature stepped up in a big way this year and increased funding to programs, like Pine Street Inn, that house and shelter homeless men and women. Let’s hope that trend continues Thank you for your support!!!
Thank you for presenting the homeless poetry of Alexis Ivy at the State House and for introducing her work to us.
A powerful statement and a beautiful poem. It highlights a problem I wish we could solve. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Thank you Will – her poetry is very realistic.
Thank you, Will, for sharing this poetry and reading. It’s what we need more of.
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