We Are Beat, National Poetry Festival Anthology


By Lynette G. Esposito

Beat poetry is defined as poetry that has no conventional form and which is unencumbered by conventional rules. The We Are Beat National Poetry Festival Anthology published by Local Gems, a small press in Long Island New York and edited by James P. Wagner (Ishwa) is a gem of 267 pages of delicious verse written by poets from many walks of life from firefighters to engineers to lawyers to teachers to spoken word artists both national and international.  The poetry is as varied and interesting as the poets themselves.

The authors are presented alphabetically by authors’ last names.  The poems proceed in no other order or credential and are standalone pieces of art.  The authors’ credentials follow each poem.  When the reader dives into this river of poetry, the water is very inviting all through the anthology.  For example, on page 23.Carolyn Chatham presents We Will Drink From Broken Cups. The poem begins:


                                        We will drink from broken cups
                                        This bitter brew
                                        A country scene of trees and cows and grass
                                        and lads and lasses dallying together
                                        adorn its rim


This is such a sweet scene but the poem twists to an explanation of climate change and unanswerable explanations of a world we slew.

On page 168, Juan Perez writes Eyes Closed and Dancing.


                                        I close my eyes and I am dancing
                                       At the senior prom, in 1987
                                       With a smoking hot brunette
                                       Things are great so far….


The sixty-six line ten-stanza poem details life after the amazing dance and the amazing life that follows.   Perez uses images that are common to most readers, marriage children old age and the realization of mortality.  He answers the question of what happens when we close our eyes and look back over our life when we are about to leave.

Ron Whitehead speaks of Shootin’Up Poetry in New Orleans on page 254.  It is a narrative poem in prose form that successfully explores the loss of poetic inspiration and its successful return.  It begins in Algiers and ends in The Howlin’ Wolf Club in New Orleans. The narrator laments I’m feeling burnt out, tired to the bone.  The narrator calls on previous poets such as Jack Kerouac for help.  When inspiration hits, the narrator says:


                                  The word sets us free.
                                  And I think of Allen Ginsberg
                                 And what he said about taking someone’s hand
                                 Cause we’re all in this together.
                                 We’re pullin’.  We ain’t pushin’
                                 We’re lettin’ it be.
                                 We realize that when one is lifted up
                                 We’re all lifted up
                                And I realize that Poetry is life
                                And life is poetry


Outside the Howlin’ Wolf Club all is well.  The 48 hour INSOMNIACATHON will go on and be a success.  There is a full smilin’ moon in New Orleans. The intensity of  the resolution leaves the reader with relief like finding your Rolex  in the lost and found.

Many fresh voices from many different countries can be heard in this anthology.   It is a pleasure to read.

Local Gems Poetry Press is a small Long Island, New York based poetry press.  It has published over150 titles.  Local Gems can be reached at www.localgemspoetrypress.com

Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.

Ten Most Read Poets – North of Oxford 2019

North of Oxford wordpress

The following is a list of the most read poets published by North of Oxford by reader views between December 2018 to December 2019.


i was the night by Jonathan Hine



Obit by Doug Holder



2 Poems by Byron Beynon



2 Poems by Akshaya Pawaskar



The Natural World by Judy Kronenfeld



2 Poems by Nasim Basiri



Tin Roof by Hiram Larew



Tell Them You Invited Me by Margaret A. Campbell


JC Todd headshot (1)

2 Poems by J.C. Todd



America by Tim Suermondt


Two Poems by Joan McNerney

Falling Asleep
Curling into a question mark
                eyes shuttered
                         lips pursed
                               hands empty.
Dropping through
long dusty shafts
down into dank cellars.
Leaving behind faded day.
That last cup of sunlight
pouring from fingertips.
Lulled by rattling trains,
                sighs of motors.
Bringing nothing but
memory into night.
Now I will  untie knots
                   tear off wrappings
opening wide bundles of dreams.
How Trouble Grows
Trouble is patient
hiding around corners.
creeping through shadows
entering without a sound.
It starts as a seed blown
by careless winds and
covers your garden with
foul  brackish weeds.
Or sparks from a match
spread over fertile ground
becoming flames speeding
through the long night.
Trouble knows where you live.
You cannot hide from it.
Gaining a foothold, growing
fat feeding on your flesh.
Watch how trouble grows
inch by inch, molecule
by molecule coursing
through your veins.
Trouble begins as a whisper
day by day growing louder.
Stronger than your heart beat
becoming a thumping drum.
Soon you will forget
there was a time
when trouble was
not at your side.


Joan McNerney’s poetry has been included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work.  Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.



Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James


By Lynette G. Esposito

Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor by Mike James reads like notes to a friend.  The sixty-four pages of poems are vignette paragraph stanzas that reveal an analytical mind parading images across the page for the reader to interpret.

Divided into five sections, the tome, published by Blue Horse Press of Redondo, California, covers cross dressing, body types and other observations with dry sardonic wit that pokes at traditional conventions and judgments.  On page one, My Wife’s Shoes reveals that the narrator’s wife and he can interchange their foot wear.  The poem opens with:  Thankfully, my feet are small or hers are large….  The narrator observes that his wife looks like a British banker in my wingtips and he says I clean room after room in her flats.   The image of reversing roles is successfully captured in the trading back and forth with the seemingly genderless use of the shoes while their original gender intention is kept in tact.

When one looks at the poem, Wonderland on page seventeen, James explores the metaphor of Alice and the proverbial rabbit hole.  Within the seven- line one-stanza poem, the narrator of the poem suggests some rabbit holes are meant to be covered. If all is uncovered, the poem suggests it will be no more magic than the average garbage man out there collecting his stars.  The paradox of revealing kills the magic. In Grace Jones on page nineteen, a similar theme is presented. The poem says, Smile at all the secrets you wish to possess.

James takes presumed ideas such as the association with balloons and children to present a fresh perspective.  In his poem Frank the Balloon Man on page thirty-nine, Frank loves balloons but children, not so much.
                                Honestly, he hated children.  Hated their laughs and the miniature
                                gaps of their smiles. Hated the clutching need of their fingers.
What Frank loved, which begins the second stanza, was balloons.
                                What he loved were the balloons. The feel of each on his
                                 hands, on his fingers.  He loved the squeaks as he twisted
                                 shapes into intentions.
James has successfully presented a clear understanding of the old concept of judging a book by its cover. To see Frank with the balloons, one would assume the adult was working with them to please children.  The assumption here is proven false.

James accomplishes the views of what is and what is not through his many poems that perceive the world in a realistic way.  Why should Frank love children because he loved balloons?  Why can’t a husband raid his wife’s shoe closet?

On page sixty-three, That Last Ferryman, suggests the boat ride on the river of forgetfulness.  He begins the poem:
                                  The Ferryman’s patience is as endless as his river.
After the narrator states the rules of the ferry, he ends the poem:
                                   And you certainly must not look back and wave at those disappearing
                                   on the shore while shouting, “See you soon!”
The narrator has a suggested image of crossing from one life plane to another and what it is like in a way most readers can visualize and appreciate. James successfully presents poems in a clear direct form that encourages the reader to contemplate the subtleties that lie beneath the images.  The book is a good read and worthy of reading more than once.

You can find the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Jumping-Drawbridges-Technicolor-Mike-James/dp/0578465817


Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.


Five Poems by Catfish McDaris

Okra and Peyote 
Willie came from the nasty streets
the Santa Fe R &R tracks divided
the village, whitey, brownie, blackie
Mostly ragged folks getting by,
most of the adobes were plastered
but some mud clay blocks were exposed
Willie was my primo, he grew mota, okra,
chilis, peyote, magic mushrooms, and
grapes, we hung it to dry from the vigas
In the lemon-yellow sun of enchantment,
a vato came by to pull a rip off, I put a 357
in his ear and offered to cancel his Xmas.
Black Horse
Anyone can be gat, look
in the good book and the
Four Horsemen of the Ap-
calypso: Pestilence, War,
Famine, Death, flying
Scorpions, nightingales, the
lady vacuumed the fireflies
from the sky, there are no
roses without bloody thorns
He reached out and broke
off a chunk of banana moon
it tasted rather bizarre, tickling
the guitar strings laughter can
be heard through the adobe
Village, coyotes, and senoritas
did the St Vitus’ dance until
the apricot pumpkin stars,
turned the clouds terracotta.
Mexican Black
I see ears in the swirling starry night.
the sky is drunk, the sun puking lemon
juice, the moon has a toothache, the lady
asked the dope fiend to come to talk to
Jesus, he stinks of absinthe and funk.
Sometimes at night I meet
myself when I was young,
I disgust myself now
What color is the wind?
What color is an orgasm?
What color is death?
There is no sea of tranquility
There’s no such thing as a small miracle
Drinking Mexican coffee as black as death
Lady Gaga drives up in a dirty Mercury
they head to the Valley of Rhinoceroses
Listening to Swordfish Trombone and
Bitches Brew overlooking Mexico City.
The Sky is a Gun Barrel of Loneliness
Death eats
you like a
in coffee
how long
I pretend
to care
I never
or wanted
to live this
Everyone Should Own One Nightmare
I stare at my daughter’s bullet
proof vest and feel the thinness
I wonder how this can stop a
bullet, it’s dangerous to be a co
Every night you worry if your
baby is safe, and wonder what
can you do to protect her, I would
step in front of a bullet in a heartbeat.

Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He’s been active in the small press world for 25 years. He’s recently been translated into Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog, and Esperanto. Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. He’s from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. The photo of me is after my house burned down and my dog died, the cat escaped.


Oblique Music: A Book of Hours by Elizabeth Bodien


By Jenny Ward Angyal

a life entire
in the swoop of a blackbird
wing flash of red
sufficient this morning
for a rising up of wonder

Poet Elizabeth Bodien has captured ‘a life entire’ in the 102 tanka of this handsome little book. Subtitled A Book of Hours, it is divided into nine sections inspired by the traditional structure of the liturgical day. Each section opens with essentially the same photograph of the sun over water, but the colors of the image and the sun’s position within it change to reflect the time of day or night, until we reach the final section, ‘Beyond’, which opens with an image of star-filled sky. The poems are printed in restful periwinkle ink on creamy blue-white paper; one poem per page allows plenty of time and space to contemplate each small gem. .

And it is of course the poems themselves that matter most. The poems in this collection, most of which first appeared in various tanka journals over the course of a decade, move simultaneously through the hours of a day, the seasons of a year, and the seasons of a life, capturing moments and reflections each of which is ‘sufficient . . . for a rising up of wonder.’
he poet displays a fine sensitivity to the world around her:
iridescent blue
two dragonflies
catch and throw
waning sunlight
onto the path
 . . . and also to her own interior landscape:
lingering in bed
one moment longer
I trawl
the vast in-between
where creation might stir
The first tanka above is an exquisite capture of something that most people would simply overlook; the second explores that fertile state between sleeping and waking where the riches of the subconscious mind may be most accessible. Elizabeth Bodien’s creations are shot through with ‘waning sunlight’, a poignant sense of the ephemeral:
I buy cut tulips
arrange them in a vase
for their color
and because I trust
they will be here tomorrow
The closing lines suggest that the narrator—like all of us—knows well that many beautiful or beloved things will not ‘be here tomorrow’. The clarity and simplicity of this tanka typify the way in which these poems illuminate everyday phenomena and help us to see how such ordinary things point beyond themselves to the unknown.
barely touching
his scraped bloody knee
the boy ponders
for the first time
what is inside him
From the child’s first intimations of vulnerability to the adult’s full knowledge of death, these poems simultaneously mourn losses and celebrate life:
we are all old
now that you’ve gone
you danced
like a butterfly
on the lid of our lives
What a beautiful five-line portrait of someone whose life seems to have been emblematic of freedom and joy. Loss of loved ones leads inevitably to reflection on what happens ‘beyond’:
smoke rises
from the burning barrel
our trash
turns to ash, to air
what will we become?
 . . . and it is no accident that the final section of this ‘book of hours’ is entitled ‘Beyond’, reaching outside the traditional cycle of the liturgical day and  hinting, like the following tanka, at a larger reality:
frost flickers
on the dark window
a thin veil
separates this earth
from beyond
Elizabeth Bodien, who holds degrees in cultural anthropology, consciousness studies, religions, and poetry, recently published a nonfiction book about her past-life regressions. She has also published five books of ‘mainstream’ poetry and has won numerous poetry awards, including several for haiku. Readers of her Oblique Music will hope that this accomplished poet, with her wealth of experience, insight, and wonder, will continue to travel the tanka road.
we peer
from the bus
across the river
our final destination
the city veiled in mist
Jenny Ward Angyal’s  poems have appeared in many journals and may also be found on her blog, The Grass Minstrel. . Her tanka collection, moonlight on water (Skylark Publishing), appeared in 2016. She co-edited the Tanka Society of America’s 2016 Members’ Anthology, Ripples in the Sand, and was Reviews & Features Editor of Skylark: a Tanka Journal, for over five years.

Her Heartsongs by Joan Colby



By Lynette G. Esposito
Published by Presa Press of Rockford, Michigan, Joan Colby’s, Her Heartsongs, presents 69 pages of poems that create an intensity of emotion with fresh views of every day and familiar events
The lead poem on page nine entitled Her Heart, discusses the difference between a man’s heartbeat and a woman’s.
                  The heart of a woman beats faster than the heart of a
                  A billion heartbeats over a lifetime. No wonder a woman
                  Is tired.  No wonder she crawls into bed with a book\
                 The evening news arrives.  Her heart is misdiagnosed
                 Repeatedly.  The symptoms atypical.  Blockages in the
                 Arteries the tiny byways clogging unseen by the radiant
The thirty-line single stanza poem points out how the great artery of a man’s heart is called the widow maker. Colby suggests there is no name for the woman’s.  The implication of what breaks a woman whose heart is made of  cut- velvet or satin , emblazoned with a scroll surrounded by cherubs suggests the gentle complexity that brings a woman’s heart to break.  The skillful presentation of the differences between men and women gives a fresh view through the imagery of the heart  and the way it beats through life then stops.  She has  a light touch that resonates.
On page thirty-two, Colby’s poem Moving Men reveals how the things in ones life represent the past, present and future. Most of us have been through the common event of moving our things from one place to another so the reader is able to relate to the theme of the poem and understand the implications.  She begins the poem talking about keepsakes from a first love packed into sawdust and she ends the poem:
                    Days of muscle and sweat.  You watch
                    The truck back out of tne drive.  Stow
                    Everything that is left, an inventory
                    of  tomorrows.
The poem frames time in the things we move and the things we box up for later. Her use of the act of moving works well as a symbol both of time and the changes one goes through.
Philip Dacey says the poems that Colby presents show an emotional intensity and large sympathies. I agree.  The book is a pleasure to read for the commonality of subject matter and the fresh perception of how every day events define the human conditionShe chooses such subjects as wash day, working, anniversaries and happiness to reveal and define individuals as works in progress. Colby is successful in her astute observations.
Her Heartsongs is available through Baker and Taylor, The Book House, Coutts Information Services, Midwest Library Services, and directly from the publisher Ptesa Press at Presa Press
Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. Her articles have appeared in the national publication, Teaching for Success; regionally in South Jersey Magazine, SJ Magazine. Delaware Valley Magazine, and her essays have appeared in Reader’s Digest and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Her poetry has appeared in US1, SRN Review, The Fox Chase Review, Bindweed Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, That Literary Review, The Remembered Arts Journal, and other literary magazines.