Massachusetts

In 2019, Porsha Olayiwola was named poet laureate of Boston, Massachusetts. Olayiwola will serve a four-year term.
 
Steven Ratiner was named poet laureate of Arlington, Massachusetts in 2019. Ratiner will serve a two-year term.
 
Magdalena Gómez was named poet laureate of Springfield, Massachusetts in 2019. Gómez will serve a two-year term.
 
Juan Matos was named poet laureate of Worcester, Massachusetts in 2020. Matos will serve a two-year term.

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Elegy in Limestone

If the water, everywhere, and if she

is. If ghosts, like water, like if all

rivers and oceans and rains are one

ghost, surrounding and throughout.

If she is, like if the lakes and bays

of Seattle define Seattle, if the ices

Of Mars and Massachusetts,

hidden in their deep stones, define

Mars and Massachusetts; if she is.

A thirst unmet, alkaline or saline,

the water not touching that thirst,

if my thirst wants something else

entirely. If she is. Water, if it is in

and is blood. If invisible until

exhale. If science lies and water

doesn’t reflect sky but sky this

water. If she is the sound, if it isn’t

essential until its lack. If she is

the sound of. Waves. If in the body,

the dew in morning, and the moon.

If she is the sound of the water.

If rising, if breaking, if throughout.

The Boston Evening Transcript

The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript	
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.	
 
When evening quickens faintly in the street,	
Wakening the appetites of life in some	
And to others bringing the Boston Evening Transcript,
I mount the steps and ring the bell, turning	
Wearily, as one would turn to nod good-bye to Rochefoucauld,	
If the street were time and he at the end of the street,	
And I say, "Cousin Harriet, here is the Boston Evening Transcript."

Old South Meeting House

We draw breath from brick
          step on stones, weather-worn,
                    cobbled and carved  

with the story of this church,
          this meeting house,
                    where Ben Franklin was baptized

and Phillis Wheatley prayed—a mouth-house
          where colonists gathered
                    to plot against the crown.

This structure, with elegant curves
          and round-topped windows, was the heart
                    of Boston, the body of the people,

survived occupation for preservation,
          foregoing decoration
                    for conversation.

Let us gather in the box pews
          once numbered and rented
                    by generations of families

held together like ribs
          in the body politic. Let us gaze upon
                    the upper galleries to the free seats

where the poor and the town slaves
          listened and waited and pondered
                    and prayed

for revolution. 
          Let us testify to the plight
                    of the well-meaning at the pulpit

with its sounding board high above,
          congregations raising heads and hands to the sky.
                    We, the people—the tourists        

and townies—one nation under
          this vaulted roof, exalted voices
                    speaking poetry out loud,

in praise and dissent.
          We draw breath from brick. Ignite the fire in us.
                    Speak to us:     

the language is hope.