Video Poems

Our video poem series highlights a poet's connection to place. Here we explore Dorchester, Massachusetts as a setting. Each month we'll feature poets who live, work, or study in Dorchester, reciting their work at a location they've chosen to be either a direct or indirect complement to their poem. As a form, the video seeks to portray the poet, poem, and place in a moment.

JANUARY 2013: Cloud Made recites Hedley's Monologue from August Wilson's Seven Guitars.
Filmed January 26 on Mission Hill. Cloud Made is a rap artist and student at Boston Day and Evening Academy.

Why did you choose this monologue? It just called to me. Although at first, I didn't really get Hedley. And then I realized: I'm Little Hedley. People think he's crazy, but he's just different. And he's sensible. I don't let people into my mind. My thinking is far from the majority. I choose to say a little with powerful meaning. This monologue is Hedley venting to society and Ruby. He has come to a breaking point. He's held his tongue for too long.
Why did you choose this location (atop Mission Hill)? I'm comfortable up here, I'm at peace. It feels like I'm no longer in Boston. Rather in some past place, the setting for something important.
Influences: Kendrick Lamar, August Wilson Ensemble, Bernadette Kuan, and Amyas Mcknight.

DECEMBER 2012: "Teen Writers Showcase"
Filmed November 17, 2012 at the Fields Corner Branch of the Boston Public Library.

OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2012: "Death in the Morning" by Liam Day (3min 03 sec)
Our fifth feature is "Death in the Morning" by Liam Day, guest directed by Camilo Cárdenas, and filmed at the Dorchester North Burying Ground in Uphams Corner. Both Liam and Camilo live in Dorchester. Visit Camilo's website for more information about his art and film projects.

Liam says:
"I've been wanting to write about the cemetery for a while now. My wife and I live just up the hill from it and I've passed it innumerable times, staring in through the wrought iron fence at the ancient gravestones. The thought that here lie men and women born almost four centuries ago creates a certain sense of awe, a sense of how ephemeral we are.

There is a cemetery in the tiny village in Ireland where my mother grew up. I have ancestors buried there tracing back more than 200 years. Though it may sound morbid, it is my favorite place to visit whenever I go back. The North Dorchester Burying Ground in so many ways reminds me of that cemetery back in Ireland.

There is an Irish writer by the name of Tim Robinson, who wrote two companion volumes about the Aran Islands, which lie just off the Irish coast in Galway Bay. Though desolate, the islands are also beautiful in their desolation and Robinson's books are an attempt to map them, not just physically, but culturally and historically as well. Though I can't claim to have done anything remotely similar with "Death in the Morning", he is who I had in mind, and his writing is what I had in mind, when I first conceived of the project."

Death in the Morning
by Liam Day

Black night bleeds grey, the gloaming red, the morning pink.
Bare branches sprout buds; buds blossom; blossoms turn.

The new light falls on the red leaves, a church roof’s red tiles,
red brick buildings across a median-divided street.

Three planes trace wakes across the clear sky.
They glint in a sun chasing them west.

As wind rises and dies,
leaves flutter and dart to the ground like butterflies.

Weathered, color drained, they clog storm drains, trigger street flooding,
pavement over which the runoff glides flat and smooth like a headstone:

marble or granite worn to the grade of now illegible engravings
like ancient peaks to a river valley’s gentle slopes.

Where they lie, the Davenports, Clapps and Swans
see only sky, the tops of oak trees whose acorns rain.

The husks break on markers, collect on the rounded pedimentals.
The rest, which is what Esther Davenport,

long tried with a painful sickness she bore with Christian patience,
sought, which is what we all seek,

they infer. Though it would mean missing half our lives,
hibernation’s a state to envy.

Practically speaking, it would prepare us for what’s next,
which, like destinations of planes I track

from one edge to the other of the cemetery’s frame of sky,
I can only surmise.

SEPTEMBER 2012: "Just So You Know" by Willie Pleasants (2min 17 sec)
Our fourth feature is "Just So You Know" by Willie Pleasants, filmed at the JFK Library and Museum. Willie Pleasants is a poet and producer/host of "Willie's Web" on the Boston Neighborhood Network. She has lived in Dorchester for over 30 years. Visit her online at:

Willie says:
"I chose the JFK Library because President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King both had a love for this nation and believed in human rights for all. It was befitting to film there because JFK was president during Dr. King's involvement with the civil rights movement.

"At an early age, I was inspired by Langston Hughes' poems. I never thought that I could write poetry, but I loved poetry. As an adult, I found my passion and talent writing and sharing my poetry. I love sharing the life lessons that I write in my short stories and poems; that is what keeps me writing more."

Just So You Know
by Willie Wideman-Pleasants

Just so you know…….
It’s a celebration for the King
Martin Luther King that is

He was a man of dignity, character, and finesse,
Which made people take notice even the press

His writing had wisdom of insights
Defending our civil rights

His speeches inspired a world to change
Where black no longer felt ashamed

His selfless acts opened his life to attacks
Protecting human rights for women and blacks

Just so you know….
It was the wickedness that took him away,
but his dreams are here to stay,
They can never be driven away

With the power of god’s grace
We were given another to take his place
A man born of both race

Just so you know...
Barack Obama is his name
A name that brought no shame
To world that needed change

A true vision of King’s dream detected.
Obama was the one we selected,
With black and white votes he was elected.

His goals are the same as King’s.
To give voice to the poor,
And keep American jobs on this shore.

Yes we did it!
We knew we could,
And it was Doctor Martin Luther King
Who said we would.

Just so you know.


AUGUST 2012: "Malibu Beach" by Audrey Mardavich and Mitch Manning (6min 47 sec)
Our third feature is "Malibu Beach," a collaborative poem by Audrey Mardavich and Mitch Manning, filmed at Malibu Beach. Audrey and Mitch live in Clam Point. [Watch on YouTube for larger screen.]

Audrey & Mitch say:
"We picked Malibu Beach because we spend most of our time hanging and swimming there. It's been a great place to escape from city life, and yet, at Malibu Beach, you're still very much surrounded by the craziness--the airplanes, the Red Line, the highways. It's like a little beautiful cove in the middle of insanity and we love it."

Audrey says:
"I just finished Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Are You My Mother? Her work is so intelligent and also very emotional. I love her for that. I've also been reading Ariana Reines' poetry which I enjoy for the same reasons. I'm inspired by writers who can find and write the humor out of the messy world that we live in."

Mitch says:
"I keep digging through book barns and swap shops for influence. Late finds include Sun Ra's science fiction poetry, Jandek fan fiction, CA Conrad's (Soma)tics, and ancient Chinese mountain poetry."

Malibu Beach 


dead dog
dead seagull
dead pigeon
living egret
city kids chase cousins across the beach
lollipops in their mouths
never considering what one stumble could do to them 

a chubby lifeguard paddles out
to where the wave break would be
if there were waves
or if there was someone to save
but not many people swim here 

so he just glides out on his yellow banana 

a 60 thousand dollar wind turbine rarely spins 
even in the gusty summer winds 

if someone told me
there was a beautiful beach
tucked in the heart of Dorchester
i would have told them they were full of shit 

but there is beauty here
and the eskimo dog knows it
swimming three or four times a day 

dragging his beshelved owner
out across the boardwalk 

olie olie in come free
a seagull kissed an egret 

in the tall sea grass 

an old man had a fight
with another man in a speedo
now they’re swimming together 


I only love things no one else cares about 

At night Savin Hill is a small mound of lights 

The bridge operator drinks a lot of water and watches TV with the shades shut

Does he get excited when a boat comes
or is he all pissed off that he has to stand up? 

Cormorants dance on other people’s kayaks

We like to keep each other updated on the geese growing up 

Julia knew the names of all of the beach grasses
It was at that moment I realized I’m unable to memorize facts,

like the names of most things 

maybe I don’t try hard enough

maybe I’m capable of forgetting almost anything 

Once I saw a group of teenagers smoking grass in the grass and I was jealous,
not because I cared about getting high, which I did
but because I hadn’t thought of it,

going in there I mean

the grass cave, so green and so tall. 

If you dive deep into the water you can feel the cold envelop your head,
otherwise it’s fine to float on the warm surface of the water
stay in the shallow end

pee a little. 


tomorrow is ruby tuesday 
the best day of the year 

luke washes his butt in the showers 
after every swim 

AR Ammons writes about a gull catching a crab 
and smashing it against a rock
nothing that excting ever happens here
just the greybeard with the jingly key chains 

walking his rhodesian ridgeback
up and down the pier

at night you can hear better 
the old bridge man says 
watch out for the yacht club 
they like to call the cops 
unless the cops are all drunk 
at the yacht rock party 

the gas tank
squats like a toad
out over morrissey blvd
i always think about the damn thing exploding 

everything is so brittle
even the bridge that raises and lowers every day

gets stuck sometimes
and furious motorists
smash their mufflers
as they threepoint turn over the median 

everyone is in a rush around us 
the cars race down the highway
the planes land every ten minutes
lufthansa / air lingus / delta

the red line clatters to field’s corner 
the semi-rich boat owners
take their trawlers out into the sound 

even the tide seems in a hurry
to slink backwards 
into the muck 

mucky mucky muck
there isn't as much muck as their once was 

a councilman saw human excrement
wash up on wollaston beach
that’s when they cleaned up the harbor 


what is water? 
why swim? 
why not swim? 

why worry about all this shit?
the jets and trains and cars and feces 

what are humans except waste creators 
we build
we wreck
we birth
we’re full of shit
the shit gets dumped
we still go swimming 

JULY 2012: "Fugue" by Kurt Klopmeier (running time: 3min 46sec)
Our second feature is "Fugue" by Kurt Klopmeier, filmed on an MBTA Red Line train. Kurt lives in Dorchester and is an MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Boston where he also teaches creative writing.

Kurt says:
"The inspiration for this poem came from an instance when I first moved to Boston. On the Red Line, I thought I saw someone I knew years ago boarding the train at South Station.  I started noticing the similarities between the patrons riding the train and people I knew.  Soon, everyone began turning into an acquaintance from one time in my life or another.  So the T was a natural place to recite the poem.  

"I often get my inspiration from a sense of the fantastical hidden within everyday life. This has drawn me to writers like Jorge Luis Borges, James Tate, and Salman Rushdie, as well as a steady diet of comic books, sci-fi, and mythology."

JUNE 2012: "Last Night" by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo (running time: 1min 39sec)
Our first feature is "Last Night," a poem by U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, filmed at the waterfront near Lower Mills. U-Meleni is a Zimbabwean performance artist and Dorchester resident. Visit her website at:

U-Meleni says:

"I chose this location because in the poem there are references to water. But I also chose this location  because I am most calm and serene near water and in that state am able to convey the reverie and deliciousness of emerging emotions.

"I am inspired by the following writers: Dambudzo Marechera, Nikki Giovanni, Mari Evans, Khalil Gibran, Shakespeare, Wole Soyinka -- too many to mention. I am also inspired by musicians, some of my favorites are Oliver Mtukudzi, Sade, Tracy Chapman, Meshell Ndegocello, Asa, Freshly Ground, Nitin Sawhney. I am inspired by people who use their craft, their talents to make this world a better place."


Last night I tried to fight myself
Mind over feeling
Mind didn’t win!
This morning I smelled of you
Golden imprints of your hand pressed against mine
Was it an illusion?
I think not!
Last night
You kissed the Africa in me
Did you taste my sun?
Like wine I danced in your glass
Rouge, face flushed
My spine
We divine
I want to drown in this
This vast continent of verbal interplay that has my thoughts orgasmically inebriated
I am open WIDE
Like the vowels you wished your name had more of
Maybe you can have MINE.

©U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo. 2003-2012

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