Featured Artist: Abby McCarthy

Nandita Subbiah

WSPN's featured artist is sophomore Abby McCarthy.

When did you start writing poetry?
I first started poetry slam last year, but I have journaled my whole life, and I have always loved writing.

What are common topics in your poetry?
My poetry tends to be lighter, tongue-in-cheek, full of humor. I try to write about a variety of topics. There is always the classic [topics] with poetry, like love, different fears and things I’m afraid of, the future and my own past.

What are slam poetry competitions like?
Slam poetry competitions are huge and great because everyone there loves slam poetry, and people write their own poems and memorize them, and they are so passionate about what they do. People get so into it, everyone is cheering and snapping and encouraging each other. People are giving five-minute long hugs, and the judging is really arbitrary because the judges are random people who are picked. They don’t have poetry judging experience, so the phrase that everyone says is, “It’s not the points, it’s the poetry,” and that’s really because it’s just about loving that form of art. It’s about the community of poetry and appreciating it.

How would you describe slam poetry?
One could say it’s poetry without definition. You could say it’s a social protest, a way of expression, a way a person looks at the world. [It’s poetry] based on personal experience.

What is the hardest thing about writing poetry?
The hardest thing is always starting. It’s so hard to sit down and say “I’m definitely writing about this” or “I’m going to definitely write about that.” That’s one thing I’ve gotten better at over time is saying “I’m going to sit down, I’m going to write.” It doesn’t have to be a great poem. You can’t write a great poem every day. Good poetry comes from bad poetry.

Do you want to continue writing poetry through high school?
Definitely. I would like to be on a slam poetry throughout high school and college and even as an adult I want to be involved in the poetry scene around Boston.

To Poets
By Abby McCarthy

Here is a poem
to people who write poems
who claw at keyboards till 1 a.m.
as heavy eyes
corral tired bits of sand
to wonder and ponder and think
of a single ethereal snowflake
that lingers and clings to vacant air,
before fluttering to its demise
or how glossy dew gathers
on a freshly mowed lawn
or a dark winding road
or the funny way fruit sleeps still
in its bowl

or maybe sunset is god’s acrylic,
crashing tide really does wear the dove-grey sands
as the pale moon hangs still
representing your destiny
life’s meaning
the number of hairs on your head
or maybe what’s for dinner.
with their symbolism
and onomatopoeia
and metaphor
and simile
and all their questions
you poets
go get a life

Math Test
By Abby McCarthy

spawn of the devil.
Five more minutes, and
I could have answered those last three questions on the math test.

from grasped fingers
tears the equation
to my A.
At least it was,
before seduced away.

Those last enigmas further delayed,
until graded and slayed
with hard fibrin scars of red Xs
I expect,
from scarlet of my anguished heart,
will penetrate clear space
of wasted paper,
while an answer,
lay frayed, at the red-light in my brain.

Wasted years of calculated grief,
because a girl who beseeched
for mere minutes was denied
the opportunity to show what she had learned.

Shotty’s in da club for extra help, like,
Do you speak these small symbols and squiggles tormenting my soul,
when I understand
but my mind will always be too slow.
My family says I work too hard,

caught in this chokehold,
When X the exponent is only accepted instantaneously,
What’s a girl supposed to see,
in a future that’s timed and measured to hell
when I’ve shed my apolaustic self,
woe is me, To be or not to be?
to live this crapulous life
in honors geometry.

When trying my absolute best ain’t enough,
to maintain my first letter of the alphabet status,
I turn to a bottle of fluff on Chocolate Addiction,
and ample spoonfuls of nutella,
cuz I’m hella
gonna eat my feelings out after this one.

Geometry, you bad, BAD thing.
Blowing around my feelings,
leaving me reeling with the taunting
chaff of B+ B+ B+
“B+ is great!”
a supposed friend claims.
I grind my teeth.
I poise to bite.
why did you ruin my life.

By Abby McCarthy

Exotic, alluring creature,
you flatten fetching sepia hair into parabola
while I try to concentrate on algebra.
How many double takes will it take
before I officially look away
from that captivating shape on your head?

This ain’t no tam o’shanter,
this ain’t no fez.
You revolutionize the beanie.
Divulge your secrets.

You have such a cute hat-face combo
if you were a happy meal
my summer salary would supersize
every tangy bite of you with extra fries.

Can I have a hug?
The meaning of you is cuddle.
I am muddled with daydreams of us,
questing for hats in forever 21.
Maybe zumiez is more your style? Or Pacsun?
Hell, you already have the best hats under the ozone.
Our powwow should be someplace better,
like Willy Wonka’s factory
or Plaster Fun Time and the noodle place next door.
Wherever you prefer,
I get my license August third, and we will go.
Me and you,
and that seductive chapeau.

the headgear framing your doll face,
brings me back to 1998
when I was in utero,
because you are something out of this world.

I wish to express this to you Peach,
without being a fruitcake of a character.
I daresay you make it grueling
by being elysian.

Do you notice my ogling?
Does it bother you?
I doubt you know
you’re a hot number.
Speaking of your number…
How am I going to ask you out?
No, back up.
How could I ask your name
without a voice crack?
I could start like this,
“I like your hat”.

We’re there
By Abby McCarthy

Light green eyes stare me down
twinkle with ancient wisdom,
make me shiver,
I’m not cold.
They belong to a girl with purple scales that shine gold
She is god.
I am stuck to the spot
in this vivid continuous dream,

Her stare is dark, but not unkind.
“Would you… like a cup of coffee god?
Could I… get you anything?”
God doesn’t say much,
Although, to give her credit,
I haven’t been speaking out loud.

After years of corralling questions,
I can only offer a coffee date,
and hope she doesn’t ask for Starbucks.
There’s a twinkle in god’s eye.
“Let’s get ice cream instead.”
Her voice rings bright.
Thank god.
God smiles.
It’s so beautiful, oh god, I could just die.
She takes my hand.
Feels like a hand.
Before I can even ponder
“I’m touching god
and we’re going to Ben & Jerry’s”,
we’re there.
Today is so awesome.

Dark Hearts
By Abby McCarthy

What lights up the darkest
veins of our hearts?
Is it when the salsa jar’s contents
reflects the desired amount of chips?
(clearly inspired by god)

Is it when Mom chides “clear the dishwasher”,
but when slammed wide, it’s empty.
Or to seize a crisp envelope,
plump with college acceptance,
yawp “Thank you!” behind,
and do a little samba for the mailman.
Or when that worst enemy gains twenty pounds,
antlers sprout from her fat head,
people recognise she’s a bully,
and fully bombard her with
rotten anchovies.
Then you gain consciousness.
It was a fun dream.
Or how about when you sneeze in the public restroom
and a hot stranger says “Bless you”.
Or when your bestie throws you a surprise party.
Your crush strolls in, and says
when you tripped on the staircase,
he was really laughing with you.
Or if you telephone a summer voice
that has danced in cloisters
of your mind’s shadow.
They are glad you called.
They miss you back.
It’s those infinite crackerjacks of life;
Whipped cream from the nozzle to your tongue piercing,
finding someone cute to share it with
who doesn’t mind kissing a tongue piercing,
Or realizing “I should put on pants.”
because the pizza man is here,
letting go of fear.
We’ve got hearts.
We’ve all got mottled pain.
Now share the dark veins.

What lights up the darkest veins of our hearts?
Is it when the amount of chips you want to eat
and the salsa jar’s contents
match up perfectly?
(clearly an act of god)
Is it when your mom orders “empty the dishwasher”
but when you slam it open,
it’s empty.

Or when your mailman delivers
that crisp white envelope
of college acceptance
and for the first time in twelve years,
you remember
to call out “Thank you!” behind you.

Or when your worst enemy gains twenty pounds,
and grows antlers,
and people realize what a bully she is,
and decide to throw rotten anchovies at her
and then you wake up
and you’re almost not even disappointed
because it was such a fun dream.

Or when you sneeze in public
and a really attractive stranger says “Bless you”

Or when your best friend throws you a surprise party
and the guy you like comes
and he says when you tripped on the staircase
really he was laughing with you.

Or telephoning a summery voice
that has long danced in your minds shadow,
being shocked
when they actually pick up the phone
and don’t think you’re some dumb bunny for calling

Or realizing you should put on pants
because the pizza man is here