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Celebrating Poetry Month with Local Poets Mia Gabriella and Amy Gerstler

Celebrating Poetry Month with poets Mia Garbiella and Amy Gerstler.

April is Poetry Month. Not being experts on poetry, we asked the folks at our fabulous local book store, Chevalier’s, about people we could talk to about presenting poetry in the Buzz. Thanks to the store’s William Hawkins, we met local poet, author and professor Amy Gerstler, who was – like all Chevalier’s suggestions – a perfect fit. (You can watch the recording of Gerstler’s conversation with Louise Steinman about her latest poetry collection “Index Of Women.”)

Friendly, helpful and patient, Gerstler cringed when we admitted that poetry can feel intimidating. Turns out we are not alone, and Gerstler is on a mission to make poetry more accessible to everyone.

“Poetry should be like music. Everyone listens to music, everyone sings, you don’t have to have any training to listen to music,” exclaimed Gerstler. “That’s all poetry is. Prayers are poetry, nursery rhymes are poetry; they are friendly and they rhyme! Everyone is a poet until they are five, and then they lose they playful spirit; everything becomes serious and we are afraid to look foolish.”

With all that out of the way, we were ready to check out some poetry.  Gerstler gave us some suggestions for ways to explore all the various types of poetry, some of which you just find by looking around.  For example, “found” poetry, poems that are created from lines of type, sort of like a poetry collage, sounded really interesting.  And poetry anthologies are a great way to explore collections of poems organized in a variety of themes, such as poetry by women, people of color, geography, topics, and more…and all of which can be found at Chevalier’s Books, suggested Gerstler.

“Poetry is so vast, there are so many voices across history, etc.,” Gerstler told the Buzz. “I am certain everyone can find something they like and that’s the important thing to learn about poetry.”

And with that in mind, we are also thrilled to present four poems from a young local poet, Mia Gabriella, who is part of the Alexandria House writing group, and who recently shared some of her work with the Buzz.

The Haunting

This wasn’t the hill I was expecting you to die on
Yet here we gather, laying flowers on your grave

But you did not have it in yourself to go with grace

And even as nature erodes flesh and bone
Even as time makes our memories feel like they aren’t our own
You haunt me like a shadow
You’ve poisoned my blood and crawl through my veins
You’ve stained every surface of my life like a stubborn wine stain

You did not have it in yourself to go with grace

I see you in the flowers blooming through the cracks on an unforgiving sidewalk
I hear you in the wooden creaks of an abandoned home
The biting chill of winter mimics your touch

You did not have it in yourself to go with grace

The flowers I once left on your grave have now wilted and withered away
Many cycles of the moon have now come and gone
The pages of our book have now been engulfed in dust
My tears have now dried and my scars have now healed

You did not have it in yourself to go with grace, but I can find it in myself to leave your ghost in peace


This Rose, This Spine, This Collarbone Of Mine

Spring came and went, as fast as our ever-changing whims
And when summer came, the flowers once planted were now in full bloom

Coming of age, growing pains
Like moths to a flame, we open our hearts to a season of fiery infernos
A season of first loves
A season of shameless games

The chase, the hunt, the adrenaline rush
We fall hard and fast, not caring if we crash
Instead it feels like we’re flying, riding the winds of youth and undisciplined desire
We don’t even notice how close to the sun we are or how our wings catch fire

But it’s a beautiful fire, is it not?
One that ignites our spirits and bodies
But a fire nonetheless

And we plummet back down to earth
The flowers around us now covered in ash
This rose, this spine, this collarbone of mine
Once so innocent and divine
Now tainted by the cruelest of summers and left to wither and suffer



These eggshells I walk upon have now turned into daggers digging into the soles of my feet
The crimson red shade of my blood is your favorite
You use it to paint me me as the villain
A work of art even The Louvre would envy

A contortionist, that’s what I have become for you
Breaking my back, so desperate to please
I balance on this tightrope, jump through hoops, whatever I can do to keep your eyes on me

A circus, a freak show, a wicked parade
This cotton candy is starting to rot my teeth
I find myself stuck in a house of mirrors, unable to escape
Trapped and alone
With nothing but my thoughts
And a reflection I can’t even recognize
Wondering how I got here, and mourning all that I’ve lost


Shivering Body

You took little pieces of me
So small that I didn’t notice at first
So blinded that perhaps I didn’t care
Then I started to fracture and that’s where it all fell apart

It begins with a deafening whisper
One that pierces the malleable child mind
A deceptive lullaby
A siren song of seductive lies

A gluttonous fiend is what stands before me in the mirror
Hungry for the illusive standard of perfection
Yearning for the elusive dream to become the world’s predilection

On this archaic altar of youth and beauty, I offer up my light and flesh to have my wickedness absolved
The sin of a soft belly
Thighs that scandalously touch like forbidden lovers
But I’m not granted such mercy

Nobody ever is

And I’m laid to rest amongst the fallen kingdom of hollow skeletons
Nothing but a shivering body


Mia Gabriella (photo from Mia Gabriella)

About Mia: Mia Gabriella is a 19 year old student who writes in her free time. You can typically find her with her nose stuck in a book and she hopes to one day write one of her own. When it comes to my writing process, it’s all done on my phone whenever inspiration strikes. The notes app is a godsend haha.

Usually a single phrase or word pops into my head and I build around it. My poem called “The Haunting” is my personal favorite. It started with the first line and the imagery of laying flowers on a metaphorical grave but still being haunted by memories of the person you tried laying to rest. I’m a person that tends to get stuck in the past so writing this was very cathartic.

For my poems “Shivering Body” and “Circus,” I also drew from personal experiences and feelings. The former being about struggling with body image issues brought on by societal beauty standards, and the latter being about sacrificing your own happiness in order to please another and losing yourself in the process.

Lastly, “This Rose, This Spine, This Collarbone Of Mine” is about a whirlwind romance that ends in ruin. I’m an avid reader and frequently get inspired by books I consume. I took inspiration from a kaleidoscope of romances I’ve read about that didn’t have happy endings, as well as the Greek myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. I wanted to play with the symbolism that provides.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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