"This family is made
of harmonicas and change jars,
letting the city wind
carry our traditions,
turning the concrete and train tracks
into welcome mats;
please, come as you are.
Accept us for our tamourine-heart
soul searching, our calloused palms,
pocket lint, guitar picks,
and coffee stains.
We apologize for the mess.
Our path towards peace
has been far from perfect,
with scabby knees, sidewalk cracks,
but we will knit our fingers
in prayer and dance in the rain
until we get there.
We will get there.
So release your heart
to where the glass and marble towers
crease the silky cloth of sky,
where dreams will unfold before you.
Let go of all your burdens
in this symphony of awkward moments
and polaroid photographs,
this constantly crescendoing joy
in our creaking swingsets and house of healing.
Feel free to embrace
every one of your blessings.
These doors to our home
are always open.”
—“Chapels” by ADDY NOVY
"Please stop calling the
wind carrying our voices
a cry for battle.”
—“This is Not a War Zone.” by ADDY NOVY
"The beaming lanterns
lace the firefly sky through
—“Sun Dance” by ADDY NOVY
[Inspired by savanamazing, Alex Milner, Franny Choi, Blythe Baird, Sarah Kay, aconnormanning, Desirée Dallagiacomo, and Dr. Maya Angelou.]
"When he told me to start counting my self worth in pennies,
I had never known what it felt like to rust,
that to have the strength of a hurricane,
I needed to learn to stifle the wind in my throat,
to be minimized enough for swallowing.
When he told me that the whole purpose of female was to know how to nourish the house,
I one day found my name on his grocery list,
scratched in between his requests for fruit and a new television,
I did not expect to bruise this easy,
to be called this easy,
for my body to become scrutinized as spotted and sensitive,
a fuzzy peach,
cracked open like a wishbone,
static screen and pith.
The boys I’ve fallen for have never waited around for the credits to start to roll.
were not meant to fit inside the ideals of check box and advertisement,
built for photoshop and billboard:
bikini-icon and smoothed out by razor blades,
more attractive than achievable.
We have seen a price tag placed on ‘pretty’,
and were convinced that it would never fit our budget.
These bodies, already born beautiful,
were not supposed to be set out for sale,
we were not here for our parts to be auctioned off at a cost.
No human dreamed to quickly become object,
nor have they ever asked to be.”
—“What Guys Look For In Girls” by ADDY NOVY
'My uncle has a rustic, robin-shell-blue wooden house sloped along the lake. We go catch-and-release fishing there every summer.
The knowledge that my little brother and I lack is set in tackle boxes.
What we think we understand stays back in suburbia.
When the tires of our father’s car crackle the driveway gravel, my brother and I burst out from the backseat, racing half-way down the grassy tilt of hill to the rope-and-plank swing tethered to the scarred, lightning-webbed oak. We argue with playground hands. This is one of the few opportunities we have to tease the wild grass and cattails with our bare feet.
That year, July was sleepy-eyed and groggy, too lazy to shelve its thick winter comforter in the attic.
The dock creaked and squealed like child laughter. I begged my brother to pierce the squirming night wriggler for me because I did not want to puncture what was innocently existing. I would challenge the muddy, pollution-slimed water to a staring contest; it was so murky, but still breathing and swam with heartbeats that exhaled blips of morse code.
After hours passed, my cousin arrived and was cradling the ducklings she was told to babysit in her nest-twig arms. Her wild, blonde curls have always been streaked with sun and she has curiosity for eyeballs.
I anticipated that she would introduce me to the boy I was to fall in love with, and he would come trailing behind. He would smell like coffee and bonfire smoke, owned a tandem bicycle and loved Cherry Garcia ice cream and the fairy tale cookies I taught myself how to bake, that he would kiss me to the rocking of boat lullabies.
When heartbreak was to come lapping at that same shoreline, I would not yet learn my lesson. The answers I needed were shoved haphazardly into a glass bottle long ago, set sailing only to sink.
Don’t you remember that letter you wrote to yourself when you were sixteen? It should have been uncorked and translated into thousands of different tongues by now:
"Silly girl," it read,"you lose yourself too fast.
You’ve developed a bad habit of dropping your patience and focus into the water all at once. Didn’t anyone tell you that fantasy does not stay?
It preys on romantic desperation, likes to swallow what it was looking for whole, leaving you feeling empty and shallow,
darting as quickly as it came.”’
—“Catfish” by ADDY NOVY
'Alongside the traffic jams,
there is a boy who opens his heart
like a music case,
angling its chambers to the degree of pocket change,
hungry like a daydream,
breather of the wave lengths,
soulful and out-reaching like piano hands.
He conducts Chicago on a loop pedal,
taming the raucous into a concerto,
there is so much wild to absorb.
They say he has the inner workings
of the city composed under both eyelids,
has reflections of concrete and bent street signs tracing his irises,
that he is an old ghost inside of a learning body.
He does not talk much,
but pays close attention to the brushstrokes of shadows,
plays a live-wire guitar like his spirit has been spark plugged,
the energy surging between the
strings electrifying his spine forward,
the vibrations surging through his pulse.
“Music,” he says,
“is the multi-color
of voices blurring together all at once.
We must learn to turn our ears to its language.
There are timbres that have been
trying to resonate their stories for decades.
It is not that they do not have a lot to tell us,
but that we haven’t been listening
—“Stratacaster” by ADDY NOVY
"On that last frozen patch remaining on Earth,
Emperor Penguins turn their frosted, icicled bodies inward,
huddled and warming each other in
a makeshift, slick-feathered hearth.
They do not cloak in mutual body heat to protect themselves,
they cannot let the fragile, shelled life
wobbling atop their webbed feet to begin to crack,
to have the orb split like the ice along the horizon line.
Their true test as rulers is to shield their bloodline from the bitter cold,
the mothers that delivered their young
are just as powerful of warriors.
They, too, have seen armor shatter in kingdom battle like pieces of broken glacier.
Resilience is not just part of their practice because
it is embedded in their royal code,
it is there because strength is all they know
in a world that is
—“Antarctica’s Kingdom” by ADDY NOVY
[This poem could be perceived as a trigger warning to those recovering from drug addiction. Please proceed with caution.]
“You built yourself upon too much fragility,
and thought that this crystal frame
would work as enough support.
When we found out that you were no longer with us,
I heard my mother half-screaming,
half-crying in the living room downstairs,
clutching onto a feather pillow
because she no longer had a way to hold you,
I imagine that your mother cried
twice as hard.
You were the big brother I always wanted,
you filled my childhood with
memories of Beanie Babies,
basketball and forts made out of couch cushions.
I was unaware as to what your
sense of make believe meant.
On the evening my family came to
visit yours to reunite as a circle of old friends,
you left the house without saying a word,
pushing the hood of your orange
sweatshirt over angst-ridden, pin-prick pupils,
I thought I saw you shove a bottle of pills into your pocket.
blurring in between halfway houses,
you found sanctuary in the church support groups that helped keep you off the streets.
Loving someone who is a drug
addict feels a lot like trust falling,
you want to place out your hands for support,
but do not know if they will be there
for you to catch them.
I would not get to see your eyes
again until they were waxed shut in a coffin,
surrounded by your teddy bears and bible,
several months sober,
you slipped away in your sleep
right after Christmas.
Our New Years resolution was to
become as thoughtful of a person as you were.
Watching the ball drop was like
counting down fresh starts,
reviewing over your past as the
numbers passed us by.
This is a story I do not feel that I
have the right to tell,
but it is one that I keep repeating in order to heal,
keep repeating so our families can find closure,
keep repeating for a life lesson,
keep repeating because I love you,
keep repeating because I miss you,
keep repeating so I can’t ever forget your laughter.
These words always sound so strange each time
they tumble out of my mouth.
They break off in jagged fragments,
there are shards that are still missing,
parts of a puzzle left gaping and unfinished
and it hurts to pick up the pieces.”
—“Watching the Ball Drop” by ADDY NOVY
"We should not spend time
on pains of our past, but those
blessing our present.”
—“Rewind” by ADDY NOVY
"Childhood is the
fairy light that we dream will
—“Neverland” by ADDY NOVY
"Science is the long
research process to find what
poets have questioned.”
—“Grand Hypothesis” by ADDY NOVY
"1. Babies grasp their past, present, and future in their eager hands. They do not yet know why they shouldn’t ever loosen their grip.
2. Poets write their thoughts down past midnight so they are too tired to believe that their biggest critic is still awake.
3. Your emotions are valid. It is okay to ask for guidance to understand your truths.
4. Embrace rough drafts as opportunities for positive self-improvement.
5. Mirrors were not invented for us to fun-house our flaws, but to realize the beauty being reflected back at us.
6. Our voice boxes are arsenals. Our vocabularies act as ammunition. Choose your weaponry wisely.
7. No still means no. Your body is not to be argued over nor was it built to wage wars.
8. If someone tells you that they will love you forever, they have yet to learn the power of promise-keeping.
9. After a breakup, chocolate helps to blissfully forget the cavities that have to get filled.
10. Apologizing to others for being your own person will not help you forgive yourself.”
—“Ten Things I Know to Be True” by ADDY NOVY
"Once we graduate,
we will reminisce over memories like cassette tapes.
Have laughter on loop,
talk about the songs we used to
sing along to on car rides
when the sun would sink beneath the highway.
Do you remember when garages were sacred?
the rib cage of your house
throbbed from those amp-static decibels,
had a bass line pulse.
The walls shock-absorbed so much noise,
all the times we made each other
promise that we would rebel against road maps.
We know that there will come a time
where there are too many pit stops between us,
but don’t know what to do when
we’re faced with distance.”
—“College” by ADDY NOVY
"The natives called you Voodoo Child.
They spat cruelties in your face like hot oil,
shunning you from the cowbells-and-whistles commotion of the
cardboard-strewn, muddied streets
to prevent your curse from spreading.
You were being killed from the inside out.
Living in the poorest country closest to America,
your family scrounged for answers like loose change
only to upturn lint in their empty pockets. After your parents desperately called
for the two nurses based in your city to examine
the four-pound tumor that was engulfing your face,
skin stretched over distorted bone,
eyes half-swollen shut,
no longer able to eat or drink
they wondered if what they saw was human.
Your eyes told them stories of how it felt to carry your burdens in your hands,
to be a “prisoner inside of your own body;”
a medical spectacle with no way out.
When you saw the doctor who was to perform the surgery paid for by donations,
you wrapped your arms around him as though every fiber of his medical jacket was made of gospel,
your mother and the nurses sang “God Bless America” and clasped
rosary beads in their heaven-risen palms as you went under anesthesia,
prayer was all that they felt they had left.
To your parents, losing a child was like losing the sun
to another sky that was out of their reach.
You were not expected to survive past your thirteenth birthday,
but you were able to heal.
You were able to finally smile and breathe again,
to learn how to spell your name and reclaim it as your own.
You broke free from the walls that kept you hidden and ashamed for so long
and let the ocean swell in your voice.
You lived on to be
more than just beautiful.”
—“Marlie” by ADDY NOVY