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Center for Writing, Book Arts, and Performance

Arcadia Unversity's Qui Vive! Center for Writing, Book Arts, and Performance helps Philadelphia-area middle and secondary students believe in themselves as writers and poets through the process of experimenting, manipulating, and performing the written word. We believe that youth who think of themselves as competent and creative writers produce powerful and interesting writing, both creative and analytic. These poems were created during our Fall after-school poetry workshop focusing on the list poem. Qui Vive! was created by and is run by Arcadia professors Leif Gustavson and Tyler Doherty.

For more information about Qui Vive! or to listen to some of the poets reading their work, check out their Web site:

> Go here to Read Qui Vive!'s 'Not Your Mama's Haiku Anthology'

Selected Poems:

Fire Autobiography
by Talee Bey

Flames, fire with red, yellow and orange centers
And I thought yellow was a gentle color
Coal burns while the flame centers into a crisp
It's great for eating marshmallows but not so great
when it pricks your finger
S'mores, delicious
Forest fires that burn to the ground
Warmth around the campfire
Well, that's where it all starts
It invites me in for a cup of hot tea
We chat before it burns me
Wood burns in the fireplace as you
are waiting for it to go out
How do you start a match?
You hear the flames' noise coming
from the streets of Germantown
Black smoke rises from the building
Red flashy fire trucks zoom around the corner
"Water, Water, we need water."
But hey, it's none of my business.


Things that Give an Unclean Feeling
by Mia Qian Collins

Waking up to a drool dot on your silk pillow
Stepping out from a taxi into a gas-filled puddle
A broken pencil top
A touch of unpeeled grapes
The smell of Chinese food from one of those cheap corner stores
Birds screeching in the early 5 o'clock stage
Knowing that people's spit stays in their mouth for 3 months
Seeing a sequel to a book that doesn't need one
A pen and a notebook lying there in the middle of a floor both
48th street and 8 feet down in downtown Ohio
A glass with cream and coffee left outside a
hotel room for 3 days
Protractor scratching on a heated radiator
An unpolished rock
The feeling of someone's spit hitting your lower chin


Nelson Mandela Is My Ideal
by Nick Dekker

Look at Nelson with an arm raised, hand to some chalk board. His grin so white you can see angels casting plaque bugs into the
depths of hell, right on his enamel.
His hair up with white heat jumbled through
Nelson! I want to wear dashikis with you and give each other
hair care tips
We'll fix apartheid nations.
Let's go play soccer and roll on Robert Mugabe with brotherly
You can tell me about Robben Island. 0221141011
How 'bout we watch action movies together
bowl of popcorn in your wizened old lap
I'll eat Junior Mints
You can comment on the senselessness of violence
I'll agree
But in my heart of hearts I'll still wish I was Jason Statham
We can build a tree house with a zip line
We can sit back and eat crumb cake and watch the clouds in our
matching Teva sandals
Then I will imagine you, Nelson.
50 feet tall vanquishing a lion with love in a stained glass
window in some South African cathedral


Medusa's Monkey
by Kelsey Detwiler

Your transformative skills taste like
broccoli rabe and peanut butter monkey-chutney
the flattened down grease sludge on the top of your head is all that keeps you
from winning the 17th annual Medusa-Look-Alike contest
flapping whitish blue lips open to release a torrent of clammy sunkist orange slime
from your gulping flabby throat
it dribbles down your lumpy body
barely constrained in its illusion of humanity by the sheer neon glare
of your snarl
the slime trickles down through the rotting flesh of your chest
your perfect breasts hang like elemental pears glued onto the smashed squirrel under your tires
seeping down into your brown-stained apathy rotted remnant of a heart
chubby, sensual maggots oozing out of its primary veins to lap up any emotion that slips past the sticky sincerity of your smile
if you reached a single putrid finger into the hollow of your stomach
hooked it around a slipper lavender trail of intestine
the guts would astound them all
until the clotted bags of cottage cheese pus spilled out
steaming yellow green onto your
patent leather clogs.


by Sophia Nolas

The face of a tired student,
The face of joy,
A face looking away, when you say hello,
The face of friendship,
The face of a weary soldier who knows that this could be his last
A newborn baby screaming out all of the rage and sadness in it,
The face of a seahorse,
The face of a mother looking at her children,
The face of a spider which has way too many eyes!!!
Eyes full of concentration,
Eyes full of exhilaration on a sweaty red-faced athlete, who won
first place,
The face of a loser who cries when he thinks no one can see,
The face of someone whose mind is far way,
The face of a musician who must play her piece correctly, even
though she alone knows why,
The need to know everything about everyone,
The face of performers when they receive their final applause,
The faces of laughter,
The face of tears,
The face of a comedian, who, by the reaction of the audience,
knows he has just told a funny one,
The face of silence,
The faces of noise.


by Sam Ritz

5 p.m. New Hampshire: Raining hard on a cool summer day, I put my hand into moist soil,

8 a.m. San Francisco: There is a frigid breeze, as frost dwells on my Petunias in the air softened window.

15:00 Tokyo: My eyes, sleep ridden, begin to close on the Tokyo skyline. I want to see your electronic glow, your strange culture that wears cough masks !

10 p.m. Ventnor, NJ: The simple hum of cars and trucks coexists with the dry, sea-hungry sirens that blow into my face.

2 a.m. In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, on a sailing ship: I am reminded of my home as the wind reaches its brink

5 a.m. Gobi Desert: The sky is the limit as our caravan reaches the hostel. The pastel sky suits the frigid kisses of the red constellations, closest to human form as they will ever be.

3 p.m. Northern Guatemala: I drink the solid bean paste. The humidity suits its thick, pungent splendor.

4:30 a.m. My home on 1230 Wrack Road: I stumble into my machine made tank top and bicycling shorts, electrical
tape gels onto my road bike.


by Michael Sanders

Elmo's world
Red is the color of your heart
The devil stealing your self
Tyler's bald spot
Celling of the bathroom wall
My blood
The devil having a snack on your soul
You've been a naughty boy
The sign of evil
Tyler's bald spot
Jeff Garcia's Bucs
Too bad they suck
Tyler's bald spot
Cardinals a-ha you lost to Philly
Tyler's beard
Anger and frustration
Imagine me throwing this rock at you
Fire for burning
Tyler's bald spot
Fire sounds
TV on fire, TV on fire
Tyler's bald spot.
First aid for healing fire for killing
E.T.'s nose
Tyler's bald spot


Chase Utley is my Ideal
by Jack Small

He had me at "World effing Champions!"
Sure, I liked him before.
I mean, he has always been a great player.
Those words just stole my heart, though.
His chiseled chin, the way he slicks his hair back.
I think about Chase standing on a stage where I am his audience. He looks lovingly into my eyes and yells, "World effing
His breath smells like alcohol.
This means one thing:
He has adopted Philadelphia as his hometown.
As he piggybacks me to our high-rise apartment in Center City, I
reflect on the times we've had.
The time he told me he loved me.
When he beat up that Mets fan.
And, of course, when he said "World effing Champions!"
As I look back, Chase calls me in for dinner.
The only thing, it sounded like he said
"World effing Champions!"
but I knew what he meant.
And as I draw my final breath he whispers something to me,
The only words I've ever wanted to hear my entire life:
"World effing Champions!"


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