Fire and Rust:

a Suite of Poems from Pat Pattison’s Poetry Workshop

Each year Boston College host the Greater Boston Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival, inviting undergraduate student poets from area colleges and universities to read their original poetry. This year, Skyler Bugg, a student in Pat Pattison’s Writing Poetry 2 class, represented Berklee College of Music. Here are the three poems she presented. Firebird is written in Blank Verse, Eve is an Italian Sonnet, and Becoming is Free Verse.
—Pat Pattison

I’ll end this dance, this fledgling stumble,
freed from the onus of landing on my feet.
As Earth’s twirl stops, I brisé off its edge
into deep space, alone, start on my own.
The ripe, sun-stained particles of my skin
evaporate, drifting by wilted leaves
stuck clinging to their roots, falling in fear,
and home-birds attempting flight in reverse.
I let my sounds, the screams and scorching skin,
score an infinity of pirouettes
performed at planetary proportions,
and thus begin a ballerina’s gigue.


Acidic sinner’s syrup burns a trace
of gameness down my tongue, sealing my grave
while crossing my heart and feigning I’m saved.
As Lucifer delivers me from grace,
I stroke the vicious cracks upon his face
with rapturous delight, hot and depraved,
then weigh the zealous rebellion he served
to me against my old god’s sacrifice.

We dance. Lucy explains it’s not his fault
he’s not to blame for forsaking the plan
his king handmade, enticing me to do the same,
to free my heart from heaven’s smothering vault.
Who cares if one more angel falls? My span
of life was pre-paid. So I follow him home.


I want craters carved into my skin
I want you to cut them for me
Make me in your image
A flower forged at your fingertips
Scream and scratch away at my self
Slit me open in sonic waves
Sing what I sound like
And if, God forbid you ever finish me
Your masterpiece,
Your piece of work
Your work of art
You can keep what you’ve created
Whatever that is, it’s not me, I don’t want it
I’m becoming something else

—Skyler Bugg
Students in Pat Pattison’s Writing Poetry 2 class this Spring had quite a workout. After a semester in Writing Poetry 1, culminating in Blank Verse, they were challenged to write, in this order, an English sonnet, and Italian sonnet, a Terza Rima, Sapphic stanzas, then a series of poems in Free Verse. Several elected to submit their favorite poem of the semester to FUSION Magazine.
First, a Terza Rima from Abby Kenna:

This isn’t killing me, but

my teacup lost a sliver, perfect chip
of sage ceramic splintered in the move,
and ev’ry sip now splits apart my lip,

an innocent prick of bitterness to
ensure every smile tastes likes you – all
sour iron and live wires and blood that blooms

beautifully – of course your tragedy stands tall
amongst carnage: cardboard corpses that rot
too slow and too sweet, mocking my downfall

with prying eyes and decomposing thought
and photo books with Us scrawled on the spine
and the rest of the tea set, free from fault.

This isn’t killing me. I’m doing fine.
Most days you barely even cross my mind.

Next, Sapphic Stanzas from Tamoghno (Max) Banerjee:

Sub-continental March

Spring tide always paints a collage of red and
Green-yellow on shimmering light blue canvas.
Standing tall, the poincianas ignite the
Calcutta skyline.

Shrill and loud the cuckoo proclaims the end of
Darker, colder days, as the warm sun cascades
Over cosmopolitan maze of concrete:
Breathing in new life.

An English sonnet from Liv Dunkley:

If there is life, then

there’s fuming grey rain clouds that never drain,
and howling winds that blow like siren’s lungs,
that tease and taunt the waves to thrash in pain
against the cliff’s edge – to knock off what hangs:

a dwelling, sitting above that rising tide,
confined to land, exposed to gravity’s force,
defenseless and weak with nowhere to hide,
it slides; the sea consumes with no remorse.

The sands that line the ocean’s secret floor
will swallow every breath possessed that built
your life. Until you crawl on heaven’s shore,
you’ll wait, anxious, for death (who keeps no guilt)

to give an end to stories writ by you
and make the light you love bid you adieu.

Free Verse from Sydney Paré


When I place my fingers to my throat,
I can still feel a pulse, a
Beating of wings,
A fluttering panic, blistering the bronze.

Then, the song calms.

I force ice into my lungs, trying to
Heal what has been tarred and left
Feathered. Snipping at the seams, I sever
Ties that once latched me to cruel bars, fire rising in my eyes.

Free Verse from Cammi McDermott:

Double Sided

The air has never been this thick
this close to the ocean.
You were never much of a fighter,
but today,
the weapon passed down for generations,
from your father’s father’s father,
was delicately pulled from the bedside drawer.

A two-headed gun,
I can’t decipher whether you’re pointing it
towards you or me. A life
flashes before me
that, perhaps, was never mine to envision:
a home without a deposit placed,
a dog never named,
a child not conceived.

Trigger happy, premeditated,
but your finger trembles.
Did this go too far?

You aim for my heart, but yet,
the bullet grazes your own leg.

Then and there,
you ask me
to ask you
for forgiveness.

I’ve never hated you more than I do now.
I’ve never loved you more than I do now.

In each Writing Poetry 2 class (happening only Spring Semesters) I also do my own assignments. Here’s my favorite, a Terza Rima:

A lowly thing, that speaks of time and wear,
You want it gone, scraped from the iron skillet,
Rubbed, Polished, till it finally disappears,

Shaken from your mind, though somehow, still it
Lingers, lingers, knowing it will have its say
At last. Arise at morning, you will feel it

Deep to the bone, whispering the decay
That lies ahead: gone the days care free,
Slowed as the chain lengthens, you will obey

Your years. Rising to the surface gradually,
It knots the joints, swells the ankles, and hands
Out tickets for the Show: those artfully

Bulging purple veins, slowly withering glands,
Nasty little buggers waiting in the stands.

—Pat Pattison

Featured Artwork:

Friedrich Haag, Swedish Fire Log, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Elemaki, Malinche (Delonix regia) flower petals , CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
David Geitgey Sierralupe from Eugene, Oregon, Iron, Rust, and Lichen , CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Jerome O. Kilmartin, Sculpture in progress found in a quarry near the principal group of ruins, Yucatan, Mexico 1924, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
carrotmadman6 from Mauritius, Delonix regia , CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Birdcage MET, CCO, via Wikimedia Commons