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Green says it as he sees it, weaves it as he imagines it and does not shy away from the straightforward.


In his first ever book of poetry, Jay Green's Gates seeks to take the reader on a journey told in pictures.

From the writer's personal accounts of growing up in Louisiana, to capturing that self-defining moment of sharing a piece of yourself on an open mic stage, Gates uses vivid imagery to illustrate a journey of growth and possibility experienced by a young writer coming into his own.

Green’s collection, Gates, is refreshing, original and a book for the 21st century. Behind Green’s words are the stories, thoughts and feelings of a human being who loves, wins and loses too. 

Split into two parts, Gates is a collection of quiet, inimitable power. It begins with ‘Namesake’, a poem loudly proclaiming an identity which rises above prejudice and discrimination. This pride and heritage is seen again in ‘Penmanship’, ‘Grammar’, ‘Slapbox’ and ‘Blues and Barbecue.’ Green’s writing about home, his family and his neighbourhood is atmospheric - he captures the simplicity and serendipity of the ordinary.

This collection also ruminates on the very nature of poetry. Again, he captures the simplicity yet beauty in writing about the everyday:

“Then I read a poem about bird watching.
Then I read a poem about morning breakfast.
Then I read a poem about a tree.
And they were better than most poems I’ve seen.” (What is A Poem)

In doing so, Green celebrates the essence of this own work; in poems like ‘Ode to Peanut Butter’ and ‘Along the Bookshelf’. Everything seems simple but nothing is, because Green unravels the intricacies and the messages hidden within every thing and every moment we touch, hear, taste and feel.

Every piece in Gates is purposeful and moving in small, subtle ways. This is why Green as a quiet power; a power to make you smile, laugh and see beyond the superficial without forcing imagery, rhythm and twelve letter long words down your throat. Green says it as he sees it, weaves it as he imagines it and does not shy away from the straightforward; he is confident in his work and thus reminiscent of Hemingway and Ginsberg.

But, although reminiscent of 20th century writers, poems like ‘Youngblood’ and ‘War Poet’ prove Green is for the 21st century. He acknowledges the technological world we live in and strives to be his own poet, not a cheap imitation and I believe in Gates he achieves this; most especially in the flawless, ‘Songs for Us’.

Green begins by stating his identity and by the end of this collection there is no denying the power of this poet or who he is.

Reviewed by

I am an English teacher and a writer. I published my first poetry collection, Between the Trees, in May 2019. I read widely and avidly and review through Reedsy Discovery, Amazon Vine and individual review requests. All reviews are published on Amazon, Goodreads and my blog - My Screaming Twenties.


In his first ever book of poetry, Jay Green's Gates seeks to take the reader on a journey told in pictures.

From the writer's personal accounts of growing up in Louisiana, to capturing that self-defining moment of sharing a piece of yourself on an open mic stage, Gates uses vivid imagery to illustrate a journey of growth and possibility experienced by a young writer coming into his own.

Part One

If I Write a Poem

If I write a poem, it

will necessitate a bolt

and chain in arms reach. 

Because when the last

words of its form are

written, it will begin 

to growl at volumes that 

causes fusion at the joints, 

bark so relentlessly that the 

paint on the walls stiffens 

until it cracks, and just as the 

poem is about to leap from 

its birthplace to demolish

the bedroom window in the 

name of freedom, 

I must snatch the chain and 

slam it into the poem’s 


As I grapple with such a poem, 

I must avoid its feral bite, I must 

constrain its muscles with my 

own, all while I curse myself 

for birthing such a beast. 

But these poems, like their more

tame siblings, always find a home

in a special cage. 

A cage of thread and bounded 


to ensure they behave. 

If I write a poem, I may 

have to shadow doctors and

learn the process of creating


Because the poem will have 

a way shrinking itself into an

invisible speck, 

burrowing into a reader by 

eye or ear.

The poem will brave Mt. 

Brain and commandeer 

its epicenter, 

the poem will split its form 

endless times to a create a 

swarm of doppelgängers, 

and those copies may just alter 

the reader’s vision and perceptions 


If I write a poem, 

I mustn’t give it too much 


I know I’ll be the secret 

admirer it expects. 

I’ll hold prolonged stares 

at the gentle curves of 

its body, I’ll nod to 

sleep to the rhythm of 

its voice, I’ll have to stifle 

chuckles at its clever rhymes,

but I’ll boast about its personality 

to all my close friends. 

I won’t tell the poem that. 

I don’t want to make it jaded 

like those other poems. 

But I know it’ll be the 

poem that readers pause at 

with a tilt in their neck. 

I know it’ll be the poem that 

other poems gossip about in 

the back alleys of literary magazines. 

I know it’ll be the poem that is

quoted in someone’s favorite 


the poem that arches the spine 

of someone in love, 

as the words of the poem waltz 

out of the mouth of their partner 

at their wedding,

and in that instance, 

the new union will formally know

the poem as their own. 

I know I must hold a baby poem 

in place, if only for a couple of seconds. 

Because I know that once I let it 

breathe in oxygen, 

it is something else entirely.

Something familiar, 

yet unrecognizable. 

Something I adore,

yet am afraid of. 


Know me by my namesake, 

approach me if you dare. 

Love me until I’m colorless, 

odorless, fearless about all seasons.

And if you speak my name, 

you leave me anywhere. 

Define her by her sexuality, 

subject her if you dare. 

Admire her until she’s confident, 

voluptuous, jaded to all advances.

And if you speak her name, 

she’ll tell you she doesn’t care. 

Judge a culture by its lifestyle, 

spit at its ways if you dare.

Condemn it until it’s considered 

undesirable, worthless, less than 

righteous, and so imperfect. 

Because deep down you don’t 


It’s not that you can’t comprehend, 

you just never embraced such a word. 

Leave all your senses uneducated 

and all your views become absurd. 

Love me because you trust me, 

judge me after you listen.

Admire me for my vision, for my 

talent, my intuition.

And if you should disagree, 

all is still respected, 

and all is forgiven.

There’s a picture to be drawn. 

A scene to be depicted. 

Where we redefine balance, 

after braving any distance.

I’ll meet you just to sit and listen

as you tell me your name.

As we sit in shared company, 

for once we’re just the same.

The Photo of Nothing 

My generation cherishes the photo.

I would say that’s not a bad thing. 

I certainly love to converse with an 

image that speaks to me, 

my eyes telling the photo,

you look marvelous always.

But now social media holds a reign 

on imagery, 

and what’s considered beautiful, 


Users strive to create depictions of 

what doesn’t exist, 

and all that is truly present, 

is cropped from the lens. 

We post pictures on our feed 

to do battle.

“My life is great, how about yours?” 

Our photos yell for the sake 

of attention,

and now all there is is noise. 

Noise that makes us insecure. 

Life is joy through the social camera.  

Users filter truth, 

until they’re less than natural. 

Reminisce on falsified memories, 

but at least we still have perfect photos.

Songs for Us

People have been gathering together in groups and transcending the limits of their pathological individuality through music and ritual since the beginning of time.

Jordan Peterson

What happens to us

when our heads tilt back, 

when we grip our hair

to a melody, when we 

close our eyes to 

shut out what’s existing 

right before us, 

yet we’re in tune with the 

cadence that plays around 


What happens to us,

when we finally clasp

that runaway high, 

that only shows itself

when all our senses align, 

when we stand in front of

who we were, 

and just behind whoever we 

could be, 

and with every twitch of our


we know that movement 

is right. 

We are the congregation 

bouncing around in church, 

flailing our hands in the 

grip of the Holy Ghost. 

We are the tribal men and 

women galloping and

somersaulting around the 

night fire. 

We are the concert goers 

screaming under fluorescent


sharing our manic kisses 

with strangers. 

And what about the loners

bumping into their room 

walls with the speakers blaring 

or the golden couples who dance

to the songs of their heyday as 

they fold clothes

and take each other into their 


With closed eyes they become 

time travelers, 

swaying through the years of 

their history as one. 

We could be those people too.

Whenever You’re Anxious

Tight grip of the chest,

a dread of upcoming events

no matter how small.

There’s panic in every shallow 


as your heart feels the labor

of outsprinting the beast of 


You haven’t even left bed.

Please try and take that first step.

Let your feet hit the hard floor

so you know the ground won’t 


Take another step...

then another once more. 

Small movements towards 

progress will conquer what once 

felt dangerous. 

Please know that the next time 

that you’re anxious.

i call her HAPPINESS 

What is Happiness? 

She is the nudge on my shoulder that pushes me out of my messy bed. She is the pharmacist prescribing dopamine to my brain as I eat my favorite foods. She gets lost in melodies with me as we dance around a room. 

Where is Happiness?

I hardly know. She comes and goes unapologetically. I call for her after a long day and suddenly she’s there, and other times she’s in the distance. She lifts me to the peak of a steep mountain and leaves me there to fall again. 

But then there’s Sorrow. 

She comes whenever Happiness gives me the space I never asked for. Sorrow greets me with a thunderous kiss, and I am rubble in her storm. 

Sorrow stitches her arms to mine, and as she holds me, she compresses. Because Sorrow says she loves me. I can’t reciprocate because I’m breathless in her grasp. The grass is gray, the clouds are gray, my mood is blue, she says I’m safe. Sorrow holds me so very close, even when I’m striking, kicking, spitting, pushing her so far away. 

But then Sorrow left me. 

And when she left so did the cold, so did the worry, so did the storm. I must search for Happiness’s warmth again; she never just comes back to me. 

Happiness, sweet Happiness. 

I hate you... but I don’t. You leave me for good reasons. I’m selfish, yes it’s true. Your absence is my addiction, the enigma and the fool.

About the author

Born and raised in Monroe, LA. I have been writing since the age of twelve. Whether it's trying to capture some of the limitless possibilities that come with fantasy, or observing the natural world through poetry, I find passion in both these genres and hope to create works that will last lifetimes. view profile

Published on April 24, 2020

Published by

7000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Poetry

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