Monday, December 17, 2012

Draft of, It’s Later than Early, from a future project tentatively titled, “Dampness”

Its Later than Early By Jasen Sousa

Its Later than Early


The thought was trapped

inside a Boston tunnel

stuck behind guilt and red break lights,

surrounded by yellow

hues which couldn't even inspire

small insects to walk freely

on unbalanced land

that was fraudulently built.


It was still like a puddle

resting on a dawn city street,

like a half-smoked

cigarette that leaked smoke

long after a flick

from his calloused fingers.


His paycheck ended up

inside the palms of charismatic

bartenders and agile women

who shook as much as the dreams

he could no longer conjure up.


When the future is nothing

but a weekend, and reality is nothing

but the time you get home from work.


Inside an empty apartment,

inside an empty fridge

where eyelids are unbalanced

and dusty as the blinds

that kept him hidden

more than the stained uniform

that bared cursive letters

arranged in way that no longer spelled his name.


It was quiet like the vision

that never propelled him to move forward,

like the vocal cords

which never allowed him

to formulate great words into meaningful sentences


It's later than early

and his hands remained inside

his empty front pockets, warm, comfortable,


afraid to touch objects

coated with layers of freedom.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Draft of, Elderly Rainbows, from a future project tentatively titled, “Dampness”

Elderly Rainbows By Jasen Sousa


He desired to shape concepts into objects

unknown by man.  Instead, that which bubbled

inside his head transformed into dented

cans that looters wouldn't bring back

to their sacred land.


He wondered how to mold abstract ideas

into something concrete that would serve as foundation

for cities and paved streets. Instead they sat, untouched

by human hands like sand on winter beaches.


He hoped for something specific, like tales

written on wooden ship sails, memorized

by the Atlantic and Pacific.  But it's like

he never existed, slept in the same house

that became empty as the gambler's account.


His growth rested underneath barriers

of skin and pleasure like lawns

buried underneath frozen leaves and snow.

His desires sat like used cars with

fog on their windshields and a slight drizzle

on their frames, as brush grew along

sagging fences weighed down

by the poet's unwritten sentences.


He wanted to find a way to bottle rainbows

in oil-slicked puddles, before they disappeared

like eyeglass dents on the elderly man's nose,

before it was too late to notice what he swept away.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Draft of, Placement of Truth, from a future project tentatively titled, “Dampness”

Placement of Truth by Jasen Sousa



I placed my feet

inside a pair of sneakers without laces

as I stood on the edge

of a curb where unfamiliar faces ran

red lights and rode bicycles

with flat tires.  I searched for courage to ask

the Asian man inside the convenient store

who gingerly kneeled on a flattened box and stacked milk,

"How long before someone expires?


I placed my sunshine

inside an empty shoe box where it sat

on the bottom of a dusty closet floor

underneath clothes I have outgrown,

next to a box full of possessions

I could have owned:  My crush's number

on the back of a folded gas receipt and photos

of children I have yet to develop.


I placed my dreams

inside of a toilet that wouldn't stop running

next to a sink that dripped in sequence

with my sticky blinks.  Paint

on interior walls faded inside of a body that rejected

addiction, but was engaged

to lustful cravings.


I placed my air

inside an empty wallet next to invalid

library cards and bus passes from cities I knew

I would never visit again.  I folded it shut

until I wash ready to spend my time figuring out secrets

deeper than those kept by a teenage daughter

who memorized the lyrics to her father's unzipping.


An open window wind examined my 2-week-old beard

looking for the remnants of oil that came

off the fingertips of someone who understood.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Early Draft: Eyes Down By Jasen Sousa

Early Draft: Eyes Down By Jasen Sousa

There is a woman
wearing a burgundy dress
who waits for me at the local tavern. The napkin
under her Gin and Tonic, damp as the unpaved space
behind her knees.

Denies requests to dance
as she can’t ignore movements on swollen
bottles behind the limping bartender.

Her phone sleeps on the counter, she waits
for it to pulsate like that feeling
that started inside of a thought and moved
in-between her wrist and forearm, like the vibrations
of bass that crawls down crowded walls and creates webs
amidst freshly painted toenails.

The tip is face down under the edge of the glass, the girl is eyes down
on the curb, waiting to be picked up
and dropped off into a world she is unfamiliar with.

I place the night into my back pocket
and sit on it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Early Draft: Deep Breaths By Jasen Sousa

Deep Breaths

I tip-toe through a vacant parking lot
accompanied by decade old gum,
oil spots, and rooftop AC's that chill
local bodegas. Before sweat
from uniform layers, before breakfast
and under the table wages.

The strap from my duffle bag digs deep
into my shoulder like the woman who
left me like a tip under
an uneaten plate.
Stubble on my face alerts me
of a day getting older.

Lack of money under my unmade
mattress reminds me of why I'm usually
the first one to arrive,
or maybe it's because my apartment
is too quiet now.

Like how sprinklers
that get turned on by dawn
echo through my hollow sheets,
or like how every item stands with a blind
stillness waiting to be picked up by a pair
of palms, I never got the pleasure
of memorizing their intricate lines.

I don't care whether my day
is long or short. By lunch, my skin resembles
a chilled glass bottle left out
in a summer kitchen without being sipped.
I don't look at the clock, just wait for a co-worker
to remind it's time to leave.

I tip-toe through a condensed parking lot
with mental dents and a bulging pocket for rent.
Oil stains and gum spots become invisible
as they are tucked in by evening.
Overworked air conditioners are turned off, leaning against
a bus stop, dreaming. That’s just
the sound of me breathing.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Now Available !!!

Book Description
Publication Date:July 10, 2012
Fancy Girl by Jasen Sousa is a novel in poems which tells the coming of age story of Deanna Keight, a teenage single mom who is struggling to raise her daughter Madelyn inside of the Mystic Housing Developments in Somerville, Massachusetts. Deanna is a brash, but capable teen who is stuck at a point in her life where she doesn't know how to escape the world she has found herself living inside of. Deanna is a female Ponyboy, and Fancy Girl is a modern day version of The Outsiders, and is written in the same successful style as Jacqueline Woodson's Locomotion, and Patricia McCormick's Sold.

One day, Deanna is approached in the park by Alissa, a new breed of independent prostitute who offers to teach Deanna the tricks of the trade so she can save up enough money to move out of the projects. Without many options available, Deanna accepts Alissa's offer. Deanna is even more desperate to disappear from Somerville as she has recently found out that the father of her child, Machinegun Mike, who is doing time in jail, will be getting out earlier then expected. Machinegun Mike becomes enraged with jealously after learning that Deanna has been selling herself, and plans to come home and reunite with Deanna and Maddy so that they can be a family.

At night, Deanna leaves Maddy in the care of her elementary school crush, Johnny J, the only guy in her life that she trusts. Johnny J goes along with this plan at first as he sees it as a logical way for Deanna to save money, but over time, his feelings for Deanna grow, and he becomes disgusted with the idea of sitting at home while strangers feel up every inch of her body. Johnny J confronts Deanna's way of life, Machinegun Mike, and will let nothing get in his way of freeing Deanna and Maddy.

Fancy Girl is the story of a young teenage mother living in an unforgiving environment, and her journey to do whatever she has to in order to secure a new, and better life for herself, and her daughter. Deanna realizes that fast money is not the way of creating a better life for her family. Deanna is a courageous young girl who has to teach herself about the harsh realities of her projects. Deanna realizes this doesn't have to be her life. That she doesn't have to sell her body for money, and that just because generations of her family lived in poverty, doesn't mean that she does. She realizes she can leave, even if it means leaving with less than what she originally had. This book is important for all teens in general, but especially for young people in the inner city who will be able to look up to a young single mother as a new hero of young adult literature.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Draft: Sips of Solitude

Draft: Sips of Solitude

I decided to live in an empty room.

A room that continues to shrink
in size. I can touch

all four walls while in
my bed and almost fall out of a window
that can only be opened from outside.

There is a half-drunk glass
of water I refuse
to finish

because I'm petrified to look
at the bottom where drips
of my future might reside.

I walk in a tank top tip-toeing
through my thoughts
inside a summer rain
avoiding flattened boxes of Newports

imagining her engulfed by a man
who has her kids, but does not
have her heart.

There will be opinions,
but there can never be questions
about the reality of the stillness

that is solitude.

I am left in empty space
to ponder noises
that echo through her room,
while my surroundings are as silent
as they ever have been.

Monday, June 25, 2012

eNews from the Boston Public Library

Dream Big with Summer Reading

This summer, children will enjoy programming built around the theme Dream Big – Read at all Boston Public Library locations. Highlights include stuffed animal library sleepovers, courtyard story times, and live theater performances along with visits from the ReadBoston Storymobile and Countdown to Kindergarten celebrations. Visit for details. And don't forget, all young people age 5-17 are eligible to enter the annual Read Your Way to Fenway summer essay contest, too.

eBooks for You

Use your Boston Public Library card to download free eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video. Listen on your iPod or download to your Nook or Kindle. Need more details about which devices work with our OverDrive service? See the list here. You can visit our eBook collection 24 hours a day. There are thousands and thousands of titles to choose from.

There is also an extensive list of books in the public domain that you can download for free. At last count, there were 34,000 titles available.

Reading Ahead

Wonderful authors are visiting the Central Library in Copley Square for author talks this summer. Pick a Tuesday evening in July to meet your favorite writer and hear them read from their latest book.

Elin Hilderbrand, author of Summerland, Tuesday, July 10, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Lecture Hall
Jennifer Weiner, author of The Next Best Thing, Tuesday, July 17, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Lecture Hall
Gerald Chertavian, author of A Year Up: How a Pioneering Program Teaches Young Adults Real Skills for Real Jobs with Real Success, Tuesday, July 24, at 6 p.m. in Rabb Lecture Hall
Sam Kean, author of The Violinist's Thumb, Tuesday, July 31, at 6 p.m. in the Commonwealth Salon
See the full schedule of summertime author talks at

An Invitation

We're seeking the input of parents and caregivers in our discussion about out of school time programming. The library recently launched a survey which builds upon a similar youth-focused survey conducted in May.

Please spend a few minutes responding to the survey questions and invite other parents and caregivers to do the same.

Did you know? Calendar
The next Compass Roundtable is all about fun. Join a discussion about the "fun" principle in the BPL's strategic plan at the Central Library in Copley Square on Tuesday, July 10, at 12:30 p.m.

The BPL's Kirstein Business Library has a blog. Kirstein offers career and job hunting information, entrepreneurial resources, assistance to investors, and more.

There is a growing set of vintage postcards on the BPL's Flickr photostream. Twenty-nine states are represented so far. Alabama postcards are the most recently posted.

The BPL calendar lets you search for events, download to your calendar, sign up for email or text reminders, and more.


Summer reading isn't just for kids. See what's on the schedule for teens this summer. The summer reading theme for teens this year is Own the Night.

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Friday, April 20, 2012


they are the beginning.

life created
in the night.

and cell phones
when the child
becomes grown.

Too many questions
and the parents
don't have answers,
prefer to be left alone.

And what's that?
Mommy's belly
once again blown? Daddy can't be
satisfied with dome.

Let's talk
about home.

Daddy has another
chick on the side, comes
and goes as he pleases.

Takes a shower
at her crib, gives his kid a PSP,
and has enough time
to spread some new diseases.

Enough to be his girl, but not enough
to be his bride. TV remote for him to click
until it is time to take a ride. Someone else
is waiting for him to arrive.

Single father
can't help but get harder. Different girl,
different life, doesn't have to
listen to the crying. Supposed

to be working the overnight shift,
but is going to give someone else
an overnight gift. Mom’s home hanging
up imaginary pictures of her dying.

Prescription pills
take away the chills
and everything is cool,
because he pays
some of the bills.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why is fast food saltier in the U.S.?

By Amanda Gardner,

updated 5:50 AM EDT, Tue April 17, 2012

It's no secret that fast-food fare like burgers, french fries, and fried chicken tends to be high in sodium. According to a new study, however, American fast-food customers may be getting a larger dose of sodium than their counterparts in other countries -- even if they order the exact same items off the menu.

In the study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers analyzed the posted nutritional information for more than 2,000 items sold in multiple countries by the world's six largest fast-food chains: Burger King, Domino's Pizza, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Subway.

Overall, the researchers found, fast food tended to be saltier in the United States than in the other countries included in the study: Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, and the UK. What's more, the sodium content of the same menu items at the same chains varied by country, sometimes widely. 25 foods with tons of hidden salt

For most menu items, the sodium content differed by no more than 20% to 30% from country to country. Burger King's Double Whopper, which contained an average of 1,050 milligrams of sodium, varied by 240 milligrams at the most, for instance.

But in some cases the difference was dramatic. The Chicken McNuggets sold in the United States contained 2.5 times more sodium than the McNuggets sold in the UK. Likewise, the sodium content of a Subway club sandwich was more than twice as high in the United States as it was in France.

It's not clear from the study what accounts for these variations. Several factors could make it difficult for restaurant chains to reduce or standardize their sodium use across countries, says Joy Dubost, Ph.D., director of nutrition for the National Restaurant Association, a trade organization that represents all of the chains covered in the study. America's healthiest fast-food restaurants

"There are challenges not identified by this study," DuBost said in a statement, "including availability of acceptable reduced-sodium items in the supply chain, consumer variability in taste preference across the U.S. and among the various countries, regulatory constraints, as well as availability of new and existing alternatives to sodium."

Local suppliers and regulations are probably more influential than local tastes, says Norm Campbell, M.D., one of the study authors and a blood-pressure specialist at the University of Calgary, in Alberta.

If restaurants were largely responding to consumer demand for saltier items, Campbell says, one would expect to see a close relationship between the sodium content of fast food and a country's per capita sodium intake (a rough index of a culture's taste for salt). "We did not see that," he says. 10 states that consume too much fast food

Although they can't pinpoint the reasons for the sodium disparities, Campbell and his colleagues say the study findings show that limitations in food-processing technology are not a barrier to providing lower-sodium products, as the food industry has claimed.

"We found multiple examples of low-salt choices, and for the same product across different countries there's variation in the amount of salt that's added," Campbell says. "From that perspective, it would appear that it's not very challenging to lower the amount of salt in food products."

Consuming too much sodium can raise blood pressure and contribute to hypertension, one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In recent years, public health officials across the globe -- including those in the UK, Brazil, and New York City -- have set voluntary salt-reduction targets for food companies.

In the UK, the government's push to reduce sodium began in earnest in 2006, and the relatively low sodium levels seen at UK restaurants in the study suggests the initiative may be working, says Gary Beauchamp, Ph.D., director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit institute in Philadelphia that specializes in taste research. What to eat to stay slim on the go

Salt has a number of properties besides taste enhancement that make it attractive to food manufacturers. Sodium is a preservative, and it also can also make certain foods easier to process. "Salt is the magic ingredient -- it does all sorts of things to food," Beauchamp says.

However, consumer taste is the bigger obstacle to sodium-reduction efforts. People in industrialized nations have become accustomed to saltier foods, and companies worry that reducing salt will make their products less competitive.

For that reason, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent nonprofit organization, has recommended a gradual, industry-wide sodium reduction in both packaged and restaurant foods. "Then people would acclimate to the change slowly and wouldn't even notice it," says Beauchamp, who served on the IOM committee that issued the recommendation in a 2010 report. The healthiest fast-food breakfasts

"Most of the science says if you reduce salt by 10% it's completely unnoticeable," Campbell says. "What we really want is very gradual reductions which don't affect the consumer base. Consumers enjoy the food and the health of the population improves."

Some fast-food chains have already begun cutting sodium. Danya Proud, a spokesperson for McDonald's USA, pointed out in a statement that Campbell and his colleagues used nutritional info from 2010. Since then, Proud said, the company has cut the sodium content of its chicken items by 10%. (According to current nutritional info, Big Macs sold in the United States still contain 1,040 milligrams of sodium, as they did when the study was conducted.)

McDonald's expects to reduce the sodium in all of its national menu items by an average of 15% by 2015, Proud said. "We are also listening to our customers, to ensure we continue to evolve to meet their taste and nutrition expectations."