Diphtheria Festival


poems by

Jefferson Carter

40 pages, $11 cover price
ISBN: 978-1-59948-568-3

Released: March 29, 2016



Jefferson lives in Tucson with his wife Connie and volunteers with Sky Island Alliance, a regionally-based environmental organization. He is also poetry editor for Zócalo, a local arts magazine. His work has appeared in journals such as Carolina Quarterly, Barrow Street, Cream City Review, and New Poets of the American West.  His book Tough Love won the Riverstone Press Poetry Chapbook Award (West Chester, PA). His ninth collection, Get Serious, new and selected poems (Chax Press, Victoria, TX), was chosen as a Southwest Best Book of 2013 by the Tucson/Pima County Public Library.

“The poet Carter most reminds me of is Billy Collins, but a mordant, twisted, even punk Collins.” –Frank Jude Boccio, author of Mindfulness Yoga


“Poems of passionate response, to the world, to inner life, to feeling itself. Whether complaint or celebration, the poems offer us the full reach from personal to universal in a heartbeat. We understand, and we keep reading.” — Alberto Ríos, Arizona Poet Laureate



A black & white moth, its golden wings bearing
hieroglyphs.. I google Dipthera festiva. Did you mean
“Diphtheria Festival”? No, I didn’t but thanks anyway.

Now I can’t stop imagining diphtheria victims
enjoying themselves among the party lanterns
& tents beside a dirty river while my Facebook friends
hand out lemons & instructions for making lemonade,
admiring the blue skin of the dying, their festive barking,
their bull throats & bloody noses. Yes, they call me
Mr. Negative. The vocalist knows me. I should leave,
but here comes the verse I like: when you pack your bags,
you gotta pack two, one for yourself & one for your bad attitude.

Know what’s cool about Dipthera festiva, the hieroglyphic moth?
Its evasive “system,” an organ in its ear, activated by a
bat’s high-pitched note, an organ that signals its wings to spasm.
The moth survives, like all of nature’s darlings, involuntarily.





Shirley MacLaine’s spiritual journey,
soon to be a major motion picture,
her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
St. James, the brother of Jesus,
penned the bestseller My Brother
Was an Only Child. His martyred
& flensed corpse sailed in a stone boat
from Jerusalem, guided by angels
across the Mediterranean to Galicia,
where his bones now rest. Peregrino,
I’ve got some carbon anti-shock
trekking poles to sell you, some
blister-proof virgin wool socks. I’ve got
a sharp black sunhat emblazoned
with the Walk This Way yellow arrow
& I’ve got a self-fulfilling water bottle.
Peregrino, are you lost? I’ve got a butterfly
to sell you, a butterfly disguised as a soul
& trained to follow you for miles.



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