Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: August 2018

Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web this August. These five poets, both established and emerging, all have talent worth copying. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many awesome poets are making our community beautiful.



by Topaz Winters in Ellis Review


                        . . . If this

            is where my father ends, at least

I still have his hands for ransom


Topaz Winters’ “War Story with My Father” is a reconciliation. Despite the speaker waring with her father, it is a reconciliation with his violence, his fury, and—most importantly—repurposing that fury as her own to recreate home. “You can’t force a home to / unwind & fix itself” says the speaker. The fight to be of her father’s home, she finds, is pointless. “[H]ome is / not my father’s hands, but / rather, the light they reflect / when burning,” she says. That burning, the speaker resolves, can be home too.


A Letter from the End of Days (Come In. Clean the House. We Have Died.)

by Malachi Black in 32 Poems


If you have come and there is winter,

trim the glimmer from the snow.

If you are here and it is summer,

sweep the sunset from the stone.


Arguably more than any genre, poetry cultivates an environment ripe for surprise. Malachi Black’s featured, “A Letter from the End of Days” in 32 Poems is no exception. If Black’s poem were a boxer, each line would be a jab, followed by a knockout punch. The language undresses your expectations. Then, each line break shoves those expectations outside naked and into the cold. For seasoned and novice readers alike, Black’s poem is a reminder of how entertaining poetry can be.


A List of Waters

by Bryce Emley in Wildness


I learned from my mother / to object

to nothing / a wife is an anchor’s

chain / a marriage is what keeps you /



Unlike the cliché, celebratory father and son poem, Bryce Emley’s “A List of Waters” is filled with regret for perpetuating his father’s violence. “Father, who only knew to love / poorly, I’ve loved worse,” says the speaker, in contrasting his shortcomings to his father’s. However, beneath the poem, lies the question of whether the examination of toxic masculinity is good enough. There’s a shared likeness between the father and the speaker. Yet, for the most part, the speaker sidesteps responsibility, creating a haunting incompleteness to the poem. Ultimately, the reader is only left to speculate on the violence of the speaker.


Self-Portrait in Closet

by Shakthi Shrima in Vinyl


I open my screen, again. Again, the women. Again

my wanting. I could never watch the slick and drip

of their bodies without becoming taut, my body

a rubber band snapping against its own skin


They say a title should take your poem 10% further than the poem itself. In this case, “Self Portrait in the Closet” truly is only the beginning. Shrima’s speaker takes us through the questioning, guilty experience of familiarizing yourself with lust. Then, in a twist, the poem reveals the painful experience of fulfilling societal expectations sexually, while knowing it’s a mistake.



by Shamala Gallagher in Gulf Coast


Black alive wires

wanting out of

themselves. I

            quit drinking

so that I would find


this, the world

a frail hull.


Shamala Gallagher’s poem, “In Cathedral of Only Dark” questions the light at the end of the tunnel, when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The narrator is tasked with believing light can be patched together out of the dark. All this is to say, Gallagher exceptionally captures the crisp and grim reality of being newly sober and how that commitment can feel as blind as faith.

Nicholas Brown

Nicholas Brown is a first-generation Mexican American poet. His work appears, or is forthcoming, in Superstition Review, Apogee Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, DIALOGIST, New Delta Review, TIMBER, 45th Parallel, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Auburn Avenue, Peach Mag, Third Point Press, and elsewhere. All of Nicholas’ poems are available online and most can be found in journals supporting people of color and other marginalized groups. He hopes to create work with greater accessibility than print journals provide. In the same vein, he reviews poetry found online. To read his reviews, and the poetry itself, visit the REVIEWS tab of nickbrownweekly.

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