Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: October 2018
Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web this October. These six 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 Todd Dillard in The Boiler Journal
a friend knows when they should
not know / when to step over
a nightgowned body
…in a way that says I love you
and am willing
to approach your edges
This poem devastates with the very force of unconditional love that poet Todd Dillard is so interested in exploring. With careful and deliberate enjambments, Dillard’s poem craves meaning, only to shatter it at discovery. The language in this poem sings raw, beautiful, and full of longing. In “Interview With an Addict’s Son,” Dillard allows us to see the edges that he loves: the beautiful, the sacrifice, and the determination with gritted teeth.
by Clint Smith in Poetry Magazine
the drone has learned to
disguise itself as a shard of sky
As one would come to expect of Clint Smith’s work, the level of craft in “The Drone” is undeniable. Smith cleverly blends the monotony of news into the structure of this poem, beginning every sentence with “the drone,” until we are so familiar with the sound that we begin to ignore it altogether—a powerful and longstanding auditory metaphor. This poem weighs the lack of humanity present in a killing machine against the humanity of all that benefit from it. “The Drone” urges, it bellows, and, at the short poem’s end, it quiets.
by Brad Trumpfheller in Tinderbox Poetry
downriver a man guns
his truck. Everything smells like wings.
Rapidly emerging poet Brad Trumpfheller demonstrates once again the soft ferocity they bring to the playfulness of words. Like a drummer masterfully alternating between accenting and softly played beats, the poet bends the traditional couplet form until the rhythm isn’t heard, but only felt. They use only what space they need, and apply the same pushing-on-all-faces-of-the-box attitude to language as they do to form, as the poem closes: “Heavens horizon, then bruise, then rust.”
by Golden in The Offing
Head up. Shoulders strong. Pallbearer
at your brother’s funeral strong. You forgot to die
today strong. Grandmama’s skeleton key strong. You my hip
& my neck strong. Don’t forget that you my boy
when everyone else is watching
Whether it be on the stage or on the page, Golden’s work explodes. This poem exemplifies this duality—it is split into two sections: the first which uses space to not only guide, but control the reader’s breath, taking it away at will, making of it something rageful when needed, and reverting it back to careful pacing with ease; the second, a sonnet, which masterfully rounds out the narrative that Golden so delicately complicates. It is clear that Golden does not concern themselves with any flawed notion of separation between performance poetry and written word, they see these two aspects of poetry not as two sides of the same coin, but as two parts of a whole.
by Wanda Deglane in 8Poems
no longer quietly burning, but now a self-contained explosion
wanting to consume the flamed edges of my world.
think bursting. think of lemons, fallen to the forgotten earth in july,
their skin cracking and bleeding soft and sour.
oh god, how i love you.
“Aubade For a Non-Existent Child” desperately tries to reckon with sacrifice, to make into words what feelings cannot make sense of. Wanda Deglane’s poem is as lyrical as an ode, remaining as fascinated with beginnings as it does with endings. The pain behind the praise is evident, lasting, but what drives the poem, ultimately, is prayer, and at the crux of that prayer, honesty. This poem belts through its weeping, digs through pain, determined to not stop until that pain is understood.
by Iskandar Haggarty in Glass: A Journal of Poetry
when the old
church at the
end of the street
shut down for
two weeks due
to threats of
fire & fire &
the way your
soft palms &
Iskandar Haggarty’s poem “Of Loving a Boy in a Place You Could be Killed for It,” tenderly conflates gentleness in the face of violence. Despite an initial reading, it is not a stream-of-consciousness poem—but rather a prayer, a confession, a desperation to be considered. The narrator’s thoughts are not scattered, they streamline like a beam of light set on illuminating what will always try to cloak itself within the dark.
Bailey Cohen is an Ecuadorian-American poet studying at NYU. A finalist for the 2018 Boulevard Contest for Emerging Poets, the runner-up for the 2018 RR Laux / Millar Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net nominee, he serves as the editor of Alegrarse: A Journal of Close-Readings and as a contributing writer for Frontier Poetry. Bailey's work has been published or is forthcoming in Boulevard, Raleigh Review, The Penn Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Shallow Ends, Boiler Journal and more. He loves everyone Latinx.