Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: February 2019

Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web this February. These six poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from: Winter Tangerine, Adroit Journal, Muzzle Magazine, Waxwing Magazine, andPoetry Magazine. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many talented poets and magazines are making our community beautiful.

Girl In Drain

by Aimee Parkinson & Carol Guess in Winter Tangerine


Once the blood comes, a girl’s useful life as a plaything [5] is over,

but she is allowed to see rain.


Perhaps most impressively, there is no “best” way to read this successfully experimental collaboration from poets Aimee Parkinson and Carol Guess. The poem can be read ignoring its citations, or with each of its references interruptive and carefully considered, or even in its naturally progressive way, with the “email” portion first, followed by the footnotes. After this—an endless possibility of noticings. This poem morphs and distorts; how do we read prose that claims to be a poem that claims to be a message, but ends with 14-line ebb and flow of a sonnet? I am in awe of this poem’s creativity and ambition, its curiosity and determination.


The Husband as Mentalist

by Rebecca Hazelton in Adroit Journal


But waiting

is something I’d like

                             to teach you, just like I’d like

to teach you how to touch without touching 


The poet Rebecca Hazelton approaches trauma from a place of vulnerability, a state that is almost perplexing, given the commanding diction of the poem’s opening phrase. The poem asks the reader to hold and to be held, each memory as important as the one before it. In “The Husband as Mentalist,” the ‘you’ of the poem is exceptionally multi-faceted, to the point where, in the poem’s reading, we almost forget that it is not written in second-person narration—an impressive and powerful technique. How removed can I be from an intimacy and still feel it? This poem knows the answer.


Not So Long Ago, Girls Like Me Were Given Lobotomies

by Maya Owen in Muzzle Magazine


                                                                        I, too,

am touchable. (And aren’t there those who are so tender

with me?) 


In the most dire and distressing of situations, this poem tasks itself with finding joy—then succeeds. The poet Maya Owen expertly serpentines through encounters: one of the narrator’s music-filled, late-night drive, one of the thinning and incomprehensible psych ward, and one deskside and thoughtful. What is surprising is the fact that all of these transitions are so abrupt in the poem (“when summer air is…enclosing me. // Speaking of enclosures, the psych ward…”), yet it takes no effort at all to read this poem as a single moment. This is the kind of nuanced thinking that allows Owen to arrive at a place of serenity, of contentment, even after so much opposition from the forces surrounding her.


False Cognates

by J. Estanislao Lopez in Waxwing Magazine


                             A boy understands most what he touches.

I heard cielo and pictured a horse-hair bow on taut strings.


With the pulse of a sonnet, poet J. Estanislao Lopez writes of heritage and of the desire to understand. The poet experiments with diction across languages, finding endearing, powerful, and thought-provoking word play in the process. This is a poem that begs to be read aloud, as Lopez moves from surprise, to history, to confusion and shock. The ending, however, does not promise a resolution. Rather, the poet writes with honesty and vulnerability, conjuring the image of the narrator’s children, something that functions twice over: a callback to the poem’s beginning and also an open-ended question for the narrator’s future responsibilities.


Love Poem So Tall It Ends In Heaven

by Jayme Ringleb in Poetry Magazine


Over   the   fathers     a     roof

blossomed       like         a       shield

and against it a ladder leaned


In this magical-realist, delightfully-spaced-out poem, the poet Jayme Ringleb fantasizes a prayer. The narrator’s lover is in mourning, and the poem explores the distance between the narrator and the dead, maintaining caution and beauty throughout. One of the most awe-inspiring things about this poem and the sub-genre it embodies is its insistence, despite any absurdist suggestions, to be believed. I believe in the fathers that hang from the ropes that uncurled from the rafters that grew from tape planted silently in the narrator and his lover’s yard. I believe in this poem’s heaven, and I believe in its hell.

Bailey Cohen

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.

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