Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: November 2019
Here’s a short selection, from our own Bailey Cohen, of some of the best new poems hitting the web this November. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from: Erin L. McCoy in Nat. Brut, Noah Baldino in The Adroit Journal, Maya Owen in The Shallow Ends, Mark Lamoureux in Occulum, and Anuradha Bhowmik in DIAGRAM. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many talented poets and magazines are making our community beautiful.
by Erin L. McCoy in Nat. Brut
Between our marrow
and muscle, a sopping
tongue of moonshine laps and laps,
and nothing is enough. Whereas,
when lymph bathes the tissue,
it drains on schedule,
like any tide. These cells
you’re collecting do not die
when they should.
As part of Nat. Brut’s Reclamation and Restoration Folio on the American South, Erin L. McCoy’s “Detached Objects” challenges the popular yet irresponsible narratives surrounding her home. She writes, “Our city is dying the way rust / coats some metals with a thin film, then // protects them.” This is a poem honoring the tradition of literature in the south; it is rich with luscious language and gorgeous imagery. Down the page, the poem meanders, and towards the poem’s close, we learn this is focused and intentional: “This // is our city. I cycle back // as though compelled.” Be sure to spend some time with this incredible poem!
By Noah Baldino in The Adroit Journal
But when I’m alone, I don’t call myself anything. I like
to wriggle my way out of my mouth, to stay so quiet that
when I whisper who’s hungry the dog wonders if she
dreamt the bowl herself.
The second of two dog poems Noah Baldino has up in the new issue of Adroit, “Pep Talk” is a resounding conversation with solitude. The narrator explores the idea of being comfortable and content with their surroundings, what can provide company in a sustainable way. The poet writes, “All of 2010 I tried to take in meatball after meatball until / my dad wasn’t dead anymore,” and we suddenly understand that the narrator is searching for togetherness in order to provide a sense of belonging in the space of grief. Every sentence of this poem is so elegantly crafted; make sure you keep an eye out for Noah Baldino’s moving work!
A History of Madness
By Maya Owen in The Shallow Ends
Sophia says you can cut bread with the word knife. I believe it; I’ve chiseled an eyelet out of as little. And would you believe?
Organized into seven brief prose poems, Maya Owen confronts the language of hysteria and madness that has long plagued women and femmes. The result is a captivating tone that blends its lyricism with its criticism; Owen’s diction is incredibly precise: “But lately, I obfuscate only in order to speak of the dead—who begrudge their disclosure; flinch at the brightness of air, the gaucherie of the living: their hungers and flamboyances.” I have so much to learn from this poem, it is a joy to read and re-read.
In Search of Dracula
By Mark Lamoureux in Occulum
Shittyfluted ghosts are
turned into rock by the rising
sun. Leonard dons
chiaroscuro like the undead
lived. Gloaming blue
climbs the walls of
There is no Dracula
in Romanian folklore, but bats
feed on cattle
in South America.
I love the way this poem traces the history of the legend of Dracula, how it doesn’t set out to establish that one cultural tradition is the true origin point, but instead puts so many different possibilities in conversation with one another. The talented poet Mark Lamoureux details, “Clack / of a woodblock to ward / the spectacle of the Eastern / Orthodox church. / Pan to skyscraper in Transylvania / through the red filter of time. / Few of these faces remain, / not even Leonard’s; the layers of history / stripped away & killed in battle / near Bucharest.” This is just one poem in a series of poems about monstrosity up in the new Occulum—make sure you get a chance to check them all out!
Receipts From AOL Instant Messenger (10)
by Anuradha Bhowmik in DIAGRAM
… I built my freckled & blue-eyed white girl alias from Google Images to
Acquire dick pics from boys in AIM chat rooms. Underage cybersex was the extent of my experience. If I
Didn’t use my own nudes, I could still be a brown bride someday: doll-eyed & draped in red sari threads.
Upon first encountering these poems, I thought of the nostalgia that accompanied this form. Poet Anuradha Bhowmik formats each poem like an email, and the text that occupies its body is an acrostic. Although the acrostic is often the first form of poetry taught to students in the United States in grammar school, there is nothing juvenile about these poems. Bhowmik catalogs her history with the internet’s dawn, how it has affected both her relationship with her family and the lens through which she views her place in the world. The poem confronts the guilt that accompanies a breaking of tradition, all the while remaining critical and honest. Taking the voice of a mother, the poet writes, “I’m getting so old, & I want to watch my daugher’s wedding before I die. Don’t you care?” I’m so fascinated and moved by this work. Don’t miss it!
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.