Internet Poetry Round-Up #5

This round includes poems that capture the strange textures of the everyday, in ways that especially resonate in our current world. In each, form is used to shape and heighten small details, and emphasize the emotion behind them.

Bingo Card for the End Times” by Milla van der Have

from the Maynard

“my apocalypse
is kind of tiny,
garden-variety,
looking for a place
to put down roots”

This piece, in an exciting innovative form, puts a dreamy spin on a world full of new catastrophes. Twelve blocks each hold a phrase describing “my apocalypse”, each one esoteric and delicate, less disaster and more a sympathetically troubled character in a complicated story. The blocks can be “shuffled” as well, for dozens of reading combinations; this repetitive mixing pulls you to dwell on each phrase, just as you might your own fears and anxieties. Clever and lush, uneasy with just a touch of humour, this piece evokes a modern mythology to haunt your dreams and nightmares.

Diagnosis” by Sarah Wetzel

from Ghost City Press

“Call the vine-choked oak,
the caterpillars crawling, chickadees

and crows.”

This piece is spare and haunting, circling the suggestion of tragedy with day-to-day tasks. Anaphora on the world “call” builds into notes of nature with an edge of malaise, a mounting sense of dread the speaker isn’t ready to face. Each detail leads into the next; the poem is framed by the action of calling the dog, a foil who’s unaware of human problems; the feeding of the dog is described in ways that seem closed off and secretive, echoing the true central problem of avoiding the phone call. This falls into sharp close, where nature is projected into a symbol of the speaker’s unease. Inaction is made active and creepingly present in this carefully crafted poem.

my true self is grocery shopping” by Umang Kalra

from Longleaf Review

“I want to bite into the sky outside and call it names.”

This is a piece that sticks with you, full of bright and often outrageous imagery. The everyday act of grocery shopping becomes lush, spirals out into emotion. The stream-of-consciousness style works here because it’s unabashed and obvious; there’s a line crossed out, there’s spontaneous breaks between words, ideas build on each other, spiral out of control, and then move on, the thoughts kept short and authoritative. Most of all, this poem is tuned into the fact that food isn’t just food, but that our relationship with it is shaped by the people we coexist with, by the systems we live under, by our ideas of beauty. If the grocery store feels like a big part of your life these days, chances are you’ll find a thought that resonates in this piece.

Internet Poetry Round-Up #4

I never get tired of poetry that perfects that trick of finding images that are unexpected, yet crisp with just the right feeling. In this week’s poems, the ordinary is made strange, with imagery of the natural world turning our ways of relating to each other into something both expansive and profoundly living.

love poem with aphids” by Ash Davida Jane

from Peach Mag

“every morning I am thankful that you are not

                                                 hundreds of bees swarming

            in the form of a person”

Quoted are the opening lines of this poem, and they set off an extended metaphor full of vivid sensory imagery and, despite the fear a swarm of bees might strike in some readers, nothing but tenderness. This piece feels like summer and longing, a never-close-enough feeling perfectly expressed by the truth that not even atoms can ever fully touch.

 

Radio Dress” by Jessica MacEachern

from Canthius

“In the jarring feedback there is an uncanny home”

The use of space in this poem reinforces its thoughts on the distortion of information. It’s short and simple, but suggests a task of poetry itself, especially pertinent in our time — that from the “technological chaos”, the poet can translate something living and primal: a heartbeat, animal footsteps. It’s this turn in the final lines, this crisp sonic image, that keeps me coming back to this piece.

 

Hotel” by Gabriella R. Tallmadge

from The Boiler 

“Each night I drowned under the drumming

of the ocean’s great retelling”

This poem has the rhythm and grand imagery of a wintry myth. It feels like something read aloud, to recite in circles, over and over again. The images are cryptic, yet precise, icons of a moment, and through them the small space of a hotel room becomes expansive, filled with an impossible wilderness.

 

I had a hard time choosing just one poem from The Boiler Magazine once I started reading, and I would strongly recommend perusing more of Issue 31 — other favourite pieces of mine from the issue are “Hidden Valley” by Alli Cruz, and “Town Under Lake” by Alicia Wright.

Internet Poetry Round-Up #3

Internet Poetry Round-Up is back for the new year, and there are more great poems on my mind than I know what to do with. This batch of poems are ones I haven’t been able to close the tab on, full of strange imagery that pulls me back in to keep searching for meaning, again and again.

Elegy for My Sadness” by Chen Chen

from Breakwater Review

“I wish it could / unbelong itself from me, unstick / from my face.”

This poem is a necklace of utterly unexpected words and phrases, linked seamlessly with repetitions. It’s a fresh, honest and strange perspective on depression and the frustration of having sadness always present, “unsweet, uncharming, completely uninteresting”. It’s colloquial and grounded, full of sharp-edged truth, with an ending that sits heavy in your chest long after you’ve read it.

“Poem Where The Poet Lies Through Her Teeth” by Gabrielle Hogan

from Ghost City Press

“my / dream girl is a sheet of paper folded in / on itself, & then again, & then again”

This poem pulls the reader in effortlessly through the free-flowing anaphora on “my dream girl”, then sticks in your head with its series of omen-dark images. There is an incredible sense of heartache in the pull between the statements being the opposite of what you expect, and the fact that the same rule of opposition suggests some truth behind the imagery, despite the title; the truth, perhaps, that dreams are never what you want them to be. It’s a tightly written piece, fitted together like a precise and unsettling puzzle, a rubik’s cube of haunting.

They were forced to imagine it through a prism” by Katelyn Oppegard

from Snail Trail Press

“yet every time it snows the air smells the                                                               same”

This poem is a prismatic landscape of fragments, expansive and spread across the page in a way that makes you feel surrounded by it, as if by spreading out the text a real space is carved out to let the moments breathe and mingle. It feels like a celebration of all the small details of nature, all the tiny miracles that can so easily appear and disappear. It’s a long piece, and only loosely held together, but well worth lingering in to savour the playful and delicate moments of life and language it carries.

And from this piece, one more phrase you’ve never seen before:

“a parakeet eats a pickle and is dilled on the spot”

Happy new year, and happy poetry!

Internet Poetry Round-Up #2

Most of this week’s poems experiment with form, and play with language and repetition; all four convey an intense immersion in an experience, some aspect of the everyday becoming symbolic or even prophetic.

 

Sonnet for speech too soft & you who’ve yet to choose a name” by Sam Rush

from Glass: A Journal of Poetry

“Today I keep / the speaker out of me for long enough / to watch a swallow swoon the ghost of song.”

The musicality in this piece is incredible. It reads as easily as free verse but maintains the sonnet form in its constraint to 14 lines and (mostly?) iambic pentameter. Far from these limitations stiffening the piece, they increase the already powerful emotional urgency: repetitions and striking images create a vision both mythic and grounded, comprised of delicate and vivid moments of listening.

 

harvest” by Erin Emily Ann Vance

from Train: a poetry journal

“I wondered / how much of us had become honey and wine”

A sweet poem in more way than one; the love the speaker has for the “you” flows through run-on imagery of honey and bees and gentleness and getting by. The imagery early in the poem of the affectionate handling of the bees draws a character I can’t help but fall for too.

 

who gets anything for keeps?” by Patrycja Humienik

from Dream Pop Press

“somebody with a word that could fill an entire mouth”

The scattered form of this poem suggests the same sense of a busy city street and disjointedness that the imagery conveys. The piece muses on language that surrounds but is disconnected, uncommunicative. What’s left is minutia: crosswalk symbols, flowers and mouths reduced to component parts, coming together in a piece both thoughtful and atmospheric.

 

Stock Footage (kick and spin)” by Lydia Unsworth

from talking about strawberries all of the time

“and we are so warm without even a fireplace or a mantra”

This piece reads like a sexy montage film of everyday life, a delightfully specific stream-of-consciousness. A certain lust for life persists through the scenes, the body retaining an immediacy and magic among mundane daily tasks. The length and unpunctuated prose form can make the poem a bit daunting to read through, but this also creates a fast immediacy and immersiveness. I keep finding myself going back to re-read the poem, but in bits and pieces, cutting it together in new ways like the “stock footage” title suggests.

 

Internet Poetry Round-Up #1

The internet is chock-full of great poems, and as I’ve been scouting out magazines to send my own poetry to, I’ve had the pleasure of reading all kinds of amazing work. I’d like to start sharing a few of my favourite poems each week, and would love to hear what you’re reading as well!

 

“For my friends, who save me” by Lily Wang

from The Puritan

            “A tower of sparrows, dirty and simple.”

The imagery in this poem gives me shivers. The focus on birds gives the mind’s eye something to work with, but it skews sideways, is made strange, and is cavalier about this strangeness. The imagery moves from absurd, to cute, to practical, to dangerous, quickly and unapologetically. The grammar of the piece magnifies this tension: mid-line spaces, shifts between longer and very short sentences, and tight repetitions all keep the reader slightly off balance. This piece wastes no space; simple language and tight metaphors practically vibrate with subtext.

 

“terrestrial helium” by Sam Avery

from Half a Grapefruit Magazine

            “in the end, we were all very wrong about helium”

This piece spins the reader effortlessly between outer space and everyday life. A conversational voice divides ideas neatly into small poems-within-a-poem, then weaves them back together. I’m a long-time fan of the seemingly disparate emotional resonances that can be found rattling around in the supposedly cold-hard-facts world of science, and the subdivided structure of this poem is an effective way of stringing the different elements of the piece together while keeping the pacing tight. The light voice and the odd juxtapositions keep the underlying subject matter of interpersonal tensions fresh.

 

“You Cut my Hair” by Kara Goughnour

from Oceans & Time by Honey & Lime Lit

            “ each thin sensation of love      a spider wisp”

This piece gets me right in the heart. The imagery is buzzing with sensory immediacy, running together in a prose-y & punctuation-less form. The images flow in a natural order, bound together by small repetitions, but the form encourages you to feel them all at once, suggesting the heightened vividness small moments can take on, especially in love.