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,
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!