Best New Poets Nominees
Best New Poets is an annual anthology of fifty poems from emerging writers. The anthology takes nominations from literary magazines in the United States and Canada, graduate-level writing programs in the United States and Canada, and entries from an annual open competition. For more information about the Best New Poets anthology and eligibility, visit bestnewpoets.org.
Morning Song by Marina Carreira
Driving home from the Stop & Shop, you glance over
at the Clorox and pretzels and get the urge
to wrap yourself around a pole
like a snake
like a stripper
like an SUV yearning for the hot crush of metal
Holding her as she coos
like a bird seeing the ocean
for the first time, a part of you
wants to tear yourself to pieces,
pull: intestine by intestine,
smolder the liver you no longer
destroy but fuck if you don’t
every now and again
sitting at your desk
looking out the window
you think how close the planes get to the top of buildings
in this city, you remember the last time you flew,
the last time you faked an orgasm
the last time you rode him like a ghost
in the wind, you rode like the wind
and only looked back to make sure
every part of you was still there
in that moment
When there is a shooting
in an elementary school
you drop to your knees, thank God it wasn’t her
in her classroom you run
to the bathroom and throw up,
you throw your hands up in the air
Google “statistics of school shootings in New Jersey”
Google “where can I buy a gun fast”
Google “post post post post partum depression”
MARINA CARREIRA is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound area of Newark, NJ. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, The Writing Disorder, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology (Boavista Press, 2015), Bluestockings Magazine, THE FEM, Rock&Sling, Paterson Literary Review, Paper Nautilus, Pif Magazine, and All We Can Hold: A Collection of Poetry on Motherhood (Sage Hill Press, 2016). “Morning Song” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.
The Prologue by Imaani Cain
at age six, you are helen of troy
with a stripe of sunscreen on your
cheeks. in this life, paris has the same nose as you,
has taught you how to breathe underwater
and how to spit seeds across the expanse of the lawn.
in this life, paris watches you dress through the crack
in the door, cataloging the tender shape of your
back. when you catch him, he does not apologize
but you offer forgiveness anyways.
beauty is not the gorgon you had
hoped it would be. there are dreams
where the men all turn to stone,
their hunger frozen
into marble and with you
always out of range.
when paris’s brother asks you to strip,
you wonder if that is just some form
of love that your mother has not explained to
you yet. his teeth flash in the dim lighting;
he says that you are the prettiest
thing he has ever seen.
your body is a land you have never
explored. it is the house you do not
have the key to–you can only look
at yourself with your head
half turned away.
when he puts his hands on you,
you are six years old
in a frayed swimsuit.
forgiveness is already waiting
at the tip of your tongue.
IMAANI CAIN was born in San Diego, California but grew up in New England. Currently, she lives in Boston with a shaky bookshelf that is crowded with far too many novels. She is an editorial assistant for Talking Writing Magazine and has been published on both Thought Catalog and www.Exsistentia.net. In her spare time, she studies French and paints watercolors. “The Prologue” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.
Bettering American Poetry Nominees
Bettering American Poetry is an annual anthology of American poems which jam dominant systems of taste and resignify the very phrase “American poetry” with the languages that it so desperately lacks. This anthology centers voices of resistance, subjectivities that emerge from the radical margins, artists whose Americanness transcends nationalism and other borders, perspectives historically denied institutional backing—in short, poets and poetries that are urgent and necessary but do not get along nicely with Power. For more information about Bettering American Poetry and eligibility, visit betteringamericanpoetry.com.
A Reclaiming by Siaara Freeman
the hood can yell for itself. does not need your voice
to introduce its own. your quick mimic is a quiet crime
& a loud sentencing.
this dialect, the ebonics, is not a case study not a thesis statement
a sociology report not a buffet not a welcome
mat. your children have full mouths
of my children & you call it rebellion
instead of theft because rebellion looks better
with blood. you can learn every dance
& you will never know the sweat of needing to move
with nowhere to go. you can listen
to every rap song & you will never
live the lyric be the drug deal gone good be the love story gone
bad be the shit talk be a bar-b-q of good intentions
you can come to the house-parties & go
home. before the cops come before the song ends before you actually have to
understand. you can recite every line to Friday & never laugh
at the right parts. you can say “bye Felecia” without knowing her
crack addiction. without knowing the droop of her shirt & the beg
of her braids. how love & shame can be sisters
& look nothing alike. how hungry is always around the corner.
where survival comes without the guide or loses it
too soon. you can be the Huxtables or the Bradys
either way you don’t know a damn thing about this. who you know
hiss like a hot-comb on the back of yo’ neck? who you know really
trappin’? who you know trapped? whatcha’ know bout reckless? who you know really
wrecked with no insurance? who you know riding dirty? who you calling dirty? who
you won’t bring home to yo mama? who you think you foolin’?
who you think a fool?survival is a sticky sap. slang is what happens when you eat it
every day & wake to lick the corners of your lips.
“our children play together” you say,
“picking up your children’s bad habits.”
you convince them they are eating dirt
instead of telling them to stop taking
candy from strangers.
SIAARA FREEMAN is your friendly neighborhood hope dealer. If the something in the world saves you, you should try and save something in the world with whatever it is you got. She’s got poems. Siaara’s chapbook, Live from District 11, is available on Kindle. “A Reclaiming” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.
The Only Trans Girl at the Party by Alison Rumfitt
Saturday night’s a black hole
you’re the probe, lost in nothing, falling, negativity
crushed out of existence in your
knee-length skirt, white shirt and tights
and your make-up which other girls say
looks better than they could ever do
and you laugh and say, “I watched hours of youtube tutorials
to get to this!” and they laugh (what you said was true)
it’s like make-up is their country
you’re something strange, like an Hollywood horror
you’re a reanimated corpse, something from the black lagoon
and you’re a fun-vampire all in one
but you’re a girl, wearing the dress better
kissing slicker and sicker because you’ve got to
how dare you
intruder, monster, weirdo
The only trans girl at the party
the only starry anomaly
standing outside photographs just in case your parents see
got shouted at by strangers walking here
even though you hid your adam’s apple with a collar
You want to be part of the fun but
however hard you try it’s like
You’re a circus act or something at the end of the pier–
Ladies and Gentlemen, roll up, we have the
Ask it questions, find out
why it’s like this, it doesn’t look it, it doesn’t like it
what kind of trauma made you live like this?
The crowd looks on, laughs
this is wholesome entertainment
You wonder if, at some other party someone here
will tell your story
such an inspiration!
Yes I met this trans girl once
probed her for questions, she looked lost in space, lost
in the space between the kitchen and the bathroom floor
This is where it gets ugly, it’s the event horizon
although you don’t know that yet:
someone thinks they’ve got you
you don’t see their face but they feel
between your legs
You see a person in a mask, a rabbit’s head
tells you that you’d be better off drowned and dead
blink and they’re gone into the crowd
blink again and the crowd change
sometime’s they all look like animals
it’s hard to see them as people when
they all see you as an object
as simply a trans girl at their party when really
you have a girlfriend, like films
go to coffee shops every weekend
No, they move in, pitchforks, Guy Fawkes faces
grins and burning torches after Frankenstein’s monster
(that’s you, a person made of pieces)
All they want to know is where you come from
they all need to know your story
they need to know what your body looks like
and the blood, your blood, does it
taste the same as theirs does?
There are so many hands
and they grab at your stitches
The Black hole finally rears its head
sucking you in from the other side of the room
it’s mouth is rows of yellow teeth
You slip, you fall
the angry mob watch as Saturday night
eats you whole
spits you out
Sunday morning takes you home
ALISON RUMFITT is an 18 year old writer who lives in the South of England. There isn’t much to do there. Writing seemed like a good option. When she isn’t doing that she’s standing around in the kitchen at parties, or running away from things, or trying to formulate a life philosophy built on chips n dips. Her poetry has previously been published in Persephone’s Daughters. “The Only Trans Girl at the Party” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.
Elegy for a Child Bride by Lakshmi Mitra
three pre-dawn bathers see her first on the ghat
arms stretched out towards the river, eyes closed, a single
gold bangle sheened red on her left arm.
she could be sleeping; but she
in the days to come, she wanders in many forms many shapes
into my night dreams. but always, her eyes are wide, crimson-clinging-lashes
there is nothing in them – no tenderness, no abhorrence
and no pain.
my mother tells me horror stories of girls younger than I
who bathe in gasoline then swallow fire. they burn their histories from their bodies
and carry their unshed nightmares into the afterlife.
ten houses down the road, a young man will leave
come tomorrow morning, just to be sure.
the cops think she took a knife to herself, and no one
disagrees. i think tomorrow a girl whose name i cannot know
will give herself to the sea. maybe the same evening
another will bleed out over her mother-in-law’s floor
and give bitter thanks for it.
in the evening the temple doors part and someone
kills a goat on the steps; blood on water on stone, it feels
much the same.
they carry her ashes to the ganga, the river, fractious,
already brimming with ghosts of girls who
died fast and young like flies. their mothers lament
by the river, not just for their daughters, but for
all the ghosts to come.
LAKSHMI MITRA is a 19-year-old college student living in Calcutta who occasionally frustrates herself into a bout of writing. When not doing so, she can be found reading, studying, craving sleep, and complaining. She is mostly polite, a lousy conversationalist, and doesn’t like sudden movements. Therefore, it comes as a great surprise to her that her cats still don’t like her. “Elegy for a Child Bride” was published in issue #20, Trigger Warning.