Six (more) of the best poems in 2017

Here’s a glimpse of some poetry I read and enjoyed in the last six months of 2017. Wine, trust, dark birds, cows and grief ‘curved’; words to dwell on (and in). See Part 1 here.

July …

‘What Lies Broken’ by Rachael Mead

Time into months, then minutes. / This sunset by winter clouds. / Your trust, dropped from my hands / like a china cup.

Rachael Mead has an eclectic past that includes working as an archaeologist, environmental campaigner, wedding decorator and bookshop manager. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and her poetry collection, The Sixth Creek, was published by Picaro Press.

August …

‘Do-rag’ by Phillip B. Williams

O darling, the moon did not disrobe you. / You fell asleep that way, nude / and capsized by our wine, our bump // n’ grind shenanigans. Blame it / on whatever you like; my bed welcomes / whomever you decide to be:

Phillip B. Williams is the author of Thief in the Interior, a finalist for an NAACP Image Award, and winner of the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. He received a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship and is the co-editor-in-chief of the online journal Vinyl. He is currently visiting professor in English at Bennington College. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

September …

‘Moonchild’ by Michelle Cahill

For Tegan

little star, we followed a glacier // to the mouth of a ragged sea. / I was sick from the smell of detergent, / kerosene and resinous leaves. / Nails in my breast, the heat thick as glue. / Time stretched, my tranquiliser, / before you came. // The moon transfigured by a gamble.

Michelle Cahill is a Sydney poet, author and editor of Mascara Literary Review.  ‘Moonchild’ takes its imagery from the Hollyford Trek in New Zealand’s South Island, which she walked during her pregnancy.

October …

‘Hook’ by Nathan Curnow

I discovered a bird with a hook in its mouth, / which is really just a cheap opening line. / ‘Cheap’ will evoke the sound of the bird. / Like me you have to question the point. / I’m tugging but it’s such a rusty hook. / I should’ve mentioned that from the start. / Find a gap higher up, try easing it in. / If it doesn’t fit come back and go on. / Where do you expect the bird to be? / I’ve made up a nest in the laundry.

Nathan Curnow is. [That’s his hook!]

November …

‘On the News of Your Illness’  by Gary Soto

Heal yourself, daughter. Kisses help, / Handholding, snow caught in your hair. / Daughter, lovely daughter, be with us. / Let the thing inside you pass without warning. / Don’t be like the cloud, thin and sailing away, / The dark birds like commas, / Then ellipsis in the far distance, / An uncompleted life.

Gary Soto was born in Fresno, California, in 1952. He is a poet, novelist, and children’s author known for his reflections on the Chicano experience.

December …

‘Cow Song’ by Elena Karina Byrne

Kulning is a Swedish song for cows, not / a pillowcase pulled over the head. Here, the mountains could be seen / from far away. There’s an abandoned physics, a floor door, / my own head-call herding me, in-hearing nothing but them. / Bone for bone’s female indicates the inside / of the mouth when singing is grief alone and is curved.

Elena Karina Byrne is a poet, visual artist, teacher and editor, the author of Squander (Omnidawn Press) and Masque (Tupelo Press). She is the poetry consultant for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and Literary Programs Director for the Ruskin Arts Club. In 2015 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Beyond Baroque Literary Centre.

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