Poetry We Admire: Burning


At Palette Poetry, we love work that burns. Poems that burble over in anger. Poems burning up in desire and ecstasy. Language that holds us hostage with burning questions.

This collection of Poetry We Admire features some of the best, most recent work that burns up the page.



you sit there as they wish

completely and utterly silent

wondering when you’ll erupt. 


from LAVA

by Julia Garis Weiss in The Indianapolis Review

What burns hottest beneath for the narrator of Julia Garis Weiss’ poem? Is it sexism in the workplace, or is it the boyfriend’s ignorance of sexism in the workplace? “Lava” illustrates the failure of men to support female colleagues, the failure of men to give credit where credit is due in the workplace, and the shortcoming of men to support women at home. With all that said, “Lava” is about carrying the quiet anger of injustices from home to work and back again, all the while unseen.



The smell of coconut and camphor. The bite of earthen smoke

the night the neighbor demanded to enter.



by Rishee Batra in Nashville Review

Rishee Batra’s “Why They Wore Orange” is a dream-like realization. While we demand heat of fire, we inevitably cannot control it—and this is the realization the narrator arrives to as a “spiritual wreck . . . by daily ablutions of whiskey.” The narrator harkens back, attempting to logically frame childhood memories of monks dancing amid Texan suburbia, only to accept that he can’t. The monks are flickering, escaping, and “not quite human,” they’re “more like fire.”



Sometimes I want to grab hold of my arms with my arms and shake myself

and brand myself with my nails.



by Robin Myers in Sixth Finch


“Raise Your hand If You Ever” burns with all the curiosity and demands of a child. As the narrator unravels in a frenzy, jumping from various conclusions and questions, it builds momentum until halting, as if a car crash. Robin Meyers’ poem is less about any one thing in particular, but more so about the feeling of wanting everything and nothing all at once.



            What do you want to know?

The facts?—                 The feelings?

That I was there?—      That I was crying?

I held a vase.               I held an urn.

I was a flower.              I was what burned.



by Sarah Matthes in Yalobusha Review

All of us suffer bad dreams, but the narrator of Sarah Matthes’ “A Preposition to Follow ‘Live’” suffers the especially bad, surreal dreams of others. “Here I am / in someone’s bad dream” she writes with authority. Yet, the narrator refuses to clue us in to the exact contents or meaning of the dream. We know this: the narrator is burning and may not survive. If nothing else, Matthes’ narrator only wants to live on as the right memory. Rather, we’re left with the haunting sense that like everything else, the narrator’s memory is under someone else’s control.

Nicholas Brown