Poetry We Admire: Change
By Kim Harvey
We’re baaaaack. In the nick of time, Palette’s Poetry We Admire is here for you this last day of March. Returning from a long winter’s nap, I’m excited to once again bring you some hand-picked beauties from around the net.
Spring has surely sprung, and there are new things blooming here at Palette too. Next month, I’ll be passing along the PWA baton to a new curator. Change is in the air and all around us, so it seems fitting that our theme for March is “Change.”
This selection of poems, all but one by women poets, is also a nod to Women’s History Month. Exploring fluidity, desire, and feminine power, the poems engage with how things are always changing and how some things never change.
These dynamic poems scream into the middle of the spiral staircase of the past, then stare directly into the face of the future. And the future is female.
not unlike a rock like this: also crystal, porous, this weight,
not a rock you can depend on
to keep its form
by Patrycja Humienik in Sundog Lit
I love how Humienik starts with such a strong, specific, and surprising image — dolomite — and how the speaker says their desire is like (or “not unlike”) the rock’s crystals (“curved faces/ stretched long by the years.”) Then that phenomenal ending: “the past a spiral staircase i climb, bending over the railing to shout into the middle.” All this brilliant use of figurative language has me literally swooning.
ripe pomegranate split skin
seeds inside soft and sprouting
germinating in its own dissolving
flesh that’s the feeling
of the future dusting
right behind me
from “I imagine turning to stare into the face”
by Caroliena Cabada in Kissing Dynamite
The sensory detail of this piece — both the sensual, tactile imagery and the lush alliteration— is breathtaking. Also the spaces between phrases, within lines, helps add to that sense of start and stop, the tease, a catching of breath in rapt anticipation of what comes next.
apple, ass, anchor,
bitch, blonde, bombshell, beauty, babe, baby, blossom, bug, bird, bubblehead,
child, chick, creampuff, cherry, cookie, cock tease, cunt
by Heidi Seaborn in Poets Reading the News
What a thoroughly badass Abecedarian. Seaborn reclaims all kinds of power for women here by owning every name ever thrown at us. Seaborn turns the whole thing on its head and throws it all back in the form of this in-your-face catalogue of catcalls. The sheer breadth of this list is striking. The poem is a sonically stunning reminder that words matter. And that we can refuse to let them define us.
That I will be
the thing forgotten,
as days turn over nameless hours
and roll among weeds
like wild harps,
like chalk dust thrown to wind.
when I say sit, please stand.
from “Move in the world, my daughter”
by Luke Johnson
in Night Heron Barks
This tender poem from Luke Johnson reads like a love song from a father to his daughter and also a prayer, not so much for the daughter’s protection, but for her to move freely in the world, to trust herself and find her own way. The speaker acknowledges that the world is cruel and that he is worried for his daughter, but his greatest worry is that he would silence her song. I adore the way the speaker implores his daughter to “stand,” “run,” “climb,” “cry,” and “lullaby” —in other words, to live a full life. He empowers her to speak out, be loud, and stand up for herself: “Shout loudly, sway /and bare your teeth.” There is truly no greater gift than this pure expression of fatherly love.
Remember we didn’t start like this – we didn’t always
have these (mostly) hairless bodies, didn’t walk upright,
didn’t love with such ferocity – these things took millennia
to develop. From amoeba to boneless invertebrate –
jellyfish or mollusk – to fish with legs that eventually
pushed itself up onto land and walked
from “Eventually Evolution”
by Courtney LeBlanc in Feral
LeBlanc is a poet to watch. I’ve encountered so many fantastic poems from her in the last few months that it was difficult to settle on just one to feature here. But this poem is an exceptional delving into the theme of human and personal evolution. The poet skillfully takes us on a rollercoaster ride full of her signature quirky quips that are actually poignant heartfelt revelations in disguise. I mean lines like this: “Humans started wearing pants and we went to the moon / and we dropped LSD and bombs on other countries/ and eventually I met you….” Please also do yourself a favor and check out Courtney’s recent work in Pine Hills Review, Whale Road Review, and One Art.
we find a new trail
of wild strawberries and become beach
citizens of found fruit,
become the P.S. I love you on the postcard we
continue to write.
from “Because We Forget the Sea Air Stings, We Misspeak About Gentleness”
by Kelli Russell Agodon in SWWIM
This poem. What can I even say. Kelli Russell Agodon is one of my favorites. She has a brand new book, Dialogues with Rising Tides from Copper Canyon Press available now for preorder AND she’s judging our 2021 Emerging Poet Prize at Palette (the deadline is April 19th, so send us & Kelli your poems today!) But first, be sure to read her masterful work in SWWIM. The heart of the poem for me is “how often we forget what is holy, forget the holy in each other.” So many killer lines like: “The house on the coast where I / saw ghosts / of myself in every mirror. Sometimes I lust for / a year / that has already happened.” And that ending—total perfection. Definitely a poem to savor.