“I search Craiglist for sadness: a white couch the only result.” begins “Weeks After My Brother Overdoses,” the final poem in Kerrin McCadden’s chapbook, Keep This to Yourself (Button Poetry 2020). McCadden’s latest collection is a strikingly blunt yet beautifully lyrical meditation on what it means to lose a loved one to America’s current opioid crisis.
Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, edited by Stephen Cramer, is a vibrant and hip anthology of 400 pages, including poems by everyone from Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Rita Dove to Yusef Komunyakaa, Kim Addonizio, Kevin Young, and Danez Smith. The book contains 88 poets in all (the number of keys on a piano), and is split up into three sections: poems about jazz, poems about blues and rock, and poems about hip-hop.
To read Bodega by Su Hwang is to immerse oneself in a world, but to read this debut poetry collection in tandem with Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is to deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be raised in the United States as a Korean daughter of immigrants. Both offer prismatic sides of living in a racialized nation where “Asian American” is a box to check off on official census documents, and another way to categorize human experience.
My mother was a beautiful bird who fluttered around people in a state of constant agitation. Terrified of being trapped, she was always opening windows, even in the middle of January, and rushing out of doors “to catch a breath of fresh air.” Once outside, she would disappear in an instant, only to return hours later, the wind and leaves and twigs in her hair.
Side effects may include digging / a hole in your personal snow / to a time before your heart / floated next to your father’s heart
Lashed & anchored to the front of each ship, / a woman—breasts carved from dark oak, / all the wildness sanded down, polished out; / half human, half fish, a grotesque fantasy
Two wolves mating and then / at rest, the carnal moment just caught.
In Ghana, I was warned, all snakes are poisonous. All ninety-two species. If you are bitten, you have to grab the snake and take it along to the hospital so they can give you the correct antivenin. Assuming they have antivenin. And assuming there’s a hospital.
She keeps verbs in their bee box / until they all are queens. She keeps / words clean as the bowel of a sink.
These past few months, I’ve taken great amusement in others’ reactions to my newly bushy beard, and in their questioning why I’ve chosen to let it grow so full and long now that I’ve turned 60 and my beard has turned white.
The British call seagulls the “thugs” of the bird world. They “detest” the birds for snatching food from picnic tables and depositing splotches on cars. Pigeons and magpies come next on the list of most loathed, followed a few slots down by the unlikely sparrow who is simply “dull looking,” a criticism that seems dubious coming from a populace of oxfords, woolens, and tweeds.
arrives like a serrated wing. / Cuts the medium on which it is inscribed. / Cuts the fabric of the real.