Right about now is the time of the year when everyone with a goddamn login gets all hyperboled about whatever dumb book they read way back in March, just so they can save a .jpeg and write a bunch of convoluted bullshit about that dumb book and some other dumb books for some dumb literary blog. Those things (blogs, books, hyperboles, et al, et al) are cool. But books are books, and books cost money, and I’m sure that you’re probably broke because you bought me a bunch of Yolo Polos for God’s birthday. Oh, you good little sigh, you.
So instead of giving you a list of books you’re never going to read, I figured I’d go through my pockets and pull out the best lines and quotes I came across in 2013, because (and I know I might be alone here) 2013 felt like a winning fucking lotto ticket to me. Happy holidays. Now give me a hug.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Out there, in the Between, it’s kiss or be kist
R.M. O’Brien, “Poem For Chris Toll In The Between” (Sink Review, Jan. 1)
He could have laid me back
in the middle of the Atlantic; we could have been on a raft
loaded with exotic cargo, parrot eggs and pigeon blood rubies
rather than egg sandwiches and a bottle of wine
thick and pungent enough to be blood. It was hard to imagine
anyone here, not him shucking his shirt onto the deck,
nor ancient sailors or drug dealers in their bullet-boats.
Bridget Menasche, “Claudine Goes Sailing With A Man Who Hates The Hamptons” (PANK, Jan. 15)
a huge amount of fire to see much.
Daniel D’Angelo, “The End of the Sound of Waves (Alice Blue Review, Jan. 29)
My heart is a sleeping deer
about to be awakened.
I think that’s what I mean,
wake up. Don’t reason
with a plane crash,
clean up the fucking bodies.
Layne Ransom, “Mercy” (H_NGM_N chapbook, Feb. 26)
and make vigorous love
until you feel less huge
and more human.
Bianca Stone, “Stories” (Bomb, Mar. 1)
i build out, get my brightness sore. i just mouthed fuck all the way down the page. that’s a large mouth, population: cows.
Carrie Lorig, “s c a t t e r s t a t e” (Jellyfish, Mar. 4)
The New Wave
never gets any older and here
I am pulsing like an idiot instead of taking
some seat at the assembly
for our greatest misfeatures.
Mike Krutel, “We’re in a Cloud, Jessica” (Jellyfish, Mar. 4)
I am the pond
when the ducklings have grown: lazy. Now
I am the better version of the pond, myself
but in Summer I will want to curl my hair
and take up smoking again; I will forget
about poetry and listen to Tupac almost
Zoe Dzunko, “Summer of Tupac” (NAP, Mar. 6)
(That’s why I vomited, do you understand? Thus the bulimia of those months trying to slim down to draw pity, trying sickness impregnated with who knows what. Trying literature. That’s why I vomited, do you remember? )
Luna Miguel, “Musuem of Cancers” (Shabby Doll House, Mar. 12)
I don’t think, “Oh, how sad” or “Oh, how happy”; it’s more like “wow” all the time.
S.E. Smith spotlight, (Coldfront, March 18)
Poets should get back to saying crazy shit
All of the time
I am sick of academics or businesspeople telling poets
What we should do
A poet is a scientist
To favor poetry
In that both relate to Buddhism
However, both are things that melt
A purple haze or dawn
Dorothea Lasky, “What poets should do” (Big Lucks, Mar. 21) (I know I know I’m so sorry but read just read it ok)
when how old this entryway
was known by its first inhabitants
a sudden lurch upward from the water
& formed some scraping thousands of individuated
moments ago ago
Tony Mancus, “he bearings get separated by continent & what seams are olded, grown inland/is land -> so form” (Phantom Limb, Mar. 21)
I wear that
compass like tattoo.
To grow is what I like
about you: how it looks.
Arielle Greenberg, “SUGAR-STAR” (Phantom Limb, Mar. 21)
Today it will rain
I should take you into town
To the galleries
In a Japanese yellow rain coat
To have some champagne
At a group show of landscape paintings
I’m sorry they will probably be shitty
Ben Fama, “Odalisque” (Coconut, April 16)
Ben will you flip me under
the zipper seams of clouds?
Rachael Katz, “Conversations in a Pool” (NOÖ, April 9)
After I spend some time looking
at you, I send myself out to pasture.
I am constantly falling
from the neck of a horse
He was my one true love.
Carina Finn, “An Angry Poem Just For You” (30xLace, Apr. 18)
It is amazing
How much can one human think about herself
Melissa Broder, The Youth of My Dick (Pop Serial, April 26)
I am bounding along in the guise of a riot
You can’t get anywhere in the sick crush of electric bodies
The riot-on-riot cement
Leora Fridman, “Waspy riot” (H_NGM_N, May 1)
Only put a bird on it if you give a shit about birds. One of my favorite quotes, from city-slicker Jim Carroll: “I see nothing in a tree except lazy shade and nature / and that’s not special, that’s science.”
Joshua Kleinberg, “Notes to a Young Poet” (H_NGM_N, May 9)
Not even Henry Miller, in his Paris bed sheets,
Anonymous, stained, lousy, was so oppressed
by the summer heat. But Cancer’s just a book.
Nothing is so precious.
Eldis Sula, “Reflection on a Visit to the National Gallery” (May 5, 2013)
For everyone it’s either very hard
or very easy to picture them
dancing. For any once it’s pretty fun
to pretend you’re asleep.
Mike Young, “Nuns of the U.S.” (Hobart, May 7)
but fuck that shit
I need to get paid
Lucy K. Shaw, “Love In The Time Of Google Analytics” (Everyday Genius, May 14)
He flung himself
at the police The police watched Some say
sadistic pleasure Some say he begged
to everyone watching—“What could you do
with a man?” This moment is synonymous
with the deranged nineteen years with the known
exploits of legends
Tyler Gobble, “Live Human Head” (Juked, May 23)
there were gods once, this perhaps the gravest
thought of all
that a creator begat this world of black
spectral shit, to feed us not of love and beauty
but of indecision and chaos and constant
Grant Maierhofer, “reports of hurricanes on Saturn” (Mammal, May 25)
I took all of my money out
of the bank just to roll around
on it and luxuriate in the filth
of all the hands that could
touch me at once.
Gabby Bess, “Just Be Famous” (Everyday Genius, May 27)
I wouldn’t be a good wife,
but I would be a wife
in a way that was cinematically compelling.
Gabby Bess, “A Woman Wants What A Woman Wants” (Hobart, May 30)
To marry the severity of the world and the lightness of the light.
Dan Magers, “In The Manner Loseresque” (Brooklyn Poets, Jun. 3)
Which pity do we choose? Which of us would
Count our child among the million or two
To be executed? Who here hasn’t felt
Stiletto eyes stealthy on their hiking
Family, hailed the wanton trooper’s shot?
I have, and yet do cherish those who’ve long dwelt
Where mankind must now mind land and atmosphere:
Gold flecks exposed as elder snows melt.
Uche Ogbuji, “Catamount” (Leveler, Jun. 9)
I was starved for love
Now I’ve just had an abortion
Monica McClure, “Luxe Interiority” (Spork, Jun. 16)
I try to do everything in my bed, which is in Brooklyn.
Monica McClure, Poet of the Week Interview (Brooklyn Poets, Jun. 16)
Brief inventor, make me
new again. For the heart fails not in its breaking
but the tightening.
Ocean Vuong, “Descent” (Drunken Boat, Jun. 17)
love is an ocean. love is an ocean full of drowning unicorns. love is an ocean full of drowning unicorns crashing into the coastline of me with each new wave. my coastline is made of winter and rock.
John Mortara, “Where Were You When I Was New?” (Shabby Doll House, Jun. 18)
In the only play I was ever in, I acted
the fool, the boy who didn’t know he was dead.
I was so beautiful the King Lear dude went blind,
I affected a vocabulary of N.W.A, the one
shoe, my wardrobe touch.
Sampson Starkweather, “from The Waters” (PEN Poetry Series, Jun. 26)
Carina Finn, “the blackness of glitter: another essay on ageism in american poetry” (The Destroyer, Jun. 27)
Witches should not be thirteen
Witches should be like cobwebby lace with herbs, but in person form
Witches should be whatever they want to be
Witches should be free in the ocean
Like Michelle Williams at Heath Ledger’s funeral
All wet & smiling in this way that killed me when I saw the pictures
Like grief could be something honeyed that comes up from the bottom of your lungs
Carrie Murphy, “I am the King of My Own Life” (Ilk, Jul. 1)
The boy home, used to take the bus to the block
Now summertime whips come through and bust up the block
Audrey Drake Graham, “Over Here” (PARTYNEXTDOOR, Jul. 1)
If you live with me there is a one in six chance you are my girlfriend.
There is also a one in six chance that you are me.
If so you should go to the dentist,
it’s been over a year.
Jackson Nieuwland, “Definitive Statements are Inherently Incorrect” (his Tumblr, Jul. 5)
We, as poets, have inherited something very special that was very poorly taken care of for a long time, and in the last couple decades a very few people have laid the groundwork to make it a lot better, a lot bigger, and way more various than it’s ever been. Fuck all the haters, sure, but let’s make some critics attack us for something besides meekness, anonymity, and inactivity. And instead of defending and honoring our anointed laureates, pulitzers, and bestsellers, let’s save our breath for the truly brave: the people who’ve put their money and their time in for something more than their own brand.
Donald Dunbar, “But Let’s All Make Out” (HTMLGiant, Jul. 11)
I didn’t know what a poem
was until I’d read a thousand poems
and forgotten I would say about
nine hundred and four.
Mike Young, “No, We Met” (Pinwheel, Jul. 15)
YOUR HEART IS A TENDER MISTAKE.
YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE. YOU SHOULD REALLY LEAVE.
Sasha Fletcher, “A SHIPWRECK!” (Sixth Finch, Jul. 24)
I read Žižek on love and listen to Katy Perry
because the world is a mass of seamless urgencies
and there is no more impracticable way
to measure my frail proximity to knowledge
and its daft quasi-limitless impossibility.
Nick Sturm, “Another Door” (PEN Poetry Series, Jul. 30)
Salt water might blind you
with certain promises but it won’t
get you drunk with real thrill
or show you anyone’s insides.
Caroline Crew, “Rubies for Dorthea Lasky” (Nashville Review, Aug. 1)
I heard you play bass for a band that’s all about feelings.
On paper it was great.
On the internet it was even better.
Steven Karl, “Leaves of LOL” (NOÖ Weekly, Aug. 8th)
You put on how we forget where
we were before. You put on the earth how
it cracks. You put on its face when it sees us.
Wendy Xu, “You Think You Are Something Less Real Than You Are” (Diagram, Aug. 15)
I’ve been neo-frightened, nothing classical about that.
Paige Taggart, “from Still Places to Go” (Little Red Leaves, Aug 16)
When on Fresh Air
I can’t drive
Emily Toder, “Fresh Air” (Poor Claudia, Aug. 28)
Hello Meteors, this is the sequel
to a movie that won oscars
but this movie won’t win any
oscars because the love
interest has already played
the dad in too many
disney movies where middle
schoolers make a million bucks
carving seahorses from rotting wood
& selling them as idols to cults
of younger middle-schoolers.
Russ Woods, “This Morning Was a River to Which I Said” (Pank, Sept. 1)
i think any poem that isn’t trying to incite you to live is a fucking lie. and i do not have the goddam time for that bullshit.
Sasha Fletcher, via Gchat (Sept. 4)
If authenticity is the new snark,
I am poised to send thoughts
through my leg,
behind my back, and say:
at least I have reliable bones.
Tracy Dimond, “Authenticity” (Ghost Proposal, Sept. 5)
I am the last to fall asleep and the first to wake up when we are with each other. I use this time to study the colors in your beard. I use this time to tell myself, ‘Don’t forget this, don’t forget this.‘ I feel mad. I think, ‘I am a warm body existing next to you.‘ I feel your thighs. I feel safe. I feel alive.
Sarah Jean Alexander, “Remember To” (Hobart, Sept. 6)
Some people are still trying to find God. Me? I take communion with the grocer.
Gina Keicher, “Especially The Bread” (Paper Darts, Sept. 12)
I find that
I want to tell you about monarch butterflies
and their migration. I think you will
understand, need you to understand.
Gale Marie Thompson, “No Heart” (Banango Street, Sept. 16)
If I wanted to make your heartbreak, I’d meet you outside.
Alexis Pope, “Middle English” (Banango Street, Sept. 16)
It’s so hard to care
about anything unless one is in the shit.
I’m in the shit.
Amy Lawless, “What Year Are You Interested In” (Hyperallergic, Sept. 27)
Once we have read the poem…it inescapably moves within us, is within us, and in this the poem is like the world in which we move, which moves us, and is in us whether we are conscious of that or not. Our condition in language…is irremediable, irreparable. It is beyond “repair,” and doesn’t permit (presuming we want it) the perfect reading…others sought, in which we all acquiesce and are of one mind, “completely” understanding one another.
Peter Quartermain, “Reading the Difficult: A new critique of the New Criticism” (Poetry Magazine, Oct. 1)
carrie: collabs make me understand why poetry exists
it’s bigger than poets
poems make poets
not the other way around
Carrie Lorig, via Gchat (Oct. 11)
careful sam, remember this body
is your last.
Sam Sax, “Prescription Poppies at Sixteen” (PANK, Oct. 15)
you’re this beaming
palace of what there is
as a spectator is
to a stadium
me and you.
Seth Landman, “Drive” (Dreginald, Oct. 14)
out of guilt like an unborn sister, a mother’s
final scowl before death, the very nose
on your face you’d hack off just to belong.
Nicole Steinberg, “My Dark, Semitic Wiles” (Leveler, Oct. 20)
don’t talk to me about science when a
baby’s perfect head breaks through like a whale at
the surface. Don’t talk to me about magic when a
baby goes grey, system grocked by tetanus, straight
shot from the rusty blade to the umbilical vein
to the heart.
Anna Carson DeWitt, “100 Razor Blades” (Bellevue Literary Review, Oct. 26)
You are a person who is ready to give up worry.
But you are not ready to give up want.
The rest of the disciples are ready to give up worry and want.
There is a difference.
Melissa Broder, “Big Candles” (Gigantic, Oct. 27)
When the first ear blooms from the grave it is a happy occasion. But by the tenth the groundskeeper on the riding lawnmower doesn’t even bother to swerve.
Mathias Svalina, “Wastoid” (The Fanzine, Nov. 1)
There are hills in you
and I am on them
O solemn wall-hung portrait of a kangaroo
O digestive biscuits in the spring
There are hills I am on
“I love you” is like sitting on a bench
If you think about it, everything is like that
Crispin Best, “I.O. or Let’s Gonna Fuck” (Nov. 13)
if singing in the shower
is a prayer against encroachment
you are doing a fine job
Caroline Crew, “Plastic Sonnet Four” (Phantom Limb, Nov. 15)
sometimes all you have is god
and the color of the room
Leopoldine Core, “UH” (her blog, Nov. 15)
(Dillon J. Welch, “Jewel Erasure Poems” (Keyhole, Nov. 22)
You meet someone and later you meet
and you have to start again
Heather Christle, “Aesthetics of Crying” (The Fanzine, Nov. 27)
August, die she must
but I heard the ruffling cheeks
of bricks running down the alleys
towards October, and November
and they swell and lust too
and are restless,
even full of a spirit once
now grown old
they are restless,
and I’m safe.
Haley Thompson “The Beast I am Safe” (notnostrums, Nov. 30)
I ran to a city and built a new city and a city higher than it and invited you to live in it
A kind of seed I breathed in a dream and in the morning I grew
Emily Kendal Frey, “HOLY FUCK I LOVED YOU” (Tag, Dec. 4)
kids these days i dont know how they fit the pepper in those slim jeans
pepper everywhere in the cracks like a glitter that means something
Cassandra Gillig, “My Generation” (Black Cake, Dec. 6)
The world is florid in
this manner. Auto-poetic. If you’re ever in the mood
to check it out.
Dana Ward, “Christmas Eve” (The Fanzine, Dec. 13)
So listen to me
As I rap this
As I eat my words
I either have to eat them, or I will turn blue
I either have to turn away you or your art
Niina Polari, “Manifesto” (Finery, Dec. 13)
if you try hard enough every poet can be your BFF.
Rachel Hyman, via Facebook chat (Dec. 16)
Only plastic saves itself and I see you in
the sound of bristle set to fire
on top of a tenement fire
I see you everywhere
and I am getting dumber for it
Matt Nelson, “How a Scene Changes So Fast” (Shabby Doll House, 12/17)
Oscar Bruno D’Artois, “#tfftw (too fragile for this world)” (Shabby Doll House, Dec. 17)
There is nothing wrong with
a beautiful story that ends.
There is nothing wrong with a scepter
in a spotless glass case. But scientists
have revealed that humans need softer
relics to wrap in our flimsy arms,
so I am taking you with me to the city
of infinite wings.
Layne Ransom, “Departure” (Big Lucks, Dec. 18) (Sorry again, but read it, you know)