We are delighted to present this week’s selections from the Brain Mill Press 2016 Poetry Month Contest. We received many outstanding entries, from which these pieces by Imani Davis, Lynn Marie Houston, and Jiordan Castle stood out. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.

Grave Robber Digs with a Pen

Imani Davis

When a Black ______ dies and they last breath is played on repeat, must we still paint the forest?I debate this with my hands.

They say Ain’t nobody else to remember the blood.I say they ain’t the ones bleeding.

I interrogate every poem about the dead.There they go, robbing the grave and settling in the boy’s place.

What do we grow with this?While I ask, the poem picks lilies off the casket.

The grief is not all (a) mine.

Vulture’s talon ( be ) artist in my hands     saylook how          the skull shines in your light.

Watch: ____. _____.You ain’t flinch? How you used to forcing reincarnation?

I get it. Shut the news off and the screen’s a mirror.You don’t ask to be reflected in the black of its pause.

You here though:Dense tangle of light hostage

in God’s 3 dimensions. Or maybe notYou. (the faces all blur together,

Ghost shadowed and inadequate.It’s hard to tell the difference.)

My hands mimic a bullet’s carnivorous twitch. Say it ain’tme, but it could be. It ain’t meyet.

I say the fear of the bullet is not the bullet itself.

Some folk never get the chance to flinch.I translate the body of a boy into language.

The lines will never break asclean as his bones.

After the show, the checkcuts like the scalpel do.

I eat. I buymy mother something

she can never lose.It is not security.

Imani Davis is Black magic. She currently works on Urban Word NYC’s Youth Leadership Board. Her poetry has appeared in Rookie Magazine and the occasional trash can.

Fall Break in Paris Was a Mistake

Lynn Marie Houston

After you’ve done all the things in this world once, you justwant to sleep. Like after you land in Paris and realize you don’treally want to be there, that the man you’re travelling with is abore, on his best days, and that Parisian restaurants are toochi chi frou frou to serve la chasse, fresh game meat pairedwith Brussels sprouts and mashed roasted chestnuts,which you can get everywhere in neighboringSwitzerland when the Beaujolais Nouveauarrives in November.

It’s like this with all the things you’ve ever longed for—hungering for flesh from the Jura Mountains, you wind upeating bean cassoulet at a tourist cafe. You desire a partner,a significant other, and end up with a guy who, while you aretrying to sleep on an Intercontinental flight, keepstickling your nose with the end of his scarf asking,Are you awake yet? Are you awake?

Lynn Marie Houston‘s poetry has appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Blue Lyra Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and other journals, as well as in her first collection, The Clever Dream of Man (Aldrich Press). She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice for a Best of the Net Award. Her poems have received distinction in contests sponsored by Broad River Review, Whispering Prairie Press, Prime Number Magazine, and the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. She is currently in the M.F.A program at Southern Connecticut State University and runs Five Oaks Press.

Website

SWEAR Girls

Jiordan Castle

Jiordan Castle is a writer from New York living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared elsewhere in print and online. She gets personal at nomoreundead.tumblr.com and can be tweeted @jiordancastle.

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month

If “love calls us to the things of this world,” then poetry too can call us to think about challenging questions, difficult situations, and social justice, implicating and engaging the reader with the world we live in, in the hope that this engagement is a step toward wrestling with our better selves.