We are delighted to present this week’s selections from the Brain Mill Press Poetry Month Contest. We have received a lot of wonderful work via our submission portal, and these pieces by Anne Marie Wells, Maya Richard-Craven, and Rebecca Weingart stood out.

We hope you’ll enjoy these editors’ picks as much as we did.

O Villain, My Friend

by Anne Marie Wells

Obscure stranger,O villain,could we, for a moment,even on an odd day,an unholy day, take our right eyes from the cross hairsand right pointers from the precipiceto acknowledge the thirst in one another?I admit I’ve been a scoundrel opportunistic in my malice,and I am so thirsty,like you, your mouth a salt lick.I have no sand left, andif your camel pride can wait no longer,could you touch your hand to mine?My left, your right,joined at the little fingers to evolve from weapon-wielding mercenaries into a single, dainty cupfrom which we bothcan drink.

Anne Marie Wells (She/Her) of Hoback Junction, Wyoming, is a queer poet, playwright, and storyteller navigating the world with a chronic illness. In 2015, she published her children’s book, MAMÃ, PORQUE SOU UMA AVE? / MOMMY, WHY AM I A BIRD? (Universidade de Coimbra). She earned first place in the Riot Act Regional New Play Festival in 2017 for her play LOVE AND RADIO (AND ZOMBIES… KIND OF) and earned second place in 2018 for her play, LAST. ONLY. BEST. In 2019, the Wrights of Wyoming judges blindly selected four of her theatrical works for the statewide play festival in Cheyenne. In 2020, her play LAST. ONLY. BEST. was selected for publication in The Dallas Review, and her 10-minute play THE DOOR will appear in The Progenitor Art & Literary Journal.

An avid storyteller, she performed in and won several Cabin Fever Story Slams and was selected by The Moth to perform in a ‘Main Stage’ event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 2019.

Anne Marie’s poems have appeared or will appear in In Parentheses, Lucky Jefferson, Unlimited Literature, Soliloquies Anthology, Muddy River Poetry Review, Variant Literature, Poets’ Choice, Meniscus Journal, Changing Womxn Collective, and The Voices Project.

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A Song for New Orleans

by Maya Richard-Craven

Each street is covered in mud, stray dogs search for their owners bodies they toss and tumble through the wreckagelike dendrites, millions of branched extensions pile in the streetsa nightmare from hell. Blue graybits of flesh become one with murky water. The population size diminishes down to the size of a single axon,the stadium its terminal. Black arms above rooftops, seeking a signal,a recognizable sound, of no one is coming, capillaries at fingertips lose their color. When the waiting sleep, it is in waiting. When given refuge, it is in waiting. Children make finger guns amongsteach other, emulate officers in black and blue who refuse to come and get them. Like cell walls, New Orleans is permeable. Cells walls protect organelles of the cellbut sometimes water gets throughand when it does the ark is floodedand the animals run loose or fields are flooded and people start to drown having waited atop rooftops black arms raising in the air waiting for someone, anyone, to come and stop byso the children keep playingmaking finger guns but the men in black and blue the men with guns and power they don’t come so the blood continues to run.

Maya Richard-Craven is an American journalist and poet, who has opened for California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia (2013), and has spoken before the USC Board of Trustees (2015).  Her work has appeared in New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, USA TODAY College, and The Hollywood Reporter. In 2014, Richard-Craven was named best college columnist by The National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Would a farm and a frigid river be fitting for a girl?

by Rebecca Weingart

I see myself up there by the bridge that sways over the frozen lake.

Winters so long you forget spring is coming.

This is where you choose to live.

Keep driving north and you’ll find it.

I once bought 2 lbs. of cranberries at a farmers market

in late fall.

I’ve driven to the nearest rental video store in the snow. You drove to the nearest rental video store in the snow.

We listened to the same song and heard two different lyrics.

You’re making me feel like I’ve never been wrong. You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born.

I wanted to have never been wrong. You wanted to have never been born.

———

Note: Title is from poem 3.14 by the Roman poet Sulpicia, translated by me. “You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born” is from the song “She Said She Said” by the Beatles.

Rebecca Weingart is a high school English teacher in St. Louis, Missouri. She is an MFA candidate at University of Missouri-St. Louis and has a poem published in NonBinary Review. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter as @antbeea.

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month

For this year’s National Poetry Month at BMP Voices, we seek to celebrate the ways in which we’re interconnected — highlighting community, gratitude, and the ways in which creativity redounds upon itself, fed by collective energy and goodwill. Our fee-free contest is open to all styles and forms of poetry, with an eye toward our mission of discovering voices that are immediate, immersive, and urgent. Poems inspired by the work of others are welcome. We also welcome poems written to other poems or poets.