2017 Editors' Choice Poems: Week 2

Topaz Winters

We are delighted to present this week’s selections from the Brain Mill Press 2017 Poetry Month Contest. We received many outstanding entries, from which this piece by Topaz Winters stood out. We hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

When My First Boyfriend Learned I Was on Anti-Psychotics, He Laughed and Told Me He Always Suspected I Was Crazier Than I Let On

Topaz Winters

I wanted to murder him,
but his body kept getting
in the way. We learn to
live with that sawtoothed
loudness, caught halfway
between the wonder &
the wanting. & how I
wanted. I wanted his eyes
blue & razed shut. Wanted
apology like unbent knee.
Pulse cold, childish. How
much can a thing whistle
before all that’s left is air?
Such a strange syntax we
live inside. Waltz through
aurora. Gulp down bullets
instead of the pills that
could make this all better.
God, I am tired of writing
poems about sickness.
When he spoke, I heard
my father: you know I only
ever wanted the best for you.
As if I were afraid of
leaning into wounded.
As if I couldn’t gut him
& run, easy as birthplace.
Easy as the voices finally
shocked into silence. A
kind of hook here, say it:
careful, darling, you’re
showing your hand. So
many times my body
has been more ache
than human. In which
direction must I search to
find a name for the curdle
in my throat? Slipping
on melting beasts, forcing
open memory’s jaws. &
how I wanted. I wanted
to snap that lovely neck
the way a gun cocks into
song. I wanted not to hurt
anymore, my kneecaps
halfway shattered, the
dark consuming itself
over & over again. Just
once, I wanted reciprocity.
I wanted not to be the
crazy one. Just once, I
wanted the sky to wake
up on time & remind us
of the little mouths with
no names except erasure.
I could have lived on that:
every angle a limb could
break. Every way his body
yawned into my grasp,
treading the bloodstream,
light going limp, his eyes
that swum & stunk of

About Topaz Winters

Topaz Winters is a queer, neurodivergent woman of colour attending Singapore American School. Her chapbooks Heaven or This (2016) & Monsoon Dream (Platypus Press, 2016) have been downloaded over 15,000 times, & at 17, she is the youngest Singaporean ever to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is deeply interested in the anatomy of healing. More at topazwinters.com.


National Poetry Month
National Poetry Month

BMP Celebrates National Poetry Month 2017

The theme of teaching and learning poetry, and our emphasis on student poets, speaks directly to the action of poetry in our country and global community. Never has the education of our students been so threatened, and never has truth been more challenged than in the current political climate. The truth emerges through education and the resistance and questions of our youngest generation, and it is their lead we absolutely must follow if they are to live in a society that fosters their achievements, liberation, and justice. Truth emerges through poetry as well — poetry bears witness to what truths seem impossible to speak any other way. Its constraints limit the temptation to misconstrue, obscure, and bury.