“Distance & Temerity” and “Ken”

Editors' Selections

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 Samn Stockwell and Caleb Nichols stood out.

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

Distance & Temerity

by Samn Stockwell

The sparrows were enamored
but sounded like a congregation of worried mothers.

Distance and Temerity flew
from Central Park to the bakery.
Like dark flakes, they fluttered to the ground
and ate crumbs of coffee cake and cinnamon buns.

Everyone emerged from the bakery
with white paper bags held out like lamps
and hot cups of coffee jiggling in the other hand.

Joggers zoomed by in black tights and headbands.
Fleet, said Distance.
Sweet as plums, agreed Temerity, inhaling.

After the joggers, the businesswomen, the businessmen
dragging brown briefcases
or swinging them like dull missiles.

Then, children going to school, the girls in pink and purple,
the boys in blue and red, with secrets like feathers.

The sidewalk was getting thin, a few shoppers and the homeless.

A snarl of chaff left as they leap?
Yes, remarked the other, they light and thunder.

Is there a sparrow waking at 2 a.m.,
knowing he’s alone? No.

Samn Stockwell has published in Agni, Ploughshares, and the New Yorker, among others. Her two books, Theater of Animals and Recital, won the National Poetry Series and the Editor’s Prize at Elixir, respectively. Recent poems are in Gargoyle & The Literary Review and are forthcoming in Plume and others.


by Caleb Nichols

Unsubscribe from everything, save hummingbird wings
and the waves of plague grass that salvage an afternoon.

Aim to create half as much as you maw, and
ken ye well a language not your own.

Face it once a day, the ebb tide, how even as it wanes
it pushes in, endlessly, until the moon unspools, unwinds.

Mute everyone, unfollow. Track daylight by the shadows on the wall.
Listen to the plague wind, savaging the afternoon, raising the dust.

Jareen Imam author photo

Caleb Nichols is a writer and musician from California.  His poems have appeared in Unstamatic: A Micro Lit Mag, and his music has been featured on Paste and Out.  He records music along with his husband as one half of the indie pop duo Soft People, and tweets @seanickels.

National Poetry Month

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.