#SelectedPoetry – October

Eds. Katie Jenkins and David Hanlon.

This batch of poetry features the work of some of the most talented poets in the writing community today.

These poets use their words to create art that is both thought-provoking and engaging. They explore a wide range of topics and they do so with a unique blend of creativity and skill.

Whether you are a seasoned poetry lover or a newcomer to the genre, we encourage you to explore this collection. You may find yourself surprised by what you discover.

Eleen Khwaja

Eleen Khwaja an undergraduate from Lahore, Pakistan and is currently majoring in English Literature. Her pronouns are she/them and she identifies as an androgynous pansexual. She enjoys works which blur the line between the mortal and transcendental and aims to create on a similar tangent.

God Rides the Subway on Sundays

I don’t think of God much.
There are mornings when I wake up 
With half of my limbs on the roof
Of my childhood house and 
The others in a blue room 
next to my mother’s.
I can never find the head 
but I imagine it rotting 
two feet deep at the north end of the 
neighborhood park pond with
a cluster of tadpoles nestled in the sockets.
I always dreamed of being a home 
like all poets for things 
that we may never hear outside of water
Could a Tadpole define death?
What does it matter to the Carp 
that’s about to swallow a chunk of them?
And old man Anwar’s Calico
that’ll gnaw on it at dawn? 
I think of God as an old man on the subway 
hiding a cat in his coat. 

Kate Maxwell

Kate Maxwell has been published and awarded in many Australian and International literary magazines. She’s published two anthologies: Never Good at Maths (Interactive Publications, 2021) and Down the Rabbit Hole (Ginninderra, 2023). Kate’s interests include film, wine, and sleeping.


I still see words 
sparking like struck flint
around your head 
when I return to your door. 
The ones you used to 
thrust about like swords 
piercing blue
slashing sunny days 
to shredded winds 
of cold exhausted trust.

Sting of memory’s blade 
still picks at scabby layers
of yesterday   or yet 
another failed tomorrow.
You ranted for years
lept with sorrow 
spooned about your back 
until you craved 
its warm grey breath 
upon your neck.

Now   I watch you 
set your jaw to smiling 
as you picture-postcard us 
amongst the trees 
new family   painted 
fence   but at the edges 
of that frame   one hand 
in his    the other 
stabbing nails 
into your palm.

In the grimy distance
I remember
ashen cheeks   nights 
of his stinking yellow beer
words   combustible as embers. 
Now   two lives later  
new husband    house   
and fresh cut grass   you laugh 
too loudly.   It rattles 
in my ears   like tin pans.

Devon Neal

Devon Neal (he/him) is a Bardstown, KY resident who received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA from The University of the Cumberlands. He currently works as a Human Resources Manager in Louisville, KY. His work has been featured in Moss Puppy Magazine, coalitionworks, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, Rough Cut Press, and others.


When the perennials wake up this spring,
we won’t be there.

When the phloxes start folding upwards,
their new leaves stained dark,
I won’t be pulling nearby weeds,
fingertips moist with soil.

When the hydrangeas fan their green decks
and their purple bouquets start to feather
closer to the front porch than last year,
I won’t be holding my palm up to their leaves.

When the short echinaceas begin flipping
their yellow petals like dollar bills,
I won’t be stroking their fuzzy chins
in cool afternoons after work.

And as the lily shoots upward, exploding
like white fireworks, I won’t be standing
in the dim morning, my thumb on the hose,
showing its pointed ankles.

When we backed out of the driveway,
I swear the cypresses waved.

Glen Armstrong

Glen Armstrong (he/him) holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters. His poems have appeared in Impspired, The Lake, and Triggerfish Critical Review.

My Brother’s Birthday

I have never mentioned this 
to anyone.

It is not a happy topic.
He existed, as he did, 

for less than a day, the same day
that my neighbors’ daughter

was born decades later.
The bounce-house tells me so.

Our mother held him for the eight-
minutes-and-change it takes 

new light to arrive from the sun.
As fragile as a wasp nest,

as fleeting and requisite
as a mailbox hello,

he was the candle that would not light,
the forfeited deposit. 

And now I do not know,
as our mother did not know,

how to mark this day:
empty boxes carefully wrapped in gold?

A domed trampoline that slowly surrenders
its candy colors to the sun?

If I ever manage to reproduce,
the cry and rhythm 

of the nearly forgotten,
the resulting song

will be too intensely quiet to survive
this world for long.

Vic Pickup

Vic Pickup’s debut pamphlet Lost & Found was published by Hedgehog Press in 2020 and What Colour is My Brain? followed in 2022. Her debut collection The Omniscient Tooth Fairy is due to be published by Indigo Dreams Press this year. Vic co-hosts Reading’s Poets’ Cafe and Poets’ Cafe Online.

How to Build a Boy 

Combine cells and wait for them to take.
The exact combination is essential for optimum results. 

Feed regularly with milk or evaporated formula for the first months,
orange juice and cod liver oil for the prevention of scurvy and rickets. 

Your baby boy may have trouble sleeping.
A gentle rocking motion will soon send him back to the land of nod.

Try to teach your boy his ABCs. Wooden blocks with carved letters
may be helpful with this, and tuneful signing of the alphabet song.

Wear soft clothing and ensure a generous dusting of talc after your bath. 
A boy should associate his mother with comfort and a pleasant aroma. 

As your boy grows, he will undoubtedly play rough with his chums.
Do not pander to a scuffed knee or black eye. He must learn to be tough. 

Increase meal sizes as your boy gets larger to ensure healthy development. 
He’ll need meat for muscle, fish for brains, eggs and fruit for immunity.   

Steer towards appropriate behaviours – to think of his friends as brothers.
He may find a sweetheart. Encourage this; her letters will boost morale.  

When the call goes out, if you have succeeded in your role,
He will wish to volunteer. Pack him a flask and sandwich for the queue.  

Be excited for his departure. Your son will soon be a hero:
Look at him so handsome in his uniform!

The cost of war is high. He may return fractured, so do what you can 
to repair him. The field nurses will have patched him up. 

Recommence feeding schedule. If bedridden,
spoon him plenty of broth, chicken if you can get it. 

Be prepared to receive nothing more than an envelope. 
Some explosives are designed to erase a soldier on impact.

Andrew Hall

Andrew Hall is a ginger-haired disabled writer and alternative film poster maker from the United Kingdom, and he finds that whole situation simply hilarious. His poetry and short stories have been published in various places such as Magma Poetry, Variant Literature, and Owl Canyon Press.

The Ghost Race Runner

There’s a guy that runs up and down the road
Up and down
Completely focused
It’s like he’s training for something
Some event on the horizon
Some obstacle that only he can see
Fast approaching
Haunting him.
You can hear him sometimes in the middle of the night 
His footsteps
Dad — midnight garden cig in lips — caught him panting at the top of our drive, hands on hips
Before setting off down the hill again
Just to come back.
I hope he likes it
I hope he’s doing it because he can and he wants to
I hope it’s not because he’s stuck
Endlessly repeating
Trying to get out
Lost in a single road
Trying to invent a race.

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