year in review

2016 Round-Up: Poetry

I started reading poetry in 2016.

No, I’m serious. I thought I hated it. Turns out, I was just reading bad poetry. It was a case of “it’s not me, it’s you” and I just didn’t know it yet.

Litany in Which Certain Things are Crossed Out, Richard Siken (Crush)

                                    For a while I thought I was the dragon.
I guess I can tell you that now. And, for a while, I thought I was
the princess,
cotton candy pink, sitting there in my room, in the tower of the castle,
young and beautiful and in love and waiting for you with
confidence
but the princess looks into her mirror and only sees the princess,
while I’m out here, slogging through the mud, breathing fire,
and getting stabbed to death.
Okay, so I’m the dragon. Big deal.


The Doorway
, Lev Mirov (Pedestal Magazine)

I wake alone, all dry, in the bed where I spend all my dreaming.
In another, star-dusted country, dripping, the Captain spits sea water
though he is miles from the shore, and tries to shake off the cold.
The droplets fall wet like tears across the boundary we were never meant to cross.
I only wanted to be where you are, I say—
though we cannot possibly hear each other, he says: I know.

Try to Praise the Mutilated World, Adam Zagajewski (translated by Clare Cavanagh)

You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.


The Changeling’s Lament
, Shira Lipkin (Stone Telling)

I am an anthropologist in the field of girl.
I study
but none of it
ever comes
naturally.

… and the winner is: “Try to Praise the Mutilated World.” I’ve read it a million times this year. After Election Day, I printed it out and taped it to my desk and invited my shell shocked coworkers to read it. I repeated in my head like a mantra: “You must praise the mutilated world.”

year in review

2016 Round-Up: Short Stories

Happy New Year, and 久しぶり*!
*”long time, no see”

Starting today, I’ll be doing a round up of the best short stories, poetry, and finally, books I read in 2016.

Betty and the Squelchy Saurus, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Fireside Fiction)

(1) Closets and under the beds are monster territory. Children may obtain items from the closets during daylight hours, as long as they knock before entering. Items that fall under the bed should be considered lost forever.
(2) Monsters must not be seen during daylight hours. Monsters are free to roam the orphanage at any hour of the day or night, so long as they are not seen.
(3) Monsters may not eat children during daylight hours.
(4) Monsters may eat children at night ONLY if the child (or any portion thereof) leaves the safety of its bed.
(5) Children may ask adults to check for monsters under the bed or inside the closet. However:
(6) Children may not, under any circumstances, request that an adult drag a monster out of its territory to shoot or otherwise kill the monster. Violation of rule No. 6 will release the monsters from the terms of this treaty.


If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love
, Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine)

If you were a dinosaur, my love, then you would be a T-Rex. You’d be a small one, only five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you. You’d be fragile-boned and you’d walk with as delicate and polite a gait as you could manage on massive talons. Your eyes would gaze gently from beneath your bony brow-ridge.


Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass
, Jeremiah Tolbert (Lightspeed)

“All my life! All my life, I’ve read stories about fantasy worlds. I used to dream about being whisked away to my real parents, to where I really belonged.” Langford offered a tissue, and she daubed at her tears with it. “When the rabbit holes opened, I thought it was only a matter of time. I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find mine.”

She shouted it, didn’t care who heard her now:
“IT’S! NOT! FAIR!”

He nodded, let her cry for a moment, and then said quietly, “I bet that made you feel like a real Susan Pevensie.”
“Exactly! What did I do to deserve being left behind? At first, it was about escape. It’s all I ever dreamed about, you know? But now, it’s about—”

“Feeling abandoned.”

If I had to pick a favorite, I would, hands down, give that award to “Not By Wardrobe…” which is the only short story of 2016 that got it’s own entry in my personal blog, complete with excerpt.

My goal was to read at least one short story a week. That… didn’t always happen, but I’m making it a priority for 2017. This time next year, I should have more short stories to choose from to share with you.