Favorites from the Last 10 Years, Selected by Joshua Mensch

It has been an enormous privilege to edit this magazine and I’m astounded by the sheer volume of great writing we’ve been entrusted with over the past ten years. The poems, stories, and essays in this selection represent, to me, what this project has really been about since the beginning: discovering great new writing.

Paul Otremba

EXPECTANCY He places a pillow across my lap,then let’s loose a joke about saving dignity.He wants to check my scar, and the whole teamdescends from

Stanley Plumly

I remember a day in Houston, in the death / throes of summer, a young man nailing / a live swan to a tree in the posture / of the Christ in an argument with beauty.

Radka Thea Otípková

I got home late once, tired, / and sat down by his bedside. / You must be hungry, he said. / A magnificent sentence like that, / the last I remember him saying.

Milan Děžinský

At the opposite bank a barge rolls the river under itself. / We are not approaching our end, / but from ultimate emptiness / the end is hurtling towards us.

Francesca Bell

Each month comes the reminder / of the gash God made in me. / I like to think He made it / with one finger, the way an artist / will reach right into a painting / and finish it off.

Emily Berry

I stood at the dangerous shore. / Sleeves rolled up to my shoulders. / My fringe lifted in the wind in a long salute and I pushed it back. / Live your wish, Live your wish, said the sea.

Diane Seuss

I used to be a woman who cried / over the useless bastards. / Boo-hoo, I said, filling my hanky, // boo-hoo over the useless bastards. / It is too bad we can’t see ourselves / in our own silliness …

Richard Siken

The paint doesn’t move the way the light reflects, / so what’s there to be faithful to? I am faithful / to you, darling. I say it to the paint. The bird floats / in the unfinished sky with nothing to hold it.

Joshua Weiner

You have asked for / the standards // of conduct. // For an act to constitute / it must inflict / what actions / reach the threshold of / ‘choice’ that is difficult to endure.

Natashia Deón

I am dead.

I died a nigga a long time ago.

Before you were born, before your mother was born, ‘fore your grandmother.

I was seventeen.

Still am I reckon.

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

I crisscross the stacks / searching for my mother / and father. The librarian / tells me they boarded / the other plane / that already took off. / This library is an airplane / I do not want to be on / but the doors are locked / and in fact / the librarian states, / we too have taken off.