Ten Years of Great Writing

Here are some of our favorites

Ondrej Štefánik

Every night I count until I fall asleep. Today I read online that every five seconds a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world. How many people die of hunger until I fall asleep? I can’t count anymore; I can’t feed the kids either.

Alvaro Bisama

We’d be down in the port at the Hesperia café, 8:30 in the morning. Talking about whatever. She’d be chain-smoking, and I would shred the skin of my lips with my teeth. Those nervous habits were all we had left in those days …

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.

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.

Tony Gloeggler

I don’t want to put him on the spot / and I know I’d think less of him / if he gave the wrong answer. Instead, / I name names in my head, a long list / of friends who would have let me die.

Marek Šindelka

A girl boarded the train. Actually, she was no longer a girl, because she was about thirty. But there was something in her behaviour and her appearance which suggested that, body aside, she was still a girl.

Bohuslav Reynek

In my village, I’m the fool. / Sad dogs know me – sad white school / of sleepy dogs that drift away /
into the distance.

Mathias Nelson

It’s like a shadow on your bedroom wall— / you never think it’ll reach to grab your throat / until you stand just right before the night- / light and it does—

Dušan Mitana

I’m ashamed to admit I had acted under the pressure of circumstance, and the whole thing happened purely by chance. I’d much prefer to think it had all been predestined a long time ago, because inevitability is a great excuse for actions even more cruel than those I’m about to describe.

Annie Brechin

Go out, pretend that there are men / who would obtain you and not then // abstain, refraining from the skin / that’s split with rust

Yuri Kazarnovsky

It races, / carrying eleven meetings, / a lady’s purse, / a separation’s grief, / seven briefcases, / eight belated greetings, / and a beetle / on a jacket’s sleeve.

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.

Boris Dežulović

It is nothing new under the sun that some children are afraid of school, but no one was quite so afraid of school as little Mensur Ćeman from Hilbilovi near Darkovo.

Nina Kossman

One woman was very glad that she was born a woman and not a man

Miklos Radnoti

I lived upon this earth in such an age / when man was so debased he sought to murder / for pleasure, not just to comply with orders

Anthony Madrid

WE WOULD renounce the self completely, if only we knew it would take. / We are willing enough to be nothing. We don’t want to be a residue.

R. A. Allen

I went out to my mailbox. / Everything was addressed to a previous / occupant (twice removed) / who is now, / according to my neighbors / deceased.

Photo by Ondřej Lipár

Olga Pek

When I regained my faith in poetry, I started writing prose. Concept was my totemic operator. I amassed trophies of species on the brink of extinction and smuggled rare genera across borders to inlay my texts with them.

Karel Šebek

to stare for too long into the empty china cups of your eyes / is more dangerous than a scorpion’s caress / but you are my sister and the flag of your bra signals incest and night

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.

Cedar Rey

The dead have their own way of doing things. Things the living don’t / understand. To the dead, the living are dead.

Sunni Brown Wilkinson

I know her / by the way she faces the world / straight–backed and solid, / one branch holding itself / a little higher.

Aleksei Lukyanov

Ever read The Lord of the Rings? I knew it! You look like a reader, you have that kind of face. … So alright, then, listen to my story all the way through, and you’ll catch on. You’ll understand that I couldn’t have done any different.

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.

Nick Demske

Lil’ B is the perfect example of a highly functioning retard. I’m mad he fucked my grandma, dumped her in a forest and then stole her jewelry. He’s making his bread and butter off coonery. Let that boy grandma cook.

Jarvis Boggs

Of course, we miss somebody. We always wish somebody was here. But when somebody is not here, we have a little freedom to do as we please.

Rolf Dieter Brinkmann

you gentle faces in the September light, you / gentle faces of West Germany, tired and sad, / you gentle faces, hungry for cunt, cock, / tits, hungry for an exotic everyday

Radka Thea Otípková

The bus stopped, I think, and people poured out, / baffled by their heavy hearts, / and not one of them, not one / thought of the kite.

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.

Valery Ronshin

Once I wrote a remarkable fairy tale and decided to take it to Little Trolley, a children’s gazette. I walked into the editorial office, and sitting right there on the table was the editor, thoughtfully gazing at the ceiling.

“Just think,” he was musing to himself, “how much free space that ceiling has. You could put a couch there, or a couple of armchairs, or even a television.”

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

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.

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 …

Daniil Kharms

Once there lived a redheaded man without eyes and without ears. And he did         not have hair, so /
they called him redheaded just so they could have something to say.

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.

Tim Postovit

I was the last place on the planet / where astronauts slept / my last customers were the planet’s / last people

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.