Best of the Net Nominations 2017

Alexandra Eldridge

Please enjoy these poems and prose poems, our nominations for this year’s Best of the Net anthology of work originally published online. Click the poets’ names to see more of their work in solo or theme-based features, and click the links at the end to see our nominees from past years. We thank Sundress Publications for all their hard work on the Best of the Net anthology!

The Nominees

Lana Hechtman Ayers
“The Dead Boy Teaches Me About Godzilla”
May 31, 2017

Catherine Moore
“Huldremose Woman”
May 10, 2017

Virginia Bell
“Speak Easy, or The Archivist Reflects”
May 4, 2017

Justin Hamm
“Marriage (Detail)”
February 22, 2017

Amy Strauss Friedman
“doorway (n.)—the passage or opening into a building or room”
December 7, 2016

Janeen Pergrin Rastall
“Caprichos No. 43—The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”
November 16, 2016

The Poems

Lana Hechtman Ayers

The Dead Boy Teaches Me About Godzilla

Is the monster a boy or girl? I say.
I press my face to the television screen
to see if I can tell.

Shut up! my brother says.
So you don’t know either, I say.

A soda can smacks
the back of my head.

The dead boy has dead-keen aim.
Sometimes Godzilla resembles
an ordinary boy in a rubber suit
throwing a tantrum.
Other times Godzilla’s a tiny toy
in a broken toy city.
Godzilla crushes apartment complexes,
flings cars, flips buses. 

Godzilla screeches flames.
People run and scream.
Why is the monster so angry?
I ask the dead boy.
Because his stupid sister
won’t shut up!
my brother says.

I think the dead boy is wrong,
but I keep it to myself.
I think the monster is just like
my brother and me—
lonely, longing to be loved.

Catherine Moore

Huldremose Woman

In turf-cutter’s pulp I may find my purpose. The rest of the earth moved just as my husband said. Burgeoning and lush. Even the salmon spawned each season. He’d slit their bellies and had me finger the roe. Pray for my long winter seed of a womb. I understood his belief, what bears no fruit is hewn down and cast into pits. I asked him to wait for last harvest. Pleaded it would end without pain. A worthless tomb to become bulb. Time rebirths the body as fire fuel. My second coming, lifted in leathered bruise, as the black maw’s forceps baby.

Virginia Bell

Speak Easy, or The Archivist Reflects

From what we can tell, our little Aggie was determined not to be a dolled-up quiff, never to get in a ten-cent box with some dead hoofer and his bottle of bootleg. She never spent much time in the hencoop, never even carried a torch—her bank was always closed.

Most sheiks would have thought her a bluenose bird, a dumb Dora, flat-tire Jane.  No hotsy-totsy sheba with a keen kisser—

No matter, our little Aggie simply wanted to be her own bee’s knees, her very own bearcat, with no need for a Declaration of Independence. On the level, but no sad sap you could take for a ride!

Justin Hamm

Marriage (Detail)

She wakes me unexpectedly
in the dead of the night,
panicked, breathing hard,
asking, “Is she talking to me,
is she talking to me?”

“Who?” I say.

“The doll,” she says. “The doll.”
Then immediately begins
to snore again, leaving me alone
to contemplate that
while staring into the darkness.

Amy Strauss Friedman

doorway (n.) – the passage or opening into a building or a room

my teeth don’t fit together;
they’ve shifted in the tectonic dislocation of yesterday’s vows.

our bedroom becomes unfamiliar.
i’ve been here before under the tarp of a former memory.
concrete posts with metal chains flank the threshold,
leading down the lush garden path you’ve cultivated from grit.
here, peonies grow in unrooted soil.

come in, you whisper, as you sit on a floating bench
inside the gazebo shaded by the back bedroom wall.

my foot boils as it crosses the entrance.
blood vaporizes from atmospheric pressure.
the body surrenders limply to steam.

the heat cannot be modulated, you say,
nor can it escape. but you’ll get used to it.
pretty soon you won’t know how to survive in another climate.
just don’t eat the mushrooms.

poison often masks itself as desire.

Janeen Pergrin Rastall

Caprichos No. 43—The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

            after Goya

Unable to sleep, a woman
sweeps feathers off her stoop,
gathers pellets beneath the pine boughs.
She claims as talismans:
a little mouse gristle,
the skeletons of shrews,
what the owl could not digest.

Bats arc and dive
past her uncovered head.
A fence of wings
cannot bar her neighbor.
She thinks she hears his horses.
Their hooves tap for weakness
along the stable wall.

By lamplight, she stuffs
newspapers where the wind gropes.
There are rings, lids, jars
to scrub, berries to preserve
before dawn reddens
every cornice
of the house next door.


Links to Escape Into Life nominations in past years:

Best of the Net Nominations 2015 

Best of the Net Nominations 2014 

Best of the Net Nominations 2013 

Best of the Net Nominations 2012 

Best of the Net Nominations 2011 

More art by Alexandra Eldridge


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