Tap into Poetry is a non-profit magazine established in 2022. Through the sharing of poetry, we strive to be an exposition both for aspiring poets broadening their portfolios, and for literature enthusiasts looking to stumble across contemporary masterpieces. We aim to help authors in the advertising of their newly published work, alongside up-and-coming releases – for more information on advertising please contact us via our email firstname.lastname@example.org. Each featured poet retains full credit for their work, Tap into Poetry does not claim the rights to any of the poems featured in our magazine. Please refer to the end of the magazine for more information on sourcing. If you are interested in being featured in an upcoming edition, please see our submissions page for more information.
A Drink of Water, by Jeffrey Harrison
When my nineteen-year-old son turns on the kitchen tap
and leans down over the sink and tilts his head sideways
to drink directly from the stream of cool water,
I think of my older brother, now almost ten years gone,
who used to do the same thing at that age;
And when he lifts his head back up and, satisfied,
wipes the water dripping from his cheek
with his shirtsleeve, it’s the same casual gesture
my brother used to make; and I don’t tell him
to use a glass, the way our father told my brother,
because I like remembering my brother
when he was young, decades before anything
went wrong, and I like the way my son
becomes a little more my brother for a moment
through this small habit born of a simple need,
which, natural and unprompted, ties them together
across the bounds of death, and across time . . .
as if the clear stream flowed between two worlds
and entered this one through the kitchen faucet,
my son and brother drinking the same water.
I want to begin by dedicating this introductory moment to the appreciation of the poem to which the title of this magazine took inspiration from. The day I stumbled across Jeffrey Harrison’s poem A Drink of Water, from his 2014 collection Into Daylight, was the day I felt the push of encouragement required to finally start the magazine I’d spent years dreaming of; I wanted to share with the world some of the incredible pieces of poetry that had become lost in the vast expanse of unknown (the endless void that followed the advancement of the internet).
The way Harrison uses the simplistic imagery of flowing tap water to delve into the emotions of the past harks back to some of the earliest and most famous poets, such as Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely as a cloud (1807). Whilst Wordsworth uses clouds to symbolise the exploration of spiritual freedom, Harrison uses water to bridge the gap between generations created by death – it is arguable that Harrison is equally as successful in his attempt, as his simplicity also achieves in evoking powerful reactions and images.
Jacqueline Kolosov describes how Into Daylight demonstrates how Harrison has a ‘deep commitment to the necessity of remembering’, shown through his frequent recollection of memories themed around deceased family members. Though some topics may be bleak, the way he constructs his content is not. Filled with compelling emotions, such as sorrow and regret, his poems allow for us to delve into the harsh reality that comes with more serious topics.
One of his earlier collections Incomplete Knowledge (2006), traverses death through examining the relationship between the author’s memories and the people within them. People aren’t always a mirror image of the person we remember them to be, Harrison’s recollection of his brother after his suicide is accessible to audiences as many are able to share the yearning for precious familial moments with deceased loved ones. A Drink of Water allows the audience a glimpse into the eyes of the poet, showing that whilst Harrison mourns his loss, his life has prevailed and continues to remind him of the pleasant times.
He highlights in another collection, Between Lakes (2020), how the physical and mental clutter of life can draw us away from the bigger picture. The overwhelming consumerism of our advancing human race overshadows the strive for good health and the intimacy of relationships which underline personal growth. The pairing of childlike innocence with sickness and death is a reoccurring theme for Harrison across his collections. Between Lakes highlights that in the aftermath of the death of his father, Harrison may have struggled to come to terms with his emotions. Living in a hyper-masculine world that often discourages men from expressing themselves, it can be difficult for them to overcome this obstacle without being labelled as effeminate. Grief is not feminine, grief is universal. Between Lakes allows the reader to challenge gender roles in the face of adversity. Therefore, in his most recent collection he seems to explore this of third person perspective, a detachment from the personal to explore the natural cycle of life.
The aim of this magazine is to be a space where up and coming poets can share their passion for writing.
Martyrdom, by Andrew McMillan
tonight I started walking back to you father
it was meant to be a stroll but then I started
walking faster father I started chanting all
the names of all the men I ever went to bed
with father my thighs were burning and my feet
were heavy with blood but I kept the pace and chants
of names up father listed them to fence posts
and the trees and didn’t stop and started getting
younger father and walked all night till I was home
just a spark in your groin again and told you not
to bring me back to life told you I repented
every name and had freed them of me father
This next poem, Martyrdom by Andrew McMillan, was published in the poetry magazine, Poetry, in September 2017. McMillan could be seen as repeatedly using the word ‘father’ to highlight a lack of supportive father figure in his early years of development. However, whilst he is an openly gay poet it could also be making reference to the Lord’s Prayer in Catholicism, which often begins with addressing God as ‘Our Father’. I absolutely love the way his poem uses LGBT themes, addressed in him listing all the names of the men he had been to bed with – which could be seen as reference to Christian ideas of religious repentance.
Mask Up, by L. R. Shepherd
( I got my rights , lil lady )
( The constitution protects me and mine from your fascist plot )
( Ain’t no virus, your fear gonna kill you )
( Your fear is the virus )
( I got this cough )
( I don’t feel well )
( Doc say I got da Rona )
Shoulda Masked Up
( Ain’t no virus, it’s a communist plot to destroy Trump )
Next up we have two poems from a poet named L. R. Shepherd (Twitter: @nerdy_reads) titled Mask Up and My Funeral. Shepherd is a black, LGBT freelance creative writer from DC, Washington, and her work is absolutely incredible. Mask up is an exciting piece, using satire to make a parody of the way citizens responded to the different mandates during the coronavirus pandemic. She uses structure and punctuation to create an almost lyrical chant to the rhythm of the poem. The structure aids in showing the divide between the American government and health professionals, and the citizens who opposed them by proclaiming that the virus was a hoax. The poem takes on a mocking tone to highlight the absurdity by the brackets telling the narrative of someone opposed to masks who ends up being their own downfall when they catch the virus. The way Shepherd uses structure in this way is an impressive feat.
My Funeral, by L. R. Shepherd.
At My funeral
wear bright screaming red
Drink champagne from designer pumps
Eat caviar and steak and shrimp and lobster
Stay up all night laughing
telling unbelievable tales
Then wander home with flushed cheeks and vivid memories
Give me the party I never had in life
In Shepherd’s second poem, My Funeral, we see a narrator who, despite still being alive, has planned for the aftermath of their death. They tell the audience that they want their funeral to be brightly coloured, filled with expensive foods – their funeral needs to be the party they never had. The narrator allows the audience to debate the fragility of life compared to the seriousness we hold behind it. There is a lot of pressure on people to succeed, rather to enjoy their existence. The image of flushed cheeks in the aftermath is incredibly successful in the way it creates a warm and living image compared to the theme being death and the subsequent funeral.
Artifact, by Cindy Veach
An eighth-grader in Colorado found a T-Rex tooth on a hike.
It looked like a plain rock, a little shiny. After he rinsed it off
he knew and emailed the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Imagine, a sixty-million-year old tooth in the dirt of a county
full of strip malls and cul-de-sacs, not even buried but right out
in the open and an eighth-grade boy just walking along
wearing his backpack. Is this a good time to bring up birds?
How they’re descended from dinosaurs. Mini, manageable
monsters: beaked and clawed, scales turned to feathers
roars into song. Since kindergarten the boy practiced lockdowns,
learned how to hide, play dead until it became as natural
as brushing his teeth. Once in a while, the alchemy
of monsters works in our favor. Once in a while
there is good news. A living boy. His rare find.
In Cindy Veach’s poem, Artifact, we see the story of a young boy who finds an incredible piece of history amongst the rocks and dirt in his hometown. His experience is one the audience can picture vividly, as many of us can picture and imagine being a young child looking for fossils hidden amongst the dirt – as many do when they are young. Fossil hunting is often associated with childlike wonder and innocence, shown in the stating of the fact that chickens are descended from dinosaurs. Veach uses the image of innocence in contrast to the practicing of lockdowns due to school shootings to highlight the significance of the cruelty that takes place in American society. Alcohol can be a temporary release from the mental distress associated with PTSD in the aftermath of the violence; the true rare find is the precious children who the American gun regulation system is failing to protect.
Brian Bilston, a poet known for his creative use of structure, uses the social media platform Twitter to communicate some of his most recent pieces with his followers. On December 25th 2022 he tweeted:
“THIS IS NOT A POEM
it is merely
a few words
to wish you all
a merry Christmas,
in such a way
to make it appear
as if it is
as I mentioned
at the beginning
of this poem,
it really is
no such thing.”
Bilston’s work, such as one of his more famous poems titled Snow, also uses placement of words as a structural feature that highlights how easily tone can be influenced by factors outside of purely the language used. The shared title and opening line suggest that he is wanting to propose to the audience the debate of literary canon with regards to poetry. Anything and nothing could be a poem, it is down to the readers interpretation.
Thank you for reading the first edition of Tap into Poetry. As an idea that has been in the works since mid-2022, I am glad to say that we are finally in our first stages of publishing online. We will be publishing bimonthly, 6 editions a year with publishing months being February, April, June, August, October, December. Applications are open all year round, with full credit given to each poet.
Harrison, J. (2014) ‘A Drink of Water.’ In Into Daylight. Massachusetts: Tupelo Press.
McMillan, A. (2017) ‘Martyrdom.’ In Poetry. Chicago: Poetry Foundation.
Shepherd, L. R. (2022) ‘Mask Up.’ Twitter: @nerdy_reads
Shepherd, L. R. (2022) ‘My Funeral.’ Twitter: @nerdy_reads
Veach, C. (2022) ‘Artifact.’ In Pirene’s Foundation.
Bilston, B. (2022) ‘THIS IS NOT A POEM.’ Twitter: @brian_bilston