Selections from Some Boys Are Better Dead 

– Poetry by GM Palmer

“Some Boys are Better Dead” is a verse novel about five teenagers in the 90s, told in five poetic styles by five narrators.  The eye of this hurricane of 90s nostalgia spins on two questions: “who tells themselves the truth?” and “can you get away with murder?”  

The Queen of Cups

Donna is spellbound by Brigid’s fortunetelling.

Our love is pure 
like fire,
like blood.

Brigid, goddess, enthroned
intones the spell
as we greet the dawn.

She is her own religion.
Eyes closed, she speaks
an oracle:

“I see a hillside.
It is snowing,
there is a lone tree,

you stand by the tree.
Every snowflake falls
not to the ground

but onto you.
You absorb the cold,
you are perfect,

worshipped and sacrosanct.
Blessed by proskynetic kisses
you grow

pure. In the snow
your blood is white.
Your hair is the branches of the tree,

your arms the sky,
your heaven the earth.
Your home is not here

but vast. 
Your home holds only you,
perfect and alone.”
The spell ends. “This is your vision;
take and write.”

Brigid sparkles like water
as she meditates on my chair,
chin up, hair down,

she floats as if the air
were the Ichetucknee,
an endless river

for an endless dream
and I long
for a world of our own making.

The sun rises.
Tori sings Girl just for me.
The dawn calls me its baby.

I look at the clouds bleeding across the sky,
diaphanous and fleeting,
as the space between the stars pales.

I could see through the sky 
into the eye of every star

instead of the coldness of this abyss.
I felt the stillness that moves everything
like the universe loved me

even if I was alone.
Now the eyes only want to own,
but I belong to me.

Photo by Jeffrey F. Barken

Other Men and Other Bodies

Working through what happened, Donna confronts initial feelings of weakness and worthlessness.

And just like that he’s gone.
As if nothing happened.
He kissed my cheek

and said “see ya.”
Like when my father tells me he loves me,
my hip or my ass still stinging,

cheap Scotch on his breath,
mother passed out in the living room:
“Baby girl, I still love you.”

As if I had done anything wrong.
He kissed me as if I wanted him.
These men make their own worlds

that they effect on my body
and even when I fight them,
if I fight,

their imagination overpowers
and they begin to believe
what they cannot see.

If my body must bear the burden of boys
who wish words would do what they will not,
my words will create a world

where the fantasy is razed
and we see with eyes  
instead of dreams.

I will become death,
an angel dissolved and disembodied, 
pure and perfect,

breaking through the aether
to be only 

But I am just a girl,
I am a only lady,
I am a woman,

knotted strong through time.
These sinews hold no sin,
this blood redeems,

these tears are the salt of the earth.
I will weep but not be broken.
I will keep and not be lost.

I am the song
I will sing

My song is my word,
my word is a sword,
my sword will save.




G.M. Palmer


G.M. Palmer is a professor, musician, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and daughters on their poodle farm. Called the Lester Bangs of poetry criticism, his poetry and prose can be found at Trop, Tahoma Literary Review, Burlesque Press, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Anti-, Everse Radio, and elsewhere. His first book, With Rough Gods, called essential by Alissa Nutting, is a collection of sonnet-length dramatic monologues spoken by Greek gods and heroes and includes an extensive glossary. It was the first publication by Jagged Door Press, founded by Memphis Grizzlies super-fan Paul Craig.  Palmer hosts the political poetry competition and musical nightly gatherings at the West Chester Poetry Conference and is part of their AWP conference team.