General Poetry Page     with Suzanne Robinson 

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Even when we didn't have anything, we had something

 

Hardwood floor, stained, edges charred black

years of praying, of playing, of crying

 

Cobwebs in the windows, roaches on the walls, mice commuting

between rooms, remnants of their travels cover our feet

 

Wild cats commune in the backyard, meowing at the moon,

stray dogs lurk nearby, growling, hungry for dinner

 

The kitchen is quiet except for the steady hum of the refrigerator,

loaded with government cheese, hard as a brick, giving us belly aches

 

as we stand in the bathroom, staring at the cracked plaster, dirty tub and dingy toilet, mom was too tired to clean today, or any day

 

A spider captures a fly in its web home, an old lamp shade,

the fly's struggles are futile, but it still struggles, so do we

 

My lap is a desk as I write a story, a narrative of poverty

my young mind seeking meaning, it's elusive

 

Books surround my body as the TV blares in my brother's room

our mother sings hymns from a church we no longer attend

 

I am the center of their universe and they are the center of mine

we revolve around each other like planets around a sun.

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and writer from Boston, MA.  Ms. Luke was a 2016 Watering Hole Poetry Fellow.  She has an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published by Deluge, ENUF and Mass Poetry.

Publisher's Poem

This is a feature I used to have in my earlier publications. Generally, at Better than Starbucks, we have so many great poets writing so many diverse poems, I don't feel the need to add any of my work. I am making an exception to promote my latest collection, Hard Okra and the Seed Pod Trees. I hope you enjoy my indulgence!

Hardly Know

 

Dad and Uncle Mack

Sundays two old men a thousand miles apart

Sat in Laz-a-boys and watched football

And sometimes called each other

When Mack had a phone

And talked about what I hardly know

 

Mack was without phone after he got run out

for cheating with an aid- infected street whore

who slept in his rental storage

which he put in his wife’s name

so he was homeless and without income

 

And stayed with my aunt

she took his phone when he called and harassed his ex

The aunt had enough, or he did, and left

Then truly homeless until dead

Dad is dead and they don’t likely talk anymore.

 

My brother and I are two old men

Sundays, thousand miles apart

sometimes we call to talk

about what I hardly know

 

Neither of us are homeless

or HIV positive

or without income

I don’t watch football

We hardly know we are old,

But we are.

Anthony Watkins

Hard Okra and the Seed Pod Trees

Hard Okra and the Seed Pod Trees

Available in hard cover and paperback. 100 poems from the past 5 years. These poems reflect a merging of Watkins' folksy "outsider" style with academic influence of years spent as student and Community Teaching Assistant at University of Pennsylvania's Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, (ModPo), a FREE online classroom created by Professor Al Filreis.

           HardCover             Paperback 

September

 

The summer was so hot
the dogs stuck to the sidewalks
with the newspapers
and the black metal cans
everyone left waiting on the curb.
You could smell it 
in the glass pitchers
on table tops,
and the sheets that never
dried on the clothes lines;
the canvas beach bags
mothers dragged wearily
across the sand
and the ice cream trucks
melting across the highways.

Children felt it open
up the windows at night
and find a corner
of the bed to smother,
while fathers baited it on hooks
or mowed it down
in flat, dry stripes
as if begging each other
to escape.
And the crickets just hummed
beneath the corn silk
and the dry mouth
of August,
daring the cats to play
hide and seek —
searching for September.

 

War and Cancer

 

I want to go back
and meet us one more time,
before the war and the cancer
took up so much of the day —
before my father could no longer
remember what the present
was supposed to mean
and your mother
could still get dressed
without losing her way.
I want to know
what it felt like
to board a plane
to somewhere hidden
and not care
if our names and faces
became lost;
to walk as long
as we wanted
without the sun and moon
creating an argument.
I want to feel you
roll into my arms
where I forgot to cut the grass
and you did not
water the flowers;
to hear you
watching the cardinals
unearth the spring.

And to know once again
how this place
between us
started becoming new.

 

Flames

There are flames where
his head should be —
a poem left in the fireplace,
a dressing gown, a pipe,
forty pieces of silver.

This man promised you a winter
so warm and bountiful
spring would be ashamed.
He called you by name —
not the one that father knew
shoved under his bible.

But the one left behind
in the branches,
in the bucket of brambles,
and the columbines
buried at your feet.

Stones on the battlefield,
surrender in the grass.
What did his face
even look like behind the curtain,
counting those coins
and loosening the damp earth
from your shoes?

Brendan Sullivan is a lifelong beach bum who has turned from acting to poetry, as I find it a more remarkable muse. I also enjoy surfing, sailing and diving. My work has been published at Wordsmiths, The Missing Slate, Every Writer’s Resource, Gutter Eloquence, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, After Tournier, Bareback Magazine and Bare Hands.

Copyright  Better Than Starbucks 2017, a poetry magazine    

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