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Free Poems


Immersed in floaty, uptight worlds

Devoured by sensory overlord

He preaches, feel something now

Search for formless online truth


Money that bleeds hungry

Dances around concrete soldiers

Slinking through walls

Wondering how she devours seconds


Never understood rules on a checkerboard

Where two-dimensions intersect

Peace feels crazy muted, distorted

Where pieces don’t fit, stuck inside


Youth gets left behind in text messages

Locked inward, cramped spaces

Where lives squish 

Tightly wound together with hazy blur


Take a look outside, people

Solace seeks temptation in soulless form

Digital blues meld with a blank canvas

Smoggy, ocean frothy and churning


Sing your insecure judgement

Hymns belt out drug-induced churchmen

Don’t hide behind

A closed imagination


Dreams of the past

Shapeshifts through centuries

Shivers inside

These hollow lives


Pain that joins us

Devours clocks

Brains buzz and fry

As you slip inside the wormhole

Cracked hearts

Lean and topple over

This paranoia mystery

Eyes swallowed whole.

Copyright Therese Pope


Therese Pope is a poetess-in-progress based in the beautiful foothills of Northern California. By day, she’s a professional copywriter with a penchant for yoga and vino. Her poetry is written through the lens of the mystical and esoteric with a smattering of modern pop culture and the groovy influence of the Beat poets. She finds her writing inspiration through dreams, nature and her practice of yoga. She has been an online teaching assistant for the University of Pennsylvania’s Modern and Contemporary American Poetry online course for the past five years. She is currently writing her first poetry anthology.

Local Poetry  Readings

Wherever local is to you, please send us your local poetry reading venue, be it traditional stand up poetry, slam, spoken word, or even a quiet circle in a living room reading quaint verses. If you know of live poetry anywhere, send it to us and we will post it here!

the stones are bridges

where birds slow dance across

in single fashion


For Van Gogh, Under August's Full Moon

The bales, thick, gold,
rest on thirsty grass.
But the hope
for renewal —
a For Sale sign,
blob of white,
a red streak
for lettering.
What's to come
in this suburban field?
On the trees,
a snagged garbage bag waves
like a scarecrow's ghost.
No larks nor laborers,
artificial light
blots out stars.
Still, on your palette
the color of God.

Sylvia Riojas Vaughn has been named a Houston Poetry Fest Juried Poet three times. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her work appears in Red River Review, Triadæ, HOUSEBOAT, Diálogo, Desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz, and Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems. 

June 23, Santiago

by Sean Denmark


Tomorrow the train,

where one is not

passed twice

as on a racetrack.

After all these years

of goodbyes

to so many new

friends only begun

to be known,

how is there still

that same bitter

gall of sadness?



Oh child among the roses, oh press of doves,

oh presidio of fish and rosebushes

your soul is a bottle of dried salts

and a bell filled with grapes, your skin.


Ode With a Lament     Pablo Neruda


Egg-yolk yellow police tape flaps

in the morning breeze, delineates the area,

is the bold evidence left to say:

"caution, beware, a bad thing happened here"

An impromptu memorial: teddy-bears,

gaudy balloons, hand-fashioned cards

expressing heartache and love

leans haphazardly against an opening

smashed through the patio tree grove,

oh child among the roses, oh press of doves.


The staff cannot resist talking although

the place is not opening today...

"Is it true, he didn't die right away?"

And the wind may be forgiven for sobbing

as it whispers to the lilacs not to listen to them.

Anyone passing by would hear only

minutiae-like sounds, the pulls and pushes

as bits of grief and sadness circle there,

and always on the breeze, soft shushes,

oh presidio of fish and rosebushes.


There's no denying the facts as wretched

as they be, especially as your tiny soul lingers on.

How to explain to such a one that a party

just for you should end so unimaginably.

No wonder the wind cannot speak above

a whisper, nor expose, with whom lies the fault.

Does it matter now who caused your death,

who it was couldn't bring the car to a halt,

pinning you to the wall, stealing breath and life;

your soul is a bottle of dried salts.


Would there be a way to fill your Mama's

empty arms, her emptier heart—we would.

But catastrophic events such as this leave little corporeal

with which to work and the reality for us, and for you

is that now you need unfold your ephemeral wings,

and soar above us all—go, you who are without sin.

Go where you will become whole again...

Remain not where your everyness lies broken,

where birds weep, eyes grow blind, bones thin,

and a bell filled with grapes, your skin.



Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest - First 2013

(published April 2014 Winning Writers)

A Note about Starting Up

Freud’s First Slip


Red silk, taken from his mother’s

lingerie drawer. He strokes

the shirring beneath the bust,

cups his breasts.

Wiry chest hairs creep

from the neckline, tickle

his fingertips. Straps

like licorice ropes, he longs

to taste them. Three rows of lace hug

the bottom, cannot hide his bulging

thighs, sturdy legs.


He sits in the dark,

fingers the slippery fabric

in his lap, inhales a trace

of perfume. Remembers

being rocked, suckled.


The slip puddles

on the floor. He forces

the window open,

lets the cold Vienna air soften him.

Returns to his desk, rearranges

his collection of Greek

and Egyptian figurines, strokes

his beard. Dips pen in inkwell, blots

once, twice, starts to write

The Psychopathology of Everyday Life.

by Nina Bennett

previously published in Alehouse, 2011

Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects (2013, Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series). Her poetry has been nominated for the Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in publications that include Gargoyle, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Houseboat, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review. Awards include 2014 Northern Liberties Review Poetry Prize, and second-place in poetry book category from the Delaware Press Association (2014). Nina is a founding member of the TransCanal Writers (Five Bridges, A Literary Anthology).

A Word About Free for All:

Works featured on this page are in no way of any lesser quality than those  found elsewhere on BTS. These wonderful creative people are simply  sharing their work without financial consideration. We are very grateful to all those who contribute to this labor of love, paid or unpaid. Without the artists sharing their vision, there would be no BTS, and no art or literary journals of any sort!

The thing is, when Abundance, A Harvest of Life, Literature & the Arts and Sleeping Bear Press were in their heyday (1998-2002), we received hundreds of submissions, but as we are brand new, we are still in the dozens.

We had a couple of other poems we  would have published except they had been marked as "for consideration with pay only" which is fine, but they  were not quite what we will pay for... 

We do want to pay for poetry and we look forward to our tiny contribution to paying for work, but if you want to be part of BTS in the future, you double your chances if you select, please pay, but please consider for publication in "Free for All", too.

These are poems, images or whatever posted for your entertainment without compensation, but with permission of the creator.

Please do not reuse without permission of the creator, and without noting "Published by Better than Starbucks".

Pirouette Confessions



Pirouetting salsa diva

     Permutations of the ideal



                    Stare into 

     Tomorrow night

Rivulets of perspiration

     Perfumed pheromones communing



                    Swing over

     Night after tomorrow

Diffusing pristine fantasies  

     Plethoric and piteous step




     Night thereafter

Passion phoenix resurrection

     Perspicuously percussive twins



                    Turn become


Pertinacious flick of the wrist

      Falsely passive domination



                    Sex in the


Doren Damico is a lyricist and poet with a passion for the art of being human.  For more poems and poetic commentary check out her blog archive, Poetry, at:

Free Fiction
Ain’t So

          © KJ Hannah Greenberg


Liam: “Say it ain’t so.”


Shane : “Ain’t so.”


Liam: “Ya don’t mean it.”


Shane: “True.”


Liam: “But for profit?!”


Shane: “Profit. Some images sell well.”


Liam: “I thought ya wanted popularity-a chance to be a top dog.”


Shane: “And to get smash-faced. Contrary to popular belief, even though I’m a grandpa, I’m not too old.”


Liam: “Ridiculous!”


Shane: “Shrewd. My future’s become a great, golden cloud in a crystal-blue sky.”


Liam: “Clouds are white, maybe gray. The sky’s not made of quartz. Ya mentally stunted.”


Shane: “You know nothing. Why do I bother? Friend, there are four ways of wisdom. Some people use resources without pondering their nature. Some use and ponder. Some don’t use and don’t ponder. Some ponder, but don’t use.”


Liam: “That took three drinks?”


Shane: “Four. I began before you got here. Pity about your sister.”


Liam: “?”


Shane: “The newscaster, not the ergonomist. I sometimes talk to that older sister of yours, the one who lives in Kansas.”


Liam: “Missouri. The younger one lives in Kansas. Same difference.”


Shane: “She asked me to visit her.”


Liam: “The newscaster? She doesn’t swing ya way. Only the younger one does.”


Shane: “I don’t swing her way, either. Older one’s a pretty woman, though.”


Liam: “Huh? Sure. So, why are ya visiting her?”


Shane: “Stuff. Business. Don’t look so weirded out.  Anyway, I want to borrow some things from you…to make our meeting interesting.”


Liam: “No. I never lend my toys.”


Shane: “Ah ha! You admit to using the local dungeons!”


Liam: “Not what ya thinking. Not the ones with whips or chains, but with dice and maybe some stale pretzels.”


Shane: “Seriously? That’s it after all of these years?”


Liam: “100%. I’ not into dog rank, outsider sex, or young chicks. When Betty died, I became celibate.”


Shane: “Boring!”


Liam: “Responsible.”


Shane: “Then why did you want to meet in a bar?”


Liam: “Here, take this money. If ya want toys, there are shops.”


Shane: “Bribing me to leave? You just got here. I hoped we could talk.”


Liam: “Don’t forget to give Sis my best regards. Are ya sure ya in touch with her? That’s so strange. Say it ain’t so.”


Shane: “Skype her! Verify it!”


Liam: “We’re not close. I haven’t seen either of them for a while.”


Shane: “I’d rather have your hand-me-downs than go to one of those shops. Creepy places.”


Liam: “My weapons and armor tables? My dice?  My character sheets? Doubt it. Here’s another twenty.”


Shane: “Cattails and bulrushes!”


Liam: “They’re the same plant. What’s going on in ya head?”


Shane: “Experimenting. I had a bet with your sister and I plan on cashing in.”


Liam: “Is that related to why ya posted those pictures on the Internet?”


Shane: “No. Besides, I got 10K per image.”


Liam: “Bunk. Nonsense. Cryptids don’t exist.”


Shane: “Sue me.”


Liam: “Photoshop?”


Shane: “See this scar on my arm….”


Liam: “From fighting mythical beasts? Ain’t so!”


Shane: “No, from forgetting to shut the door between me and the cat when I vacuumed the living room. Margaret should have taken that dang thing with her when she died.”


Liam: “So, tell me, again, why I had to meet ya here.”


Shane: “Reda.”


Liam: “She really asked ya to visit? She used to cuss ya in high school.”


Shane: “We’re older, now.”


Liam: “Can’t believe it. I thought she still hates ya. She spent more time in detention that she should have ‘cause ya were Principal McGiven’s pet. Okay, I get that ya not into men, but maybe ya have repressed gender fluidity? Can’t figure, to this day, why the principal had the hots for ya.”


Shane: “I was gorgeous and still am, but never was that type. I’m vanilla through and through. Truth is, I’m not really going to visit Reda.”


Liam: “And ya not really into bondage.”


Shane: “I never was and I doubt I ever will be. Here’s the money back. I’m not going into those kinds of stores. Unsettling.”


Liam: “And those pictures on the Internet?  Posted by someone else?”


Shane: “Yup.”


Liam: “Any ya don’t really shack up with young people like ya told me on the phone.”


Shane: “Yup.”


Liam: “So, rather than having become a top dog, ya still a milquetoast.”


Shane: “Yup.”


Liam: “Then why did I have to meet ya, tonight? I have a big report to present to the board, tomorrow. Next, ya going to tell me ya don’t really have plans for visiting Reda.”


Shane: “Yup. It ain’t so. And I’m not as wasted as you think I am, either. I’ve been drinking ginger ale. No matter. Just turn around slowly, very slowly.”


Liam: “What! That’s like everyone I love. How did ya remember my birthday? We only got back in touch a few weeks ago.”


Shane: “Janet, that sister of yours, who’s actually living in Kansas, remembered. We’ve been Skyping for a while. By the way, we set a date- save next May 15th. She’s over there, too. Do you see her waving? It was her idea to make this party.”


Liam: “Dawg! Say it ain’t so.”


Shane: “No. I love her more than anything. Well, except for Margaret, but, before she died, Margaret made me promise to try to be happy again.”


Liam: “Reda knows?”


Shane: “Set us up. She’s over there, next to Janet.”


Liam: “Unbelievable. So she forgave ya?”


Shane: “Yup. Come on, we were kids. Anyway, the two of us should join the party. Happy birthday, future brother-in-law!”


Liam: “No! Say it ain’t so.”

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