Formal & Rhyming Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch
Compositions by the River Dee
At six o’clock we cross the fieldstone bridge,
descend the footpath to the River Dee;
with boots and brollies, moving comfortably,
traverse through sheep dung stippled near the ridge
to watch the sun abate before sky molds
into a pewter veil above our heads.
The cattle flatten out their clover beds,
long reeds reflect in water, dusk unfolds,
as solitude soothes lilies, oaks, wild leeks,
sheep congregate and snuggle for the night;
A single lamb limps near—his dismal plight
parades before our eyes. My husband speaks
“The farmer doesn’t care.” Then we concede
we’re clueless about life’s uncanny laws—
its roll-of-dice deficiencies, heaped flaws,
on innocents that only sleep and feed.
I’m riding in the backseat of the car.
The mountains lift their blue chemise of cloud,
while pre-dawn haze stirs quietly. Bizarre,
how palms along the roadside all look bowed
beneath the desert air. Last night it rained—
mesquites are yellow as a slice of sun.
My parents are in front—I’m self-contained,
my young mind on vacation, watching one
by one, as fresh-washed stars depart. It’s been
near forty years since I’ve been in this seat.
I fold my hands, pretend I’m young again,
not heading to the hospital to meet
white gowns that blend and morph into each other.
My parents chatter on and I am blind
to fates that whirl and storm above my mother.
This morning I’m the girl time left behind.
Karen Kelsay’s poems have appeared in various journals including Mezzo Cammin, The Raintown Review, Measure, Angle: Journal of Poetry, The Hypertexts, and String Poets. In 2012 she received the Association for Mormon Letters Award for best poetry book: Amytis Leaves Her Garden. Karen is the editor of Kelsay Books and The Orchards Poetry Journal. View her website here.
One More Fix
Swept into the dust of Pan
with cloven hooves and pipered hand
you dance away the day in wondrous mirth.
Pulled into the dust of cloud
and lifted up above the crowd
you fly warp speed the open skies of Earth.
Wiped out in the dust of mop
it swipes your stuff and doesn’t stop,
it shakes you out for every speck you’re worth.
Stupefied, the dust of fae
it sparkles in a holy way
you worship in your hallowed state of dearth.
Trodden down, the dust of rug
and sucked up by the vacuum thug
you gasp and wheeze your fragile final breath—
and one more zippered bag is filled with death.
DE Navarro is the Founder of NavWorks Press. He is an author, poet, editor, publisher, speaker, and life coach. He is the originator and owner of the We Write PoetryTM forums and the Pride in Poetry PrizeTM and Publication. He is a husband, father, mentor and friend and Banking Sr Analyst, Tech Editor/Writer. Visit DE's beautiful Website at http://www.de-navarro.com for peace and to learn more about his work. He lives in Greater Los Angeles where he writes and publishes.
Photograph of Isabella Blow, in a Hat
“[T]o keep everyone away from me. They say, Oh, can I kiss you? I say, No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye. I don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love.” – when asked why she always wore a hat.
Jolie laide, she holds the world the distance
Of redoubled velvet brim and featherbone. Smoke
From her Benson and Hedges strokes the camp elegance
Of a tight boa, maribou afterfeathers black,
Softly crosshatched. Her brother, two, had drowned
In rainwater. Shaking hands, her mother had gone
For good. At Hilles the pewter cutlery is crowned
With ivory heads (knives the Duke of Wellington,
Bonaparte the forks), a flock of Soay shits
Where they please, but Haud muto factum her family’s
Motto: I have a plan, she’ll say. But I’m not
Telling you. She’ll try a jump from an overpass.
Pills and vodka. Finally, a tin of paraquat.
Rising black from her coffin’s roses, a hat.
d. 7 May 2007
James Scannell McCormick
On this page we publish monthly selections of metrical poetry from our contributors. Submit your blank verse, metrical rhyming poems, villanelles, sonnets, sestinas and other formal poetry to betterthanstarbucks2@gmail. We love both traditional and experimental forms and subjects, and please do submit your limericks and lighthearted verse as well! (I will also give feedback on formal poetry if it is requested.) Vera Ignatowitsch
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill can hold more than his beli-can.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the heli-can.
This limerick is attributed to Ogden Nash but has also been attributed to Dixon Lanier Merritt, a humorist who lived at the same time. Nash died in 1971 and Merritt in 1972.
Daybreak, Tofino, by regular contributor John Beaton is Better Than Starbuck's featured poem this month!
Congratulations, John! Click here to visit our main page.
Micro and Macro
In mid-December on a warm
and rainless day a sudden swarm
of gnats, a cloud of chaos, boils
with aimless energy and roils
above the pond that didn’t freeze
last night. Their frantic dance will squeeze
within the span of one day’s heat
a life’s essential course complete,
a universe of births, of quests
for mates, of deaths. This plague of pests
arises with the warmth and thrives,
then drops aside. We see our lives
in theirs, of course. Who stops to swat
away the swarm without a thought
of how like ours is their brief span?
To them we are gargantuan,
so huge our merest movements take
what must seem years, but still they make
us see ourselves in them, writ small.
Through swarm and swirl, rise and fall,
these mites that share our animus
don’t see themselves writ large in us.
Between a human and a gnat,
the great distinction lies in that.
Richard Wakefield has taught college literature for thirty-eight years and since 1985 has been Professor of Humanities at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington. For twenty-nine years he was a literary critic for the Seattle Times. His first poetry collection East of Early Winters (University of Evansville Press), won the Richard Wilbur Award. His second collection, A Vertical Mile (Able Muse Press), was short-listed for the Poets Prize.
June 23, 2016, West Virginia Flood
We drive through West Virginia’s driving rain
And even I turn down the cruise control
And stay below the limit. At the toll
We count coins, ask how many tolls remain.
One sleeps, one drives, to get back home tonight.
Wendy’s is closed “because of rain”? That sucks.
The waterfalls look lovely on the rocks.
A bridge has lots of people, flashing lights.
We’ll reach home 1 a.m. if Google’s right.
The wipers go full speed; fog-free a/c.
You have to watch for mud - what’s that, a tree?
Oblivious to all but road, all night.
We make it home and fall into our bed.
And next day hear about the dozens dead.
Robin Helweg-Larsen is British-born but Bahamian-raised. His education came from good schools, hitchhiking on five continents and working all over the place. His poetry has mostly been published in the UK, but also in the US, Canada, Australia and India. He lives in his hometown of Governor's Harbour on Eleuthera.
I Pray Tonight
I pray tonight
the starry light
that, come what may,
no dark thing confound you.
I pray ere tomorrow
an end to your sorrow.
May angels’ white chorales
sing, and astound you.
Composer Mark Buller used the lyrics of “I Pray Tonight” in his musical composition “Erasure,” a song cycle for baritone, clarinet and piano on the theme of gun violence. “I Pray Tonight” was later performed as “Elegy” at the Hurricane Harvey Relief Concert by the Apollo Chamber Players in partnership with Musiqa Houston and Jazz Forever @ the MATCH (Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston), on September 8, 2017. All proceeds (over $8,000) went towards the Harvey Relief Funds.
Michael R. Burch’s poems have been translated into nine languages and set to music by the composers Alexander Comitas and Seth Wright. Burch’s poems, essays, articles and letters have appeared more than 2,000 times around the globe in publications which include TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, The Hindu, Kritya, Gostinaya, Light, The Lyric, Measure, Angle, Black Medina, The Chariton Review, Poet Lore, The Chimaera, Poem Today, Verse Weekly, ByLine, Unlikely Stories and Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing. He also edits and publishes www.thehypertexts.com
Another brewery down in flames
ran out, it seems, of funny names
They tried their best concocting puns
but used up all the easy ones
So now they’ll switch from brew to bread
What clever morsels lay ahead?
I’ve got a little website
Its name’s a lot like mine
I wrote down all my secrets
and hung them up online
This rampant recollection
was sorely out of place
A little circumspection
can save a lot of face
My pencil points have crumbled
my Parker’s outta ink
old batteries have stumbled
the printer’s on the blink
With all these sad excuses
for nothing much to say,
must summon up the Muses
to write another day