Formal & Rhyming Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch
Some years it’s August here before the snow
gives way to flowers on this mountainside.
So small a span is granted them to grow —
no more than sixty days of heat divide
the winters barely past and soon to come.
They bloom before the long white afterwards,
and blooming brings the things that buzz and hum,
and buzzing, humming things bring flocks of birds.
We sit on sun-warmed stones to rest our legs,
to drink, to eat our meal of bread and cheese.
In lowland parks a robin all but begs,
hops nearer, farther, pantomiming please.
But here these tattered gray jays can’t afford
the gaudy colors other birds display
and can’t afford the risk of being ignored:
they swoop and strike and won’t be shooed away.
The shortened spring and summer here that warms
their urgent avarice to fire, the same
that heats the insects into boiling swarms,
ignites the blooms in red and yellow flame.
From books we learned that this is called the course
of nature; in this interval from bud
to blank oblivion we feel its force
alive and rising in our bones and blood.
Richard Wakefield’s 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.
Ticks don’t mean to kill you. When they bite,
they want blood, but a drop is all they need.
Yet they transmit a hidden parasite
that also doesn’t mean to kill, but might
destroy you through its tendency to breed.
Ticks don’t mean to kill you. When they bite,
a dog or rat would suit their appetite
equally well. They target beasts that bleed.
Yet they transmit a hidden parasite,
which sometimes triggers an aggressive blight
that slays its host—but not from spite or greed.
Ticks don’t mean to kill you when they bite.
You simply fit their profile. Wrong or right,
they too risk death in order to succeed.
Though they transmit a hidden parasite
that sweeps your body’s byways day and night,
and replicates with terrifying speed,
ticks don’t mean to kill you. When they bite,
what kills you is their hidden parasite.
Susan McLean is professor emerita of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poetry books include The Best Disguise, The Whetstone Misses the Knife, Selected Epigrams (of Martial), and one chapbook, Holding Patterns.
For A Dead Lady
Who is Sylvia, what is she?
She stuck her head in the oven. We
were just as appalled as we could be,
when Sylvia turned the gas on.
Her son and daughter were up one stair,
the window open to cool the air
but the door sealed tight as a mother’s prayer
when Sylvia turned the gas on.
Miss Myra Norris the nurse came round,
rang on the bell but heard no sound.
A man broke into the flat and found
that Sylvia’d turned the gas on.
But Sylvia’s poems like a watershed
brought Lady Lazarus back from the dead.
Would it console her that she’s still read
after she turned the gas on?
Let all young women as clever as she,
just keep their fingers from poetry
and swaggering gents who love too free,
for they’ll make you turn the gas on.
Gail White is the resident poet and cat lady of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Her books Asperity Street and Catechism are available on Amazon. She is a contributing editor to Light Poetry Magazine (lightpoetrymagazine.com).
The Depth of Winter
The cold has slowed and quieted this valley:
the side-creek waterfalls are petrified
and, in the canyon, shade has shrunk the currents
to zigzag cracks in ivory-white inlay;
downstream, where noonday’s pallid half-light reaches
across a floodplain, open channels cut
through hardened snow as flows outswim the freeze
then reach a lake that chills them to a standstill.
And there the surface, still and flat, at once
all colours and no colour—flawless whiteness—
thins and arcs, becoming gray, an iris
around a central disk of vitreous coal,
a subterranean, Cyclopean pupil.
And in that eye there is a well of blackness
that drains the light and drowns the clawing ice.
John Beaton writes metrical poetry. His work has been widely published and won numerous awards. He recites it in spoken word performance. Raised in the Scottish Highlands, he lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
Chaos theory, science now declares,
is manifest in everything around
and even gravity’s no longer there
to firmly hold our feet upon the ground.
The atom’s graceful moves we once could trace
to show electrons in recurring paths
have turned to random running everyplace
unleashed from all the order of the past.
In truth, it’s possible we don’t exist
and all that I admire’s imagined art
with everything I feel each time we kiss
a random consequence, a thing apart.
But I’ll accede to norms that now adhere
so long as chaos makes it seem you’re near.
John Byrne writes formal poetry and plays. His poems have appeared in a variety of print and e-journals which accept such work. His plays have been performed in small theaters around the country. His prime interests are aging (but good) love and history.
In a Stolen Moment
In a stolen moment,
when the clock’s hands complete their inevitable course
and sleep is the night’s dark spell,
I call it a curse,
seeking the force,
the font of candescent words, the electric thrill
tingling from brain to spine
to incessant quill—
the fever, the chill.
I know it as well as I know myself.
Time’s second hand stirs; not I; in my cell,
Kim Cherub is a poet and translator who has been published recently by Asses of Parnassus, Poem Today, and The Society of Classical Poets.
Executive Tree Housing
An estate which demands massive sums
Has a fruit-magnate’s mansion, The Plums,
One of Boeing’s best brains
Has purchased The Planes
And a dentist’s abode is . . . The Gums.
As his intake increased by degrees
A forester felled with less ease
Till he viewed pine and fir
In a pink-tinted blur
And then trunks, but alas, not of trees.
Up The Bole
The Green’s oldest lime has been collared
By a workman with orders to pollard.
When he knocks off for tea
A once beautiful tree
Will resemble a large wooden bollard.
From Herefordshire, Jerome Betts edits Lighten Up Online in Devon. His verse has appeared in Light, The Asses of Parnassus, New Verse News, Parody, Per Contra, Snakeskin, and other places.
Though vague as vandals
in studded hoodies
and camouflage pants,
we were congregants,
one girl, one boy,
hunkered, with candles
and all the goodies
in the hopefully hexed
and totally scary
dead lot next
to the cemetery.
We dug a hole
like a mixing bowl
and dumped in honey,
milk and wine—
then, for the money,
blood of swine.
Ad me veni.
You out there?
I threw in a penny
to cover the fare.
we panted to breathe in
a whiff of a world
averse to the creeds
the phonies espoused.
through the waist-high weeds.
We felt we were near it.
We were aroused.
And, though no spirit
pricked up my hair
or waggled your tongue,
we will always share
what was desperately something
(if not quite love)
and the glory of
this crazy dumb thing
we did when young.
Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His work has appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry, POETRY, and The Times Literary Supplement.
Where the Heart Is
The oversoul inhabiting a home
Is more or less a generalized composite
Of individuals with polychrome
Affections — be they in or out of closet —
Who live at some particular address.
The whole is always greater than the sum
Of all the separate working parts, unless
Dysfunctional relationships become
A force majeure. The skeptics who believe
An oversoul’s a mere hypostatized
Nonentity have failed to apperceive
The obvious: a person ostracized
By family is a wight without self-worth,
A reprobate unfit to co-conspire
With anybody anywhere on earth,
Who might as well be living in the fire
Ascribed to hell; and on the other hand,
A home can be an equable safe haven,
A kind provisionary promised land
For both the lionhearted and the craven.
C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. His poems have appeared internationally, and his first print book, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.
Observed in early cave art lines,
Admired for beauty, strength, and speed,
The horse lives best by his own creed.
The essence of the horse combines
A riddle and a mystery—
Born of this earth, bound to be free.
And should the human heart respond
To one whose spirit can’t be sold,
A new relation may unfold.
Who could predict that such a bond
Would flourish in this mundane world?
A hidden flower is unfurled.
Between two equals may exist
A deep regard that will persist.
The horse is for his dearest friend
A source of courage till the end.
Michael Fraley finds a creative community in the many voices of the poetry world. He has contributed poems to Better Than Starbucks, Blue Unicorn, The Road Not Taken and many other publications.
Fool Thou Art
What happens to the Fool in King Lear?
There he is in one act and gone in the next.
Shakespearean scholars worry about these matters.
These matters don’t matter to the rest of us
who are wondering what happened to the money
we had in the last act. We don’t make a scene.
We just cut back on the lattes and mall visits.
Ah, but those scholars continue to worry.
Maybe the fool is also playing Cordelia.
Note they are never seen together. Note also,
that I have never been seen with Billy Collins.
Nor have I ever been seen with my sons lately.
My wife says we should have never given them that money.
But we are not wandering the moors, I say,
This is only North Carolina. What about Edmund?
She asks. The bastard.
First Published in Abbey, republished in my Just So You Know from Kelsay Books.
Edmund Conti has published over 500 poems, some of which may have been memorable. He can’t remember which ones. He does remember his new book, Just So You Know, from Kelsay Books.
On this page we publish selections of metrical poetry from our contributors. Submit your blank verse, metrical rhyming poems, villanelles, sonnets, sestinas pantoums, and other formal poetry to betterthanstarbucks2@gmail. We love both traditional and experimental forms and subjects, and please do submit limericks and lighthearted verse as well! Vera Ignatowitsch
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