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 Formal & Rhyming Poetry                                        with Vera Ignatowitsch

Heat In The Blood


Your festival stirs it, Saint Fermin. You bishoped Pamplona’s see

till they severed your head and its sermons, the head that Saint Saturnine wetted

at the baptismal font in Toulouse. He was towed to his martyry

on a rope by a running bull. Now the cobbles are castanetted

by the beating of taurine hooves. The corral has its gates flung wide

and the bull-pack are surging like galleons as they forge through this flesh-and-blood strait

where, from fervor to fear, then to frenzy, the runners careen, saucer-eyed

as the Curva De Mercaderes makes a flume for the human spate.

They commit to what Hemingway wrote of so bravely but never once dared:

to tie on a scarlet bandana, drink wine, and, breakneck, to run

on the horns at the tips of the prongs, then to swerve for the throng and be spared

the cornada, the wound that would snuff out their Also-Rising Sun.

The bulls now explode through the Plaza, where, long before dusk, they will thrust,

pagan, against the estoque. And their blood will then steam from your dust.


Previously published in the Winter 2009 edition of Able Muse and in the Able Muse Anthology.

John Beaton writes metrical poetry. His work has been widely published, won numerous awards, and he recites it in spoken word performance. Raised in the Scottish Highlands, he lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. 

A Non-Combatant’s Vietnam


The rules of the poem prohibit the words from carrying the meaning.

Only the evidence collected and the actions taken have any meaning.


By 1969 the war was known by all to be a fraud but that did not stop me

from feeling like a coward, though I knew the war to have no meaning.


There’s a likeness of George Washington on the surface of a US quarter,

“God” as well, but it’s “full faith and credit” that gives the coin its meaning.


In the SQL language you can ask “WHERE something is LIKE something else.”

Kim speaks Vietnamese, C# and BASIC; her English clipped but clear in meaning.


As a teen I had suicidal thoughts having grown up with a single mother alcoholic.

When your draft number is 54 you’ll need a shrink note, if you get my meaning.


The dead are unforgiving. History lacks a language to say “I’m sorry” to Kim

who lived in the jungles south of Saigon when the city lost its strategic meaning.


Found money will give you the instant delight that accompanies good luck.

Children of good luck, Kim and I share our paths of rediscovered meaning.


According to the rules of the poem the target of an action cannot know who

or what was done in furtherance of the act or else it too would lose its meaning.


I took out a quarter and put it down on Kim’s desk in a way she’d never know

it was Henry who tendered the coin to give a meaningless gesture meaning.


Henry Crawford’s poetry has appeared in Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Folio, Borderline Press, and The Offbeat. He was a 2016 Pushcart nominee. His first collection, American Software, was published in 2017 by CW Books.

Lines On A Lady In Bronze


(The statue of Boadicea and her Daughters by Thomas Thornycroft was erected in 1902 near Westminster Bridge London.)


Set up, the civic skyline Shardless,

A proxy late Victoria then,

She charges, rein-free, grim, regardless,

Towards the Gothic giant, Big Ben.


Just what is known about this fiery

And long ago wronged ruler’s life?

Such fields for scholarly enquiry

Are now churned up by toxic strife.


For some, her Roman power rejection

Makes for a memory well kept green,

While others mock as myth-confection

Their proto-Brexit British queen.


Remainers, Leavers, play Have at you!

That chariot and rearing pair

Of  horses make a super statue.

Whoever wins, she’ll still be there.


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.



Never believe the lies of war, and the orders

That seem to make sense –

Whether Hitler or Bush, no one storms over borders

“In self defence”.


“Leading the Free World” by having the biggest gun

Has always chilled

Those on whom the guns are turned, on everyone

Free to be killed.


First published in Ambit No. 200, April 2010.


Robin Helweg-Larsen is British-born but Bahamian-raised. His chapbook "Calling The Poem" is available as a free download from Snakeskin Poetry Webzine, issue 236. He lives in Governor's Harbour on Eleuthera.

Anthem at my Father’s Funeral


I'd lost the music deep inside

me, dormant since my father died

until I heard the miners sing,

Land of my Father's surging tide

of harmonies. I burned with pride.

Through passing time its timbre wrings

emotions still — this ancestry

my forefathers bequeathed to me.


Old Land of my Father’s is the Welsh National Anthem


Eira Needham is a retired teacher from Birmingham UK. She has also been Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly and came first in Inter Board Poetry Contest in August 2017.

Chasing Certitude

Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs in one.

                                                                           — Hilary Putnam


I swallow riddles one enigma at a time

And try to curb my appetite for mysteries.

Demanding closure shouldn’t ever be a crime,

Irrational effusions have no histories,


And that is why I plant my feet on solid ground

When possible.  It isn’t easy to insist

On ordered plans when ambiguities abound

And everything in sight is shrouded by a mist


Of nebulous uncertainty.  Just as I try

To sink my teeth into the insubstantial web

Connecting earthbound notions to the distant sky,

And to internalize the cosmic flow and ebb,


I must set down my disconnected thoughts in writing.

And so I wander down a winding corridor

With nothing but inadequate electric lighting

To show the way, my instinct and good sense at war,


In search of ink, a pen, a desk to lean upon,

And new ideas worth inscribing into stone

Without the risk of disagreement’s antiphon.

In other words, a patent truth that’s born full-grown.

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.

Limericks & Lighthearted Verse



A classicist chose for his thesis

the grammatical theme of tmesis

            Come the day of his viva

            his professor said, "Why'v’ya...

cut ev’ry-damned-thing into pieces?"


Tmesis (/tᵊˈmiːsɪs/; Ancient Greek: τμῆσις tmēsis, "a cutting" < τέμνω temnō, "I cut") is a linguistic phenomenon in which a word or phrase is separated into two parts, with other words interrupting between them. See also Expletive Infixation.




Those who celebrate Mass in the mall jus’

make me grieve for the late Thomas Malthus;

            where blind faith in abundance

            has them buy their indulgence

to remit to the God of the Mall thus.


Nantucket (without the ‘f*** it’) sleigh ride


A harpooneer who hailed from Nantucket

threw a spear at a sperm whale and struck it;

            how his tail flukes did thrash a lot

            as the deep-wounded cachalot

tugged a sleigh ride till he kicked the bucket.



Jim King is an Anglo-Celtic renegade, now happily exiled in Thailand, on whose shores he luffed up after careening full sixteen points of the Compass Rose across some 80 countries.

G (No Third)


Title taken from a notation in guitarist Rick Ruskin’s arrangement of the Lennon-McCartney song “Here, There, and Everywhere.”


Two notes, and only two; chord with no B;

the octave brace omitted, left unheard—

only two tones sounding—just G and D,

deliberate exclusion of the third.

It makes a clearer sound, milder to hear,

without the pair of mid-range anchoring notes

that ground the interplay, create a tier

of sound—the chord without its usual quote

of three values, configured in a way

suggesting resolution, since the song

outlines the wistfulness, the interplay

between two lovers—easy and yet strong;

two nuances to harmonize the voice.

In love, no third is always the best choice.


David Landrum teaches English Literature at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His poetry has appeared widely. He writes about 50/50 rhyming poems and free verse.

Love Is Hell


Don't believe the stories people tell:

a swooning princess, the enchanted kiss.

It's nothing but a come-on — love is hell,

a tightrope act, a mockery of bliss

in teasing flames that soon require an art,

a circus hoop, its drudgery of fire

stoked by the ancient clanging of your heart,

both master and the victim of its wire.

Your arms outstretched, your unprotected soul

with every waking moment's door unlocked,

now thrust through this fictitious love-wormhole

where timespace warps and your whole world is rocked —

the same wormhole that channels birth and death

and seals “I love you” on your dying breath.

Siham Karami’s poetry has been published in The Comstock Review, Able Muse, Measure, and Orchards Poetry, and has been nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Dust and Sin


A useful and quotidian perdition

has choked my home in strangleholds of dust.

My throat and lungs have borne it as they must.

Refurbishment’s achieved by demolition.


Dancing dust motes—angel dust—beguiled

me in a church once, in a shaft of light,

transfiguring my penitential fright:

I was a guilty, visionary child.


I am a dreamy, guilt-accustomed wife,

mindful always of a taint within:

the residue of some intrinsic sin,

the dusty nature of my hidden life.


Through my most grievous fault, we prayed

at Mass; self-loathing seemed the saintly mark.

I’d quail before the most benign remark

in those days; the quailing habit’s stayed.


And now this dust besets me, a fine silt

on surfaces, in corners, underfoot,

not a common house dust, more a soot,

a Vesuvian ash where corpses never wilt


but lie for eons in amazed repose,

arrested in a past in which they froze.



Kate Bernadette Benedict is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Here From Away (2003), In Company (2011), and Earthly Use: New and Selected Poems (2015). 

               Go Now and Play


Go out now, children, while you can and play.

The time to romp and frolic will not last.

Drink Kool-Aid under shade trees while you may.


Sing simple songs of childhood, dance and sway.

Tomorrow might be glum and overcast.

Go out now, children, while you can and play.


Time flies. Take to the yard without delay.

Turn off the TV. Won’t Mom look aghast?

Drink Kool-Aid under shade trees while you may.


Turn on the sprinkler. Welcome its cold spray.

Play hide-and-seek, and have yourselves a blast!

Go out now, children, while you can and play.


“Tomorrow—chance of rain,” forecasters say.

It’s nine o’clock. The morning’s going fast.

Drink Kool-Aid under shade trees while you may.


Your parents watch and smile on such a day,

recalling joyous summer months long past.

Go out now, children, while you can and play.

Drink Kool-Aid under shade trees while you may.


Published in the Mississippi Poetry Society’s 2018 Contest Edition



Janice Canerdy’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Better Than Starbucks, The Lyric Magazine, Parody Magazine, Westward Quarterly, Light, and Lighten Up Online.

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

The Hyper Texts

"some of the best poetry on the web" Vera Ignatowitsch

Archive of Formal & Rhyming Poetry pages by issue:

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