Free Verse Poetry Page  with Suzanne Robinson 

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They say the journey is everything
               for Nathan Brown

 

For Texas poets who drive
four to ten hours
to reach a town of any size
and are expected to read
         crack jokes
              and sell books on arrival;
it’s more about the drinks
at the hotel bar.
As well as driving
to next reading
wearing two pairs of sunglasses
hoping no conservative decides
it’s time for culture or
target practice.
Or stopping in Waco
         for double shot expresso
              chewing aspirins
and resisting urge
to strangle the Flo
who wants you
to have a Blessed Day!

 

 

Poems about being gay

                       words flow across
my skin like hot breath     thoughts
make me hunger for touch and sight

they want me to feel their pain
these poets
but I cannot because
I am not gay
I cannot go to their parties
their trysts and I am left out
of a love that burns hotter
than the possible retribution
I struggle to translate the need
burning to my own life
they are afraid
alive and I am jealous

 

When I’m alone

 

I want you to take my clothes
off, slowly, on a Cornish cliff

waves of grasses
no moon

tonight, but now it’s noon
and your mouth finds mine

fragile blue sky
sunlight breakable & thin

shooting glassy shards
through closed eyelids

the gulls become quiet
in reverence and heat

is no competition, butterflies
tickle my breasts & you

match ocean’s rhythm
such a beautiful time

to share, if I ever
get to meet you

Michelle Hartman's third book, Lost Journal of my Second Trip to Purgatory, is a poetic treatment of child abuse and the effects it has on adult living. She is the editor of Red River Review.

 

By The Tap Root

Dawn leaks like a curtain crack.

A depthless gray shadows

the house in the flatland.

My sisters and I keep

out of the way.

Love stacks in packing crates.

Stubs of cold candle wicks

line the kitchen window ledge.

The frosty grass crunches

under the boot soles

of the moving men.

The compost pile holds

each frozen weed yanked

by the tap root

from last summer’s soil.

Headed south the car traces the scar

of highway for hours

across the pale prairie snow.

My sisters bicker, then sleep.

I remember dandelions,

watching their feathery teeth

scatter like last spring’s promises

lost in the wild heath.

George R. Kramer finds that the shadows of late middle age add a different depth to the world that he perceives, and tries to offer that altered perception in his recent works. 

 

WHEN HORSES SPOKE

 

In ancient times

horses could speak:

 

Genghis Khan’s cavalry

recited poetry

 

horse to rider all

the way across Asia

 

stabbing into Europe

like a flowering sword.

 

At Troy, confused

by a wooden statue

 

that would not talk

Aeneas’ mount

 

nudged him out the gate

while Cassandra

 

spoke of equine

blood and betrayal.

 

Hannibal’s army

defeated by whispered

 

conversations overheard

between horses

 

and elephants

starving along the way

 

as they crossed

over the Alps.

 

The last horse

to speak, Caligula’s

 

consul, Incitatus,

slept in marble stalls

 

eating oats flecked

with gold until

 

he lost the power

of speech, falling

 

asleep for the last

time in the emperor’s arms.

 

Centuries later

at Little Big Horn

 

Crazy Horse’s pinto

could read his thoughts

 

charging through bullets

and arrows to Custer’s side

 

riding through dust

and sky into one mind

 

weeping when at last

all he heard was quiet.

MICHAEL MINASSIAN is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010) and photography: Around the Bend (2017).

Peeling

 

A hall of doors.

No.

 

Just the frames one behind the other,

spreading, making tracks, multiplying

seeding off, when I look too close. 

 

A wide labyrinth

curving, enfolding

—fanning out.

 

Shells of skin, shells of soul.

Waiting. Left. 

The stakes of choices and chance.

The lost treasures and the lurking fear

of pain 

—which might escape, push

or deform. 

 

Shells of air. 

 

So many cast-off clothes, bits of life.

Pieces broken like candy to split and be consumed

by _____.

 

You can put your own word there, it doesn’t matter. 

 

There is a price for Substance.

She claws

—out of the shell. 

 

There is always a shell

discarded like so much sand. 

Layers. Layers. 

Every door another layer. 

Ana Hahs is an English major at San Jose State University in California. She uses poetry as a tool to explore her own emotions but she does not believe that the reader’s interpretation should be limited to her original intent.

I'll take whatever i can

 

a bright december day

and i'm still getting old

still alone in a way

 

i doubt anyone can fix

 

but i slept better than usual

and the light

is mellow like ripe peaches

smooth like naked flesh

 

and it may just be

the interplay of sun and xanax

but the dogs are chasing something

somewhere far from me

 

and the snakes are in the thickets

fat and shiny, asleep.

 

i don't care what they ate.

 

 

futility as hard as my fist against your teeth in full passion of momentum  

 

the moment you 

see them all sitting at

the family table

you think of dust

and cans and 

things arranged in shelves.

 

casually eats a piece of fruit,

the gesture speaking of 

drownings and

suffocation  

like jewels harassing

a once unencumbered neck. 

 

her daughters, barely

conscious at 3 and 4,

hang on to the adults

with  their stares,

as if trying to extract

some kind of secret magic.   

 

the husband stands behind her

hand on shoulder

starched

moustached 

Apollonian

 

as cool as gargoyle slab,

proposing a toast.

 

the ghosts are gone elsewhere.

J.C. Mari resides in Florida. His first poetry collection is "The sun sets like faces fade rise before you pass out", published by Lost Alphabet Books.

Virga

Through metamorphoses I'll serve 
my worst aversion. In my dream 
you'll ask if that's an ocelot and I'll say, 
That's an ocelot to ask, 
and, Down in front, 
and, La la I can't hear you, 
as my mother's in the way. 
And one day everyone who has 
a mother wants a hula hoop 
the next day no one does – 
by no one I mean Alvin, cartoon chipmunk, 
and by no one I mean sweets are for the sweet 
and handed candy I say, Don't mind if I do.


I See You and I Raise You

It's survival of the least fit now – 
reality, exaggerate your faults! 
When I am on the fractal frontier 
of propriety, a golden calf 
is in my absence cast, 
at last the center of my mass. 
The foot that gets too far in front of me 
will blindly find the ice and slide. 
As complicated as connection is, 
remorse does not preclude recidivism 
but by definition paves its way 
and condemnation is forgiveness is permission.

Heikki Huotari is a retired math professor, the recipient of the Gambling the Aisle chapbook prize and the author of the collection, Fractal Idyll, which appeared in early 2018.

Reflections on Beowulf

 

We swore she was of the race of Cain.

 

Wyrd is, and will always be, God’s equal in the universe,

Professor George proclaimed.

But for now, I am the master of your fate.

Fail this class and you draft dodgers, pacifists

and dumb asses will pack your duffels for Vietnam! 

 

Poor Whitey Joe, who misspelled Hrathgar, grand mogul

of the Mead-hall and mid-term ten-pointer,

was blown neatly in half west of Saigon.

 

Wendell Lee, who mistook “tatters of food” for “taters,”

the Irish kind he ate with beans in West Virginia,

lost both legs in Da Nang and went mad with Agent Orange.

 

I, who stayed up all night until my brain was a Scandinavian

stew of moors and moats, dragons, bards and kings—

Old English verbs dripping off my chin like Unferth’s hot ale—

got Dr. George’s only “A.”

 

Now, for the life of me, I can’t recall just who the hell Wyrd was,

or how Beowulf fared in the fenlands.

But I remember Wendell Lee, scrubbing toilets in the men’s dorm,

thinking about his girl in Boone County;

and Whitey Joe, who wept when Bobby Kennedy died,

locked in his room with Bob Dylan.

 

And how we put a name to the nameless beast

the bard called “Grendel’s Mother.” 

An earlier version of “Reflections on Beowulf” was published in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review in 2008.

 

Gayle Compton’s poems and short stories have appeared most recently in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, Tipton Poetry Review, and The Blue Mountain Review. Gayle lives in Pike County, Kentucky, home of hillbillies and internecine feuding.

 

 

 

My Grandpa’s Cognac Chair

 

There are indents for every

part of him to fit in

the right armrest’s hollow deeper

with pen marks and cinders

of cuban cigars

smudged into the skin of it

 

I retrace the rubber-soled scratches

in his ottoman

where he found his last bit of

energy to sigh into

the chair’s pattern

after a long day by the sea

 

I thumb the spaces in the leather

rose-stained chasms left

from the breath of him dropping down

as red slopped from his glass

the wrinkles by

his eyes or in the leather

I do not know which are deeper

 

 

Brittney Rangel lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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