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Free Verse Poetry Page  with Suzanne Robinson 

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Reading Bukowski

write about cats is

like punching a hole in

a giant bag tied around the world

by those who do not know

but still must classify

categorize and kill

things of beauty


Reading Bukowski

write about writing is

like walking outside our

square box-like homes, with
First People laughing

knowing, the circle is

the key to the universe

and true peace of mind


Reading Bukowski

write about love, is to

see beyond labels like

bum, beat poet, and

dirty old man, feeling

both sides of despair

without false sentiment

or self-consciousness

Doug Hoekstra's poems and stories have appeared in numerous journals. With two book-length collections of stories to his name, he is also a musician, with nine CDs out on U.S. and European labels.

Idle Worship (Somatic Delusions)


I lay in the facility’s

White sterile bathroom

With the white sterile walls

And white sterile tub

The only color is

My brown sprawled body

Surrounded by my black, wild, swimming hair

I have submerged my head

Only enough to rinse out the shampoo

I can hear water running

Through pipes

Mimicking the thoughts in my mind

Rushing through channels


I think of Sylvia Plath

She once said:

“I want to be Woolf, but better . . .”

I want to be her

But younger,

I think

I want to matter

I want to be a martyr

Patron saint of

Every young writer

With a message

A dream

I will sacrifice myself for the glory

Of my work

I can feel my body sinking lower

As my thoughts grow

Deeper, heavy

“I want to be Plath, but younger”

Allison Bohn is a Writing Instructor at Oakland University where she received a Master’s in English. Her poetry is laced with feminist coos. She lives north of Detroit with her husband and dogs.

Low tide.



got off the bus early.


is scheduled at my aunt's house

for 1

but I forgot about the clocks changing

so now

here I am

bumming along the water,

looking out at the beach

and the diseased palm trees


in a Dublin spring. it’s

low tide time. the sea

is just a visible line

like a glint

on the edge

of a foreign coin.

all along the wet sand

dogs track each other’s arseholes

and roll in sunken smells.


spark white spots on the horizon

like birdshit on a car

and Howth

as if a boat were in port

bears up against the sky.

DS Maolalai currently lives in Ireland after 4 years abroad in the UK and Canada. He published Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden in 2016 with the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

At the Dock Bar


We went from a case of beer on the rowboat

to a marina bar on the bank of the Hudson.

Mad whenever my father got sloppy,

I refused to go in with him and his friend,

Ronny. In Ronny’s truck I found a pouch

of chewing tobacco, a red-faced Indian

on the front in full feather headdress.


Having chewed the sweet black twists

on the shore by myself in preteen defiance,

by sunset I was dizzy and seeing things.

Ronny and my dad urinated by the truck

before getting in. Ronny hung back a sec,

he announced, to tug life into his penis

for an evening date after dropping us off.


Lying on my back in bed I was spiraling

in a vertiginous panic, the day of waves

amplified by the sweet fluid that I forgot   

to spit out the first few wads. The image

came of Ronny’s right side atwitch, his back

to us in the new dark. I figured his date to be

a hooker since he was as old as my grandpa.  


A Cold Hunt


Sun graying the overcast sky,

my dad in red wool carved out

a path for me along stones above

the surface of a little stream.

“Watch your step there,” he said

turning around. Just then thinking

that I did not need to be babied,

I slipped on one of the three

moss stones marked out for me.


Shotgun submerged, I was quick

to show that I saved the coffee.

On my back I held the cup high

and insisted, “It didn’t get wet.”

A few minutes at our watch tree,

I was freezing but too ashamed

to reveal that I wanted to leave—

the gun drying out upside down,

my dad sipping the smoking cup.

M. A. ISTVAN JR., PhD, still into extreme shoulder pads, spends most of his time lobbying for the rerelease of BoKu, an adult juice box from the 90s.




End of March


Melting. All night

a steady drip

from the eaves.

Morning, snow withdrawn

from the foundation,

pulled back into ditches.

Water seeps into

and out of the cellar.

The sun tries

to be warm.

A single blade

of green grass.

A single robin.

The silver of pussy willows.

The birth of streams

from ice.

Our bones ache,

rise up anyway.

Anne Britting Oleson has published  two novels, The Book of the Mandolin Player (B Ink Publishing, 2016) and Dovecote (B Ink Publishing, 2017), and three poetry chapbooks, The Church of St. Materiana (2007), The Beauty of It (2010), and Alley of Dreams(2018.)

The Perfect Color to Greet Snow

                                    For Amy


The streets are full,

fog cuts a silhouette around each walker

at the Christmas Market.

Bells chime, the massive,

Gothic cathedral at the far end

of one pedestrian street

calls out the time, and time of year.

It holds sentry over the entire town.

The graveyard, history of beauty

and sorrow, headstones chilled,

cracked, broken, and ancient stand guard

in silence, the way stoic grandparents guard

little ones as they play in the light snow

that gilds this scene, muffles their laughter.


Everyone is wrapped in gray,

frosted with white.

Hats, scarves, thick jackets,

heavy boots. Something in each pocket

to warm the hands wrapped in mittens,

grasping hot chestnuts that once home

will be thrown into soup.

A joyful time. A frozen time.

A last-minute, small purchase,

Christmas stocking time. Vendors.

Buyers. Snow dusting all.

The languid signature of icy breath.

Le Livre en Français


He used to read to her in English,

poems of winter, skies that hung

heavy through daylight hours

down to deep shadow, down

to ghosts kept at bay

by shuttered windows

and fireplace heat.


She believed his words,

carried the notebook with her

from city to city,

a vague remembrance of cold,

the quietness of snow, anger

of wind twisting out of forests

barren of green, and the shelter

of his arms around her, even though

it was years ago.


What caused her to trundle through

boxes to look for this memory,

a wish to share the passion of the old,

only to find the notebook in a language

she had never mastered, could not recite.


Dictionaries don’t feel pages stained with wine

and cigarette ash, they don’t smell orange peels

dropped amidst crumpled papers—

failed attempts at emotion . . .


Ghosting with notes of remembered music,

the dictionary teases her with words

better left unspoken.

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” is recently out from Kelsay Books. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

The Last time you heard Ann Sothern sing

“The Last Time I saw Paris,” flowers glinting 

on her earlobes and her veil, made of and for 

the silver screen, saddened you. The closest 

you’ll come to the City of Lights is the single 

postcard from a college kid wafting like 

summer wind through your factory thirty years 

ago. It was the morning you woke and thought 

Everyone longs to be the gypsy bride or the 

rogue who carries her off. It was sitting on 

the patio, snapping beans. A jet moved silently 

across the sky and you absolutely could not 

say why that silence woke your dormant 

widowhood. The clever boy at your feet, so 

clever you couldn’t help worrying, suggested 

it was because, in spite of the quiet, you knew 

the jet was roaring. It was reading Huck Finn and 

laughing helplessly. Reading Aristotle and 

laughing, but that was probably mostly the

grass. There in the stacks more ruled by hush 

than sanctuaries, laughing, not haughtily 

but as a governess laughs at her willful charge. 

It was standing with your wife of fifty years, 

looking into the canyon, thinking time is 

doing the same to us only we are more easily 

sculpted. It was the last time you saw Back Creek. 

The sons of the same old men chawed outside 

the general store and your son-in-law tried, in 

vain you knew, to capture them on his video-cam. 

It was the first night we slept here. Our things 

hadn’t arrived yet. The bare floors held a thrill 

of welcome we were bound to efface. It was 

your garrulous but not usually eloquent parent 

announcing it’s a privilege to be your mother. 

It was the first voice you heard as you recovered 

from anesthesia: the mourning dove’s query, the 

embarrassed cough, campground dulcimers, 

an irrepressible bottom smack, air struggling to 

escape crêpe paper threaded through spokes.

Previously published in American Chordata.



The City Hall Angel 

likes the way I move in 

an orange jumper with

a sash that’s a tad

loose and a dull trash

spear. Every foam

and wax paper cup,

every aluminum can 

that ever made me 

throw up — I drop

at his naked feet. He

takes the spear from

my trembling fingers.

The point, now sharp,

lingers for a moment

then plunges over 

and over, poking 


portraits of the guy 

I was in love with 

at the time of drinking

or, if I was alone, 

random wounds

Timothy Robbins has been a regular contributor to Hanging Loose since 1978. His collection Denny’s Arbor Vitae was published in 2017. A new collection, Carrying Bodies, is coming out in 2018. He lives in Kenosha, Wisconsin with his husband of twenty years.

In The Cutlery Drawer


She tells me that she loves my poems

which brings the hated question

“why don’t you write some too?”

her face is calm but I feel the change

“I can’t, I don’t know how”

and so, our dance begins

sometimes a gentle sway

more often, a blazing tango

“I can’t!  I don’t know how!”


she leaves me notes to find

on scraps of cereal boxes

under the kettle

“I can’t wait to be home”

in the cutlery drawer

“I miss you”

poetry, the purest kind

diamonds to my glass

Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin.  He has been published in Better Than Starbucks, The Opiate, Sky Island Journal, Poetry Quarterly and many others.

Kelly Writers House
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