Formal & Rhyming Poetry
with Vera Ignatowitsch
Child of 9-11
a poem for Christina-Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001 and died at the age of nine, shot to death . . .
Child of 9-11, beloved,
I bring this lily, lay it down
here at your feet, and eiderdown,
and all soft things, for your gentle spirit.
I bring this psalm—I hope you hear it.
Much love I bring—I lay it down
here by your form, which is not you,
but what you left this shellshocked world
to help us learn what we must do
to save another child like you.
Child of 9-11, I know
you are not here, but watch afar
from distant stars, where angels rue
the evil things some mortals do.
I also watch; I also rue.
And so I make this pledge and vow:
though I may weep, I will not rest
nor will my pen fail heaven’s test
till guns and wars and hate are banned
from every shore, from every land.
Child of 9-11, I grieve
your gentle life, cut short. Bereaved,
what can I do, but pledge my life
to saving lives like yours? Belief
in your sweet worth has led me here . . .
I give my all: my pen, this tear,
this lily and this eiderdown,
and all soft things my heart can bear;
I bring them to your final bier,
and leave them with my promise, here.
First published in The Flea.
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.
OUT OF PAKISTAN
A shaft of amber sunlight
suffused with dust and fly
a daughter crouches by a fire
tending to her chai
Her eyes of pure obsidian
glisten in the ray
projected by the setting sun
at the close of day
Soon its kindly candour
must give way to night
and huddled on her bamboo mat
her faith will turn to fright
The shadow of the kiker tree
resumes its nightly troll
exposing all the secrets of
her desecrated soul
Rapt in dire conjecture
eyes round as the moon
she’ll listen for his sandle on
the path outside their room
And make a plea for lunacy
for nature’s sedative:
anything to numb her to
his vile prerogative.
Elizabeth Faris is educated in English Language/Literature and Literacy Instruction. For the past twenty years, she has enjoyed teaching English and ESL to students of all ages and ethnic origin. Her passion for writing extends to poetry, formal and informal, based either on a spectrum of original themes or the plots of literary classics and traditional tales.
Behind the Bookcase —
(for Dan, who is On The Spectrum)
Dan likes to be alone because that way
he knows which feet are his; they don't become
his mother's giant feet by accident
(that was embarrassing); he couldn't get
her toes in even, and she made that face,
which means he's done it wrong.
That's one reason.
But Dan is also happy when alone
because he likes the conversations; Dan
gets both sides right. It's worrisome to talk
to other people; it's a guessing game.
Dan has to contradict them when they're wrong.
Besides, they like to change directions, though
that doesn't interest Dan.
No, it's alone
Dan has his best ideas —
Kathryn Jacobs is a poet, professor, and editor of The Road Not Taken. Her fifth book, Wedged Elephant, was published last year by Kelsay Press.
Lighthearted Verse & Limericks...
Killing a Coho
West coast of Vancouver Island
I grip its tail, hammock its back,
and swing its head down with a crack
on rock, then feel its spasms judder
through my hands as, with a shudder,
a grand finale that fulfills
some ancient impulse in my mind.
Poking my finger through a gill,
I cause the raker fronds to spill
blood that drip drips as I carry
the silver deadweight of my quarry,
toward a tidal pool
the sunset has incarnadined.
My knife begins behind its throat
and blood-clouds billow out and bloat
then seep into an outflow, seaward,
where baitfish burrow in the seaboard
their heads in sand, small fools
kidding themselves they’re hard to find.
I slit its stomach. From that sac
their half-digested eyes peer back,
sandlance dumbstruck at being hunted
in shallow flats this prowler haunted,
whose every feeding flash
signaled flesh to seals behind.
Somewhere nearby a black bear roars;
wolves salivate; an antler gores
a starving cougar; orcas cripple
humpbacks, bite their fins, then grapple
till bleeding, savaged hulks
sink; and then there’s humankind.
No kindness here. This salmon swam
full speed to seize my lure then, wham,
became a madcap, hell-for-leather,
death-row inmate on a tether
the caveman in my head.
This coast is one big hunting blind.
First published in Gray’s Sporting Journal.
John Beaton writes metrical poetry and his work has been widely published in media as diverse as Able Muse and Gray’s Sporting Journal. He writes a monthly poetry page for the magazine Eyes on BC and served for four years as moderator of one of the internet's most reputable poetry workshops. He is a spoken word performer and a poet member of the band Celtic Chaos. His poetry has won numerous awards, including the 2015 String Poet Prize and the 2012 Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry. He was raised in the Scottish Highlands and lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.
This megastar’s a dazzling super bowl,
bedlam, heaven or hell, explosive fuse
of spinning light; of onion-sizzling steam,
chip fat, spent diesel fumes and candyfloss;
of goldfish magnified in plastic bags,
flash stallholders as loud as jumping jacks;
of urban cowboys leaping on and off
bump cars or herding bucking broncs across
revolving wooden floors with practised ease;
of cherubs chasing dragons seraph-high
like Martinware adrenalin banshees;
of stocking top, a tempting ride of flesh
broadcast, delight exquisitely contrived,
the dark a beacon, cinders underfoot.
Peter Branson, a native of N. Staffordshire, has lived in a village in Cheshire, UK, for the last twenty-six years. A former teacher and lecturer in English Literature and creative writing and poetry tutor, he is now a full time poet, songwriter and traditional-style singer whose poetry has been published by journals in Britain, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa, including Acumen, Ambit, Agenda, Envoi, The London Magazine, The North, Prole, The Warwick Review, Iota, The Butcher’s Dog, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, SOUTH, Crannog, THE SHOp, Causeway, Main Street Rag, The Columbia Review and Other Poetry. He has won prizes and been placed in a number of poetry competitions over recent years. His latest collection, Hawk Rising, from Lapwing, Belfast, was published in April 2016.
Humbled by a Lightning Show
Surges litter the sky with light unimpeachable.
Abruptly, all that I have accomplished can be
carried off in the mouth of one dung beetle.
A conductor’s manic hands, a sparking marquee.
As I marvel at each faultless errant strobe,
I am reminded of God’s questions to Job.
A Poet to His Unbeloved
a parody, after W.B. Yeats
The words of a poet smitten
Should not be considered unique
To you, for when he leaves—he will—
He will take what he has written
And, with the lust he chose to spill,
Present them at another time
When he has been offered the cheek
Of his latest reason to rhyme.
Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, The Good Men Project, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Jazz Cigarette, Quail Bell Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Antarctica Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, New Thoreau Quarterly, and Birmingham Arts Journal, among other journals. He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.
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 do submit your limericks and lighthearted verse as well! Vera Ignatowitsch