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 Formal & Rhyming Poetry                                        with Vera Ignatowitsch

Old Folks at the Rec Center


At recreation time the seniors come

to do a two-step relic from the age

of Fred Astaire.  The bare gymnasium

sways to Mary Ford and Patti Page;

the jukebox used to play them for a dime.

The couples shuffle through “How High the Moon.”

A girl from Parks and Rec counts out the time

and counts the minutes until she’s off at noon.


With moves as deeply grooved as a seventy-eight

one pair defies their aching knees to twirl

in cautious arabesques.  They recreate

their courtship ritual as boy and girl,

swinging toward each other, then away,

as giddy as their reckless yesterday.

Richard Wakefield has taught college literature for thirty-eight years and since 1985 has been Professor of Humanities at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma, Washington.  For twenty-nine years he was a literary critic for the Seattle Times.  His 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.

Busy Being Dan


I'm busy being Dan mom. There are ducks

parading in Dan's head, so Joshua

can be a line of ducklings. Joshua

is smaller, so he has to let Dan pick,


but Dan lets him pretend. And here's the fort

for ducks that Dan made. Josh said, “Can I see?”

“Good asking, Josh,” Dan said supportively

because big brothers say that – but he's short,


so no Josh couldn't. And when Josh climbed out

Dan said he was a duck, and ducks stay put.

Mom, there are cheetahs out there. This can't be

about what ducks want; not in cat country.

Josh makes a good duck; he goes everywhere.

But ducks aren't good at holding an idea –


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.

When I am Old


Hie me to the hill-ground,

the high hill ground of Scotland,

to battle bladed wind-blasts

my forebears fought before me,

to stagger stammer-footed,

across the ancient highlands,


across their schists and drifting bones

across their shifting ruin-stones,

where, witchily, the gray pine crones

still call me to my history.


Leave me there to wayfare

the curlew-plainted wild moor,

to smell the sweet bog-myrtle

beside the peaty burn;

to stumble crumbling scree slopes

that roll with rutting stag roars,


and rediscover drove roads

and moss embossing lost abodes

where blood-fed drovers rested loads

bound south and trudging their return.


Let me find a lone shore

where fishermen lie buried

in graves of wave-flung flotsam

with neither name nor past:

to stand there like a Culdee

as mist-trails move unhurried

on island hills and holms and voes

where headlands creaked with yells of crows

as birlinns swooned in hell-bent blows

that heaved the shore and cleaved the mast.


Bear me to the black shed

where the blacksmith shod the plough-horse

to plod long narrow furrows

that pleat the folding field,

and when my storm approaches,

I'll stand before its raw force

by furnace flames of bygone ways,

and anvils ringing down the days

that forged my soul and bent these bays;

I’m of this land—it’s here I’ll yield,

to the stubble and seed of the past.


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.



The hazy, smoke-filled skies of summer I remember well;

farewell was on my mind, and the thoughts that I can't tell

rang bells within (the din was in) my mind, and I can't say

if what we had was good or bad, or where it is today ...

The endless days of summer's haze I still recall today;

she spoke and smoky skies stood still as summer slipped away ...


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

Limericks & Lighthearted Verse



Curriculum Vitae

(On reading a newspaper description of a

 man as 'poet, novelist, and wine-merchant'.)


A person of no little brain

Said, “I pen a most poignant quatrain,

     And my novels excel

     Those of Tartt and Mantel −

5% off this fine dry champagne?”




 .. . . regrets he is unable to reply

personally owing to pressure of time.'

                                   - Rejection slip


An editor, stiff and unmatey,

Who discovered that Time could be weighty

   Felt its pressure increase

   Till his recent decease

Squashed flat as a pancake at eighty,



Parallel Lives


The Life Of Riley


Eton, Oxford, then banking, where soon

Sub-prime profits began to balloon.

     Though such business exploded

     It still left me loaded −  

 I work twice a week until noon.


I can have a safe seat any day

(The party has bills it must pay.)

    With my knowledge and nous

     I shall rise in the House

 And No. 10’s not far away.


The Life of Murphy


I survived in a slum and sink school,

Drank and loved like a fish and a fool.

   My brain was for hire

   Till I had to retire

Deep in debt, and beginning to drool.


This care home’s the absolute pits,

The inmates have all lost their wits.

   My relations regret

   I’ve not snuffed it yet

And the court keeps on issuing writs.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Light, The Asses of Parnassus, The New Verse News, Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.

The Hyper Texts

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

Late Bloomer


The bees won’t coin my pollen into gold.

The sun is gone? I’ll blossom for the moon,

whose light is just as beautiful, though cold.

The bees won’t coin my pollen into gold.

For moths or frost, the heedless buds unfold

their hidden hearts as if it still were June.

The bees won’t coin my pollen into gold.

The sun is gone. I’ll blossom for the moon.

Susan McLean is an English professor at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota.  Her poetry has appeared in two books, The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife, and one chapbook, Holding Patterns.  Her translations of poems by the Latin poet Martial appeared in Selected Epigrams (U. of Wisconsin Press, 2014).



Glass towers, glossy-gray sky,

gray suits humming up the elevator shafts;

bankers all abuzz with business ties

and tasseled shoes—fancy handkerchiefs.


My corduroy jacket’s brown—

I get looks. I look a little lost I guess.

Where’s the guide who knows his way around

down here in the wild gray wilderness?


Black cherry—back in the Park—

six cedar waxwings lined on the lending branch,

passing a berry along…no joke…

sharing the fruit, enjoying their lunch.


My song’s all bark, lit lichen

after rain, dark green leaves—melody and words.

Gray suits, glass banks—I must have taken

a wrong turn.   My pitch is for the birds.


John Perrault is the author of The Ballad of Louis Wagner (Peter Randall Publisher), Here Comes the Old Man Now (Oyster River Press), and Jefferson's Dream (Hobblebush Books.)  HIs poems have appeared in Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Orbis, Blue Unicorn, and elsewhere.  He was Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH, 2003-2005.

The Only Watchmaker

“The only watchmaker is the blind forces of physics.”

― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion


From quarks to cosmos, things join, then scatter.

Men probe, dissect, and then pontificate:

From dust to dust. So, what do we matter?


Is there extraterrestrial chatter?

SETI seeks signals to corroborate

Patterns, that cannot come from dark matter.


All life began from chemical batter.

But every human being has the same fate

Since, ultimately, all life is matter.


Forensics collects and tests blood splatter

From a dead man, sprayed on a basement gate.

From dust to dust. So, what does he matter?


Palliative care begins—last hope shatters.

The oncologist does not forecast dates.

Does it, or does it not, really matter?


The rain beats down in relentless patter,

However early in life or how late.

From dust to dust, so what does it matter

Since ultimately, all life is matter?


Peter C. Venable has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years. He has been published in Windhover, Third Wednesday, Time of Singing, The Merton Seasonal, forthcoming in The Anglican Theological Review, and others. His fascination with rhyme and meter began in college, absorbing Donne, Milton, Blake et al. In addition, he finds lyrics in anthems and especially hymns edifying. William Cowper and Emily Dickenson are favorites.




One two three four

Is OK, but you need more:


Un deux trois quat’

If you want a welcome mat


En to tre fire

With the krone getting dearer,


Bir iki uç dirt

Selling off your jeans or shirt


Wahid zoozh teleta arba

In a cafe by the harbor


Üks kaks kolm neli

For some food to fill your belly;                                


Jeden dwa trzy cztery

Language may be shaky, very,                                                       


Uno dos tres cuatro

But they’ll love you if you’re up to


Eins zwei drei vier

Trying freely, laughing freer.


(previously published in Unsplendid)


Robin Helweg-Larsen is British-born but Bahamian-raised. His education came from good schools, hitchhiking on five continents and working all over the place. His poetry has mostly been published in the UK, but also in the US, Canada, Australia and India. He lives in his hometown of Governor's Harbour on Eleuthera.

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 please do submit your limericks and lighthearted verse as well! (I will also give feedback on formal poetry if it is requested.)     Vera Ignatowitsch

Archive of Formal & Rhyming Poetry pages by issue:

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