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
(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,
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 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. www.johnperrault.com
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.
(ON THE VALUE OF LEARNING LANGUAGES WHEN)
ROUGHING IT IN EUROPE
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