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ModPo & Experimental Poetry

Better than Starbucks began wholly as a creation in my mind. Now the wonderful collaboration of six dedicated editors is creating a monthly magazine that I could have only dreamed about when I was starting out as a one person organization.


Having said that, there are no direct connections between U Penn, Al Filreis, KWH (Kelly Writers House), ModPo (Modern & Contemporary American Poetry), or any of the actual affiliated programs to ModPo and this magazine, other than I have been a part of ModPo for several years now. There is, however, a strong spiritual and intellectual connection between BTS and ModPo.


If I had not gotten involved in the larger community of ModPo, I don't think I would have restarted a literary publication. I am certain I would not have added a Formal & Rhyming Page, and probably not a Translations page. I have a pretty narrow preference for poetry, but the course and the people at ModPo have expanded my view of poetry to the point that I decided if I could find good people to help me do it, we would make BTS as broad of a source of styles and genres as possible. We have been fortunate to establish a team of talented editors and are in the process of an ever expanding quest to find poetry wherever it may be.

Thus, it seems fitting that we dedicate a page to my fellow students at ModPo, and/or anyone who wants to share experimental poems. The thing about experiments is, they often fail, but as the point is to learn, not to create perfection, even failed experiments in the lab or on this page, will offer something for us, if we will find it. and when the experiment doesn't fail... well, you will see! - Anthony Watkins

Empty Suit Press
 Sometimes California or the March Set
by Anthony Watkins
Silent Poems
by Anthony Watkins
 Games Poets Play
by ModPo Students

northbound and plucky



as it heaves me to-and-fro

tossed upon a tar-black sea

a line of light parting sky and earth

slipping between that crack

into the bombardment of frost heaves

buckling and churning

over a stark landscape of fallow fields

barbed wire and fence posts

catching the last of the light

the grain of my hands pocked

with blisters and slivers -

where the glove stops and my hand starts

is becoming more of a blur

these days


a tangle of rusty wire

ball-peen hammer

hog ring pliers and a pry-bar

rattle as I weave over concrete

each blast as a tire hits a heave

is a rifle crack

a long shadow over white


country music

torch ’n twang

competes with static

the rhythmic incessant hoar frost

mingling with a yellow hole in the sky

never above nor below

a soft white disk that pulls me along

like the bouncing ball on b/w oldies

I grew up on


my shoulder makes contact

intermittently as I dodge black ice

slits narrowed in focus on white stitches

black and white and black and solid yellow

as calming as a heartbeat

as temperate as the curl of a wave

a sea of wheat or oats or sodden black hay

or the slip-n-slide of an ice highway

lulling my disparate heart


fingers twisting as cab spins

shoulder contact on roof and steering wheel

delivering a glancing blow

topsy-turvy I go

wipers laying waste to Patsy Cline

as washer fluid spreads across

then through the windshield

sweet and stinging

flinging glass splinters through blisters

held up in surprise

my ass sliding across the bench

briefly noticing the ball-peen

shooting past my ear

work gloves doing a dance

sashaying out the window

and then white-out


an elk stands erect

his rack snagging cottonbatten

everything bathed in shadow blue

except the line of trees

black and jagged and upside down


hanging in my seatbelt

I wonder why I ever gave in

to the lonesome chant of a train whistle

northbound and plucky


electric tape and pry bar ruining

my best boots

entombing my left hand

straightening out the new bend

a leg just shouldn’t have


standing in the snow

in the space between

raindrops and the faint scent of the sea

Trish Shields

Pen America

Winter Flowers


Warm cities in summer drive me mad. But not when I am with you. The rush of the cars as they fly by me only cause comfort as I watch our hair blow in the wind. The sounds of our shoes scuffing the pavement because we don’t know what a correct size is. How your basketball shorts sit just above your knee because you are so tall. How my thighs touch the circumference of my shorts but my hips do not. The way you hold my hand, no matter how hot it is because you know I find it sweet. You pull me close in dark alleyways and the concrete on my back sends shivers down my spine. You brush your fingers over my cheek in an attempt to make up for the cold months of winter we had lost. Those soft pads make the memories from long ago seem like they never existed for a moment.


But I know that in winter, flowers do not bloom like they do in spring. The winter flowers are tough and hard, protecting themselves from the harsh cold that threatens to freeze them over. For your birthday, I would not have bought you flowers. I would have shown my love for you. But for your birthday, I showed you that I am like a winter flower. Tough and hard so any ice you tried to cast over me would not affect me. But now it is summer and this city is hot. The winter flower has wilted and now I am a vine climbing up alley walls with you.

Trinity Monroe is a poetry and fiction writer from southern Pennsylvania. She writes about crappy feelings and pretty flowers. In her free time she does color guard and theater. She loves singing and dancing poorly whenever she can.

Listen, once a broken time

Listen, once a broken time
Mother and Father would tell me off
‘Cause I counted as friends gunmen,
Snipers, killers, who spent their time
Shooting dead hearts and rocks -
When done, they went for the adjectives,
Those bloody conjurers who mess up
With our judgment, those swindlers -
Nouns? Nope, they were no dangerous, no way -
Hop in, they would say, I always so ready to oblige -
What? Yes yes I know decent folks are meant
To talk love in a cottage, to joke, to quip,
All those words tripping up, falling down,
But I had to act blue, I had noticed the births -
Look, sometimes we say yes to baddies and culprits,
All that dabbling with lies makes us good at deceiving,
A noble art indeed, don’t you think so?
While dreams or bare truths stay safely nestled in the rocks -
Then I changed my blue on a whim:
Whenever my names dragged me down the swamps
There I was, screaming blue murder as if colours might help. As if.
Whenever the rivers blackmailed me there I was tiptoeing ‘round water,
A safe skin and drops -
Then again, what could I do ‘cept feeding stars
Or sending candles to divas and death?
That’s how I would spend my summer.
So long as words grow into seeds
And weekends taste like green fruit
To better fit in the scene
There I am, standing behind my latest affairs
That stop me cold in my dreams -
Look, is the sun that very sec before they bite?
Sorry, no, just a vaulted bridge getting your goat -
See? It only happens to be red, my demise, my friend -
How come you can’t see it,
My dearest  blahing yakking squawking hens ?

                                                                                                               Gabriella Garofalo



​            If only I had more time, I’d do things differently. There’s too much left unsaid. Too many unknowns. Not enough memories. Not enough time. The night is over, but the darkest hour has just begun. The sky is blacker than a stupor. The air is artificial, but arthritic. I should’ve brought a heavier coat. I can’t keep my eyes open. I wish it was all a dream that I could awake from.

            My mother, brother, sister and I go to the cafeteria for something to eat during his surgery. No one is hungry though. I always have an appetite like a garbage disposal, but my stomach is on spin cycle. I can’t calm the tremors coursing through my nerves.


​          We return to the waiting room; the doctor appears, “Hey, guys. The procedure was successful. And you can all see him now.” No one moves, too petrified. I reluctantly volunteer to go. I walk as slow as I can, but I still get there in a matter of thirty seconds. 

            I wipe my eyes, I don’t want to make him anxious. He doesn’t need any more stress. I clean my hands with hand sanitizer and enter the room. He’s lying still on his back in the bed. He’s frail and small. He lost more weight and his fingers are the darkest shade of charcoal.


            I’m still trembling walking closer tohis bedside. “Hey, Dad. It’s me. How are you feeling?” He can’t speak, his larynx is swollen. He just looks at the end of his bed where his legs used to be. A tear rolls down his cheek, he clinches his chipped teeth. I don’t know how to tell him that they amputated his legs, so the gangrene wouldn’t spread. I try my best to keep my pain suppressed, but it starts raining in the room. 

Shamar English is originally from Santa Barbara, California, lives in Douglasville, Georgia, has an Associate of Arts Degree in film from Georgia State University, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at Georgia State University.

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