Free Verse Poetry Page  with Suzanne Robinson 

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Featured Poem:

The Way the Lights Hit Bodega Alley

 

Summer light hits metal gate in Bodega Alley

The vets play cards and the women drink beer

Old-school hip-hop blasts from speakers in the park

Kids run through the sprinklers, screaming

as cold-water hits burnt skin

The closest they will get to an ocean this summer

 

When they’re old enough to ride alone

They’ll F train to the next to the last stop

Get off at the parachute jump

If the steel doesn’t get them first

 

The elderly push by in walkers

Heads leaning left

Touching shoulders

I walk with Diva the Wonder Dog

Talk to her out loud, sometimes,

forgetting if I talked to anyone else

today or yesterday or last week

 

Oh, yes, there was a phone call

Somebody wanted something

Forgot what it might have been

 

We search for the Ding Dong truck again

But there is only the icie cart man

whose flavors all taste the same

Lemon, no different from rainbow or coconut

 

We circle back through Bodega Alley

A short woman, barely reaching my waist

Stops me, asks if I speak Russian

She needs to find the supermarket

 

I don’t need language to point in the right direction

I don’t need the summer light to see

the bullets and knives that built

the chairs in Bodega Alley

 

The Ding Dong truck is gone for the day

Vanilla and chocolate taste the same.

 

 

Puma Perl is an award-winning poet, writer, and journalist, with five solo collections in print. The most recent is Birthdays Before and After (Beyond Baroque Books, 2019). She performs regularly with her band, Puma Perl and Friends.

Ode To Kindness

Sometimes I just want to be kind
when I’m helping my daughter
get on her 3-wheeler bike
and she’s pulling at my hair and
I’m thinking about how she’s so
demanding like I was as a child
and I’m thinking about the autistic boy
I used to teach who would need a time out
when he had to go with a group of kids to
play inside and how he always wanted to be first in line and if he couldn’t be first he’d cry and have a tantrum and we’d have to let him get angry and I’m watching my daughter grow and wondering how much of this she has in her and why this happens and maybe it’s better this way—she is expressing her wants and needs and this is the way she does it every day, her way,
the only way to get you to listen and see her in all her fussiness and feistiness, getting you to think about what she wants to do, to jump outside your comfort zone and check the environment
for comfortableness, but I got it now.
And did you not hear that?


Listen

Listen to the bird’s breath
blowing morning in your arms
wrapped around your covers
vibrating life anew again.
Listen to the whippoorwill’s sighs:
wake up wake up—
You can hear them if you try, urging you,

you’re still in love.
Listen to your memories stirring
in your mind, floating in limbo.
Is this real? you ask. Am I real?

I am real, you then reply.
Listen to the planes cruising by;
they are also sleeping.
And the day begins like a story
told in nursery school.
Listen to the stillness;
it listens back then falls silent—
It can heal a wounded mind
and soothe an aching heart.
Listen to your child rising in the sun—
warming up at the kitchen window.
You can hear her growing.
Listen to your bones creak
like an old rocking chair—tell them
You’re not tired. You’re just in limbo.
Listen to your dreams rise up
out of the dust; they want to live!
Listen to your songs playing
from the Wurlitzer piano—
You are still alive.

 

Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich authored Opening the Black Ovule Gate and We Are Beautiful like Snowflakes. Her poems have appeared in DASH, Nothing Substantial Literary Magazine, The Chaffey Review, and more. She mentored Prisoners at Pen America and received a MVICW Fellowship in 2016.

Cognoscenti

 

Sure, Dante could string a multitude along

with endless lines endlessly rhyming,

I am told,

in Old Italian, or some other foreign tongue,

but literati in those days had few distractions.

 

Today, we gather, whispering

in the back row,

dwarfed by a thunderous comic book turned

3-D widescreen motion picture,

or scrawl upon imaginary walls,

graffiti in a cyber-toilet stall.

 

We find ourselves condensing words

like pop art soup, canned for the cognoscenti,

imagining a hanging in some gallery

that virtual people sometimes view,

while trapped and struggling in the web.

 

 

David Shnare has no publications, no literary degrees, no famous teachers, and no patrons or admirers. If you google his name, he can pretty much guarantee that anyone you find will be someone else.

I Never Thought I Could Return

(After Mari)

 

I never thought I could return.

I never thought I ever

could return to these fields

isolated as kings overthrown,

nor to those small hills dwindling

into the sea, nor to this soft

pacifying air. And I never thought

I could ever return

to liberating stillness and nourishing

silence far from the fear

of those who know themselves

amidst the world’s strangeness.

I never thought I could return

to feeling all is one

as if everything shows that

and nothing only accompanies

nothing. I never thought

I could return to being quiet,

wrapped in darkness like a cloud,

nor did I think I could

return to this image the soul

made of itself. I never

thought I could return, nor,

that it would be me, so alone,

here once more,

returning.
 

 

J. Tarwood has been a dishwasher, a community organizer, a medical archivist, a documentary film producer, an oral historian, and a teacher. He currently lives in China. He has published four books, and his poems have appeared in many magazines.

Once They Were Gods

 

The old men of this town

rise as one weekday mornings

they gather at a cafe for coffee

— not lattes or espressos —

but good strong coffee made from a can.

Wearing wranglers, bib overalls,

John Deere ball caps, straw Stetsons,

they clasp thick white mugs in callused hands

and remember the years they worked the land.

They tell of fingers lost while baling,

of friends who died beneath tractors,

of southern boys — crazy kids but damn polite —

who drove all the way from Georgia

to work a western harvest.

They’ll recall August heat,

late summer storms that threatened the wheat

but never admit how much they miss

those mornings before dawn, the quiet then,

or how rolling fields of ripened grain

spoke to them of foreign seas

made gold by a golden sun.

Instead they’ll bellyache about poor pay,

the endless dust they had to breathe,

their aching backs and ruined knees.

‘Don’t miss them days at all,’ one says.

Heads nod. Gazes drop to coffee cups.

 

The same lie, repeated every morning.

 

First published in Persimmon Tree’s west coast states poetry contest, 2014.

 

 

Judith Kelly Quaempts lives and writes in rural eastern Oregon. Her poetry and short stories appear online and in print. Her most recent poetry appears in Bending Genres, Soft Cartel, and an upcoming anthology published by The Poeming Pigeon.

Silence

 

Silence

Words refuse to escape the binds

Of my mouth. My tongue feels as if

It has been burnt by hot coals.

“He’s dead,” I scream, inside my mind.

My body shuts down.

My arms fall still by my sides.

The ligaments that once belonged to me

Are now slaves to malfunction.

It seems the energy in my body

Has dissipated into the sadness of my emotion.

My brain is slowing down.

My heart is cracking.

And my face is forced to wear a constant frown

That shows more depth than the emotion

I once wore with pride

But now I wear it with a humbled feeling in my heart.

Yet I smile.

I have no words left

To attempt to utter.

I have no cares left

To set free.

I have hit the peak

Of my emotional stability

Yet I can’t help but cherish the fact that

I am broken, but at the same time

I am fixed.

 

 

Thomas Beeson is currently a junior at Texas Christian University, chasing a minor in writing.

Manmade Drifts

 

I whisper to myself. It’s

more effective than

talking. Stripping away

the vowels, reducing

verbal music to a fit of

breaths is often the only

hopeful choice. At 3:00

a.m. a snow clearer warns

me: not all voiceless

utterances are soft. In an

Oscar winner I saw last

Wednesday, a boy, with

violence surprising

from such skinny arms,

blocked his mother’s

hate-fueled screams

with a sliding glass door.

Boy and viewers —

though we weren’t lip-

readers — easily read

faggot! I wake and

see my husband’s mouth

doing, as usual, the work

of his nose. I doze and

rouse to his breath on my

eyes. It’s been so long,

the kiss surprises like

an expletive, scrapes

like a plough, exposes

where we are, clears the

way for where we’ll go.

 

First published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal.

 

 

Timothy Robbins teaches English as a second language. He has published three volumes of poetry: Three New Poets (Hanging Loose Press), Denny’s Arbor Vitae (Adelaide Books) and Carrying Bodies (Main Street Rag Press). He lives in Wisconsin with his husband of 21 years.

The Mad and The Starving

 

The words my father spoke

might as well have been in tongues.

They came from a boozy pathetic prophet

of doom,

a henpecked evangelist

who flew to hell and back in his own mind,

begging his family to forgive him one minute

and flogging them senseless the next.

 

The streets are crawling with the mad and the starving.

They give their money to the church

and their souls to the devil.

The things that kill me, the things that sting me,

the things that I love, these are all the same.

My father raged at my mother and his children.

There’d be a puddle of sweat on the floor.

He liked to fondle the balls of his nephews.

 

The first time I got sober

I found a certain enlightenment.

When she knocked on my door one night,

I almost sent her home.

But I was lonely, even if enlightened.

When she missed her period,

she made me pay half for the pregnancy test.

She smelled of sex and showers.

 

Her need to use sex to define herself

had ruined a high school music teacher.

She wanted the world to treat her with respect,

to forgive her, to be her friend.

The worst place was in her head.

She was a toddler looking to be potty trained.

When she died of an overdose, I almost blamed myself.

 

The streets are crawling with the mad and the starving.

God loves the world so much

He gave his only begotten son for its redemption.

He loves the rocks and the trees and cancer and high blood pressure.

He loves rheumatoid arthritis and my premature ejaculation.

 

 

Chris Kaiser’s poetry is featured in Action Moves People United, a music and spoken word album in partnership with the United Nations. He has won awards for his writing, and he has written, directed, and performed for the stage.

That First Sip

 

Ah! That first sip

Of coffee!

Delightful,

Comforting,

Refreshing,

After the night,

It sweeps it away!

Like a bird,

Like a flower,

With fresh dew,

Starting a brand new

Day,

There is nothing

Like a fresh cup

Of coffee,

Ah! That first sip

Of coffee!

 

 

Bernard Demaere lives with his wife in Northern British Columbia, Canada. He has always written poetry. His first poem was about a rose, but he lost it. He has since written over 400 poems for fun.

sitting at the coffee shop window listening to Nina Simone knowing the snow won’t stick

 

I watch the man in his motorized wheelchair

ride down the sidewalk

with his cigarette bouncing against his bottom lip

his knapsack tied to the handles

unzipped and dragging on the cement

both of us are glad to know

this snow won’t stick

 

i sip the lukewarm bitterness

at the bottom of my cup

groove along to pulse and thump of the bass

thinking about that man

with plastic bags wrapped around the arms

heading down to the lake

and praying

he finds everything he needs

 

 

Luke Kuzmish is a father, husband, software developer, recovering addict, and writer from Erie, Pennsylvania. He has published four chapbooks of poetry, the most recent being Hurry Up Wagon, and has also been published in online and print journals.

Winter Waterfall by Tyler Galbraith

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:

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  September 2016     August 2016     June 2016     May 2016

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

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