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 Formal & Rhyming Poetry                                        with Vera Ignatowitsch



A man and woman leave a room.  She shuts

the door on tangled syntax, ands and buts

and either-ors, on tangled sheets and cries,

on tangled tongues and limbs and lives and lies.

Their ragged skein has found a denouement

today that neither he nor she foresaw.

They turn, he left, she right.  She takes the stair

and he the elevator down to where

they thread their way as strangers through the knot

of strangers in the lobby, slack or taut,

who see no tie between them.  Now their tense

is past.  Now no one anywhere will sense

the scents of his cologne, of her perfume,

on her, on him, or mingled in that room.



Richard Wakefield’s 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.


Clear geometrics, left behind

            as evidence

Of hand in synergy with mind —

            an innate sense

That comprehends, in black and white,

            what holds within

Heat lightning on a summer night,

            or rising wind.

For burial, a bowl was killed

            punched through, and placed

About the head. That it might fill

            that emptied space.



Jared Carter’s sixth book, Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems, is from the University of Nebraska Press. He lives in Indiana.

Balloon Flowers, Memorial Day

Platycodon grandiflorus


Here is your Sunday water, one day late.

Yesterday’s motorcyclists thundered by,

distracting me. An oddly patient state

pervades your purple helmets. Tell me why

bikers stormed town, unfastening its rest

en route to Rolling Thunder, bearing faith

to missing war friends. Isn’t life the best

memorial? What’s this, their 38th?


Your blossoms, “sentimental blue,” begin

as palest green pentagonal balloons,

then burst on perforated lines too thin

to recognize as patterns or as wounds.


Opened, you gaze in this and that direction,

oblivious to noise and imperfection.



Claudia Gary, author of Humor Me, Bikini Buyer’s Remorse, and poems in journals internationally, teaches at The Writer’s Center ( and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter @claudiagary.

After Great Things

1 Corinthians 13:1-3


Let us go home, where righteousness abides.

The homes are ours, the righteousness as well,

And once we are securely locked inside

Ours is the pride that comes and gently swells

Our breasts with air that soon must be expelled

Like the breath of balloons. When we have sighed,

Let us inspire so as not to burst our sides

Or bulge against the censure of tight belts.


Now we have conquered pride, time comes to turn

Our full attention to humility;

If not humility (which none can learn)

Then faith or hope, perhaps, or charity,

Or something in-between no one can see

Or, seeing clearly, still cannot discern.



R. S. (Sam) Gwynn retired from Lamar University after teaching there 40 years. He lives in Beaumont, Texas. His most recent collection is Dogwatch, from Measure Press. He is currently editing a collection of the apothegms of Sikhspak Chapra.

To the Bluenose


With a hundred and forty feet of hull

     and a quarter acre of sail,

you’d forge up under four lowers against

     head seas in a fifty-knot gale

with a ballast load of Atlantic cod

     and, pitching to the rail,

you’d stand on, with the strength of a church

     and the heft of a breaching whale.

And never had such a spectacle graced

     the Nova Scotian coast

as your flying jib off Lunenberg.

     It was Canada’s pride and a boast

that our great salt banker could fly as fleet

     as an ice-filled Gloucester ghost;

and you’d lead round the highflyer poles then schoon

     wing and wing to the finishing-post.

But the price of the cod was crosstree high—

     to harvest your Grand Banks quarry

you’d launch and loose your flying sets

     and, with flambeaux lit, each dory

would anchor a mile of baited line

     as its crew hallooed in the hoary

vapors that rolled from Labrador.

     Then they’d lead-line for death or glory.

They that go down to the sea in ships

     is inscribed on The Man At The Wheel

in Gloucester to mourn the five thousand drowned

     in filling a continent's creel.

And in Lunenberg harbor twelve hundred names more

     are dancing a stony reel

in a compass of pillars—if ever they rise,

     may they climb with your top men and feel

your halyards thrum and your backstays strain

     on the breakers of Banquereau

as you close-haul with a bone in your teeth

     and your weather-bilge bared to the blow.


Previously published by Able Muse (with a sound file), on the Hypertexts website, and has also been anthologized.



John Beaton writes metrical poetry. His work has been widely published, has won numerous awards, and he recites it in spoken word performance. Raised in the Scottish Highlands, he now lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.


for Keith H. Peterson

I don’t care how pretty or lucky you are,

How centered, how schooled, or how wise or how rich;

I live only eighty-three steps from the bar.


I don’t care if your skin tone’s albino or tar,

Nor if you’re a bitch or a son of a bitch,

Nor even how pretty or lucky you are.


I don’t care who made your phone, outfit, or car,

Nor how much you drug, nor who sleeps with which;

I live only eighty-three steps from the bar.


I don’t care if your sexual tastes are bizarre,

Nor whether you’re atheist, Christian, or witch,

Nor even how pretty or lucky you are.


I don’t care if you smoke a Cuban cigar

In a Hollywood mansion or hide in a ditch;

I live only eighty-three steps from the bar.


I don’t care how you got that eyepatch or scar,

Nor how you’re soothing your personal itch,

I don’t care how pretty or lucky you are;

I live only eighty-three steps from the bar.

Not much is known about Marcus Bales, except that he lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio, and his work has not appeared in The New Yorker or Poetry Magazine. His newest book, 51 Poems, from Lawrence Block Productions, is available at



Buried in the Haiti earthquake of 2010, musician Romel Joseph recalled concertos to keep his sanity.—Miami Herald


Sibelius and Brahms will pull me through

the dark, the dust (though everywhere all strings

have snapped, gone mute)—and Beethoven—my true

companions. Once per hour my wristwatch rings


as if school were still in session. I remain

immobile, yet they’re bound to pull me through,

release me from the deafening shrieks of pain.

Are you not coming, friends? You’re overdue.


The walls, the beams, the nails cannot subdue

more than my flesh. In chambers of my mind

the old composers sing—they’ll pull me through.

They always have. Will someone go and find


the broken fiddle bows? I want to know:

where are the children hiding? All I view

are streams of tones before blind eyes. Their flow,

I’m confident, can pull—will pull me through.


Won Poetry Nook’s 99th Weekly Poetry Contest.


Martin Elster’s poems have appeared in Astropoetica, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Centrifugal Eye, The Chimaera, 14 by 14, Light, Lighten Up Online, The Road Not Taken, The Rotary Dial, Verse Wisconsin, and others.

The ABCs of Connubial Blisters


“A” is for the arrogance I showed

while telling her she’d never dare to leave.

“B” is for the blacktop of the road

she drove away on, last Midsummer Eve.


“C” is for my curses, clear and loud,

delivered from the middle of the lawn.

“D” is for the drink that left me plowed,

a couple fifths from dusk till early dawn.


“E” is for the egg that stained my face

as I explained events to several friends.

“F” is for my final fall from grace

when she rebuffed my bid to make amends.


The other letters in the alphabet

are for the things I wish I could forget.



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. His poems have appeared internationally, and his first print book, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.

On this page we publish selections of metrical poetry from our contributors. Submit your blank verse, metrical rhyming poems, villanelles, sonnets, sestinas, pantoums, and other formal poetry to betterthanstarbucks2@gmail. We love both traditional and experimental forms and subjects, and please do submit limericks and lighthearted verse as well!  Vera Ignatowitsch

Tomorrow Some New Star


Upon the stars tonight appears some care,

some stricken pulse, as blurs the silent pool

or wavers in some ancient’s vacant stare;


say they were borne there by a love proved cruel,

drawn as by some brute hypnotic power

out into fields of deep night’s lonely hell;


as vigil lights are wrenched in their low hour,

something not yet lulled by time’s dim spell

seems waked in them; which heart’s fresh longings


rise tonight, and reach up there to wring

perhaps some life from those emerging eyes

so almost moved in their frail glimmering?


Tomorrow some new star must yearn, as when

one heart grows still,

and one turns blind to men.



Poems by Tom Merrill have recently appeared in two novels as epigraphs. His latest book, Time in Eternity, can be purchased from Ancient Cypress Press.

Rock On with your Bad Selves


They never know they’ve had enough,

   They squirrel away their stashes.

They get in fights, get slapped a cuff

   And get in lots of crashes.


It’s always them who made a scene

   Or at the party tarried.

I once met one who had a dream

   That he and A.A. married.


But he turned out like Guinevere,

   His heart held secret scheming.

The Lancelot, a case of beer,

   Would join him in his dreaming.


It makes you think the saying’s true,

   That rehab is for quitters.

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do,

   They make bad baby sitters.


It’s easy not to give a crap

   And put yourself above them

But then one day it’s in your lap,

   That’s when it’s best to love them.



Robert Donohue’s poetry has appeared in Measure, The Raintown Review, The Orchards, 2 Bridges Review, and IthacaLit. His verse play, In One Piece (about Vincent van Gogh) was given a staged reading by The Red Harlem Readers. He lives on Long Island, New York.

Dad’s Coming

(Inspired by Winslow Homer’s Dad’s Coming! — wood engraving, 1873, American.)


In rosy light by a sparkling shore, he waits

for Dad on a beached dory’s weathered bow.

“Dad’s coming,” he says. Although he sees no trace


of his dad’s mast yet, he knows Dad’s only late.

Mom agrees, “We’ll spot his skiff any minute now.”

In fading light, by the blackened shore, he waits


while storm clouds thicken, swirl, and turn to gray.

Rain pours down his back. The cold wind howls.

Dad’s coming, he hopes, but still there’s not a trace


of him as huge waves splash and pound the quay.

Gulls screech, and the sea too loud too much resounds.

The day becomes as dark as night. While they wait,


Mom’s baby girl begins to cry. Mom hates

to go but says, “We must get home right now.”

“Dad’ll come” he says, “Please! wait. Look, a trace


of his spritsail. See?” his fears replaced

by sails imagined, and there, by the dory’s bow,

in the bleakest light, by a roaring shore, they wait.

“Dad’s coming,” he says, but of Dad there’s still no trace.



Gregory E. Lucas lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. His poems and short stories have appeared in The Lyric, Blue Unicorn, The Ekphrastic Review, Ekphrasis, The Horror Zine, and in many other magazines.

Lighthearted Verse

Leopold’s Cat

Without Apology to James Joyce


Pussens, Pussens,

I am the Pussens of Dublin fair

with queenly tail high in the air.

The house of Bloom is my royal beat,

Number 7, Eccles Street.


You may rub my back, Mr. Bloom.

There are no secrets in this room.

I am the Pussens, scratch my head

while Molly awaits her breakfast in bed.


I have walked upon your writing table

and found you were discreetly able

to bear that silly nom de plume,

“Henry Flower” for Leopold Bloom!


My milk-whites have your pencil bitten

for I have seen what you have written.

With young Martha you’re quite smitten.

I’m the queen of cats, no average kitten.


And when Molly read old Boylan’s letter

I saw her rosy cheeks grow redder.

Kept under her pillow, I saw it plain

between cat naps on the counterpane.


A saucer of milk, Sir, if you please,

the best of Hanlon’s and a wedge of cheese.

No burnt pork kidney or parlor rat,

it’s beef steak rare for this pampered cat. 


So, Martha likes your wife’s perfume?

You’re a naughty boy, Mr. Bloom.

Only the Luck of the Irish can save you now,

but you still have Pussens, the Pussens. Meow!



Gayle Compton, from Pike County, Kentucky, has poetry published or forthcoming in Better Than Starbucks, Blue Mountain Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Main Street Rag, and U.S. 1 Worksheets.

The Hyper Texts

“some of the best poetry on the web” Vera Ignatowitsch

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