Formal & Rhyming Poetry                              with Vera Ignatowitsch

Undermined

 

Riddling tunnels undermine this town.

Intersecting, radiating, down

and down they maze their way away from light,

pursuing heliophobic anthracite.

Nothing stirs down there these days unless

a rotted crossbrace snaps beneath the press

of countless tons of rock. Then in the street

above the people feel beneath their feet

the vaguest rumble, the slightest seismic shift,

as if the winches strained again to lift

their tons of coal through half a mile of earth.

But they know better. What’s left there isn’t worth

the cost to delve so deep and hoist so high.

The semi-trucks and freights that rattle by

the idle terminal where nothing stops

disturb abandoned houses and empty shops.

Sometimes at night when there’s no breeze a whiff

of incense rises from the dust, as if

some curious soul had pushed against the door

of a room that no one lives in anymore.

 

 

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. His poem “Petrarch” won the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.

The Soul Selects Her Own Society, Dan-Style.

 

Words roll off Dan like rain on rubber; he

absorbs the tickly letters (Dan likes sound),

and lets the sense drop down like pennies. Plunk

the coin drops in, and people want a splash,

but fountains just ignore you.

 

                                                        Listening,

Dan’s mind is like a dryer clogged with lint

so while his ears hear, meaning bounces off

like Spanish on the sidewalk. So much chat,

the Dan would feel invaded, clogged like sieves

with broken fragments of spaghetti, if

 

he didn’t have an off-switch. Go ahead,

toss out a strand of conversation; Dan

has made no promises. Another day

he might retrieve one end, but tug of war

has never been his favorite game to play.

 

Today he’s not inclined to —.

 

 

Kathryn Jacobs is a poet, professor, and editor of The Road Not Taken. Her fifth book, Wedged Elephant, was published by Kelsay Press.

Remember Back

 

Bistro

Watching young lovers do what lovers do

with eyes shut tightly, you forget the rest,

how time unsays the words, however true.

Watching young lovers do what lovers do

you almost warn them, Stop! As if you knew

some better thing than this by which they’re blessed.

Watching young lovers do what lovers do,

with eyes shut tightly you forget the rest.

          Rhina P. Espaillat

 

 

You want to tell them, Yes, we did the same,

but why intrude with what they’ll someday know?

To disabuse them now would be a shame.

Why should you tell them that you did the same

when they would pay no heed to such a claim?

Remember back when others told you so?

When others warned you, Yes, we did the same?

Time will instruct them. They will someday know.

 

 

Bruce Bennett is Emeritus Professor of English at Wells College in Aurora, New York. His poetry website is https://justanotherdayinjustourtown.com.

The Near East

 

I looked to them like I was going somewhere.

I was; they found me in the Greyhound station.

Something made me stand out from the rest,

It could have been my mustache, or my book.

(The mustache was a macho, walrus type,

The book was Gerard de Nerval) I thought

That I was good at keeping to myself,

But up they came, politely, to request

A picture for The Journal-Constitution.

I was surprised how quickly I agreed.

They then explained they wanted travelers

Who, by the look of them, could tell a story

And they had chosen me to photograph.

They told me that I shouldn’t strike a pose:

They wanted me to sit just as I was,

With all my luggage, mustache and my book,

But had to ask for my permission first,

That’s why they spoke to me. So there I sat

And tried to be the self that they had seen

Before the rules had broke the spell; it was

As if I’d pulled some kind of stunt for them,

Like I had walked a lobster on a leash.

They thanked me, then left, and there I was

Going no place stranger than my home.

 

 

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

Ebb Tide

 

Massive, gray, these leaden waves

bear their unchanging burden—

the sameness of each day to day

 

while the wind seems to struggle to say

something half-submerged planks at the mouth of the bay

might nuzzle limp seaweed to understand.

 

Now collapsing dull waves drain away

from the unenticing land;

shrieking gulls shadow fish through salt spray—

whitish streaks on a fogged silver mirror.

 

Sizzling lightning impresses its brand.

Unseen fingers scribble something in the wet sand.

 

First published by Southwest Review.

 

Michael R. Burch has over 5,000 publications including poems that have gone viral. His poems have been translated into fourteen languages and set to music by five composers. He also edits The HyperTexts (www.thehypertexts.com).

One Teacher Knew

          for my father

 

One teacher knew, and brought him every day

a sweet banana. That was all he had

for breakfast, and a single dime would buy

a bowl of soup for lunch. His father died

when he was nine, and something died in Rose

as well. She would forget she had a son

to raise, so suppers were at best thin stews

of garden scrawn and a begged butcher’s bone.

 

And he was three years dead before I knew—

before by chance I heard mother say

she wondered if his failing sight somehow

was caused by going hungry as a boy.

I hear his words now with added weight:

“My kids will always have enough to eat.”

 

 

Jan D. Hodge has had two books of poetry published, both by Able Muse Press: Taking Shape - carmina figurata and The Bard & Scheherazade Keep Company (double-dactyl renderings of Shakespeare, tales from the Arabian Nights, and Reynard the Fox).

Non-being and Real Estate

 

I live in a place named after a place—

no cove or foxes on “Fox Cove.”

In selling what’s not because it’s been erased,

 

however fantastically contrived, the names

“Railroad Esplanade,” “Magnolia Oaks Road,”

just seem a place each named after a place

 

and only suggest a smidgen of grace

mortgaged and inhabited, not bestowed.

This selling what’s not because it’s been erased—

 

see “Happy Valley” and “Victory Estates”—

provokes a spinal question.  What do I prove

when I live in a place named after a place?

 

Does mine become another life, an adjacent

mirror-self, a slicker someone who’d approve

of selling what’s not because it’s been erased?

 

Terrain of pseudonyms, a way to face

the no-one-left-to-be, the nowhere-left-to-go

when we live in a place named after a place,

when we’ve bought what’s not, what’s been erased.

 

 

Samuel Prestridge is a professor of English and a writer. He plays jazz and ragtime music on a Gibson J-100 guitar and he has a dog that sings along when he plays tunes by Robert Johnson but will not sing when he plays Muddy Waters.

On this page we publish selections of metrical and formal poetry from our contributors. Submit your blank verse, metrical rhyming poems, villanelles, sonnets, 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

On an Observation by Yeats

“No matter what one doubts one never doubts the faeries, for, as the man with the mohawk Indian on his arm said to me, ‘they stand to reason.’”

The man with a Mohawk Indian tattooed
Upon one arm would doubtless call it treason —
Or, at the least, primordial and crude —
To doubt the faeries, for “they stand to reason.”

The man with a Mohawk tattooed on his arm
May sneer at the idea of water-horses,
Or fallen angels or a Hell to harm —
To place unwavering faith in faerie forces.

 

Jennifer Reeser is author of Indigenous, Able Muse Press. Her writings have appeared in POETRY, Rattle, and The Hudson Review. Her work has been anthologized in Everyman’s Library, Poets Translate Poets, and others.

Women of the Ages

 

I’m the lass of Invergarry,

singing by the loch alone

of the lad I was to marry,

of the baby in my belly

he begot but would not own.

 

I’m the mother of Glenfinnan,

feeding sons who gird and go,

dreading battles, ripping linen,

dressing wounds and watching crimson

drench the strips of my trousseau.

 

I’m the widow of Culloden,

sowed and reaped and left to weeds

till I’m winter-tilled and sodden,

till my tilth and clods are broken

by the cold that kills my seeds.

 

We’re the women of the ages,

wooed to walk the aisles of grief;

we’re the wear on well-worn pages

where posterity retraces

deeds of men in bold relief.

 

First published in One Sweet Ride: An Easy Writers Anthology.

 

 

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

Distillation

 

To create a brand-new version of woe

One must start from beneath the foundation,

Digging out the roots with a sharpened hoe,

Until one comes upon the very inundation

Souls from ages past; a congregation

On their knees in abject prayer and stone

In an unmoving, dark sea of ancients . . .

Pluck the nearest and bring it to your home.

You must convince him to speak of the years

The thousands spent on his knees beyond speech

Convince him freedom for his brethren nears

If he would talk, all would be within reach

Five minutes recorded is just enough

To make a man shatter all that he loves.

 

 

Philip Piarrot hails from Nashville, Tennessee. Deeper roots can be unearthed in Louisiana, but signs of his particular brood can be found as far west as Texas. His work has been previously published in AHF Magazine.

Moonshadows

 

How quickly all the hours add up to days,

The days to weeks, the weeks to months and years!

Soon old Time in the old time-honored ways

Has made mere memories of joys and tears.

There was a time, My Love, when each fleet minute

Was greeted as a new log for Life’s fire;

And each new day with all Love’s promise in it

Dawned on the journey toward our hearts’ desire.

And I remember evenings around sunset,

We two would walk until the summer stars

Were spinning overhead, before the onset

Of troubles and the wounds that left our scars—

As, hand in hand, moonshadows on the grass,

We walked in love we swore would never pass.

 

 

Frank Coffman is a retired college English and Creative Writing professor. He has published poetry and fiction in various magazines and anthologies. His poetry collections include The Coven's Hornbook & Other Poems, Black Flames & Gleaming Shadows, and Khayyám's Rubáiyát.

Second Hand Poems

For Kate Light

 

Today’s mail brings the book of poems I bought

at second-hand because when it was new

I was too broke to buy it, just a short

time back, when she was living. Now I know

how wonderful her writing is, and wish

that I had known her, wish that I was writing

new poetry myself, wish that the world

would learn to love its poets. O my late

new friend, death’s so much closer than I thought.

 

 

Gail White is the resident poet and cat lady of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Her books Asperity Street and Catechism are available on Amazon. She is a contributing editor to Light Poetry Magazine (lightpoetrymagazine.com).

Lighthearted Verse

Turn, Turn, Turn

 

A baby boom is coming this December,

Since nothing’s open now where folks can roam,

And ‘social distancing,’ we will remember,

Had come to mean ‘a lot of time at home.’

We’ll call that generation ‘C-19’ —

A brand-new bulge of babies who will live

With no grandparents if there’s no vaccine.

That means, at least, no dotards to forgive

For votes for an illusionary past

Where all the uppity others know their place

And stay there to be steadily harassed.

Let’s hope the new kids, free from such a base,

     Will clean our mess, aware of how they got

     Such names as Charmin, Cottonelle, and Scott.

 

 

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 here.

The Hyper Texts

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

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