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 Formal & Rhyming Poetry                                            with Vera Ignatowitsch

This month we are delighted to welcome a new contributor, Karen Kelsay. Joining our regular contributors, Mike Burch, John Beaton, DE Navarro, Jared Carter and others, Karen has submitted 6 poems from her latest book, ‘Of Omens Than Flitter’, to be published in December, and we’ll have 2 of them here and in each of the next two issues, beginning with the lightest. Welcome also to Jerome Betts.

On the one year anniversary of this page, we thank all our contributors, who also include Anna Evans, Richard Wakefield, David W. Landrum, Robin Helweg-Larsen, Chris O’Carroll, Janice Canerdy, Jack Arkell, Kathryn Jacobs, Ian Colville, Elizabeth Faris, Duke Trott, Peter Branson, Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas, Dusty Grein, Thomas Locicero, Nicholas Froumis, Bethany van Sterling, Robert Youngs Pelgrift, Jr., Stephen M. Dickey, Michael Seeger, Bob Lorentson, Lark Beltran, Rita Dubman, Bob Whitmire, Michael Getty, Ruslan Garrey, Devin Taylor, Kevin Shyne, John Shillito, John J Mathews, Mario Petralia & Charles Joseph Albert. Thank you all – you’re the reason we are here. -Vera Ignatowitsch

Home Decor


I remember sunning on the sand—

my dad in wet-gear rising from the sea,

an air tank on his shoulders, like Godzilla,

throwing off his mask and calling me.

He dragged a mid-sized parrotfish he’d speared,

out of the foam. Its turquoise body flipped

against the beach. I noticed how in minutes

every scale turned ghostly grey, and slipped

from glorious to dull. The taxidermist

restored it to its brilliant, deep-blue self.

Above the sliding door we hung it just

for show. Along a full-length teakwood shelf,

we loaded gemmy doodads from the store.

That handsome fish was hatched for our decor.


A Californian Views British Soap Operas


The cast looks like they could be one of “us”

with baggy eyes and double chins. No fuss

to find a perfect “10” seems to exist.

I find it freeing, but there is a twist—


a culture war’s exploding in my head.

The push to look amazing is widespread;

I’ve grown up where long legs and breasts abound

and women run themselves into the ground


financially—then wind up looking plastic.

But here in England, I’m a bit sarcastic.

I sit and watch the women on the shows,

note body types and non-designer clothes.


In judging my own kind I need a nurse;

these California values are a curse.


Karen Kelsay’s poems have appeared in various journals including Mezzo Cammin, The Raintown Review, Measure, Angle: Journal of Poetry, The Hypertexts, and String Poets. In 2012 she received the Association for Mormon Letters Award for best poetry book: Amytis Leaves Her Garden. Karen is the editor of Kelsay Books and The Orchards Poetry Journal. View her website here.

Love Is Not Love

for Beth


Love is not love that never looked

within itself and questioned all,

curled up like a zygote in a ball,

throbbed, sobbed and shook.


(Or went on a binge at a nearby mall,

then would not cook.)


Love is not love that never winced,

then smiled, convinced

that soar’s the prerequisite of fall.


When all

its wounds and scars have been saline-rinsed,

where does Love find the wherewithal

to try again,

endeavor, when


all that it knows

is: O, because!


First Published in The Neovictorian Cochlea


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

Ode to Old Age


I walk into a room and suddenly

I’m at a loss. What did I want in here?

That puckish brain tweaker, reality,

Has learned to shift its shape or disappear.

I used to have to smoke expensive weed

To tune in to this zoned-out paradigm.

Today my skull packs all the buzz I need.

I’m high on failing cells and passing time.


Each friend or relative that I outlive

Is one less witness to my foolish youth.

Now any version of the past I give

Is more or less the undisputed truth.

What names and numbers I may have forgotten

Are obligations I’ve been glad to shed.

Untangled from the past I once was caught in,

I rest in peace before I’m even dead.


originally published in Light

Chris O’Carroll is a Light magazine featured poet whose work has also appeared in Angle, Lighten up Online, Measure, The Orchards, and The Rotary Dial, among other print and online journals, and in the collections The Best of the Barefoot Muse, New York City Haiku, Poems for a Liminal Age (published in support of Doctors Without Borders), and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology.

Lighthearted Verse & Limericks




The Duffle


The Duffle, or Toggle-Horn Goat,

Grazed on flax and the Flemish wild oat.

    Its extinction is blamed

    On the fact it was famed

For its excellent warm winter coat.


Potter's Patent Plunger


After scrawling some thoughts on a jotter

A gene-splicing expert called Potter

   Produced something he trains

   To clear culverts and drains

By crossing a mole with an otter.


Fire Down Below


Dragon fossils, from Taiwan’s east coast,

Have got pundits and public engrossed.

     D. archaeucello’s

     Abdominal bellows

Meant it ate no raw meat, only roast.


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 Hyper Texts

"some of the best poetry on the web" Vera Ignatowitsch

Unheard Calls


This world has words

whose sounds are said,

and some are birds

inside your head:



in cherry trees

on twigs of cherished



fieldfares flurried

with desire


through its fire;


mergansers fishing

in the snow

watching migrant

snow-geese go;


kestrels kiting

for the kill

then quieting

the kildeer’s trill;


and loons, forlorn

in lost lagoons,


lonely tunes.


This world has birds

whose wings are spread

and some are words

inside your head.


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.

Doorway to a Home


She huddles in a doorway
on a dirty street downtown,
no lights are on to give away
the place where she broke down.


She thinks once more of them and then
she shudders from the thought,
the rain is falling, steady now
her tattered jeans are wet.


There's no place left to dry her eyes
the black tears smear her face,
sick uncle Jack made her his prize
she trembles in disgrace.


She'd be in trouble if she told
her mother of the deeds,
for mother loves her brother and
she knows that he has needs.


Dear dad would say she's lying
strip her naked in full view,
and whip her with his ugly belt
for things she didn't do.


They screamed at her for everything
she had no place to hide,
they left her half a human being
all broken down inside.


So tired of the pain she ran
this girl of thirteen years,
now she finds a door each night
to shed her hurting tears.


She's never had the courage
to look people in the face,
she's never known the feeling
of a genuine embrace.


She seeks not love but safety
from the cruelty of the world,
and dreams of sleeping in a bed
from the doorway where she's curled.


She thinks that she might find that dream
until then she will roam,
seeking for that place of rest
that she can call her home?

Footnote: Over 1.6 million youth or teens (1 in every 40) are homeless in the United States of America. This does not even begin to address the number of homeless worldwide. Many of these youth and teens are between the ages of 7 and 15 and end up associated with gangs, drug peddlers, sex peddlers and human traffickers who abuse them even more than those they ran away from. Many will never make it to adulthood.


DE Navarro is the Founder of NavWorks Press. He is an author, poet, editor, publisher, speaker, and life coach. He is the originator and owner of the We Write PoetryTM forums and the Pride in Poetry PrizeTM and Publication. He is a husband, father, mentor and friend and Banking Sr Analyst, Tech Editor/Writer. Visit DE's beautiful Website at for peace and to learn more about his work. He lives in Greater Los Angeles where he writes and publishes.



The squirrel in the attic of his brain

Shreds photographs, pulls memories apart;

The old dog in the basement of his heart

Howls, lonely, soft, monotonous as rain;

And somewhere further underneath, a snake

In hibernation stirs, irked by its skin.

Up where the world’s news and supplies come in

Through the five senses of his face, to make

The room in which a garrulous parrot squawks

And sometimes songbirds sing – it’s his belief

Mice gnaw behind the wainscots of his teeth.

The cat of consciousness, impassive, walks

Toward the door to go out for the night:

Is everything (oh dog, shut up!) all right?


originally published in Visions International


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!     Vera Ignatowitsch

Archive of Formal & Rhyming Poetry pages by issue:

September 2017   August 2017   July 2017    June 2017   May 2017   April 2017   March 2017  February 2017

January 2017   December 2016  November 2016  October 2016

International Poetry with Tendai Rinos Mwanaka and Rameeza Nasim
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