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Experimental & Form & Prose Poetry




Where the sunken spring

boils the marsh’s only heart

I placed six fresh rocks

now crusted with scum and weeds.

A horse is dead on the ridge.



His view of heaven

is mechanical—pulleys,

oiled chains and winches,

gates with heavy-steel hinges.

Strong men master the entrance.



A savior may emerge,

tugging the brim of his hat

as though embarrassed,

he has no need of charm to sway

you into his open arms.



Image is the end.

Two ducks with treasure-green heads,

males, she learned today,

without a sound floated downstream,

vibrations freed from the frame.



This day a year ago

I was the snow on the ground,

steel was the cold wind

though we were never alone

to learn about caresses.

John Riley works in educational publishing. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Connotation Press, Smokelong Quarterly, Blue Five Notebook, Willows Wept Review, The Dead Mule, and many other journals both online and in print.



She races from phantoms

and me.

Hides in the strangest places.


She sees.  Faces me.


Woohoo! I say.  Woohoo!



There she goes

chased by demons.

Eluding me.


Now I’ll never find her.

(So she believes.)


She is crossing over.

Fading in front of me.

First her body, now her sensibilities.


She slinks in slivers.


Unseemly portions

I thought were dead



Breathe.  Just breathe.



I hate the hunger.


I thought

she was getting better.


She was, so they said,

but it never leaves.



An English Creative Writing major at Penn State University, Jonathan Giles maintains an active website focusing on poetry and non-fiction and hosts bi-weekly writers’ groups (fiction and poetry) in Durham, North Carolina.


fluttering birds build their nests

singing farmers sow their fields

gentle rains bring happy hearts

heavy clouds, sorrow


green gardens glisten

tears stream down her cheeks

promise to return

son has gone


many moons have passed

trees have grown taller

blossoms have fallen

she still waits


her heart beats faster

village twitter spreads

rich man, pregnant wife

travel home


eyes afire, hopeful

body bowed, thankful

patience rewarded

joy threefold


sweet-smelling roses

unfold swollen buds

butterflies rejoice

bees hum rounds



Joyce Kopp is an aspiring poet transplanted from Pennsylvania to Texas.

Better than Starbucks began wholly as a creation in my mind. Now the wonderful collaboration of dedicated editors is creating a 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.

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

The Cult of Lichen


It creeps everywhere, this misshapen cousin of nature’s most splendid lush carpeting. Insinuating its leprous path across monuments of nature and artificiality alike, I find myself reminded of the persistence of existence left behind and I ache for it.


Residing atop rotted earthen and inorganic majesty, what is the significance of such an unrefined comforter of memorials to the forgotten, this life upon life, life upon death?


In an expansive schoolyard of my youth, longer ago that I can recall, I discovered its repellant beauty; a symbiotic fusion of fungus and algae that has continued to haunt me into adulthood. To this day, I feel its subsistence in my life flow, affecting my perception of time, of life and death, of good and evil.


As the cacophony of children enjoying recess slowly dissipated, an enveloping sun began to direct its spotlight upon a small grouping of six-year-old schoolgirls gathered around the schoolyard’s concrete spring. My little classmate, our self-proclaimed leader, who I am reminded of in no other way than as an owner of premature temerity and self-possession, proceeded to lead us into the vortex of the cult of Lichen.


Not recalling her exact words, only a translucent indication as to which formations were deemed poisonous or benign, which was impervious to touch and regard without grave reprisal, and which was safe to scratch off with our little fingers.


The more gelatinous formation with the dark yellow-brown tint was to be avoided at all cost—it possessed evil characteristics, perhaps because it was so unseemly in form and color. Its flakier, powdery, more ethereal counterpart was considered the antithesis of the former: a Glinda to the Wicked Witch of the West.


I’ve long since not been able to avoid those haunted memories I can’t seem to recall, elicited by its peculiar presence that has decorated history for centuries.


Our survival of that long-ago day trip to another dimension and the schoolyard lesson of the lichen has left me haunted and to this day, I still ache for it.



Dominique Williams grew up in New York City’s Greenwich Village. She inherited a love of the written word from her mother who is a writer, and a love of art from her father who was a noted Greek-born artist.

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