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Featured Poems​


Editor's Choice:

            Written in Despair


She crests the hill between their farm and town

and ponders their west fifty in the sun.

The new-tilled soil glistens a richer brown,

but half the morning work remains undone.

Abandoned at a furrow-end, the plow

is punctuation — a period? a dash?

a finish, or a pause?  She shades her brow

to read the message in the ruts that slash

across the tillage, as if a writer struck

his morning’s labor in despair. The line

leads home where, in the yard, beside the truck,

the John Deere clicks as it cools. She knows the sign.

If only she could strike a lifetime spent.

No lease or purchase should be ironclad —

no earthly contract — as the sacrament

that keeps her throwing good years after bad.

Her pickup rattles across the cattleguard.

The house is silent, as if there’s no one home.

She steers the tractor back across the yard

to finish the story written in the loam.


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.


Publisher's Choice:


Jardín Los Viveros

—Valencia, España


It’s rare to even exist;

the quest for calm comes

second to the wind’s relief

tickling the silver hairs on the back

of a blue-collared neck who checks

his watch for the end of his 30 minute break,

while he feeds fuzzy-headed peaches

to fuzzy-haired children, who dance

in dead leaves under swaying Spanish moss.


Impossible to seek solitude

from a willow’s earthly locks as they cascade

down in forest-green waterfalls, her tendrils

tickling the grass until they wet themselves

with laughter, their morning dew erased by

the leaps of woolly squirrels

on their overgrown jungle gym.


Hard to convince the wind

your peace is more important than lifting

up the weathered leaves who aren’t strong

enough to hold on, because

a driver’s 10 and 2

is curling his mustache

and flicking his Marlboro, while

barreling into the carefully-placed canopies

sending her children to the ground.


And yes, I know it’s selfish to ask the quiet to stifle

the gray moss waltzing in the breeze—

the gust a perfect partner. She belongs here,

foreign or not, because she’s relentless,

her slick, skinny limbs encompassing

each leaf, giving shade to sunburnt branches

while pooling as pillows

for those who have no homes.



Brittney Rangel graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing. She currently teaches and is finishing her Masters of Arts in English Education. Brittney lives in St. Petersburg.

Better Than Starbucks 2018 Haiku Contest
sponsored by John DeCesare and CraftekDesign

                    First Prize $50
                    Second Prize $30
                    Third Prize $20

The Interview

with  Jerome Rothenberg

by Anthony Watkins


Jerome Rothenberg, image credit Adine Sagalyn

Jerome Rothenberg is an American poet, translator and anthologist He is noted for his work in the fields of ethnopoetics and performance poetry. In the late 1950s, he published translations of German poets, including the first English translation of poems by Paul Celan and Günter Grass, among others. He founded Hawks Well Press and the magazines Poems from the Floating World and some/thing, publishing work by important American avant-garde poets, as well as his first collection, White Sun Black Sun. He wrote poems he described as “deep image." By the end of the 1960s, he had also become active in poetry performance and had opened the range of his experimental work well beyond the earlier “deep image” poetry. He has published over seventy books of poetry, translation, and assemblage since 1970.

AW: You have lived an interesting life! How did you come to poetry?


JR: It happened a number of times, but most memorably for me it was sometime in my mid-teens when I discovered poets like Stein and Cummings, and it came to me that language wasn’t frozen in place but open again and again to changes, as we make them. A few years later I was one of a group of students having lunch with William Carlos Williams who was visiting us at City College in New York, when Williams, himself the child of immigrants like most of us, prodded us in relation to the American language, which he urged us was ours to own and redefine. His words went deep into my mind: “Take hold of it. Possess it. Smash it to hell! You have a right to it.”


AW: And maybe as importantly, how did you come to YOUR poetry?


JR: Coming to MY poetry seemed called for in the beginning, but a couple of decades later I began to feel that the more important thing was to open my mind and voice to others, to take freely from the work and words of others, and even to make myself into a conduit for other voices, other times: the kind of challenge that Whitman set for us that long ago. (And so on.) I can’t begin to tell you how liberating that was and how my discovery of that kind of othering really set for me my own life’s work.

....and now...

...from the mind of...

the Mad Poet 

poetry magazine, editor, Anthony Uplandpoet Watkins, Anthony Watkins

We have a new publication schedule.

Better Than Starbucks will now be published bi-monthly (every two months).

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