Formal & Rhyming Poetry                                        with Vera Ignatowitsch

            Getting Current

 

He must have heard a grownup say,

“We’re getting current.” That’s the way

in later years he thought of it.

One night a neighbor’s barn was lit

by stark electric light, so clean

it made the muted kerosene

look smudged and yellow. Driving back

from town along the narrow track

of gravel ruts, his father at

the wheel, the seven-year-old sat

in silence, and turned his head to watch

the glowing barn behind a swatch

of windbreak willows along the road

that made it flicker, as if in code,

now on, now off, a message beamed

from some bright time ahead. It seemed

to say that life would change and change —

and change. For now, the new-lit grange

proclaimed an end to early night.

Before the month was out, the light

came on inside their milking shed:

“Work first, then play,” his father said,

as if it were frivolity

for people in a house to see

their way upstairs and down, to read

a book, to dress, without the need

to burn a smelly, smoky wick.

His mother’s protests did the trick;

from pole to pole the line progressed

from shed to barn to house. The rest,

as people say, is history.

The rural folk at least were free

of living and working by the sun.

And that, they found, was only one

of many blessings. TV soon

would bring these rural folk the boon

of never feeling quite content.

And that’s what “getting current” meant.

 

 

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.

Heartbeats in the Gravel

 

Maple leaves drop, pumpkin, pink, maroon,

copper, ochre, crimson, cream, and lemon;

like flocks of Monarch butterflies, they light

on shallows where magenta-barred chum salmon

churn the golden gravel with their tails

and loose their eggs, each globe a rosy moon,

to troll the redds in milky ways of milt.

Then dusk. As spawners fail, their pewter scales

glint weakly; fallen leaves, in shadows spilt

by leafless trees, turn gray. The summer over,

they swam upstream to dreams of autumn colour

through pools of memory. October night

turns vividness to lividness; the ova,

like lingering love, live on, not black, but mauve.

 

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

The Triumph of Roses

 

The young earth hardened, heated, split, then froze,

but still could not disorient the rose.

 

We kept the emails, pictures, cards in files;

But where, how, could we document a rose?

 

Sleepless without you, nights etched in glass,

I see the world through temperamental rose.

 

They grace the small, as if to taunt the great—

such beauty humbles monuments and pharoahs.

 

The poetry of petals is the science

 of opening the hub, the pent-up rose.

 

With thorny vines like pythons winding hard,

Who crushed what seemed so permanent . . . the rose?

 

Immobilized with longing, I sent hope

and dreamed of your reply—but you sent arrows.

 

One day the oceans will turn flaming orange;

The sky, a dusky firmament of rose.

 

A man may practice cruelty and thrust

But these will never circumvent the rose.

 

Your love, Siham, dispersed by wasps and wind,

returns fecund and innocent as a rose.

 

First published in The Ghazal Page.

 

Siham Karami’s poetry has been published in The Comstock Review, Able Muse, The Rumpus, Measure, and Orchards Poetry, and has been nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Limericks & Lighthearted Verse

        Treat — OR ELSE

 

So precious are wee trick or treaters,

much-loved by us generous greeters.

With sacks overflowing

and bright faces glowing,

they are grateful, sweet candy-eaters.

 

Then droves of six-footers come brawling

For buckets of candy they’re calling.

In fake kiddie voices,

they make clear the choices:

I treat or they'll trick. So appalling!

 

“No treat” starts the six-footers scheming.

Those ghosties and ghoulies start screaming.

My pumpkins they’re smashing.

Through fences they’re crashing.

By midnight the Charmin is streaming.

 

Janice Canerdy’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Better Than Starbucks, The Lyric Magazine, Parody Magazine, Westward Quarterly, Light, and Lighten Up Online.

TWO MUFFLED REPORTS

 

Strung Out

A trainee professional harpist

Felt his fingers were not at their sharpest,

   But his test turned out fine

   So he went out for wine

And was found, late at night, in a bar . . .

 

 

Field Trial

(On learning that hops belong

to the family Cannabinaceae)

 

A student with lots up on top

Stuffed his pipe with a species of hop.

    He said that he planned

    For his mind to expand,

Which it did, until suddenly . . .

 

 

From Herefordshire, Jerome Betts edits Lighten Up Online in Devon. His verse has appeared in Light, The Asses of Parnassus, New Verse News, Parody, Per Contra, Snakeskin and other places.

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

LARRY NASSAR

 

For all those years, I loved the way I felt:

The first was like a pocket made of plush.

God would forgive, so it was not my fault.

 

The years passed. My check box was default:

Winning, man to man, and coach to coach.

For all those years, I loved the way I felt,

 

Underneath the sheet, below the belt.

It was a treatment, I said. There was no rush.

God would forgive, so it was not my fault.

 

When girls spoke out, I did not express guilt:

No. Because they all were mine to touch.

For all those years, I loved the way I felt.

 

I grew them, like small flowers, out of silt.

It was my hands that made them: velvet, lush.

God would forgive, so it was not my fault.

 

It was all right, I told myself. Self-styled,

Banal, I was their deepest, darkest wish.

For all those years, I loved the way I felt.

God would forgive, so it was not my fault.

 

LARRY NASSAR VICTIM

 

How did I know that it was wrong? You know,

Now that I’m older, it is obvious.

He was a god, and what he said would go.

 

He didn’t use the gloves, and touched just so.

He said that he was just relieving stress.

How did I know it was wrong? You know,

 

Some things give you sadness, vertigo,

And other things just make you hopeless.

He was a god, and what he said would go:

 

Convinced us all that we could not say no.

He told our parents, coaches, and their bosses.

How did I know that it was wrong? You know,

 

I thought of killing myself. I thought it was true:

That it was my fault. He fingered all my losses.

He was a god, and what he said would go.

 

Then, one day, his was not the word of law.

We spoke, each one a secret victim-witness.

How did I know that it was wrong? You know,

He was a god. That was not so long ago.

 

 

Kim Bridgford is the director of Poetry by the Sea, the editor of Mezzo Cammin, and the author of ten books of poems, including Human Interest.  She is currently on sabbatical, reading about Antarctica.

            Some Things

 

Some things happen when you sleep;

For all your vigilance and care,

You cannot always be aware,

Or keep the vigil you would keep.

 

Some things are changed when you awake,

And though the day's work goes as planned,

Your real work is to understand

The sense that things refuse to make.

 

            It Scares Me

 

“The fault, dear Brutus . . .” Most times I agree

With those who choose to think our wills are free,

Although some choices willy-nilly lead

To such a choice as stanch the wound or bleed.

 

But now and then I view events in course

And wonder whether there must be some Force

Deciding every outcome, laughing at

The ones who think they can do this or that.

 

It scares me: If Someone preordains

One outcome, nothing of free will remains,

Because what happens anywhere must cause

Another thing to happen—nature’s laws

 

Cannot be brushed aside. Did Someone write

This poem that I only bring to light?

 

 

The late David Berman was a student of Robert Lowell and Archibald MacLeish. A dedicated Powow River Poet, his work appeared in many top journals and three chapbooks.

WITH THE BATH WATER

 

When data started to accumulate,

we didn't think the end would be so tragic.

Facts were such fun, we could eliminate

non-facts. And so we threw away the magic,

the charms, the spells, the powers that removed

all obstacles, the sacred images

that won our wars, brought lover to beloved.

Then we threw out the demigods, the muse,

the spirits in the fountains, planets, trees,

followed by symbols, sacraments — what use

did modern myth-free mortals have for these?

Our reason set no limit to our pride.

Did we kill God, or was it suicide?

 

First published in FIRST THINGS

 

Gail White is a Formalist poet whose work appears regularly in such journals as Measure, Raintown Review, and Rotary Dial. She is a contributing editor of Light Poetry Magazine. Her most recent collections are Asperity Street, and Catechism.

September

As the summer slows down to a crawl,
When the apples are nearly in season
          At the threshold of fall,
          It’s foreseeable then
          That a rush of unreason
Will arise from endorphin-rich brains
Of indigenous women and men
          Who applaud when it rains.

In the meadows they’d mown only once,
Where the forbs and perennial grasses
          Are the groundwork for hunts
          Yet to come, there’s no doubt
          All the lads and their lasses
Are ecstatic and ready to roll
In unharvested hayfields, without
          Any aim or control—

Though a seasoned partaker might say
That composure and caution don’t matter:
          At the end of the day,
          Whatsoever was planned,
          There’s a wind that shall scatter
The most carefully husbanded seed
Far abroad on this bounteous land,
          Irrespective of creed.

So lie down in the glistening dew
And behold the near reaches of Glory,
          For the limitless blue
          Is a channel whereby
          The continuing story
Of affairs that have often recurred
Is transported direct from the sky
          On the wings of a bird.

There are times when the will may forget
What the conscience must later remember,
          But the deepest regret
          Is the failure to live
          To the full. It’s September,
And October’s no less an event
Where there’s nothing for God to forgive
          And no need to repent.

first published in Blue Unicorn, Volume XXXVIII, Number 1

 

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.

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