Better Than Starbucks
Poetry and Fiction Journal
. . . if you love diversity and creative writing in any and every form, then you’re in the right place . . .
Vol VII No IV
February, May, August,
Threadbare school floor
converts into home.
Flames growl through boroughs.
Drizzle chances, stinted weight.
Armoured sneak-up vans menace.
converts into home.
Apple-pie order through boroughs.
Drizzle freshens lanes.
Soup wagons rumble.
Christopher Barnes has won a Northern Arts writers award. Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partakes in workshops. His collection Lovebites was published by Chanticleer Press.
Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali
After Dorothy Parker and Gertrude Stein
What fresh hell is this? What is this hell fresh?
Is hell fresh what this? What this is fresh hell?
Fresh is what, this hell? This what, is hell fresh?
This fresh is hell? What? This hell fresh is? Hell?
What this hell is? What, this hell is fresh? What
Fresh? What Is fresh, this hell? Hell this what is?
Fresh is this hell? Hell fresh this is? Hell what?
This fresh? Is hell this fresh? What? What Is this?
Is this what? This is what, fresh? What Is fresh?
What Is hell? Is fresh? What, fresh hell? Fresh what?
What is what? Is fresh what this is? It is?
Is it what it is? What is it? Is what?
It? Fresh hell is what this is. Hell, fresh hell
It is, fresh, with raisins in it, this fresh hell.
R Longfield was born in Chamblee Georgia, grew up in southwestern Orange County, CA, and has lived most of her adult life in the Inland Empire area of Southern California.
Sweet and Sour
(Anglo-Saxon style riddle)
One door of five welcomes this guest.
Though bringing burdens she bears ours away.
Two staffs support her when, skipping, hobbling,
In black-dotted dress she dances by;
Warmly invited, once taken in
Hard to send home, she heals with charm
But her darker side saddens us too.
Let a scene be merry, she makes it so,
Yet some in her nearness never feel joy.
Quarreled over, misunderstood,
She speaks a language souls only know.
Donald Mace Williams is a retired newspaper writer and editor with a Ph.D. in Beowulfian prosody. His narrative poem “Wolfe,” a ranchland transformation of the Beowulf-Grendel story, will soon emerge in its third published form. He lives in the Texas Panhandle.
On Stuart Hall’s Thinking the Diaspora: Home-Thoughts from Abroad
“We cannot return to a bygone unity, for we can only know the past, memory, the unconscious through its effects . . .” — Stuart Hall
the face of home wrinkles with time, folding memories and memoirs in its creases. being unrecognizable, he runs to find a home. you belong. in houses lost, and people broken, you belong in the scars of the Kristallnacht, in the spilled blood when saffron and green collided, and rivers of red streamed across the LoC, and your screams muffled but all you could hear was a command, “khol do” as you undid the strings of your garment, and in the curfewed nights when oil lamps were put off and the moon had blood clots, and the ‘scrawny little fishermen’s kids’ lay dead on the Gaza shore.
you did not return home.
home did not return to you.
home did not return to home.
there is no home.
khol do is Urdu for open up; also the title of Saadat Hasan Manto's eponymous short story
Dr. Roopam Mishra (she/her) is a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies from India and was a Fulbright scholar at Brown University. Her works have appeared in anthologies and in the journals such as Confluence Magazine, Setu, and Lochraven Review.
grasp from bone to throat
will warble like a flute at air
music uttered with a gasp
& emptiness of hand
in the space between
what must become a fist against embedded stone clenched clasped strikes bone
tool tone pain the softly surfaced
mind to map disembodied how it
day slips beyond its grasp
at air music uttered
with what must become
a fist maps disembodied how it day
will warble like a flute the softly surfaced mind
to a grasp at emptiness against embedded stone
clenched clasped to grasp from bone
to throat hand in space between
strikes of bone tool tone & pain
like a flute's emptiness against the embedded softly surfaced mind
how it day will from bone to throat
hand in space grasp with what must become between
bone tool a fist map strikes at air
disembodied music uttered
First published in The HyperTexts.
Robin Ouzman Hislop’s poetics cultivate a relationship between ecological & mindbody processes and experimental work. He has co-authored translations of contemporary Spanish poets into English and written and performed numerous audio-visual video poems.
A Pastoral Cacophony
As morning’s first blush slips through the mizzling mist, dawn’s chorus begins. The woodland world wakes, nestlings fluff their feathers, squish together and listen to their twitter song.
Blackbirds sing a low mellow tone blending choral notes to a dayspring chant. Red-breasted robins' antiphonal tweets twitter back and forth. A cool zephyr breezes through the budding trees, and a hermit thrush adds a rhythmic woodwind harmony.
Chee-pippety-chee-chee, Jenny wren joins in with a light peppy lilt, stepping up the beat. Colorful warblers echo a descant as tiny rainbows shimmer in twilight’s dew. A cappella chorus in one voice sings a spring aria.
A blue jay’s catcall
signals a tail twitching taunt,
kitty in the weeds.
Rhonda Bronte Brown is a retired counselor/teacher who lives in Arkansas. She was published in Better Than Starbucks, the Trouvaille Review, and Haiku Seed Journal in February and March 2022. She also writes children’s books. Find her online at https://brontebrown2.com.
Geometric Forms by Jean Arp
Floating on Air
the only Nihongo I know
brings the clang
of glasses filling the space
while I am spinning on air
she waits in the dark
while he rushes through
patrons praise the chef
they consume a fiery feast
was it him
or the splendor of the night
that lured me
into his warm embrace
a night of pas de deux
adrift in the blues
a roller coaster of smooth dips
shaking until we come loose
floating through the moonlight
music fills the air
wild moths drawn to the flame
out of darkness
into the burning light
we dance into timelessness.
Dean Okamura lives in Torrance, California. He enjoys writing short poems exploring moments in life.
Genie Nakano is a dancer, poet, and yoga teacher. Her tanka, haiku, and short stories have been published in journals and books online and internationally. She has published 3 books of poetry. Her website is GenieNakano.com.
Heavenly leopard gazes into the fire
Coiled, crouching, poised between landing and springing, the muscles relaxed in the posture, elastic sinews taut, fascia pumped, amber eyes speckled with the sparks from war ravaged villages littering centuries of domination, resistance, retaliation. Measuring distance in heartbeats, everyone is a drum the night sky is deaf or indifferent to and the only gods a leopard knows are Lord and Lady Hunger. The leopard ate them both long ago and licked her whiskers clean though they, as gods have a habit of doing, resurrect themselves and require attention. Their divine cries divide you from wholeness, force you into abstractions, multiplications of yourself so you recognise the leopard by the spaces rather than its unchangeable spots, the fire only on account of the smoke stinging your eyes, your own absence through the feed of Instagramed selfies, the filtered image by its repost and heaven as an elsewhere beyond the documentary footage of the latest bombardment. Glance away for a moment and the leopard melts into whatever background it’s chosen, reappearing only through the movement of its charge. The epiphany it teaches is brief.
Bob Beagrie (PhD) is a widely published poet living in the North East of England. He is a senior lecturer in Creative Writing at Teesside University.
Uncle’s eyes unseeing like his brother’s, my father’s. Uncle’s thick, black, ugly hair bunched under his thinning Western shirt, the top button unbuttoned, more hair rising past the button, the collar, to meet his neck where a bit of skin wobbles when he laughs, when he throws his head back like his brother, his lips pulled back from his yellowed teeth. U is my hand around uncle’s arm, the link from my unease to his guilt, his need to my shame. “I want to know,” he wrote in his letter, “why I can’t see, why you can.” U is for unemployment or uneducated, for eyes unable to discern son from daughter, counter from couch, moon from small star. There are memories of Father, his underwear slipping off, his hands lost under my nightgown. U is for making a girl unholy night after night, for urge and unravel, for numb. U is for uncle reaching for my hand now, not understanding why I was quiet, why I pulled away.