Formal & Rhyming Poetry                              with Vera Ignatowitsch

Mortal Math

 

Unborn, you’re innocent of numbers now,

so I will do the math: In eighteen years

you’ll graduate; if luck and genes allow

a normal span for me, then it appears

I could be more or less alive to see

that day.  I’ll be a specter in a chair

while everybody stands, deferring to me,

annoyed at my befuddled presence there.

I’m not afraid of age, I hope, nor fear

the only end of age, but hate to think

that image of me will crowd out, year by year,

the real me, growing as I shrink

to little, less, and nothing.  I’ll see all

your childhood, growing up and flourishing;

when you think back on me, you will recall

a hulk, sans teeth, sans sense, sans everything.

 

 

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.

The Mirror

 

For what it’s worth,

while you are out here living life on earth,

you are inside a labyrinth,

randomly drawing nearer

to a central plinth

where stands the torchlit mirror

in which you will discern you are

the monster in the maze.

 

O self-adorer,

pray that, in all your days,

you never get that far.

Pray that you never see that horror.

Pray, pray, for what it’s worth,

that your sunlit reflection stays

lost on the sunlit earth.

 

 

Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His work has appeared in such publications as Best American Poetry, POETRY, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Wolves

 

I’m wakened, drawn towards the ice-thin window,

to witness scenes as faint and still as death.

How bleak the moon; how bare the trees and meadows;

sky’s pale maw overhangs

Earth bleached beneath star fangs.

Night’s curled lip sneers on shadows

of mountains set like teeth.

 

Two bow waves shear the median of the valley,

iced hayfield yields as feral muscles glide—

hoar frost disturbed by wakes of live torpedoes.

Gray shoulders breach and lope,

implode and telescope,

impelled by ruthless credos

of chilled and vicious pride.

 

The wolves tear savage furrows down the nightscape;

their eyes are shined with blood, their mission clear.

Grass springs back shocked to green behind their passage—

twin tracks traverse the vales,

cold comets trailing tails

leave scarred in frost, their message:

the wolves, the wolves passed here.

 

 

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 now lives in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island.

A Crack in the Confraternity

     Get out as early as you can,

     And don’t have any kids yourself.—P.L.

 

They hate it when truth

is actually spoken;

 

it contradicts everything

they believe;

 

and thus the pretense

of kinship is broken:

 

when their mantra’s new life

and yours is just leave.

 

Poems by Tom Merrill have recently appeared in two novels as epigraphs. His latest book, Time in Eternity, can be purchased from Ancient Cypress Press.

The Youngest Actors Take the Stage

            the Inn Street Playground at 11:00 am

 

Cleopatra in her golden sandals

clambers up the pyramid to spy

on Mark and Toni,

 

while Mark and Toni, off like Roman candles,

chase another youngster whizzing by—

Oh, that one rides a pony!

 

No, that one is a pony! And this one’s wild

to press a fountain back with her bare hands.

Good luck with that!

 

Good luck with that, and good luck to the child

whose fountain of a ponytail withstands

her trying on a hat.

 

She’s trying on a hat, and aren’t they all?

Here comes Amelia Earhart, who can fly!

There’s Errol Flynn!

 

And Errol Flynn, who’s ten feet tall,

larger-than-life where life is but knee-high,

sports a rakish grin.

 

Flashing that rakish grin, his boots spread wide,

he brandishes his sword over the sea

where tigers swim!

 

Where tigers swim! while, stone-still on the slide,

one toddler waits in vain for gravity

to notice him.

 

Alfred Nicol’s most recent collection of poetry, Animal Psalms, was published in 2016 by Able Muse Press. He has published two other collections, Elegy for Everyone (2009) and Winter Light, which received the 2004 Richard Wilbur Award.

The Job at the Diner

 

He pulled the plastic lever on the urn

he’d cleaned an hour before, and held a mug

to catch the dark brown liquid; he’d return

to this chore many times.  He’d also lug

gray bins of dirty dishes to the back,

and wipe up spills of cereal and juice

and worse, and fetch more syrup for a stack

of pancakes drowned in it, and take abuse

from Old Man Eckart—and throughout, he’d smile.

No, it was not his dream job, and he yearned

for better, but why not do it with style?

He knew that he was more than what he earned.

Sometimes what keeps your day from being hell

is doing what you do extremely well.

 

 

Jean L. Kreiling is the prize-winning author of two poetry collections: Arts & Letters & Love (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014).

Ballade of Gratitude to California

(in recognition of California Governor Gavin Newsom, on his executive order, released Tuesday, June 18, 2019, apologizing for the near extermination of the American Indian)

 

My life’s a miracle, no doubts remain,

So I retain a great belief in healing.

At any given moment in the chain

Of my long lineage, bells might be pealing —

While every Native cousin gathers, kneeling —

To toll the death across the countryside

Of those who’d frame my figure, wit, and feeling.

The state is sorry for the genocide.

 

“Thy brother’s blood, Cain, calls Me from the plain,”

Resounds in me: progenitors appealing.

What drum could not rise, pounding, in the brain?

What understanding mind would not be reeling?

Surely, a “savage” daughter hits the ceiling.

My forebears’ greatest sin was that they lied

To stay alive, and wed what they were “stealing.”

The state is sorry for the genocide.

 

Yet we progress by incremental gain,

Transparent motives, profits, and plain dealing,

As Justice — slow, though sure — rewards our pain,

Like some exotic dancer who’s revealing

Behind a blinding firework pinwheeling,

Who sings, “Help of the helpless, oh, abide…”

I hear an anxious crowd around her squealing,

“The state is sorry for the genocide.”

 

Dear Governor — my thanks for your campaign,

And that the matter now is clarified.

They keep, who keep the meekness to explain

The state is sorry for the genocide.

 

Jennifer Reeser is the author of INDIGENOUS, Able Muse Press. Her writings have appeared in POETRY, Rattle, and The Hudson Review. Her work has been anthologized in Everyman’s Library, Poets Translate Poets, and others.

Lighthearted Verse

Is Universal Love Proscribed?

 

Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Jews

Your sacred texts damn all, save your exclusive tribe.

Renounce your jealous gods and savage texts

 

Which are bad news—reason defiling and excuse

Every torture for the heathen, every ignorant jibe—

Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Jews.

 

Sacred? Warlord history and ancient tribal views

Rewritten by your salesmen-politician scribes.

Renounce your jealous gods and savage texts.

 

Sad centuries of wars and inquisitions whose

Holy justification, your holy books describe—

Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Jews.

 

Denounce your jealous gods who universal love refuse

Instead, demanding intolerant faith as sacred bribe.

Renounce your jealous gods and savage texts.

 

Followers of tribal gods. How many lives must we lose

to your intolerance? Is universal love proscribed

Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Jews?

Renounce your jealous gods and savage texts.

 

 

Douglass Allen is a near octogenarian who has been writing poetry for over 60 years. He recently decided to revise, revise, revise and submit, submit, submit while still compos mentis. He continues to teach at Furman University.

Affidavit

for Lincoln’s second birthday

 

In all sincerity, in truth, in fact,

without equivocation, doubt or guile,

with honest cards (the deck has not been stacked),

forevermore, and not just for a while,

I’ll say, until the universe has ended,

and possibly beyond the death of space,

long after what the Big Bang broke is mended:

above all sights I love my Lincoln’s face.

 

And furthermore, I hereby do avow

that after Time itself has proven mortal,

when there’s no longer anything called Now,

this oath will be delivered through a portal

in Nothing’s void so Emptiness can thrill,

despite the lack of time and lack of place,

to know Existence died and yet know still:

above all sights I love my Lincoln’s face.

 

First Published in Light Quarterly, Nos. 70-71, Autumn-Winter 2010-2011.

 

Robert Schechter’s poems for children have appeared in Highlights, Cricket, Spider, Ladybug, The Caterpillar, and various anthologies. His translations have appeared in The Raintown Review, The Evansville Review, The Alabama Literary Review, Redactions, and String Poets. His website is http://bobschechter.com.

Post Meridiem

 

The moon is full, the moon is blue,

This restless evening in November.

The hours ahead are long though few;

The moon is full, the moon is blue.

My every other thought is you;

If only I could disremember.

The moon is full, the moon is blue,

This restless evening in November.

 

 

Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia. Her poetry has recently appeared in Anglican Theological Review, North Carolina Folklore Journal, and U.S.1 Worksheets. Her collections—the shorter Unloosed and the longer Tides & Currents—are available from Kelsay Books.

The Hyper Texts

“some of the best poetry on the web” Vera Ignatowitsch

Two Chipmunks in Crocus Time

 

My right might be love but theirs was need.

And where the two exist in twain

Theirs was the better right — agreed.

                        — Robert Frost

 

 

The smallest bud vase we could find

Adorns the windowsill.

One tattered bloom is all that’s left.

Striped raiders ate their fill.

 

Last fall we set a dozen corms

And on their black loam bed

We scattered cayenne pepper for

A fiery shield of red.

 

Deep winter held them hard and safe.

We dreamed a springtime show

Of color from the dark beneath

The patient weight of snow.

 

The tender season, newly warm

And damp, thrust up our prize,

Raised cups of gold and purple cheer,

Good health to ice-dulled eyes.

 

We should have reapplied cayenne,

A fresh dose of protection.

Next day we found the flowers felled,

Shredded past resurrection.

 

The eaters’ need, agreed, outranks

Our love of pretty things,

Or so we’d say if we believed

What one old poet sings.

 

I’m adding buy more pepper to

My list of things to do,

And studying a recipe

For homemade chipmunk stew.

 

 

Chris O’Carroll is a Light magazine featured poet whose work has also appeared in New York City Haiku and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, among other collections.

Limericks

E. Estlin went missing the day

that cummings (ee) came to stay.

     Perhaps ee ate him,

     becoming verbatim

a small man of letters per se.

 

First published in Light, 2016.

 

 

When Dorothy Parker ate lunch

(one morsel of salad she’d munch),

     her barbs and bon mots

     led friends to suppose

she lived on her lines of spiked punch.

 

First published in Lighten Up Online, 2016.

 

 

Barbara Lydecker Crane, a prize-winning poet and published in journals including Light, Think, First Things, and Measure, as well as The Writer’s Almanac, is the author of three chapbooks: Zero Gravitas, Alphabetricks, and BackWords Logic. She’s also an artist.

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

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