Free Verse Poetry
My friend said
“La vida es como un pañuelo,”
we circuit the school track.
I laugh, puzzled by the phrase,
foreign to my ears, in Yucatán.
She removes her bandana,
pulls the corners together,
creates red-cloth arch.
Two women meet in Mérida,
México, each far from home.
Last together in the USA.
What are the odds?
Perhaps the world folds,
a handkerchief, and we
balance on its crease.
Susan J. Wurtzburg lives in Hawaii. Her poetry has appeared in Bindweed Magazine, Poetry and Covid, Rat’s Ass Review, The Literary Nest, The Pen Woman, Verse-Virtual, and Quince Magazine.
I drive along the intracoastal waterway
trying to resketch Monday.
The gray-blue sheen, a reprieve from a day
trying to remember the timbre of her voice.
Her pitch, her beat, her comedy-watch laugh
between puckers of lemonade.
Hoping the summer open windows
will do the trick, a seagull-soft-soprano
distraction. Boats undeterred against the current,
swallowing up this Georgia afternoon ache.
Sarah Mackey Kirby is a Kentucky poet who lives in Louisville. Her poetry collection, The Taste of Your Music, was published by Impspired in 2021. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Chiron Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. https://smkirby.com
From Inside the Dark Is Candy
I can hear the end of my life knocking around in a can.
It’s one of those old steel pull top jobs
where the painted label’s rusted away with the fizz.
I’ve moved dozens of times,
twice to foreign lands,
and simply forgot I’d been carrying it with me.
The insistent clatter from inside the dark is self-evident.
I pull the seat cushions and telephone directories
from off my head, stomp to the shelf,
yank at the pull tab.
A rock the size of a hard peppermint candy
grandma kept in a bowl near her armchair.
At first I’m afraid to touch it,
but then I can’t keep my mitts off it.
Unbearably hot and bitterly cold,
I toss it from palm to palm.
My neighbor doesn’t know what to make of it.
She shakes it vigorously then holds it in front of the window.
She drops it in a glass of milk.
She has a book on alchemy and a magnifying glass.
I stop her before she can boil it.
It’s there in the middle of a coffee ring on her table,
itching to clock me right in the temple.
James Fleet Underwood is a poet and English teacher residing in central Thailand. In addition to writing poems, he is an avid cyclist and runner and spends many hours each week dodging the local buffaloes.
Did you ever wonder who the mother of Icarus was?
Did you ever wonder if he had an Oedipus complex?
We know nothing whatsoever
of the wife of Daedalus, Icarus’s mother.
Who the hell was she?
Do you think she would have allowed
her only son to do that dumb thing he did,
fly so close to the sun
with those idiotic waxen wings?
Of course, she isn’t in the story.
There would be no story if she were.
It’s the same with Lear.
Shakespeare knew what he was doing.
It never fails.
The wives, the mothers, are never around
when you need them most.
Had Lear’s wife been there to stop the nonsense,
forget the whole thing.
No tragedy today, ladies and gentlemen.
No eyes gouged out.
No beautiful golden boy drowning in the sea.
Nominated for the National Book Award and twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, J.R. Solonche is the author of twenty-six books of poetry and coauthor of another. He lives in the Hudson Valley.
I hoard yesterdays
as though they might aid today
or take some edge
I am living less,
all those minutes
of the past
the finite time
left before me.
and yet still gathering them
to me, as though they are warmth
and I am cold to my very bones.
Edward Lee’s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib, and Poetry Wales. His play Wall was part of Druid Theatre’s Druid Debuts 2020.
I told her that she would run out
but she was adamant and so
we lay on the ground
looking straight up
as the snow fell as embers
through the streetlight
she pointed at a snowflake
a snowflake later
the names dried up
she became angry
I laughed harder
she nudged me
with her elbow
we lay there for a while
in the snowy quiet
I wish the snow could fall forever dad.
barely a whisper
I think the last flake
was called Jemima
Steve Denehan lives in Ireland with his family. He is an award-winning poet and the author of two chapbooks and three collections.
i turn off the valve
& stand before the veil
i’ll never get clean
trapped in this suit of skin
i gaze thru dozens of beads
dotting the torn shower curtain
strange beast w/ many eyes
not created for the world
i daydream about standing here
until my flesh falls to my feet
& my organs liquify
disappearing down the drain
& how only then i’d be ready
to enter the world again
an untrembling skeleton
Drink with me as I sing to you tonight.
And then we dance into the sunlight, hot
and naked. Sticky and sweet and I don’t
understand your name today, however.
But you kiss my cheek even though the lay
ended hours ago. We’re dirty here
and there. Butts out in the air swinging so.
Yet, without delay you hop your way home.
That dirty love, full
British. I miss it.
Patrick Key started writing seriously later in life. His works have appeared in Sparks of Calliope, Wine Cellar Press, and The Daily Drunk, among others. He is also the founding editor of Grand Little Things. More can be found at https://patrickkeywriter.com.
Schubert and Me
My neighbor, Pete,
adopted a dog
and named him Schubert,
although he claimed
to dislike classical music,
and trips to roadhouses
at the edge of the Everglades
where the bartender
could summon a taxi
when he’d had too much to drink.
You’d never mistake Schubert’s
high-pitched barking for music,
or his short bristly coat
for the composer’s ill-combed hair.
Still, I developed a fondness
for the dog, despite his habit
of licking my face right after he ate,
and wandering unattended on my lawn.
One morning, I found Schubert
asleep at my front door
and offered Pete a dollar
to take him off his hands,
and to my surprise, he said yes.
Now Schubert and I
roam the neighborhood together
I whistle the tune from Erlkönig
and he barks at the squawking
green parrots, refugees
from the last hurricane,
who make their homes
in the palm trees and rooftops,
not minding either of us
claiming the ground as our own.
Michael Minassian is a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual. His poetry collections Time is Not a River, Morning Calm, and A Matter of Timing are all available on Amazon. A new chapbook, Jack Pays a Visit, is due Spring 2022. For more information: https://michaelminassian.com.
You Take Care Of Yourself Now
Philosophers used to swing their dicks,
The earth shook
Hang on some syphilitic’s insanity
No different than the tumbledown sleeping on street corner
Except he’s got my dollar,
That philosopher used to have my time, and attention,
I’d rather part with the dough.
Joe Sonnenblick has been featured in such print and electronic publications as Fleas on The Dog, Impspired, Aji, The Beatnik Cowboy, SCAB Literary Arts Journal, Citizen Brooklyn, The Broadkill Review, Spectra Poets for their inaugural issue, and In Parentheses Literary Magazine.
I’m leaning against the back wall of a too-crowded room,
where hundreds of voices ring like alarm bells.
Every peal of laughter is a knife in my side and
idle chatter never sounded so cruel.
I picture my escape, but while I chart my course,
the clusters and cliques become an endless maze before my eyes.
Someone brushes past me just to get by,
that meaningless moment of touch is pins and needles down my spine.
As I watch their smiling faces and effortless communion
anxiety rises in my chest like the four-o-clock tide.
“I chose this,” I insistently whisper to myself.
As if anyone would choose so much crushing loneliness.
R.M Hines is a Communications major at a liberal arts college in the Boston area. She has written for The Somerville Times and the Endicott Observer as a journalist. This is her debut poetry publication.
I’m one little man
on a bed
In one little room
of one little place
Down a little dirt alley
off a little traveled street
In an oft forgotten city,
as cities go
But, I know
The poems of hummingbirds
And all the mountain trails
PW Covington is a queer, 100% Service-Connected disabled Veteran, living two blocks north of Historic Route 66 in New Mexico, USA. Learn more at www.PWCovington.com.
By the Cliffs of Moher
In fierce clutch of last dreaming,
ancient troops rise in blood darkness.
Breach the door, roust the sleeper
to forced march on the narrow path
twisting between rock face
and the howls of the storm-tossed sea,
unable to see even his boot tops.
Cudgel blows push him forward.
Roots snatch at his feet. Rocks
unhitch themselves where he steps.
Calamity ever near. Once again,
tired of the fight, comes
the call of the unfathomable.
To be cradled, eased of all earth-ache
and soul-wear, a rebirth of his choosing.
A purposed misstep, a drop
into the roil beneath the stark cliffs.
A moment more. A step more.
But coals shift in the fire. Sparks rise.
Old evils loosen their grip.
Night spirits and cold sea mists fade.
The harsh sameness of day awaits.
Kevin Norwood, winner of The Porch Poetry Prize 2020, has poetry published or pending in Edison Review, Iowa Review, Litbreak, Nashville Review, Plainsongs, Tulane Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
In one vigorous talented
burst of rage and desire,
I besought her, bestrode her,
rode her, loved her,
ever cherishing her,
she was never out of my mind;
she touched me.
and in its passing,
I fell away from her,
lost her, lost my caring,
lost my way to her,
learned to be numb,
as we all must.
Later, in the lonely
shadowy years to come,
I performed my everyday duties,
as water in a bowl.
Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener Creative Review, PoeTalk, The Comstock Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, and others, including a few anthologies. He has also been a Pushcart nominee.
Tsunami by Hokusai
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