Free Verse Poetry

I dream of the Mayans creating a communal garden

in my industrial neighborhood. Seeds buried—sprout,

burst through concrete. They create a templo out of vines,

and metal—only the chosen may enter, warriors in leather.

 

Hours in the sun they gather poblanos, pasillas

and nopalitos—roasting peppers, and scraping

off cactus spines in preparation for the nightly feast.

 

Here they are worth more than any victorious battle,

they nourish—heal the old wounds colonizers inflicted

centuries ago. I am just a bruja longing to join them.

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in IceFloe Press, Mineral Lit Mag, The Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost Heart, 24hr Neon, and more. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine.

Static

I used to think that joy

Was like fashion —

You could wear it, even if it wasn’t you.

But now I see that joy

Is like my radio —

Not because there’s a switch,

But because sometimes the

Dead zones

Make no sense, and come swiftly

The tunnels and valleys,

Hillsides and hilltops,

Change the noise

And too often I change the channel

Instead of waiting for the static

To form words.

Sean Joseph Pino is a 24-year-old writer currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. Outside of writing, his interests include photography, backpacking, surfing, and medicine. His writing attempts to reflect the emotions and cognitions that unite us.

Nothing Greater

For God is that which nothing greater can be thought.

       —Saint Anselm, Proslogion, Latin “discourse.”

 

Should I have

infrared sight of a honeybee

echolocation of a bat

smell prowess of an African elephant

taste perception of a catfish

touch sense of a Star-nose mole

mentally solve Riemann hypothesis . . .

 

peel beneath sub-atoms

playing hide-and seek

in quantum tunnels

 

peer through Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field

at billions of light-year-distant galaxies

sparking, spinning, quickening in great pitch . . .

 

peek ahead of the edge of this universe beyond

infinity . . . eternity . . .

 

Someone is greater.

Peter C Venable has written both free and metric verse for decades, and gratefully has been selected herein previously. Visit him at petervenable.com.

New Apartment

I hear trains often at my new apartment,

but I never see them.

I’m told the factory blocks

my view of the tracks.

The man who told me this

has a very thick Russian accent.

He says hateful things to his wife

at night. I hear him.

 

Another tenant tells me that

the trains carry chemicals.

These, he believes, are used to produce

plastic jugs. I don’t care about this.

There are moments in life like this, aren’t there?

When the universe could simply disintegrate,

planets could turn to sand and no one would mind,

because the novelty has worn off.

Adam Todd is originally from Kentucky. He currently lives in Indiana.

The Sounds Before the Sounds I Knew Before

Everyone says it’s quieter now, but there are more sounds:

Not the bird’s song, but the first lift of its wing.

Not a rustling of leaves, but the flip flop as one leaf

turns over, back and forth.

The intake of breath before the shout of a child.

 

When I stand still, I hear the grass tap against its fellow blade.

When I walk, I hear my foot raise, peeling away from the soft pine needles.

The sounds before the sounds I knew before.

 

I should wear a softer jacket.

I have to hold my arms rigid by my sides to stop the shiny rubbing that mutes all else.

Otherwise I won’t know what I can hear and what I cannot.

 

The listening itself is a reaching out. A stretching.

 

Only the trees hold their secret quietness.

I go close to them and find a cool darkness

Made of sounds I have yet to hear.

Olivia Hajioff, a Fulbright scholar, has written since early childhood. Her first published story was televised as a children’s ballet for the British television show Freetime. She was also a finalist in the Cadbury’s Short Story Competition at age ten.

Between Sunday School and Church, Just Prior to Their First Communion, Pre-Teens of First Baptist Church, Wakinsville, Georgia, Slide Down the Grassy Slopes of an Excavation That Was Expected to Fill with Rain Water and Become a Pond, but Never Did Either

They have no language for what they all become.

Sunday School notwithstanding, there’s no language

for their sliding.  Church clothes change to gravestone rubbings,

 

stained by red clay, grass, detritus plenicolor.

Darwin in abeyance, they’re fish by the bottom,

beyond instruction or parental admonition.

 

They dream fish dreams of tractable ooze, deep weeds, light

streaming, chiaroscuro, from the surface, while down

deeper, gathered round a dead aerator, catfish,

 

pike, alligator gar imagine cut banks, oxbow

lakes, the privacy of first cigarettes, darkness

presaging lightning strikes at dim fry in the shallows,

 

stirred silt, the violence, satisfactions

separate and singular.  But parents tempt

with donuts, attendance stickers.   Coaxed up the bank,

 

their reds, greens, fade beneath the hands of spit-shining

moms, pant-dusting, impatient dads. They shrug against

improvement, slouch audacity.  They fidget with

 

their families throughout the service, awaiting

their first communion.  The body and blood of Christ,

they’re told, these splashes of grape juice, these stale crackers.

 

Not enough.  They can’t say how they know, but they must,

that such is a greyhound’s rabbit, an edging, not

the downward slide into the dark miraculous.

Samuel Prestridge lives and works in Athens, Georgia. He has published articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Better Than Starbucks, Arkansas Review, As It Ought to Be, Appalachian Quarterly, Paideuma, Poem, The Lullwater Review, and Southern Humanities Review.

Quick

Quick — a bookmark.

A few words

sparse on a page

(bird-prints on snow,

the bird just the

right weight)

have set the white

of my mind on fire.

And I’m only half-

way through!

I must do what I

must do

then get back to this

with expedition.

You hear me complain

how rarely my loins

catch fire these days.

Well, my mind,

an even wetter match,

makes the soggy sulfur

molding in my crotch

scorch like a desert.

Timothy Robbins teaches English as a second language. He has published three volumes of poetry: Three New Poets (Hanging Loose Press), Denny’s Arbor Vitae (Adelaide Books), and Carrying Bodies (Main Street Rag Press). He lives in Wisconsin with his husband of 21 years.

Vexation in the Garden

where shall I run if the dormant grass remains

to prick my bare soles as I scurry to the other side

in pursuit of this child whom I would give my very life

though her life may not mirror my own

the string in her hand that balloon in the sky

seem so simple at sunset

the clouds they agree not to deter this memory

with rain and fulmination

sunrays gleam and glow even more

the added warmth does strange things to the skin

she does not know to compare the future with the past

she trusts her mother, her father, and the heavens

the twilight would never lie but right and wrong can touch tomorrow

and when tomorrow touches her I pray

it is with hands as gentle as mine

Richard Carl Evans was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1957. A high school graduate and lover of the arts, poetry entered his life in 1995. The book, Writing The Natural Way, by Gabrielle Lusser-Rico sent him spiraling hopelessly into verse.

A polka-dotted nightdress

The moon slips above the embankment drawing

her skirt over the sleeping pond and casting

a luminous light on things that have nothing to

do with moons. Far below an old woman yawns

and says to herself, “It’s night and another day

will be rolling in soon,” and, raising her wide

eyes, she is filled with adoration, content

to sit where she is for the time being. Her

eyelids flutter and draw a curtain on earth,

muting the nonsensical mutterings of voices.

The greed of the living and all humankind,

with its prejudices, are bathed in the light

of a blank eye, and thoughts fly like birds

into the mesh of stars glittering on high.

Linda Copman is a lifelong lover of words and their power to help her connect to the world and to the other beings that dwell there.

On the Escalator in Liffey Valley

I don’t drink

have never been drunk

unusual

for an Irishman

 

in Spain, two summers ago

we got talking to an English couple

spent an evening with them

they drank and kept at it

were amazed

at the non-drinking Irishman

and when I told them

that at home, I was famous

I think they half believed me

 

I have never been drunk

have never stood too close to a stranger

to tell them

with swollen tongue and loose lips

that I love them

have never tried to pick up a pint

only to knock it to the floor

have never walked down a midnight street

shout-singing

on a company night out

have never vomited behind the bins

in a back alley

have never blacked out

to wake up

hungover

 

but

when I looked at you

that day

on the escalator in Liffey Valley

I felt the whole world tilt

Steve Denehan lives in Ireland with his family. He is an award-winning poet and the author of two chapbooks and two collections (one upcoming from Salmon Press).

Persephone’s Manners

She never asked for your fruit,

knowing the taste of poison.

You called her beautiful bird,

after closing her cage door.

You tricked her behind golden

bars with her mother’s manners.

You had her sit crossed legged

at a marble table.

 

You drowned the spring poems

dancing in her head.

Her voice stopped —

it would be rude to refuse,

and she let you touch her

lace slip.

 

You watched her eat

with her mouth closed.

 

She swallowed

sweet pomegranates.

While you were deep inside

you became the parasite

and called it a deal.

 

You made your winter the world’s.

Natalie Marino is a writer, mother, and physician. She graduated with a BA in American Literature from UCLA. Her work appears in Barren Magazine, Capsule Stories, Floodlight Editions, LEON Literary Review, and other journals. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California.

Lulworth Cove

How about a lullaby to hold you awake?

Here’s some shingle from the sea, cupped like a lake

In the palm of my heart: I hope you hear

The smack of a kiss on a baby’s fat and the waves;

Smell the smoky hole of an old man’s open grin,

Then the caves. Here are my nails on your face

To keep you up as we drive home,

Those are the rivers flowing red and white

In lights through the gloom and here is the stain

On the rearview

Mirror from the seafoam

And the shadow, catching up with us in the car.

Jessica Brown is a London-born poet and recent graduate of the University of Oxford. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bloodaxe Archive Challenge and published in The Mays Anthology (edited by Mary Jean Chan) and The Factory Theatre newsletter.

Tsunami_by_hokusai_19th_century.jpg

Root vegetables.

her breasts hang

straight down

like carrots pulled up

from a garden.

not pomegranates

or watermelons —

just plain thin

root vegetables;

a straight line

of nourishment

drawn out

from the earth.

she is sitting

at our table

cleaning a stain

on her work-blouse.

she works it, working

her fingers

with abrasive soap

and warm water.

her nipples

are tickling

her navel;

she is bending

hard over

her work.

DS Maolalai has been nominated many times for Best of the Net and for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press).

Tsunami by Hokusai

Archive of Free Verse Poetry

     February 2021

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Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

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