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.

Water Blessing

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.

Icarus

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 hangings.

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.

Faintly Realizing

I hoard yesterdays

as though they might aid today

or take some edge

off tomorrow,

faintly realising

I am living less,

all those minutes

and hours

of the past

eating through

the finite time

left before me.

 

Faintly realising

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.

Naming Snowflakes

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

Mary!

at another

John!

at another

Jane!

 

a snowflake later

maybe two

the names dried up

I laughed

she became angry

I laughed harder

she nudged me

with her elbow

 

we lay there for a while

watching

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.

unclean

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

rob plath is a former student of allen ginsberg. he has 23 books out. he prefers cats over humans. see more of his work at robplath.com.

Rabbit Song

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,

preferring bluegrass

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.

Anxiety

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 Know

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

To ephemeral

     paradise

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.

Diane

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.

 

Time passed

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,

indifferent

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_19th_century.jpg

Tsunami by Hokusai

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