Free Verse Poetry

Cherry Cola IV

We experience the night again

and again, tossing

pennies

 

toward constellations with no

apparent coin slots.

Sister

 

Reads Grapes of Wrath by moonlight

while I try to scratch my

name

 

from a list of paired names

in wet cement

no

 

longer wet.

 

This only deepens my feelings for a Balinese

woman who played a white

guitar

 

in a band called The Raga Muffins

influenced by the Velvet

Underground.

 

There is no happiness.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English and edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three current books of poems: Invisible Histories, The New Vaudeville, and Midsummer. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit, and Cream City Review.

The Prettiest Girl in Paddington Square

has jagged teeth

& a thick cockney accent

the only thing

her grandmother ever left her

 

she wears a locket

with a picture of a dead father

she never even knew

to cover a small tattoo of a rose

along the base of her neck

 

by day she pours beer

& smiles talking about her boyfriend

 

& by night

she is the most beautiful

flower in brixton

 

she is the cry of a barn owl

that once thought it might die alone

 

her heart tucked away

& dreaming

 

out of sight

to almost everyone.

John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019). He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

Not All Widows Are Spiders

She clung like bougainvillea in the Spring,

aggressive and thirsty, with two-inch-long thorns

painted red with her ruby desire.

 

Octopus vines of disarming smiles

climbed straight up the wall and into his heart,

extracting the nutrients meant for another.

 

Squeezing and sighing, she drained his resistance.

The scent of her buds overwhelmed his discretion

in a mist of sweet poppy-seed poison.

 

And when she was finished, she blithely uncoupled,

withdrawing her tentacles, tearing the fabric

without concern or compassion.

 

She left him for dead — seduced and depleted,

shriveled and spent — to the carrion beetles,

as she searched for a new wall to climb.

Howard Gershkowitz has maintained a journal for most of his life, accumulating experiences to share. He’s published more than two dozen poems and short stories. His debut novel, The Operator, was published 2018. https://gershwriter.com.

My Albanian Nurse

Bruna, RN, BSN, swept into South 389

with the efficiency expected of her

lavender scrubs and stiff white cap.

 

She received the attention demanded by her

flawless complexion and shiny dark hair.

The morphine drip was no match for the Adriatic

 

air that breezed about my hospital room.

When she positioned the cool stethoscope

near a lapro puncture, when she touched

 

my tender belly with her fingertips, when

she whispered, “Let me listen to you,”

there was no limit to the lies I was prepared to tell.

Larry Pike’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications. His collection Even in the Slums of Providence will be published by Finishing Line Press in October. He lives in Glasgow, Kentucky.

A Break

I sit still to watch nothing happen

Not as a discipline

But as a conviction

The clouds stand still

A palm frond stirs . . .

A bird sings

But stops, embarrassed

To be so loud in such a quiet place

 

Eventually the light drains from the sky

Like water from an unplugged basin

Then time turns the key in the ignition

And starts back up

Alan Cohen, poet first, teacher, manager, lives a full and varied life. He wrote on average three poems a month for 60 years and is beginning now to share some of his discoveries. Married to Anita for 41 years. Living in Eugene, Oregon.

Juggling and Other Matters

Oh, sweet brown scimitars!

Oh, slender blades! Cutlery

light as bamboo. The clink

of it! The thrust and sweep

of its lines. Seraphim dance there

or lesser and less agile angels.

Like chimps in a row

or bees in a primitive ritual,

this, too, is an ancient dance.

More humble than the chimps’

antics, the silversmith’s fires.

But—glint of teeth!—the smith

is not so lowly, is he?

The knife repairer is,

he of the worn whetstone.

And the hunched herbalist

wheezing over troubled pots.

Not so the silversmith

with his candlesticks,

envy of the juggler.

Greg Huteson’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Honest Ulsterman, Modern Age, Better Than Starbucks, Christian Century, Alabama Literary Review, Orbis, and various other journals. For the past twenty years he’s lived in China and Taiwan.

Shadow Snags

The woman’s shadow lies

snagged in wire barbs

twisting through her form,

in one side and out the other

impaling her in breeze-blown

grasses tickling back and forth

in peek a boo hide and seek.

A bird shadow flies

through like a kite

without a string

fluttering the woman’s

shadow heart with palpitations.

Sunshine shrinks the woman’s

shadow beneath herself

where her bloody reflection

smears sunset across the sky,

and the shadow woman

escapes into night’s anonymity.

Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Old Red Kimono, Salt Hill, and other literary magazines.

Transpose

Someone once told me about an experiment

conducted to find out what happens after

death. The dying person was placed in a glass

coffin, and soon after the person passed away

a crack mysteriously appeared in the glass.

Being a sucker for vectors, geography & directions,

I was tempted to ask if the crack meant escape

of life, or the inward flow of life’s opposite.

But I stopped myself right there. Like I had seen

 

a photograph of a still-standing bird whose name

I didn’t know; while another—possessing the same

length of long legs and identically red-capped &

white-throated—hovered in the air behind it,

hind-limbs bent and wings partially spread out.

 

Whether the latter was preparing to evict the former,

or had just been displaced itself from that

particular spot in the sea where it might have stood

earlier—there were no glass coffins to tell that. Maybe

 

not even a single fish: at least that’s what the birds’

eyes, yellow as if with fever from standing in the water

for long, seemed to say.

Sudhanshu Chopra likes to travel on his train of thought with a book for a co-passenger. Follow him on Twitter: @_monkey_life.

And Her Eyes Made Love to Him

They ran barefoot through the yucca,

prickly pear, goat head stickers, and

mesquite like a monster was after them

Sniper told her he loved her, his heart

was destroyed, limping away, she shot

him the finger, he wondered if it was

His intelligence quotient or hers, she

was pissed, earlier they’d been shopping

for new panties for her and an umbrella

A six year old boy was with his attractive

mother, they walked by a well endowed

mannequin in an aquatic avocado bikini

He jerked the bottom of the suit to the

floor, Sniper cracked up laughing and

blurted out, “Way to go, little man”

He grabbed the half-dressed dummy and

sprinted from the store, a fat security

guard gave chase, Valentina and Sniper

Lost their sandals, he circled back for

their El Camino, the cops were waiting

with steel bracelets, he hoped it would

Be for a short visit and his lady would

have pity and go his bail, and let him

pay for and keep his newest amiga.

Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. He’s from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. His newest books are Ghosts of the War Elephants and Meat Grinder.

July 24, 1915

“You are aware

of the condition of the S.S. Eastland,

                                                     and

unless structural defects are remedied

to prevent listing—

there may be a serious accident”

                                             said

a letter of August 3, 1913.

                                              No one,

corporate or government, took any action,

and today the prophecy came true

                                                        The ship,

set to ferry about twenty-five hundred people

fifty miles across the lake to Michigan City,

tipped over on its side,

                                           and

over eight hundred of the passengers died,

more than did so

on the Titanic or Lusitania

And no one, corporate or government,

was ever held responsible for the deaths,

as responsibility, civil or criminal,

was determined by the justice system

Michael Ceraolo is a 62-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books and several shorter-length books published, has two more full-length books in the publication pipeline: Euclid Creek Book Two and Lawyers, Guns, and Money.

Dry Bones

Within earshot of the crowded beach,

we crunch along the hot gravel road—

yellow grass, deer shit, smashed snakes,

just-turned blackberries coated with dust.

I urge the dog toward the fruit, but,

head thrust into salal and Scotch broom,

she’s chasing a bit of bread, a banana peel,

a not-quite-empty Starbucks cup.

Here, a fisherman dumped his leavings,

crab shells, halibut guts, spiny skeletons

stinking in the sun, for the dog to snatch

while I holler, “Drop it, drop it, drop it!”

Half deaf, she doesn’t hear a blue pickup

roaring toward us. As I yank her back,

the driver waves, his mutts straining

to join the rotten seafood feed.

Sweatshirt tied around my waist,

phone banging against my hip,

my legs ache, but we need to move,

our old bones as dry and brittle

as the fish spines and berry vines

baking to dust in the August sun,

leaving a plastic Starbucks cup

rolling downhill toward the sea.

Sue Fagalde Lick recently published two chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead, about her husband’s journey through Alzheimer’s Disease, and The Widow at the Piano: Poems by a Distracted Catholic.

Crows Circled Around

crows circle sky darting from

poles to pavement, chalk lines

outline ring. birds forage breakfast

spilt from trashcans, back and forth

bickering about small croissants.

dashboard ottoman, the opponents

peck to scrape up evening meal.

bird crowd rips to bits bread

snatched from beaks, empty racks

cold. stray buggies homeless, rain

christened asphalt. overstuffed trash-

bins on matching side, bird packs

fanned out into coal dust sea.

Ash Slade lives in a small Connecticut town. He enjoys collecting poetry books, journals, and pens. In his spare time, hobbies include spending time with friends and family, reading, and shopping. Past publications include The Blue Nib and Circus of Indie Artists.

Tsunami by Hokusai

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:

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  May 2020     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019     July 2019     May 2019   

  March 2019     January 2019     November 2018     September 2018     July 2018     June 2018      May 2018     April 2018   

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  December 2016     November 2016     October 2016     September 2016     August 2016     June 2016     May 2016

Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:

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  May 2020     March 2020     January 2020     November 2019     September 2019      July 2019     May 2019

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