Johannes Bjerg brings his poetry to VerseWrights
culturally Christian and tired
by winter solstice
our skulls sing
kulturkristen og træt
synger vore kranier
several sore limbs
a heavy Monday
tumler hen over
adskillige ømme lemmer
en tung mandag
so the heavens fall
and I have
my hands full
himlen falder ned
og jeg har
Johannes Bjerg was born in 1957 in Denmark, which he still calls home. He writes, however, in both Danish and English, which is an important element of his work--mainly haiku and related forms. He is a founder and co-editor of Bones - a journal for contemporary haiku (visit here), and is anthologized in New Resonanse 8 (Red Moon Press, 2013). He has authored several books, including Penguins / Pingviner - 122 bilingual haiku, English and Danish, (Cyberwit, India, 2011); Parallels, English, (Yet To Be Named Free Press, England, 2013); Threads / Tråde, bilingual haiku, (Createspace 2013); Notes 10 11 -12 / Noter 10 11 -12, bilingual linked verse, (Yet To Be Named Free Press, England, 2013); Paper Bell Lessons / Papirklokkebelæringerne, bilingual haiku, (Createspace, 2013); and, Like a Plane / Som et fly, image and haiku, (ebook). Most of these books have a free e-book version here for reading and/or downloading. 2tongues, january-stones, and 5mountains are his three websites, which he invites you to visit. Read.
Rhonda L. Brockmeyer's "and the wind blew"
and the wind blew
just as I thought I was ready to speak
the wind came and blew
away the breath
that was forming the words
I wanted to say:
you write beautifully these days
you are there, always on my mind
and I found my mouth empty
and sharp objects sat
(little projectile words)
in my saliva glands
ready to fire
at the first taste of your sour-cherry eyes
so I worried
(quite a long time)
not really wanting to draw blood
or see pain caused by these
inadvertent, spitfire thoughts
and I let
the wind blow
and it huffed
and it puffed
and blew my poetic house of cards down
Read the poetry of Rhonda L. Brockmeyer
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Kathleen Rogers Is Now On VerseWrights' Pages
dinner: family holiday
a map you read
the obvious explained
shadow dancing past
black as fault
no secrets exposed
what's left to tell
when all is known
winnow through the crinoline
silk smoke, laughter
yes friends, relatives
they’re all here
honeymoon with laptops
sexting to twitter
just not to
Kathleen Rogers is a life-long writer who’s fascinated with words, paper and American sub-cultures. She’s worked in publishing, print and online advertising. Kathleen’s final corporate role was as a Senior Creative Director at one of the largest online advertising agencies. She left corporate America in 2001 after volunteering with the Red Cross. Kathleen holds an M.A. in English from Rutgers University and a B.A. in Communications from Rowan University. She enjoys all aspects of writing and film. Kathleen, her husband and daughter have lived in Hoboken, NJ for these past 25 years. Read.
Poet Mark MacDonald's New Priorities
Setting Some New Priorities
I no longer worry that my thesis
on the Ghost Orchid and her shameless romance
with a Cypress in the swamps of Florida
will ever reach the desk of the President;
or that Congress will debate my proposal
to hold sessions on the shores of the Potomac
complete with fried chicken and whisky.
Age and resignation have stripped me
of such ambitions, and smaller
more attainable goals consume me.
Mostly I consort with the dead these days:
Confederate colonels on horseback
gathered beneath a shade tree on a hill,
awaiting the newest orders from their General;
or the massacred peasants of Khitan
and their wives and their children that the Khan
sold off into slavery. Yesterday a boy
in Chicago was killed in the crossfire and a twelve
year old girl was strangled and raped in LA.
The President and Congress have troubles enough
I think, they should be forced to read poetry;
but those colonels, those peasants, those kids
in LA and Chicago? Perhaps they might need me.
Read the poetry of Mark MacDonald
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We Welcome Poet Wayne F. Burke to VerseWrights
A Man's Work
The clerk in the store said
“pickin’ oranges be a man’s work.”
We had to rip the little buggers from
the trees—like the state taking kids
from a home—and the branches
full of thorns, and the sweat pouring,
enough to water lawns, and the farmer,
a good ole boy racist atop his tractor,
watching us bleed and sweat.
Tied a noose onto a pole end to tug
the topmost oranges off, wore long-
sleeved shirts, laid a sheet to catch
the yellow balls that fell in staccato
bursts. A 3 by 5 foot bin 5 bucks worth.
The farmer began to talk-up his daughter
to us; Jamaicans in the next row out-
picked us though; almond eyes, coffee
skin, they did not chat.
The bins filled slower than a baseball game;
We got bored, ran out of talk, quit; had to
boss each other: say “get to work you son-
of-a-bitch!” Say “how about you, you ain’t
done shit!” Like that. Cooled off at the
swimming hole which was no Myrtle Beach
but cold enough and wet. Listened to them
bugs screech: WEEP! WEEP! WEEP! Regular
as breath. Pocketed our money and headed
for the coast and the Land of Milk and Honey,
only we never made it, and probably never will.
Wayne F. Burke was born in northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts, "during the year of hurricane Edna." His mother and father died before he was three, and he was raised by his grandparents.He attended Goddard College, and after he graduated, he "Went to work, worked." He wrote largely prose until a year ago and now writes mostly poetry. He has published poetry in in FORGE, Industry Night, Sassafras, Boston Poetry Magazine, The Commonline Journal, and elsewhere. He has a book of poems due out this December entitled, Words That Burn (Bareback Press), Wayne has lived in the central Vermont area for the past 25 years. Read.
Five Short Poems For The Approach Of Winter
Winter has killed Autumn
with frost, the old slaves
hide the trees, they cough out ice
and fill the ways with hardness.
The snow sidelines the fields,
black clouds hunt against the pale,
crows shatter like glass.
Then this is the winter,
brittle and heavy with sleep.
first snow boots
geese unzip the sky
a single snowflake trembles
on your eyelashes
my dog and I walk
the full moon home
A New Work from Poet Marie Anzalone
A Galaxy Was Seen Dying Today
The world's most beautiful butterflies die every day
by the millions, unnoticed.
In today's news- astronomists capture images
of an entire galaxy undergoing Little Death.
throwing off fireballs like missiles as it loses its energy
unable to create anew, they say- stars, planets
asteroid belts. It just kind of gives up. Living.
it dies... and takes out everything in its path
with it: a suicide mission of old age crisis.
there are billions of us, billions of them, but most of us
simply don't always think to look around and notice them
Law of averages says there is life, maybe, in its path-
would they have known to look for its coming?
Say last prayers? Get the hell out of there?
was Van Gogh's Starry Night perhaps painted on other
by other hands, protected as a pinnacle of achievement
by someone else's sensibilities? How long did they
manage to protect it, from themselves, from negligence,
before dying too alongside their greatest works,
was it something they thought to take with them
where and when they went? Could they?
Their fleeting perfection goes unmourned, unnoticed,
a flower set to wind dance stilted swirling
in the skies of our limited days.
why bother, then, any single act of great beauty,
created in a dispassionate universe where fireballs
of mindless passage can obliterate them?
Which loss would be keener- mourning the treasured
robbed, or not comprehending the gifts while they sat in
our hands, fleetingly? can an act of beauty grace
a soul forever, if it comes back as someone else's
os does it become annihilated, forever?
Do we celebrate knowledge, or its opposing force?
Today, I stopped to rescue a single dying fritillary, placed
out of harm's way, where she could drink in safety;
she was gone when I returned. Maybe she only
for me to write this poem
Read the poetry of Marie Anzalone
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We Welcome Poet Jacqueline Czel to VerseWrights
The Season is Woman
She is scarlet,
shades of red,
She is crimson
of a turning hue
a blazing orange
a blazing orange,
on fire too,
upon a fading
fallen far from
and summer blues,
birds or bees
drink of her
She is scarlet,
she is brown,
she is yellow
she is ripe,
she is red
she is a gasp
lingering in a
leaf littered bed.
Jacqueline Czel is a poet/aspiring author who currently resides in Boston, MA. Originally from a rough and tumble part of NYC, and having lived in different cities in the Northeast, she often writes about her urban experience. She has written hundreds of long poems, if not thousands. She also writes short stories and on occasion light fantasy novellas for Kindle readers which keeps her from getting trapped in one literary genre. She can also be found sharing micro-poetry on Twitter @Jacqueline_Czel, and she publishes freshly penned poetry daily on her blog Iambic Utterances and Other Wayward Words. Read.
A New Poem From Ray Sharp: "48 stones"
small and smooth
laid upon the
old stone wall
behind the chicken
like the arc
of the Earth
that lies between
like the hard
Toss away one
closer to you.
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Janet Aalfs Newest Poem, "Metaphysics of Doubt"
Metaphysics of Doubt
A porcupine sends sleep ahead
whenever it doubts
that peace awaits
at home in the stone
walls and ferns the river
touches to soothe.
Sleep draws the poison out
like a snake from a bottle
of alcohol. Like tea from boiled
potato peels when drunk
dissolves the gall. Rocks fall
asleep to become
a fleet of dragonflies,
humming crystal wings,
sounds your eyelids crave.
Such heavy lightness wakes
reflections in the river,
clouds that come and go.
Read the poetry of Janet Aalfs
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From Leslie Philibert, "White Room"
The windows of my soul have been
sheeted; cool and soft,
white rooms and blank tiles
digging in snow,
sucking at ice in the last big cloud.
Like a ballon I must be tied
to the arms of the earth. So
curl me up and wash all the mess
out of me, being a shell
of rubber and pumps.
I am filled with things that once grew.
My last lover, a box of lights and pictures.
I might even wave
or blow a kiss across the white sea.
Let me be pushed, let me drop like milk.
Read the poetry of Leslie Philibert
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Debbie Strange gives us "the twelfth floor"
The twelfth floor
she lives in a room
on the twelfth floor
she stands at the window
the setting sun’s red eye
(and the curb
for a familiar face)
she is bathed in red
the colour of anger
and her glowing cigarette
she takes the family photographs
off the wall
and hides their faces
deep inside a drawer
(the next time we visit
we find ourselves missing)
when we comment
just paring down
less to dust
Read the poetry of Debbie Strange
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Eusebeia Philos Pens Some Dancing Lyrics
Wedding Dancing ☊
Aches and pains
at the open bar
in open fascination
of the pulsing,
of dancing bodies
A few quick
from Jack Daniels and
the music pulses in
gives me that old
fashioned primal beat.
Salome, you dears,
don't ask for my head
when you nab me
for a dance, you
in your combo of
youth and virtuosity.
Escorts at both elbows
with one leading the way,
to their dance floor domain
we go, those three
and my gray goatee to
to the rhythmic method
definitely not the father-daughter dance.
Hear this poem read by Val Dering Rojas
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Rosa Saba Joins The Poets On VerseWrights
self doubt, a nightly ritual
i’m here again, inches away
from the surface of the bathroom mirror
at an unhealthy angle
twisting my vision
back and forth
frowning, smiling, frowning again
watching craters turn back into pores
as i move away
then back again
each and every hair, every line
every possible sign
that i might be human
the bathroom mirror
has me convinced that i am
and as i turn my head the other way
trying to see if my profile is any better
than it was yesterday
i can’t help but wonder
after seeing myself up close
how it is that you could stand to kiss me
but then again
i guess your eyes are closed
Rosa Saba is a Canadian journalism student, hailing from a small farm and living in the big city, both of which inspire much of her writing. She has been writing poetry for a few years, about whatever crosses her mind. Rosa uses poetry as a procrastination technique and as a means of understanding the world (or at least trying to). She has a sporadically updated blog entitled perks of being a three, and at hellopoetry, you can find her poems. VerseWrights is her first publishing experience. Read.
Poet Carole Johnston Joins the VerseWrights Community
sky tercet series
the sky - Monet
riding a white stallion -
gallops before the storm
the sky -N.C. Wyeth
pirating a pink nimbus -
sails the sunset ship
the sky - Van Gogh
waving a thousand crow wand -
turns to thunder
the sky - Edward
Hopper realist - refuses
rain -prefers shadows
Carole Johnston, a poet and novelist, lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she enjoys driving around Bluegrass Backroads, stopping traffic to write haiku and to photograph crows. Obsessed with the sky, she keeps her camera on the front seat so she can chase the sunset and capture it in photographs and poems. Although she is a Jersey Girl, she loves the Bluegrass landscape. She can do this because she has retired from teaching creative writing in a high school arts program where she “grew” a multitude of poets. Many of her former students are now working on MFA degrees in creative writing as well as teaching and publishing poetry. Carole is now free to pursue her obsession with Japanese short form poetry. She has published poems and stories in a variety of print and online journals including Frog Pond, Ribbons, Atlas Poetica, Moon Bathing, Zen Spaces, Living Haiku Anthology, and Inner Art Journal. She was a finalist for the Museum of Haiku Literature Award and will soon be published in Blithe Spirit. She can be found @morganbag on Twitter. Read.
Mikels Skele's Conundrum: Time And "Age"
I’m old, don’t start with me
Don’t talk of deadlines
Or complain about the occasional
Twitch of middle age
There are people I know,
Who worry that death will take them
Before their great work is done
Others who panic
Thinking their great work,
Having taken place in irascible youth,
Will fade without recognition
Or that the world, God forbid,
And all its minions,
Might come to misconstrue
Their contribution, mistaking it for exuberance.
As for me, it could happen
That I’m done before I die,
Timing, they say, is everything.
Read the poetry of Mikels Skele
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We Welcome Poet Marianne Paul to VerseWrights
Two blue herons atop deadwood
grave markers in a flooded
an apparition sails across the sky
a great white heron off-course and far
above and below the waterline ghosts in a mirror
trees and the phantom
tinted sepia like an old photo
a carp appears by my paddle blade
then vanishes never was
Marianne Paul is a Canadian poet and novelist. She is the author of the poetry collection Above and Below the Waterline and the novels Tending Memory, Twice in a Blue Moon, and Dead Girl Diaries, published by BookLand Press. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including The Best Women's Travel Writing and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic. She has served as a Writer in Residence for OpenBook Toronto and is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada. Recently, she has become fascinated with the craft of writing micro-poems. Her work has appeared in The Bamboo Hut and Poetry Nook, and she often tweets poems @mariannpaul. She maintains a website at www.mariannepaul.com, and invites your visit. Read.
"Hell," A New Poem From Daniel Klawitter
is living like a cold fish
at the bottom of a well
swimming in dark circles
you cannot tell
if down is up
or up is down.
is a perpetual
and a never-ending
is a midnight colored
“I’m afraid not”
the literalist replies.
“Hell is merely the smell
of you being burned
Hear this poem read by Daniel Klawitter
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New From Marsailidh Groat—"Silence"
I drown in
when we carelessly assign
every person a word, and take
each as your own,
my own, and lack
vivacity and excitement
must be here, must breathe,
even if we have
Nothing to say.
And to find
so seamless an existence
that my thoughts,
scattered and impetuous,
I need not voice
That which I have found, and lost,
and will find again,
so exquisite a taste
in each pause.
"Tryfan," A New Poem From Paul Mortimer
A whale back ridge rises out of Ogwen valley.
Its ridge climbs up from the llyn,
leads your eyes and feet to Adam and Eve.
Back to the beginning.
Waiting is a dare.
To leap the gap
between the petrified pair.
Up there in the gods, clouds clothe your breath.
Serpent mist writhes, opening up
snap-shot views of the Glyders ring.
Here at the top,
facing the dare.
Shall I leap the gap
between Adam and Eve?
But worn out by the climb
and bite the apple.
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Poet Robert King's "Comparisons"
In the middle of a river, I listen
to the businessman comparing business
to an orchestra, each instrument
each part a part of the whole.
The orchestra, however,
compares itself to a river–
flutes of light, cellos bubbling along
in the push and flow
of adagio, crescendo,
allegro–in rushes and deep swirling.
But this current river
compares itself placidly
to a business, all its appropriate
working in unison
toward singular goals, closing up shop
here, opening there,
reorganizing itself now
through a downturn of driftwood,
so the two of us stop
humming our various tunes
and backpaddle furiously in order
not to go bankrupt, get flat, or wet.
[First published: Old Man Laughing (Ghost Road Press, 2007]
Hear this poem read by the poet
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Diana Matisz And "The Music of a Captive Heart"
The Music of a Captive Heart
i say shhh
can you hear it?
how can you possibly
i can't write
can't shut it out
nor turn it off
don't tell me
you can't hear
over rivers of tears
be still, listen
you might catch
the soft staccato drum
of a woman's footsteps
in circles, searching
stop talking, listen
to the a cappella rustle
of owls in pines
low moan adagios
of tidal estuaries,
hold your breath, listen
to broken chord murmurs
of a beloved voice
reaching for the highest
if all else fails
press your ear
put your hands
upon my back
pull me tight
stay there, listen
can you hear it
Kelli Russell Agodon Goes Shopping With Her Parents
Helping My Parents Shop for His & Her Coffins
Mom touches a casket and yawns.
Death is a long overdue nap.
She likes the pale satin,
not the minty-green box.
She wants a home in the afterlife
that is worm-resistant
and a contraption to signal
the world if she is buried alive.
My dad tries to tell her this never happens,
but she says she once heard a story
about a grave they opened in Kent
and inside the coffin they found
scratch marks in the fabric of the lid.
She wants to be buried with a cellphone
or a string attached to a bell
placed above the ground.
My dad says people will bother the bell
and the silver could attract crows.
She says she’s tired and these coffins
remind her of Vegas
where everything is too shiny.
My parents leave with the pamphlet
for the classic pine box.
Driving home, they talk about the sky,
how it seems to roll on forever
without a hint of fog.
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On The Highway With Michelle Sho
gold coast highway
with my night
flatlining the street
sheer race machine
locks of moon
enclose my eyes
remember hand holding
the once glory
of being open,
my head is lint
and the wrong things
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Val Dering Rojas—"When the Morphine Wears Away"
When the Morphine Wears Away ☊
When the morphine wears away
there is a room with a metal door--
it's creaking open secretly
as I sleep.
There is a room with a metal door
that isn’t really a room at all.
As I sleep,
it’s hot as a furnace.
That isn’t really a room at all:
it is a box.
It's hot as a furnace--
bare flame burning.
It is a box
with a rocking chair, rocking,
bare flame burning,
in the corner, a crib.
With a rocking chair, rocking,
motherless and babyless,
in the corner, a crib--
you cannot enter this room.
Motherless and babyless
in the dead quiet of night,
you cannot enter this room
because this door is too small.
In the dead quiet of night,
it's creaking open secretly
because this door is too small
when the morphine wears away.
Hear this poem read by Rowan Taw
Read the poetry of Val Dering Rojas
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Mike Jewett: Encounter With A Psychopomp?
This Side of the Afterlife
Tearing down the road,
Witching hour spent like
and I twitch-
My vision catches this
Quick as silver,
Gone like bronze.
I start to hit the brakes,
Peripheral vision seeing
a raccoon speeding
Down the street, in the gutter,
Out of view of the sodium lamps
Deep in shadow,
Pawing the ground at 45 mph easy,
and I turn the corner,
Laughing, nerves shot,
Realizing it wasn’t no
It was only a goddamn shadow.
Read the poetry of Mike Jewett
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Natalie Keller's Latest Poem, "Stained"
You are such an enchantment.
There is no stone, pebble,
or shard of glass in this world
that doesn’t know your name,
doesn’t wear it on them like
a sheen left from some
late summer rain,
like the fog of a breath
captured in a mirror,
metastasized into memory,
splattered across everything
I carry you on me,
the touch of your hand
against mine leaving
violent stains like bruises,
but given with the gentlest
a photograph in flesh,
to tell that you were here,
that you were on everything.
The sky is blue because
you’ve wept it your sorrows and
the sunset is red because
you’ve kissed it your love.
The world spins on,
oblivious to its maker
as well as the man who
slipped in, invisible
in the night, and
left it so lovingly
Read the poetry of Natalie Keller
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"God," A New Poem From Heather Feaga
I've imagine you
Setting sirens high
I lay upon
The scrape and peel
Wrapped in all
Naked where you want
The most of me
I like it
With your words
Stoked to life
Do to me
That makes me closer
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Poet Alexis Ivy joins VerseWrights' Pages
I Have My Reasons
I hate boys, hate how
if I give one a flower
he’ll take it and pick
a flower for another girl
when he could’ve held
mine longer. I used to
eat cereal I didn’t like,
boxes of it, and watched
soap operas, one after
the other. I also want
to talk about the worst
thing anyone ever said
about me, worse than
anything my brother said
because it wasn’t said
by my brother.
Emma Rawels didn’t say
it to my face, someone told
me. She said it and I wouldn’t
look in the window to see
how I was looking. She said
that I looked like I was hit
in the face with a baseball.
I thought she meant I had
black eyes that wouldn’t go
away, a fat lip. Thought
she meant I slouched myself,
face down to the ground
like my body was a pile
instead of a person.
Isn’t everybody fruit
on the way to rotten?
I started showering twice
a day. I like the smell
of soap and sleeping
with the storm windows
open and my hair damp.
I wear armpit hair
instead of make up.
I have my reasons.
Alexis Ivy is a student of literature at Harvard University. Her poems have appeared in a variety of publications, including Main Street Rag, Tar River Poetry, Eclipse, and J Journal. She has worked in the kitchen of a homeless shelter, invented names for wallpaper designs, served as poetry editor of Coin Flip Shuffle, and is the operations manager for Poem Works: Workshop for Publishing Poets. The above poem originally appeared in her first poetry collection entitled Romance with Small-Time Crooks (BlazeVOX [books], spring 2013). Alexis grew up in Boston Massachusetts, where she currently lives. Read.
From Christopher Clark, "Dichotomy Dolls"
Barefoot, I walked the surface of
Earth’s sunset, right there in the iris
The moon, a one-horsed eye, filament
Soaked in fire, balance blurred out.
We’d kept meticulously adept. Multiple
Pieces cut together, snagged by distance
Features naked in artifice, undressed and
Contrived, bare upon realness. The flecks of
Dirty water on skin, perhaps one version, or
Another perspective, strained through a filter;
Rehashed convergence, it nips the measure
Of your scuffed breasts, our faces dissecting.
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