She keeps a mountain of iron inside her,
scraps of life she bends to form
the words she bolts together into
lines so real, hard like the iron
in her spine, her blood, her mouth.
The iron is in her poetry:
an iron sky, iron muscle
sharpened into iron knives.
But a glass of red, some Mexican tunes
will awaken in her a melancholy
purpose, and she becomes not woman
or sweater girl, but Mother-Poet,
heiress to the Golden Cane,
pugilistic sister, vision
of the laundry room, rising
on wings that lift her as she sings,
Por que no quiere a Dios?
Como cuando el hierro llora
sangra rojo, sangra rojo.
Soy un herrero mejor que Dios.*
*Why do you not want God?
Like when the iron cries
bleeds red, bleeds red.
I'm a better blacksmith than God.
Read the poetry of Will Reger
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Chapin Beach Blessing
Blessings on my big fisherman
who currently walks the flats of Chapin Beach.
The fog dances teasingly before
an intrepid sun intent on piercing it.
Early morning turns water into sand,
curved carved traces of a night of waves.
A stroller on that quiet beach will soon see
way out in shallow water, a man thumb-nail sized,
gleam and flicker of his line curved like an eyelash
above what must be his head.
Perhaps that observer, a city girl,
will wonder who could be so far out.
May silver backs swim lovingly around him
knowing and believing this gentle man
will make them want to fight for life
before he slips their shivering selves
with cheerful benediction back to sea.
For now he walks with certainty of years,
knowing and believing
that one dependable thing in life:
Read the poetry of Holly Trahan
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The Nearing Storm
~after Tu Fu
The wind whistles through
the trees like a piccolo.
But when it’s gone,
where does it go.
I walk through the graveyard,
placing fresh flowers
on my parents grave.
They are at rest
in their dreamless beds,
and I am sixty.
As I dwell on my life,
and the time I have left,
a storm arrives.
What good are regrets?
So I hurry home,
before I get wet.
Read the poetry of George Freek
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Admiring the Stars
To the one once full of promise
each day is a protracted insult to the soul.
Sunrises have lost their allure, sunsets their luster.
Former lovers can only look through you.
No longer do your shirts fit properly.
The one once full of promise,
whose potential was once spoken of with reverence,
hushed tones becoming whispered slights,
even the busboy disappointed by the lack of progress.
Now you’re met with awkward silences.
A tragic figure, the gods have abandoned you,
a furtive star returned to the restless earth.
Read the poetry of Bruce McRae
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Meteor Showers on
There are too many.
Too many fresh faces,
too many fly by night
rock stars and movie stars,
and athletes living
in too many places,
and I can't keep up with
nano second, filtered paces,
vamps and vandals
and purveyors of
Care not I,
for sub second celebrities
and utter nonsense,
because they can't fix my roof,
or mend my fence,
offer any meaning,
and come flickering
onto sidebars - at my expense.
They're often half naked
and more often
than not - half baked,
their chins and cheeks
are full botox
and their breasts
are always fake.
Oh, yea - I see
many a false prophet,
bad actors and
pretty product launchers,
modelling snake charmers
and fantasy peddlers
leaning back on
Here and there for
no more than 1 minute,
and surely gone by 2.
garbage, clashing ions
in the atmosphere -
what's a web user to do?
Read the poetry of Jacqueline Czel
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My only daughter left, spirited away
by what it matters not.
Ceres my soul mate now.
neither Spring nor Winter,
I can only weep
like that goddess
and understand why
lethal ice and screaming snow
were the least she could do
to birth revenge.
I will wait,
a visit blossoming,
dying on the vine,
cycles without end.
Read the poetry of Vern Fein
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All across the levees
All across the levees
the green that is only spring
young leaves in
the still low light,
a color found
no other time--
the long grasses
wave in the first
over the river
into the city
so much less than this
(like the first man
who understood fire
we will never see
so many stars again).
Read the poetry of Bob Carlton
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Miss Carol's Dumplings
Every month or so
on a Sunday afternoon
I skip the football game
and get in my truck
and drive out from the city
into farm country
to visit Miss Carol
and get my hands
on her plump dumplings.
Biggest I've ever seen.
Best I've ever had,
terrific with her
legs and thighs.
When she lays out
her chicken dinner
on that white tablecloth
I start drooling before
I even get a hand on it.
A farm girl, she says
she's never met
a man like me
so nuts am I
about her dumplings.
Usually, she says,
men like breast meat,
when it's moist,
and I allow how I
like that as well
but not as much
as her plump dumplings
on a Sunday afternoon
and her pluperfect
legs and thighs.
Read the poetry of Donal Mahoney
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The roses begin to fade and I consider
closing the windows at night but choose
blankets instead. I dream that an old friend
has taken to drink again, and the pain of it
blooms in the dark cavern of my chest, a deep-
red lily, a beautiful wound. Berries ripen
on the bushes. Uncountable birds. One bright
morning I find a kestrel in the dogwood,
eyeing the well-fed sparrows. Flowerbeds
hum with gold wasps, black wasps, grass-
hoppers, a black-and-white cat crouched
beneath the clematis. Old friend, how is it
that people are at ease with one another?
When I return from my walk by the river,
a hundred finches fly up from the gate.
Read the poetry of Sharon Brogan
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Ode to an Avocado
dressed with lemon,
garlic, olive oil & mustard-
a chef's delight
but i like you best
sliced open under rough snake
velvet ripe & creamy
drizzled with sugar
& cold milk,
of indolent summer days
slivers of ambrosia
your taste is only rivaled
by my other childhood memory-
making candied purple yams
flaming giant pan until
rough fibers turn sin-
as nectar oil
hand-bottled for sale in market -
your green womb
wraps me tight like seed
pining for tropical sun
Read the poetry of Mary Grace Guevara
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~for Hudson Rush
I wish I could have kept the exhalation
as the soul left his body, the whoosh,
that moment of moving on into
the mystery of whatever is next.
I can’t grab this, there is no place
to put my finger. He runs away
and I want to follow after.
I walk into the synagogue
and a man follows my body along
the sidewalk. I pretend
he is watching my grief.
I remember when I learned
what a villanelle was.
I think I promised I would write one
on another someday.
Read the poetry of Janette Schafer
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Honey-thighed surf children
chase the ebb,
bare feet etching
pockmarked sand. Another
surge, crashing, scrambling,
tumbling water bubbles/babies
catching sun beams.
Scientists see tides and wind
tug at eternity,
the vast liquidity of earth.
Poets find analogy:
cosmic force pursuing, crushing
fragile human frames
and timid hearts,
while sun-kissed fledglings' merriment
is incidental, drily pondered –
this ecstasy of splashing play.
Read the poetry of Sarah Russell
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mother found an empty bottle of Royal Canadian
under the seat cushion of the brown chair
in the room she has refused to enter
20 years after your passing.
that you are like the corn in September
and the psyllid
and the cutworm have already
torn into you. You
used to call out "dead man"
then smile as if we kid's
that empty meant that the man
was gone on from the burning hallways.
Or was drug from the teetering cliffs,
or that Coltrane was there with you
in that abstract hell place
old horn players and people
who drank so much in dark spaces
but hid their secrets in the tonality
of the blues or
in those many sequences with James Garrison
making ugly faces, in that darkened tower
where below the damsel is left
to howl alone.
This just came to me, so I thought
I would mention it, that mother is old now and
has forgotten how to cook. But shit
like this makes
her recall you.
Read the poetry of Dana Rushin
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In Memory of
Robert W. King
We all miss his voice of course:
The sound of honest sandpaper
Or gravel gurgling
In a rough, river bed.
He could hold you, spellbound,
At a poetry reading,
Favorite grandpa in verse.
Thank the muses we still have his poems.
Poems which slide on the mind
Like well-washed jeans,
Loose and tight in all the right places—
Good for pacing the distances
Between hope and hopelessness.
From now on, when the sages ask:
“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”
I will always think of you, Bob,
And the sound of an Old Man Laughing.
[Editor’s Note: Bob King was a joyful contributor to
VerseWrights. He also recorded three poems with his
distinctive, “honest sandpaper” voice. Old Man Laughing
was his first full-length book of poetry.]
Read the poetry of Daniel Klawitter
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The March trees in the city park
look like tarnished candelabra.
I need to collapse for a season
into the village of poetry.
Last night you confessed
you adore someone else.
My heart burrows like a whiskered fish
in sticky clay.
Shadows climb my neck.
I turn to work—research
on climate change—and digress
into Wikipedia entries
on the Euphorbia Candelabra
of the Serengeti and Southern California.
The leaves exude a toxic milky latex.
Even breathing the fumes burns.
“Someday—” I once said
“—we’ll be dead,” you interjected
driving too fast, cursing.
You didn’t love her yet.
You were rehearsing.
It’s used to kill maggots
in the open wounds of cattle.
As I worked on my project
thinking that loneliness
is like being in jail
run through a chemical shower
machines banging all night, I was completely aware
of my privilege—the incarceration metaphor--
and not trudging hours for water
through barren scrub or sand
nor swept away in flooding.
Hurt only by love
cultivated in gardens.
It is sparsely spined.
The trees flesh out and green.
My grants get their funding.
I don’t salt the damp pillow. Old friend,
I’ll bring out and polish
my mother’s silver candelabra
fitted with beeswax candles,
honey-scented as your skin.
It changes sex with time.
It gets missed for many reasons.
Read the poetry of Margaret Diehl
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A basket of fruit on a circlet of plastic lace
is scented polymer, false promise of a greengrocer.
My nose sniffs out orange, apple, grape, banana--
as if we’re shopping. Someone could break dentures
on these. My uncle has teeth, but his mind separates
into the soft wax of the past. An orange recalls
his childhood Christmases. Grape is the altar wine
he sips—sidelined—at concelebrated Mass.
Apple, the orchards bordering the final parish
he knows. Banana, lost—South American mission
beyond signposts of memory. “You brought me this
from Guatemala.” The silver bangle dangles
on my still-unspotted wrist. He nods politely,
like someone hearing a foreign language,
as if attention could rename events in the mist.
Banana, grape, orange, apple—chopped fruit salad,
served in compotes by a woman from Belarus.
The illusion of a restaurant preserved because
she escorted us to the private dining room
with a sympathetic nod. He knows me only
because my face retains the shape of an old print.
He calls me by my girlhood nickname; he lets me
take his hand. I hold it. As the smell of plain soap
rises, I find myself grateful for everything--
this clean pleasant revenant of my demented uncle,
bland nourishment in a house of ancient priests,
normalcy in a bowl of artificial fruit.
Read the poetry of Angele Ellis
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Float down De Nile down
the psychoanalytic Lethe
Dial back the shame
Dial up the shaman
of a drowned polysemy
the den that ails
Who but the inventor of denial could claim that
a patient with several feet of gauze left in her
nose was hysterically bleeding
Or blow smoke rings of no consequences
from twenty cigars a day
Freud’s psyche was an ameba
encircled the world
There was no other
Read the poetry of Charlie Brice
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We were young rebels acting cool
hanging out all hours of the night
tired of being tame, we went wild
letting ourselves loose on the streets
dancing under the neon lights
and singing our songs to the stars.
But we discovered other stars
in the pulsing music of cool
sounds blowing loud, heavy and light
in the steam of a hot summer night,
grooving to the beat of the streets,
listening to the call of the wild.
We were set free and born to be wild,
a brand new age of rock and roll stars
riding the big wave down the streets.
We were young Turks, the kids of cool
the banished children of the night
living for the dark, cursing the light.
But, like suicidal moths drawn to fire-light
we pushed our limits and went wild.
Out of control we were out all night,
boozing and cruising beneath the stars,
living and dying in the act of being cool
with no escape from stress on the street.
Consumed by the heat of the street
We burned to break away and light
up a joint or guzzle a crisp, cool
beer and chase it down with some 'Wild
Turkey' sending us off to the stars
and our explorations of the night.
We were lost souls in an endless night,
wandering in the dark with no stars
or signs to guide us out on the streets.
We craved for just a spark of light
to shine down on our world gone wild,
chilled by the obsession of being cool.
We were the kings and queens of cool nights,
the puppet figureheads of the wild streets,
eclipsed by the starlight forever out of reach.
Read the poetry of Peter V. Dugan
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On a Moon Fragrant Night
On a moon fragrant night the ear a cauliflower
hearkens to the cries of the impoverished street
singer, hearkens to the swish of his modish rags
‘neath the torn curtain of sky. Parched thieves
crouch near the simmering pond, sneak into
the poet’s garden, steal lilacs—white, purple,
lavender—whose gnarled branches curl & twist
block the crooks’ egress, banish them to anguish
& the dissonance
of unresolved chords. May you never know pain
of the chop block, never suffer branding
of your skin, never be felled by the moon’s
scimitar, deafened by the cymbals’ crash or waste
your dandelion years
riding camelback through the Hindu Kush. Such trials
are not for you, mon petit chou-fleur. Come sit beside
me, listen to the song on the far side of the tattered
moon. Then we’ll gather the wind-scattered seeds
that lie beyond
the bleak horizon, allow the stream of regrets to flow
past us. Dreams will perch on our window sills, mirages
drift past the scrim of sleep, swift as the golden fish
who plunge into the bellowing waters. Listen! for the ear,
the cauliflower ear will carry you deep into its spherical music.
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Read the poetry of Judith Dorian
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Four Stanzas on
Deep shadows of history fall
On pavements trodden well in
A white city on bluffs that look
Over such quiet hills. Of
Signs and patience. The cries
Of voices that refuse to be
Silenced by feet tapping down
Corridors we cannot find. Still,
They come and march and
Say what was once said as truth,
As wisdom beyond censure, beyond
Hands that grope, in the dark.
So come. So raise fists to dark
Skies that hold rain that cannot
Fall on songs that are spoken
Read the poetry of Matthew Henningsen
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I listen still
in the pre-dusk
hearing only the specter
of your presence in the walls
silent echoes on the floor
Dinner is ready,
a banquet of if-onlys
A table for one,
your five o’clock shadow
Read the poetry of Rita Lange Severino
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A Picture of the
A photo of my old street, in the rain;
Sandstone grim, the summer's sudden
Treachery marked upon it
As knuckles dent a cheek.
I can feel the weight of that sky
Wet treasure, and the trees, pushed by
Over the shining street's mirror
Are like wet-haired dancers
Exhausted and weeping
In the storm's dark.
Read the poetry of Gareth Spark
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How We Are Tricked
My poems come from pith,
just below the hide of me,
from the circus trance of
living the long moment,
the split between inspiration
and expiration, blue with envy
of the sky, such security!
We’re doomed, aren’t we,
to just missing it all,
to the rear view,
to always thinking,
“So that was it?”
It orders itself soon enough
into personal mythology.
You know the stories,
how this and that
caused something or other,
you either played a part
or didn’t. Nevertheless,
a certain wistfulness,
thin as a spider’s wiry grip
and as strong,
betrays us every time.
Read the poetry of Mikels Skele
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An Angular Boy
mucho akimbo, all elbows and knees,
sudden as summer rain, white as paper;
he falls through doors and windows
closed like a shop on Sunday;
shutter-eyed, still as a nightbrook,
a dry wheel under clouds; silent
unholy earth, dark with stein,
unformed loam at birth;
a worded child of mud;
fingernail skinned blacklack eyes
peek out of a ball of wet slam,
a groundling that waves like a black branch
across the sleeping fields;
see a shadow under the cold grass,
near in sight under a crust of frost.
Read the poetry of Leslie Philibert
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She Wrote Four Letters
~from "The Butcher Boy Series," II
On recalling him to mind,
she wrote four letters -
some twenty years late.
The first was accusatory:
What the hell had possessed him?
Had he lost his senses?
To try and formalise their flirtation,
calling for her, box of chocolates in hand,
she fifteen, he fifty-five.
How could he risk reputation for repudiation?
She cast the divining dice,
"empty of intelligence -
thoughts are empty;
just as the wind moves
through an empty valley.
You are becoming too worried
and mentally aggravated
for such a small purpose."
The second letter was more temperate,
stating things matter of fact,
acknowledging a toxic third party
had encouraged the liaison,
and may have deceived about her age.
The dice read:
"Nectar rays of the moon",
but still she was unsure,
and had now heard news of him:
"he sold his business to people
he himself had trained.
He helps out at Christmas,
and jokes that he is the 'Butcher's Boy'.
He is a lovely guy."
He is a lovely guy, she murmurs,
tears of joy in her eyes.
The third letter is written
with nothing but affection.
How he had read her correctly,
that she had longed to reciprocate.
That he is the one she still thinks of,
remembering their kiss.
The dice read:
"The white conch -
one's thoughts become renowned
like a pleasing tune."
She pauses, speaks to a confidante,
an older man, who will listen,
gives her freedom to express,
who'll accept her, non-judgmentally.
Her fourth letter
into a love song,
she sings and releases it.
The dice read:
"House of Good Tidings."
She doesn't need a reply.
(Divination quotes taken from "Mo: Tibetan
Divination System" by Jamgon Mipham.)
Read the poetry of Rowan Raw
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Kindness is curious - it sits in jars.
It mistakes itself for grace -
slips through the bars of good will.
Kindness sometimes lives
on its own mountain -
looks at itself in mirrors;
it never judges itself -never gets full.
Kindness races down the street with its mouth open -
words of reassurance following like a shadow.
It holds your thoughts like a place setting.
Kindness is air-tight and rolls down stairs
wrapped in the problems of everyone else;
step after step pouting like a lemon.
Kindness forces those seeds out -
then lines them up at the edge of the sink.
You can tell when kindness has swept over you -
it leaves the hair curled on your shoulders
and weeps the willow out of the branches.
It closes in deep when your hand is empty.
Kindness doesn't ring the bell
it opens the bottom of the window
and one foot at a time
invades the air between the words.
It's the high-top of your sneakers
and the down-low of the secrets you keep hidden.
If you sought out kindness on a deserted street corner
it would be the last vacant glow from the passing cars -
it would not spray rain in your face.
Kindness holds its nicknames in folded squares of paper -
it is the voice as you toss and turn -
the sleep that finally takes your hand.
Kindness is the best of that love
you can only now remember.
Read the poetry of Amy Soricelli
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Shine Shine Shine
Fog on the hillside
and running through my lungs
The sun spokes through
the wings of a sparrow
as it beats a bright path
across the field
spilled open with dew-dappled
like a pirate deciding
Shine shine shine
Later, a red leaf
takes off on a lark
and gambols downriver
and I am the only one
wise to its stumble,
its easeful incision
into a current
peopled by pond skaters
saving their best dance
pokes its nose
through the brush
Read the poetry of Sarah Hina
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The Floating Iris
She's like an accordion
In need of laughter
She gambols in the falling leaves
As they silently brush their way through her soft hair
Twirling around in her patterned sweater
Feeling the wind through her finger tips
Tasting the everlasting beauty of the brisk air.
Then, as we sing in the garden
Gazing at the twilight
Teeth filled with everything but sorrow
We shout out our fears
As we cavort and frolic through our lives
Through the falling trees
And through the broken and withered leaves
Read the poetry of Sam Kendall
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This becomes my favorite part of every day-
the place where I collect thoughts
and write them, to you.
Even when there is nothing much
Small winged flying things and
the halo of ice crystals
surrounding the moon
with promotions and demotions,
life, death, and rebirth.
My dream is that one day
my description of how the sun
rose golden pink today,
lets you know, simply, that you
were part of its rising.
That you may find my “I love you”
as a message hidden between
lines of mundane things,
scattered like so many
dandelion seeds in the wishes
my heart makes to my mind
each time I find a few quick words
for decorating your day.
Read the poetry of Marie Anzalone
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Chatting with Fellini
Rocked up early for a meeting with a friend
at a wood oven pizza place, warm in
Winter, on the road to Adelaide.
This little man with over his collar grey hair
sits in a corner, by a flashy gilded mirror,
wearing a fedora hat and black rimmed glasses.
There’s Marilyn and Elvis and Charlie. Audrey
and Harrison and Clark and Vivian (Leigh),
tomorrow is another day, 8½ weeks from Spring.
The place near empty. Well-used tables, chairs.
Wooden. If they could speak, what stories to tell,
but for another time, or maybe after midnight.
He flashes a serious smile. We talk.
Italian. I once emailed to Barcelona University
in Google Spanish, re-translated it was rubbish,
so keep my side to ’si’ and ’si’ as he emotes.
His name is Federico, seems he’d
made a film or four. He knew his stuff.
Those earlier spoken of, certainly knew him,
though I doubt they’d ever found their marks
on his film sets, and certainly not Elvis, pretty sure.
The King and Marilyn were busy anyway, as
they flirted near my table. Harrison the voyeur, had
his whip out and was raiding a lost ark.
My friend arrived. M, E, C, A, H, C (Gable) and V,
stepped back onto the walls. Gone with the wind.
I turned to Federico, but only an empty chair.
He’d left the room before I could convey how
I had enjoyed his films Satyricon and 8½,
all those years ago, when life was simpler.
great cappuccinos, pizzas.
Read the poetry of Martin Christmas
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