Free Verse Poetry

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The rapids flowing through your hand

takes in tow this day-old bread

— from the start impatient for the end

 

is already sliced the way every waterfall

tries to bring its river with it

become the cry in that faint echo

 

it needs to find the shattered

— it’s not a rock you’re holding

though what’s inside the splash

 

was left out to dry on this round table

as a lone crumb for that ancient necklace

you still glue to a fingertip for later

 

— you need bread that’s a year old today

has mold whose shadow stays green

lets you sit where there is no grass

 

in a chair each night smaller, sure

it hears her when you close your eyes

to put out the light, use the other hand.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Family of Man Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2021.

News of the Departed

I am growing a Chinese peony,

not in a garden in the woods, but amid some trees.

It produces offspring, this grandfather of my early efforts,

young American peonies

still tight-lipped with promise.

 

And everything close to ground is strong this spring,

as if earth’s blanket dialed up its setting a notch.

Violets, a vine with no name but soft with a pour of

tube-like purple flowers,

Sweet Woodruff, a throw of white eyes gathering beneath trees

before they fully leaf,

Vinca Minor, opening shop in April,

still lights on in the third week of May.

Some Forget-Me-Nots, like blue-eyed lovers.

 

No, I think, I never will.

Even the seeded grass from the city’s contractor

grew long green threads along the new white sidewalk,

though she will never see it

never set foot on its hard-hearted face.

 

Whoever you have,

love them.

You never know when

they will disappear.

Robert Knox is a poet, fiction writer, Boston Globe correspondent, and a contributing editor for the online poetry journal Verse-Virtual. His poems have appeared in journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, New Verse News, Unlikely Stories, and others.

What It Means To Be Beautiful

There is a planet with a moon

inside my water bottle. A breeze

makes small faces, expressions

of surprising love, I thank you.

Thank you for your nightly visits,

your gentle calls. Borrowed light alone

can’t make out in this house. This clutter —

the catch-all for my life.

I feel your glare of disapproval.

Come closer. The night

in your eye is a shade colder. Why

does everything have to be beautiful?

I don’t trust it. Let’s go

ruin something.

 

First Published in One Art: A Journal for Poetry.

Ilari Pass has work appearing or forthcoming in Rat’s Ass Review, As It Ought To Be, Paterson Literary Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, Common Ground Review, JuxtaProse, Drunk Monkeys, Sledgehammer Lit, Free State Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and others.

Parallel

If parallel universes exist

Then it may be true

That there is no time

That you didn’t exist

Some time

 

Then there’s God

Who exists at all times.

Another tale for

Another time

 

And if it’s so

As I’ve heard it may be

It means that

Somewhere

Sometime

I still walk the dog

We put down last summer

A victim of liver failure

 

Here and now

He is a thought that hovers

Over the small wooden box

That holds his ashes

While in some other now

He’s tugging on his leash

And sniffing the grass

In a neighborhood

That twins ours

Freshly mowed this morning

Two summers ago

Donald Carlson lives in Texas. His poems have appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Blue Unicorn, The Road Not Taken, and more. His collaborative volume of poetry, with Timothy Donohue and Dennis Patrick Slattery, is Road Frame Window, published by Mandorla Press.

Mole Day

for Craig Bowe

 

The mole knows all our little secrets —

infiltrator, informer, double-crossing agent

 

of no regrets, Mata Hari worked deep cover

under covers and was shot by firing squad

 

while moles mined deep into the French forest,

their fur as velvety as the skin of courtesans,

 

big paws and extra thumbs digging, burrowing

in and underground, to reuse the exhaled air

 

of their own whispers. And what of birthmarks,

beauty spots — the moles of both starlets

 

and witches — they, too, live a subterranean life.

Epidermal, dermal, vascular — black, speckled,

 

blue, hairy, or not — transgressing borders:

what those moles know could be dangerous.

 

How to possibly measure the weight of it all?

The chemists know. They have a day for that.

Hayley Mitchell Haugen holds a PhD in 20th Century American Literature from Ohio University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light was her first full-length collection. She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

Perception

In Hawaii, inside the stomach of a sixteen foot tiger shark,

bodies of three intact green turtles were found

 

all facing forward, shells as big as manhole covers,

lined up in a row like some bizarre Nintendo game.

 

Held between upper carapace and lower plastron connected

to backbones and ribs, stuck alive inside a body cavity and squeezed,

 

they siphoned oxygen from muscle, limbs and head pulled tight

against bone, pressure decreasing inside their lungs, suffocating

 

bodies within another body. My father called six months ago —

sat down with the newspaper and realized he could not read it.

 

Infarction, compression, his right eye a melting marshmallow, blurry

edges, soft spots. Almost-dead organ — minimal light detection, no

 

impulses, no neurons. Now he has an ache behind his other eye,

a dull cloud hovering at the edge of his vision. Pupils search and react,

 

but he can barely see. I watch him from across the room

although he doesn’t know it.

 

The turtles lived inside the shark for twenty four

or forty-eight hours, breathing slow and scared.

 

I see my father, man suffocating within a body —

he senses the dark and holds his breath.

Stephanie Pritchard received her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. She teaches in the English and Creative Writing department at SUNY Oswego and is the recipient of the Provost's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Mother’s Love

midnights, I look for that prenatal embrace

where my first love was born cell by cell

inside of your flesh and blood

 

lost, I seek out the voiceless warmth

instinctively remembered that I can’t remake

and long to float gravity-free

in the thick sea of your womb

 

in these dark hours, I listen for Chopin’s murmurs

your fingers coaxed from the old piano keys

when you played for you and gave the memory to me

trailing, pounding, yearning, weeping his melodies

across your layers of skin and muscle

where they reached my submerged fetal ears

and soothed me inside your impenetrable cave

 

I search with eyes, ears, fingertips, and memory

for that place where every ghostly love, every longing began

 

First published in Comorbidity: Expressions of Love.

J.J. Brown is a storyteller, editor, and author. Born in the Catskill Mountains of New York, she lives in New York City. She completed a PhD in Genetics before turning to writing. http://www.jjbrownauthor.weebly.com/.

The Fabric of Moving

bundled,

estranged souls,

streams of

wool and cotton,

buckles and brocades

traversing streets

and sidewalks,

stepping to stairs,

lined at doors,

waiting at lights,

journeys

day and night

to safety,

to escape,

to arrive,

as the circle

continues unafraid

of reaching the

end

Dr. Singer is a Poet Laureate Emeritus of Connecticut and past president of the Connecticut Shoreline Poetry Chapter in association with the Connecticut Poetry Society. He has had over 1,250 poems published on the internet, in magazines, and in books.

Tsunami_by_hokusai_19th_century.jpg

Cartography of Lost Desire

I have tried to forget

the contours of your body.

 

the places where sweat would pool salty,

dewing on soft cinnamon arch —

 

points that were landmarks

of shared pleasure,

 

kisses like ports of call.

it is this tactile map

 

that haunts my nights

years of distance, that have been

 

ashen and erosive —

folded into memory

 

that longs only for

your compass touch.

Jon Nakapalau is an aspiring poet who likes to take walks and have coffee with friends on Sundays.

Metamorphosis of Grief

It is the slowness of my body

the way each breath moves

through the cavern

of me.

 

It is the distance between my hand

and the dropped scarf.

 

Stars are closer.

 

It is the unknowing of myself

the reorienting to a new version

that has crawled

from the husk

of former

me.

 

She is raw, tender, and hideous

she is a me I never wanted

to be.

M. K. Martin is an author and editor with an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appears in journals, anthologies, and her novel Survivors’ Club. Martin has lived in Paraguay, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and adores tea.

September (2)

Summer’s recalcitrant, the sun

in no hurry to let up on us

 

and drift south.

Not until everything’s parched.

 

This is the desiccant season.

Listlessness sets in.  And leaves,

 

though technically green,

have exhausted their chlorophyll,

 

already beginning to fade

into colors that crumble.

Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit him at www.don-e-thompson.com.

Vulnerable

Paper thin

Easily torn

Feeling weak

Washed away

 

Like sand on a beach

Barely time to exhale

Fragile like glass

Broken in pieces

 

I am

Vulnerable

Keira Schaefer is a thirteen-year-old poet. Some of her accomplishments include 2021 Brain Mill Editor’s choice award, second place in the annual Maitland public library poetry contest, and publication in The Atherton Review.

Jailbirds

She is alien to me now,

This woman who bore me.

We speak as strangers,

Politely discuss her trip,

What we’ll eat for dinner,

Who died, the movies

We’ve lately seen . . .

Guarded, defensive,

Like jailbirds: tense, edgy.

Walking in the yard,

Out come concealed

Weapons. Tell me,”

She says, “was there ever

Anyone you truly loved?”

“Oh, yes,” I answer,

Secretly counting the days

Left of my sentence.

Dianne Moritz’s children’s book, 1, 2, 3 BY THE SEA, is a bestseller. Her adult poems have appeared in Adelaide, Live Poet’s Society, Pudding Press, and others, as well as many online sites.

Tsunami by Hokusai

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