Free Verse Poetry
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,
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
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.
If parallel universes exist
Then it may be true
That there is no time
That you didn’t exist
Then there’s God
Who exists at all times.
Another tale for
And if it’s so
As I’ve heard it may be
It means that
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.
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.
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.
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
wool and cotton,
buckles and brocades
stepping to stairs,
lined at doors,
waiting at lights,
day and night
as the circle
of reaching the
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.
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
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
She is raw, tender, and hideous
she is a me I never wanted
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.
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.
Like sand on a beach
Barely time to exhale
Fragile like glass
Broken in pieces
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.
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 . . .
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
Archive of Free Verse Poetry
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