Better Than Starbucks
Poetry and Fiction Journal
. . . if you love diversity and creative writing in any and every form, then you’re in the right place . . .
Vol VI No III
February, May, August,
Dan Refuses To Keep Playing
Another bottle tips: plates fall, life cracks:
the freezer spills out, full of lumpy shapes:
and they refuse to stop it. Garbage lids
pop off, and Dan could fix that with two hands,
but one of them is always almost always full,
and tennis-shoes do NOT get thrown away
but sweetener packets do: the empty ones;
Dan throws away the full packs.
don’t fit some drawers, but that’s confusing. And
brooms want to fit in crooked, but they can’t;
wrong shapes, wrong always, so Dan breaks them but
that won’t work for him either. And he tries
to follow rules, but somebody gets mad;
it always happens. So Dan has to hide
but even then he’s not supposed to; life
is one big accident, so Dan decides
that he’s no longer playing —
Kathryn Jacobs is a poet, professor emerita, and editor of The Road Not Taken. Her fifth book, Wedged Elephant, was published by Kelsay Press.
I Deal with “The Problem”
I dismiss guidance in self-help books on how to make life better,
don’t engage in feel-good activities either — perfumed candles,
drinking Lady Grey tea — don’t read trite quips on my Facebook page
or indulge in chocolate bonbons and bubble baths.
Clear clutter from the closets, I say — nostalgia doesn’t solve problems
or make life better. Why save a dried-up prom corsage —
watering it with tears won’t revive a “Sweet Sixteen” romance.
Multi-taskers, nose-wipers, ladies-NOT-waiting — unsung heroines,
Wonder Women, all — we’ll be outrageous, take over the world, incite
riots. It’s time for upheaval. I’ll get a tattoo, write a steamy novel, run
for office, go back to school at age forty-two.
Even though the 19th Amendment happened over a hundred years ago,
a gender gap still exists — equality’s an uphill battle.
It’s past the hour. Past time to move on. There are other places to go.
Patricia Williams, published in About Place Journal, Bramble, Liquid Imagination, Midwest Review, Poetry Quarterly, and others, authored The Port Side of Shadows (Finishing Line) and Midwest Medley (Kelsay), which was awarded Outstanding Poetry Book for 2018 by the Wisconsin Library Association.
I Am the Sadness
inside my eyes,
the smell of his breath, the hands
that play his chuckle on the piano.
I absorb the bludgeoning of his fierce blues
like a punched bag. His stiff white forest
scrapes my face. I shake like a wet dog
as he holds me down. He is as strong
as Gorgeous George in the wrestling ring.
The digger pummels again and again
forcing that thing I can’t name inside my mouth,
stretched so wide I know it will break.
The lava of his volcano smothers my nose,
cheeks, and chin, wets my pink pajamas.
In the morning when he tries to spoon oatmeal
into that stretched tired place, I spit it into his face,
his eyes half closed as if resigned, or maybe
as sad as mine.
No one asks, not Daddy, not my big sister.
I don’t know what to tell them. Maybe this is what
all grandpas do when the lights are off.
When he does it again, I don’t try to bite,
kick or fight. I just lie there like a blanket
to be rolled into a ball, stuffed inside a closet,
I have no words to tell, no words to write,
no words inside my head, just photos
printed on the jell inside my brain,
a taste of something ugly.
When we’re grown, my sister doesn’t say
what he did to her. When I ask,
she just cries.
Pauli Dutton has been published in Verse Virtual, Altadena Poetry Review, Spectrum, Skylark, The Cherita, The Pangolin Review, and elsewhere. She was a librarian for forty years, where she founded, coordinated, and led a public reading series from 2003 through 2014.
short fragments of his life,
exposing too late
his pain and strife.
Page by page
a portrait slowly grew,
but different from
the son we knew.
in retrospect we see
how we made our own
Previously published in another version in Stick Figure Poetry Quarterly.
Dick Narvett is a retiree from a prior life in international business and independent film acting. He now lives in Pennsylvania where he writes flash fiction and poetry.
Don’t Hate to be Different
I thought I was free
I thought there would be no me against them But I was wrong when it came to Asian Hate
Like a tidal wave against the morning sunrise It came with the intensity of a surprise Without an end in sight
Walking to school with a backpack on my back And tears running down my face
I prepared myself for the onslaught of Asian Hate
I reached the school
And opened the door
And there I was met by stares
It started with one word
And grew like a storm
The horrifying meaning of Asian Hate
I was scared but walked with my head held high Go back to your country they said
You don’t belong here
Ignoring the misery of the moment
I went ahead to my classroom
There on the whiteboard were the words Asian Hate
I said with a quiet voice Good morning ma’am She did not look up
I sat down on my seat and
Then the bell rang and people were late
But the teacher turned her face, ignorance in her eyes about Asian Hate
This cycle keeps repeating as terrifying as it seems there is no end
That’s why I’m screaming
I can’t make a difference
I’m just one Asian girl
My voice is just a whisper as I scream stop Asian Hate
The pain I feel amounts to nothing
It hits my heart like a piece of stone
I feel myself sinking in this herd of injustice
Others cry too
Fake tears, worthless lies
This is about screaming, sore throat, hurting eyes stop Asian Hate
Can everyone come together as one big family
I want our planet filled with peace and love
We remember this happened before But we soon forget
Because no one remembers Asian Hate
Anureet Kanwar is a 16-year-old Asian / American student. She is currently attending The Governor's Stem Academy at Grassfield High School. She thought this was a great opportunity to share her voice. She believes through poetry, social change is possible.
No witch failed as badly.
She wed a count of Anjou,
And in one magical instant
Dissolved into a cloud of smoke
Upon his unexpected demand
That she attend Holy Mass.
Clyde L. Borg is a retired high school teacher. Some of his work has appeared in Nostalgia Magazine, History Magazine, and Leaves Magazine. He resides in Fords, New Jersey.
Pigeon Hunting at Twelve
Take flight pigeons
from these splintered rafters
of rotting wood high
in the belfry of this ancient
Take flight before this twelve-year-old boy,
sixteen-gauge shotgun in hand
takes aim and shoots roofward
to please his father.
The shot sets off
explosive cannonades of echoing thunder
and hundreds of innocents fleeing in fear,
fighting to find the escapes of windows
high in the barn walls.
No pigeons tumbled to the filthy wood floor,
and the boy sighed.
Greg Stidham is a retired pediatric intensivist currently living in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife Pam and the last survivor of a pack of rescue dogs. Greg’s passion for medicine has yielded in retirement to his other lifelong passions — literature and creative writing.
David Clode on unsplash