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 VII No III
February, May, August,
Regular Feature Pages
Haiku with Kevin McLaughlin
Formal Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch
Poetry Translations with Susan McLean
Poetry for Children with Robert Schechter
Experimental, Form, & Prose Poetry
Better Than Fiction (creative nonfiction)
From The Mind of Alfred Corn
Season of Snares by Pamelyn Casto
The Knife Grinder by Catherine Chandler
translating Juana de Ibarbourou
Elemental Ugliness by Debasis Tripathy
Oblivion by Abdulkareem Abdulkareem
haiku by Joe Sebastian
Uninvited by Leslie Martinelli
Winter Games by Salvatore Difalco
Five Featured Poems
Why so Green?
Because Nature is good?
The source of suffering and pain?
Is it not responsible for
diseases from animals?
From the black plague to
malaria and tuberculosis?
That good friend?
The one who gives us hurricanes,
tornados, earthquakes and death?
The one you love?
Isn’t it unrequited?
Who is this Medea?
Paul Kindlon has published 50 literary works including one-act plays, aphorisms, fiction, and poetry. After having graduated with a PhD in Russian literature and Philosophy, he taught Humanities for 23 years in Moscow, Russia. He now resides in Buffalo, New York.
Remember his name?
I don’t remember his name, if I ever knew it
and I’ve only myself to blame, because I blew it,
I’m sure you’d have felt the same if you’d gone through it
— did I ever know his name?
We met on a winter’s day, it was deep December;
against the cold and the gray he glowed like an ember —
a smile like the sun’s first ray, that’s what I remember,
yes I’ve only myself to blame.
He offered a ride in his car (a sharp wind was blowing)
a stop for a drink in a bar with a fire glowing
but what his motives were, there was no knowing —
I’m sure you’d have felt the same.
So I shook my head and walked on, into the cold
and when I looked back he was gone. Now I’m getting old
but I still weave dreams upon what that smile might have told . . .
No, I never knew his name.
Judy Koren lives in Haifa, Israel. Her poems have appeared in several Israeli and international magazines including this one. She is President of the English-language poetry society, Voices Israel.
We are not innocent
We were raised to raze it to the ground,
never built a city that we didn't want to see go down.
We are not innocent.
We spit aspersions like pumpkin seeds,
some we eat, like sweet meat,
feel them root, like rot, inside our guts,
sense their savage fruit build up.
We are not innocent,
no matter what we say or do,
we build gutters for grief to go down,
send it away, we wouldn’t want
the runoff of pain to spoil our day.
We are not innocent,
we sing innuendo like arias,
shatter glass houses where
somebody else had made themselves
feel wholly at home,
then go back to our own holes,
Rebecca Wener’s work has been published in Beyond Words and Poetry Quarterly. She’s a psychology graduate student in Denver, Colorado.
Imaginary Conversation with
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
by Kevin McLaughlin
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (born October 21, 1772, Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, England, died July 25, 1834, Highgate, near London), was an English lyrical poet, critic, and philosopher. His Lyrical Ballads (1798), written with William Wordsworth, heralded the English Romantic movement, and his Biographia Literaria (1817) is the most significant work of general literary criticism produced in the English Romantic period.
This was not the first time I’d fallen through a wormhole while kayaking the South Fork of the St. Lucie River. Six months ago, I’d tumbled back in time to live for a while with the indigenous Ho-Be Native Americans. Two months prior, I’d spent an enjoyable afternoon with William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory.
I was initially disoriented. Then I realized I was in London and estimated the time frame to be between 1815 and 1820. I was at the quays where several ships were moored. I followed a tatterdemalion of a man; he repeatedly looked over his shoulder and his eyes appeared haunted like a spirit during Samhain. He had an albatross draped around his shoulders. I was within a few feet of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I recognized him from a poster that had hung in my college dorm room. He accosted me, due in part to my futuristic garb.
Coleridge had no problem accepting that I was a time traveler from the future. In his world this seemed a natural occurrence. Eager for conversation, he ushered me into The Bat and Fox, a pub tucked between a blacksmith shop and an apothecary. “Tell me about yourself,” he said.
My aunt drove us in her Chevy Impala
over the old bridge crossing
the north fork of the Chehalis River.
Downriver, we could see the new bridge
rising in concrete and steel,
and one of us, one of the four or five of us
being fetched home from somewhere that day,
asked, “How will they know it won’t fall?”
She flicked an ash from her cigarette,
said, “Oh, I’ll test it for them —
I’ll have all the windows down. If it falls,
I’ll just swim away.”
Forehead pressed to the car window,
I could almost see her, a mermaid flippering
over river stones. And when she died
of breast cancer a few years later, I thought again
of her, crossing that bridge with all her windows down,
making certain it would bear our weight.
Bethany Reid’s poetry books include Sparrow, which won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize (Big Pencil Press, 2012), and The Thing with Feathers, which was published as part of Triple No. 10 (Ravenna Press, 2020). She blogs about writing and life at http://www.bethanyareid.com.
Les Neiges d’Antan
At my old job, I had a colleague, Anne,
a doctor in her fifties. Who could guess
that underneath her white coat flexed the flesh
of a bodybuilding champ, rock-hard and tan?
A listener unusually astute
might pick up on a stony timbre in
her bright voice. In the cafeteria line,
she stockpiled protein, skipping carbs and fruit.
I sometimes visit art museums, soothed
by the abiding calm of pieces like
Noguchi's sculpture Ground Wind #2.
A slim rod of black granite, polished smooth,
it twists upon the ground, a languid snake,
untoothed yet filled with power through and through.
Jenna Le (jennalewriting.com) is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), an Elgin Awards Second Place winner, and Manatee Lagoon (forthcoming, Acre Books, October 2022).
Yair Mejía on Unsplash.