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,
Artist in which the self-portrait
is the vanishing point
is in petit point
points you out
isn’t the point
is the middle-ages
is just kidding
is a Kiddush
is a kid
is a dik
has no gender
has no sex
is into sex
is in some limbo
is out on a limb
is in a limo
is crossed out
is on a cross
Linda Ann Strang is the author of the poetry collections Wedding Underwear for Mermaids (2011) and Star Reverse (2022). Her poetry and short stories have appeared in many publications. Linda is the editor-in-chief of Hotazel Review. She lives in Gqeberha, South Africa.
Season of Snares
A screech owl with the black eyes of a raven
broods on a dead branch of an ancient sap-
checked oak. The Druids of Dodona no longer
hear high-crested voices, have long since
stopped their ears to the oracular speaking
beams. Thin cracked hands and knobby fingers
stretch to no one as the cold harlequin night
spreads stars like sequins on black satin. Mute
heaven sleeps as the nighthawk flies alone
spreads a forked tail as the moon, filling her
horns with silver light, comes silently scything.
Red roses fall, dark as antique altar blood. All is
still and pulseless as the clock strikes midnight.
Sobriety spills and overwhelms the dark room.
Pamelyn Casto has articles on flash fiction in Writer’s Digest, Fiction Southeast, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading, and Critical Insights: Flash Fiction. Her poems have appeared in several publications.
Glaciers Rise Fractured
after Riot Days by Maria Alyokhina, Pussy Riot
Prison loudspeakers bellyache —
assigned tasks strain.
They don't quiver fate. I'm mangled —
rewards burgeon at last.
Who pivots circumstances?
Velvet stage-curtains open.
Christopher Barnes has won a Northern Arts writers award. Each year he reads for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partakes in workshops. His collection Lovebites was published by Chanticleer Press.
Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali
Perspectives on an overdose
(after was a distant
an absence) thought he cousin I remember
was just dipping a toe him visiting one time as a kid
but instead fell in all the way running through the pool screen
& drowned in the shimmer blood on the ground & his father screaming
Karl Miller's fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals; he also wrote the plays A Night in Ruins (Off Off Broadway, 2013) and Afterward (Los Angeles, 2021). A Best of the Net nominee, Miller lives in Coral Springs, Florida.
Camus, Life Coach
“Keep struggling — I’ll get back to you.”
R.F. McTague lives in Bucharest, Romania, and has been published on Bluepepper and EKL Review. He loves reading literature and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.
could not save me
the elevator that goes
all the way down
grow up to love you
has just been born
Ruth Holzer is the author of eight chapbooks, including most recently Living in Laconia (Gyroscope Press) and Among the Missing (Kelsay Books). Her Japanese-style short form poems have appeared in American Tanka, Atlas Poetica, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Red Lights, Ribbons, and elsewhere.
Geometric Forms by Jean Arp
The Big One
In case of an earthquake, hold on. Not to earth. Find a door. Don’t go through it. Stand in the doorway and pray. Cover your head with your hands so God (or whatever) cannot see the fragile bits of your neck, flush with spinal fluid that is in retreat like a tide from a shore after the earthquake but before the tsunami. The earthquake will come when it comes because the earthquake is beholden to no one but itself and the crust of the world. Learn from the earthquake, which does only what it must, which is not bad or good but merely an earthquake. Practice that. Practice being only what you are. Practice moving only when moved by a tectonic shifting. Practice rumbling and practice rupture. Practice these things so that you can meet the earthquake on its own terms. Now brace yourself: a crack is forming.
Ruby Rorty is a scholar moonlighting as a journalist moonlighting as a poet in Chicago, Illinois. Her work has recently appeared in Mythic Picnic Volume 8, hex, and EcoTheo, among others.
A Man Who Feeds the Birds
Back home, when home was the motherland, I would watch a junkie neighbor on his rooftop feeding doves in a makeshift birdcage he made from scavenged wood scraps and political campaign tarps. He would open the door when he thought that all the doves had eaten. Before night covered the skies, he’d sing songs serenading the doves while replenishing his bird feeder. They would fly back feeling at peace surrendering their freedom to a man who finds peace feeding birds every day. As a young boy, I thought he was crazy. Four decades in, living in a house I don’t own, walking the strange lands of America, I find myself still lost and not fitting in. But there’s a feeling of peace in knowing that I’m creating a home where I sing with wild birds in harmony. In our backyard I feed mourning doves, house finches, Anna’s hummingbirds.
Francis Johann Verdote was born and raised in Manila, Philippines, and matured in Los Angeles, California. His poems have appeared in Cultural Weekly, Statement Magazine, and in California State University Los Ángeles’s arts and literary journal.
I drove a car two hundred miles today. I know we’re not supposed to hug, but a woman cried in my arms as I despaired for her world. She said “you are my big brother,” then pushed me away. At home, the cat follows me. There is food. What could he be needing?
Lee Dunn is a writer of poetry and short fiction themed mainly on the human condition and has an interest in the classics (both modern and older). He resides in Central Ontario and is retired after 45 years in the workforce.
Oblivion’s Balloon as it Collapses Neuro-Linguistic
Pathways into a Symmetrical Waveform of White Noise
A farmable nebulosity of astronomers confronts the sky’s thumbprint, speaking the verb to be into its Pentecost of carbonated stars. Universities dispense green vials of schizophrenic, pun their suffering even as they rewrite the messianic alleyway from which I appear. The further inland my feet and hands drag this dirt-ship, the more books & electronics build my ego, stage-manage the unshorn mathematics of my trip into headless. And where entrails of satellite-steepled cyborg deacons pass, paisley crustaceans in the galactic attitude of parade dress extract our indiscretions of godhood, transfuse us careless. But forget that pastry of insane. Examine the eruption of graffiti tattoos, this vertigo of coloring-book erotic. Sections of sexual sidewalk kayak a door thru silk paper, blow cocooned kisses, scholar a sense of murder inside language. The mythology of a library wrenching itself Romantic in the absence of its books. All while blackboards of balloons tunnel thru ancestors’ brain-clumping trilobites. But deep in the radical manifesto of gigantic, pages crammed blank in the threads of unclear, we escape homeless into prisons we nurture in the thimble of our shared and costly brain. How did we confuse inside with out? Drifting homeward, we fold space, collapse the waveform, white noise a freedom, a subjective delirium of balloon presence.
Bobby Parrott’s poems appear in Tilted House, RHINO Poetry, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Atticus Review, The Hopper, and elsewhere. Wearing a forest-spun jacket of toy dirigibles, he dreams himself out of formlessness in the chartreuse meditation capsule called Fort Collins, Colorado.