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 I
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 Mary Meriam
Cleansing by John Riley
Raangta by Sayan Aich Bhowmik
Prisoner of Circumstances by Ndiritu Mwangi
To Hope by Rhina P. Espaillat
translating Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
haiku by Padmini Krishnan
Monster by Kirstin Ault
Heartache in the Groves of Academe: The Two Bodies Problem by David Blumenfeld
Five Featured Poems
What is it like to be a bat?
It is to be
Adrift among those currents that
Cannot be grasped by mind, but must
be heard, as though
The wind itself had spoken. Hushed,
within the flow,
One listens. Darkness, answering,
does not reveal,
But gives away the very thing
it would conceal.
Jared Carter’s seventh book of poems, The Land Itself, with an introduction by B. J. Omanson, is from Monongahela Books in West Virginia. Carter lives in Indiana.
Portrait of Longing Upside Down
Moonlight, 1895, Edvard Munch
Li Bo died leaning to kiss the moon reflected in the river
There is his body where the boat left him
Drowning in longing
Now instead of leaning he floats looking up
Into the unreflected universe
And every 28 days the moon in all its fullness
Eileen Earhart Oldag writes poetry from her home in Boise, Idaho. She’s most recently published in The Elpis Pages: A Collective. In Louisiana, she was a founding member of Upper Gladstone Writers’ Workspace.
How Paths Choose the Traveler
The ditches are waves of bluets in Meat Camp
and there are two old men at Plan B Grocery —
eggs in every brown, live bait, red velvet ice cream —
watching me nearly miss my turn.
I run in gravel a moment, correct course.
Approaching is more than a momentary event.
There was a coal seam on the mountain above the homeplace.
I don’t know the sound of dynamite, but they grew up with it.
Maw Dicey was 8 months pregnant when the seam collapsed
on Pap and his brother.
She’ll tell you she had a knowing. She’ll tell you
she heard the blast, closed her eyes and arrived.
I well up like weeks-old rain seeping from the mountain.
If I could gather enough of myself I might
know direction but I am dispersed, waiting
on the generosity of root and bramble.
I remain mute, mud, craving the downward spill
of certainty, a stone-lined creek.
Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is the author of two full-length books of poetry: Appalachian Ground (2019) and Wolf Laundry (2020).
The Interview — A Roundtable
by Robert Nazarene
and James Wilson
Agent Clarice Starling: Mr. Nazarene, have the lambs stopped screaming?
Robert Nazarene: Not yet, Clarice, but they will. It is vitally important that poets cultivate silence. We are all our own self-made victims of sensory overload. Unplug often times daily. It will increase our awareness, that is to say, our spirituality — the core of any fine poem. Don’t just do something, sit there. Then the lambs will stop screaming, Clarice.
Super-Dupe Famous Harvard University Poetry Professor, Emeritus: In your mind, sir, does the vector of literary rotation, meaning the id-ness of Chaucerian doxology in both blank and antidisestablishmentarianism verse . . .
Professor Irwin Corey: I’d like to take a crack at . . .
James Wilson: Yes, the lady with the open umbrella, fine white powder and charred spoon, please. A spoonful of sugar?
Mary Poppins: Hello, Bobby. Hello Jimmy.
Robert Nazarene: Hello, Mary, long time no see.
Mary Poppins: So . . . what makes you so smart these days? Btw, Bob, you don’t look so hot in those newer pictures . . .
Robert Nazarene: Don’t ever ask a question you don’t already know the answer to, eh Mary? My formal poetry education began and ended in your 8th grade class, as you well know. I wouldn’t know a ghazal from a ghazebra if it bit me in the face. It’s always been dumbfounding to me to see how little I need to know to do what I do. Someone once called me an autodidact. I was so impressed, I went out and looted a Louis Vuitton briefcase to celebrate.
There I was at Buzz’s wanting only
to get the usual: ginger tangerine.
I had the words in view, right on the daily
menu. Some fucking IBM machine
could have read them off and spat them back
deadpan computer style. Blank me? No way.
I searched my brain. Like going through the stacks
for a book that’s missing. It wasn’t like a play
where you forget your lines; more like a dead —
zone: white-matter algae ate the oxygen
where all my words were stored. I nod my head,
and point, she gives me the tangerine.
I’m told my “faculties have been restored.”
Bullshit! My brain’s an apple that’s been cored.
Wells Burgess began writing poetry late in life. His work has appeared in The Edge City Review, The Lyric, Measure, The Federal Poet, The Beltway Quarterly, Light, Think, and Passager.
A pie, en tren, en autobús,
los migrantes endlessly trek,
carrying their few possessions
in sweat-stained backpacks,
passing ciudades, rios, montañas.
While every evening
spotting frights of ghosts
lingering on the edges of ranchos,
waving like characters in Pedro Páramo,
whispering cryptic messages
from the dearly departed.
One points accusingly,
“Why do you desert su patria?”
Another says, “Don’t listen to that menso cabrón.
Try it! ¿Por qué no? ”
While in the glooming twilight,
los fantasmas stand mute
their eyes both lonely and piercing.
Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue, a writer from Fort Worth, Texas, has had poems published in The Texas Observer, Concho River Review, Borderlands, and California Quarterly. His poetry book What I Did Not Tell You was published in 2020.
Yair Mejía on Unsplash.