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 II
February, May, August,
Free Verse Poetry
I dream of the Mayans creating a communal garden
in my industrial neighborhood. Seeds buried—sprout,
burst through concrete. They create a templo out of vines,
and metal—only the chosen may enter, warriors in leather.
Hours in the sun they gather poblanos, pasillas
and nopalitos—roasting peppers, and scraping
off cactus spines in preparation for the nightly feast.
Here they are worth more than any victorious battle,
they nourish—heal the old wounds colonizers inflicted
centuries ago. I am just a bruja longing to join them.
Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in IceFloe Press, Mineral Lit Mag, The Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost Heart, 24hr Neon, and more. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine.
I used to think that joy
Was like fashion —
You could wear it, even if it wasn’t you.
But now I see that joy
Is like my radio —
Not because there’s a switch,
But because sometimes the
Make no sense, and come swiftly
The tunnels and valleys,
Hillsides and hilltops,
Change the noise
And too often I change the channel
Instead of waiting for the static
To form words.
Sean Joseph Pino is a 24-year-old writer currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee. Outside of writing, his interests include photography, backpacking, surfing, and medicine. His writing attempts to reflect the emotions and cognitions that unite us.
For God is that which nothing greater can be thought.
—Saint Anselm, Proslogion, Latin “discourse.”
Should I have
infrared sight of a honeybee
echolocation of a bat
smell prowess of an African elephant
taste perception of a catfish
touch sense of a Star-nose mole
mentally solve Riemann hypothesis . . .
peel beneath sub-atoms
playing hide-and seek
in quantum tunnels
peer through Hubble’s Ultra Deep Field
at billions of light-year-distant galaxies
sparking, spinning, quickening in great pitch . . .
peek ahead of the edge of this universe beyond
infinity . . . eternity . . .
Someone is greater.
Peter C Venable has written both free and metric verse for decades, and gratefully has been selected herein previously. Visit him at petervenable.com.
I hear trains often at my new apartment,
but I never see them.
I’m told the factory blocks
my view of the tracks.
The man who told me this
has a very thick Russian accent.
He says hateful things to his wife
at night. I hear him.
Another tenant tells me that
the trains carry chemicals.
These, he believes, are used to produce
plastic jugs. I don’t care about this.
There are moments in life like this, aren’t there?
When the universe could simply disintegrate,
planets could turn to sand and no one would mind,
because the novelty has worn off.
Adam Todd is originally from Kentucky. He currently lives in Indiana.
The Sounds Before the Sounds I Knew Before
Everyone says it’s quieter now, but there are more sounds:
Not the bird’s song, but the first lift of its wing.
Not a rustling of leaves, but the flip flop as one leaf
turns over, back and forth.
The intake of breath before the shout of a child.
When I stand still, I hear the grass tap against its fellow blade.
When I walk, I hear my foot raise, peeling away from the soft pine needles.
The sounds before the sounds I knew before.
I should wear a softer jacket.
I have to hold my arms rigid by my sides to stop the shiny rubbing that mutes all else.
Otherwise I won’t know what I can hear and what I cannot.
The listening itself is a reaching out. A stretching.
Only the trees hold their secret quietness.
I go close to them and find a cool darkness
Made of sounds I have yet to hear.
Olivia Hajioff, a Fulbright scholar, has written since early childhood. Her first published story was televised as a children’s ballet for the British television show Freetime. She was also a finalist in the Cadbury’s Short Story Competition at age ten.
Between Sunday School and Church, Just Prior to Their First Communion, Pre-Teens of First Baptist Church, Wakinsville, Georgia, Slide Down the Grassy Slopes of an Excavation That Was Expected to Fill with Rain Water and Become a Pond, but Never Did Either
They have no language for what they all become.
Sunday School notwithstanding, there’s no language
for their sliding. Church clothes change to gravestone rubbings,
stained by red clay, grass, detritus plenicolor.
Darwin in abeyance, they’re fish by the bottom,
beyond instruction or parental admonition.
They dream fish dreams of tractable ooze, deep weeds, light
streaming, chiaroscuro, from the surface, while down
deeper, gathered round a dead aerator, catfish,
pike, alligator gar imagine cut banks, oxbow
lakes, the privacy of first cigarettes, darkness
presaging lightning strikes at dim fry in the shallows,
stirred silt, the violence, satisfactions
separate and singular. But parents tempt
with donuts, attendance stickers. Coaxed up the bank,
their reds, greens, fade beneath the hands of spit-shining
moms, pant-dusting, impatient dads. They shrug against
improvement, slouch audacity. They fidget with
their families throughout the service, awaiting
their first communion. The body and blood of Christ,
they’re told, these splashes of grape juice, these stale crackers.
Not enough. They can’t say how they know, but they must,
that such is a greyhound’s rabbit, an edging, not
the downward slide into the dark miraculous.
Samuel Prestridge lives and works in Athens, Georgia. He has published articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Better Than Starbucks, Arkansas Review, As It Ought to Be, Appalachian Quarterly, Paideuma, Poem, The Lullwater Review, and Southern Humanities Review.
Quick — a bookmark.
A few words
sparse on a page
(bird-prints on snow,
the bird just the
have set the white
of my mind on fire.
And I’m only half-
I must do what I
then get back to this
You hear me complain
how rarely my loins
catch fire these days.
Well, my mind,
an even wetter match,
makes the soggy sulfur
molding in my crotch
scorch like a desert.
Timothy Robbins teaches English as a second language. He has published three volumes of poetry: Three New Poets (Hanging Loose Press), Denny’s Arbor Vitae (Adelaide Books), and Carrying Bodies (Main Street Rag Press). He lives in Wisconsin with his husband of 21 years.
Vexation in the Garden
where shall I run if the dormant grass remains
to prick my bare soles as I scurry to the other side
in pursuit of this child whom I would give my very life
though her life may not mirror my own
the string in her hand that balloon in the sky
seem so simple at sunset
the clouds they agree not to deter this memory
with rain and fulmination
sunrays gleam and glow even more
the added warmth does strange things to the skin
she does not know to compare the future with the past
she trusts her mother, her father, and the heavens
the twilight would never lie but right and wrong can touch tomorrow
and when tomorrow touches her I pray
it is with hands as gentle as mine
Richard Carl Evans was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1957. A high school graduate and lover of the arts, poetry entered his life in 1995. The book, Writing The Natural Way, by Gabrielle Lusser-Rico sent him spiraling hopelessly into verse.
A polka-dotted nightdress
The moon slips above the embankment drawing
her skirt over the sleeping pond and casting
a luminous light on things that have nothing to
do with moons. Far below an old woman yawns
and says to herself, “It’s night and another day
will be rolling in soon,” and, raising her wide
eyes, she is filled with adoration, content
to sit where she is for the time being. Her
eyelids flutter and draw a curtain on earth,
muting the nonsensical mutterings of voices.
The greed of the living and all humankind,
with its prejudices, are bathed in the light
of a blank eye, and thoughts fly like birds
into the mesh of stars glittering on high.
Linda Copman is a lifelong lover of words and their power to help her connect to the world and to the other beings that dwell there.
On the Escalator in Liffey Valley
I don’t drink
have never been drunk
for an Irishman
in Spain, two summers ago
we got talking to an English couple
spent an evening with them
they drank and kept at it
at the non-drinking Irishman
and when I told them
that at home, I was famous
I think they half believed me
I have never been drunk
have never stood too close to a stranger
to tell them
with swollen tongue and loose lips
that I love them
have never tried to pick up a pint
only to knock it to the floor
have never walked down a midnight street
on a company night out
have never vomited behind the bins
in a back alley
have never blacked out
to wake up
when I looked at you
on the escalator in Liffey Valley
I felt the whole world tilt
Steve Denehan lives in Ireland with his family. He is an award-winning poet and the author of two chapbooks and two collections (one upcoming from Salmon Press).
She never asked for your fruit,
knowing the taste of poison.
You called her beautiful bird,
after closing her cage door.
You tricked her behind golden
bars with her mother’s manners.
You had her sit crossed legged
at a marble table.
You drowned the spring poems
dancing in her head.
Her voice stopped —
it would be rude to refuse,
and she let you touch her
You watched her eat
with her mouth closed.
While you were deep inside
you became the parasite
and called it a deal.
You made your winter the world’s.
Natalie Marino is a writer, mother, and physician. She graduated with a BA in American Literature from UCLA. Her work appears in Barren Magazine, Capsule Stories, Floodlight Editions, LEON Literary Review, and other journals. She lives in Thousand Oaks, California.
How about a lullaby to hold you awake?
Here’s some shingle from the sea, cupped like a lake
In the palm of my heart: I hope you hear
The smack of a kiss on a baby’s fat and the waves;
Smell the smoky hole of an old man’s open grin,
Then the caves. Here are my nails on your face
To keep you up as we drive home,
Those are the rivers flowing red and white
In lights through the gloom and here is the stain
On the rearview
Mirror from the seafoam
And the shadow, catching up with us in the car.
Jessica Brown is a London-born poet and recent graduate of the University of Oxford. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bloodaxe Archive Challenge and published in The Mays Anthology (edited by Mary Jean Chan) and The Factory Theatre newsletter.
her breasts hang
like carrots pulled up
from a garden.
or watermelons —
just plain thin
a straight line
from the earth.
she is sitting
at our table
cleaning a stain
on her work-blouse.
she works it, working
with abrasive soap
and warm water.
she is bending
DS Maolalai has been nominated many times for Best of the Net and for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press).
Tsunami by Hokusai
Archive of Free Verse Poetry
Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Suzanne Robinson by issue:
May 2020 March 2020 January 2020 November 2019 September 2019 July 2019 May 2019
March 2019 January 2019 November 2018 September 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018
March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017
August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017
December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 June 2016 May 2016
Archive of Free Verse Poetry with Vera Ignatowitsch by issue:
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