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,
Near the boxcar
as the train began to move
slow flickerings of sparks
and lax assurances.
Near the gate
a gathering of greyness
hissing final farewells.
As the smoke rose,
the train burned wood,
the wheels turned, and
rods pushed gleamingly.
Outside there was snow . . .
and ghosts attempting
to gather themselves
cf. Nguyen Chi Thien’s “Travel with Grief — Goodbye to Joy.”
Born in New England, reared and educated primarily in Asia, Kiersta Recktenwald writes mostly poetry and aphorisms. She’s published in Chrysanthemum, Eucalypt, Poetry Midwest, Westward Quarterly, The Sandy River Review, etc., and lives in rural Maine and uptown Seattle.
Cliff Indignity: An acrostic sonnet
Can you imagine if you were a cliff
Like Dover’s famous crags of sheer white rock—
If you had no defence against the whiff
Fresh guano leaves when seabirds poop en bloc?
For centuries, I’ve braved the winds that blow,
Inspiring poets, who are all at sea,
Not underneath the seabirds, or they’d know
Divine enchantment is not felt by me!
If I could talk to seabirds, I would grouse:
Get off my face, you brainless booby birds!
Nest somewhere else, perhaps some poet’s house.
Instead of lauding cliffs, they’d curse your turds! . . .
Though poets write of heavenly allure,
Yet sheer indignity’s what I endure!
Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus at Florida State University. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Current Conservation, Ekphrastic Review, Light, Lighten Up Online, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The Satirist, and several other journals.
David Clode on unsplash
When a last breath of life kisses the blood red moon,
they say to seek you in the darkest ravines,
I ring the mourning bell to bring you to me.
Born from the devil's cradle as the willow weeps,
my heart beats for thee,
as the moon eats away the night, you come to me.
Gravedigger, I am in love with thee.
Jess Zambrano is a student who enjoys exploring topics of love, loss, the self, and nature within free verse poetry.
Just Like She Said
I gripped its hand
felt it transform
into a talon
I held its body
between the sheets
as it grew corpse cold
I kept it with me
from place to place
as it rotted
my eyes burning
flowing like springs
now I spoon
with its ghost
it truly is better
Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared throughout the small presses. His latest poetry collection, Night At My Throat (2020),was published by Pony One Dog Press.
The candle next to me crackled
while the man in my apartment
listed off names of women
he had been with
and how little they all meant
to him. They sat
in the candle
and burned up above his words,
all their features washed away
in red and yellow and orange light.
They called for help,
but he had no wind left
to save them
as his was all used.
I could have helped,
but my lungs were too weak
from all the smoke
and his breath was keeping
my cigarette lit.
Michael Stitz is an emerging poet and recent graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His poetry focuses on banality in modern life and the abrasive reality we all face.
Buried in the Garden
Now I lie dead, buried in the garden,
And the plants take over.
Two hibiscus bushes grow from my eyes,
Oleander from my nose,
A sapodilla will fruit from my mouth,
Casuarinas grow to sigh from my ears.
From my chest a love vine straggles out
And black crabs live in the cavities of my lungs.
A chicken boa curls around and hunts up and down
And from my private parts grows
That least private of plants, a coconut palm.
From my feet termites are building tunnels out around the world.
So is my body divided, reused, and the birds take hair for their nests
And the calcium of bones and teeth for their eggs
And the body, the body is gone.
And what am I, but a body? What would remain in your sieve if you sift my remains?
Only some thoughts, others’ memories of some thoughts,
Blown away on the wind when the rememberers themselves are gone.
First published in Snakeskin.
Robin Helweg-Larsen’s poems have been published in Better Than Starbucks and other magazines in several countries. He is Series Editor for Sampson Low’s “Potcake Chapbooks,” and he blogs at formalverse.com from his hometown of Governor’s Harbour in the Bahamas.
Found you in my bar last night just like I found you years ago, ready and able.
Everyone wished us well as we left on the journey of no return.
Very slowly we pushed the canoe off the sand into the stream with a tiny jump.
Quiet into dark, no smell touch feeling, bliss is eternal nothing.
I wanted you to count to a hundred by ones and believe.
Something told me I was lucky you would never be like me.
After we play, the leaves on the trees all blown away.
E. Martin Pedersen, originally from San Francisco, has lived for over 40 years in eastern Sicily. He has published two collections of haiku, Bitter Pills and Smart Pills, and a chapbook, Exile’s Choice, just out from Kelsay Books.