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 II
February, May, August,
A weighted blade
The man that Orwell witnessed
on his way to being hanged,
stepped slightly aside,
on the path,
to avoid a puddle,
his common sense commanding
the things it could still command.
Habit hardens into bone
that no epiphany will break.
No crack of light unblinds us.
There is no other road to take.
brings us hapless to the block.
The focus on the footstep.
The insight, automatic.
Your wrists tied tight behind your back
would tear against their bindings
to spare your falling head from
the upward rushing basket.
Joe Crocker's poems have appeared in Snakeskin Poetry Webzine, and also in Philosophy Now, Light, The Orchards, Bewildering Stories, Allegro, Pulsebeat, and New Verse News.
When I’m gone
In the spring
When swallows return to the old churchyard
And pear trees are white with blossoms
I will be there each morning
Bright sunshine on your windows
And in your heart
As summer arrives
With bursting colors and endless days
In the warm breeze that rustles your daydreams
You will hear my voice
Whispering your name
When the leaves turn golden
In the brisk autumn air
And soft clouds trail across the open blue
I will sprinkle along your walk
Pine needles and sweet memories
Fragrance of yesteryears
On long cold winter nights
When your heart wonders
As you sit alone by the fireplace
Rest your weary eyes and listen to the rain
Singing you my soul’s lullabies
First published in In the Shadow of Green Bamboos.
C. L. Hoang was born and raised in Vietnam during the war and came to America in the 1970's. He earns his living as an engineer but dabbles in the pleasure of writing every chance he gets.
I tried to make my dreams into memories
that were cheerful, and in harmony with that
which is eternal, but to no avail.
I tried to make yesterday’s visions into
images that will reside in my daily hours,
and lighten my path in this world of chaos,
but to no avail.
I tried to make old melodies into joyful
songs like those of the meadow lark, to
brighten my day, but to no avail.
I tried to remember that each of us is but a
tiny grain in the vast universe, and life itself
is a gift, but to no avail.
I tried to remember that existence itself
is a miracle, and a thing to bow down in
gratitude to, but to no avail.
I then sneaked into the dark knitted
disturbances inside my mind, and saw
past prayers lying dormant inside, and my
ego was sitting atop them, grinning at me.
James G. Piatt has published four collections of poetry, The Silent Pond, Ancient Rhythms, Light, and Solace between the Lines. He has had 1,555 poems, five novels, seven essays, and 35 short stories published worldwide in over 250 publications.
My mother has died.
She has gone to heaven in pieces,
like a jigsaw puzzle —
First was the sliver of the moment past
It drifted away like an untethered balloon.
Second was the slab of comprehension
It snapped free and rode a freight train due north.
Third was the deep pool of memory
It caught a current, hallelujah! Glory-bound.
My mother has died.
There is still one more piece yet to go.
First published in Green’s Magazine.
Susan R. Morritt is a writer, visual artist, musician, and former racehorse trainer. She prefers working with livestock to humans.
dark feet kiss concrete all-day-long until ruby dots-and-lines decorate their tired palms
“naturalism is all about causes and effects;” i glance up from my pink ironic stickers and bright-loud screen to lazily flip a dime’s worth of attention to the plump tweed-wearing professor
on her display table, each burnt-gold straw hat is everything—a single sale to one passerby would be enough to stave off pulling-cold hunger one more day
two weeks ago a man snapped when she looked away and rejected his repeated offers for paid back-alley sex—something’s so rotten in that assumptive gaze
i have eaten three meals today—the clock clicks noon-thirty
the stranger raged and flipped her tiny table
handmade hats and pieces of splintered straw scattered across rough pavement and many were ruined
her table’s back legs were shattered and would take weeks to repair
the man laughed as she scrambled to retrieve hats blowing away in the wind
he spit on her but she refused to cry as she turned and wiped her face with a dirty sleeve
”it’s natural for humans to want to explore the forces that make things the way they are—the causes which generate the meaning behind the lives we lead,” a satisfied teacher sits back legs-crossed while heads implode contemplating existential causes
but you read no naturalist literature
and your burnt feet and rumbling stomach seek no cause
but you do know effect
you have sighed over the effects of self-respect and picked up straw hats in silent shame
i do not believe there is any just cause behind why i am here
and you are there.
Michael Roets is a writer and high school teacher in Texas. He graduated from Simpson College in 2020 with degrees in both English and Philosophy. These days, he mostly grades essays and writes when he can.
One afternoon when I was ten I came home to a silent house.
I dropped my bike at the open back door, lights on, dinner on the stove,
running from room to room, calling for my mom and dad and brothers,
panic and fear, the rapture has happened, left behind!
I’ve never felt so alone.
They told me the trumpet could sound any moment,
My Grandma sang about it every Sunday night,
Jesus is coming soon, morning or night or noon,
Many will meet their doom, trumpets will sound.
I had seen those terrifying films at youth night,
those not ready left behind, the mark of the beast — lost forever!
As I sat crying on the porch step, mom appeared in front of me.
She had gone next door to borrow something.
I lived my childhood in fear — terror really.
It would come when we least expect it, like a thief in the night, in the blink of an eye,
splitting the eastern sky, no one knoweth the hour!
In my teenage years, preachers told us that Europe was forming a union,
adopting rainbow money, one world order, setting the stage for the anti-christ,
signs of the time, earthquakes, prophesies fulfilled, the end was nigh.
Conflict in the Middle East, Russia the biblical bear sweeping down from the North,
China the dragon from the East, Armageddon!
Fire will fall from the heavens, the moon will turn to blood, a bridle-deep river of blood.
In my twenties, they told us the end would come at the turn of the century,
the world system will crash, a charismatic leader will emerge to restore order.
But we weren’t quite sure if two thousand or two thousand one was the actual new millennium.
If it didn’t come on New Year’s Eve, 1999, we would know the next year was the right one.
As each sign came and went, new prophecies emerged, people still believed,
Still believe, these charlatans.
Now more than two decades into the new century, I don’t believe any of it anymore,
feel foolish that I ever did, angry that adults saddled me with all that fear and guilt.
Turns out we created the last days.
Turns out Yeats was right — things are falling apart and the center will not hold.
Turns out we have been the rough slouching beast loosing the blood-dimmed tide all along.
After two millennia of Christianity, every smart bomb is full of passionate intensity,
splitting the eastern skies above the desert sands, taking some and leaving others.
Every afternoon a ten-year-old boy comes home to a silent house.
Stephen Spencer is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. He has always been passionate about teaching literature and has published creative and scholarly work in numerous journals and books.
And Adults lie.
Louise Hapton is a young French artist and author. Her principal theme is what she calls "the gears of the human mind". Mental health, and more precisely madness, hold an important place in Louise’s visual and literary creations.
Close your eyes;
the damned cannot reach you,
hell cannot touch you,
while I keep their grasp far from this place.
Rest your head,
my chest your home;
a haven from haunts
that roam the earth.
Breathe in deep;
relax into me
trusting that I will not allow
the destruction, the rage, the shit, the decay,
to mar your tender being.
Glory Cumbow (they/she) is a writer living in North Carolina. They work as a strategist helping other writers to get their work published. They are dedicated to the arts. You can see more of their writing at glorythepoet.wordpress.com.
David Clode on unsplash