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 IV
February, May, August,
beyond the black stump
beyond the black stump
of course our seeds yielded only thorns
I should have seen the trap
in the eyes
a wrinkle of morning
a child’s scream punctured
the emerald flames
ash crawls through the hole in my boot
I scale the snow-capped
the phantom peeks out
from the barren forest of my mind
chains of stone
storms of bone
Taylor McCarthy is a creative writing major at the University of Central Florida.
Look, what thy memory cannot contain
Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find
Those children nursed, deliver’d from thy brain,
To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 77
Time blurs its import. Looking at twilight snagged
in coastal forests, memory promises
to give us clarity again, but
only encompasses waves of blanks.
All photographs are vacant façades as eyes
scrape over the skin in search of life.
Beneath the skin is only dead past.
They focus on swallowed relics.
Yet vacancy can bring our minds to life
to relive moments vivid with passion, grief
or hope with clarity of latent
light that illumes their apparition.
Before me once waves, swollen with forest gray,
caught the final sunlight, scattered their crests aflame
and broke in sheets of foam on shoreline
misting the twilight in lucent relics.
Steven Willett is a retired Classics professor specializing in ancient Greek and English versification. Much of his work has been in poetic translation in many languages.
In Interesting Times
We live in interesting times,
as the Chinese say,
and are on the high seas,
within the slave galley.
To create today is to create dangerously.
Art cannot hide inside its dreams,
singing on deck of constellations
while convicts bend over oars below,
or conversing in the amphitheater
while a lion crunches its victims.
Tyrants fear art as a liberating force:
If art pretends
to know nothing of evil,
an indifferent society
applauds or hisses at random.
The time of irresponsible artists is over.
Between frivolity and propaganda,
art advances on the ridge,
each step an extreme risk,
keeping its eyes on destitution,
prisons, and bloodshed,
preserving days and faces,
not forgetting the humiliated.
Great ideas come into the world as gently as doves.
If we listen attentively,
perhaps we shall hear, amid the uproar
of empires, a faint flutter of wings,
and the gentle stirrings of hope.
(an erasure of a 1957 lecture by Albert Camus)
Alison Jennings is a Seattle-based poet who began submitting her work after retiring from public school teaching. She has recently had fifty poems published. Her website is https://sites.google.com/view/airandfirepoet/home.
Lobster Telephone by Salvador Dali
Trying to Keep the Vampires Down
Mark Henderson is an associate professor of English at Tuskegee University. He has poems published or forthcoming in Cozy Cat Journal, From Whispers to Roars, Defenestrationism.net, Bombfire, Former People, Neologism, Broad River Review, Rune Bear, Flora Fiction, Flare, and Visitant.
At an Intersection
Brown hatchback, windows open
to the fresh spring air. Light’s green.
The driver, a burly man
with a buzz cut, shifts gears with care —
beside him, swaying and nodding,
a bouquet of red tulips.
Hope Coulter, author of The Wheel of Light, directs the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language at Hendrix College. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Geometric Forms by Jean Arp
He’d like the way wind
slowly delete his name
into divine air
William Cullen Jr. is a veteran and works at a social services non-profit in Brooklyn, New York. His poetry has appeared in Gulf Stream, I-70 Review, Lake Effect, Spillway, and The American Journal of Poetry.
inside my daughter’s
dances with joy
Peggy Gerber is a poet and short story writer from Northern New Jersey. Her work has appeared in many publications including Spillwords, Daily Science Fiction, Potato Soup Journal, and many others
Charley & Me
Charley brings you fake flowers. He makes fun of your dime-size dimples, your girly smirk. You recall a suspicious touch of a stranger's musk. His love, he claims, could breathe through glass. He asks you to buy him a drink. He bores you with his acid dreams of sunshine at night. When he laughs, his front teeth shift — you fear they might fall out. You marvel at the sheer fact, the fact that forgets itself, that he still exists. On the sidewalk, you cover him with an old army blanket and some cardboard. You feel guilty walking away. You feel like a snake because they have no conscience even though you really do. That night you dream of San Francisco streetlights and what the two of you could have been. Oh Charley. The world was always too straight and too big and too strong. Wasn't it?
Kyle Hemmings has work published in Sonic Boom, Right Hand Pointing, Red Eft Review, and elsewhere. He loves street photography and 60s garage bands.
Her sister ran away before she grew large enough to wield a rake. Even then she knew that she dared not to dream, her future laid out in the endless rows of corn, peach orchards, and strawberry fields. As time climbed past and around her and she grew into an adult, her future was sealed in the sweat of the family farming business. She toiled and dutifully filled the shoes of the big sister who faded from memory. Her resentment mixed in with the once rich soil, and a new crop grew out of the earth. It swallowed her whole.