To His Coy Wordsmith

Had we but world enough and time
this coyness, poet, were no crime;
I would sit down and trawl each phrase
for hidden nuances and ways
in which it might relate
to concepts that you'll never state.
I'd listen for the quarter rhyme
that's buried somewhere in the line,
engrossed as you'd recite me all
your poetry in a tedious drawl.
Hellenic imagery would lead
through dusty alleys where I'd read
cryptic allusions into each
veiled reference hung just out of reach.
   But at my back I ever hear
life's siren sound bites scurrying near
and yonder all before us lie
deserts of vast obscurity.
   Now therefore, lest sales of your verse
decline from some to something worse,
sprinkle your page with dancing fires
and satisfy my base desires
with music that stays with me long
after I've put away your song.
Tell me of heron-priested shores;
of boughs more silent than before.
Once coyness free, it's not a crime
for poetry to scan or rhyme
and, if you do recite it, try
to give it wings and let it cry.

by John Wood

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John Wood would love to be a Philip Larkin or a Dylan Thomas but, as it turns out, is a distinctly unliterary sometime ferry skipper and small time farmer from Cornwall, England. Ah well, if you can't do it, just enjoy it or parody it!


The Formalist

I give you now Professor Fist,
A storied verbal pugilist.
Said linguists, "He's above the rabble.
He'll never stoop to common babble."
Fist listened to his colleagues preach
On misuse of the parts of speech.
"Them that for 'whom' would give us 'who,'"
Chimed one, "are quite without a clue."
Fist smiled in his familiar way.
"You mean," he said, "not 'them,' but 'they.'"

by Julian D. Woodruff

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Julian D. Woodruff came to literary invention while telling authorities in East Berlin how he lost his passport. His poetry appears on the websites of Carmina and The Society of Classical Poets. Reedsy and Frostfire Worlds have each issued a short story. He is a member of the Rochester, NY Area Children's Writers and Illustrators and SCBWI.


Death Responds to Mr. Donne

I have heard many silly taunts
in my extensive time,
and they are never more clever
just because they rhyme.
Ignorance should whisper
like a muffled chime.

I am not proud
though you are too proud to see
that the Grand Bungler
who created you also created me.

I am not mighty or dreadful—
do not overthrow.
Those are your birthmarks.
You are your foe.

Poison and war are a scaly brood
for which I have no need.
They hatched in the same nest as you,
and you are the fodder on which they feed.

Chance is a monkey
whose mischief ends at the tomb.
Fate and sickness are encrypted
when you're in the womb.

You are the slave
of desperate men and kings,
who look like lice to me—
or other insects without wings.

I am a lantern at the end of your day.
I am not the Magnificent Fumbler,
who gifted you with feeble DNA.

I bring peace after you have done your worst,
and while I may eventually die,
you will die first.

by James Reynolds

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James Reynolds lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is a member of Valley Writers in Roanoke. His work has been published in Ariel Chart and will also appear in upcoming editions of The Broadkill Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Lighten Up Online.


Thirteen ways of Looking at a Maltese

Among many cozy covers
I lost the little thing
Where the heck is that Maltese.

I'm losing my mind
can't you see
How can I chase three Maltese?

The Maltese wet in the autumn leaves
It was a small walk for that pal 'o mine.

A man and a woman
have fun.
A man and a woman and a Maltese
watch TV.

I do not know which he prefers
a bowl of wet dog food
or the beauty of many kibbles—
The Maltese slurping
or just crunching.

Faces small in the front window
with nostril stained glass
The bobbing of the Maltese
Crossing it, up and down
Their mood
traced to my footfalls
Are they waving their little paws?

O you men of Main Street
Why do you maneuver giant dogs?
Do you not see how the Maltese
Walks around my feet
And hot women approach me?

I know comic accents
And stupid, inescapable limericks;
But I know, too,
That there are no Maltese jokes
In what I know.

When the Maltese ran out of sight,
It marked the edge
of my neighbors hibernum.

At the sight of Maltese
playing in a green park
even the grouchiest of jerks
would forgo frowning.

He flew over Connecticut
way back in coach.
Once he got nervous
but then he just hugged
his well behaved therapy dog
A Maltese.

That daisy is moving.
The Maltese has gone pee pee.

It was pizza all afternoon.
It was football
And it was going too long.
The Maltese sat
In the La-Z-Boy.

by Phil Huffy

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Phil Huffy started writing poems in late 2017. He placed nearly two hundred pieces in journals since that time and is pleased to be eminently googleable. His moderate success may be due in part to his use of various styles of poetry, metrical and otherwise. He plans to release a book of limericks in 2020 (unless his wife finds out) written to the same high standards to which he customarily aspires.


Mr. Hopkins Considers Getting a Cat

Glory to the gods for feline things—
the lynx, the sphinx, the Manx, the ocelot,
the Himalayan, Persian, Siamese,
the paw that pats, the crescent claw that clings.
All things that hunt and hide and heed you not
derive from Egypt their divinities:
Bastet, benignant as the sun at noon,
mother of those who chitter, pounce, and purr,
who keeps the cosmic harmonies in tune
and makes your kitten's eyes change with the moon—
Feed Her.

by Gail White

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Gail White, a resident of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, feeds stray cats on Bayou Teche. Her poetry is formal and often feline-oriented. On being nominated for a Pushcart prize this year, she had to lie down for two days to get over the shock.


The Cultivation of Christmas Trees

There are several attitudes towards trees,
Some of which are utilitarian,
Some ecological, some aesthetic,
Reverential, flatly symbolic
(And there are things a tree can symbolize
That might not immediately strike us),
But no attitude as circumscribing
As that which surrounds the Christmas Tree lot,
Where potential centuries meet cement
And farmed nature is gaily sifted through,
Measured against bright living room ceilings,
And tied down to the roofs of cars. Perhaps
We shoppers, scurrying in our festive rounds,
Should not be baffled by the sadness
Tinging the Christmas Joy of that rare child
For whom the needle-shedding, gilded tree,
Tinsel-boa'd and capped with an angel,
Is not only a symbol, but a tree.

by Max Gutmann

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Max Gutmann has contributed to dozens of publications, including New Statesman, The Spectator, and Cricket. His plays have appeared throughout the U.S. and have been well-reviewed (see maxgutmann.com). His book There Was a Young Girl from Verona sold several copies.


The Modern White Supremacist's Song

I am the very model of a modern white supremacist
With Nazi propaganda from my Jewish chief polemicist
I read no books, I've got no friends, I have no curiosity
No manners, and no character except my grandiosity;
No music, patience, empathy, no courage, and no loyalty
Except to brutal despots and hereditary royalty—
I like the rich and powerful, and all authoritarians
Korea, Russia, China, and the Muslim Saud vulgarians.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
He likes the rich and powerful, and all authoritarians:
Korea, Russia, China, and the Muslim Saud vulgarians.

I haven't got integrity, compassion, nor normality,
No conscience, no respect, no shred of honor, no morality
I do not recognize the ancient truths nor modern verities
And cheat and steal from businesses and governments and charities.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
He does not recognize the ancient truths nor modern verities
He cheats and steals from businesses and governments and charities.

I love the evangelicals because they're most defraudable
I love the left-wing liberals because they're very proddable
And often it's the same damned thing to which they are susceptible
Some happily accept what others deem as unacceptable.
When something that I do or say is widely hailed as horrible
The white-bread theologians all embrace it as adorable
At least they say in sermons my behavior is ignorable
And Protestant or Catholic they cheer themselves deplorable.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
At least they say in sermons his behavior is ignorable
And Protestant or Catholic we cheer themselves deplorable.

They say "I'm not a racist, but"—and then they say a racist thing,
And if they have a choice of two they always say the basest thing.
I let them wave their Bibles and believe what they have guessed I meant
Although there's not a person who is white in either testament.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
He lets us wave our Bibles and believe what we have guessed he meant
Although there's not a person who is white in either testyment.

When everybody's outraged and the internet is simmering
That's when my trollish ego is most Freudianly shimmering
I love it when the Democrats are shocked dismayed and scandalized
By yet some other of their sacred cows that I have vandalized.
I call you people names because when you are most antagonized
That's when my basest base is most excitedly band-wagonized.
There's really nothing to it—why the more that I'm notorious
The better chance my white folks have to finally be victorious.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
There's really nothing to it—why the more that he's notorious
The better chance we white folks have to finally be victorious.

I'm President because I lied and cheated electorally
And nothing you can do can touch me legally or morally.
With Nazi propaganda from my Jewish chief polemicist
I am the very model of a modern white supremacist.

Self-Loathing Chorus:
With Nazi propaganda from his Jewish chief polemicist
He is the very model of a modern white supremacist.

by Marcus Bales

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Not much is known about Marcus Bales except he lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and his work has not appeared in The New Yorker nor Poetry Magazine.



Rain kissed,
sun kissed,
the final kiss of death.
A send-off kiss,
a come-home kiss,
kisses stealing breath.

Kiss the princess;
kiss the frog;
a Judas kiss of truth.
Blow a kiss,
Eskimo kiss,
kisses in a booth.

Kiss and tell,
kiss the dust,
kiss the pain away.
Steal a kiss,
kiss my grits;
a kiss to make him stay.

by Arvilla Fee

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Arvilla Fee has been married for 17 years and has four children (two grown, two at home). They live in Dayton, Ohio, where Arvilla teaches English Composition for Clark State Community College. Writing has been a passion of hers since she was just a kid. She often poured childhood angst into poems about getting dragged along to yard sale after yard sale after yard sale! She's been published in numerous magazines, including several college campus magazines while obtaining her Bachelor's and two Master's degrees. What she loves most about writing, though, is the sheer power of words—the ability to make people feel joy, sadness, strength or anger. Finding the right word for a poem or story is like finding the five dollars you didn't know you had in your pocket! It's glorious! (so says Arvilla).



If you can fake a 4-F due to "bone spurs,"
With a podiatrist who rents from Dad,
And never go to war and win your own spurs,
But boast of dodging STDs instead;

If you can mock a Muslim Gold Star family
And decorated heroes like McCain,
And brag of "knowing" ISIS, oh so hammily,
But what you know, you never quite explain;

If you can tweet the soldiers out of Syria,
Betray the Kurds and leave our allies flat,
Till neither men nor mad dogs can be near ya,
But you've still got a tweet worth two of that;

If you can try to save your reputation
With a quick stop for selfies in Iraq,
Call the troops "suckers," give out their location,
Insult the country's leaders–to their back;

If you can dress in costumes and play Army
While getting every single detail wrong–
Your name is Drumpf. The whole world knows you're barmy,
And playing Chief Commander. Not for long.

by Cheryl Caesar

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Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany, and Sligo for 25 years. She studied at the Sorbonne and taught literature, phonetics and "civilization." She teaches writing at Michigan State University in East Lansing, demonstrates, reads and publishes protest poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. facebook.com/bindiwankatterpi


Blue Girls Revisited

Styling in your leggings, wildly designed,
Strutting to classes in your modern schools—
While texting. Roll your eyes at those old fools
Who think they're so refined.

Toss back the pink extensions in your hair,
And think no more of SATs at all.
But plan to meet BFFs at the mall
To shop for earrings there.

Make duck face selfies while guys who watch dream
about your lovely, well-toned flesh so tight.
It will sag some day, bringing no delight—
in spite of firming creams.

You think I don't know beauty, but I do!
I know a woman with a poison tongue
and beady eyes that used to be bright-blue.
She turned heads near and far when she was young
and surely knocked the shine off all of you.

by Janice Canerdy

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Janice Canerdy is a retired high school English teacher from Potts Camp, Mississippi. She has been writing poetry for over fifty years. She especially enjoys rhymed, metered poetry and gets a real charge out of parodying the famous poems she once shoved down her students' throats (while  assuring them that studying such noble literature would greatly enhance their lives).