Free Verse



Andreas Gripp, CA

The Artists’ Long Weekend

It was supposed to be
a day off from the squabbles,
from the debates on right & wrong
and the five stone pillars
of Western Imperialism.

Saturday I like you best,
you leave your texts behind
and Naomi Woolfe is kept
in white sheep’s cloth,
talk of apple cobblers,
chocolate sprinkles,
as deep in thought as we’ll ever get
but not today:

You battle greedy parking meters,
wage war on 10 cent hikes,
relive the Russian Revolution
and complain of cookies
looking better than they taste.

Let us leave the bakery,
I say in reckless suggest,
offering to whisk you
to splendoured heights
and the flashing bulbs of theatre.

You counterpunch,
and the Museum it is,
old relics left to rust
behind colored Chinese glass,
and sculptures chipped & shorn.

We’re the only ones here,
we slump and sigh,
with nothing more to see,
our disappointment
bouncing off the walls
as van Gogh in a straitjacket
would have.



Rita Odeh, IL

Born to Dance with Words

Come dance with me,
with words unlike common words...
High leaps beyond borders,
where you will see
what a butterfly may see
when in love with a rose,
what a cricket can hear
after a heavy rain shower,
what a sea can say
at the first touch with the shore...
Come soar with me,
once with, once against the wind...
across clouds, mountains and hills,
but, under the grace of the moment...
Come defeat the dragon,
fight the dark,
trace the rainbow,
fool the wolf,
eat some of Little Red Riding Hood’s cakes,
wear Cinderella’ charming shoes,
feel the wonder of the word...
For the world
will one day tell—
Merely, those poets can sing,
the sparrows’ merry songs.



John Tiong Chunghoo, MY

I dream to write like black women poets

i dream to write like black women poets
free from verbose bondage
strutting away verses with enviable clarity,
simplicity, agile as an ambitious lass
on hip hop dance floor

i also know why the caged bird sings
it's because it wishes to fly to
the affectionate black woman poet
to learn from her how freedom songs should be sung

i dream to write like black woman poets
verses so eloquently tempoed, neatly executed
they float through my soul
the lightness of butterflies
flitting from rose to rose, bloom to bloom
smoke over Indian summer ocean

i dream to write like black woman poets
with no pretensions about the past,
calling a spade a spade
yet infectiously bold about the future
taking the world by storm
- black women poets
who could take me through
the thick and thin of
their salvation song
with a tenacity court cases are won
gospel songs are sang



Trish Shields, CA

White Christmas, Indeed!

whump, snap!
branches heavy
with snow submit—their buds
pining in vain for renewal
in Spring

each branch
weighted down with
ice and snow stands silent—
even their heavy shadows feel
the cold

a child
stands in her yard,
her tongue well extended
to catch each flake—Mom smiles as she

taste wonderful
their haute cuisine is soon
forgotten with each shovelful
of 'art'

grass peeks
through the snow banks,
to remind us of our
wish for a green Christmas—I say




Helen Bar-Lev, IS

On The Banks of The River Jordan

On the banks of the River Jordan
you have fallen asleep
on the blanket of your shadow
to the trill of the turquoise kingfisher
the caws of the crows
the saunterings of the nutria
the hover of the plover
to the splash of the fishes
rippling the River

To the scratch of my pen
sketching this poem



The First Snowfall

The snowflake waves goodbye to the cloud
pirouettes in a wintry ballet
cascades to earth in delicate whiteness

The city below has been listening
for the whisper of the first snow
it reaches up
looming larger
to greet the snowflake
settled down now in the park
lost amongst its million kin

bare branches, cypresses, pines,
wait with arborly patience;
a welcoming committee
these ever many years,
they stretch out to catch the flurries
to taste them, embrace them
then shrug off their heaviness
to make room for the next show of snow

A drape of snowflakes veils the city
sits in friendly whiteness,
anticipating the boots and mittens
of keen children

Snow puts the city
in white perspective;
it is an eraser
which whites out city blemishes
causes the needed amnesia
of the moment
of the first snow




I always want the winter to enter
to feel the relief of the fresh coldness
as it seeps inside my skin
to close the windows
keep out the sounds of the neighbourhood
so that I may dwell in peace
with myself

I love the snugness of my legs in tights
the furriness of my boots
the warmness of wool
the heat of the radiator
and the electric sheet
the comfort of the down blanket
and hot soups

I love to feel the rain plop on my umbrella
and make happy faces at snowflakes
to wade in forests of flowers
and cheer the almond blossoms

But my bones have tired of the cold
which has become a companion constant and dull,
a shadow I find myself boxing with
as I endeavour to remember
the enthusiasm with which I awaited it

And this is the reason
for changing seasons,
that now in winter
I anticipate in appreciation
the coming of a warmer sun



Helen Bar-Lev, IS

In The North

There is a forest in the North,
pine, cypress, blue spruce trees,
benevolent guardians,
stand ever graceful on velvetgreen grass

and on an ordinary, if warm, early January Friday
here stirs magic,
for this forest is full of anemones,
some small, some huge,
petals pointed, petals rounded, smooth, striated,
white, purple, pink, and all their hues
so different from one another, so beautiful,
as though competing in an annual forest beauty contest

here and there, a few usual, taken-for-granted,
plentiful in the rest of the country,
bright red anemones punctuate the landscape,
a focal point, trail markers,
reminding us we are still in Israel,
that this is not yet paradise

scattered amongst these flowers,
snuggled between stones, in cracks of boulders,
peep pure white cyclamens, crimson-lipped
and now and again, some yellow dandelions
all so clean, so new, so fresh,
as though the earth just birthed them

rock quartz shattered and strewn casually
on the grass and on the paths,
glimmers and sparkles like so many stars
in a generous heaven,
dances on the intoxicated eye

one white butterfly somersaults drunk on nectar
while a spider and its shadow pose on a stone
a lone ladybug walks up a stalk
no jays or crows, no coarse notes, only little bird chirps
disturb this hush of nothingness, our breaths of wonder
in this forest at peace with itself

our thoughts divorced
from the nearness of the walk,
just a rock’s throw away,
a katyusha rocket’s lob away,
from the Lebanese border



From This Desk

From the desk
at which I sit
and bring beauty
through these hands,
this brush,
onto the paper
into the world,
the corner of my eye
observes the wind
flipflop a tablecloth

on the other side of my heart,
a friend whose son is dying,
one whose son broke down
during army reserve duty,
another who has just had
an unjust diagnosis,
all poets,
a plague on poets
this past week it seems

in my painting,
the North abloom,
mountains regal
in the background,
pine trees and peace
sky blue with optimism
ground green with eternity

on the radio
a six-year-old Mozart
is wooing my heart

whom do I fool?
a world in pain
paradise so close
to a hostile border
that, if you listen,
you will surely hear
the mortar shells falling

am I permitted the peace
which creativity gives
yet compassion prevents?

I sign the painting
a month in the making
and hurt for the world



M. Kei

Upon the Accidental Discovery of Culture in Walmart

Walmart startled me
with a wall of Japanese courtiers.
Aristocratic figures in formal caps
and Imperial robes, somber and serene,
knelt against a background of lush green gardens
and round, rough pillars of an ancient palace.

Tv upon tv echoed the scene;
the entire wall of the electronics department
filled with the gentle grace of a time gone by.

I stood alone, asking the silent screens,
"Who are you?"
But as quickly as they appeared,
the courtiers vanished like ghosts
back into the machine.

No matter how long I stood
through the banal blare
of advertisements
for things I didn't want,
they did not return.


Shanna Baldwin Moore


as the lamb
Jesus was born
asks we remember
his death by the lions of state
not his birth



John Tiong Chunghoo, MY

lion and lamb

lion when it roars
reminds me of the power
of god that resonates
through the ages

lamb when it bleats
reminds me of the soft spot
of god for the human race

there on the cross
his sacrifice for us

lion when it roars
reminds me of the power
behind its huge frame

lamb when it bleats
reminds me of how
kindliness and innocence
can sometimes melt even a lion's heart



E. E. Sule, NG

this moon


is it the exploits of your silent look
the circumcised syllables of your tamed tongue
the humility of your big breasts
the dreamland on your lush lips
that resurrect this spirit in me?

before this your imprint, dear D
my eyes have receded down my mind
fumbled some steps around ashen dream

before this your imprint, dear D
hawks have invaded the vacuumed
room of my eagle
their drops unwanted sacrifice on
the shrine of my emotion

fullmooned on the dazzle of your teeth
i’m wedged, hedged and gauged
and for you, D, I spread my limbs
lay the full limbs of my dream
the utter innards of my dream
long riddled by finesse of fakery


and, dear D, this chapter you have brought
with potent grip of sincerity
with a smile that will never know pretence
this chapter you have farmed on barren soil

it is you, only you
can fertilize it

this chapter shall come to harvest
when other tongues’ syllables are spent
when the eagle returns to reclaim
when I’m totally torn by you, dear D

in you, dear D, I find a befitting screw
anointed to be driven down
my whole uninterpreted self
and the mechanism of love will work again

now I relax my mind, dear D
that noon will never mock me again

because you’re the protagonist of the moon



Between our eyes

between your eyes
and my eyes
a syntax of emotion
is riddling, unparsed, ungoverned

between your breasts
and my breasts
a phonetics whistles in awe
untamed, like the eastward breeze of sane morning

between your waist
and my waist
a semantics begs for a simple attention
fluid with wordless rhythms

I rise to bridge these gaps with a kola of smile
Rise, dear, above your terrestrial sentiments
Take and give a kola of smile—the bridge heals.



Read A. D. Winans Free Verse



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