3 Poems

Bill Yarrow


Write a poem beginning with the word “bed” in which the word “horse” or “alpine” appears in the seventh line.
Write a poem in which fraternal twins each marry accountants.
Write a poem in which the last letter of the third word in every line spells out your home state.
Write a poem in which your father is a dog and you are his leash.
Write a poem constructed from four-syllable words in your favorite recipes.
Write a poem of 1000 lines in which prime numbers figure prominently.
Write a poem whose first word is also its last word, whose second word is also its eleventh word, whose forty-fifth word is also its sixth, seventeenth, and thirty-ninth word, and whose one-hundredth word is a foreign word.
Write a poem in which Christian missionaries become dry cleaners.
Write a poem whose refrain is any three consecutive lines from “Lycidas.”
Write a poem in which Cinderella is imprisoned for tax fraud.
Write a poem whose total syllables number 613.
Write a poem in which the narrator is the weather.
Write a poem in which the spirit of your dead cat tells you what to write your poem about.
Write a poem that does not contain the color red.


It was quiet in the hall. Marilyn was trying to comb the cat.
There are certain tricks one must not play at night.
I dropped Penny’s keychain off the bluff into the ladies’ lot.
I still had a pocketful of bones and my party hat. Gregorio
howled when I punched him in the arm for fooling around
with the new electricity in the basement. Beware the wan
ghosts. It was a trial to try to figure who was going to pay
for what. I felt like I had been up since the breech birth of Infinity.
In the museum next door, velvet mules hung from giant hooks.
I would give Hanna a trough of jewels, I decided. That was
the only way. If the rain would just hold off! In the desolation,
I could make out the fiddler, the fish truck, blackened Louise,
and doe-eyed Joe making a play for the jelly skeleton babe.


I felt my muscles darken.
I feared the melanoma in my soul.
Tormented by gnats of conscience,
I didn’t know where to turn. I took
out a dirty map of Vigo Beach.

I thought you loved me. You said so
once. But your eyes. Did they say
so too? I grabbed a half gallon
of vinegar and some nylon twine
and headed down to Vigo Beach.

I watched the waves rehearse
the agony of crashing. I smelled
the crushed shells of the horseshoe
crabs. I waited for you at the bistro
on the boardwalk in Vigo Beach.

You need a beach and perhaps
the sea’s release. I need the tide.
Stay with me! Together, we’ll live
a placid, saline life. My love is more than
water! My heart’s not filled with sand!


Bill Yarrow is the author of Blasphemer (Lit Fest Press 2015), Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX 2012) and four chapbooks. His poems have appeared in many print and online magazines including RHINO, FRiGG, THRUSH, Gargoyle and PANK. A multiple-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he is a Professor of English at Joliet Junior College where he teaches creative writing, Shakespeare, and film.

3 Poems

Sam Rasnake

That First Time


     “like a relic of a holy swim”

                                     – Frank Stanford


Hearing you read these words,
your breath displacing like water
everything I’d learned, your voice
exactly what I imagine the deep

walls of space must have felt when
God spoke the first time in a language
completely new and ancient, like
a fence post leaning toward creek

bank, tiny fish in a shimmer against
cool stone, wind in magnolia leaves
a gift for the sun to ease itself into
while a chorus of cicadas remind

the world of its dark beauty and
summer of its rest, like thread
slipped to the tongue by determined
fingers before being pressed through

the needle’s eye, the sleeve’s tear
waiting for loops to make it whole,
for my life to unwind itself like
a spool left in a closed drawer


                            – for Anna


The water was quite blue, if I’m remembering
the way I should.  I didn’t know you then –
but every moment was a question of impulse
and never truth, of purpose and never choice.

What we thought we knew – even now – could
have been a story if plot were more than boats
we almost hear though never see, and if the silence
drifting inside our heads could ever find the words.

                                                                         – 1959


Poem Resisting Its Contemplations of Grief

Maybe like Salinger – eating slices of avocado
in New Hampshire, snow falling through trees,
the narrow road over the mountains heavy

with time, a winter of silence beyond the bridge,
until somewhere in a room, flowers of smoke
in the air and fingers clicking the keys of an old

Royal typewriter tell the world its stubborn attraction
to last words, a last look out the window, slats and
frame fresh painted, as if staying were an option,

the glass a bit frosted, a final breath clouding the grey
sky but not before one hawk circles a shiver in the field –
I live in the future perfect of will or shall have been


Sam Rasnake’s works have appeared in OCHO, Big Muddy, Wigleaf, Spillway, Santa Fe Literary Review, Poets / Artists, as well as The Southern Poetry Anthology, MiPOesias Companion 2012, Best of the Web 2009, LUMMOX 2012, BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011. His most recent collections are Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press) and Cinéma Vérité (A-Minor Press).

3 Poems

Bill Yarrow

The Queen of the Underground

Birth is profound, but decay is more profound. Study decay, says the Queen of the Underground.

The sacred body is corrupted and needs to be purged by words, says the Queen of the Underground.

I am the Demon of Release, says the Queen of the Underground.

I am the Mistress of Reveals, says the Queen of the Underground.

I’m currently between religions, says the Queen of the Underground.

I want to see how ugly one can make a poem while still keeping it beautiful, says the Queen of the Underground.

The thirst that can be quenched but not vanquished—that’s what I hunger for, says the Queen of the Underground.

Today’s editor wants his pound of flash, says the Queen of the Underground.

I know a woman who made a necklace of her child’s baby teeth, says the Queen of the Underground.

I am a mere icon, says the Queen of the Underground.

There is no such thing as transitive voice, BUT THERE SHOULD BE, says the Queen of the Underground.

Apple Loan Neon, says the Queen of the Underground.

Diode Niece Scion, says the Queen of the Underground.

I got a telephone in my pajamas, says the Queen of the Underground.

Hurt my eyes open, please! says the Queen of the Underground.

Don’t be that way, says the Queen of the Underground.

All bending ends in breaking, says the Queen of the Underground.

The kitten is in the mail, says the Queen of the Underground.

Fall on your knees, my ass, says the Queen of the Underground.

The Queen of the Underground says, “The Poetry of Bullshit is Dead!”


What a beautiful Thing
Urine is,
in a Pot,
brown, yellow,
transpicuous, the Image,
diamond shaped
of the Candle in it,
especially, as
it now appeared,
I having emptied the Snuffers
into it & the Snuff
floating about, &
painting all-shaped Shadows
on the Bottom.


This time the mountain climber does not attain the summit.
This time the speedboat is not transporting drugs.
This time the hero gets it in the neck.


Bill Yarrow is the author of The Lice of Christ (MadHat Press, 2014), Incompetent Translations and Inept Haiku (Červená Barva Press, 2013) and Pointed Sentences (BlazeVOX, 2012). His poems have appeared in many print and online magazines including Poetry International, RHINO, Contrary, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, and PANK.