Poetry is the language of the heart and has the power to transform mere words on paper into journeys of our hearts and souls.
Writing it, however, presents infinite challenges to those of us more used to writing prose.
This month, we and our honored guests have put our skills to the test to bring you a ray of joy in our turbulent mid year cycle.
The Amuse Bouche Review Team
Feature: Chasing a Dream (Alexandra Gardner) Poem
In the Night (D.W. Hitz) Poem
Spiral (Renée Gendron) Poem
Super(nova) (Guest: A.P. Miller) Poem
The Renaissance of Poetry (Guests: Jasmine Arch & Koji A. Dae) Conversation
Fun Haiku (Guest: Louise Sorenson) Poem
The Pusher (Guest: Norman Boyington) Poem
illgotten (E.G. Deaile) Poem
by: Alexandra Gardner (@agardner_author)
Can you hear? My heartbeat—
There’s something inside, threatening to unleash.
Into the light, exterminating the dark—
Or bringing before my eyes:
Where destiny lies.
What to do with sensation?
Hollow bubble, billowing out from my core,
Heart aches, squeezes, expands,
Pressure building, building—too much.
Smile, the center of my heart,
Yet eyes drip: roll down—drown,
Salt, washing over my taste buds.
Body becomes agitated; insatiable:
Move, please, move!
Can’t contain the swelling within.
Balance, twist, twirl.
Kick, pirouette, dip low;
Release, winding energy.
I close my eyes—
Time freeze all around;
A fleeting doubt, and then:
I chase as the hands of time sprint forward,
Rushing, believing: I am unstoppable.
Memories encircling me,
I spin to see my dreams dance around.
I am born to make history.
The moment of truth:
Hand outstretched, I will make it happen.
My hand phases through.
Why do dreams elude?
I’m tired of feeling never enough.
The swell within bursts—
Hot tears roll and stream down.
I tell myself, “My dreams will come true.”
by D. W. Hitz (@dustinhitz)
The night had started again,
and already, Dennis’s stomach burned and clinched.
It wouldn’t be long.
The lights would go out.
The TV would silence.
Debbie would call him to bed.
There was no escape from it.
Once you were married
and fell into the routine,
it couldn’t be avoided.
She yawned and pressed the button.
The box went black,
it couldn’t resist her control either.
It was silenced, gagged, isolated until summoned again.
She smiled with her head tilted to the left.
Her eyes reflected the far wall’s night-light.
Shadows made roses of her cheek’s deep dimples.
Chills ran over his body.
His teeth clamped together.
His jaw ached.
He stood and walked.
She turned and led the way.
They brushed their teeth and found their sides.
Smooth sheets and downy layers firmed them from above,
and her hand glided over his chest.
It ran down his stomach.
It grabbed him and drew him inside.
They were two, but one.
They breathed and rolled in waves of undulating flesh
and grabbed each other in climax.
She turned away.
He stared at the ceiling.
The room darkened around him as her breathing calmed.
The quiet whispered its secrets,
but they were muffled in his ears.
Sheets rustled and the dark warned,
“It’s only a matter of time.”
A creak from the corner,
and his mind showed him his death.
A rotting skeleton,
tattered, skinless, drooling, hungry.
It staggered across the room through the gloom.
He couldn’t see it yet,
but it was coming.
He knew it.
Boned fingers that had sharpened to claws.
They reached out and raised,
poised to fall on him.
It was by the wall now,
five feet from his face.
But not a skeleton,
it was a man,
with a knife as long as his arm.
It shined with a single dot in the unforgiving blackness.
Its blade was sharp at the tip,
enough to cut stone,
but dull along its edge,
to tear flesh
and inflict the pain of ripping skin from fat from muscle.
The man smiled in giddy delight,
his knife rising,
barely containing his glee
as lust bubbled up and over.
His breath pressed against Dennis,
rolling over his face in malignant dampness.
His sweating hands grabbed at his sheets.
His heart thumped,
pounding his chest,
pounding the sheets,
pounding the bed.
He sucked in air and looked away
into the darkness of his resting love.
But was she there?
Was she real?
He could see nothing and could only imagine.
Did any of it exist?
Was he married?
Was he in his house?
Was he even real?
A rustle in the sheets.
Here she came.
She was coming again.
Green fingers descended over him,
one wearing the ring of his love.
Their wet, dripping ooze sprinkled onto the sheets.
Their claws wore the scent of decay,
the hunger for blood,
Not the poison!
It would hold him,
keep him motionless
as she drained his blood,
It was coming.
Searing heat dug into Dennis’s chest.
Wetness spilled over his ribs and stomach.
He felt himself parted and entered,
gutted and drained
until light flooded the room.
Brightness spilled through the windows.
Blue skies floated outside,
and she said,
“How did you sleep?”
by Renée Gendron (@reneegendron)
A smooth face in a room of square jaws
Glance out of the corner of his eye
A sight left him in awe
Someone more glorious than a moon-lit sky
Black iris widened against blue
The thrum of the crowd
Hands outstretched in bienvenue
Too heavy and too loud
A sidestep, a backstep, then a stride across the floor
Dashing hopes of a private chat
With the beauty across the room
An arm reaches out, drawn into verbal combat
A guffaw in full bloom
Straight lips forced into a smile
One comment disguised as a complement
A snide word, hidden under guile
Words without consequent
And still, the Mystery circles the room
A second glimpse, a second look
A secret smile fully bloomed
A rosy blush was all it took
Every thought and action consumed
Enigma chats with a guest
Each syllable expressed
Full ruby lips
One curl caressing line of neck
Beauty on a quest
A glance around the room in one last check
A flutter of her eyelashes now blessed
Murmurs and cackles rupture concentration, drawing attention back
Causing his attention to bleed
Away from Mystery
Stirring a deep need
Every other woman now blustery
Bows on strings
Harps and violins played
Dancers gather, ready to swing
Fingers on keys
An uptick in music
A swoosh of movements with ease
Vaulted marble ceilings provide perfect acoustics
A path through the centre
Music silenced by laughter
One sidestep, followed by a duck, then a weave, in all dancing splendor
A clean escape from insincere people
Pursuit of silky skin refined
A chase of intelligent eyes
Of plump lips that taste of cantaloupe wine
Reason and logic vaporise
Trailing the sway of faultless, full hips
Needing just one sigh
A chance to catch up
An opportunity to wet lips so dry
One great stride forward into a knot of people, now closeup
A lull, a thrum, noise unfurled
Standing next to Mystery
Sweet scent of roses and peaches curled
Drawing him near, now mastery
Tip of his nose against curve of her neck near
Alas, too many onlookers, staring
Unwanted companions too close in mind-numbing talk
The odds of losing them slim, now to be daring
A change of tune, no time to balk
Cool air blowing past from an open double-set of doors
Time-consuming guests part
Headed to the dance floor
Alone, at last, forget dinner à la carte
A beat, then two, some perform the chore
Standing beside Mystery, looking out onto the floor
Watching those amassed
Swinging left, swaying right
Silence stretched, not to be out-classed
Anticipation, glorious frustration, burning white
A thread snapped
Pent up emotions flooded
A gorgeous woman in the abstract
A lovely creature by one hundred
A breath pushed lungs, expanding against a creamy chest
A gentle woman come to life
Damn the crowd, the gawkers
The wind chased caution through the door, never a more endearing wife
To the horizon and beyond, ignoring the gossips behind silk fans of copper
He turned to look at his heart
The roundness of her cheeks
The line of her nose
The last of the rust on his heart, creaks
A comely smile with a hint of glee, to propose
A chin raised in expectation
A casual glance around the room
Exposure of neck, a subtle advance
Delicious neck, with a trace of perfume
A line of soft skin demanding to be kissed
The world faded, heart pounding
Breath constrained, a puff of air to form a shush
Britches stretching, desire blinding
A pull, a push
A caress of breeze
A tug of scented rose
A wisp of scented lilac
Compelled for a second propose
Damn the crowd, a forced smile back
Curse the musicians and their notes
Stiffness of frame
Tension in shoulders
A beat, longer refrain
A tug on his spirit, drawing him closer
Soft fingertips glide down the bridge of his nose
Pausing briefly at the tip
Gingerly tracing the contour of her mouth with his thumb
Corners of his eye creased, arching forward in a small dip
Edges of his mouth curved, a kiss to remove a non-existent crumb
Strong jaw relaxed
Her lips run smoothly along the column of his neck
Moist breath caresses cool skin
His gaze fixed on her round shoulders, a beck
And call for his hands to repose on her hips carrying twins
Spiraled in embrace
by: Guest: A.P. Miller (@Millerverse)
Dulcinea in her windmill escape
Don Quixote with the feminine face
Says he loves her but he wants her to change
He wants her violent and he wants her debased
She tries to stand up on her own, unsure of her legs
The supernova of his name blows her away
Dulcinea isn’t really her name
He can change it just as long as he stays
He can twist it, he can throw it away
He can have it, he can lay it to waste
Her fire red, in all its shades, her anger remains
With all the shame brought on her name, there’s light in her veins
She knows where he goes when he walks away
She knows that she grows in spades
He knows that she won’t be standing in place
He knows that she won’t be tamed
A.P. Miller is an author, novelist, and blogger from Wilmington, North Carolina. A.P. is the author of 2017’s Broken Promise Records and 2019’s Days of the Phoenix. Check out his blog and get more information on the man at www.millerverse.com.
Jasmine: So, the main reason I wanted to do this article in a conversational style, is because this, for me, is an important part of poetry. It can and should challenge us to step beyond the narrow view we have of the world as well as the work in front of us, and take a look through someone else’s glasses. Someone who’s voice you wouldn’t otherwise get to hear. Poetry is not meant to be read and savoured in silence and isolation. By sharing and discussing the poems we love with others, those poems can become catalysts for meaningful exchanges of insight, empathy, and wonder.
Koji: Exactly. A poem can be meaningful in isolation. Often, I hold poems close to my heart. Just for me. But there is so much more power in giving the poem to someone else. Sharing it. Getting other people’s thoughts on it. When I was little, sharing poetry was a matter of copying it out of a book, folding it up, and passing it as a note. But with advances in social media, sharing poetry has gotten a lot easier. And that’s changed not only how we share poetry, but how we write poetry and how we read it.
Jasmine: Instagram, for example, is hopping with poems across a wide range of styles and genres, from micropoetry to longer free verse and even more classical form poems. Poets include their poetry within their image in a variety of ways, from handwritten to typed on a vintage typewriter, on distressed, yellowed paper. One example of this is Tyler Knott Gregson (https://www.instagram.com/p/CA_1nlSlgHU/?igshid=rs6efiuruqqa), who keeps up with a long-standing daily typewriter series. He mostly seems to fluctuate between love poetry and responses to current topics and events like the black lives matter movement or mental health. A medium as visual as Instagram lends itself so well to the many ways in which poets are finding their voice and developing their individuality.
Koji: I love the bite-sized bits of poetry in Instagram. It can be a lot less intimidating than sitting down and reading a whole collection. I can just scroll through a few poems while on the bus or between tasks at work. It makes reading poetry more accessible within the modern, busy life. It also makes the act of creation more accessible. Take, for example, blackout poetry like this amazing poem: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA3cD17ljo4/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet With easy-to-use visual editing programs, the blending of poetry into visual art becomes a lot easier, and more people can express themselves using these mixed mediums. As a poet, I find Instagram inspiring, because I think “I can try that!” when I see something new, as opposed to more classic poetry, where I feel left out of a conversation that needs a four-year degree to participate in.
Jasmine: I hear you. So much poetry feels so steeped in witty layers of metaphor that they lose their ability to touch me on a personal level, but with more and more poets finding new ways to express themselves, there’s something out there for everyone. I first discovered poetry in my native language, Dutch. For some reason, Dutch and Flemish poets, even the classical ones, seem to have a more accessible use of language. In my first forays into English poetry I couldn’t seem to find that connection point that I’d always taken for granted in Dutch.. Social media for me has done more than expose me to rebelling instapoets and accessible new forms of poetry. It has, on more than one occasion, brought older poems to my attention I wouldn’t have found otherwise. Like this one from 1943, by Langston Hughes, finding its way into my Twitter feed. https://twitter.com/Lexialex/status/1268326450643365889?s=09 A name I had not heard of but which is definitely going on my reading list. It never ceases to amaze me, how timeless poetry can be. This poem is almost 80 years old. But it feels so contemporary. Both in style and topic, it could have been written yesterday.
Koji: I think that might go back to what you mentioned at the beginning, about poetry being shared with others. With social media, we can access a vast knowledge of poetry. People can share the exact right poem at the exact right time, which can allow older poetry to resurface with new or deeper context. Older poetry gets a chance to “trend” once more and become part of a new generation’s shared literature.
Another thing worth noting in this renaissance of poetry is the increasing reach of spoken word poetry. Gone are the days when a poet had to find an open mic night to perform. Now poets upload their videos to social media. Check out this young woman: https://twitter.com/loiseau_alisha/status/1269097942830460928 who is adding her voice to the BLM protests through spoken word poetry.
Jasmine: That is one powerful piece, and a perfect example of how voice and tonal inflection, as well as body language and facial expression can add another layer of depth to the work. There are many ways to explore spoken word. For example, there is a huge amount of great poetry podcasts out there. The New Yorker Poetry podcast for example, tries to revive older works as well as spotlighting contemporary pieces. In each episode, a contemporary poet reads a poem they chose from the archives of The New Yorker and discusses it with Kevin Young, the magazine’s poetry editor. Afterwards, the poet then reads a piece of theirs from The New Yorker. You can discover many poems both young and old, and all equally timeless, as well as learn a lot about poetry through the discussions between Young and his guests. One poem that has stuck with me since I first heard it in August 2019, is Along the East River and in the Bronx Young Men Were Singing by Ariel Francisco. https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/poetry/ariel-francisco-reads-james-wright I’ve returned to the poem many times since then, either to listen or to read it. Some poems do that. They’ll seep into your pores and crawl under your skin and you just carry them with you.
Koji: That’s a really great concept for poetry. I love the way they go through the poem, explaining what it means to them without explaining what the poem is supposed to be. It’s a sense of sharing without judgement, and I think that’s one of the reasons to many people are turning back to poetry these days. Because we’ve reached a time where we can say, “this is what a poem makes me feel” rather than, “this is what you need to get from this poem.”
I don’t listen to as many podcasts as you, but I have been enthralled with so…Poetry? lately, especially this episode, where past guests read some of the poetry they’ve found most comforting during the pandemic. I just find the openness of the host and the passion of the poets almost palpable. It’s one of the reasons I love audio poetry.
Jasmine: That right there, Koji. The way poetry is allowed to become a collaboration between the poet and the reader/listener. That’s something I missed when studying poetry in school. We got so lost in the maze of metre, rhyme and form, that we forgot to feel. And yes, I also love the comfy vibe they create with so…Poetry? Makes me want to curl up on the sofa with a mug of something warm in my hands.
I guess that’s one takeaway we can both agree on: poetry can mean many different things to different people. We all tend to heap it under this mastodont genre of poetry and many people think you either love it or you don’t. We’d like to encourage you to look beyond that. Explore the buffet that poetry offers and sample a bit of everything until you find the flavour that works for you. And if you want to join in on the conversation, feel free to come and find us on social media.
by: Guest: Louise Sorenson (@louise3anne)
Canada has much
frosty weather that keeps us
on cold tippy toes
Holding the ladder
while someone cleans eves troughs is
cold, boring, and cold
Shoveling snow is
an acquired taste that some
people never get
Ice is good in drinks
or on merry skating rinks
but never in toes
Did I mention some
jobs are cold, boring and cold?
well they really are
Winter in my land
is sharp, bright, long, cold, and grand
if you don’t weaken
And then there’s our spring
truly paradise on Earth
until the bugs hatch
Summers can be warm
hot and humid more likely
a feast for the bugs
In my stomping grounds
sunbathing on the beach gives
us a lobster hue
And often there’s drought
No rain and no rain until
corn pops on the stock
kidding about that last one
but sometimes it’s close
By Fall the leaves have
changed to glorious colours
but still we have bugs
Try to remember
the gloom of November or
don’t, too depressing
By December we
dwell in a cold part of hell
we counter with feast
a write off, only mentioned
in frost-plumed curses
I skis, therefore I
freeze and my nose and lungs will
never be the same
a blank spot in our memories
though sometimes there’s sun
March is a false start
a cow of a month, teasing
with glimpses of grass
April, like March, can
blow you away or hit your
house with a big tree
May, May, what can I
say we loves ya and keeps ya
until the bugs hatch
June, June, harvest moon
Or werewolf depending on
And so I end these
haikus with a stern warning
Watch out, Addictive
Louise lives in the midst of dairy country in eastern Ontario, Canada, with her family and a slew of companion animals. She was a painter all her life but a severe 1998 ice storm ended that. Afterwards, she took creative writing courses and found she loved writing. Her short stories are in Cirsova and Just a Minor Malfunction Magazines, and Duel Visions on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Duel-Visions-Misha-Burnett-ebook/dp/B07MVNZJJ2
by: Guest: Norman Boyington (@NormBoyington)
The book is closed and I go down
The blood is withdrawn
My daughter cries
It’s tantamount to a funeral
I see myself slowly dying
The ups and downs
Steamrolling my frightful life
They have the control
Nettles in my brain
The sting as thoughts brush against thoughts
A rash of indoctrination
Must think me better
Having to prove myself
Taking in what they force down my throat
People meant to help
People in support
A bastardization of a system
Putting bandages on bleeding thoughts
Bandages after bandages
Thoughts seeping out from under the sticky residue
Sucking back capsule after capsule
One for the night
One for the day
One for coupling of both
One to sleep
One to stay asleep
One for the voices in the corners of my home
In the corners of my head
Back to normalization
A bandage on my brain
I have chased the rabbit for too long now
The pusher is at the door
The duck is in the hole
George calls from the darkness
From the corners
From the darkest shadows
The voices burbling in my mind
Talking to the bottom of a coffee cup
Having to prove myself
That’s what hurts
You understand me so well
For a lifetime
A lifetime of aggression
Of social awkwardness
Of bad decisions
Trying to explain
To those around me
I take a pill
The darkness is held in check
Caged in an artificial jail of a chemicals byproduct
Oh the darkness is watching
Raging in its cell
Waiting for any vulnerability
To escape is the intention
They don’t understand
They don’t see the rage in its eyes
I push back
A static tick waiting to explode
Wondering how to remove the batteries
A wind-up toy for the easily amused
A gathering aroused by my pain
Getting off while I tremor and stutter
A joining of broken minds
To selves that almost meet in the center
Something intangible barely containing the disorder
Voices bespeak of demons
Failure of my faith
Lack of wanting to be better
Pushed from too many sides
Pulled into too many beliefs
The complete hell and sorrow
The pusher knows
The pushers take
The arrogance of a corporation to declare my wellbeing
All for a pittance of the dollars they’ll save
They’re the sick ones
They’re the demons
They’re the pusher
All the while I’m left to bleed out into a neurotic disorder
Staring into an incorporeal void
I’ve been telling tales for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would invent elaborate places I would adventure in, and creatures that I would befriend along the way. I must say, I haven’t changed much, as now I write down my imaginings for everyone to read.
I have one novel completed, but unpublished, ‘The Number of Man,’ and one I’ve been working on since last May. Sadly, I’m also a bit of a poet. Please don’t hold this against me while I welcome you to my world.
by: E.G. Deaile (@egdeaile_writer)
Desultory drips of conversation
Flow like sugared milk
Down the aisle of yesteryear
And how the anger built.
Conceited trash of contempt
Condescend between the seats
Trapped ignorance in their hands
Fed by streams of the illgotten.
Ignominious flustered lips of
Echoing words misunderstood
Failing to grasp the might
Stained ugly by souls unleashed.
Disingenuous tithes demanded
Throngs of the oft forgotten
Then remember all was fantasy
Still the anger drips.
E.G. Deaile writes thrillers and killers across multiple genres. Currently prepping a series of murdery-goodness writing advice series on YouTube. Follow @craftingkillers on Instagram for updates!