Let’s All Write Free Verse!

by Paul Mathers

“Free verse is just that- lines of poetry that are written without rules: no regular beat and no rhyme.” says Ron Padgett, relating to me what I already knew.

I already knew because, like so many contemporary poets, I have written an awful lot of poetry in free verse (and I use “awful” advisedly). Most of my poetic output pre-25 years old is in Free Verse. I adored Whitman, Ginsberg, and Bukowski (probably in reverse order). I could write a long explanation for how I converted to the importance of fences in creative output, but I’ll save that for another time. When I came to this form in this project, I initially intended to write something satirical. I think my working title was “I Hear America Shrieking.” But then something happened to me today. Often poems come out of one like one’s guts if one were sliced across the stomach with a scalpel. I did not intend to compose this poem, but it just came out of me today.

I should probably add that it came out of me because everything in the poem really happened to me today. I should also add that I am, for one time only, breaking my own self-imposed rule of “Thou shalt not write about things that happened at work on the internet.”

Which, when I think about it, seems appropriate for a free verse poem.


The View from a Venetian Beach

by Paul Mathers


She’s 92 and hallucinates

and dearly beloved,

lists to the right in her recliner

watches public television children’s programming all day.

I push the medicine cart

and see the rodent cartoon child through her open door

who looks like I did in childhood

And I get it, sob once, swallow.

The world of delight, our world minus sex and death

and all of their chaos.

Minus the man I bike past

camped by the wall of a transient motel

sitting in unkempt leaves where the wild syringes sprout,

his frantic arms tearing at his sweat-soaked t-shirt.

Minus the split second observed moment biked past

of middle-aged man in a truck with a local Christian radio station sticker

holding in one hand his cameraphone

replays his day’s videos of surreptitious college girl butts.

His other hand is not visible.

Past the decline of an unrecommendable town.

Minus the shame unearned of doing worse than my parents did.

Subtracting back in the last days

as wombward as possible.

I resolve to call my mom.

And knock, walk in, to give eye drops

to keep wizened vision clear.