John Riley – 2 poems

The Cello


Sometimes he was a cello calling

for a cello has legs and breathes

the tension from above the holes

we all can see even from seats

in the rear of the old auditoriums,

holes shaped like dancing crooked lips,

but he knows now that such thinking

was part of the walk he’d been assigned

and the cello sound only came through

on upright days when the tilt of his throat

quieted the projection of pleas resonant

as the snap of a bridge’s strings,

and now, sitting there, head full of circles,

he hears no pleas, no cello.


Blue Petals


She tends her garden

in a nun’s habit bought

in the second-hand shop,

trims the shrubs, mows

the grass with a push mower,

dreams of a garden

like the one the nuns nourish,

blue flowers blooming

fragile petals,

thin roots slipping

through the soil in need

of watering daily,

such slight plants,

lovelier than the green

sturdy shrubs she trims

with a set of cutters

so heavy her shoulders ache

and her wrists ring

with pain echoing up

her arms at night as she

dresses for bed

in the cotton gown

that sweeps across her feet

when she kneels

beside her bunk.


John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, Banyan Review, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne’s Review, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He has also written over thirty books of nonfiction for young readers and continues his work in educational publishing.

Poetry Promotional

Two Johns, two Glenns and Victoria…a feast of five poets

Bindweed Anthology 2018: Devil’s Guts comes to a close with a Boxing Day Feast of five poets. Look out for the Bindweed Anthology 2018: Devil’s Guts print anthology coming soon in 2019!


John Riley

John Grey

Glenn Hubbard

Glenn Ingersoll

Victoria Doerper

Happy New Year!


John Riley – 1 poem



He sees above trees

a silo in mist wavers.

The match flame flickers.

Cardinals with fire feathers

watch him turn trash into fire.




John Riley works in educational publishing. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Connotation Press, Smokelong Quarterly, Blue Five Notebook, Willows Wept Review, The Dead Mule, and many other journals both online and in print.