Get BeTh's new poetry chapbook FREE:
PUNK POETS by Sarah Isbell


A collection of my personal favorites...

"Disturbed" by Sarah Beth Isbell
Poetry Reading over Original Music

(Selections from her 4 poetry books)

mY voiCE iS noT A coMPeTiTioN 

mY voiCE iS noT A coMPeTiTioN

(Listen to this Slam Poem here: )

My voice is not a competition. 

Call it intuition, superstition, 
Fascination of intrepidation, 
The need to express myself 
Has deep roots and only 
the best of intentions. 

But still, it does not compete. 

Sublime, this world of rhyme, 
My imagination fine, 
As I run the next line, 
Always thinking good time, 
As my soul starts to shine. 

Hearing the fleet backbeat, 
Romanticizing dark city streets, 
I am hypnotized by the rhythm 
Of the chaos of the night, 
As the poets' souls take flight, 
And their sounds soar like angels 
While their demons come home to roost, 
And I, in the middle of it all, 
Stand tall, drinking in this experience 
Like my life depended on it 
Because it does, but still 

My voice is not a competition. 

It is the peace I find, 
The innermost truth, 
My real self captured 
in a paper picture booth. 
Vulnerable and venerable, 
Soft and delicate, except 
When it needs to soar. I share 
Fine lines and fun times, and 
The world's greatest pleasure, 
In the words of the poets 
I truly treasure. 

But still, my voice does not compete. 

Passionate, and strong, 
With killer rhymes 
Singing life's sweet song, 
My voice cannot be denied, 
When this soul from inside 
Becomes one with the air 
And my words make contact, 
Have impact, and explode. 

But I am not here to gather your vote, 
But instead, to float, to inspire, to connect, 
And cast collective hope, for ideas 
That save our souls, and the planet 
For us both. To live in rhyme, 
And find like minds, who together, 
Partake in the sublime. 

But, my voice is not a competition. 

It is, instead, the finest of wine, 
From recesses earth deep 
And tastes like a secret, 
You simply can't keep 
To yourself. 

But still, my voice does not compete. 

For I relish the words, 
Of all my good friends, 
Who go through great lengths, 
And passionate ends, again 
And again, time again and again. 
Constructing rhythms and rhymes, 
To unveil the most exquisite of lines, 
Which propel me to think and to feel, 
To laugh like I'm human, and cry like child, 
And carry my soul above what is real 
To the plain of the transcendent, 
Where I love to reside. And go wild. Because, 

For me, poetry is meant to be shared 
And, my voice is not a competition.

rEjEcTeD EveRY sTEp 

rEjEcTeD EveRY sTEp

I take my poetry out to the world, 
rejected every step, 
until it finds an ear to bend, 
a lonely teardrop kept. 

The sound of howl and fury, 
as I scream into this rye, 
and leave my rage upon the page, 
'til drop by drop I die. 

And if I shall be lucky good, 
bound up upon your shelf, 
please gather up my dust to read, 
until you've found yourself. 

For in this thought, this troubled view, 
cast in aspersion's lot, 
I've only got this smile to share, 
and words forever hot. 

Harsh winters are upon me now, 
for I've not long to sing, 
unless I stir a soulfulness, 
and your voice 
          becomes my wing.

whY tHe TReeS siNG 

whY tHe TReeS siNG

In these mountains 
- the trees sing - 
The rock's gray mood 
The owl's glowing eyes 
The cave bear's slumber 

The ohm rises, as a new moon 
Celestial light fills the valley 
And the trees dance like poets 
      mournful night winds 
And carefully placed melodies 
Fill the dark forest from within 

Sweet notes with heartstrings 
Upon ears so deep 
In thought-ful meditation 
With the one everything 
      To hear their beauty 

Ice dripped clouds held close 
    By mother earth's spiny barbs 
Her majestic giants - vibrate 
    with each move she makes 

Rocking forward and back 
Grooving mood enhanced 
    Slow circles of contentment 
Between each somber wave 

Dance, they must 
Merely to hold onto this feeling 
  And not fall off of the edge

StEp uP 

StEp uP

The ocean’s lungs 
Rock my four-thousand pound vehicle 
On a calm day, full of blessed light. 
Farther South, they’d set up a blanket. 
On the North Coast, our cars keep us 
Warm, protected from the bone winds, 
A cacoon, a womb, a blue picnic table. 

Clouds slide across the azure like skates. 
Mind numbed by irreconcilable truths. 
The beach is marked by a black flag. 
I used to know what that means. 
But today, nothing but numbness. 

A hollowness exists in our hope. 
Our bliss laden vision of the future 
Fails to account for manipulation, 
Or malintention of capitalist paradigms. 
Profit drives progress, and destruction. 
Our society is churning with new ideas” 
- each generation brings the wisdom of the prior’s teaching. You can see it... 

in the innocent commitment of the Parkland kids, never again. Women standing up for full equality, me too! And in the recognition of white oppression, privilege, and our discriminatory policing, and business, models. Black lives matter. 
Our history is shame filled. 

But does our future have to also be? 

Teach our children well 
Their parents hell 
Will be their mission, 
Challenge. To overcome. 
Their rage, progress. 
Their desires, dreams. 
Their visions, their children’s 
Path toward the Nirvana - 
Of humanity ensuring the 
Continued survival of our 
Species, beyond this planet, 
Beyond limits of aging, disease, 
And even serious medical trauma. 

Life is not work. Beyond necessary. 
We have robots, advanced technology. 

So how should, will, we occupy our time? Will we still be as judgmental? 
Or outlaw such thoughts altogether? 
Will our society be driven by noble pursuits, science, an ethical code that allows, rewards, creativity & freedom? 
You’re not working hard enough... 
On your imagination. Step up. 

My vehicle rocks like a cradle. 
My mind reacting like an infant. 
Full of mystical wonder and doubt. 
Equal amounts of knowing and not. 
In the end, the thoughts matters not, 
Only that which survives the shifting sands, the acid rains, the twisting of human myth to the service of power. 
Choose your rules and leaders wisely. 

Live with noble purpose. 

Tell each other the truth. 

Share your wisdom. 

Love your neighbor. 

Vibrate the strings... 
Upon which the dancer glides 
Effortlessly in such radiance - 
That you can see God within. 

That is the essence of this experience. 
In this dimension. Before the next. 
This collectively shared delusion. 

Seek it out, find it often. Refine it. 
It is both your path, and refuge. 

If we all help each other succeed, 
Achieve, inspire, and create love, 
Joyful, full of positive intention - 
Our species will thrive. And conquer 
This, our greatest of challenges: 
Mutual cooperation, harmonic peace. 

If only we, as individuals, and species, 
Step up.

ThE muSES aRe dRiNkiNG aGaiN 

ThE muSES aRe dRiNkiNG aGaiN

Television is so boring, tonight, 
every night, I fall asleep to news 
of the world exploding, smiling 
while the pundits and politicians 
pile their deceptive dances of 
self-interest with cream cheese 
onto our collective conscious 

Stop telling women to smile 
Rare recordings of Howling Wolf 
Stills of the Holocaust banned? 
Anti-corruption review launched 
Pedophile killer serves more time 
While his mates escape in a sewer 
The next bombing only a day away 
She says, with saffron smile and roots 
Radiating in technocolor for all to see 

Monochrome has it's advantages. 
Polaroid photographs, from the 60s, 
Of buzz cut kids in their Sunday best 
Know not of their future anxieties 
Or struggles to break free of 
What, ever comes, their way? 

One thinks he can get away with murder 
The bitch, or the young old man, 
The bridge is closed for repairs, 
The bird, the bush, the sane one? 
The cornfields are ripe with fertilizer 
Even the Kennedys have their ghosts 

By the time morning dew frolics, 
My head is filled with frustration, 
And a thousand useless facts. 
Why does the purple cat smile, 
Or the car go uphill backwards 
Or the skier fall up the mountain? 

I know the petulant answers to these 
And thousands of irrelevant uncertainties 
All because I drank too much coffee 
The muses are drinking again too 
And tequila is their choice tonight 
Word bitches be floating, high, 
Along waves of words working 
With silently, paced, precision 
As they, the singular, applauds 

My head feels like a velvet snowball 
Being kicked along the cobblestones 
By muddy newsboys in brown leather shoes 
Argyles, knickers and rainbow suspenders 
Bouncing from tramp to feather-boa tranny, 
And down a flight of never-ending stairs. 

Too much tequila that I never drank. 
A stale TV sitting in the corner. 
Too much time on my fingers. 
The keys wanting to apologize. 
So I slap them senseless again. 

The muses have finally passed out. 
And it is time for me to begin writing. 

A shot for Hunter S., and we're off!... 
to explore the other side of the edge, 
where the world is just as shitty, 
just as psychotically effing pathetic, 
forever stuck in it's groundhog news cycles, 
but at least I am free to ramble in peace. 

(Insert something prophetic here, 
And enjamb the living shit out of it).



I could never write black poems. 
Piano keystrokes play me, pink. 
Moonlight sounds. another drink. 
The sister's notes finding homes 
inside faint shimmers in my dress. 
I am glowing. From my distress. 
Shade elevated. 
Mood enhanced. 
In the moonlight.


ToWN wiTHin A toWN 

ToWN wiTHin A toWN

Here, the mountains touch the sea 
    On the coast, in our two McDonald's town 
the water is cold, even in summer 
    fitted out with three X-Marts and a Mall 
with clean beaches, seldom used, 
    the blight of industrial parks... 
down by our old-town style bay 
    lining what could be a nice boardwalk, 
that stretches out to the island 
    tall buildings are inhibited by law, 
a peninsula, really, beautiful 
    and friendly townsfolk, who love 
protected marsh eco-systems, 
    unprotected homeless camps 
(commerce is pretty business) 
    complete with bulldozed tents, and 
we'd like more tourists, please! 
    arrests for any poet who protests!

(Poem about the small Northern California coastal town of Eureka, CA,
where I now live. Actually, there are three poems within this poem -
the main poem, the flush left poem, and the indented right poem. 
A town within a town within a town, if you will. Eureka means "I have found it!"

tHe MoRNinG sHiP 

tHe MoRNinG sHiP

Ah, the dance of the swelling seas upon her briny bow,
The tempest she wrought against the evening sun,
An epic battle, the catch now emptied from her belly,
She sits upon the stillness of the bay like a picture postcard. 

Regal, she is. With her riggings tied in only the finest of knots. 
She has sailed through many an earth storm to be here with us 
To share her best secrets and mariner's tales of sea creatures, 
Dancing their dance, as she parted the waves, high above it all. 

Like residents of the proud port in which she anchors, 
Her wooden bones seem to know us all too well. 

Even the whales now tip their dorsal fins in respect, 
As they pass. The harbor is quiet in the early dawn. 

Like my spirit, this morning.

iF i NeVEr wRiTe tHiS pOEm 

iF i NeVEr wRiTe tHiS pOEm

If I never write this poem 
I might never have met you 
been able to guess all your secrets 
or undressed you in my mind 
all before you finish 
    the next line 

I might never have gone skinny-dipping 
under the brightly colored stringers 
in the calm bay waters, freezing, 
while thinking about your eyes 
and what your life will be like 
If I never write this poem 

I could never say what I think 
unless, of course, you are as bizarre 
and fun, as I think, you might be 
    dancing among the pink tutus 
trying to see, and avoid being crushed 
by the spinning hippopotami, of 
a culture that consumes too much 

If I never write this poem 
    I could never say how I feel 
about our future together 
without clean water, or GMOs, or 
tiny homes for all the homeless 
people, the money chase 
creating nothing beautiful, 
except when it benefits all 
our collective future, kind 
being the best part of man. 

And I might never think 
to write about my mother 
or pen a line, send a thought, 
a smile, to make her cry, laugh, 
and remember the day she 
first brought my giggles home 
how would she ever know 
    how much I love her now 
Some details can never 
be artfully spoken 

If I never write this poem 

Would your life be different 

If the people around you 
    knew how you truly felt 

Truth is not always love 
But love is always truth 
I wish more people knew this 

I wish more people knew 
    the words I put on paper 
And scream to the crimson sky gods 
when the muses are drinking again 
    this time, Vodka, bloody marys, 
with giant stalks of mint green 
celery, salt, splash of worcestershire 
heart-breaking pain, on a pretty page, 
served with fish-egg hors d'oeurves 
and only the finest French cheese, 
being one of the only luxuries left, 
a poor man can still afford, to love 
something you might never ponder 
If I never write this poem 

Let it be known that I love my girls, 
even if I feel like a failure to them 
    If I never write this poem 
How would they ever know, 
this is how I express my love.


dAnCE, wE muST 

dAnCE, wE muST

College, Fairfax to Virginia Beach 
fearless foursome, road tripping 
crashing on the sands dune 
baked lobsters by mid-noon 
with two freezers full of beer 
three crates of fresh crabs
cheering, faux minors league.

Professional party animals 
- lounging by the pool -
gorgeous, full of faux sun, 
after crushing the local foe 
have crashed our finest gala. 

24 hours of psychotic bliss- 
I want, more of this - feeling 
now that I am growing older, 
less bold, and distant in time 
from the triumphs of my youth. 

Dance, we must, merely to 
hold onto this feeling and 
not fall off of the edge. As 
my pen reminds me daily 
- ever slandering it's truth.