Poetry Drawer: Five Hundred SCUBA Divers by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Octopuses hand them tools
as they work to right the Costa Concordia
laying ruined on its starboard side

After work
the divers drink in bars
and recount their undersea exploits
to avid women

while the octopuses
slither back into their holes
where some of them fondle large wrenches
or pieces of steel cable

There is something so strangely tactile about these objects
The octopuses embrace them with their entire bodies
and have multiple orgasms
far more orgasms than the divers
who have gone to bed early
to be ready for another day
at work under the surface

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. His new poetry collection was published in 2019, The Arrest of Mr Kissy Face, He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Inky Interview: Author Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois from Denver, Colorado

Flash In The Pantry: Serotonin Reuptake by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Mandela Warp: A Moment in History by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Cooking Shows by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Still Wet by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Loch by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Photogenic by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Microwave by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Granite by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Trick by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Coal by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Poetry Slam by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: An evening, after 3 months sobriety by DS Maolalai

you have to wonder
at the flavour,
and savour the smell,
accept taste the bitterness of it;
gooseberries and fresh appleflesh.
you have to get sunlight
pouring over windowsills
and spilling into ditches
onto drunks
going home. that’s
wine, see?
this: going home.
a skip in the road
and light
which shines in a bottle.
a kiss from your friend
returned again
after too long
gone off
at sea.

D.S. Maolalai is a graduate of English Literature from Trinity College in Dublin and has been nominated for Best of the Web, and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Poetry Drawer: New Organ by Robert Demaree

In our chapel at Golden Pines,
Amber light through stained glass,
Across the burgundy cushions,
Greying heads, hip and knee replacements,
A new organ fills the room:
Bach, Widor’s toccata,
Three manuals, hundreds of stops.
Digital, no pipes, which means to some
It is not real. Oh, but is it—
The swells, crescendos,
The noble trumpet of the Prince of Denmark’s March.
It replaces the kind of organ
You used to hear in cafeterias,
Playing for the Civitans.
Our friend explains, improvises for us;
Keys change.
How many would be so bold
As to put on display the skills
Of a life’s work, now
Compromised by time.
It is marvellous, we think, in every way.
At last we have at Golden Pines
An instrument fit for a sanctuary,
For a service of last rites.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladderspublished in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Poetry Drawer: The Gift by John Grey

Must be my lucky day.
Look what I found on the sidewalk
in a small Midwestern town
at the turn of the 21st century.
It’s almost midnight.
The one street light
is swinging like a pendulum.
I saw it gleaming through the cracks.
I just had to kneel down and pick it up.

Well so what.
My find is not helping my car any.
It’s as dead as a pair of twos in a poker game.
And a mile back there on the road some place.
And I can’t afford to pay for a roof over my head.
But that’s my worry, not yours.

Have you guessed it yet?
Red roses in a white wine bottle?
Iron Maiden CD in a medicine cabinet?
Scheherazade on a shingle?
Shakespeare, vestal virgins or leopards?
Take my advice and forget about it.

Is it a gleam, a glitter,
in an otherwise dead block of cement?
Does it remind me of someone?
Do I break into a little song?
And dance with my own shadow?

And now it’s starting to rain.
It dribbles down my chin.
The wind is brisk and repulsive.
The people are all indoors,
in bed, with the lights out.

So I’m under an awning,
with my coat wrapped around me,
head on a stoop.
body curled up like a snail’s.

Have you guessed it yet?
It’s nothing really.
But you knew that all along.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

Poetry Drawer: Good Question by John Grey

A roller of fat cigars,
the hefty guy
whose arms are inked
with devils and angels,
short-skirted women
showing enough leg
to start the dogs barking,
and an old lady selling flowers –
I have ignored them all
just to be with you.

A shop window
advertising 47 ice-cream flavors,
a pig with two heads
or maybe two pigs
with a head apiece,
blind kids playing baseball,
a construction site,
a barbershop quartet –
I was in such a hurry,
I noticed none of these.

Then you have to ask me
how my never-wavering concentration
on the matter in hand
enabled me to include,
for poetic purposes,
all these things I bypassed,
took no notice of.

That’s a good question.
Luckily, on my journey,
I avoided all good questions.
That’s why I’m here.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

Poetry Drawer: The Cerulean Lore by Dr. Susie Gharib

The first two arrows that pierce my orbs
through fluttering lashes, too loath to unfold,
are cerulean fragments that, unhampered, probe
my naked window every cloudless morn.

My wavelengths, attuned, respond with a flow
of rippling images that W. James had called
the stream of consciousness, but in a non-literary world:
a bluebell basking in the shade of a blade,
a petal floating on the sapphire of a lake,
a ripple or two agitating my boat,
whose oars are drunk with foam and salt,
a cyan mist inhabiting a myth,
a pair of eyes whose blueness persists
to compete with skies’, bluebells’, and mists’

Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Poetry Drawer: Handy Man DIY by R. Gerry Fabian

The light has gone out
in your heart.
It’s not the bulb.
It is still steady
with kisses and hugs.

After years of constant use.
the wiring is frayed
at the source.
Wire nuts of romance
have been loosened.

It’s time for an overhaul.

This is to be done carefully.
The electricity shut down.
A new love cord installed.
Secured with masking tape.
Retighten the nuts
and slowly connect
the lost circuit.

R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He is the editor of Raw Dog Press. He has published two poetry books, Parallels and Coming Out Of The Atlantic. His novels, Memphis MasqueradeGetting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense are available from Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble. He is currently working on his fourth novel, Ghost Girl.

Poetry Drawer: The Ring Road by Colin Gardiner

I watch from under
The shade of the fly-over.
The ring road squeezes the city
Into prolapse.

The sky closes for business
And the clouds fold over,
Like a restless sleeper’s duvet.
A sun-flare splits the grey fade
Of the post-rush hour queue.

I don’t think that the commuters
Can see the heard approaching.

A hot breeze whispers
Through skeletal trees.
I can see the horses racing
Up the dual carriageway.

The Ikea sign is melting, and
Flaming hooves are pounding
Over the blackened bones
Of roadkill and exhaust pipes.

The harras rages
Silently
Through the heat-haze shimmer.
Manes are ablaze.

With unstable diamond eyes
And the stars in their teeth,
They unleash
Beautiful incineration
On to the idle traffic.

Flashes of orange and red caress
Idle wing mirrors.
I see the fire-heard
Race through the barrier and
Leap across the fly-over.

Mirrored windows kiss
The glare of a new
Temporary sun.
There will be no hard-shoulder
To cry on this evening.

One day I will hit the accelerator, 
and catch up with the stampede.
I will fly
Like Pegasus on fire.
The ring road will collapse
Into the creases of the sky.

Colin Gardiner lives in Coventry. He writes short stories and poems and has been published by The Ekphrastic Review and the Creative Writing Leicester blog. He is currently studying a Masters in Creative Writing at Leicester University. More of his work can be read here

Poetry Drawer: Complacency by Dr. Susie Gharib

I cross the crowded streets, my mind congested with thoughts,
get startled by myriads of complacent looks
that are painted on faces like gilded books.

The topography of miens remains intact.
An imbecile look adheres like a mask,
unruffled by grief, privations, and crime.

A smile trickles from each flaccid mouth,
too sugary for viewers with embittered hearts
who lost their wholeness to a ravishing war.

Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Inkphrastica: The Biology of Courage by Mark Blickley (Words) Katya Shubova (Photography)

My name is Jull Soares and I am a bastard. This is not a particular opinion that I, or anyone else that I’m aware of, has placed on me. It is objective truth. My mother was an unlicensed sex worker and neither she or I have any inkling of who fathered me, although a couple of gringos are among the suspects.

There is nothing more painful than longing for things that never were. Many of my friends grew up with fathers and when I was young, I was very jealous. However, based on what I’ve witnessed in films and in real life, it doesn’t seem that I missed out on much. If you are loved—it doesn’t matter by whom or how many—you’ll be fine as long as you feel worthy of being loved.

I am old now, but I do not think that I fear death. Sometimes I get upset that while I am rotting in the dirt others will be drinking beer and dancing, or lying on a beach with closed eyes, caressed by the sun. My love of history has been an enormous help in smothering my panic of not being alive.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve adored hearing city elders tell stories about Cartagena. How my ancestors fought and killed the Spanish invader Juan de la Cosa when he tried to steal a 132 pound golden porcupine from our Sinu temple. And how we citizens repelled an attack of the English Armada that included George Washington’s half brother Lawrence. Or when the great North American female matador, Patricia McCormick, one of the finest bullfighters of her time, slew a bull at the beloved Circo Teatro. Streaked in blood, she knelt by the animal she just killed and stroked its head while screaming out, “I love this brave bull!”

I can accept and enjoy that all these events took place without my being alive to witness them, so why should I regret events I will be unable to experience after I die? I have come to believe that when we die, we return to wherever we were the year before our birth. As I was born in 1959, I will simply return to whatever I was doing in 1958 and that’s where I will be for eternity. There seems to be very few second chances in life and I suspect the same will be true in death.

I like lying on this ledge, becoming part of this glorious mural. I feel as if I’m a horizontal recruiter enlisting pedestrians to take some time outs during the day and not to fear exposing themself in public. Often kids, mostly teenagers, come over and tease me that I look dead when they shake or kick me into awakening. I can appreciate their concern or forgive their mockery, but I don’t like it when they pee in a wine bottle and try to force me to drink. Or pour it over me while I sleep.

Sleeping in public can give you interesting insights into human nature. It’s been my experience that the good are pretty evenly matched with the bad, although it does tip a bit more in favour of the positive. Many people think I’m just a homeless misfit and don’t realize I’m actually giving them a chance to join me in creating a temporary public family. Compassion and cruelty is what I frequently dream about while I sleep on this beautiful ledge, and is what I often wake up to.

Since I was a child, I’ve always hated shoes. Most men like to appear tough. If a person really wants to be tough it must start with their feet. Our ancestors probably went tens of thousands of years travelling in their bare feet—tough, grizzled, calloused—but not indifferent. Growing up without family except for my mother, I don’t think of being shoeless as a sign of poverty. I am walking in the footsteps of my ancestors where each step I take is headed in the direction of a family reunion. The soles of my naked feet scrape along the same paths where the souls of my forebears once walked. Please forgive my clumsy attempt at poetic wordplay, but it is a holy trail.

A human head should always be cradled. That is why I always carry a pillow in my pouch. A good pillow allows you to dream in colour. My pillow is very old and even when I wash it has a distinctly peculiar smell to it. That’s because of the many beautiful dreams and disturbing nightmares burrowed inside it. My sweat and tears puddle into the stains of my life. A kind European visitor once told me I should consider my pillow as a work of textile art. I’m not sure what that means, but I like how it sounds.

It is a pillow almost as old as me. My mother made it for me when I was still “shitting yellow” as she used to like to say in her colourful way of labelling me a baby. Each day I ensconce myself into this bright yellow mural, beneath a stunning young woman with legs spread, as if birthing me onto this ledge.

Freedom is isolation. Slavery is the obliteration of isolation. I abhor flophouses, government housing and charitable hostels. Once you lose your ability to desire isolation, you become a slave. Creativity can only flourish in silence and solitude. If I was in some kind of forced shelter do you think I would be writing in this notebook and accompanying these words with images torn from magazines, newspapers and catalogues? The European woman who told me my pillow was textile art also said that I have a collagist mentality when I showed her a few of my notebooks.

Do not pity me as homeless. Celebrate me as one who possesses the special gift of being able to live alone. Sometimes I am forced to enter the dark doors of slavery, but I maintain the wherewithal to escape back into freedom and return to this colourful ledge.

And so here I lay, precariously balanced between moments of exaltation and the fear of being disturbed. In between those two points lies the secret to a healthy and productive life. Boredom is not having nothing to do, but feeling like nothing is worth doing. No one volunteers to experience life. We don’t have a choice. That is why anyone who completes this journey without taking short cuts is heroic.

Can you spare a few pesos in support of a pilgrim’s progress?

Thank you.

May you be spared a life of inertia in motion.

Mark Blickley, from New York, is a widely published author of fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship Award for Drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center and author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books). In his 2018 video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain, was an Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nonetheless We Persisted, and co-curated the Urban Dialogues art exhibition, Tributaries: Encontro de Rios, in Lisbon, Portugal. His most recent book is the text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams by Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

Katya Shubova is a photographer and former competitive gymnast who grew up in Ukrainian Odessa. Her true passion is dance and she travels internationally to perform tango. Although identifying as a dancer, for the past few years she has studied improvisational performance and sketch comedy at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade. She stars in the upcoming short film, Hunger Pains, directed by Iorgo Papoutsas for Wabi Sabi Productions.