Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Dr. Milton Ehrlich

THE TASTE OF STILLNESS

Makes your mouth water
if a toasted marshmallow
approaches your mouth,
or if a hot cup of tea
soothes your insides
on a freezing winter day,
or if the bliss of the breast
allows you to savor the moment
of each life-enhancing breath.
Taste buds may be the key
that opens the door to the taste
and scent of where you were
before you were born.

AM I DYING?

Just because
I’m green around the gills,
can’t get up from the floor
and every joint aches.

Just because
I can only see a fish-eyed view
of what’s real that no glasses
can correct.

Just because
my gut speaks ferociously
in a language all its own
with gurgles, and hisses
I’ve never heard before.

Just because
You sound so far away,
far away for much too long.

I pulsate
like a far-flung star.

NOT HERE ANYMORE

Yet I can still hear
my musical alarm
wake me up for work
Some day I’m going
to murder the bugler,
some day they’re going
to find him dead.
I see my white shirt
hanging on the door,
my empty shiny shoes
lined up on the floor.
I feel alive in a way
I’ve never felt before.
I must get out of bed,
but I’m not here anymore.
Where have I gone you ask?
You will be the first to know
just as soon as I find out.

TAKE IT EASY

because you’re not going anywhere,
you’re already there.
Whatever is, is.

Slow down, pace yourself
before you fall down.
Remember to breathe
when you have so many
things to worry about.

Gunslingers are eunuchs
who want to feel like men.
Learn to forgive them
for their ignorance,
but, always be ready
to hit the deck.

THE LOVE OF MY LIFE

is young and tender as a sweet peach tree.
With a lovely face and high cheek bones
there’s a glint of jade that sparkles her eyes.

She has a scent of lavender from her garden,
grown with her long slender fingers and toes
that resemble rare precious stones.

Her hour glass figure beneath thick black hair
billows like dark clouds. Surrounded
by flocks of birds she smiles the smile
of a messenger from heaven.

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 87 year old psychologist and a veteran of
the Korean War. He has published many poems in periodicals such as the
London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin
Review, Taj Mahal Literary journal, Antigonish Review, Ottowa Arts
Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor,
and the New York Times.

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by John Sweet

the distant past, approaching

standing in the sunlit spaces of
late-afternoon shadows, he is talking to
pollock who is dead but the
truth is something else
altogether

warm
for november but not
                       warm

an age of hoses whipped to
death for entertainment

caviar and lemonade

young woman on her bloody knees on
the church steps but
the idea of saviours no longer applies

the stores are all out of business,
windows boarded over,
and he is asking pollock why?

and i am leaning in close,
hoping for an answer

song for tired hands

waves of autumn leaves across
pitted brick courtyards

subtle mistake of considering
early november sunlight to be anything
more than itself and she
turns to me, says you can’t spend your
whole looking for answers in the mouths of
dead men, and it sounds like
                                the truth

sounds like god digging for bones out
along I-88, like pilate selling splinters of
the one true cross

laughter and hope, sure, but what about
the ever-present past?

it was linda’s cancer then
david’s suicide and always the
mumbled wisdom of homeless junkies

it’s the promise of wide open spaces
but even on the warmest afternoons
the fact of winter overwhelms

even in your arms i am
cold and getting colder

am old and getting older

what more can i
give you but the truth?

the image but not the idea

moving east through six a.m.
tunnels of rain, november, december,
age of desperate ghosts, this woman w/
the pale scars keeps slipping pills
between yr lips, keeps speaking in a
language he doesn’t quite understand

only 10,000 miles to the coast

only the ghost of frida kahlo
to light the way

sister asleep in the back seat and he
misses the exit and then the
one after that, and these faded plastic
wreaths w/ their tilted wooden crosses
on the side of the highway

this first grey light of day

thinks let me keep my name

thinks let the suicides all
take someone else’s

starts with love and then
burns his way down to the
ghostwhite bones

litany of concentric circles

finished his drink then
shot himself

said he hoped the poem would be better than the
shit i usually wrote but i didn’t even
know him, wasn’t even there, and he pulled the
trigger and it was november

was sunlit and cold and the blood on the
walls, sound of the girl smiling in the doorway
of the porn shop and my car wasn’t running again

was rusting in the sunlight of someone else’s
driveway and the sound of the
shot and she was smiling as i walked by, was sharing a
cigarette with the guy who worked there, asked me
how the poem was going, said she wasn’t even there but
he had finished the drink then shot himself and
past the high school was the river

sunlit and cold and i found his body floating
near the shore, knew his girlfriend but i couldn’t
lift him up and two kids on the bridge above
throwing rocks down at us, tried to explain that i
wasn’t there, that i wasn’t here, but my
hands had lost all feeling

mouth was bleeding and the hole in the side of his
head where the light poured out, said the girl
had been his sister and i told him he was dead

do you remember?

it was november, bright blue sky and frozen and
he’d written his girlfriend a letter, had told her
he was sorry and then he pulled the trigger

told her to ask me about the poem

showed her some words i’d scribbled across the backs of
some carry-out menus when i found her
standing in the doorway of the mexican restaurant,
explained that i wasn’t even there, and these kids
across the street throwing rocks at us

my car down by the river, tangled up in blue
on the radio and she said she’d always hated dylan,
said she’d always hated the stones, and then he
finished his drink and pulled the trigger

static poured out of the hole in his heart and
he said the poem was the important thing

said the gun was just a metaphor but
he wouldn’t stop bleeding

laughed when i showed him what i’d written
and told me i’d better try again

indian summer

on these clouded glass afternoons
spelled out in pastel shades of blue and
grey, down dead-end streets in a
town you can’t escape, climb the cemetery
walls, walk the last thousand miles
down to the river, body of a dog
tortured and killed, 13 year-old kids huffing
spray paint, soft warmth of the
mid-afternoon sun, end of autumn,
                                freeway sound

                                dream of home

                                wake up lost

                                still no sign of snow

John Sweet’s Blog

Inky Interview Exclusive: T. L. Dyer

Congratulations on your début novel, Hidden, which is the first book in the Hidden Sanctuary urban dystopia series. We are thrilled for you! Can you please give us a synopsis, and an excerpt, walking us through the concept?

Thank you, that’s really appreciated. So, the Hidden Sanctuary series is set in the near future (in 2030), within a corporate-run city with a heavy focus on financial success. If you can make money, you’re rewarded; if not, you’re pushed out. This first book in the series centres on two sides of the city: those who live within it, and those who have separated themselves from it to live self-sufficiently on the outskirts in abandoned manufacturing units. This latter group are men only, who refer to themselves as the Tribe, and they’ve adopted a doctrine, the purpose of which is to allow them to live free of mental stress (in particular, free from judgement and expectation). Which is all fine until main character, Jacob, has a run-in with a wounded Sada, an “Outsider”, and his instinct is to help her. This interaction triggers memories of a trauma from his past he had erased, and as Sada returns to find out more about his tribe and to establish a friendship, cracks begin to appear in the idyllic existence that had cocooned him up to that point. What had once seemed like an easier way of life becomes less so as he realises he can’t outrun his past.

He had almost forgotten what frustration felt like. The kind that starts in the middle of your gut and spreads up through your body until it sticks in your throat so you want to yell without constraint. Funny how he should forget when it was a state of being that had once consumed him every single moment of every day, nights too. Its reappearance now was like someone loosening the lid on a jar that had been sealed a long time ago to prevent the contents escaping. He’d thought whatever those contents were would be long dead and decayed by now, but what had stirred in him weeks ago had threatened that assumption. And now with each day that came he couldn’t help feeling that a part of himself was giving way again, going under.”

With a dual perspective, the story alternates between Jacob’s point of view and Sada’s. The latter enables the reader to witness the division between wealth and poverty within the city, and the pressures that force some residents to take desperate measures.

There’s a heavy focus on mental health issues in the series. We know a lot about women’s mental health, so I wanted to explore what unspoken internal struggles men endure, and to highlight these by pressing them into a high-pressured darkened room and turning on the light.

Where can we get a copy of Hidden?

At the moment it’s available as ebook and paperback at Amazon, but later in the year it will become available on other platforms as well. You can also find out more about all the books in the series on my website, T.L.Dyer

How did you approach the structure of your novel? Did you have a clear idea, or did it evolve, or both?

A little of both. I’m not a huge planner when it comes to writing. All of my short stories started with their first line popping into my head and I ran with them from there. That’s fine and exciting for a short story, but I knew for a novel I would need to plan more or risk wasting my time writing down a blind alley. The magic of the Scrivener software allowed me to create lots of notes and a rough outline – literally just compiling thirty chapters and writing a few lines in each to guide me, with build-up moments, reveal moments, the Long Dark Night of the Soul, and then the conclusion. Sounds rudimentary and it was, but it helped me stay on track, while also giving me the freedom to see where the characters would take me. Suffice to say, the ending was not what I’d expected.

You are also an editor. Tell us about your experiences. Have you any advice for this career path? What are the high and low points?

I’ve just recently wound down my editing business, which I had run for the last three years. While I initially planned on running both editing and indie author business side by side, it soon became clear that the amount of work involved in writing and publishing books on a regular schedule would leave me no time (mental or physical) to do both. Running an editing business was a wonderful experience though; working with other writers and seeing how they progressed was so heart-warming, and it meant I got to share my passion for books and words with others who felt the same. The high points included the wonderful feedback I received from clients who not only felt I helped improve their work but also got a lot out of the editing experience, tips and tricks they could take with them onto future projects; another high point was the good friends I made as a result of it. I was lucky enough not to have any bad/difficult clients.

The biggest low point was – as with any freelancing business – the inconsistency of workload. While working on a project, it was great; but there were lots of quiet periods when you begin to doubt yourself and whether you’ll ever have any more work come your way.

Career-wise, there are plenty of editors who do write, but I think it comes down to priorities. If you’re happy to write in your free time with editing as your main business, then great. But for me, I found the desire to write and publish began to overtake everything else, and as editing is such an in-depth, mentally draining process, I knew I wouldn’t be able to commit all of my attention to everything – something would give eventually. Should I get tired of writing and publishing, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to editing – though it can be hard work, it’s also a very enjoyable and rewarding job if you’re a book lover. If you want to be an editor, start with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) who will point you in the right direction for training and advice. Other editors are extremely helpful and open with their experiences; it’s a truly supportive community. Also consider doing some beta reading/editing voluntarily (see forums on places like Goodreads) to get some pressure-free experience under your belt (and if they’re happy with your work, ask for a testimonial for your website).

As an OU comrade, and Inky veteran, how important do you think studying creative writing is? Have you any advice for writers?

I don’t think I’d have reached this point without my creative writing and literature studies. Everything I’ve done over the last three years has stemmed from the completion of the OU Literature degree. Which is not to say I think everyone needs to go that route in order to write, but it certainly broadened my understanding of something I already loved and thought I knew a lot about. When we are voracious readers, we’re already teaching ourselves the conventions of storytelling, and for some writers that might be enough to get by; but ‘close reading’ and studying the techniques of writing is hugely beneficial (and satisfying), whether that be from courses or teach-yourself books, and it really does make a difference to writing quality. Talent is one thing, but learning the craft is crucial if you want to improve.

What are you reading at the moment?

As usual, a bit of everything – my book tastes are a little eclectic. But in particular I’m trying to read genres that are closely associated to what I’m writing or intend to write, in order to see how it’s done! So I’m reading thrillers (in particular, indie author A.D. Davies’ Adam Park series; addavies.com), transgressive fiction (Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis), and also Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody (because the learning never stops).

Who would you choose as one of your favourite characters from literature, and why?

Excuse me while I have a moment alone with my bookshelf… So I’m going to pick two, each for very different reasons. The first is Patrick Bateman from Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. No, he’s not a nice guy, he’s a psychopath. But I’m really intrigued by out-of-the-ordinary characters and he’s certainly that. The writing techniques in this book are original and outstanding, and particularly fascinating about Bateman is that despite being a narcissist with no emotional intelligence, he spends the entire book trying to communicate who he really is (or thinks he really is) to those around him; he has a strong desire for someone to understand/comprehend the real him.

My second choice is Oliver Comstock in a book called A Dead Language by Peter Rushforth. Oliver isn’t the main protagonist of this story about boyhood, the absence of paternal love and its ramifications, but he shines throughout this beautifully poignant and original narrative as a character who is funny, confident, loving, unafraid, and supportive of his friends regardless of their individual mannerisms and behaviour. A strong, unique, easy-going character. If he were real, he would be one of the ‘special ones’.

Have you written in any other genre?

In terms of form, I’ve written and had published one poetry piece and several short stories (including in your very own Sea of Ink and Fields of Words anthologies). This novel came about initially because I wanted to experience the publishing process rather than just spout instructions to editing clients which I had read elsewhere. Fortunately or unfortunately, this then escalated into something more, and I was bitten by the bug.

In terms of the genre of this particular book (and series), this is something new for me. I didn’t choose dystopia specifically; rather, as elements of the story came together it chose itself and seemed the appropriate setting. For this first book, I ignored most advice about writing to market and wrote what I’d like to read, and this happened to be the form it took. Anything I write always starts with the characters first and I go where they send me, which usually veers towards realism and psychological conflict. I’m a fan of gritty thrillers and dark dramas, and this is where I feel the next books after this series will take me.

What is next for you, what plans have you got?

I’ve written books two and three in the Hidden Sanctuary series, so I’ll be working on these in preparation for their release – book two in March, and book three in May. After which, it’ll be on to the next new idea and those early stages of researching, outlining and getting down the first draft. By the end of 2019, if all goes to plan, I will have released five books in total, getting my indie author career underway. And now that I’ve said it, I have to do it… so, no pressure!

And just finally, I’d like to sneak in a big thank you to Ink Pantry for their support as always.

Avoid eye contact at all costs… That’s how they get you.”

The men had separated themselves from their old lives.

But had they really thought they could stay hidden forever?

When an Outsider forces her way into Jacob’s life, the emotionally pain-free existence the men have cultivated in the abandoned buildings skirting the city is threatened. Fighting against the instinctive pull of the ‘outside world’ and the memories of a dark past he’d rather forget, Jacob must choose either the tribe who saved him or the past that might kill him.

In the city, Sada has identified the hooded stranger who saved her life and a society few know anything about. Determined to learn more about this hidden tribe, she is confronted with the depth of the scars her city is leaving behind in its quest for financial global power. Her journalistic instincts are to reveal the truth in a city that wants to bury it, but to do so could have fatal consequences for all of them.

Poetry Drawer: Petition by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

In Arles
the citizens circulated a petition
demanding that Vincent be institutionalized
It was following that commitment that he
moved to St. Remy

The people of Arles
do not know that I am only in their town
because I escaped from a mental hospital
stole money from my mother
and fled across the ocean

to where I lived
when I was younger, stronger
and my mind was less disordered

I do not believe that disorder
warrants imprisonment

When I see the citizens in the bakeries
and cafes
giving me hard stares
and passing a sheet of paper from hand to hand
I will escape to St. Remy

where I will play my violin
on the street
for coins

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

Dickensian Poetry: Miss Havisham’s Love Song by Alice Harrison

I have never seen the sun.
Break their hearts my pride and hope,
Break their hearts and have no mercy.
With men and women I have done.

See the cake. A bride cake. Mine!
If he love you laugh to scorn.
If he love you, beggar him!
See the clock. Twenty-to-nine.

So new to him. So old to me.
I gave you jewels, gave you praise.
I took your heart and made it ice.
I sometimes have a sick fancy.

Lay me here when I am dead.
Now I know you tired of me.
Hard and thankless on the hearth.
Wedding meats shall be my bed.

These bridal clothes shall be my shroud.
Did I never give you love,
Burning love and jealous love?
A warning and a lesson proud.

Walk me round and round this room.
Speak the truth you ingrate, you
You stock and stone. You cold, cold heart.
Remember this will be my tomb.

I held you to this wretched breast
And lavished years of tenderness.
Times forgotten. Soon forgotten.
All is broken. All is rotten.

Dickensian Poetry: The Signalman by David Keyworth

After the story by CD

Halloa! Halloa!

The howl in the tunnel is a trick –
winter wind or a stray dog’s whine?

Why does he still hear it?
Who wants to derail his sanity?

Halloa! Halloa!

Two nights ago, he pushed through sleet
to shine a torch into the tunnel’s depths.

He saw nothing but the drip drip of ice,
nothing but rats chewing wires.

Halloa! Halloa!

The clock strikes three. He wakes.
Tunnel’s mouth is a frozen scream.

He missed a call from his Controller.
His concentration switches from on to

off to on, on to off . . .
The signal is stuck on red.

Halloa! Halloa!

Why does he hear the screech
of wheels? He steps into darkness again.

The tunnel’s mouth is a frozen scream.

Dickensian Poetry: Dickensian Heart by Nicola Hulme

Fog smothered streets lead one way
meandering through grime-coated alleyways
down to the pit of the darkest souls
to the soup of the Thames were smugglers roam.

Tales are told through snarls and barks
of miserly men with coal for hearts
shared ‘round smouldering fireplaces
of shoeless urchins with sooted faces.

Glimpses of light in tear-filled eyes
purest hearts sighing sad goodbyes.
Injustices held up for all to see
in courthouses, ale houses and guillotine scenes.

Brides mould like old wedding cake,
villians plot and bodies ache,
cartwheels thunder along stormy tracks,
quaking stowaways hid amongst sacks.

The religious snubbed for self-satisfaction
the lowly revered for purest intentions
CD writes truth for all to see
his words heart-engraved for eternity.

Inky Interview Special: Author Nicola Hulme

Inkphrastica: Beneath The Tree by Nicola Hulme (Words) Mark Sheeky (Watercolour)

Inkphrastica: Wax by Nicola Hulme & Just So Greek by John F. Keane: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Inkphrastica: City Of Promise by Nicola Hulme (Words) Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Inkphrastica: The Sunset Years: Nicola Hulme (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Dickensian Poetry: MR DICKENS’ Q & A SESSION WITH NEURODIVERSITY by Lavinia Murray

I breathe on my spectacles
I read through hugger mugger fug
I am autistic             Mr Dickens
my fingers flock through ruminative soot-strake
from a breath-blown candle

I pick the wick
to the smearing fog of an elderly Christmas Eve
to the grubby to the grubbed
to the Gabriel Grubb, sexton, lantern and spade.
He’s murdering icicles on the church lych gate
icicles: the shut-stump shadows of the spire
each one sharp as an attitude, an elbow

Grubb’s boot-print stitches the snow round Jacob Marley’s grave
tacks Little Dorrit’s Certainty of the Life to Come
Little Dorrit buried in her bonnet. Ah.
Grubb regards her soul as a Christmas Pudding
rocking in its muslin bag          wishes stirred into her
along with the silver sixpence saved from her debtor father

and Grubb, nobody and nothing are saved from his exaggeration
him morose as damp pepper, frost in sinews on his hat

the fog becomes steam built into an engine
knocking and shifting the headstones
as if they were pistons

and sometimes
a glimpse of a moon too young to travel far
a pod of white kidskin
a single crooked finger on a fallen glove

lost as the lit church windows pour their glutinous application
on the ancient yew
so its branches rise like a staircase built into a giant’s club
Oh? So nothing is as it is Mr Dickens?
nothing not one thing is left
in the solitude of the single thought           Mr Dickens?
all is one thing winking back and forth to several        Mr Dickens?
to emotion and emotion and emotion?
to Premonition’s ammunition, Intuition Mr Dickens?
Mr Dickens? Mr Dickens? Oh.
I’ll have to take your word for it.

Inky Interview Exclusive: Award Winning Dramatist Lavinia Murray

Poetry Drawer: Moomintroll Buys It by Lavinia Murray

Pantry Prose: Eat At The Weather! You Chin-Tie Fanfold Rainhood Squadron Member You! by Lavinia Murray

Inkspeak: Quick Fisted Blizzard by Lavinia Murray

Yuletide Poetry: Alle-YULE-yah! by Lavinia Murray

Yuletide Poetry: Pysgod yn Wibli Wobli (Welsh for jellyfish) by Lavinia Murray

Inky Flash Fiction Spring Competition 2018: Winner: A Deuce Of Spring Brides by Lavinia Murray

Pantry Prose: A Taxi Made Of Mouths by Lavinia Murray

Dickensian Poetry: The Song of the Child Who Slept by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

To never wake again,
leave me in endless sleep
in my childhood dreams,
the ones that did not come true.
Those dreams are best.
It doesn’t get better.
Please let me rest, leave me
to my slumbering ways.

Where is the boy left behind?
No one came to save him.
The good and kind boy,
he went on one day
into the fire. He was so safe
at night, when he slept
heavy in a jungle of dreams,
never weary, sound asleep.

Where is that child now?
I do not see him.
It has been many years
since he crossed the desert.
The honest child has gone.
He would lay his lonely head
to rest and dream. He wanted
to live in those dreams forever.

Where is that child now?
He has been left alone
in the wild. Thrown to the
wolves, drowned in despair,
all he wanted to do was to lay down,
put his head on a pillow
and dream on and on.
Where has the child gone?

Dickensian Poetry: The Snowbride by Mark Sheeky

Flakes fall, a lead glitter
in terminal weep
among mouse skulls, asleep
in a fantasy heaven.

Deep eyes hold their coal
in her resting snow,
a taffeta landscape of dead love,
caged by spiders’ palaces
woven from a heart-wool cloud of not-to-be,
frozen among yellow’d confetti.

And as a century rolls,
time is frozen, like bronze bells’ breath in air,
capturing in glass a sense of hope from a dream past;
each unbite of cake an unkiss,
undreamed,
awaiting a pane to shock and crack,
and a spring sunshine
to melt her.