Poetry Drawer: Permanent Segments by R. Gerry Fabian

Once
She asked how
powder was made
and he replied
from the eyes of goldfish.

Another time
they played fictional characters.
He was Stanley Kowalski

In one of those
paper thin moments
that psychologists journalise,
she asked him
‘Will you ever love me?’
He told her,
‘The Big Dipper held the answer.’

Today her home contains
an aquarium,
the complete works of Tennessee Williams
and a skylight in the bedroom.

The man that she married
doesn’t understand
why she looks out the skylight
when they make love.

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.

Zines From The Pantry: Butcher’s Dog Magazine (Issue 11) reviewed by Claire Faulkner

I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of Issue 11 of Butcher’s Dog Magazine recently, and what a wonderful present it was. Butcher’s Dog publishes two magazines a year, each issue has an original art cover and features up to 25 exceptional poems. Issue 11 was edited by Dr Jo Clement, Will Barrett and Ali Lewis.

As a magazine, it’s beautifully made. The cover piece by Qi Fang is awash with soft blues, purples and pinks. It feels lovely to read. The poems flow and work together, supporting each other but still have their own identity and voice.

The thrill of getting publications like this is the introduction to new poets you might not have read or discovered before, and there are some outstanding poems in this issue.

I have read my copy several times now, it has accompanied me on train journeys up and down the country. Each time I found a new favourite, a new meaning or a new interpretation of one of the poems. Which makes this a difficult review to write. The poems I mention in this review are the ones which captured me somehow, or which stayed with me long after my train journeys were over.

Even the dedication of this issue captured my soul and made me wonder about Buckley. I can picture the joyful dog at the beach with his “…golden tail held high, / face to face with the ocean’s spray.”

Sheep in flood by Iain Twiddy is a beautiful piece of writing centred around nature, memory and loss. There’s an urgency in the structure and language used, which to me emphasises the strength and struggle in both life and death.

“…You pulled it in, your ninety-year-old forearms
and shoulders and spine, dragged at that boulder,
slippy as rock moss, heaved it, gripping, up
through the mud, then gasped back into the bank,
panting in the mist, your heart a shudder
thumped again when it instantly upped
onto its stump-black legs and ran off…”

Armistice Day by Victor Buehring captures the moment of a two-minute silence with vivid clarity, but could also be questioning the readers perception of peace within society today.

Your daughter is looking for you in the library by Claire Collison, completely entered my imagination. I enjoyed the structure of the poem, and how imagery was used to search for someone within items and documents. There’s a haunting quality to this piece, and by the end I could see into that microscope. 

“…Your daughter couldn’t work out your brass microscope

                                                                                                root tip of hyacinth

so we can’t see what you saw

                                                                                                blood smear

in slides the size of sticking plasters –

                                                                                                pike scales

all that you gave up,

                                                                                               Spiracle (side) Dytiscus

under glass.”

Two elephants in a room by Tom Sastry struck me the moment I read it. It’s both beautiful and dark at the same time.

“…I did see a mirror.
I saw what a mirror makes me feel.
I didn’t understand it.
I had no use for it…”

Is this poem about seeing the truth, self-identity or survival? It’s a striking piece of writing, with a well-deserved place in a strong and inspiring magazine.

I could go on and on about this issue of Butcher’s Dog Magazine, instead I recommend that you seek a copy out for yourself, dive in headfirst and see what gems you find for yourself. You can find out more information on Butcher’s Dog or Twitter

Poetry Drawer: Imagination Dance by Hunter Boone

You started it
by wearing the slinky
tigress outfit
the one that snaked over your hips
to lay bare
your tawny body
beneath liquid cellophane.
I have no idea
why I did not have enough sense
to leave you
where I found you –
in the contortionist’s cage
on Times Square
where you always humped your best
in front of an audience to the beat
of a long line of mule-eyed
protagonists.
“Their numbers are as the stars in the sky.”

Poetry Drawer: Ms. Alligator by Hunter Boone

She had the emotional presence of a toothpick, the personality of a comatose eel…

A woman I desired
read Antigone
which she encouraged me to do, so I
did. When I came upon ‘Teiresias’ I said,
“I can’t spell that,” she said,
“Look it up.” Somewhere.

She became that woman
you wouldn’t expect –
out of proportion
to everything else.

When she moved
her body slid –
of a piece – which caused a problem.
The ground upon which she walked
swayed and swelled
people running,
different directions
up and down the boulevard
while the other women – kinder,
nobler, gentler
with foreign accents
showed themselves open,
not nearly as dubious –
yet this one stuck
hardened to her molten core –
sad – yet oh so beautiful
in a glittering sort of way

beckoning, surreal, blue
tourmaline eyes
that rolled back into her head
as she spoke
incomprehensible
and inhuman things –
enticements thick with ice,
this sorry sophist and enigmatic soul
you couldn’t poke through
though I tried many times.

Poetry Drawer: The monster outside: Old Fools: Scent of the Ancient Ball: Signature: Song of the grave by Fabrice Poussin

The monster outside

The skin is thick and deep with grey
pleading for a little joy in shades of pink
the soul is blank and hollow in darkness
asking for a little warmth in tones of stars
the heart is silent and still rainbow monochrome
begging for a life-giving little jolt of blue
the bones are frozen, attached in ice clear
aching aloud for a reprieve of flesh of warm red
a mind hovers inside in fiery lament
wanting only for a bit of hours to exist
yet it is only a grunt unheard of the colourful ones
in the prison of the lone, the sentence is eternal
the death remains of nauseating flavours
the living will once again keep safe distance.

Old Fools

The bus will be late again this Sunday
under the century mist on a cold winter bench
old fools must wait, their gaze upon a gate
to a paradise invisible to the passers-by.

The city sleeps still in a shroud of oblivion
lives have slipped into their temporary tomb
worn to pieces by the inferno of infinite routines
while last trees cry dying leaves upon the icy pavement.

The two might sleep for a little while
he holding tight onto the shiny tank
she dragging on a greyish cloud of ash
ancient as the traditions graved on monuments.

Unseen, living in the wrinkly bubble of their age
they seek the hesitant gaze of the other
memories built upon the fresh bones of infants
a smile shy as a fleeting moment escapes the universe.

They laugh no more to the keen eye of the observer
the flesh has fallen off the crackling frames
leaving senseless messages of passed lives
upon the pavement welcoming to their shameless survival.

The decades have built fortresses around their secrets
shriveled breasts kindly placed onto an altar
still beat with the passion of a single score
carrying too many years to count, they love for all times.

Scent of the Ancient Ball

There is a dim ray of a future behind the cracks of the ramparts
sounds emanate from the twirling shapes of silken whites
while the stone burns with the icy flames of the prison.

To be part of this strange ball but a dream in the depths
inhaling fumes of a past reverie poison or elixir
aiming to taste what remains of the ghostly dance.

The heavy oaken gate persists in its temerity
its lock rusted melts into torrents of a bloody paste
no drawbridge will again annihilate the cruel moat.

It is a tower of ivory, mother of pearl, diamond and silver
treasure for the hungry to be consumed perhaps too late
where she is surrounded by the death-defying maidens.

Centuries go by, she continues in her light genuflection
hands joined in a prayer searching only communion
one with all, pure of soul as once of body.

Signature

The presence is signed on the old photograph hanging
there on the left wall, by the window built of trusted
hands, while outside the tree wants attention.

He too can write on the pane of the ancient glass.

Finger prints on the side of the redwood desk, tend
to the forgotten elbow, never fully able to rest on
the worn-out couch, trampoline for young charm.

It hoped its future would be of leather; but not so.

The room screams with memories it alone keeps safe;
the air is filled with sparring souls attempting an accord;
freckles of dust, sparks of their little power inflamed.

Wishing they had landed on the feature of a Mona Lisa.

Unwilling to shine, the lamp, secure under her banged shade,
would like to jump at them and empower their dying light,
while planted on the thinning carpet, they remain quiet.

Waiting for another moment, another time, to become.

Song of the grave

The stone is barren
it was once broken
slate
now it awaits.

Cold it may seem
yet warm in truth
smooth and perfect
it shines as many stars.

The rock draws
like a magnet
light rains
as so many tears.

Let fall come
and a palette
of colours in oils and pastels
it will glow in the fog.

Winter snow
flakes glitter and blind
forever lasting chagrin
a wonder smooth as granite.

The river runs near
singing it melody
murmur of hope
in eternity renewed.

The sun returns
lighting its fire
life is reborn
on a single tomb.

Inky Interview: Elisabeth Horan with Isabelle Kenyon

Isabelle Kenyon (Freelance Editor, Book Marketing Consultant, and Managing Director of Fly On The Wall Press) interviews Elisabeth Horan on
her new book, Was It R*pe  (Rhythm and Bones Press)

How do you brand yourself as an author?

Experimental, feminist. I write about women for women. I would say I am an advocate for mental health and I’m brave in my writing – I say things to the world that I’ve never been able to say without my pen and paper. I write to increase awareness – for example, my debut collection, Bad Mommy Stay Mommy, with Fly on the Wall Press, increases awareness of postpartum depression. I feel like I am a loving and caring poet and that when I write it is a gift, I want the poems to do a job and make a difference. They express my identity as a mom and the mistakes I have made in my life are part of who I am.

What drove you to write Was It Rape?

I started writing it during the week Christine Blasey Ford was giving her testimonial to the court. It brought back memories of when I was 16 and was a victim of sexual assault. It was hard to hear – the pain of watching led me to an intense period of writing. I realised if she was brave enough to stand up in court and give that testimony that I could write a book about my experiences.

Do you think your poetry stands alone or is it essential to know something of your back story?

I think it can stand alone. But if you know personally, it becomes more intense – If you know my vulnerability the experience digs deeper. Often I have friends who find it too painful to read my work. But I have to write my truth. I like to think the message I try to share with others – to hold on keep hope alive, and that sense of solidarity is universal and can stand alone.

Do you think it is important to speak publicly about personal traumas?

It’s important to write so that readers know they are not alone in their experiences. So much of my life I allowed to be dictated by my past trauma. I’m not a person who deals with trauma well – it’s not a choice – it’s led by my sensitive nature. I see the beauty, but life is interwoven with pain. This comes out in my writing. It’s just who I am. It’s what I know about and feel the most.

Which writers and artists influence you and why?

I have always admired Frida Kahlo since I became aware of her in college. I studied in Mexico for a time and connected with her deeply. I endured a miscarriage, and ensuing hysterectomy and equally, Frida survived so much pain but continued creating art. I just have huge admiration, respect, love and care for her. I have undertaken to write ekphrastic poems about her art and her life as a tribute to her.

Inpatient

I think my room was No. 14
one time my pastor came

I think his name was Mark
he came to visit
I suppose to bless me
and the nurses, they asked me

May he come in

And I didn’t know what to do
so I said no
he cannot
but I have wondered
all these 24 years since

Might I have succumbed to Jesus;
might I have been reborn,
maybe even saved
on the life raft that
religion has
the propensity
to relay

I would’ve saved all
that disgusting food
the hangovers –

All that wasted energy
from trying to kill myself
so stupidly,
so slowly.

Mark, the pastor
came to visit and
in fear of Man/God’s eye
on my – body

On my sin.
I never opened the door
to let him in.

Poetry Drawer: Stoned by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Our ayatollah looks at me with contempt
He put me in charge of stoning
an adulteress

I found a good wall to set her against
but I’d forgotten to see to the stones
Someone had come and taken them to repair the wall
that surrounds his olive grove

So there we were
all ready to execute her
and no stones

The ayatollah looked like he wanted to
beat me to death
with his bare fists
but he was old and frail

Instead he exiled me
and the harlot too
The villagers took hold of our arms
and legs
and tossed us out the village gate
slammed it shut behind us

We looked out at the desert
turned and looked at each other

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: Your Flea Market by John Grey


A box of old record albums –
Billy Joel,
Donny Osmond,
The Eagles,
Partridge Family –
ugh.

And the covers are worn,
the vinyl is scratched –
no one’s going to buy these
even at 50c apiece.

Same as that ratty Cabbage Patch doll.
Or the Miami Vice lunch box.
Or those clothes – so 80’s.
And the invisible dog – please.

No wonder there’s been no sales.

This is your past.
The present’s not buying it.

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.

Inky Interview Special: John Grey, Australian Poet, USA resident

Poetry Drawer: An Awkward Meeting in a Coffee House by John Grey

Poetry Drawer: Two Poems by John Grey

Poetry Drawer: You’re Lost In The Airwaves by R. Gerry Fabian

Play no sad songs for me.
I’ve lived for the last moment.
It’s been gone and come again
And yet, you come to me
A little too late for a love campaign.
When do we love tomorrow?

The sound of an orphan saxophone
Argues with the early marsh morning.
“Go away with more than a kiss.”
Select your argument with the insane.

If you cannot respect a sole dancer
Then know the words to the song.
So many of the poor, cold pretenders
In habit the hour against the minute.
Do not seek quiet bashful advice.

In an explosion second of sunrise
The drunken sincere pale graduate
Offers you the scent of dew lilacs.
Resurrect the final lost late movie
As you imagined the fast hot dialogue
And encompass the dual possibility.

If the satin mistake is of the desperate
Then you will hear it repeated in radio popularity.
To pretend is a stubborn, stale reflex
That is suddenly discovered as an ash cigarette
Gone like the push button radio disc jockey.

With a flick of a smile
Tossed like a fifty dollar littering fine
In the caution lane of a super highway
I’ve seen the wrong side of a summer full moon
And the high tide has pulled the depth
So that I find one last jukebox dollar
And taste the after hour bitter liquid
In the reflection of your
So often visited …once in a lifetime
Terminal memory.

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 Masquerade, Getting 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: Like a little drum by D.S. Maolalai

settling in for a quick one:
evening,
and the sun is coming down
with the birds flapping to roost,
heads underwing
and feet
sunk into bellies like
water in a sponge.
and we are having drinks together,
eating
fried and salted
whitebait
(6 for 2 euros, dip on the side)
and we are happy.
your perfume smells
like flowers and strawberries
and your heart goes
like a little drum.
I can hear it from here,
tapping a rhythm
like an impatient man
with a coin at a shop counter.
sweet little heart
spilling with love,
happy
and swooping with the sunset.

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).