Poetry Drawer: At Exit 50; The Shade Oak; Wedding Song by Robert Demaree


On the interstate
Vacant property
Unsold for twelve years:
Once a gentlemen’s club,
Topless waitresses,
Who knows what else;
Later a stand-alone church
(That’s my term—they called it
A Worship Centre),
God’s sense of fair play,
Pastor charismatic but unschooled,
Divorce counselling,
Choir accompanied by bass guitar.
Seller motivated,
Will renovate for new owner.
Builders of big boxes
Wait in the wings.


Our friend’s husband, now deceased,
Had suggested cutting down
The oak at the water’s edge.
Would improve our view of the mountain,
He thought, but we prefer
Shelter from the high
Hazy sun of July,
The private rise and fall of inner tubes
On the waves of passing boats,
Hidden from jet skiers.
Each year I trim back dead branches;
Our grandchildren grasp the stubs
Like subway straps.
We watch from the porch
When a fisherman’s line
Gets snarled in leaves
Weighed down by a predawn rain.
We did not like Wilbur all that much,
To tell the truth.
We did not cut down the tree
And would not, even if the state allowed,
Content to float in the shade
And picture the mountain
From memory.


Soft light through Spanish moss,
White chapel on a sea island:
We have gathered over many miles and years,
Her law school friends, his cousins from Kent.
His precious little girl bears flowers.
The organist quietly plays Beethoven, Rachmaninoff,
Then, with boldness, Jeremiah Clarke,
Melodies that tell of the tenacity of love,
How it can sometimes get delayed,
How it will come back again,
How love persists, prevails.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published 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: Five Poems by Chinese Poet Yuan Hongri, translated by Manu Mangattu

The Coast of Time

In the pink and white golden words
Of the day outside the garden of gods
Is the hometown of thy soul.
Far before the world was born

The prehistoric giants in gold
Engraved the epic of times to be born
To tell thee, from outer skies the city of the giant
Will once again come to the coast of time


粉红色 白色 金色的词语


The Prehistoric Giants

I live in the very eyes of the stone
I am the light of the light,
The core of the universe.
Out of water and fire I emerge
Yes, churning water, turning fire.
There was a time, in black and white, when
The space of the galaxy was resplendent with colours.
The world is a book of dreams
The city of the future is above the clouds.
The prehistoric giants thence I saw
They are solemn as mountains
Living in the city of gold, transparent in body,
Synchronous with the sun and the moon and the stars.


我是光之光 宇宙的中心
于是有了时间 黑与白
透明的身体 旋转日月星辰

The Temple of the Gods

Original words –
A picture of the heart and the spirit
A breeze blowing through the silent music
That which grows in the palm of your hand
The sun, the moon and the stars singing in form
God’s bosom, the ups and downs of the earth
The river is fragrant sweet nectar of life.
Original words are stars in the night sky
Shining bright and light upon the soul.
Plaiting along the bridge of light
Can arrive at the Temple of the Gods.



Golden and Transparent

When the dainty of dawn lights up your body
You shall see the golden country in stone.
The Giant is walking in the sky
His hand holds aloft a Diamond City.
In the garden outside the sky
The other one robed in transparent gold;
He’s smiling at you.
And behind him, is a huge palace.


巨人在天空行走 手托一座钻石之城
那另一个你 金色透明

Flash of the Giant

When I walk the City
I shall hold it in my hand.
Blowing a breath to make it transparent.
So I saw it in the future:
The Gem edifice, a flash of the giant.
The stars cling to their bodies
As if from another universe
So I know that the sea will be sweet
And the earth will be noble as gold.


吹一口气 让它透明
宝石的巨厦 闪光的巨人

Hongri Yuan, born in China in 1962, is a poet and philosopher interested particularly in creation. Representative works include Platinum City, Gold City, Golden Paradise, Gold Sun and Golden Giant. His poetry has been published in the UK, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria.


Poetry Drawer: Fables of The Foolish Crow: Little Sony by Saikat Gupta Majumdar

The Foolish Crow

‘How nice you sing’
The clever fox told
To see a crow with a piece of meat
In his mouth to hold.

‘How sweet is your voice?’
He again said
‘Sweeter than the cuckoo’
‘Lovely to hear’ he added

And he pleaded
‘Sing a song dear crow’
As the crow’s heart melted
And he tried to sing
The meat fell down below.

The Little Sony

Sony was the girl
Small and nice,
She could not be quiet for a while
And denied all she did with a clever smile,
While kids played with the ball
Sony was found on the ice.

She ran up the stairs often
And fell down below thrice,
All was helpless to the naughty Sony
She fed the cats her bread and honey,
Only Mom cooled her down tutting twice.

No things unbroken the little Sony left
All felt comfort while she slept
Instead of toys, she played with mice,
She was the little Sony, naughty but nice.

Poetry Drawer: Moonshine and Matches by Susan Mahlburg

Moonshine and Matches
Syncopated in smooth
Rhythms; a smoulder, a crack,
A flicker that dances with the
Intensity of evergreen sap on
A rainy, September Sunday.
Which is not at all blazing
But still it somehow roars with
Turpentine toxicity, tickling
The pine-addled fancy of
Lazy haze and cabin dreams.

Consumed in stillness,
Hidden beneath a
Kindled soul.

Ink Pantry Yuletide Poetry Competition 2018: Charles Dickens: Adult’s Category: Winner: Linda Cosgriff

An Open Letter To Mr Charles Dickens, Because He Let Me Down by Linda Cosgriff

It was the best of first lines, it was the worst of first lines.
It started well but, Chuck, it was a paragraph in before
you had your first period. What the Dickens were you thinking?
[Don’t roll your eyes, Reader; it had to be said, and now it’s out of the way.]
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie: stop dragging it out.

You name the year so many times, I think you may have lost your head a little.
But wait! A Mysterious Stranger; A Smelly Coach; A Misty Night.
A page-and-a-half of a minor character’s censure of his boss – miles away,
I might add, from anyone with the capacity to give him the kicking
he so clearly deserves. Boz, it’s bleak.

We reach the hotel. Swell. Things look up: A Gorgeous Girl joins the cast
(blonde, naturally), but is immediately rendered insensible.
Reprehensible, Charles. This reader wants to like her
but she’s quickly catatonic and it’s clear her liaison with the Stranger
is strictly platonic.
                                I’m sorry: our mutual friend has now been formally introduced as Mr Lorry. I want no truck with him. He’s brown; he’s dull;
he has no business being in one of your novels. Habitually brilliant,
you have mislaid your talent here. You appear to have chuzzled
your wits, Chip. I’m smarting.

And so to Chapter Five: French proles guzzle wine-stroke-mud from the gutter.
No good will come of it (the aforementioned and mentioned and mentioned
Year refers). The writing is definitely on the wall; the peasants whine for blood.
It’s seedy, CD; a tale not too pretty and – so far – not at all witty.
There’s no mystery, you see, except for one: why did you write it?

Here’s a curiosity: Charles Darnay has your name and initials.
You could have shopped around a bit. If he’s anything like you,
however, I bet he gets the girl.
And so it’s hard times for Sydney Second-Best Carton;
frustration for this reader: I wanted a twist. He should have boxed clever.

Chaz, I picked up your book with great expectations
but you left me with a dreadful impression.
Perhaps I’ll watch the film instead.
It would be a far, far better thing to do.

Inkphrastica: Warning by Linda Cosgriff (Words) Mark Sheeky (Watercolour)

Inkphrastica: 20th Century Faux by Linda Cosgriff (Words) Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Inkphrastica: The Leveller by John F. Keane & The Reveal, When It Came, Surprised Him by Linda Cosgriff: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Inkphrastica: Parhelic Circle: Linda Cosgriff (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Ink Pantry Yuletide Poetry Competition 2018: Charles Dickens: Adult’s Category: Highly Commended: John Keane

The Hunter by John Keane

He snared in words whole decades of a land,
The manners, morals, customs of a time;
His foot-worn city paved with contraband,
Its cunning commerce and its ways of crime;
Each book contained a vision caught with ease,
A tiny world-scape in a rounded glass
Replete with London fog and weathered trees,
The shadows furtive in its lights of gas.
Just weigh each hefty volume in your palm
And feel the world within; old London Town
In festive snow, with Ebenezer’s dreams;
Or bloody Paris in its time of harm;
The pits of joyless toil, unloved, unknown;
The hulks of sorrow looming down the Thames.

Inky Interview Special: Poet John Keane

Inkphrastica: The Fairy-Feller’s Systems Failure: John Keane (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

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

Inkphrastica: The Leveller by John F. Keane & The Reveal, When It Came, Surprised Him by Linda Cosgriff: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Books From The Pantry: ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’: Complied and Edited by Isabelle Kenyon for MIND: Reviewed by Claire Faulkner

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’, published by Fly on The Wall Poetry, is a stunning and unique collection of poems about mental illness.

The book is divided into sections, the idea being that the sections grow with positivity, and that by the end of the book, you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sections are untitled, and the reader is invited to name them.

I wasn’t sure how I would react to this collection. How would it make me feel? Would I enjoy it reading it? Mental illness can be a difficult subject, and as this collection shows, it affects us all in different ways. The poems cover a wide range of topics including; depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.

If I had read the poems individually, and at different times, the collection may not have had such an impact on me. But brought together and presented this way, I found the anthology powerful, inspirational and at times quite emotional. I can guarantee that there will be at least one poem included in this collection which every single reader can relate to.

It’s a strong and beautiful book. Thoughtfully and courageously edited by Isabelle Kenyon. The more I read, the more I appreciated the poets who contributed their words, emotions and bravery.

The opening poem ‘Battle’ by Bethany Gordon, highlights the unwanted struggle, and is a poignant introduction for this collection ‘Mental illness / is a battle I never agreed to fight.’

There are so many outstanding poems, to mention only a few seems to do an injustice to the others which I can’t fit into a single review. I enjoyed the strong imagery which runs throughout the anthology, and I found Angela Topping’s poem ‘Deferment’, about bereavement and personal belongings, particularly effective. ‘Grief is a cruel handbag – / its catch snaps shut like jaws.’ The poem makes us question how we deal with grief, and if we opened that bag what we might find. ‘…It cannot be thrown away. / Best hide it in the bottom of the wardrobe / an unexploded bomb.’

‘Black Rot’ by Andrew Barnes describes the onset and ongoing fight with depression. ‘She throws her arm around my shoulder, / pins me down until action weeps from me, / creeps back in the morning to stop me rising. // Depression is a friendly face, / she takes her time with me, / lets me shuffle on.’

‘On the Shelf’ by Jacqueline Pemberton is about escaping unhealthy thoughts and relationships. Emphasising finding inner courage and strength. ‘And I knew he’d got it wrong, / He was the damaged one / Made small with spite, / He wasn’t worth the fight.’

Some of these poems, by their very nature and subject, are a challenging read. However, you will also find some that they are inspirational, courageous and many have important messages about mental illness and societies’ reaction to it.

‘Blue Square with White ‘F’ in the Middle’ by Jade Moore is one of my favourites from this collection and details the impact and addiction to social media. The language used is direct and unapologetic, powerful and effective. The poem cleverly recognises our love hate relationship with social media, our desire to belong and our fear of failure. ‘There’s a button with the whole world on its face / and I click it and wonder if I’ve stopped the human race.’

I’m glad I read this collection. It was thought-provoking and inspiring.

Proceeds from the sale of ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ go to UK Mental Health Charity Mind.

You can purchase copies from:



Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky


In deep sleep
     a sudden rush
                         of wings
     a swirl
of golden light
     with black

Heart hurts
Deep roots
         ripped   out
  in one fell swoop

O Mother
I was in
were in
            until that


in sleep
in dark

Go in one


of body’s husk
brain’s dread

knotted you

So much got lost
your laughter on the phone
your sturdy feet

on the path around the lake
the mischief in your eyes
harks back

to the last millennium
the time
between the wars

brief peace
you were a laughing girl


I ask the persimmon tree
You've harvested all
my fruit     What else
do you want?

I ask the dead leaves
on the garden path
"Where did she go?"

we crackle
under your feet   dry
as bones   long past
fall colors  empty vessels
for the wind

I ask the mountain
"Where is my mother?"
Here, says the rock
Here, says the scrub oak

Here, says the cloud
shrouding the peak
with one fell swoop
crow caws

Wake up   you fool
She's right behind you
pulling your wings down
lifting your head    to the sky

Your mother is
 your spine


In the dream I see
bright-red blood
a bloody show?

a miscarriage?
like the two   you had
before me?

You are a lake
I'm trying to
walk around

The path goes boggy
the reeds threaten
to pull me in

You are breaking up
mother    falling
into pieces   of a child's

fell swoop
a child's lost
loop   or perhaps

you are    the sap of
Our mother tree
Our body of blood

Our body of water
Our body of laughter
Our body of roots


I could tell you
the Women's March


Would you
get that

when   in fell swoops

in loops   of language
I explain
                   pussy hats?

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Berkeley, CA, and the Poetry and Fiction Editor of Psychological Perspectives, which is published by the Los Angeles Jung Institute.

Naomi’s “Madelyn Dunham, Passing On” won first prize in the Obama Millennium Contest. She has also won the Blue Light Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her work has been widely published and has appeared, or is forthcoming in Argestes, Backwards City Review, Barely South Review, Blue Lake Review, Bogg, Cadillac Cicatrix, California Quarterly, The Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, The Chaffin Journal, Circle Show, Compass Rose, Comstock Review, Crack the Spine, Darkling, decomP, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Dogwood Review, Drunk Monkeys, Earth’s Daughters, Eclipse, ellipsis…literature and art, Emprise Review, Euphony, Evening Street Review, Fourth River, Freshwater, Front Porch, G.W. Review, Ginosko, Ibbetson Street Press, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Juked, Left Curve, Lindenwood Review, Mantis, Meridian Anthology Of Contemporary Poetry, Minetta Review, Monkeybicycle, Nassau Review, Origins Journal, The Penmen Review, The Pinch, Poem, Prick of the Spindle, poetrymagazine.com, Quiddity, Qwerty, Rattle, Reed Magazine, Runes, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of The Arts, Serving House Journal, Shark Reef, Ship of Fools, Sierra Nevada Review, SLAB, Sliver of Stone, Soundings East, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Stand, Stickman Review, The Texas Review, Tiger’s Eye Journal, Tightrope, Verdad, Visions International, Weber Studies, Westview, Whistling Shade, West Trestle Review, Wild Violet, Willow Review, and in the anthologies Child of My Child, When the Muse Calls, and The Book of Now. Her fourth poetry collection is called The Faust Woman Poems.

Poetry Drawer: Four Poems by Dr. Susie Gharib

A Blue-Winged Thought

A blue-winged thought navigated round my fingertip,
then cast its anchor at the foot of the lethargic quill
that in my hand had stood for hours so transfixed.

The ink that in stagnant wells had congealed
began to ripple with Osirian zeal
irrigating with words my yawning sheets.

With aquamarine, azure, and Egyptian blue
my consonants and vowels were imbued,
genetic hues.


I’ve never wanted to be a politician,
a social worker, or a shrink,
a saviour in the miraculous sense,
a superwoman, a clairvoyant, or Merlin.
But my students keep on asking me:
How can we make the future a better thing?
So with my propensity to philosophize,
I answer: start with foetuses,
how they are impregnated,
because the semen of love is the foundation of a healthy citizen.
Annul social contracts that have infested marriages,
then build a mother who is devoid of prejudice.
She does not only suckle babies white fluids.
Her every pore exudes her beliefs and feelings,
to be imbibed by her infants.

Make religion an affair of the heart,
the inner light within.
Erase it from documents.
Stop segregating school-pupils
each according to inherited creeds,
to abolish sectarianism.

When hunger and pestilence stalk continents,
why spend trillions on ships to navigate galaxies!
Why enthuse the public with enmities
against potential adversaries,
the Aliens,
as if civil and international wars are not enough distraction.

They claim they have abolished racism,
discrimination at work, of gender, of skin.
I suggest they start with the family and establishments,
the nuclei of favouritism.

Prune and preen your media missions,
your visual images,
the sounds which kill from a distance,
make it a tool of pacification
and not of perennial division.

The Word-Shields

Your steps recede
into the uncharted leas,
I hearken to the retreating echoes in a state of disbelief.
How dare you leave?
The man who looked death in the eye has disappeared.

You thought I use hyperbole in speech
but wait till you view with the second sight granted to the deceased
my grief water every vein that steaks your grave
until new blood seeps into your dissolving heart,
my tears.

Wait till you see your eyes bloom into fleur-de-lis
to float on the surface of every word I out-breathe,
endowing the shields of my words with heraldic miens.

Apart From

Apart from Sir Sean Connery, the sage
and the antiquarian Nicholas Cage
what would be your perfect catch?
The Roger Moore of The Persuaders,
or the Kevin Costner of Dances With Wolves?
A Scottish,
or wolf-dancing match!

Apart from Auden’s Funeral Blues
and the bards’ of the Yorkshire moors,
with what type of verse do you converse?
With Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
or with Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol ?
The hyperbolic,
or penitent strain!

Apart from the wall-breaking Pink Floyd’s
and the sensuous sinuousness of Depeche Modem
to what type of music are you attuned?
To the Arthurian leitmotifs of erudite Era,
or the expansive vistas of Massive Attack?
A psychedelic,
or transfiguring bent!

Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Since 1996, she has been
lecturing in Syria. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide
Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, the Pennsylvania Literary
Journal, The Blotter, Mad Swirl, Leaves of Ink, Down in the Dirt,
WestWard Quarterly, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Crossways 4, A New
Ulster, The Moon Magazine, the Mojave River Review, The Opiate, Always
Dodging the Rain, Coldnoon, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine.