sitting here drinking watching apocalypse now for maybe the thousandth time
when i was younger
i was about the napalm in the morning
when i got older
i was martin sheen face painted, coming out of the water
now that i’m old
i’m fucking brando
isolated genius spewing madness into a microphone
waiting for someone to release me from the horror
so, if you ever come over and hear the end by the doors playing a little too loud
do yourself a favor and duck
i am the one
happiness is as elusive as a woman deciding i am the one
plenty think that at some point then, reality settles in
between the abuse, the poverty, the emptiness and despair
it certainly doesn’t look as rosy as before
and no one likes a dream that gets muddled with some real life shit
brace for impact
say hello to the most beautiful woman you know and brace for impact
one of these days
she might actually acknowledge your existence
the lucid skies of neon dreams
polluted with the endless worries of a population under attack
we have fallen
this is what happens when you refuse to learn from our history
the world he brought you into
every scar is a memory
engraved into your brain for posterity
every harsh word
every single time your father threatened to take you out of this world he brought you into
there aren’t enough drugs in the world that will allow you to escape the pain
but, there’s always a bullet
J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is currently trapped in suburbia, plotting his revenge. He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, and Chiron Review.His most recent chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press.You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights & Goodreads.
If blue is namely white and black is namely red and gold is transparent as crystal and light makes the soul smile forgetting the sun moon and stars and you were filled with wisdom, drunk for thousands of years and back to the prehistoric giant city and that giant is just like another me from the heavens by the lotus throne in the golden palace.
Tonight I thought of the platinum city above in distant space Where there is no day and night and the giants are interstellar travellers by spaceship Their words have the dignity of God and create the holy Kingdoms So that the pictures of the soul in the maze of memory lasts a billion years Standing by the azure sea near the great palace with swirling sweet music in the city of the gold
Prehistoric words of the gods are waking up in my body The platinum city from a strange planet is as if in a fantasy on the blue coast The giant men and women who walk by the light do not know trouble or sorrow There where the temple of the gods is in their heads, whose light is like wine flowing in the blood And the music of the stars sways gently around them, which is like the bath of the cool breeze on the earth The huge ship of stars which they have ridden can arrive at the other side of time To let you get a glimpse yourself yesterday in the future and in the divine light of fragrance
Yuan Hongri, 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.
Become a superb troubadour who loves an eaglet in the starry night full of autumn miracle fulfilled in the meek ontology!
Taste a beverage of holt-like fairies from a stunning tumbler – to wit the cranberry juice and some dew enchanted in the metaphysics!
Sit down near a propitious tumulus – where the archpriest of the ancient Druids was buried with first summer starling of epistemology!
Hum a weird-ravishing tune – whose words have been hidden in the oaken hole in medieval time full of the aesthetics!
Bee a pleasing trustee-friend of the King of Pixies – your magician of dawn bewitched by the Morning Star in a logical dreamery!
Give as a present a smattering of grand tulips – flowers consecrated for the Apollonianly miraculous dwarfs loving tender Zeus-like aesthetics!
Find out a gorgeous twig of a willow that was adored by the most romantic poet in his more tender poesy of historic ethics!
Carry a divine tunic of ancient sibyl of Artemis who liked the dreamy-meek butterfly of wood loving the stoicism!
My dreamiest Erlking!!! Tarry until the first moon-time from Ionic philosophy of nature! Enchant all morning starlings and evening starlets – the beings from dreamy muse’s hearts Yes – no woe – they belong to Apollon
Pawel Markiewicz was born 1983 in Poland (Siemiatycze). His English haikus and short poems are published by Ginyu (Tokyo), Atlas Poetica (USA), The Cherita (UK), Tajmahal Review (India) and Better Than Starbucks (USA). More of Pawel’s work can be found on Blog Nostics.
Here in the trees of people we hide from the sound of their wooden bones that crisp and creak we hear them whisper about us their voices control us the voices we speak to, type to, at night; they are trees. They are trees!
Their voices control us they shout as one they shout the trees shout the trees of people.
The trees of people silence us make us scream inside the trees make us scream.
Before surgery It had not occurred to me To tell the church, Have them put it in the bulletin, Make an announcement On Sunday morning. But the day after, On a brief, tentative Supervised stroll around the ICU I happened to see our pastor There to visit a parishioner Who would not be going home. Don came to my room And we visited a while, And he offered to say a prayer (Like a good lawyer, I thought, Representing your interests in court). And when he prayed, He did not say Be with Bob as he heals But rather he spoke of the goodness Of the world and life God has given us, Which sounds like good theology to me,
But with the other family, though, He may have used A different text.
The forty-pound kayak Slices across the pond To inspect new construction At Caleb’s old place. A woman on a paddle board Passes across my bow, No lifejacket. She could have had three kayaks For what she paid, Latest fad born of That unholy marriage of Marketing and design: People will buy it Because they can.
The framing is up. Already there’s a Seadoo on the dock. Caleb had hoped someone Would restore his parents’ house. Columns for a gated drive Have replaced the old colonial Where he grew up, Facing South Main Street, When this was another kind of town.
My friend, seventy-six, Three years my junior, Had been for his annual check-up. The doctor asked if he had A living will. Did she mean anything by that, I wondered. My friend, Professor and poet, Knows what John Donne knew, And Shakespeare, That we will encounter darkness like a bride And hug it in our arms, And, with Billy Collins, regards Poetry as “a megaphone Held up to the whispering lips of death.”
Try telling poets No more poems about death And they’re out of business. I read the obit page, I know the facts, see what happens, But I’m not buying it.
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.
It was always you, It was almost you, In all ways you, Always almost you.
Your sex-scent on the breeze That comes in through the window and mingles with the perspiration Of my lonely sheets. Your image just out of focus in my bedroom mirror. Every slamming door is you leaving. Every key jingling in a lock Is you arriving. Every car splashing along the wet road outside as I try to sleep Is you moving past me unaware.
Lying in torpor, staring at the cracks, Knowing you would heal them With the wild branches of your hair And the dark frigid oceans of your eyes, Holding me in the shiver Of beyond the second half of previously disused Lives. Contented in mirrors at last.
It will always be you, Almost you, In all ways you, Almost always you.
Before I Knew Love
I loved you before I knew you, Before I knew love, Before I breathed my first breath In this life. I loved you before my first concept of love And yet, here you are, Telling me love is something Reserved for those who pretend But I tell you this – Nothing I am and nothing I own And nothing I was matters to me Compared to your love Because before you Was before I could imagine, Reason or pretend. There was just me floating there, Yearning for your arms around me, Not knowing who you were But knowing I would know you When our paths finally crossed.
Now we are at a physical and emotional distance, Your body breathing without mine, Your heart beating without mine. Music plays here as I sit alone, Music I can no longer share with you The way we shared so much, But clearly not everything. I listen to this song and all I can think Is how much you would probably like it. Searching for you all those years, finding you, I imagined I would breathe my last breath Loving you as I did before my first And I will indeed love you when I shed this mortal coil And after But not the same. Not the same but I will.
As I am about to live again after this body dies I will likely love you again Before I breathe my first breath Just like I did before And before that. There is no choice. There is just what is.
Gentle and Fierce
She took my words close to her heart
And laughingly told me “You’re so gentle and fierce”
And then I pulled her close And gave her a kiss so savage and so tender She lost her breath
And she trembled all over, wet and melting like hot wax Against the force of my eyes and my body And my words and my lips and my loudly beating heart.
I Might As Well
I might as well shave my head. I might as well wear a necktie. I might as well turn off the music and get some sleep. I might as well stop writing about her. I might as well stop calling them on the phone. It’s a new day! A new me! A new day all about me! I might as well get laid. I might as well smoke cigars. I might as well not love. Loving is hard. Life is hard enough. I might as well tell you all that it’s time to be about me. I might as well shave my face clean, Buy a new suit and lose some weight, Waiting for the inevitable promotion or firing That will only lead to more opportunities In this wonderful America. I might as well stop crying. Tears have no worth. I’ll turn off the music now And turn in. I might as well get a good night’s sleep. I’ll shave my head tomorrow.
My Poems Arrive
My poems arrive At your doorstep, Sometimes one by one, Sometimes in a bundle. There can be weeks of silence And then they arrive, these paper boats with paper sails, One by one by one Onto your shore Under a dusky moonlight And a light steady rain.
You hear the knock on your door at 6 a.m. To find a poem questioning your love Or comparing your eyes to the moon reflecting off of The bottom of the sea. It must be disconcerting To potentially find undying love or petulant rage At your door at any given time. Often both.
My poems arrive Singly or by the dozen When you are making dinner Or taking a shower Or sleeping in your bed without me. Some come wrapped in ribbon, Some in undescriptive cardboard boxes, Some in plain brown wrappers
But they keep coming As relentlessly as the tide And, like the tide, There is no point in swimming Against them.
John Tustin started to write again in 2008 after a ten year hiatus and his published poetry can be found here.
Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English Literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching English as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course. She lives with her family in Berkshire. The Missing Girl is her first novel.
Jenny! Many thanks again for agreeing to answer some questions for
our Ink Pantry readers. Many are aspiring authors and I’m sure they
will learn a great deal from your experiences. May I start by asking
you about your childhood literary influences and what books in
particular gripped your attention?
was lucky enough to have parents who took me to the library when I
was a child and bought me books, which meant I gained an early
passion for reading. I loved Little
I moved on to Agatha Christie and when I was twelve, wrote my first
novel called The
It was a detective story influenced by Agatha Christie, of course. My
dad marked it and gave me an A. I went from there to Thomas Hardy,
the Brontës and Shakespeare and all the classics which I loved.
At what age did you begin writing seriously, in the knowledge that this could become a career, rather than a hobby, Jenny?
I wrote stories from a very early age, but confidence stopped me from believing that I had anything worthwhile to say, and then circumstance – work, family and other commitments – gained more importance. However, the need to write didn’t go away and in my early thirties after I had my first child, I felt that I would be forever unfulfilled if I didn’t do something about it. I joined a local creative writing group and started writing short stories. I entered competitions, had some success, and that spurred me on to start my first novel.
Your 2017 début novel, The Missing Girl, (published by Mantle Books) attracted a lot of positivity from the literary world. Can you tell us more about how the seeds of the idea began for this novel, and how long it took to piece everything together? Also, how daunting was this project initially?
The characters in The Missing Girl came to me first. Two sisters – the younger one, Anna, idolizing the older, more popular and outgoing, Gabriella. I imagined what they were like and put them in the context of their family and the village where they lived. I decided the story would be from Anna’s point of view and then considered what was going to happen. By then I had written two unpublished novels and was beginning to understand what themes and ideas I wanted to explore. I was interested in ordinary people who are affected by tragic events and how they manage to make sense of them. I considered what it would be like if Gabriella went missing. Often in news stories we mostly see the effects a missing child has on the adults of the family, but what must it be like for the siblings? How heartbreaking for a child to not know where their brother or sister has gone and whether they will ever come home? I had the characters and the idea, but still I was nervous about embarking on another novel. I had spent so long by then trying and failing to get published, so it seemed very daunting. However, it isn’t easy to ignore the urge to write and I’m glad that I didn’t because once I had immersed myself, the novel took about a year to complete and then another eighteen months or so of editing with my agent, and then my editor.
you have a particular framework for writing? For example, are you an
author who prefers pen and paper, or one who does everything on the
computer? Also, is there a set location you have chosen for your
generally write straight onto the computer and do many, many drafts.
Usually I write the whole novel quickly and it comes out quite short.
I then edit and rewrite and edit again, adding texture and colour and
depth. I have a very messy study at home where I work, but it is also
a walkway between the hall and the kitchen, so I’m constantly
interrupted by my family. I don’t mind really as I like to feel a
part of things, but my most productive time for writing is early in
the morning when everyone else is asleep, or when the house is empty.
currently inspires you creatively, both inside and outside of the
literary world? How important do you believe it is to receive
inspiration for writing, especially at an early age? What hopeful
words would you give to someone seeking to find a career within
the literary world, I am inspired by writers such as Kate Atkinson,
Maggie O’Farrell, Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters because they are
prolific and write great novels. Outside the literary world, I am
inspired by people who challenge the system – especially young
people who have the best sense of all. My children are young adults
now and they never fail to impress me with their good sense, humour
and outward view of the world. I think it’s important to have a
similar approach in everything you do, including writing.
do think it is an advantage to receive inspiration for your writing
at an early age, mainly through reading, however, many people don’t
have that opportunity and there is no reason that being inspired at a
later stage should make a difference. What’s important for every
author is to read as widely as possibly in order to understand how
writing a novel can be done.
greatest piece of advice for new writers is to persist. Ignore the
doubts you may have that your writing isn’t good enough, or that
you have nothing to say. Take small steps. If you are writing a
novel, think only about the paragraph you are writing, the page and
the chapter. If you consider how long the whole novel is going to
take you, it’s all too easy to give up. From my point of view,
nothing I have ever written has been wasted. I have reused
characters, ideas and themes many times. Another piece of advice is
to prioritise. It can be difficult when you have a job, a family or
other commitments, but try to find some time at some point in the day
or night which is for yourself and for your writing. I used to get up
at 5 o’clock in the morning for example – I still do, sometimes.
Make writing an important part of your life and above all give
yourself permission to write.
thanks Jenny for your insights. I know you have a new novel planned
for release in 2020, Our
Is there anything you can share about this, and what other creative
plans have you within the foreseeable future?
Our Dark Secret (Mantle Books) will be published in February 2020. It is another psychological mystery that focuses on two teenage girls, thrown together through circumstance, who form a bond based on the terrible secrets they share. It is about how decisions made in your youth can affect your whole life. It’s about sacrifice, friendship, loyalty and love. I am also writing a third novel for the same publisher which I have almost completed and have plans for a fourth. I started late and I am brimming with ideas that I am determined to get down.
Inky elf Kev Milsom is in the very early stages of his 5th decade, but looks at least ten years younger…possibly even fifteen on a good day, under beneficial lighting conditions. Currently training in holistic therapies, such as hypnotherapy, metaphysics and counselling, he is also trying to expand his creative writing knowledge and experience. As a devout ‘struggling artist’ he is working towards the completion of that elusive first novel, whilst fuelling a profound talent for procrastination by making notes on a possible second novel (alongside intermittent research for a third). He is proud to have achieved his goal of being independently published at least once a year since 2012, but is also currently exploring other aspects of writing such as journalism. His favourite colour is anything bright.
The killer was about to strike the unsuspecting victim, the gleaming dagger raised in his right hairy hand, cold eyes fixed and remorseless…
check the water-level in the storage tank. Fast.”
killer was about to strike…
must get up, when residents of the housing society come out of the
lift or go to the lift.”
always complain. Say you sit in the chair, buried in a fat Hindi
thriller. Never get up. Never look up. Just that. Reading. Sitting in
the chair only.”
it is a good habit.”
are not paid to read on duty here.”
always remain in the lobby of the building. As there is nothing much
to do, I read a novel.”
not argue, moron. I am the secretary. I can fire you immediately.”
Saab, I just explained. I read in the afternoons. It is better than
sleeping in the chair, during hot humid afternoons of Mumbai.”
said do not argue. If you do that again, you are out. You guys! Very
rude and lazy.”
young watchman said nothing. The thin secretary glowered and then
pay only six thousands for a twelve-hour duty. Even that amount is
not paid on time,” said the older watchman.
think they own us. Call us rude. Say all guards are rogues,” said
the younger one.
“Do not worry. Things will change. Do your duty.”
“Do not think too much. We are poor folks. We have to be tolerant of these rich rascals. They have money. Power. We have none.”
“OK. I always do that. But it hurts.”
“But it does not mean they should insult us. Hurt us. We have no money. But we are human beings, like them only. We too have respect. Our Izzat.”
man, be patient and calm. You have not seen the brutal side of the
world yet. Treat yourself as lucky. You have got a job. A uniform of
a private security guard. An I-D. In Mumbai, an I-D is gold. At
least, you earn money. Other migrants are not that lucky.”
hurt easily. Change. This is a jungle. Predators roam here…freely.”
young security guard said nothing.
I feel restless. They scold me, too. Once a drunk resident slapped me
very hard. They openly abuse and curse those who watch their
other day, a woman shouted at me. They make me run for errands. Some
of the men fight on any excuse. Humiliating!”
I went through all this. This is my fifth year. Guarding these rich
were you earlier?”
worker in a textile mill. It closed down 20 years ago. Did odd jobs.
Got a family.”
know. You have to survive somehow.”
am school drop-out. Cannot do the office job. This one is easy.”
were others. Many drifted away.”
Crime is the other side of the story of a megacity.”
“Temptingly simple and fast. Good money in it. Sense of power, also.”
“The crime bosses recruit the discontented ones from the mushrooming slums. Life stinks there for these half-animals. They are all a disillusioned, bitter lot. Desperate to do anything for money. Life is a big hell.”
“Yes. No power. No water. A 10×10 feet room of sheets and ropes. You go out to relieve. Long queues outside the three public toilets. Three toilets for more than a hundred people. Hell!”
offers easy money.”
a lot of women and drinks and good food.”
And lot of cash.”
of my close friends became a hired killer.”
“Who?” asked the younger guard, the reader of the thrillers.
“Lal Chand. LC we called him.”
“How did it happen?”
was small and thin. A weakling. One day he got beaten by a person in
That goon always taunted his younger sister. LC objected. The local
goon beat him black and blue.”
morning, LC killed him before the neighbours.”
that so easy?”
older one was quiet for long.
“In fact, LC had called one of his cousins, a sharp shooter for a dreaded gang. He hovered in the background. The goon was surprised to see a quiet LC and grew more aggressive. LC took out his revolver and with a shaky hand and goaded by the accompanying professional killer, his cousin, shot him three times. The surprised goon went down in a heap.”
became a local hero! That puny man! Once a timid who could not swat a
mosquito, swiftly turned into a fearless hero.”
“The police were relieved at this elimination. LC did their dirty job. No witnesses. Nothing. But LC became the new goon. He terrorized. Drunk a lot. Went to bars and splurged money on bar-girls there.”
older guard looked hard at the younger one in his twenties. “The
end was not that cheerful.”
cops killed him in a staged encounter.”
was a threat to a powerful older don operating from Africa. That don
paid the cops who killed him in broad daylight. Before hundreds of
people. Killed him in cold blood.”
the younger guard could say something, a harsh voice called out:
younger one ran towards the A-Wing of his housing society.
That same night, a drunken resident abused him and hit him in the belly, for not standing up from his plastic chair. “Who has torn my bike’s cover seat? You blind? Bastard, can’t you keep an eye on the strangers coming into our society? You useless shit! Getting paid for not doing your job. Stinking idler. Bastard.”
The older one rushed out and pacified the drunk in his early 20s. The young guard cried in pain, doubled up on the cold marble floor of the well-lit lobby of the high-rise. The man shouted and stamped his feet and then left, cursing.
night, in his troubled dream, Raj Kumar Kurmi, 22, from a remote
village, turned into a gleeful killer, going on a spree of killing
and shouting hoarsely at the dead in a thin and piping voice.
action took place in slow motion:
First: stabbing the landlord of the tiny village in the bloated belly five times. Long dagger, in the moonlight, dripping with fresh blood. He shouting: “This one for insulting my elder sister and raping my wife of thirty days.” Then, in a fast motion: Stabbing the money-lender for cheating him out of his one-acre land, at the edge of the village nestling in the region of the brooding Himalayas, near the border with Nepal; followed by the killing of a local politician who spread caste-hatred among the folks there, and then, fleeing from a stunned village, arriving in Mumbai and then, enraged and foaming at mouth, killing the rich of the high-rise and the young drunk resident, laughing manically, in the moon-lit night, while fresh blood dripped from his long curved dagger, a wolf, surprisingly, howling in a far-of forest, on that cold night; then, he, becoming that wolf in the jungle…