Poetry Drawer: Adventure Travel: Glue: God Created Fledglings: Winds of Santa Ana: Janice M by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Adventure Travel

I have too much to eat
I take food from the mouths of children
from all over the globe
I am gleeful as I fatten

I’m a trust fund baby
so I don’t have to work
I take up silly hobbies
as past-times

I watch all the food shows on TV
I am a virtual glutton
I lick the screen clean

I masturbate to images of
the food
and the food show hosts

I like the chubby, spicy Sicilians
I venture into homosexuality
with the male chefs

I have too much to eat
but I don’t eat it all
A lot of it I throw out
I get carnal pleasure
from tossing food into the garbage
I have servants to dispose of it
but I like making expeditions into the alley
to dispose of it myself
I call this “Adventure Travel”

Glue

As a teenager
in his bedroom retreat
he built model airplanes
got lightheaded on the glue
listened to Odetta while he built
listened to Ledbelly
Muddy Waters

His schizophrenic sister skulked in the hall
Her complexion was pitted
and she wore thick glasses with black rims
but I found her attractive
an older woman
with secret knowledge
I feared I would never have

I wanted to be misled
I wanted to be detoured
by someone whose life
was a detour
I wanted to get high on airplane glue
without ever building an airplane

God Created Fledglings

The neighbours across the street have seen
the woman with the dead eyes
in the tree
and have called the police again
How many times has it been this year
the woman asks her husband
He shrugs

They think she’s dangerous to herself
or others
They’re less concerned about her
and more concerned about the others:
them

The police stroll through the house
of the woman with the dead eyes
as if they have the right

The woman with the dead eyes doesn’t mind
because she has a fantasy
that she is having a threesome
with these police officers
They are so tough and virile

The red-headed officer sees the fledglings
five of them
laid on a board across her bed
He says:
What’s that?

Those are birds, she says
God created them

What are you doing with them?

Teaching them, she says,
indoctrinating them into the new morality
leading them into the next stage
of their evolution

In fact, she’s going to decapitate them
because it will give her a thrill
and make her feel better
The neighbours don’t know that
but they are afraid that she is dangerous
to herself and others
especially others:
them

Winds of Santa Ana

The Santa Ana winds shaped me
Their power snatched the cigarette from my fingers
and drove it deep into dry chaparral
The resulting fire was preordained
I could have lived in Hoboken NJ
and the fire still would have been preordained
still my fault

The western winds overwhelmed me
They blew my garage open
sucked my tuba out into the pebbly road
dragged it down the street
Sparks flew from its brass
I was trying to teach myself to play it
so I could join a Mariachi band
with my friends Pollo Murillo and
Hector Delgadillo

My father was a half-Jewish Rumanian
but passed as Mexican
He knew all the love songs
all the songs that started with Mi Amor
and ended with
Mi Corazon
He never sang them to my mother
I knew he was not singing to her
though she was his wife
She was as beautiful and upright
as a statue of a Madonna
carved from pinyon wood
by a Colonial sculptor

When she was around, he shut his lips tight
or twisted them like a bad ventriloquist

He sang his songs to someone else
someone in a different country
he hadn’t met yet
someone he was preparing for
like preparing for the Second Coming

My mother was a Christian woman
though she didn’t love Jesus
It wasn’t that she didn’t believe in Him
She was merely indifferent

My cap flew from my head
My grandfather’s fedora blew off his dead head
his head a block of grey clay
awaiting the pinching of my fingers
to truncate the seven generations
of suffering deemed necessary

by the Holy Book
to wear down sin

I’d take it down to
maybe four

My grandmother reclined on a tree limb
holding a Russian ukulele and
the eternal flame
of youth
It glowed orange
like the eyes of a tabby cat
The wind blew her out of her tree

The wind blew carom boards
down Topanga Boulevard
out to the ocean
They skimmed across the surface
like plywood torn from houses
in a hurricane

I didn’t understand the meaning of youth
or age
All I understood was the wind

The wind would blow everything away
everything of value or lacking value
It would all end up stuck
on the branches of some bush

I didn’t need to go to high school
The wind was my teacher
The wind was the wisest teacher
The wind would get fiercer every year
All human life would disappear

The wind blew
like it never did in Patterson New Jersey
like Dr. Poet William Carlos Williams
never experienced
But Dr. Williams kept his wooden tongue depressors
locked in a glass jar anyway
He never knew what might be coming

The wind blew out the windows of our stucco shanty
the one Old Man Dengler allowed us to live in

The Electrical Engineer
had come from New Jersey
to remake the San Fernando Valley
in the image of a Diode
had come to cast Aerospace
in the image of the Aztec gods
with hordes of his
self-replicating spawn
who enrolled in my school
and looked down on me

This engineer sat at his desk and
the wind
sucked open his drawers
scattered his papers
financial papers
technical papers
He had no idea wind could blow like that
Those papers were his life

The wind turned coffee beans
into bullets
The Santa Ana winds stripped tomatoes from their vines
the grapes from theirs

Italians and Jews cried together
Tumbleweeds are weapons of mass destruction

In the future recreational marijuana would be legal
in Colorado
but in the meantime
I was going to prison

where I could not be touched
by the powerful
destructive wind
I can’t say
I wasn’t grateful

Janice M.

I wear a crown of spark plugs
crash a wedding party

I am bald
and my head shines
like fresh chrome
on the grill of a classic Buick

The bride will have to work hard tonight
to prove to her beau
that he made the right choice

and I will uplift my tits
as the Governor of California
mounts his white horse
and comes to rescue me

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: Blessed: Interlocking: Solemnity: Heritage by Dr. Susie Gharib

Blessed

I’m blessed with eyes that look inwards,
that see the departed and joys to come,
that sifts the beauty that’s foiled with smog,
that keeps a gallery of lakes and fjords.

I’m blessed with ears that vie with shells
for capacity to echo the wanton waves,
to resonate to the whistles of roaming whales,
to capture the breaths of slumbering pearls.

My nostrils dilate to the hidden scent
that stone exudes and inanimate gems,
that stars transmute to ethereal winds,
that words transfuse with the warmth of a friend.

My skin vibrates to the water-drop’s silk
to the velvet of petals, to the lace of trees,
to the fluff of clouds that seep into veins,
to the texture of flames that penetrates.

Interlocking

My mind interlocks with that of the tree
of a thousand rings and thirty-three,
with that of a falcon who grieves at night
for having kidnapped the sacred trout.

My fingers interlock with those of the wind
who shrieks the pain that dwells within,
with those of a lingering, pensive cloud
who contemplates the cerulean skies.

My teeth interlock with those of thorns
who have impaled all types of scorn,
with those of a squirrel who loves to crack
the nuts of wisdom on aprons of grass.

My eyes interlock with the halos of stars
an agglomeration of cosmic lights,
with the rays of Helios when he departs
the spheres of the earth in his orange ark.

Solemnity

An Englishman’s home is his fort,
a law established by Sir Edward Coke
to emphasize the sanctuary of one’s abode.
The assimilation to a castle had struck a chord –
when I was only thirteen years old –
in someone whose house was like a port
accommodating galleys, ships, and boats.

There were always visitors around to probe
the deepest abyss of inmost thoughts,
prying, interrupting, and disrupting discourse.

I always sought the furthest room
when the kitchen congested with drink and food,
with preparations for a banquet that would conform
to the social etiquette of being a host.

The bustle and babel created discord.
The aromas of strangers who chattered and fumed
would linger for hours on eves and morns.

There were always people around the house,
neighbours, relatives, acquaintances and bores,
fingering the solemnity of my private world
with greasy fingers that relish the sauce.

Heritage

Before me lies a kingdom, submerged
in the ugliest form of camouflage.
The castle is a mill and the mill has ash
and every nearby stone is draped with trash.

I walk the narrow lanes, each roofed with an arch.
It feels like roaming the heart of an ark.
I look for traces of submerged stonework
amongst a vineyard of pots and pans.

The din of transactions is maddening my mind.
There’s no way of silencing the gaping mouth
that craves for profit from the merchandise
that usurped the throne of scripts and chants.

On the top of a hill, a temple perches
whose walls had withstood all types of archers,
whose star was erased from stone by scratches,
but whose winding stairs attest to its heritage.

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: Rush Week: Knowledge by Robert Demaree

Rush Week

Thinking now
Of the barbaric rites
Of our young days,
Fraternity rush at Chapel Hill,
A kind of ritual mutilation:
Invited, I suppose, because I’d been to
Boarding school, but quickly turned away,
Not at all like them, tailored heirs of
Planters, silver flasks,
Harris Tweed sports coats at football games,
Kinston, Goldsboro, Rocky Mount,
The place that would have me—
Frame house without Ionic columns—
Refuge for northern boys
Come south to school.
A year later I was the brother who escorted
Two or three baffled freshmen to the porch
To explain we had not gotten
To know them well enough
.
I am ashamed of that
And much else besides.
Have only been back two or three times since.
Once a young man found our picture
From fifty years before. Is this you, he asked.
I had to say it was.
I still keep up with two or three of them;
With one, a neighbour now at Golden Pines,
I share a glass of port
And rue the passage of time.

Knowledge

People come to the cottage now
To help us with different things,
Fix the computer, cut down trees,
Cost of being seventy-two.
The computer guy brings no special tools,
No Allen wrench with which to probe
The hard drive’s dark insides,
Except for which I might leave
My brain to science,
Only keystrokes, clicks of the mouse,
Things some do for themselves.

The cottage next door is for sale,
Realtor’s sign incongruous on our dirt road.
My parents’ friends, also long gone,
Left it to four children who have reached
That tired, timed impasse of heirs:
Those who would keep it can’t afford to
And vice versa.
So there are grandchildren
Who will not know
These New Hampshire woods, this pond.

Still I would protect them and us
From the dead white pine
By the turtle rock—
I remember the storm that took its life,
Years ago,
Lightning running up and down the bark
In a silver-black night.
The woodsman, of course, does have special tools—
Bobcat, chainsaw.
More than that, he knows
Exactly where the tree will fall.


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: 8 Poems by Anne-Marie Silbiger

Perfection

In many ways,
I never learn.
Coaxing dead bruises.
Corking my skin.

Sewing love into hems.
Yearning for a reviving touch.
The walking wounded
in nature’s glory.

A love that bruises

Welts in line with flinching
An exit beleaguered by blind adulation
As harpies hang from dying trees
Frothing at the mouth with maudlin song
Dropping their dread like breadcrumbs
Haranguing me to flee

You are not bullet proof

Let me sing to your ribcage
Blessing your breath
Soothing you with love, quietly
I am your goddess
With mettle, love forged its way
We in these wastelands
Our secret Brigadoon
At last, I am feeling alive in a love so robust
My organs riot
Your order and will pull me closer
Nothing can save me from you
A guest inked on your skin
Hunting for my final resting place

Love’s loss

shirking responsibility
bathing in foolish want
lounging in dreams
eyes blazing in unison
a sighing universal
walking to walk
breathing to breathe
waking to each new dawn
with little surprise in store
holding onto fragments of hope
in respect of the promise made
we keep living to love
with fingers now talons
scratching at skin
digging to feel something other than nothing
you made the nothing
something
we grew closer as
love knocked us sideways
stoking the hearts of us
flooding our bodies with joy
love in a country made for two
we sealed it and ran
you with my sadness above you
me with your mouth on mine
breathing quick to save time

Remind me when I forget

Remind me that you love me
Even when I blaze through
Singed at the seams
Untouchable
Remind me that you love me
I forget

Rebirth

I’ve made so many mistakes
Given myself to the lost
Hoping to find home
Suffered the wrath of the cruel
Left in pieces of grief
I want a rebirth
I want a riot of butterflies
To take me back
Back to that air heavy with colour
Muted sounds comforting
Nights steeped in the wonder
Of my mother’s belly
Back to the beginning
Naked in a church font
Blessed in morning light
Mouths whispering promises to protect me
A baby up in arms
Demanding only love

Transgression

I do not want your attention.
The shouts of heraldry are misplaced as I squint at the sun.
I hide in the dark.
Waiting for empty pavements to exist.
Do you know how it feels to stalk the earth in vain.
To watch the rain and want to be the raindrops?
The only joy is knowing I’m not alone in my exclusion.
I am part of a pack.
A misunderstood teeming line of souls.
One day, we will have favour.
We shall have glory.
You and yours will bow.
Holding your wicked tongue.
Your unclenched fist signalling hope.

I am an unfinished opus

I am an unfinished opus.
A work of art in waiting.
Life composes me.
The seasons work in tandem.

Rain dampens wrath.
Cold brings hiatus.
Sun warms the binding.
Adding essential strength.

Anne-Marie Silbiger is an Irish poet living in London
Twitter

Poetry Drawer: 6 poems by Charlie Brice

The Halcyon Plan

Butterball! Fatso! Lardass! The enduring
names my Catholic school chums unaffectionately
called me on the plague-ground at St. Mary’s
Grade School in the fifties. Who could blame them?
My wads of flab embodied everything they feared

they would become if they let themselves go.
I weighed 164 lbs. in sixth grade and wore jeans
marketed as “Husky.” No matter that these
excessive pounds journeyed my way during
months of hospitalization and bedrest prescribed

by doctors for my “possible” case of Rheumatic Fever.
Hours watching Howdy Doody and other couch attractions
combined with mounds of Twinkies, chicken a la king,
donuts, M&Ms, Fritos, Baby Ruths, Milky Ways,
guzzled down with Coca-Cola, Ovaltine, Pepsi, and

You-Hoos, anesthetized my swollen ankles, stiff limbs,
murmuring heart, and broken spirit. I wasn’t like
the other boys, but I had been. At four years old,
in home movies, I was skinny and running after life.
Then my ankles swelled, my body stiffened,

and my mouth opened to the processed wonders
of the fifties—capitalism’s cold war harvest.
I lost the weight when my father died in 1964.
Turns out, grief is a terrific diet regime. Still
my body held other treats in store for me.

At 14 my face and forehead were so riddled
with acne that Bud, owner of the Snack Shack
on Pershing Boulevard, where I ate golden
hash browns tickled with butter, loudly asked
in front of all his customers at the counter,

“DO YOU HAVE A SKIN DISEASE?”

I turned to the Halcyon Plan: washed my face
three times a day with Halcyon Oatmeal Soap
(how those soapy oat-crisps scraped across
my pustules and made them bleed!), smeared
stinging Halcyon Lotion (really hyped-up

rubbing alcohol) over my sores twice-a-day,
and took Halcyon Pills (candy coated sugar
tabs) twice-a-day, all to be like those other boys:
athletic, smooth-skinned, attractive to the girls.
At 15 my face resembled an unbaked pepperoni pizza.

You’ll never find a woman, I said aloud to my
mirror image. You’ll be alone for the rest of your
life. Accept it and forget it
. And I did. I flushed
the soap, pills, and lotion down the toilet.
I didn’t look at myself in the mirror

for a year. When I was sixteen, I caught
my reflection by mistake—maybe in a spoon
or a lake. I was astounded. My face was
as smooth as a newborn’s behind. Still,
I wasn’t like the other boys. I could

play a mean set of drums and, despite
what the nuns told me, I had a mind.
The urge to conform, to be like those
other guys, was something I gleefully
abandoned to the nasty blemish of time.

St. Rose of Lima

She was an occasion of sin. Men would see her
and their apostate gushers would fill holy water
fonts from Pisco to Puno, Lisbon to Pucallpa.
The entire male population of Peru teetered
on the edge of Hades and she knew it. Her parents
wanted her to marry, be merry, act like a normal girl,
but Rose had different ideas. What about those
poor backsliders enraptured by her silky dark hair
and smooth olive skin? Because of her irresistible
beauty so many souls sizzled, sputtered, bubbled-up

in Satan’s skillet that his stupendous spatula couldn’t
handle all that spiritual bacon. To stop the drooling
and dripping, Rose cut off her hair, slathered her face
with hot peppers until it blistered, and placed a homemade
crown of thorns on her head. But wait, that wasn’t enough
to atone for the shameful venery caused by her gorgeousness.
She was a master seamstress and regularly took a sewing
needle and plunged it deep into her scalp, probably
penetrating her brain. No wonder she had visions
of the Devil. Since she was a saint-in-waiting she evidently

didn’t have to worry about infection. Guess pre-canonization
was the 17th Century version of antibiotics. Well, maybe not,
she died at 31. I only read three books at St. Mary’s Grade School:
St. Rose of Lima, Blessed Martin de Porres, and the Lou Gehrig story.
I wanted to give away all my clothes to the poor, like Blessed
Martin, but my parents didn’t take to that idea, and I certainly
wasn’t up for sticking a pin in my head (besides, I wasn’t, as
far as I knew, an occasion of sin—but maybe perusal of some
priestly diaries might prove otherwise). So, I chose baseball.
I’m still a follower of St. Lou.

Launched in Light

1.

Every morning I open the blinds
as if hoisting the main on a sailboat.
Like wind, a nothing that propels
vessels along waterways, light,
another nothing I can’t hold,
or touch, or taste, fills our bedroom—
announces another day on our
beleaguered but still green planet.

2.

People argue over light:
a series of waves,
a gaggle of particles,
waves and particles.
Its contrast with afternoon shadow
heartbeats a room, pushes
particles of my life into
an open face discovery,
sends waves of warmth
through my biography.

3.

They say that night harbors mystery,
but real mystery is launched in light.
How does something not liquid
pour onto a carpet,
or spread into a room
like a celestial mantilla?
How does a huddle
of vibrating molecules
force a smile or an invisible
wave inspire a song?

Requiem in Winter

The icing lake moves slowly
pushed by northern Michigan winds,
pallbearers to autumn’s corpse—

a sombre procession witnessed
by bending spruces, birches,
cedars and aspens; their sudden

frozen creakings, a brutal requiem
with movements entitled
Impermanence, Decay, Endurance.

The Mirror Stage

Identity didn’t exist in the 14th Century (i)
Nobody wondered who they were—
they knew: either they were peasants
who spent their lives working for others,
making babies, and waiting to die, or

they were the noble class who spent
their time waging war, making babies,
and waiting to die so they could pass
on their possessions and reap their
just reward in the next life.

So what is this carapace we crawl inside,
carry wherever we go; this Self, invented
by psychoanalysts, that we constantly
cultivate and that gets in between
ourselves and others all the time

but random images reflected to us by
parents, siblings, teachers, friends—
fellow travellers in this veil of years?
Some of us wear fedoras and payot,
others prune and preen in imitation of

their avatars in the pages of Vogue or GQ.
Some wear t-shirts in winter, others gray
government suits, blue shirts, red ties,
ready for their television appearances.
Some are captured in nearly invisible

bikinis, swim trunks, and flat stomachs
cavorting with the terminally happy
in places like Spice Island, Casa de Campo,
and Belmond La Samanna. We are obsessed,
in our confusing and divided times,

not so much with graven images of old,
but with a modern excarnation: the Self
reflecting on itself. Shipwrecked On Illusion
Island we worship ourselves, our craven images,
gravid with death and gravebound.

 (i) See Tuchman, Barbara, A Distant Mirror, New York: Random House, 1987

The Sea

Roar that makes the cosmos cower,
waves that carry on their backs
dolphins I aspire to become,
undertow—invisible, sinister, evil,
admirable—takes back what
it gives only to give it again:
treasure of sand and shore,
seashells that echo its voice, green
tangled locks of Aphrodite’s hair,
Poseidon’s foamy champagne
along its penumbra, aroma
from below, destiny’s perfume—
a mist that mimics infinity
and captures eternity’s smile.

Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Sunlight Press, Chiron Review, Plainsongs, I-70 Review, Mudfish 12, The Paterson Literary Review,and elsewhere.

Image: Herbert James Draper, The Pearls of Aphrodite, 1907

Poetry Drawer: Wailing Wall by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Rotund Mrs. Goldstein, my boss
asked me if I was taking drugs
Of course I was

Drugs were like sex, which I wasn’t getting
and ice cream, which I was getting a lot of
serving myself from the ice cream tubs
when she and her husband weren’t looking

Drugs and ice cream
direct lines to pleasure

No, Mrs. G. I’m not taking drugs

Max, you give me denials like a drink machine gives cans of soda

I was taken aback by her use of metaphor
and couldn’t match her eloquence
my lies flat-footed

She gave me a skeptical look
and stepped closer
I’m only five foot four
She was a broad wall in front of me
I had the thought that I could step forward
and kiss her aproned chest
smelling of corned beef
lean against her
and pray
as if I were at the Wailing Wall
in Jerusalem

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: Girl, 46 by Mark Anthony Smith

“Was your day OK?” It’s just you
look away and I don’t bee
line to your honey smooth
forehead. I don’t see your worries –
those collected in blemishes or bags or
even uneven sags that I don’t see.
You are not Exhibit A or B
or even C to be looked at like
a commodity. You are more,
my eternal amour. You
are my best sounding-board friend
and the perfect true love; my lover in dreams
and in each creamy rich chocolate
waking hour and day. The only
one with that timeless girl’s heart – like
the laughter of bicycle rides –
and that sunrise smile as you nurture
other smiles around you.
You wear it loosely, care-free
as you ‘pay it forward’ or tightly tied
back on those few fraught long days.
Your happiest actions
outshine all that is outward
as they come from somewhere
softly ageless and inside. So,
let me now ask you, please.
You are important to me,
“Are you alright?”
“Was your day OK?”

Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. He graduated from The Open University with a BSc (Hons) in Social Sciences. His writing has appeared in Spelk, Nymphs, Fevers of the Mind and others. In 2020, he is due to appear in Horror Anthologies published by Eerie River and Red Cape Publishing. ‘Hearts of the matter’ is available on Amazon.

Poetry Drawer: Creative age workshop by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Creative age workshop

within a sheltered living scheme

residents oldish
some younger than me
most yoked to challenges –
me blessedly free
for now at least

I fretted to select poems
didn’t want to swamp
lovely folk with hard words
dense works   I couldn’t
make them sad   lost
in miscomprehension

I did my normal thing – I’ll read
unless I have a volunteer

expecting no-one    then

your quiet cracked voice said
I will    your wife stared at you
soft through dementia’s mist    alerted
by your gentle confidence

and you read Frost’s A Time to Talk
with your whole deep-timbred heart
claimed its meaning    read friendship’s
rhythm in rich-seamed Geordie tones

Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She has an MA in Creative Writing [Newcastle 2017]. She believes everyone’s voice counts.

Poetry Drawer: Golden Shovel Exercise: Chateau Frontenac by Robert Demaree

Robert Demaree: At a workshop in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, in August 2017, Marilyn Nelson introduced us to poets we were not likely to know—poets from the Middle East, Native America, Gary, Indiana, poems that spoke of addiction, alienation, anger. Then she explained to us the “golden shovel” prompt or exercise, created by National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes. We were to write a poem in which the lines should end, consecutively, with words from a line by Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer in poetry and serve as Poet Laureate for the U.S. We were offered a choice of three lines by Brooks, and I selected “I shall create! If not a note, a hole” (from “Boy Breaking Glass”). I was able to follow the directions for one of the two stanzas below.

Golden Shovel Exercise

The participants all look alike this morning, and I
Think of the syringes, which we shall
Not know, even if we create
Poems of pain and exclusion, even if
We were to experience, as we have not,
The chilling look and touch of a
Security guard, his voice a strident note
Of smug assumption, a
Clue to the we-ness of this American hole.

Then I remember being pulled out of the line
Returning from Canada,
Luggage searched at random, they said,
But we suspect for prescription drugs,
Targeted for our years,
A group not mentioned
In this morning’s verse.

Chateau Frontenac

Looking back sixty years
It seems so like them
That my parents chose a place
Called the Chateau Overlook,
A modest auberge appropriate
To a schoolmaster’s means
And outlook on life.
I remember the tour at
The Plains of Abraham, and a man
Lobbing a half-dollar U.S. over the
Heads of the crowd, a tip for the guide.
It fell in the mud at his feet;
He paused for a moment,
Then picked it up.

I went by myself to the Place d’Armes.
Returning, I asked the concierge
In my false, wooden French,
“Où est ma mère?”
“Oopstairs” was his reply.

Last summer our daughter and her son
Drove to Québec.
The Chateau Overlook is gone.
Philip stepped into the lobby of
The Chateau Frontenac,
Something I had not done,
And rode to the top floor
Where he took a picture of
The Plains of Abraham.

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.

Five Poems by Jake Cosmos Aller

Morning Light

the terrors of the night
the worst imaginings
of what might happen

war, rumours of war
end of civilization
nuclear war
and other horrors
ripped from the headlines

fade away into nothingness
with the morning light
and the love of my wife
who is always by my side
I regain my sight

and begin
regaining my smile
and my life

until the next nightmares
consumes my dark imaginings

Dora the Intergalactic Explorer

Dora the intergalactic explorer
Is travelling to the strangest planet
of all the known worlds

she is traveling incognito
with a video crew
making a documentary

the planet earth
is known as a planet
of intelligent monkeys

not much is known
about them
as very few
have ever been there

the inhabitants are described
as blood thirsty insane creatures
ruled by hidden sexual and political passions
following incomprehensible
religious dogmas following Gods
that clearly do not exist

the inhabitants are just on the verge
of developing intergalactic travel
and the galactic empire
is worried that they will be driven
to try to conquer the rest of the universe

driven by their needs to impose
their religious dogma
everywhere in the world

the planet is divided into large tribal groups
governed by corrupt elites
corrupt businesses destroying the planet
in pursuit of profit

and the locals are little more
than wage slaves
barely making a living
addicted to alcohol, drugs gambling
pornography and illicit sex

and their main land
is ruled by a clearly delusional madman
intent on poking a fight
with all his alleged enemies

Dora assumed the appearance
of a character from TV
and will pose as a journalist
trying to make sense
of it all

but she was afraid
that she if found out
could face the worst consequence

her ship crash lands
and she is outside
the capital

of the non empire empire
called the United State of America

Dora gets her crew together
and walks into the city
staring at all the strange sights
as the monkeys go about
their daily activities

she stops at a restaurant
tries the coffee
the chief drug of choice

and is instantly addicted
wow no wonder
these people are crazed

she tries the local booze
and smiles
perhaps she could
become an intergalactic merchant
introducing the world
to the galaxy

her thought are interrupted
as a mad man armed
with weapons of war
bursts in and starts shooting
yelling at people

and she is shot dead
the authorities
are shocked

when they recover the body
and realize
that she is not a human
as she reverts other original
form

sort of a giant feline like creature
two legs and arms
and clearly from an advanced
civilization given her gear

what was she doing
no one knew
as all the aliens
died in the gun blaze

the world is shocked
at what had happened
and fearful that the aliens
were coming to invade
their world

the galactic senate
decides to contain
the humans
declaring them
a threat to the global civilization

and the humans vow
to discover the secrets
of interstellar travel
and travel to her land

to enter into business arrangements
and spread the one truth faith
to the heathen space aliens

thus ended Dora’s excellent adventure
in the crazed world at the edge
of known civilization

Mocking Faces Staring at Me

Mocking faces
hunting my dreams
Hundreds of faces
morphing into one
after another

Faces I knew
The dead
and the living

women I knew
friends I missed
enemies I did not

One after another
Marching in my room
Staring at me

I tried to run
They laughed

They said
that there’s nowhere
to escape my cosmic fate

My time is coming
prepare yourself
the grim reaper
has your name

and once he has your name
your fate is sealed
and you will soon
join us

whether in heaven
or hell
is not for us to say

be warned though
you will be judged
and no one can escape
their cosmic karmic fate

a wild man sits in a gilded cage

a wild man sits in a gilded cage
a cage made out of chains of his wife’s love

a cage made out of chains of his wife’s love
the wild man yearning to be free from his cage

the wild man yearning to be free from his cage
wondering how and why he was now tamed

wondering how and why he was now tamed
dreaming dark wild dreams of demented freedom

dreaming dark wild dreams of demented freedom
the wild man looks about his prison cage

the wild man looks about his prison cage
wondering whether he will ever be free

wondering whether he will ever be free
a wild man sits in a gilded cage

2019 The Last Year of America’s Greatness

2019 was the last year of America
when the proverbial chickens came home

when the proverbial chickens came home
to strut about the decaying landscape

to strut about the decaying landscape
as the world begins to burn and die

as the world begins to burn and die
led by the mad great leader and his merry men

led by the mad great leader and his merry men
the whole world lay in shock and awe

the whole world lay in shock and awe
at the destruction of the America they knew

at the destruction of the America they knew
when the proverbial chickens came home

John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet, and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department serving in over ten countries including Korea, Thailand, India, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Spain. He has travelled to over 50 countries, and 49 out of 50 states. He speaks Korean, Thai, Spanish and studied Chinese, Hindi and Arabic.