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

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.

Poetry Drawer: Exuberance: Black Dice: Charlotte Mew, a Nemophilist: Sacred by Dr. Susie Gharib


What sort of plumage is my exuberant words,
words whose foliage no Autumns could scourge,
whose leaves still flutter in speech and verse
with eloquence?

With what sort of rhythm the word bells resonates,
a word that chimes with vespers and faith,
with Edgar Allan Poe’s metallic tales,
with Sir Betjeman’s Archibald and Hampstead plains,
with St. Mungo’s grace!

What sort of thrills are embedded in wings,
an ode to agility in fowls and fins,
a vision of freedom in inward things
and flights within!

What clusters of stars reside in smiles,
a word whose luster with galaxies vies,
a beam to de-shroud the downcast brows,
to rob them of frowns!

Black Dice

He drove me to work slowly in his own senile style,
a couple of black dice instantly caught my eye,
dangling from the rearview mirror, a taxi-driver’s charm,
with threes engraved in gleaming white
and numbers one and four on half-hidden sides.

I am used to seeing beads, fresheners, and ornaments
that some believe can distract the evil eye
but dice was a novelty that enflamed my mind.

What if these numbers are an encrypted message from the sky!
What if nothing is random in our complicated lives!
I pondered over their significance like a bewildered child,
then added the numbers up to figure some meaning out.
Eleven, the outcome, is double one,
the number I adored as a child,
but the appearance of its twin at that stage in my life
multiplied interpretations of what it could signify:
the twin pillars of Solomon’s Temple,
or a roofless gate to the other world!
Perhaps parallel lives,
but if so, what parallels mine!

Charlotte Mew, a Nemophilist

Who but Mew heard the grasses bashfully mate,
the cry of an angel admonishing the butchery of trees,
the agony of London’s ubiquitous planes
in every massacre enjoined by the modern age,
a sacrilege.

She evoked the spirits that dwelt in wood,
the oak-housed elves,
the consecrated yews,
the venerable beeches,
the beloved sycamores,
a sentient, sacred world.

She dreaded the three-headed monster that inhabited Europe,
machinery, democracy, and science with their torture tools,
the axe, the rope, the amputating saw,
that manufacture unhallowed roods.


The Essenes once settled on the Mount of Sion,
the sacred site the Templars were bound to woo,
over which many races their disputes would brew,
now a blood-stained metaphor for modern wars.

Edessa, the Syrian gem in the north,
upon whose throne a Nazarene monarch had ruled,
a Fisher King in the most purple of robes,
had lost its hallowed crown of thorns.

The Nile whose ripples had Moses borne,
in whose mirror Nefertiti and Cleopatra viewed
the resurrection of Osiris from a sunken tomb,
is now a battleground for water feuds.

And Notre Dame de-Paris, the grail of stone,
who frowned upon Jacques de Molay’s doom,
the immolation of a knight whose Order had bloomed,
now stands disfigured and badly scorched.

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: In avian company: Frangipani and honey-eaters: A raven among the sulphur-crests by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

In avian company

In the eucalyptus grove
I munch on my sandwich
tossing some crumbs
at the two eager bush turkeys
romping around in the grass.

suddenly one of them
takes an explosive shit –
an ochre-white splatter
with a black jelly centre
which its companion
promptly begins to peck at
seeing which, the bird
who took the massive dump
heartily joins the other
in dining on its poop.

I throw up a little bit
in my mouth
my sudden retching
startling the feasters
who scoot off a distance
before coming back
with renewed appetite
to resume nibbling
on the glob of excrement.

I look away
and quickly swallow
the small well of puke
pooled in my mouth –
it somehow seems
like the logical thing to do
in this particular
avian company.

Frangipani and honey-eaters

those stories
that grandmother used to tell –
malevolent spirits roosting
in the branches
of frangipani trees at dusk
something sinister
about the otherworldly perfume
of flowers in bloom
that drew tortured souls
caught between worlds
to the ivory perch
of their shadowy branches.

at the far end of the backyard
the gardener has trimmed
the frangipani tree
to limbs so bare
they look like floating fingers
splayed anemone
in the sea of the night.

from the u-shaped curve
of a comfortable fork
the honeyeaters stare
bodies tucked in their new nest
eyes filled with dread
as they study me
floating back-lit
half-human, half-ghost –
and I wonder
if their grandmothers told them
stories about my kind
even as I imagine them
with beady eyes
smouldering in the dark
and fantasise about demons
that quickly morphed
in the time
my back was turned.

A raven among the sulphur-crests

it’s an autumn morning ritual
stalking the balcony
awash in black
gunmetal hair
swelling in the wind.

the sulphur-crests
await my appearance
an army of twelve
perched on the railings
diamond formation
attention rapt.

in black lingerie
and beguiling lace
I fancy myself
a millennial Grimhilde
hands aloft
spilling cake crumbs and bread.

I toss them in the mist
and the birds circle
squawking, snowing white
tame in the power
of my sorcery
the mysterious human-raven.

on the balcony below
the neighbour gawks in horror
this manic wheeling
of wild cockatoos
my frightening nudity
madness on show.

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet, and pianist. She holds a Masters in English. Oormila is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and Authora Australis. Her recent works have been published in Eunoia Review, Poets Resist, Rue Scribe, The Ekphrastic Review, and several other literary journals in Australia, the US, and the United Kingdom.

Poetry Drawer: Survival: Rehearsal: Nan’s Funeral by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon


One day, I’ll be alive.
Not sad, afraid to stir my mother’s rage
over breakfast each morning.

One day I’ll smile
touch-papers of joy and ignite love,
this way and that, far into the future.


It’s far away, the day
when I’ll be free to walk out
and make my way. Leave
my bedroom, quit my home
to make my own mistakes
and party. It’s far away
and secretly, I’m pleased.
More time to be a child,
loved to bits even though
I play my face, paint my nails,
line my eyes with kohl
and pick black Goth clothes
out of my old dressing-up box.

Nan’s Funeral

We crunch on frozen soil’s solid crust.
Skimmed sunshine ignites crystal sparks,
diamonds scatter on the ground.
My son asks, Mum, can I smile today?
I leak stray tears, laugh and squeeze
his hot hand: plump palm and curled fingers.
He’s too young and I’m too old to understand.

I see my Nan’s eyes gaze from his fresh face,
loss erased in currents of connection.

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: The Bartender’s Tale: Approaching 82 by Robert Demaree

The Bartender’s Tale

Part One: New Hampshire

We are having lunch with our poet artist friend,
Looking down toward the big lake,
Luminous glow of peak reds and golds
In an October mist.
The bar is crowded,
Favourite domestic brands on draft.
Why would you go to a bar at noon on Monday?
To watch replay of Sunday’s game,
To see if the Patriots win this time,
Or have a beer with your sandwich,
Which you could do by the window,
At the table next to ours,
And look out at the muted foliage.
Mainly, we conclude, for companionship,
The sense of being part of something,
Even—especially—in a resort town
In the off season.
We are ready to go.
We hug our friend and say
So long until June.
There’s an empty place at the bar now
I may come back in a while.

Part Two: North Carolina

At the supermarket where we shop
The marketing folk have sought to
Redefine the grocery experience,
So they’ve put up a sign out front
That says “Welcome to Our Farm”
And have installed a beer garden
In the beverage section,
Craft brews with exotic ingredients.
So at one pm on a Tuesday
There are people sitting at the bar
Enjoying a cool one.
Who drinks beer at a grocery store?
People who work for the distributor?
There is no TV, no football,
Sometimes no one to talk to.
They may be wishing for a companionship
Yet to emerge, a kindred spirit
To appear from down the produce aisle.

Part Three: Pennsylvania

I think of the bars on every corner
In the sad rust belt town
Where I grew up.
Priestly barkeeps move their towels
Back and forth with Rogerian attending.
Jesse and I walk by at dusk
Carrying our baseball gloves,
Close enough to hear those Pennsylvania voices,
The murmur of disappointment and companionship,
Esslinger, Schmidt’s of Philadelphia,
Old Reading Beer.

Approaching 82

I have created templates
In my computer
Wishing speedy recovery,
Funny cartoon characters
Sending all good wishes,
Thinking of you.
I cannot yet bring myself
To send condolences

These things all happened the same day:
The phone rang at six a.m.
A stranger from Memphis
Sought our help
In contesting someone’s will.
Sarah fell putting out the bird feeders.
A raccoon had gotten into the garbage.
The cable was out for twelve hours.
Then, toward midnight that same day,
The faint dampness of soiling nightclothes
The aroma of being eighty-one,
A point in life when
You run into a friend
Long unseen
And are afraid to ask
How’s your wife.

Retirement home dusk
A bicycle built for two
Rear seat riderless.

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: Another Me From Heavens: The Azure Sea: The Bath of The Cool Breeze by Yuan Hongri

Another Me From Heavens

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.


The Azure Sea

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


The Bath of The Cool Breeze

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.

Poetry Drawer: Never To Die by Saikat Gupta Majumdar

Men are praised for their doings
Long they are alive
But only a few deserves so
When they no longer glow
After they pass away, their deeds survive.

I want never to die
But my work will remain alive
In the memories
In the hearts of the crores.

To live long without achievement
Is basically no living
But to live long after death is fruitful surviving.

So keep doing such a way
That you may live in the hearts of the crores
And your glory does not fade away
But it spreads more and more.

Poetry Drawer: Always Almost You: Before I Knew Love: Gentle and Fierce: I Might As Well: My Poems Arrive by John Tustin

Always Almost You

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
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