Poetry Drawer: Sisters of the Cement by Christian Garduno

Line of Demarcation

She stood naked at the hotel window
God stuck to the roof of her mouth
the dying bury the dead while Stukas dive-bomb overhead
remembering mid-morning along the banks of the Rhine
Hunnish maidens sleep-dancing while Czechoslovakia re-disappears
I told you- there’s no point in waiting for me-
& you, you had red eyes like a Japanese sunrise
Tanks stuck in the snow

It used to be that when the phone rang, it was you
and if it didn’t ring, well, I knew it wasn’t you at all

Sharing oilcakes in Sarajevo-
Elenita, aren’t you a little bit drunk?
tiny angels swirling- how many close calls can one soul have?
(I was hoping you would know)
Chewing on coffee grounds- nothing goes to waste out here
seems like the world was just going through the motions
I love you when you sing that song
it lets me pretend it really hasn’t been that long

Yelena, years ago I should have known you
You are an exception even to the exception
I’m sorry, she whispered again, one thousand summers I’ll wait
”Well, DON’T!!!,” I yelled
“I have always loved you,” she reminded me,
“Baby, you’re white like snow, I’m white like a cloud
…..I will never stop smiling on you.”

Count to One

Don’t wanna walk past your house because you might just be home
maybe I send my drone, just to check things out-
I can tell when you’re not in town and it makes this city sadder
your songs have become my songs
can’t un-ring the bell, can’t send ‘em back
you got me like an angel coming down like hell
it’s been so long since I’ve lost touch
One of these days, I’m going to take your picture down
You know your love is a morning glory at midnight

Watching the rain glow
I’m all brokenhearted since the day we started
making eyes
I’m so broke down, mixed up since the day we met up
meeting eyes
And it starts all over again tomorrow
everything that was already over yesterday
The nights get so strange when memories rearrange
I’m gonna tear down all the stars for reminding me-
So slow & suddenly

Getting time for a new star
well, as long as I’m staring off into space-
bouncing and balancing between Satellites
    Jumping off the deep ends of ships
all headed further East,
   upward and onward unto Tibet
to settle a debt with my old mind
fly out to Berlin with a new kind
A strange day started in a strange way
Now I know the next time I live a life
every-time I close my eyes
I’m gonna see the light
and everyday you know
We lovers of the soul

Past Perfect

And for the first time
makes me wish I had a soul to pray for-
must have been that wine at 5 this morning-
must have been because I knew you were leaving for the coast this evening-
Catching a train to a star, I know you are

but all men unfaithful
and all children ungrateful

I’m thinking you’ll make out alright in your new life
you’re just past…you’re just past perfect
makes me for the first time wish I had a soul to pray with-
So then I could pray for your safe return

Edge of Never

Starting at the beginning will ever do any good
lemme tell ya, honey
we were spending too much time insane but just not doing it together
cuts and bruises and chipped teeth to boot,
I fired you off a letter from the Maricopa Station
and it showed in the dream I had of you in Phoenix
I had to move down in-to the country just to try to shake you off
that morning, I woke up with a letter from you on my bed
your letters always smell like the beach
I mean, not the beach, but the sand in the wind
when it’s in your hair, on the beach-

your handwriting burned on me like a gloomy humid sun
I replied in Cheyenne on my way drifting North
I found the Continental Divide a proper description of us-
why, I had to leave the country just to try to shake you off a bit
Vancouver nights by the Pacific had me wondering & wandering again
so I slid back down the coast and with all my great timing, I missed my connection
and did not get to see you
So the arc took me back out to the desert once again
this time, your letter was waiting for me
and me, I was absolutely beaming

I slept with the photo you sent me
I lit tiny fires in my afternoon room
and I spent a mighty long time in that haze
all the lights went foggy and then one early evening
the very moment I began to miss you less- you called
“I’m sorry for being sad…I’m feeling better now…”

I been back & forth, across this galaxy
oh, that very very first night we met….
I really found my new love…
I guess that was our naïveté
but I still like to think about it sometimes
oh, and my, how from time to time
I wish I hadn’t burned all your letters, yknow
well, not all of them…I still have the first note
still sandy breeze
mademoiselle,
even to this day.

Stars Burnt

Stars burnt too close to the sun
clouds looking to raise a little dust
the snow in summer has no place to fall
just like when you’ve no words & I’m the number you call
you’re like a full moon at high noon
I spent the whole season swimming in your room…
a ghost looking for a little action, I know the feeling
I’m not begging, but I’m certainly kneeling

Steal me some roses
from a neighbour’s side-yard
I don’t mind the thorns, baby
when I’m crushing so hard

Stars so dirty, they turn straight to ice
clouds act so innocent
when their lightning strike twice
and all their sleet, just can’t wait for fall
you’ve no more colours, only my number to call
must have been some kind of eclipse
when you brushed passed my lips

So go steal me some roses
I don’t care whose yard
no, I can’t push you back
when you come on so hard

Christian Garduno lives and writes along the South Texas coast, balancing between Forensic Files and Moscow Mules. 

Poetry Drawer: On the Wings of the Morning by Fred Miller

Straddling a divide between snafu and turmoil,
We dare to risk lessons on these people.
Ducking ambush, fierce and endless,
We kick doors and search in frustration.
Then race the moon to new vistas,
Where we counsel and seed hope with promise.
Amid chaos we coach, build visions,
And endure where insanity reigns.
What epic duty remains to carry this mission to fruition,
A day, a fortnight, a year or more?
How we ache to move out with character and honor.
We’ve sowed this land with spirit, compassion, and blood.
Oh, how we yearn, on the wings of the morning, to go home.

Fred Miller is a Californian writer. His first poem was selected by Constance Hunting, the New England Poet Laureate in 2003. Over fifty of his poems and stories have been published around the world.

Poetry Drawer: Trowel by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

I asked Princess Di to dance
She was biking across the heath
in a glum mood

wearing an expression
that might have suited
Thomas Hardy

In fact, she would have taken up my offer
She would have danced with me
Who knows what else she might have done?
what we would have done together

But a tornado had blown down Windsor Castle
and she had to hurry back
to make repairs

I saw a trowel in her bicycle basket
caked with cement
I knew that besides being a princess
she had many other skills
and here
was still more evidence

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.

Read more of Mitch’s work on Ink Pantry

Poetry Drawer: A line from Catherine Deneuve: The Pound Cantos CENTO V: J7 on the selection list: The doors by Mark Young

A line from Catherine Deneuve

I live way out. It gets real
quiet. Little random adjust-
ments have been made to
keep me there, & filmed in

one continuous shot. People
in these small municipalities
often pass the time in strange
mixes of activities — juggling

chain saws while wearing a
two-piece bathing suit is a not
unusual example. The culture
can be different even when it

stays the same. This book was
company for me; but the suits
I wear when I work in major
cities would cause division here.

The Pound Cantos: CENTO V

Sound drifts in the evening haze,
North wind nips on the bough;
& in small house by town’s edge—

slung like an ox in smith’s sling—
now was wine-trunk here stripped,
here made to stand, stilling the ill

beat music. A young man walks,
grave incessu, at church with
galleried porch, drinking the tone

of things. Brown-yellow wood,
& the no-color plaster, all flat on
the ground now, making mock of

the inky faithful. When you take
it, give me a slice. A poet’s ending.

J7 on the selection list

Today, again, it is The Supremes
who propel me into the morning.
An interwoven medley, Love Child
& Reflections, no reason for that
particular pairing — it’s just
the way of things, the past, un-
bidden, rising up to push the
hidden jukebox of the mind along.

The doors

Everything
has continuity; though the
light changes shapes
& some things resonate
with memory whilst
others stay silent
in the hand. Each
has a number.

*

Grasp as in
within. With-
out. The door
open, the doors
closed. The way
picked through. The
detritus is a picked-
over poem. Number
unencumbered,
the writing
not the same.

*

To find the expression
first design the primer.
Sequence. Consensus.
Homogenous percentage.

*

There are things scattered
around the door. Pieces
of glass in different
colours, paper wasted
since the writing’s
all the same. A couple
of statues, one stained
with blood. Bowler
hats piled up on
top of one another.

*

Two doors beyond.

*

Everything might be
remembered in time
but it’s the linkages
& the lack of space to
keep them near that
make it difficult.

*

Memory is not linear.
Straight lines are
for planning a future
where you write
yourself preliminary
notes & leave them
in strategic places. So
that, whenever it is
you arrive at where
you were going you
can open them up &
see what was penned,
then compare it with
what actually hap-
pened along the way.

*

Everything
has contiguity; though the
night changes shades
& some things emanate
from memory whilst
others shape themselves
within the hand. None
has a number
greater than one.

Visual & text poems by Mark Young have appeared recently in several journals including Indefinite Space, E·ratio, X-Peri, Word for/Word, & Futures Trading.

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959. He is the author of over fifty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are a collection of visual pieces, The Comedians, from Stale Objects de Press; turning to drones, from Concrete Mist Press; & turpentine from Luna Bisonte Prods.

Poetry Drawer: I Lost: No Victor: Poem # 226: A Plucked Flower: There is all over the world by John Tustin

I Lost

I lost my God
And my faith
In this world

I lost my reason
And my will
And my books
And my children
And the woman
I love and still
I never gained

Insight

No Victor

Prostrate in the bed we used to share
On a Sunday night
Staring at all the nothing
And thinking about how swell life was
For those too brief interludes
Between the disasters
When you would hold me so close
And I could feel your heart beat

Wondering what you’re doing now
Since you broke my heart in two
And disappeared with my light
And my hope

Just then the phone rings
Just like it used to
When you’d make your
“Sorry I’m calling so late”
Phone calls

My heart mends for a moment
And I answer it
Not knowing what I will say
But screaming I Love You
I need your voice
In my mind
As my pulse pounds
In my ears

I answer the phone
And when the man on the line
Asks to speak to Victor
I tell him he has the wrong number
Because there is definitely no victor here

And there never will be

Poem # 226

Just as I was ready for her –
Her feet upon my rug,
Her body in my bed,
Her coffee smells in my nose,
The way her upper lip looks when she sips;

Her positivity, her proclivities,
Her anger when drunk,
Her endless enigmas…

Just as I was ready for her
She was not ready for me
In spite of how long
We both waited

So here’s another poem about that.

A Plucked Flower

I refuse to be a plucked flower
That is pulled from the ground,
Clipped, sprayed to look shiny
And put in a bouquet or garland

With the others.

There is all over the world

There is all over the world,
but I live here.
There are these millions of women everywhere,
but here I am with you.
And I have this job,
and I raise these kids,
and I eat this food you place
before me.

I come and I go
with each tide of chance,
every ripple of circumstance.

There is all over the world,
but I die here.

More poetry by John Tustin on Ink Pantry

John Tustin’s poetry

Poetry Drawer: Dead Cow on Route 5 During a Pandemic by Corey D. Cook

It had been dragged to the edge of the field,
now just a mound inside the barbed wire

fence, the windowed panel of a wedding tent
draped over it, failing to hide the mottled coat,

bloated body, as I drive by in the northbound lane,
following the saturated bank of the Connecticut

River, thinking of those whose lungs have become
wet sponges, who are slowly drowning, dying alone.

Corey D. Cook’s fifth collection of poems, The Weight of Shadows, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019 and is available for purchase online. His work has recently appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Freshwater, The Henniker Review, The Mountain Troubadour, Trouvaille Review, and Viscaria Magazine. New poems are forthcoming in the Aurorean and Muddy River Poetry Review. Corey works at a hospital in New Hampshire and lives in Vermont. 

Poetry Drawer: Tertiary Privilege: Eating Chicken Bones And Broth With An Old Gypsy Voodoo Woman Outside Of Shreveport: Rule Number One – Location by R. Gerry Fabian

Tertiary Privilege

It is a marvellous Memphis evening
and as I get on the trolley,
I catch an immediate glimpse of her.
While I deposit my money,
I find her fixing breakfast
with those soft blue eyes shining.
During the day, I call
just to her the lilt in her voice.
At supper,
I envy the lettuce
that feels the taste
of her soft lips and wet tongue.
I lie in bed
awaiting her gentle slide into bed
nuzzling her silken skin next to mine.

The trolley jerks to a start.
She is in her middle twenties
and as I am approaching social security.
The best I can do is smile
and sit across form her
hoping a breeze
will carry a breath of her perfume
at least
until her stop.

Eating Chicken Bones And Broth
With An Old Gypsy Voodoo Woman
Outside Of Shreveport

She pulls the carcass
out of the boiling water
placing it on a plate filled
with herbs, spices and root powders.
Breaking off a steaming rib bone
with her wrinkled thumb and forefinger,
she fries with, in a herb based olive oil.
Eat this for fortitude.
Using razor sharp shears,
she cuts the shoulder blade apart
and grinds it into a damp powder.
Dumping it into a pan of boiling water
which contains three magical ground roots,
she pours it into a blue metal cup.
Drink this for humility.
Using wooden tongs, she extracts
a bare chicken wing from the broth.
This she mashes into a paste
and spreads it across
a slice of French bread.
Chew this for moments of indecision.
Finally, she strains the remaining stock
through a metal mesh
and then again
through old cheesecloth
into a chipped ceramic bowl.
Into the bowl, she sprinkles five love herbs:
lavender, basil, rosemary, hibiscus and patchouli.
This she pours into a pint bottle and corks it.
Sip this and kiss your intended lover.
The depth of love will be revealed.

Rule Number One – Location

She likes to make breakfast
for poor people.
Even before the rooster,
she’s up
collecting, banging and frying.

When it’s all done
she drives to the station
and sets up her booth.

The poor people hate her.
The food is overcooked
and usually on the cold side.

She’s a braggart and a gossip.
A big hand-lettered sign
informs – NO CREDIT.

Still her prices are cheap
and she does well.

More poems by R. Gerry Fabian on Ink Pantry

R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He is the editor of Raw Dog Press. He has published two poetry books, Parallels and Coming Out Of The Atlantic. His novels, Memphis MasqueradeGetting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense are available from Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble. He is currently working on his fourth novel, Ghost Girl.

Poetry Drawer: Autumnal: A daughter takes after her father: Yonder: Deeds by Dr. Susie Gharib

Autumnal

Water is my element,
hence the Summer became a girlhood’s favourite scene,
heralding swimming, boats and vanilla ice-cream,
but it took English Studies in my late teens
to make me enamored with autumnal traits.

Grey became imbued with a literary hue,
with the Brontës roaming the Yorkshire moors,
the Romantics in melancholic moods,
and the Graveyard poets contemplating mortality amid tombstones.

My book cover of Wuthering Heights showed a Byronic hero
against a livid wold.
The wind howled in my soul.
No distance could estrange Catherine and Heathcliff
who taught me spiritual fortitude.

And dark clouds that omens forebode
began to change their dismal discourse
since what blessed Coleridge’s ancient mariner with rain-outpours
evoked the very spirits that sent the frozen ship on its course
though no breeze breathed or spoke,
a metaphor for divine intervention
despite the transgression of an errant soul.

The elms so thinned by Blair’s rude winds
not even two crows could build a dwelling
now mirror the nudity of my old age,
shedding its sorrows and tenacious grief,
preparing for the flight beyond the grave.

A daughter takes after her father

When I was nine years old, I pouted my lips
to blow a tune through his trumpet,
my hands unsteady beneath its weight.

At seventeen, I puffed at his pipe.
liked neither its taste nor its swirling clouds.
It merely imbued me with fatherly pride.

He always pondered over his books,
his bent back indicative of a speculative mood,
inspiring my long spells of solitude.

He tended the wounds of stranded birds.
A recuperative hand became his trait
that lent to mine an addiction to aid.

The shades of blue he constantly wore
evoking the sea that buffeted our boat
have left the flow that ripples my thoughts.

Yonder

I catch a glimpse of the vibrant yonder,
a radiant house that sleeps beneath
a fluttering, yellow maple tree,
a lake seducing the lucent moon
to quiver on its heaving bosom,
a lawn on whose silken skin
pirouettes a barefooted nymph,
a dray of squirrels that emptied nuts
of all their sealed contents,
a herd of horses who’ve never been ridden,
a flock of sheep that roam un-chidden,
a cluster of violets awaiting a breeze
to caress each enraptured face,
a shadow that saunters all alone
longing to mingle with my own.

Deeds

What deeds have you deleted from your subterranean archives,
the ones you keep in your subconscious, diaries, and half-written memoirs?
Torturing, when a child, a clan of ants,
locking butterflies in tight-shut jars,
peeping though keyholes at a neighbour’s wife,
compromising savings by stealing a dime,
seducing a schoolmate with a fake smile,
wetting your bed in the middle of the night,
playing the heroic when you are afraid to die,
breaking every promise your tongue contrived,
slighting many a devoted friend,
adhering blindly to a deadly trend,
attempting suicide for a frivolous wench,
accusing falsely to shirk a debt!
I always marvel at the scale of events
deleted from CVs, bios, and self-narratives.

More poems by Dr. Susie Gharib on Ink Pantry

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, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Poetry Drawer: The Unburnt Toast by Fizza Abbas

Unravel the mystery of the half-burnt toast
a slice of brown bread that couldn’t succumb to fire.

One day you’ll know what it means.

A pale, brown woman with unkempt tresses
walks along the pavement. The asphalt and concrete cracked with age:
A barren thoroughfare of desires – A road to hell in-the-making

Her black eyes look around
the remnants of a half-eaten apple look tempting.

She hides it secretly inside her cleavage –
A feeble attempt at a brutal revenge
those once altruistic soldiers become mannequins.

My poor Pakistani mother in a slum
too has feelings, too has rage.

They say have patience, you will get the aid you deserve.

Don’t they know the toast has burnt and the jam is now wet?

Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published on quite a few platforms including Poetry Village and Poetry Pacific.

Poetry Drawer: Father’s Days by Robert Demaree

A well-known poet was doing a reading in New Hampshire. He started to read a poem about his father. After about three lines, he stopped and looked up at us: “After all these years,” he said, “you’d think I would have this figured out.” But of course you don’t.

My Father’s Toolbox

My father was not much at fixing things
But he had a tool box,
The colour of an Army Jeep,
Marvellous nest of compartments,
Secret places for wrenches and chisels,
Trays for bolts, screws,
Nails of different size.
It still sits in the guest-room closet,
Artifact of wonder
To a childhood on the pond,
Seventy summers ago.

I do not have a toolbox
And few tools, beyond those:
A plastic container with
A screwdriver, the little hammer
My great-aunt used
To pound away at pewter.
And a heavy-duty staple gun,
Mightiest instrument I ever used.

We did not have sons.
Our daughters learned
To repair some things
And married men
Who could fix others.

His Gradebook

I came upon my father’s gradebook today,
On the cottage shelf
Where we left it when he died,
Twenty years ago now.
I wish that he’d retired
While his memories were all good ones.
I see him in his classroom by the pond,
Leaning forward, wanting to tell a boy or two,
Sullen, not unkind, needing credits,
About the Generation of ’98,
But struggling with the preterite, I think.
Then the meaning comes to me:
A tutor is someone who keeps you safe.

Third Sunday in June

Of the Father’s Days
In my growing up
I remember
Inexpensive after-shave
And 45’s that turned out
Not to be the Dixieland he loved;
Yet his smile showed thanks for my intent.

So it did not seem such irony
That the week before Father’s Day this year
We took him to the “rest home,”
(Curious euphemism, that):
Entrepreneurial caregivers,
Protestant ministers,
Meaning well enough, I suppose:
They cannot tell us a theology of Alzheimer’s.
Early on Sunday morning,
Father’s Day,
They took him to the emergency room;
Four days later,
Shortly after lunch,
With Mother and me there with him,
He dozed off into eternity,
Slipped loose at last
From that most outrageous of diseases.
I had few tears left for
The funeral home, the cemetery.
I left them all at Elmhurst,
In his little room, his chair,
In the grand confusion
Of the end of his days,
Left there by those who cared for him most.

The monitor above his bed
Went blank:
A shrill, dull monotone,
Solid amber line across the screen;
On the shelf below, greeting cards
From cousins he could not have named
And an unopened bottle of Williams Aqua Velva.

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

Poetry Drawer: REQUIEM FOR A DEAD COMPUTER by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: Turnover: Foliage Tour by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: At The Post Office by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: Probabilities of Living by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: New Organ by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: In The ICU: Lakefront Property: Prognosis by Robert Demaree

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

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

Poetry Drawer: Rush Week: Knowledge by Robert Demaree

Poetry Drawer: The Trouble with Pronouns: Basket Weave by Robert Demaree