Poetry Drawer: A wildness of wine by D.S. Maolalai

and so
I spent my 20s
trying to write just like him
and somehow it got me
my first real book-deal,
from an editor in America
with leanings toward fascism,
and in hindsight
I suppose I can see why. we’re all
too easily taken
by the romance
of the hard life, working jobs,
working women,
wandering in a wildness
of wine,
like butterflies
and mad flowers,
and he could write
a stylish line –
that helps.

I think
if I could give
any advice
to someone trying
to be a writer
it would be
eat a few pages
of bukowski once
and early on
and then quickly shit them out
and away from your system
with dried plums
and milk of magnesia.

it was original
only
when he was doing it,
and anyway
there’s no
romance now
in being an original bastard
with a bad soul.
not
when
real bastards
are so easy
to come by.

Poetry Drawer: Probabilities of Living by Robert Demaree

In college he was a friend of friends—
They’d gone to the same boarding school.
We were both at Fort Jackson
In ’61 on the eve of war.
He came to our wedding
And has shown up in our lives
Now and then over 50 years,
A bachelor from the time when
That word did not raise eyebrows,
Meant only that you would not
Commit your life to someone else.
His allegiance was to his work
And his silver flask,
The mathematics of insurance,
Probabilities of living,
And to his old school,
A love his classmates did not share.
His doctor tried to prescribe
Better choices,
Which for a while improved his
Probabilities of living.
In a dark downward slide
He would call late at night
And carry on about what good friends
We’d always been.
Sometimes he would leave a message
Which the next day he did not recall.

Poetry Drawer: Moonbeams by Dr. Susie Gharib

I keep a moonbeam in each afflicted eye,
afflicted with neon and modern modes of light.
They gloss my pupils with the sheen of pearls
and shield their spheres from the evil spark,
a celestial armour.

In my sleep their silver seeps into my mind.
It arrays all figures with a cloak of white,
subduing vermillion, charcoal, and black.

When people sunbathe to glow golden brown,
I bare my bosom to Diana’s darts,
each lunar night.

Inky Interview: US poet Beth Gordon with Isabelle Kenyon

US poet Beth Gordon returned to writing poetry after a significant hiatus in order to process a number of tragic events in her family. In her poetry collection, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, she explores grief, loss, mortality, and how we can find moments of beauty through the darkness. Along the way, this poetic journey also follows trails into music, magic, and the ethereal.

Isabelle Kenyon, Managing Director of Fly on the Wall Press, Freelance Editor and Book Marketing Consultant, caught up with Beth Gordon.

Isabelle: When you write a poem, do images or words come first?

Beth: I would say most of the time words come first. Poems are like puzzles to me – I read an article or see a headline and I take that idea, or several ideas and talk about it with my friend. When I do write, visual imagery emerges from that conversation.

Isabelle: How does your environment and your upbringing inform your poetry?

Beth: I was fortunate that my parents thought it was very important we were exposed to books and music. One of my earliest memories was reading Mother Goose; memorising. From the first moment I picked up a pen, I wrote poems. My parents aren’t creative and my mum thinks my commas are in the wrong places! They support me and a big moment was to send them my book. My current environment is a local writers group I go to every Saturday and my network of family and friends – I have now connected the two. I have said, this is how I will be spending my time now. Mostly, they have supported this life change. People have had negative experiences of poetry from school.

Isabelle: If you had to describe your collection in one sentence, what would it be?

Beth: A book of poetry about my relationship with death and life.

Isabelle: Which writers do you admire and does their work influence yours?

Beth: My earliest influences as a female writer would be Sylvia Plath and Mary Oliver. Oliver over time became more minimalist and I aspire to this. Sexton and Plath broke down barriers about “appropriate topics” – sex, periods. At the time, that was not what was expected, and I’m grateful to them for that. The current generation of young writers I find so inspiring- it’s easy to hear people my age criticising the millennials but I believe it is called change and revolution. The strong stance they take on inclusivity, even if it is just on social media, is fantastic. The abundance of literary journals is wonderful. I don’t think I could be writing what I am without them. When I got my MFA, doors were closed, and they have kicked them down.

Isabelle: What is the worst writing advice you have ever received and the best?

Beth: The worst advice I have ever had was when I was an undergraduate in psychology and an English professor started a writing workshop, so I picked up a minor in English just to take the classes. I went to see an old teacher to say I was going to take an MFA after (he had always been very supportive) but he said it would be useless and I wouldn’t learn anything. Thankfully, I ignored him.

The best advice I have ever had was from Henry Taylor, a Pulitzer prize-winner. He said, “the power of your poem cannot be derived from the subject matter alone”. I wrote him a letter after that and sent him some poems. He said I needed to write through my grief and that after that, I would produce new work. In other words, simply writing about the death of a grandchild doesn’t necessarily mean I have refined my craft. Pushing my craft is important to me – to grow and evolve.

Poetry Drawer: Boundaries (to Jean Baudrillard) by Rus Khomutoff

Hyena season genesis grasp secret psalm
in search of duende…
this eventuality’s carnival row exit in memory
reclaiming time with unexpected grace notes
vagabond of the margins, mantic flame
burning up the green guardian
assignations crestfallen
between music and silence
pledge of presence afterfall
operative x knocking on the sky-
vacillations of xerox and infinity,
images in vogue
amber soul sieve of moments preserved
cascades of desire and nostalgia
forming an umbrella of infallible truth
new rules incubating in the absolute room
in order to break free of the shadows
the rupture of word and thing

Radia

Rus Khomutoff dreams up the contemporary world  into surprisingly familiar cosmic landscapes reminiscent of those suggested by the most idiosyncratic avantgardists—think Artaud, Char, Malraux, Panero, and other moderns unafraid to acknowledge the material quotidianity of mystical experience. Poems in Radia function as un-coders (rather than decoders), allowing the words to shine in their full resplendence while approaching each other artfully, almost naked, in unexpected ways, to take advantage of the oneiric gears hiding everywhere under the apparent simplicity of life – German Sierra 

Poetry Drawer: The Mother Tree by Louise V. Brown

I heard it said trees can commune
in an electrochemical style. Their
fungal webs are like synapses
and neurons, life flashes through
this network deep in forest floors.

A bright white and yellow patchwork floor,
fingers of fungus that are filaments,
carbon, water and nutrient webs,
flowing with such fervour flashing
through underground rivers of love.

They are the Mother Trees who love
with their nurturing neurons
and mycelium strands of fungi.
They fan out on the forest floor,
with their fantastic filaments of food.

They feed the infant trees, with tree food
rushing through a galaxy of motherlove
down into the astonishing network
of a weft of fungal filaments,
reaching out beneath their feet.

No milky breasts, but spidery webs for feet,
nested deep in the forest bed soaked
in a nurturing fervour, and as they feed,
they make the branches of the infant
trees light up green, as spring shoots through.

When the Mother Tree dies through
the ravages of time her wandering fungal
webs dry up, they shrivel back, their filaments
empty, the infant trees mewl, like
abandoned babies, dying and starving.

I walk my dogs, they run sniffing the fields, starving
for more rich smells of the rain-fresh grass,
their yapping fervour fills the air, as they run
through the little wood, with its silent soft floor,
and I look for the oak tree with massive feet-like roots.

There, I see the oak tree now with its spiralling roots,
and I feel the joy. ‘Why’, I have often thought,’ it’s just a tree.’
Still, it is as though she speaks to me. Suddenly I know,
she is the Mother Tree. Her leaves rustle and whisper
as she bears witness to my pain in her silent majesty.

Poetry Drawer: Miriam by D.S. Maolalai

at the counter
she still gets nervous
whenever she has to count
someone’s change. the door rings
an electric bell
and while each customer browses
she hopes aloud
that they’ll pay by card. it’s easier. and each morning
she asks me
to do the totals – got in trouble once
when it was short all a week
and she was accused of scabbing pennies. a meeting
with hr, and the eventual threat
of retirement. afterward
the manager
did another account;
got a promise from head office
that going forward
she wouldn’t have to open alone. I got
the extra hours. he had justification
to fire her
if he’d wanted to, and he doesn’t
like her much – but instead
he kept her on, in this job
of ten years part-time, allowing her the chance
to mess up the totals each evening, to be snide
at repeat customers,
to stack the shelves
neat at close of business
and go home
listening to 80s rock
cds.

D.S. Maolalai is a graduate of English Literature from Trinity College in Dublin and has been nominated for Best of the Web, and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Poetry Drawer: The Provisional Monarch by Kristal Peace

Sienna steel slithers and huffs
Through snow-dusted cedars and pines,
Mumbling, dragging its steel tail behind
it. And nestled between serpent and shore,
Feigning indifference, a river sleeps
Semi-conscious, beneath the frozen tears
Of the land. A land that
Still feels the incisions
Made during the
Surgeries that installed first iron
Then steel runners on its back. And on
The bank of the river three trees turn to

Peer at the young, scaly intruder; a bleak
Memory rises from the earth
And tells them: this is the interloper who
Destroys the cacophony of peace
In the forest. On a tight schedule.
And behind, in the distance,
Mountains who once believed
They were immovable
Wrap themselves in white
Down and ignore the steel
Stripling whose hiss they remember
All too well; they heard it soon after
Explosions removed their immovable
Brothers that used to
Rule the valley where the steel serpent
Now reigns, unchallenged. But the mountains
Tell the trees, the trees tell
The river, and the river tells
The land: be patient; his sovereignty
Will not last forever.

Kristal Peace is a lover of words. She loves their puissance; their ability to charm, dazzle, puzzle, stun, comfort, help, heal, inform and transform. In her free time she indulges her love of words and uses those majestic creatures to write stories and poems.

Poetry Drawer: At The Post Office by Robert Demaree

Putting in the mail
A copy of my new collection:
The clerk asks about
Liquids, perishables…
Liquid—no, I tell him;
Perishable is another matter,
Words and pages.
To be sure, it has a
Library of Congress barcode,
So I suppose you could
Present yourself in Washington someplace
And be led to the right shelf.
Or I may be imaging that.
Poets do not set out to be famous,
Insights and images stuffed
Into the backs of drawers.
I think of 19th century composers,
Famous at the time,
Their works no longer performed,

We have saved copies
For our grandchildren, which
Their grandchildren may find
In a box somewhere,
Unless someone’s wife has hauled them
To the church book fair,
In which case they will
Take their chances, like
That single manuscript of Lucretius,
But will know better than to count
On a particular monk.

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: Brethren…by Hunter Boone

Notice
the Pope’s
white skin beneath the red velvet robe.
Contemplate the thin papery silhouette
of Italian hands touching himself –
sometimes lovingly smoothing finger tips
of the right hand
over his perfect belly.

God has called him while
he drifts toward sleep and
the kingdom of his dreams –
a sometimes white world of goodness
made salient from the footprints left
by tiny angels, the ones who have danced
across the filigree of his indefectible
batiste shirts
angels who have enjoyed trampolining
off the springy fat of his cheeks.

Hunter Boone is published in Sappho Magazine under the pen name of J. Hunter O’Shea, has a BA in Creative Writing, studied with Stuart Dybek, Eve Shelnutt, Herb Scott and Jaimy Gordon whilst completing a MA of Fine Arts at Western Michigan University, and plays a Fender Stratocaster.