Pantry Prose: Jacob Mundy the Insurance Guy by Robert P. Bishop

Jacob Mundy stepped off the porch and hurried along the sidewalk, eager to get to the office where he would be safe from unforeseen hazards capable of injuring or killing him. The sound of screeching tyres startled Jacob. His head snapped up and he peered down the street. A car going too fast cornered the intersection ahead of him on two wheels.

The car frightened Jacob. He imagined being struck by the car as it jumped the curb, smashing into him, tossing him into the air where he turned several somersaults before landing on the car with his face pressed against the windshield staring into the eyes of the grinning driver. The last sound he would ever hear before sliding off the car to the asphalt where death awaited would be the crazed driver screaming, “Gotcha!”

Jacob bunched his shoulders and increased his pace, anxious to get off the street.

At eight o’clock, as he did five days a week, Jacob turned the key in the door lock of Crown Insurance Company. The office opened for business at nine but Jacob arrived an hour early so he had time to set things in order, make coffee and arrange the snacks and cookies most of his clients had come to expect when they made a business call.

After filling the printer and the photocopier with paper and checking toner cartridges, Jacob Mundy sharpened a dozen yellow pencils. He placed them on the right side of his desk next to a yellow legal pad. One last chore remained; checking the liquid soap, paper towels, and toilet paper in the restroom. They were sufficient.

Jacob Mundy had done these chores every weekday for the thirty-seven years he had worked for Crown Insurance, in this office, in this town where he was born. Of course, the coffee pot wasn’t thirty-seven years old. No coffee pot lasts that long.

Jacob returned to his desk, sat down and waited for the nine o’clock opening. He closed his eyes and dreamed of exhilarating adventures in far-off regions of the world where few people had the courage to go.

Jacob Mundy imagined himself alone in a kayak, navigating dangerous white-water rapids of a wilderness river, narrowly avoiding the jagged rocks in the raging water waiting to shred his boat and take his life.

He dreamed of drinking tea flavoured with yak piss on the vast steppes of Mongolia with nomadic tribesmen, then fleeing just moments before they planned to skin him alive and roast his balls over a yak-dung fire.

Naked and armed with a blowgun and poison darts, his body decorated with bright red stripes from the juices of wild berries, Jacob imagined going on a raid with headhunters in the steaming Amazon, then fleeing into the jaguar and snake-infested jungle when he realized his head was the one the tribesmen intended to shrink in a coming-of-age ceremony for boys passing into manhood.

But he was incapable of doing anything even close to these fantastic dreams.

Jacob Mundy was a frightened man.

So he read Hemingway, Jack London, C.S. Forester, Louis L’Amour, and books describing the thrills, dangers, and hardships of life lived on the edge, of brave men, fictional and real, standing eyeball to eyeball in a do-or-die duel with death. He went to Antarctica with Shackleton, sailed four thousand miles across the Pacific in an open boat with Bligh, and searched for the source of the Nile with Burton and Speke.

How he longed to be like the men in the books he read.

Jacob Mundy had never been out of his home town. He got a passport once, thinking he might go someplace, do something daring, but fear kept him from leaving as surely as if he were nailed to the kitchen floor with six-inch spikes.

*

At eleven o’clock, a tall, spare man with an eagle’s beak of a nose came into the office. Jacob Mundy stood up. “Mr. Mitchell, how good to see you again.” Jacob, always polite, extended his hand. Mr. Mitchell ignored it.

Mr. Mitchell sat down in one of the visitor chairs in front of Jacob’s desk without being invited and gave Jacob Mundy a bleak and humourless stare. “Visiting the insurance man is like going to the dentist. You know it’s going to hurt and cost big money but it has to be done so you get it over with as quickly as possible.”

Jacob Mundy forced a smile and absorbed the insult. Never once in thirty-seven years had Jacob Mundy ginned up the courage to tell a rude and offensive client to get out of his office. It would be so easy to do if he had the courage to speak the words. Instead, he said, “May I get you a coffee? One cream and two sugars, as I remember.”

Mr. Mitchell grunted a response.

Jacob Mundy’s hands trembled as he poured the coffee. He disliked contentious meetings with unpleasant clients and did everything possible to ease tensions, not for the clients, but for himself and the disquieting fear these odious people stoked in him. He wanted to believe his clients would not harm him physically, but their anger over insurance problems frightened him nonetheless, generating in him the belief a policy holder might become violent if a claim were ever denied. Jacob Mundy made sure this never happened.

He became known as a mild and inoffensive man who never challenged anyone.

Jacob set the coffee and a plate of cookies in front of Mr. Mitchell and said, “How may I help you?”

Mr. Mitchell slurped some coffee before answering. “I’m putting in a claim for vandalism.” He picked up a cookie, examined it then put it in his mouth and chewed. “Somebody slashed my car’s roof last night.” Mr. Mitchell picked up another cookie and popped it into his mouth.

“Oh?” Jacob said.

“Car’s out front. Let’s go look. You can see what I mean,” Mr. Mitchell said. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, stood up and started for the door without waiting to see if Jacob were following.

Mr. Mitchell pointed at three long cuts in the fabric top of a bright blue Volkswagen Bug convertible. “Some little shit did this in the night.”

“Yes, I see that,” replied Jacob Mundy as he looked at the gashes. Jacob noted the fabric was shrinking, pulling away from the metal frame and some of the seams were starting to open as the threads gave way. The top was deteriorating. Replacement costs would come out of Mr. Mitchell’s pocket unless he could get Crown Insurance to pay. The slashes in the fabric would do that. Jacob understood this but didn’t confront Mr. Mitchell on the fraud.

“Let me get some pictures,” he said to a smirking Mr. Mitchell. Jacob used his cell to take several photos. They returned to the office and completed the forms for replacing the fabric top at no cost to Mr. Mitchell.

After Mr. Mitchell left, Jacob sat his desk, agonizing over his inability to call Mr. Mitchell out on the obvious fraud. Why hadn’t he said to Mr. Mitchell, “That top is old and worn out. You’re the one who vandalized it. You’re trying to scam Crown Insurance for the replacement costs. Well, that isn’t going to happen. Pay for it yourself, you lying bastard.”

But he hadn’t said those words.

Jacob Mundy wiped away the tears on his cheeks and went to lunch.

A creature of habit, Jacob went to the same café every day at the same time, sat at the same table and ordered the same thing, a tuna salad sandwich, a cup of vegetable soup, a pot of hot green tea and a glass of water. He always read a book as he ate. Today he was reading a biography of John Morton Stanley, survivor of the brutal Civil War Battle of Shiloh and famed African explorer.

Halfway through the sandwich Jacob heard a commotion at the table behind him. He listened, trying to figure out what was happening. A woman was pleading with a man to leave her alone. The man refused and the woman’s voice became agitated. The woman implored the man to go away.

Jacob put the sandwich down. He thought he detected fear in the woman’s voice. Impulsively, he stood up and approached their table. “Leave her alone,” Jacob said. “She doesn’t want you bothering her.” Jacob felt his knees quiver and his heart race. “Now go, please.” Jacob thought his voice, never deep or masculine, sounded shrill and thin.

Startled by Jacob’s unexpected appearance and demands, the man said, “Hey, ok, I was just leaving.”

After the man had left, the young woman said, “Thank you. He is such a rude and horrible man. You saved me.” She smiled at Jacob.

“I did?” He felt out of place, as if he didn’t know quite where he was.

The woman laughed. “Yes, you did.”

Jacob looked at her, bewildered by her response and by what he had done.

Gathering her things, the woman stood and said, “Thank you again,” and left.

Feeling awkward and embarrassed over his intrusion, he was unable to finished lunch. Jacob Mundy returned to his office, sat at his desk and thought about what he had done. He couldn’t believe he was capable of such outlandish behaviour. Confronting a stranger was something he had never done in his entire life. His hands trembled when he realized how daring, how brave, he had been.

Jacob fired up his laptop, opened his financial folder and studied it for a few moments. He knew he was well off, having invested substantial sums regularly for thirty years. He thought about that for several moments. All that money. Jacob Mundy closed his eyes and felt excitement surging in him.

He closed the financial folder and emailed a letter of resignation to Crown Insurance, effective immediately. Then he looked for a travel agency, found one and called.

“Khartoum,” he said in response to the woman’s question about destination. “It’s where the Blue and the White Nile meet to form the Nile River,” he added for the woman’s benefit, and maybe for his own as well. “Just one,” he replied when asked about the number of seats to book. “Yes, a one-way ticket is correct.”

After the departure date was set and the flight details worked out, Jacob emptied the wastepaper cans, refilled the printer and copy machine, cleaned the coffee pot, topped off the soap dispenser, put fresh rolls of toilet paper and paper towels in the restroom, turned off the lights, then closed and locked the office door for the last time.

Jacob Mundy never looked back.

As he walked toward his house, he thought of all the things he had to do before he left; get the necessary vaccines, find out what visas were required and so forth. Thinking of the many tasks that lay ahead, Jacob stepped off the curb without looking.

Two EMTs bent over the inert body. “He’s dead,” one of them said. They put the body in the emergency vehicle and drove away.

A man in the group of people that had gathered to gawk at the accident announced, “That was Jacob Mundy, the insurance guy,” as the crowd began to drift away.

Robert P. Bishop, a former soldier and teacher, lives in Tucson. His short fiction has appeared in The Literary Hatchet, The Umbrella Factory Magazine, CommuterLit, Lunate Fiction, Spelk, Fleas on the Dog, Corner Bar Magazine, Literally Stories, and elsewhere.

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

Poetry Drawer: Resignation letter: Going back to London: Ice cream: Describing Cheryl: The bait by D.S. Maolalai

Resignation letter

the office they gave me
held a view
of birds. how then
should one focus
on scheduling appointments
and booking calls
with contractors? flight stretched
like a long arm
over mountains
and tangled tablecloth.

Going back to London

it looks like I’m going
to be going again –
something in my life
bringing me back to London.
it’s not weather, god no,
and I’ve no friends
I want to see; I lived it a time, it’s true
and have some happy memories
but none of those
will light my way tonight.

me and this girl
are renting a car,
taking it from Bristol
all across the country. she
has appointments
she has to keep or something.
something to do
with a visa.
I’m going along
because I like to drive
and want to see
if some barstaff there
remember me.

there was this place I used to go to –
in Camden. I lived in Golders
and it was handy, that’s all. they played
folk music,
and sometimes jazz. I got drunk there
most nights that I got drunk.
it was pretty good. once
someone thought I was an A&R man
and set me up –
free drinks all night.
the walls
were a squeezed waterbottle
and the air
blue
as fruit.

me and this girl are going to London.
we’re going tomorrow morning. it’s
June now, and the weather’s looking fine. I’m angling
that we drive along the coast, even though it means
getting up early. we’ll go east, our eyes
flying to sunrise
and Paris
will be rising
to our right.

Ice cream

she is sitting
on the ground
outside of tesco.

she is sitting
with legs flat,
taking
little licks
off the top
of an ice cream
cone.

she looks
about six.
she looks
about happy.
her dad
or someone
on a bench nearby
pouring down
a bottle.
the sun is out.
it’s summer.

she looks happy.
I go on in,
buy vegetables and bread,
fresh fish and wine.
when I come out
she’s still there,
eating her ice cream.

Describing Cheryl

Cheryl;
black as a red cherry
plucked out
of a blue earth,
good a fuck as any animal,
clever as candlewax,
ambitious as a bee in spring.

look:
I tried so long
to reduce you
down to an essence in poems
and now I feel like you need an apology –
look at the shaggy order
into which I’ve put things.

The bait

my mam says she likes
about half the things
I publish – she is very
honest
when she likes something. when she doesn’t –
that is to say
when it’s one of those poems
about drinking
or the ones
about chasing girls –
she’s honest too,
in a different way,

saying
“well done”
quietly
and going on
eating her dinner.

sometimes she asks
why I don’t
write the nicer poems
all the time
to which I don’t really
have a response.

when you drop some bread on the pavement
in a crowd of flocking birds
you don’t get to decide
if a starling will get it
or a seagull.

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.
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D.S. Maolalai a graduate of English Literature from Trinity College in Dublin and recently returned there after four years abroad in the UK and Canada. D.S. has been writing poetry and short fiction for the past five or six years with some success. Writing has appeared in such publications as 4’33’, Strange Bounce and Bong is Bard, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Out of Ours, The Eunoia Review, Kerouac’s Dog, More Said Than Done, Star Tips, Myths Magazine, Ariadne’s Thread, The Belleville Park Pages, Killing the Angel and Unrorean Broadsheet, by whom D.S. was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Work is published in two collections; Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden and Sad Havoc Among the Birds.

Poetry Drawer: An evening, after 3 months sobriety by DS Maolalai

Poetry Drawer: Like a little drum by D.S. Maolalai

Poetry Drawer: Advice from Miles Davis to all the poets I know by D.S. Maolalai

Poetry Drawer: Miriam by D.S. Maolalai

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