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.

.
.
.
.
.

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

Poetry Drawer: Sonnet CCLXV: Her Pal by Terry Brinkman

Sonnet CCLXV

Mauna stuck in a bottle-neck light
Over her shoulder fly’s a peacock
That’s not COVID aloha for you to rock
How many hearts broken at twilight
Steams of coffee drinking all night
Un-shed tears of a lonely hawk
Shadow-less early morning flintlock
Midnight is my time for walking until daylight
Meadow of a murmuring lizard
Lonely silence of a duck’s quack
Star thrown shadows of a blizzard
Unmentionables torn from the back
Like a grasshopper sticking in the hat of a wizard
Sun was nearing the steeple of Jack

Her Pal

Her pal wears an alabaster grass Ball-Dress to write
Improper overtures of COVID from men
Writing with Tortoiseshell Pens
Gaps between shutters for light
Frost- bound Coachman arrived at midnight
We needed him at ten
Swelling caves aloha in silk hose until then
Insulting to any lady’s double-envelops white

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years. He started creating poems. He has five Amazon E- Books. also poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed, Jute Milieu Lit and Utah Life Magazine, Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, In Parentheses, Adelaide Magazine, UN/Tethered Anthology and the Writing Disorder.

Poetry Drawer: Vitality of Literature: Motion & Stillness in Rustbelt City (Buffalo, NY): Antipoem: Depression: Disintegration by Connor Orrico

Vitality of Literature

Subtending void,
vanished time,
actualizing
my absence.

Sempiternal words
created life —
please preserve
my presence.

Motion & Stillness in Rustbelt City (Buffalo, NY)

Seeking the heart of a city
may be a false quest:
is not each human heart,
each structure
in the built environment,
each shape and flow
of the natural world
suffused with
the peace and chaos of urban life
irreducible constituents of
the heart of a city,
pulsating in balance
the life and death of everything,
unable to be localized
to any one place?

How foolish the human spirit is
to seek something
which cannot be found.
How foolish I was to find myself
at the Civil War monument
beneath the gaze of the Union
and her soldiers and sailors,
seeking understanding
in the interlocutions,
the laughter,
the sparrows,
the comings and goings,
the flags and music
moving on the wind
to the play of children.

Always 15 minutes away
from wherever you need to be
as the saying goes —
pockets for pedestrians
swallowed by highways
over a motor abyss
and it is well to be so close
to a friend or work,
coffee breaks or home,
but time piles driving alone,
leading thoughts to unknowns:

Memories of passenger seat
dialogues with a friend now absent,
melancholy towards a concert,
panic attack towards the airport –
thinking of everything in nothing
in the road I travel, engine I use,
person I pass, position I keep,
my future, present, past —
much to remember and forget,
narrating existence through
selves and sounds and cities.

Antipoem

Pseudowritten antipoem,
unbosomed unpoetry,
ubique ubiety:
paradox of plague.

Depression

Contentment visits
as I extricate
myself from sleep

before memory
of being human
draws me back

to music silenced
beneath behemoths
of how we hurt each other,

our shared sought love
that casts out fear
like eager arms of children.

Disintegration

In early morning still
I sing myself to sleep,
fractal music scattered
as fragmented hymnary,

inhabiting
space ceded
by silence
and its static,

inhibiting
the self I was
and am and
will become,

inheriting
some creation
of my own
disharmony,

inhuming
stone sundered
while sculpturing
sciamachy.

Connor Orrico is a student and amateur field recordist interested in global health, mental health, and how we make meaning from the stories of person and place we share with each other, themes which are explored in his words in The CollidescopeBurning House Press, and Headline Poetry & Press, as well as his sounds at Bivouac Recording.

Books From The Pantry: Escaping Wars and Waves: Encounters With Syrian Refugees: drawn and recorded by Olivier Kugler: reviewed by Kev Milsom

In December, 2013, I travelled together with Julien Rey from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to Domiz Refugee Camp (Kurdistan, Iraq). Accompanied by two Syrian Kurds, Mazen and Amer, who helped us with translations, we met open-hearted people who invited us into their tents and houses where they told us, over a cup of tea, about their lives back home, their escape from Syria and about the living conditions in the camp. My opening words to the people I met were, “Hello, my name is Olivier Kugler. I am a German Reportage Illustrator, based in London. Médecins Sans Frontières commissioned me to portray Syrian refugees in order to help raise awareness about their situation. May I interview and take photos of you? ’ The photos won’t be published, but I need them as reference for my drawings.

For most of us, it would be fair to state that 2020 has not been the greatest year within living memory. At times, surrealism has merged into a new form of normality; not aided by the notion that things may perhaps get a lot worse before they start to get back to any form of what we perceive to be everyday ‘normal’. At such times, it’s important for us to realise and recognise that while we may have to don a face mask and perhaps queue a short while to enter a well-stocked supermarket, for others across our planet their lives have been shrouded in the darkest, deepest surrealism for a long while. Likewise, as we look forward to future halcyon days when we can again flock en masse toward sunlit beaches, or travel on public transport without the aid of any damn irritating facial armour, for some people this level of normality is lost in time and may never return.  

The 2018 book, Escaping Wars and Waves (Myriad) allows us multiple, enlightening glimpses into the daily lives of people torn from their homeland and forced into new, uncertain lives. Put simply, it is a book of highly educational words and inspirational illustrations. Every page is packed with sketches of the people Olivier Kugler met between 2013 and 2017, as he followed the trails of refugees fleeing from Syria, into neighbouring countries and further onward toward Europe.

Every page portrays a harrowing personal story. In Iraq, we meet some psychologists who have formed a mental health team to care for refugees. Their plight is tough, for Syrian men tend to view any offer to aid their mental health as an affront to their masculinity. Similarly, Syrian women are not comfortable with any aspect of psychology improving their personal well being, although some women do come into the mental health unit, sometimes using their children’s medical needs as the main reason for attendance. One of the centre’s psychologists, Ahin, shares her thoughts concerning her child, Kawa. 

The happiest day of my life was when Kawa, my baby boy, was born. He is seven months old now. We would love to go back to Quamishli where my parents are. They haven’t met their grandson yet. Every night, before I put Kawa to bed, I tell him how beautiful Syria is.

Still in Iraq, Olivier was waiting for a translator to join him, in snowfall and freezing temperatures. A local man, Muhamed, took pity on the shivering illustrator and gave him hot coffee from his roadside stand; sternly refusing any payment. Muhamed is 55 and fled Syria 15 months ago. One day, a helicopter appeared and randomly began destroying houses in his Damascus street. Muhamed, his wife and daughters barely escaped with their lives as their home was flattened by a bomb. They ran with only the clothes they were wearing. He cries when he speaks of his wife. She is severely depressed and no medication is available for her. 

One Syrian lady, Vian, does visit the mental health team here. Her husband had been arrested 16 months earlier. She has not seen him since. Their youngest son was born only 7 months ago. She is unsure if he will ever get to meet his father. 

Some younger refugees struggle to make the best of their situations in the Iranian refugee camp. Djwan has found a living, renting out some sound equipment. He earns around £30 – £50 for each rental. He also supplies chairs so that people can sit and listen to music. To raise morale, he teaches break-dancing in the camp. In Syria, he had been in the army but escaped, along with several others. 

Many of my friends died. During one mission in Boyedah, I was on a roof, surveying the area. A man tried to kill our colonel. I was calling and screaming at my comrades for help. Moments later, a rocket-propelled grenade was launched and hit the tank dead on…there was a lot of fire. Two of my friends were in the tank. They burned to death. They became ashes.

On the Greek island of Kos, Olivier meets Claudi, a Swiss market trader. She explains that her business profits are down 50% because of the incoming refugees. Locals get nervous around them and she now has to find a trading spot in a quieter location. She says she does not blame the refugees, as they are her friends. Sherine, a physiotherapist from Aleppo, tells Olivier that 30 of her friends and family had escaped from Syria. Half of the group were on Kos. The rest of her group were still in Turkey, still attempting to join them. This had been her 4th attempt to reach Kos. Initially, their boat’s motor had broken. On the second attempt, they were intercepted by pirates at sea, who stole all their fuel. 

The tales of people losing all their money to traffickers is common, with many refugees saying they have given people everything they have to board a boat. Often, the traffickers take all of their money and are never seen again. 

In Calais, France, we find three young Syrian men sharing a simple tent. The point is made to Olivier that Europe is no ‘promised land’. They don’t want to be here and want to get back to their homeland. One poignantly states, ‘I prefer Syria, but without the war’. They say that Médecins Sans Frontières have been exemplary and that Britain gives them most of their food. The men say that initially, the French gendarmes used to catch them trying to escape to Britain and jokingly say, ‘Bad luck, but try again tomorrow’. Now, they are referred to by many as ‘jungle animals’. In Calais, several right-wing fascists regularly attempt to find refugees and badly beat, or cripple them, while stealing everything they own. On his last night in Calais, Olivier meets a confused-looking Afghan gentleman. He has lived in London and wants to get back there. He says sadly, ‘I miss Croydon’.

In the English city of Birmingham, we meet Wisam and his wife, Hadya. Their story is typical of countless others who have literally ran for their lives. They have moved from country to country and felt unwelcome in all. They have been told, ‘Why do you come here? All you do is eat our bread!’. Refugees have been charged up to 10 times the regular price of food, compared to the local population. Back in Syria, it was common practice for soldiers to open fire with machine guns on random houses. Wisam was shot several times in his legs and he is now disabled. Here in Birmingham, with their three children, Wisam and Hadya are beginning to find stability again. In Syria, they had owned a couple of shops, selling beauty products. Wisam was always in work, but one day everything was taken from them and suddenly they had nothing. Wisan got his family free from Syria first and then tried to join up with them. He tells how he paid good money to find a place on a small fishing boat. The capacity for the boat was 150 people. Wisam says there were nearly 500 on the boat when he tried to cross the Mediterranean to get to Italy. Meanwhile, at the same time, Hadya learned that some other boats had capsized and sunk to the bottom of the sea, killing around 800 refugees. She feared one of them was her husband and did not know how to tell their children.

Each story in this book is personal and meaningful. The reality of each refugee’s tale is given face on, with absolutely no sugar-coating. This is what happened. This is how we got here. This is what we have lost. Usually, as Ink Pantry reviewers, we focus on the prose, the grammar and where the writing takes the reader on a literate, creative journey. Here, the writing is nothing less than the often harrowing truth. It simply is. Each illustration on every page is remarkable, because Olivier manages to capture the ‘soul’ of everyone he meets and draws. In a world often tainted by ignorance and lack of awareness, Escaping Wars and Waves should be a mandatory read in schools and libraries, for all children and adults. For anyone who dares to suggest (as I have sadly observed all too often on social media) that these people have ‘deserted’ their country and are therefore ‘cowards’, or even that they are treated lavishly – being given absolutely anything they want – I would simply say, read the book and try…just try…for the very briefest of moments to understand their personal experiences. 

I am very grateful that I had the chance to meet the people I portrayed in my drawings. I feel connected to them and want to thank them very much for their patience and trust. I hope that their circumstances have improved significantly and wish them, and their compatriots, all the best.

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Jenny Middleton

Grief

we row, hearing only our oars
pluck the sigh of ripples free
from the lake’s swish of midnight

and silence, lifting water to sudden
cold light, cutting and breaking at the damp
float of moss that clings to the cold

wooden skin of our craft
the stir of sand and silt scurries
beneath us as we pull on,

heavy with grief, our backs turned
from the shore and its familiar
round, worn stones, moving

onwards and away, towards
the tangle of the nearing tree strutted
embankment, its branches open

and different with day.

Sleep- Some Scenarios

  1. Absence.

From the beginning you wept, tossing
and un-soothed, suckling milk
to an exhaustion that gaped
from a hungry, red mouth.

We paced and sang rhyming reels,
running and running their rhythms
amongst the thinning air,
heated by your wails.

Then wings, gentle and absolute
with downy sleep
would brush us and rock us
from such barrenness.

  1. Accidental.

Sofas sag with TV induced stupor
and beer bottles brag of an evening lounge,
gathering in glazed emptiness
on the coffee tables while you sleep,
fully clothed, as the drone of day
spirals fitfully to insubstantial rest.

Later you will jolt awake,
bleary, shirt astray and stumble
against the furniture of the world
stripped to 2AM; stark
with the inconsequence of failure.

  1. Induced.

Sleep arrives in the form of opaline tablets
marooned on a sanitised, metal tray,
each pill an island thudding with escape.

They slip between your waxy lips
and soon breath is a stringy rattle
clambering to the air, while dreams lurch
un-fettered beneath your eye-lids,

unwrapping the last of the world
amongst the dim lights of a hospice ward.

On Worthing Beach

Smooth shingle, rounded by sea,
slides and sinks as we walk,
unevenly as the tide
does in its blinking and glistening
suck at the shore, lapping
us in our race to print the sands.
Its salty rush at us, cool even
in summertime.

The wind full of bluster
and smudges of faraway
fairground jangles
haunts our walk,
intercepting our words
with its stolen sounds.

So even as you push your fingers
against the crevices of my palm
and pull me to you,
we feel the persistence of centuries
echo within the town, the tide
and the gulls’ clasp of the paling sky
ring at us.
Our footsteps vanishing already
to the hold of the land.

Saturday Evening – Suburbia

The trees here are suburban stooges,
the stand-ins for a woodland,
growing in the dim expanse
of a backyard,
their shared vision grown to leaves
and translated, in mob, to the breeze,
their whispered drool in stereo
with the screech
of hand break spins
that greet this neighbourhood
from the supermarket car-park,
where, on evenings like these
its empty space is loot – for some-
to race with; to fill the trivia
of time with
and escapist fumes elude
the labour of trees.
Oxygen and air a cloak
as scarce as day.

I Realised When I Heard Him Play

that instead of talking he was glossing
life to a pop song’s day,
fizzy with vacancy.

While his violin sung of a river;
long notes following long notes
in ripples pushed to air
from the eddy and flurry of water
circling in the dank murk of the weir.

His bow’s strong strokes
alive with sorrow swung
from beneath the current’s keening push
of minnows swum to minim beats
then to semibreves

while his fingers leapt between
fine, taut strings coaxing
music from hollow mahogany
to sing the sadness
of the sentences unsaid.

Jenny Middleton has written poetry throughout her life. Some of this is published in printed anthologies or on online poetry sites. Jenny is a working mum and writes whenever she can find stray minutes between the chaos of family life. She lives in London with her husband, two children and two very lovely, crazy cats.  You can read more of her poems at her website.  

Poetry Drawer: Vitality of Literature: Motion & Stillness in Rustbelt City (Buffalo, NY): Antipoem: Depression by Connor Orrico

Vitality of Literature

Subtending void,
vanished time,
actualizing
my absence.

Sempiternal words
created life —
please preserve
my presence.

Motion & Stillness in Rustbelt City (Buffalo, NY)

Seeking the heart of a city
may be a false quest:
is not each human heart,
each structure
in the built environment,
each shape and flow
of the natural world
suffused with
the peace and chaos of urban life
irreducible constituents of
the heart of a city,
pulsating in balance
the life and death of everything,
unable to be localized
to any one place?

How foolish the human spirit is
to seek something
which cannot be found.
How foolish I was to find myself
at the Civil War monument
beneath the gaze of the Union
and her soldiers and sailors,
seeking understanding
in the interlocutions,
the laughter,
the sparrows,
the comings and goings,
the flags and music
moving on the wind
to the play of children.

Always 15 minutes away
from wherever you need to be
as the saying goes —
pockets for pedestrians
swallowed by highways
over a motor abyss
and it is well to be so close
to a friend or work,
coffee breaks or home,
but time piles driving alone,
leading thoughts to unknowns:

Memories of passenger seat
dialogues with a friend now absent,
melancholy towards a concert,
panic attack towards the airport –
thinking of everything in nothing
in the road I travel, engine I use,
person I pass, position I keep,
my future, present, past —
much to remember and forget,
narrating existence through
selves and sounds and cities.

Antipoem

Pseudowritten antipoem,
unbosomed unpoetry,
ubique ubiety:
paradox of plague.

Depression

Contentment visits
as I extricate
myself from sleep

before memory
of being human
draws me back

to music silenced
beneath behemoths
of how we hurt each other,

our shared sought love
that casts out fear
like eager arms of children.

Connor Orrico is a student and amateur field recordist interested in global health, mental health, and how we make meaning from the stories of person and place we share with each other, themes which are explored in his words in The Collidescope, Burning House Press, and Headline Poetry & Press, as well as his sounds at Bivouac Recording.

Pantry Prose: Garden Of by john e.c.

Brian dug for victory. The lawns and flower borders disappeared. The invasion of potatoes, cabbages and onions began. ‘Soil for the stomach,’ became his mantra. It was in those lean times that he became a master at producing giant vegetables. ‘Making the most of sun, earth and water,’ he told his nodding neighbours. Wanting to do his bit, he freely gave away most of his prodigious produce to nearby hungry families. In the post-war years he became famous in the local circle for his prize marrows and leeks. He was awarded many cups and rosettes and his sisters made sure he was buried with several of them.

A retired army officer called Teddy returned the garden to its floral state. With his wife Vera under his command, they grew regimented rows of Salvia, Antirrhinum and Delphinium. Enemy weeds were instantly repelled and every plant knew its place and orders. But, after Teddy’s fatal heart-attack in the Dahlias, Vera let the garden be at ease. The weeds, which had lost many battles, finally won the war. Vera became very fond of gin and made a great drinking friend in Marge from the WI. From that time onwards, the only thing that really blossomed in Vera’s life was Marge; sweet, fragrant Marge.

Come the Summer of Love, the garden had pretty much gone native. Where once stood Lupin and Heliopsis, there was now Cow Parsley, Wild Carrot and Teasle. And this being the Age of Aquarius, it was freely embraced in that state by Sandra and Tony. They had no intention of denying the natural rights of woodbine, brambles and ivy. The shed became Sandra’s meditation retreat and Tony cultivated his favourite weed in the greenhouse. All in all, the garden was a great place for communal love-ins and naked freak-outs. Concerned neighbours felt some private relief when Sandra and Tony both suffered a string of bad acid trips and had to move to an institution with an even bigger, but tidier garden.

In moved Ronald, a young Anglican clergyman, his mind firmly fixed upon the devil and all his works. He had no vision of transforming the garden into Eden anew. Like Adam’s fallen race, nature itself had been twisted and deformed by sin and there wasn’t much sense in trying to rectify that with secateurs and a spade. Actually, stinging nettles and tearing thorns were to be encouraged, reminding tea-drinking guests of the vile corruption done to God’s creation through man’s rebellious transgressions. It was the constant promotion of such undiluted theology that led to Ronald’s own expulsion from the garden, the bishop moving him on to a quieter, country parish.

During the reign of three consecutive families, the greenery was generally deemed more of a nuisance than a delight and hacked back to the edges. In came timbered patios, barbeque pits, crazy-paving and a pebbled drive. What was left of the lawn, after years of mis-use and neglect, was eventually replaced by artificial turf. The plum trees were felled and replaced by a concrete base for a trailer-caravan; and the pond was filled-in, so that a hot tub could be erected. Trampolines, paddling pools and rabbit hutches occupied the rest of the encroaching dead space. Once the last family had gone, it took all the remaining energy of an ex-school mistress to help nature reinstate itself within the garden. She laughed to her daughters that the garden would probably ‘see her off, early doors’, and it did.

In Jerry’s time, the garden was less of a private place and more like a park, especially for the neighbourhood children. The gate was always open and the garden was often filled with the joyful sounds of youngsters climbing trees, playing hide and seek and making daisy-chains. Jerry helped them to construct dens and, once inside, the children would get close as he told them wondrous stories from his imagination. One evening, when a mother was reading to her child ‘The Selfish Giant’, she was told by her little girl that there was a man at number thirty-seven who also had a lovely garden and liked to share it with little children. Later in the week, Jerry had to answer the door to two officers of the law who asked many questions and made him hand over his computer. Thereafter, the gate was shut and bolted.

Now arrives Jane, escaping the city and the divorce. The garden is in full bloom, though somewhat disordered. Jane holds her hips and surveys the mess; she shakes her head, but is optimistic. She feels that with a little time and TLC, the garden will be able to regenerate and probably look better than ever it did before. Her first job is to clear out the shed. Ridding it of cobwebs and rusted tools, she replaces them with her paints, brushes and blank canvasses. Satisfied with that, she takes a relaxed walk around the garden, breathing deeply the green; refreshing her senses on Willowherb, Foxglove and Honeysuckle. And finding, in the most abandoned corner, as though emerging from hiding, Forget-me-not and Selfheal.

john e.c. is the editor for Flash Fiction North, which is devoted to publishing shorter fiction and poetry.

Poetry Drawer: Micro Poetry by Michael T. Smith

Chapter 2

Moving forward, I want my disease to be my companion,
so she can help me write my canon.

Eclipse

I borrowed the eyes of an eclipse,
to wink Eden under the table,

I saw a secret, which is to say –
I didn’t see it:

to borrow eyes from not a friend, but Mother
Nature,

to see what I can’t see unseen.

Gunshot romance

There’s a girl sitting next to me,
belongs in a Tarantino movie.
But I’m not dodging bullets;
I’m only dodging a longshot kiss.

How Terrifying…

How terrifying death is
in the middle of a thought.
My eyes wanted to slam shut
such that they could defend
against what I know not.

Kindness

Sometimes human kindness
            to one another
is so short
                        as to be nonexistent.

Nausea

There is nothing more repulsive
than the smiling photo of a politician
in their ad,
those papers glued to surfaces many,
like a parasite —
those who themselves are but a surface plenty.

Waterfall

I want my thoughts
to descend
like a waterfall,
such that the droplets form
an image of you.

When…

When every word you’ve used
           Too much —
It’s a hollowed word,
          Sans thought.

Word Map of a Cat on a Mat

Putting the indexes out,
I saw the cat,
Sleeping with torso outstretched
While I, unheimlich, rushed to and fro;
On a mat, it sat — in peace,
And I said sighing, what I want is that.

Michael T. Smith is an Assistant Professor of English who teaches both writing and film courses. He has published over 150 pieces (poetry and prose) in over 80 different journals. He loves to travel.

Poetry Drawer: delta cockroaches: axing proves: A line from Lionel Ritchie: Le Grand Siècle by Mark Young

delta cockroaches

Plumbing lines should really
be treated with or treated to
video clips of Michael Jackson
from the days of the Jackson
5. Except. The browser does

not currently recognize any of
the video formats on offer since
YouTube has **completely re-
moved**its Flash player code
from its site. I load up my boat

with pretzels & set sail for the
Azores in the hope that hedge-
rows of blue hydrangeas will
recognize a kindred stranger.
I Want You Back propels me

along even though it’s on its
last legs; but, at sea, it doesn’t
matter all that much. A mael-
strom beckons to me, but my
pretzels kick in & minimize it

in the bottom left hand corner
of the screen where it can whirl
impotently. Finally I reach the
outskirts of the harbour. A limo
is waiting. It moonwalks me in.

axing proves

You do not have to settle for
the town mahjong hero — here,
let me take the keyboard. Lady-
bug y Cat Noir have a past &
revisionist views of events, but
even the most skeptical analyst
does not believe all the goodwill
has been completely wiped out.

So, there is nothing to forgive. The
protagonist enters a new world
where early voting polling places
are not yet available. She is still
quite mobile but gets tired easily.
Is three weeks of it too long?

A line from Lionel Ritchie

She hid behind a tree as a car
drove past. Sometimes these
things just happen, especially
when antacids aren’t working

anymore. Nothing I could say
would help. The surrounding
landscape vanished as the latest
sci-fi series was streamed, ad-

free, on to the quarry walls. The
contextual translation could be
anything you wanted, within or
without your comfort zone. A

boy fell from the balcony. CCTV
footage captured a group of neigh-
bours coming to his rescue. This
Pin was discovered by Prissy Duh.

Le Grand Siècle

Crazy parties at night
in the gardens of
the Summer Palace. Morning
comes, & the crows come
to pick over the remains.
We go for a walk,
compare notes
on the paintings inside. The
Fragonards. The Watteaux.
Reminisce about that
string quartet we heard
playing in the small salon
off the Rue des Brigands
a few evenings ago. There
your heels clicked against
the cobblestones. Here on
the lawn they are silent;
but the crows
pecking at the plates
replicate the noise as
I remember it. Robbers
Street. What did I
steal from you? What you
from me? No demanding
notes, though we paid
the ransoms anyway.

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: Change of Seasons: October and Christmas 2019: The Wrong Sweater by Robert Demaree

Change of Seasons: October 2019

We filled the birdfeeders three weeks ago.
Against the yellow wood
We can see they have not gone down
At all.
We may wind up spreading the seed
On the ground
For the chipmunks and squirrels,
Who will consider it their due.
Forty degrees on the porch this morning.
In town orange lights set out for Halloween,
Evidence of lives that go on
When we are not here.
The somber beauty of leaves turning
In the rain.
Along the shore
The water pipe lies atop the ground.
The town will turn it off next week.
The birdfeeders are still full.
The birds have headed out
And so will we.

Christmas 2019

Late December. We have gathered
For a Christmas concert.
The town band—amateurs, neighbours—
Plays O Holy Night.
A new generation has come
To Golden Pines. They share greetings
As though they knew each other well.
Our crowd, in the ninth decade of life,
Ranks thinned,
Small signs of things not working well,
Joints, numbness,
This year more walkers leaned up
Against the wall.

That they are amateurs is clear enough,
Except for the first trumpet,
The song they play once scorned by the church:
Our hearts are gladdened,
The room is made to glow
At this particular Christmas
In this particular year.

The Wrong Sweater

At stores this morning
Long lines to exchange or return:
Too large, too small, too green, too blue,
Most simply inconvenienced
By the innocent errors of loved ones.
But the day after Christmas
Also brings out the worst in us,
Holds up to ridicule and contempt
The kindness of others—
What on earth made them think
I would ever wear that,
In every family distant kin
You never see who still send the children
Outgrown games they never play.

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