Poetry Drawer: Moonshine and Matches by Susan Mahlburg

Moonshine and Matches
Syncopated in smooth
Rhythms; a smoulder, a crack,
A flicker that dances with the
Intensity of evergreen sap on
A rainy, September Sunday.
Which is not at all blazing
But still it somehow roars with
Turpentine toxicity, tickling
The pine-addled fancy of
Lazy haze and cabin dreams.

Consumed in stillness,
Hidden beneath a
Kindled soul.

Ink Pantry Yuletide Poetry Competition 2018: Charles Dickens: Adult’s Category: Winner: Linda Cosgriff

An Open Letter To Mr Charles Dickens, Because He Let Me Down by Linda Cosgriff

It was the best of first lines, it was the worst of first lines.
It started well but, Chuck, it was a paragraph in before
you had your first period. What the Dickens were you thinking?
[Don’t roll your eyes, Reader; it had to be said, and now it’s out of the way.]
Charlie, Charlie, Charlie: stop dragging it out.

You name the year so many times, I think you may have lost your head a little.
But wait! A Mysterious Stranger; A Smelly Coach; A Misty Night.
A page-and-a-half of a minor character’s censure of his boss – miles away,
I might add, from anyone with the capacity to give him the kicking
he so clearly deserves. Boz, it’s bleak.

We reach the hotel. Swell. Things look up: A Gorgeous Girl joins the cast
(blonde, naturally), but is immediately rendered insensible.
Reprehensible, Charles. This reader wants to like her
but she’s quickly catatonic and it’s clear her liaison with the Stranger
is strictly platonic.
                                I’m sorry: our mutual friend has now been formally introduced as Mr Lorry. I want no truck with him. He’s brown; he’s dull;
he has no business being in one of your novels. Habitually brilliant,
you have mislaid your talent here. You appear to have chuzzled
your wits, Chip. I’m smarting.

And so to Chapter Five: French proles guzzle wine-stroke-mud from the gutter.
No good will come of it (the aforementioned and mentioned and mentioned
Year refers). The writing is definitely on the wall; the peasants whine for blood.
It’s seedy, CD; a tale not too pretty and – so far – not at all witty.
There’s no mystery, you see, except for one: why did you write it?

Here’s a curiosity: Charles Darnay has your name and initials.
You could have shopped around a bit. If he’s anything like you,
however, I bet he gets the girl.
And so it’s hard times for Sydney Second-Best Carton;
frustration for this reader: I wanted a twist. He should have boxed clever.

Chaz, I picked up your book with great expectations
but you left me with a dreadful impression.
Perhaps I’ll watch the film instead.
It would be a far, far better thing to do.

Inkphrastica: Warning by Linda Cosgriff (Words) Mark Sheeky (Watercolour)

Inkphrastica: 20th Century Faux by Linda Cosgriff (Words) Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Inkphrastica: The Leveller by John F. Keane & The Reveal, When It Came, Surprised Him by Linda Cosgriff: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Inkphrastica: Parhelic Circle: Linda Cosgriff (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Ink Pantry Yuletide Poetry Competition 2018: Charles Dickens: Adult’s Category: Highly Commended: John Keane

The Hunter by John Keane

He snared in words whole decades of a land,
The manners, morals, customs of a time;
His foot-worn city paved with contraband,
Its cunning commerce and its ways of crime;
Each book contained a vision caught with ease,
A tiny world-scape in a rounded glass
Replete with London fog and weathered trees,
The shadows furtive in its lights of gas.
Just weigh each hefty volume in your palm
And feel the world within; old London Town
In festive snow, with Ebenezer’s dreams;
Or bloody Paris in its time of harm;
The pits of joyless toil, unloved, unknown;
The hulks of sorrow looming down the Thames.

Inky Interview Special: Poet John Keane

Inkphrastica: The Fairy-Feller’s Systems Failure: John Keane (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting)

Inkphrastica: Wax by Nicola Hulme & Just So Greek by John F. Keane: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Inkphrastica: The Leveller by John F. Keane & The Reveal, When It Came, Surprised Him by Linda Cosgriff: Inspired by Mark Sheeky’s Oil Painting

Books From The Pantry: ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’: Complied and Edited by Isabelle Kenyon for MIND: Reviewed by Claire Faulkner

Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’, published by Fly on The Wall Poetry, is a stunning and unique collection of poems about mental illness.

The book is divided into sections, the idea being that the sections grow with positivity, and that by the end of the book, you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sections are untitled, and the reader is invited to name them.

I wasn’t sure how I would react to this collection. How would it make me feel? Would I enjoy it reading it? Mental illness can be a difficult subject, and as this collection shows, it affects us all in different ways. The poems cover a wide range of topics including; depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.

If I had read the poems individually, and at different times, the collection may not have had such an impact on me. But brought together and presented this way, I found the anthology powerful, inspirational and at times quite emotional. I can guarantee that there will be at least one poem included in this collection which every single reader can relate to.

It’s a strong and beautiful book. Thoughtfully and courageously edited by Isabelle Kenyon. The more I read, the more I appreciated the poets who contributed their words, emotions and bravery.

The opening poem ‘Battle’ by Bethany Gordon, highlights the unwanted struggle, and is a poignant introduction for this collection ‘Mental illness / is a battle I never agreed to fight.’

There are so many outstanding poems, to mention only a few seems to do an injustice to the others which I can’t fit into a single review. I enjoyed the strong imagery which runs throughout the anthology, and I found Angela Topping’s poem ‘Deferment’, about bereavement and personal belongings, particularly effective. ‘Grief is a cruel handbag – / its catch snaps shut like jaws.’ The poem makes us question how we deal with grief, and if we opened that bag what we might find. ‘…It cannot be thrown away. / Best hide it in the bottom of the wardrobe / an unexploded bomb.’

‘Black Rot’ by Andrew Barnes describes the onset and ongoing fight with depression. ‘She throws her arm around my shoulder, / pins me down until action weeps from me, / creeps back in the morning to stop me rising. // Depression is a friendly face, / she takes her time with me, / lets me shuffle on.’

‘On the Shelf’ by Jacqueline Pemberton is about escaping unhealthy thoughts and relationships. Emphasising finding inner courage and strength. ‘And I knew he’d got it wrong, / He was the damaged one / Made small with spite, / He wasn’t worth the fight.’

Some of these poems, by their very nature and subject, are a challenging read. However, you will also find some that they are inspirational, courageous and many have important messages about mental illness and societies’ reaction to it.

‘Blue Square with White ‘F’ in the Middle’ by Jade Moore is one of my favourites from this collection and details the impact and addiction to social media. The language used is direct and unapologetic, powerful and effective. The poem cleverly recognises our love hate relationship with social media, our desire to belong and our fear of failure. ‘There’s a button with the whole world on its face / and I click it and wonder if I’ve stopped the human race.’

I’m glad I read this collection. It was thought-provoking and inspiring.

Proceeds from the sale of ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’ go to UK Mental Health Charity Mind.

You can purchase copies from:



Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky


In deep sleep
     a sudden rush
                         of wings
     a swirl
of golden light
     with black

Heart hurts
Deep roots
         ripped   out
  in one fell swoop

O Mother
I was in
were in
            until that


in sleep
in dark

Go in one


of body’s husk
brain’s dread

knotted you

So much got lost
your laughter on the phone
your sturdy feet

on the path around the lake
the mischief in your eyes
harks back

to the last millennium
the time
between the wars

brief peace
you were a laughing girl


I ask the persimmon tree
You've harvested all
my fruit     What else
do you want?

I ask the dead leaves
on the garden path
"Where did she go?"

we crackle
under your feet   dry
as bones   long past
fall colors  empty vessels
for the wind

I ask the mountain
"Where is my mother?"
Here, says the rock
Here, says the scrub oak

Here, says the cloud
shrouding the peak
with one fell swoop
crow caws

Wake up   you fool
She's right behind you
pulling your wings down
lifting your head    to the sky

Your mother is
 your spine


In the dream I see
bright-red blood
a bloody show?

a miscarriage?
like the two   you had
before me?

You are a lake
I'm trying to
walk around

The path goes boggy
the reeds threaten
to pull me in

You are breaking up
mother    falling
into pieces   of a child's

fell swoop
a child's lost
loop   or perhaps

you are    the sap of
Our mother tree
Our body of blood

Our body of water
Our body of laughter
Our body of roots


I could tell you
the Women's March


Would you
get that

when   in fell swoops

in loops   of language
I explain
                   pussy hats?

Naomi Ruth Lowinsky is a Jungian analyst in private practice in Berkeley, CA, and the Poetry and Fiction Editor of Psychological Perspectives, which is published by the Los Angeles Jung Institute.

Naomi’s “Madelyn Dunham, Passing On” won first prize in the Obama Millennium Contest. She has also won the Blue Light Poetry Chapbook Contest. Her work has been widely published and has appeared, or is forthcoming in Argestes, Backwards City Review, Barely South Review, Blue Lake Review, Bogg, Cadillac Cicatrix, California Quarterly, The Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, The Chaffin Journal, Circle Show, Compass Rose, Comstock Review, Crack the Spine, Darkling, decomP, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Dogwood Review, Drunk Monkeys, Earth’s Daughters, Eclipse, ellipsis…literature and art, Emprise Review, Euphony, Evening Street Review, Fourth River, Freshwater, Front Porch, G.W. Review, Ginosko, Ibbetson Street Press, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Juked, Left Curve, Lindenwood Review, Mantis, Meridian Anthology Of Contemporary Poetry, Minetta Review, Monkeybicycle, Nassau Review, Origins Journal, The Penmen Review, The Pinch, Poem, Prick of the Spindle, poetrymagazine.com, Quiddity, Qwerty, Rattle, Reed Magazine, Runes, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal Of The Arts, Serving House Journal, Shark Reef, Ship of Fools, Sierra Nevada Review, SLAB, Sliver of Stone, Soundings East, South Dakota Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Stand, Stickman Review, The Texas Review, Tiger’s Eye Journal, Tightrope, Verdad, Visions International, Weber Studies, Westview, Whistling Shade, West Trestle Review, Wild Violet, Willow Review, and in the anthologies Child of My Child, When the Muse Calls, and The Book of Now. Her fourth poetry collection is called The Faust Woman Poems.

Poetry Drawer: Four Poems by Dr. Susie Gharib

A Blue-Winged Thought

A blue-winged thought navigated round my fingertip,
then cast its anchor at the foot of the lethargic quill
that in my hand had stood for hours so transfixed.

The ink that in stagnant wells had congealed
began to ripple with Osirian zeal
irrigating with words my yawning sheets.

With aquamarine, azure, and Egyptian blue
my consonants and vowels were imbued,
genetic hues.


I’ve never wanted to be a politician,
a social worker, or a shrink,
a saviour in the miraculous sense,
a superwoman, a clairvoyant, or Merlin.
But my students keep on asking me:
How can we make the future a better thing?
So with my propensity to philosophize,
I answer: start with foetuses,
how they are impregnated,
because the semen of love is the foundation of a healthy citizen.
Annul social contracts that have infested marriages,
then build a mother who is devoid of prejudice.
She does not only suckle babies white fluids.
Her every pore exudes her beliefs and feelings,
to be imbibed by her infants.

Make religion an affair of the heart,
the inner light within.
Erase it from documents.
Stop segregating school-pupils
each according to inherited creeds,
to abolish sectarianism.

When hunger and pestilence stalk continents,
why spend trillions on ships to navigate galaxies!
Why enthuse the public with enmities
against potential adversaries,
the Aliens,
as if civil and international wars are not enough distraction.

They claim they have abolished racism,
discrimination at work, of gender, of skin.
I suggest they start with the family and establishments,
the nuclei of favouritism.

Prune and preen your media missions,
your visual images,
the sounds which kill from a distance,
make it a tool of pacification
and not of perennial division.

The Word-Shields

Your steps recede
into the uncharted leas,
I hearken to the retreating echoes in a state of disbelief.
How dare you leave?
The man who looked death in the eye has disappeared.

You thought I use hyperbole in speech
but wait till you view with the second sight granted to the deceased
my grief water every vein that steaks your grave
until new blood seeps into your dissolving heart,
my tears.

Wait till you see your eyes bloom into fleur-de-lis
to float on the surface of every word I out-breathe,
endowing the shields of my words with heraldic miens.

Apart From

Apart from Sir Sean Connery, the sage
and the antiquarian Nicholas Cage
what would be your perfect catch?
The Roger Moore of The Persuaders,
or the Kevin Costner of Dances With Wolves?
A Scottish,
or wolf-dancing match!

Apart from Auden’s Funeral Blues
and the bards’ of the Yorkshire moors,
with what type of verse do you converse?
With Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
or with Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol ?
The hyperbolic,
or penitent strain!

Apart from the wall-breaking Pink Floyd’s
and the sensuous sinuousness of Depeche Modem
to what type of music are you attuned?
To the Arthurian leitmotifs of erudite Era,
or the expansive vistas of Massive Attack?
A psychedelic,
or transfiguring bent!

Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with
a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Since 1996, she has been
lecturing in Syria. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide
Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow Journal, the Pennsylvania Literary
Journal, The Blotter, Mad Swirl, Leaves of Ink, Down in the Dirt,
WestWard Quarterly, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Crossways 4, A New
Ulster, The Moon Magazine, the Mojave River Review, The Opiate, Always
Dodging the Rain, Coldnoon, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine.

Books From The Pantry: The Writer’s Pen and Other Poems by Kevin Morris: Reviewed by Giles L. Turnbull

(The cover photo shows one of Kevin Morris’s clocks with him in the background, close to a window).

The Writer’s Pen

You accuse me of hiding in my ivory tower.
I answer that I have no power,
Other than my pen
Which, when
It scratches,
Sometimes catches
The truth of the matter,

That is the opening of the title poem and it is a perfect introduction to the collection. Kevin casts a sharp eye at the modern world while drawing heavily on the rhyming style of previous centuries; that opening poem continues,

The wise well
Know that those who go
Down that path
Oft produce great art.

When I say that Kevin casts a sharp eye over the world in which we live, mine and Kevin’s paths crossed a long time ago. We were students at Swansea University at the same time. I was sighted and he was, and still is, blind. I remember seeing him and his guide dog at the Junior Common Room bar, though never thought to go speak to him … and now here we are and I too have lost my sight, so it is a delight to be a blind person reviewing a blind person’s poetry, utilising our sharp eyes!

In the wood’s dark heart,
The breeze
Whispers in the trees
Words that I cannot comprehend.
May God send
Me peace
And this breeze
Never cease.

Kevin’s poems, frequently a single stanza or two, hark back to the days when poets celebrated the countryside and revelled in the sights, sounds and scents of the great outdoors. Blind people do not, contrary to many people’s assumptions, have superpower senses; but we learn to pay more attention to the ones we encounter or whose absence we notice. The poem, Wisteria, exemplifies this for me:


Wandering around Hampton Court
In late May, a thought,
Prompted by Wisteria hanging on a wall.
A few purple flowers, their scent
Already spent
And ready to fall,
Did to me call.

There are myriad examples of how the world sounds, from a bird singing in a tree (Autumn Bird) the sounds of clocks (The Hands Are Almost at Half-Past, and This Ticking Clock Calms), all of which are one after another, ending with the hum of a fridge.

The fridge’s hum
And the clock’s tick tock
For the most part run
Unnoticed, as background
Until they
One day

This collection of succinct poems can metaphorically lift the blindfold from a reader’s eyes and point out the things that maybe had stopped being noticed because of the domineering sense of sight. It is an accessible and delightful read.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1730814883/
Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GD1LBMV/
Audible http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Writers-Pen-and-Other-Poems-Audiobook/B07KPPQ2K2

Poetry Drawer: Five Poems by J.J. Campbell

the cycle to continue

i remember when i
told my mother i
was molested as
a child

she started to cry

it would be years
until i realized she
was crying because
it happened to her
as well, as a child

that made me wonder
if deep down she
wanted the cycle
to continue

i never bought this
bullshit that parents
want their children
to have better lives
than them

it goes against every
fibre of human
psychology i have
ever learned

i’m not asking for
a medal for getting
into my forties and
not having any

i’m simply saying
perhaps i should
get a better tax
credit for ending
a cycle of abuse

if the woman would have been white

and here’s another
story of a black
woman missing
for over twenty

none of the white
television anchors
are willing to say
the truth

if the woman
would have been
white, the family
would have had
some sense of
closure by now

the anchors want
you to believe
hope still exists

no wonder i
stopped watching
the evening news

a few miles downstream

i once went swimming
at midnight in the river

i was alone and i
desperately wanted
to die

just my luck, i was
able to get a few miles
downstream just by

i went under and
stopped holding
my breath

apparently, the
journey is not
over yet

although, i do help
clean the river each

i’ll always blame
the litter for not
allowing me to
go deeper and
finish this life

the last sucker on this planet

my best friend
blames me for
her cancer

i cry at night
when i think
how unable
i am to help

but then again

i refuse to be
the last sucker
on this planet

the days of
needing to
dance naked
on the freeway
are drawing
to a close

even the losers
get to have a
damn convention

happiness in slavery

it always catches
me off guard when
i see a beautiful
black woman with
a white guy wearing
a confederate flag

i’m guessing two
more clueless souls
that bought the lies
about state’s rights

or perhaps they
believe they found
happiness in slavery

or considering
the size difference
between the two

i’m guessing the racist
likes being dominated
by the nubian queen

J.J. Campbell (1976 – ?) is currently trapped in suburbia, plotting his revenge.
He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Record Magazine, The Dope Fiend Daily, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, and Chiron Review.
His most recent chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press.
You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Poetry Drawer: Poetry Slam by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Slam

The poet laureate didn’t wear a helmet
though she knew she should
but she had to admit: she was vain
She liked the way her long grey-blonde curls
flew out behind her
and she liked the way it felt,
like freedom
though she recognized that as trite

While she was distracted
by words cascading in her head
she crashed into a garbage truck
flew over the handlebars
and her delicate skull impacted
the unyielding steel

She went unconscious
woke up to see a man hovering above her
concern on his handsome face
This must be the man of my dreams, she thought
and this time, wasn’t in good enough shape
to recognize it as a cliché

Metaphors broke apart
and senselessly recombined
The swinging elegance of her brain
devolved into literary machinery
on auto-pilot

She’d always taken the road less travelled
and had always profited from it
but now
dazed and confused in a hospital bed
surrounded by local admirers
middle-aged women
whose faces seemed distorted
almost alien
she wished she had worn
a helmet

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, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Inky Interview: Author Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois from Denver, Colorado

Flash In The Pantry: Serotonin Reuptake by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Mandela Warp: A Moment in History by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Cooking Shows by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Flash In The Pantry: Still Wet by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Loch by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Photogenic by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Microwave by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Granite by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Trick by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Poetry Drawer: Coal by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois