Poetry Drawer: Storeys: Dad Says: Shards by Sam Rose

Storeys

I wish for brother to be not
such an unfamiliar word to me
lighting candles and minds with
stories, climbing mountains made
out of the storeys of the house
we almost grew up in together –
backpacks on, climbing shoes, ropes
made out of bedsheets, tiny
mountaineers opining on everything,
opening gifts at Christmas, now pining
for rewinding – if we could, I wish
we could do it together

Dad Says

Dad says “Fluids!”, when we complain we are hot.
“You’re dehydrated,” he says, even if we think we’re not.

“You need fluids!” Dad says, when we’re playing in the garden.
“Fluids!” he says, when we pound the streets of London.

“Fluids!” he says in Paris as we watch Mickey’s parade.
“Fluids!” he says, as we retreat into the shade.

“Fluids!” Dad says, in Portsmouth and in Yarmouth.
“Fluids!” Dad says, and every time we laugh.

“Fluids!” Dad says, as we walk on Jersey’s shores
“Fluids!” he says, in every place that we explore.

“Fluids!” he says, putting a drink in front of us.
“Looking forward to some fluids”, as we ride the airport bus.

“Fluids! Get it down yer”, when we’re in town, shopping.
“Fluids!” in Orlando, when we’re Disney park-hopping.

“Fluids!” is his mantra up in the Scottish Highlands.
“Fluids!” as we float towards Gothenburg’s islands.

“Fluids!” he says in Miami, Wales and Spain
And on the beach in the Bahamas he repeats himself again.

“Fluids!” Dad says, in Nottingham and Birmingham.
“Fluids!” Dad says, by the canals of Amsterdam.

“Fluids!” Dad says, as we push through Times Square.
“Fluids!” he barks and wags his finger in the air.

“Fluids!” he will say when we hunt for the Northern Lights,
“Fluids!” he will say when we sample Stockholm’s delights.

“Fluids!” He grins and stretches out the word.
“Fluids!” we all chant, as we explore the world.

Shards

I have been sheltering people subconsciously and still
when I send them the miniscule
the threads
the summary
the dregs
they do not respond
why do they not respond?
it has been too hard to give them anything so far
and now I have given something they do not take it
take it
take my ovaries
take my diseased womb
take everything that has to come with it
take my tears
take my worst fears
my operations
take everything I am showing you because it is nothing
compared to the rest of the things I have
I have so much stock in the back room
take this
and then if you run out I will give you some more
see how you get on with this first I say
and they don’t take it
I can’t say anything more to convince them because
my voice box is shattered and speaking is too hard
it is shattered as in tired
shattered as in destroyed
shattered as in shards sticking in my throat
and what am I supposed to do with this?
what am I supposed to do with these fragments
of words they won’t take?
I cannot pull them out of my own throat
and put them inside someone else’s
there are other people who would happily take these shards
and eat them like sword swallowers
like fire eaters if it would spare me
there are people who would do anything to spare me
and other people who will not take my spare words
who will not spare me their words
any words would do
just to say message received
a delivery report
a read receipt signed in their handwriting
fucking anything
what am I supposed to do with this silence?
I can’t replace the shards in my throat with silence
I could soothe them with something soft
I could soothe myself with something soft
I can’t reach out
I can’t reach out
there is no future I can see
I am too afraid to look
cover my eyes
this isn’t me
I have shelved myself temporarily
maybe forever
and I need people to tell me that they still see me
to tell me I exist
to remove these shards
to tell me shards are not the only thing left in my world
replace the shards with real words
walk to me
reach out to me
touch me without expecting me to reach back
sometimes I can’t reach back so quickly
it’s the shards you see
those damn shards
every time I move
every time I try to speak they stick
I need everyone else to stick
softly
take a shard and sand it down
sand me down
make me see me
make me see them and in seeing them see me
make me see them and in seeing they will see me
make me see them and in seeing them I will see me
remove the future from my sight where it can’t hurt me
remove the shards from my throat where they can’t bite me
fight for my sanity
make me
make me see only the soft
make me see softly
speak to me softly
say anything softly
fucking anything softly

Sam Rose is a writer from England and the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine. Her work has appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Haiku Journal, and others. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to rock music and eating too much chocolate. Find her at her website and on Twitter.

Inky Articles: Is the Poet Obsolete? The Role of the Artist in Society by Gary Beck

This article briefly examines the poet’s role in history and sketches the growing lack of definition and purpose since World War II.

The role of the artist in society has changed dramatically at various times in recorded western history. One of the earliest notable exemplars of the reputable place that a poet occupied in society is Aeschylus, who did his public duty in 490 b.c., when he fought against the Persians at the battle of Marathon, participating in the struggle for survival of the democratic polis, Athens.

The options of the artist diminished rapidly with the growth of empires, since the role of the artist is not vital to the existence of the state. For almost two millennia, the normal pattern of life for the artist was dependency on patrons, sponsors, or commissions. The exceptions were the select few born to privilege, for example, Byron, who gave his life for Greek freedom, perishing in 1824 at Missolongi, during the Ottoman siege. During this span, the artists outside the system led difficult lives and were fortunate to practice their art, however difficult the conditions.

The industrial revolution diversified the control of wealth by the lords of power, bringing forth a new class of financial barons, who turned to the arts in imitation of their betters. Suddenly artists were able to create their work without it being pre-sold, consequently they were no longer mere craftpersons. Many became personages of some stature in the eyes of the new prosperous middle-class society.

From the 1870’s on, some artists had a world view that allowed them to look beyond their individual discipline, as they searched for a more significant role in the life around them. Poets patriotically enlisted in World War I, and the British poets in particular wrote about the horror they experienced. The poets who dutifully went to war in World War II returned quietly and never really developed a public identity. The crisis for American poets began in the early stages of the Cold War. American painters skyrocketed to world acclaim, fame, fortune, while the poets composed in relative obscurity. More and more poets sought a modicum of security, finding shelter in universities far from public recognition and reward.

In a dynamic American cultural revolution, every art form from the 1960’s on, offered the possibility of wealth and status to the artist, except poetry. Poetry had no opera houses, concert halls, museums, galleries, or mass-market publishers to attract large audiences. But the poets now were college-educated and with a few exceptions, such as the Beats, led obscure lives in colleges. The artificial atmosphere comforted the isolated wordsmiths with the illusion of accomplishment, reaching small groups of students, readers of poetry periodicals, and miniscule audiences attending poetry readings.

Poetry in America experienced an identity crisis. The anti-Vietnam war movement in the late 1960’s firmly closed the portals on the topic of war, mankind’s most consequential activity, as a suitable subject. Virtually all American poets were liberals and in all good conscience opposed war, so the government became the enemy. Since the poets mostly could not identify the capitalist owners of America, they scorned the system of flawed representative government and retreated further into safe niches. Internal revelations and lurid exposés of parental abuse became valid subject matter, transforming the nature of poetry into microcosmic excursions, rather then explorations of big issues.

In an era of uncertainties and dangerous conflicts, domestic and foreign, there is no designated role for the artist in American society. The very concept of training poets in college, an environment that discourages extremes and negates any natural inclination to action, leaves the poet adrift in a world that dismisses the practitioners of passivity.

The poet travels towards his or her destination, a journey of creation of what should be a meaningful body of work, through a haphazard combination of education, exposure and personal preferences. This occurs in an unstructured process that makes the accomplishments fortuitous. In medicine or engineering, students are taught and trained by measurable standards and the results are assessable. Even acting, the most superficial of the performing arts, which lacks the stringent requirements of music or dance, has more predictable goals than poetry. The poet’s path could be adventurous, since it explores an uncharted wilderness without landmarks or traveller’s aids, but it will be a dismal voyage for the timid.

Poetry, once the pre-eminent literary art, has been supplanted by mass market commercial fiction. The authors of novels have become far more prominent than any poet, whose limited possibilities of achievements are determined by effort, talent, and coincidence. Rarely is anything meaningful achieved without a mentor, the sponsorship of a like-minded network, or a supportive artistic community. The poet can be susceptible to a stifling tendency to huddle together in protective enclaves, rather than move in the sphere of the world at large.

The poet must learn to expand his or her perception of existence and enlarge their scope of interest, or risk becoming inconsequential in this demanding life. There is an urgent need to reach out to diverse audiences, prisoners, seniors, the culturally underserved, and most important, to youth, not to make them poets, but to introduce them to a broader view of life. With proper instruction, poetry is the most accessible and cost-effective way to reach large numbers of youth. The constriction of the classroom rarely develops confidence in youth, the quality that allows them to choose who they will grow up to be. The poet can help launch venturesome journeys for youth that will promote their contribution to the future of our society.

It is implausible that America will produce warrior-poets who will fight on tomorrow’s battlefields of freedom. But those poets who wish to participate in the life of their times, participate in a grander arena of creativity, design a meaningful role for themselves in their society, must outreach to needy and deprived audiences. The poet’s efforts will enrich their audiences, who in turn will reward those poets who are receptive with the great satisfaction derived from serving humanity.

Essays by Gary Beck about foreign affairs, political issues, literary topics and homelessness have appeared in AIM Magazine, Elimae, Outcry, Purple Dream, CC & D Magazine, Bergen Street Review, Campbell  Corners Language Exchange, Let Up Magazine, The Oracular Tree, Bedford-St. Martins Press, Penniless Press, Fine Lines, 63 Channels, Writing Raw, Greensburg Magazine, Slurve Magazine, Poor  Mojo Almanack,  Wolf Moon Journal, Shelf Life, The Recusant, International Zeitschrift, Straitjacket  Magazine, Fear of Monkeys (Twin Enterprises), Poetic Matrix Press, Gently Read Literature, Geronimo Review, Lit Up Magazine, Lunar Poetry, Plum Ruby Review, Sorrowland Press, The Dramatists Guild Quarterly, Blue Lake Review, The Wolfian, Record Magazine, Consciousness: Literature and the Arts and other publications.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theatre director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn’t earn a living in the theatre. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 21 poetry collections, 7 novels, 3 short story collections and 1 collection of essays. Published poetry books include:  Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings, The Remission of Order and Contusions (Winter Goose Publishing, forthcoming is Desperate Seeker); Blossoms of Decay, Expectations, Blunt Force and Transitions (Wordcatcher Publishing, forthcoming are Temporal Dreams and Mortal Coil); and Earth Links will be published by Cyberwit Publishing. His novels include a series ‘Stand to Arms, Marines’: Call to Valor and Crumbling Ramparts (Gnome on Pigs Productions, forthcoming is the third in the series, Raise High the Walls); Acts of Defiance and Flare Up (Wordcatcher Publishing), forthcoming is its sequel, Still Defiant); and Extreme Change will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His short story collections include: Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing), Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing) and The Republic of Dreams and other essays (Gnome on Pig Productions). The Big Match and other one act plays will be published by Wordcatcher Publishing. Gary lives in New York City.

Gary’s website

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Poetry Drawer: Leafy Acrobats: Tracker: Winter Chill: Party Pooper: Moss Covered Shoes by Mary Bone

Leafy Acrobats

My thoughts came together
While strolling in the fall,
As the leaves were tumbling.
Acrobats soared through
The sky with
A coloured silhouette.
Glorious colours were scattered
At my feet.

Tracker

I saw footprints
In the snow today.
I could be part Indian.
The tracks were on a road
To another woman’s house.
I should have seen it a long time ago.
All the signs were there.

Winter Chill

The soup told us winter was coming.
The beef bones had stewed all morning
Until the vegetables and spices were added.
I dipped my cornbread
Into the stew,
Getting ready for the upcoming chill.

Party Pooper

Here comes my regular customer.
I’m getting the peanuts out.
She’s not a good tipper
And she is so messy.
We won’t make a profit today.
She’s such a party pooper.

Moss Covered Shoes

Moss covered shoes were found
In the forest.
Had someone walked a mile in them?
There is probably a story here.
Perhaps the moss felt like carpet beneath someone’s toes,
And they left the shoes there to collect dust.

Mary Bone has been published at Literary Librarian, Spillwords, Vita Brevis Literature, Halcyon Days, Best Poetry Website, and Family Friend Poems

Poetry Drawer: Pearls-Dreams by Paweł Markiewicz

the morning red sky
the pearl diver on board ship
ferrymen’s ayres
seaweed under sea
with the most propitious pearls
hidden by seaman
matutinal sun
keel swimming to new island
laden with the pearls
when the tide is out
pearl diver is fetching pearls
from sunken vessel
weird of afterglow
pearler singing song of moon
breaks sea-solitude
under summer moon
a pearl in dreamy gull’s beak
marine wizardry

Pawel Markiewicz was born 1983 in Poland (Siemiatycze). His English haikus and short poems are published by Ginyu (Tokyo), Atlas Poetica (USA), The Cherita (UK), Tajmahal Review (India) and Better Than Starbucks (USA). More of Pawel’s work can be found on Blog Nostics.

Poetry Drawer: Coma of Dreams by Janine Crawford

Before I sleep and slip,
Into a deep coma of dreams,
I place my feelings into a bottle,
And throw that bottle in the ocean blue,
To cast out negativity,
And to reach some form of life,
In my dreams.

I send out thousands of words,
But no words are strong enough,
To express how I really feel.

There are some stunning humans,
On this planet,
Yet when I look in the mirror,
I see a dark creature,
Not worthy to walk this land.
When the night comes,
It covers my imperfections,
When the sun rises,
I slither back,
Into the shadows.

I don’t feel like a human being,
Maybe because,
Deep down,
I don’t speak human.

Poetry Drawer: Love Bird by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

In mercado cages
dull peach-faced love birds
lack the sunshine they need
The carcasses of dead animals
are more vibrant than the live ones

A poster shows
two female boxers
One is Elena Menendez
They are both heavily muscled
and know that they will be hit as hard as they hit
and that it will hurt them in the day
and damage them in the night
and in the weeks and months to come
until the next fight
which will be worse
and the next
worse yet
until they can no longer raise
their fists to defend themselves

I look in Elena’s eyes
and see her thoughts:
Why did I have to be a fighter?
I love the sweet sounds
of the violin
Why couldn’t I have been a violinist?

A peach-faced love bird
escapes its cage
flies up and perches
on a dead electric wire
next to Elena’s photo
posed with her fists up
dangerous despite her fear

My wife is having a manic episode
and has convinced herself that she is invulnerable
that it is safe for her
to drink the local water
I leave the bathroom
give the attendant ten pesos
return to my wife
standing under Elena’s poster
just as she is finishing
a big dirty glass full

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 by Pski’s Porch Publications in 2019, The Arrest of Mr Kissy Face, 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

Poetry Drawer: Poetry Slam by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Books From The Pantry: Poems for a World Gone to Sh*t reviewed by Claire Faulkner

I bought this book on a dark and rainy day in Birmingham last year, and although I’ve dipped in and out of it during that time, now seems like an ideal time to share my thoughts and review it.

Published by Quercus, Poems for a World Gone to Sh*t, is a lovely anthology containing classic and contemporary poems. Each remind the reader that whatever they may be going through, however difficult or dark life might seem, that they are not alone, and things will get better.

It’s a collection which you can easily pick up and read depending on your mood. Some of the poems you may already know. Some maybe completely new to you. You can read one at a time, go through each chapter, or if you felt like it, attack the entire book in one go.

I like the mix of writers this the collection offers. Included are verses from; Lemn Sissay, Margaret Atwood, D.H. Lawrence, Rudyard Kipling and Hollie McNish.

Subjects are varied. Some more relatable than others. In ‘Soup Kitchens’, Hollie McNish expresses her anger and frustration at politicians who decide policy about charitable aid. “…I’ve had enough.” She says, “…I can’t even be arsed / to rhyme if these people are leading the country.”

Some of the poems are enthusiastic and many are inspirational. The positivity in Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ always lifts my spirits. As does this extract from ‘Little Things’, a poem about acts of kindness by Julia Carney. “Little deeds of kindness, / Little words of love, / Help to make earth happy / Like the Heaven above.”

I liked the poems about nature. ‘The Moment’ by Margaret Atwood is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece about the environment reclaiming itself from humanity.

I found ‘Tall Nettles’ by Edward Thomas positive and uplifting. Most people hate nettles, but Thomas admires their strength and beauty. They survive and grow to cover everything else. “This corner of the farmyard I like most: / As well as any bloom upon a flower / I like the dust on nettles, never lost / Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.”

I enjoyed reading this collection. Some of the poems made me laugh, some made me reflect, and others made me want to shout out in agreement. There is something for everyone in this book.

On the back of this book, the blurb says “Discover the amazing power of poetry to make even the most f**ked up times feel better.” It’s a good sales pitch for a good book. Poetry is powerful, and sometimes the world does feel like it’s gone to sh*t. So what better way to pick yourself, take a breath and read this anthology.

Poetry Drawer: lost a battle with suicide: for the rest of our lives: an old lover whistling in a graveyard: my therapist: pressing my lips by J.J. Campbell

lost a battle with suicide

the firestarter
lost a battle
to suicide

i still remember
the look in her
eyes the first
time i heard
that song
blasting
between
the neon
at the club

i had dreams
of forever

and she just
needed another
free drink

neither of us
left satisfied
that night

for the rest of our lives

i stopped believing
in love when the
woman of my
dreams decided
she’d rather have
a life without
my dick in it

of course, we
were going to
remain friends
for the rest of
our lives

until three
weeks later

she called with
the news of a
new boyfriend

i was out two
thousand dollars
and had a broken
heart that never
would be repaired

that was twenty
years ago

time doesn’t
heal shit

an old lover whistling in a graveyard

embrace
the pain

an old lover
whistling in
a graveyard

that haunting
laughter in the
distance is god

she doesn’t
necessarily
expect and
wish for your
failure

but success is
as likely as the
souls in this
graveyard ever
seeing the sun

again

my therapist

the
empty page
eventually
becomes
my therapist

i only wish
it would ask
better questions

pressing my lips

the rain touches
her lips like
tears from a
god we all
stopped
believing
in years ago

i remember
unbuttoning
her shirt and
pressing my
lips to a nipple

she started to
pull down my
jeans and i was
thankful i lived
a quarter mile
off of the road

and none of
my neighbours
could see this
part of the
property

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 & Goodreads

Pantry Prose: After The Fact by Perry McDaid


I had been in some sort of daze, oblivious to everything but the end goal of escape from reality on the work of a favoured author. Even the news that an old classmate had been arrested for subversion barely impinged on my consciousness. The Christmas melancholy with all the memories of past missed opportunities overwhelmed me. Depression had eclipsed my senses.

I had no idea how I’d got in. The Derry Central library had been closed to the public for this hour. Perhaps it was the haircut, I told myself, recently trimmed as a concession to my lazy approach to hair care. Then again, it could have been the generic blue-green coat I had bought from an army surplus store in an effort to eke out my paltry finances; or something about my bleak demeanour. Maybe it was even an honest to goodness act of God.

Whatever the unexpected sequence of events which allowed me access, there I was: snuffling through an array of books which failed to pique my interest; an oddity in itself, for I have always been an avid reader and love books of all sorts.

In saying ‘all sorts’, I’m excluding ‘pass-offs’ unimaginative authors insist as being their own creation and, of course, the assembly-line titillating trash identifying themselves as romance novels: the sort worshipped by some women and most shadow-hugging teenagers. I was considering re-reading an Asimov when I felt a tap on the shoulder.

“He wants you.”

The police sergeant and I shared an awkward moment: he; surprised and offended that an unauthorized civilian should be present; I, offended and surprised that a cop should not only materialize in my local library, but have the effrontery of laying a hand upon me. What I actually verbalised was:

“Eh?”

The cop’s eyes shrank to their normal suspicious little slits, as he gave a non-committal shrug.

“Carson: The Condemned.”

Now there was a tragic and macabre example of alliteration. The political party elected by Carson’s peers, one of the more intransigent schisms of republicanism, had been refused their mandate by the occupying forces.

Nowadays the ‘occupying’ bit was less of a physical presence than a financial miasma and a briar patch of governmental procedures choking independent decision-making like a drawstring on a medieval purse.

Despite the futility of their situation, the more established republicans had pursued diplomatic avenues to block the reintroduction of the death penalty. However, paranoia and egocentric ruthlessness had brought the death squads in from the cold, the same cold which gripped me as I recognised their insignia as they blocked the exits.

Some artiste had designed a new coat of arms for them: sable hound rampant on a maroon and chevron gules background – or something along those lines. I was concentrating more on being invisible than accurately memorising their silly badge.

No civilians remained within the building, save for one tremulous desk-clerk. I had been so absorbed in my private thoughts that I had either blithely walked through or entirely missed the silent evacuation; my unheeding wandering from aisle to aisle frustrating detection until now.

“Will you see him?” The civility was uncharacteristic. I grimaced, nodded, and followed the uniform up the central aisle to where Carson sat, unfettered, in the middle of the library. The placement was equidistant from any potential escape route. I knew him well. My legs made the decision for me. Without transition I found myself sitting opposite him, four eagle-eyed assassins looming over us.

“Jimmy,” I offered by way of greeting.

“Thanks for saying yes,” he acknowledged. He was giving nothing away. Big Brother could do his own dirty work.

“Don’t even know how I got here,” I assured him hastily; nightmare scenarios racing through my brain. Why me? Had he somehow assumed it was I who informed? Don’t be daft, I scoffed at myself. What do you know? You haven’t seen him since he joined.

“I’m not …” I sought to explain.

“I know,” he reassuringly waved away my denial. “I spotted you on the way in and asked Beaky to let you stay. The Managing Director is here as a witness that you come to no harm.”

“Heh,” I grinned weakly. “I thought she was a clerk.” The relief I felt was belied by the constriction I felt in my ribs.

“Oh she wanted to leave a representative in her place. She said she had a meeting to attend.” He grinned maliciously. “I insisted it be the top boss. I remember how it was.”

“She’s not too happy.”

Incongruously we laughed. It petered out into an uncomfortable silence.

“How long?” I asked to break the eggshell moment.

“Forty two minutes,” Beaky interposed. Identification wasn’t difficult.

There was some movement at the entrance and a wild-eyed delivery boy thrust a piping hot tray into the hands of one of the squad, before turning on his heel and beetling off back to the relative safety of the nearby takeaway.

“Hey,” the squad member began, “you forgot…”

“No charge,” came the incrementally distant whimper.

Another took the special constable’s place as he bore the tray to the table. He waved his Sniffer around the dish and plastic bottles before and after carefully removing the foil.

“Bacon and eggs, Spaghetti Bolognese and two bottles of mineral water. Enjoy your last meal, Carson.” Some people have a knack of vocalising sneers.

“I’ll try, Pig-face.”

The burly form of Beaky positioned itself between them as the squaddie sought to vent his displeasure. Sullenly, he returned to his post. Carson chowed down as if nothing had happened.

“The other bottle’s for you.” He gestured towards the unopened mineral.

“No thanks,” I croaked nervously, but determinedly, “but I’ll take a swig of yours.” The dead man smiled gratefully.

“Symbolic. I’m innocent, you know?”

“Does that ever make a difference?”

“Asking the wrong guy. Tell my father the evidence was dismissed. My solicitor had all the guff, but they got to him.”

“He still have it?”

In disgust, Carson spat a bit of gristle at one of the guards, not Beaky. His eyes told me that finding the solicitor would be an exercise in futility. Worm food.

“Still,” he feigned a yawn, leaning back in his chair to stretch his gangly limbs, “you know me.”

“Back-up?”

“Kerr-ching,” he uttered in imitation of an old till drawer as confirmation, and finished his meal. His eyes misted, yet an urgency played around the irises. “Tell Caroline and the kids I’m not going anywhere, you get me?” He lifted my shaking hand and pulled it to his heart.

“No probs,” I promised, dry-mouthed at the salute of old comrades.

I don’t remember what we talked about for the remaining half hour, only that he smiled and cried, laughed and lied as I strove to fill his remaining time. When he left he merely shook my hand and blew a raspberry at the Managing Director on the way out. It had always been an ambition of his, he had confided during those final minutes, to make at least one pompous ass soil their underwear. From the insidious odour oozing from behind the desk, I think he’d achieved that goal.

Naturally I wasn’t allowed to move from my place until plates, utensils and bottles had been counted and removed; the tables and chairs checked top and bottom; and I had been frisked and searched. This duty fell to the one Carson had dubbed pig-face. Obviously disappointed, despite having the sadistic pleasure of subjecting me to a humiliatingly thorough search, the pig grunted, chucked the tin-foil into the nearest bin and stormed out of the building.

Only after the Land rovers and assorted armoured escorts had cleared the block, their engines fading into the distance, the public begun to timidly filter back into the library, and the terrifying stink of well lubricated weaponry been drained by extractor fans, did I dare to rise.

The shadows, which had slumped across the aisle as Carson and I had talked, sprang to attention as the sun shouldered its way through the cloud cover. Cautiously glancing about me, I retrieved the tin-foil from its resting place and read the electrolysed print: a combination number to a safe.

I’d pass his message on to his wife and family, but first I had documents to relay to the International Court of Human Rights. He never called his wife by her first name, opting instead for Morf – an affectionate rendering of her maiden name, Murphy.

Anyone else would have used ‘Murf’, but Carson had always loved Tony Hart’s creation. I suppose he’d reckoned he would lump the two together. The quirks of sentiment, eh?

The barge which bore the Christian name Jimmy had so subtly stressed, ‘Caroline’, was moored next to mine on the Shannon. I couldn’t imagine how he had arranged it all, or how I was going to manage turning up on the Carson doorstep after so long.

I definitely didn’t know what I was going to say about his execution. I didn’t know a lot of things, but I knew that when I finally visited his family, I wanted to be able to look them in the eye and promise that his name would be cleared.

Irish writer, Perry McDaid, lives in Derry under the brooding brows of Donegal hills which he occasionally hikes in search of druidic inspiration. His writing appears internationally in the Bookends Review, Red Fez, 13 o’clock Press, Curiosity Quills, Aurora Wolf Literary Magazine, Amsterdam Quarterly, SWAMP and many others.

Poetry Drawer: Five Hundred SCUBA Divers by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Octopuses hand them tools
as they work to right the Costa Concordia
laying ruined on its starboard side

After work
the divers drink in bars
and recount their undersea exploits
to avid women

while the octopuses
slither back into their holes
where some of them fondle large wrenches
or pieces of steel cable

There is something so strangely tactile about these objects
The octopuses embrace them with their entire bodies
and have multiple orgasms
far more orgasms than the divers
who have gone to bed early
to be ready for another day
at work under the surface

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.

Inky Interview: Author Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois from Denver, Colorado

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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

Poetry Drawer: Poetry Slam by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois