Poetry Drawer: Photogenic by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Your face swirls
around the bright blue madness of your eyes

Your bottled-up rage explodes
and we are flung
as in an action movie

and land in the basket of a new rollercoaster
one that doesn’t rely on gravity
or other laws of physics

Neurons fire and misfire
love and hate coexist
Your indifference
rolls in like a tide

and makes me feel like my heart
has been plucked out and
set in a gondola

The gondolier picks it up and
bounces it on the end of his paddle
He yodels like a cowboy

You step off a vaporetto
onto a Venice dock
to meet me

but St. Mark’s Square is flooded again
I cannot leave the opera hall
The singers, feeling antsy
decide to repeat their performance
for free
for everyone trapped with them

They are terrible singers
They mutilate the score

Your blue eyes drift
over the water in St. Mark’s Square
You are as photogenic as the Hell
described by Dante
Your neurons are as striated
as the walls of the Grand Canyon

I feel hopeless
living with you
I feel damaged
without you
I feel deranged
in either case

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: Gold Heaven by Hongri Yuan: Translated by Yuanbing Zhang

The golden sidestep of the days, ah!
arranged golden ladders years.
A mirror
let me see
countless smiles of time.
The long corridors of gold
leading to countless crystal space-times.
On golden gates
carved with the rounds of
golden sun.
I walked into the rounds of
the mirror of the sun
and saw the palaces of gold.
The big birds of gold feathers, ah!
singing the prehistoric stories to me.
I’m the giant in the sun, ah!
I am the golden sun.
Countless centuries ago
I flew in the crystal universe.
To date the magnificent gold palaces
still waiting for me in the sun
To date the golden sun
Singing in the universe.

I am the king of the sun, ah!
The dragon and phoenix are my mounts.
The wheel of the golden sun
It’s all my hometown.

The countless golden suns
Laughing at me in the universe.
The huge dragons and phoenixes
Flying in the crystal space.

The golden rivers, ah!
Flying down from the sky
and turned into
the new golden seas of time.

I saw the huge castles, ah!
Standing above the ocean.
In the sky with red clouds wafting
sparkled the colourful lights.

The cities of crystal, ah!
like the lofty mountains in the sky.
The aerial gardens, ah!
like the colourful clouds floating in the sky.

I was riding on a golden dragon, ah!
flew to the golden space,
turned into the golden lights, ah!
and flew into the wheels of the sun.

The golden flames of the sun
like a huge and beautiful wreath.
The sacred temples
Smilling and opening to me.

I saw the giants, ah!
Lived happily in the sun.
Their sweet smiles, ah!
like a beautiful garden.

Their great art, ah!
sparkled the divine joy.
The magnificent palaces of gold, ah!
Were exactly their masterpiece.

The flowers of the jewels and gold, ah!
Were in full bloom in the gardens of the sun.
The pavilions and towers of crystal, ah!
Sparkled the strange light.

The lines of words of jewels
enchased in the walls of gold.
The huge statues
smiling to you gladly.

The massive painting that engraved by gold
hung in the centre of the main hall.
Inlaid with gems
like the cities of gold.

The huge dragon and phoenix
singing joyfully in the sky,
like the pieces of mysterious movement
made me forget the time suddenly.

Every giant sun
was the kingdoms of gold.
The countless holy giants
lived their miraculous lives.

They had neither night
nor years of the world.
Ten million years of mankind
seemed to be their one day.

They had no worry
sparkling the light all over their bodies,
like the rounds of sun
smiled gladly all the time.

Their divine wisdom
could change the universe
Let every star in the sky
to turn into the beautiful home.

Countless hundreds of millions of years ago
they created humans.
Even the little earth
was also their works.

With their own spirits
they created the universes.
The countless shining stars
like their words.

In that distant space
they were engaged in creation.
The whole change of mankind
has already existed in their eyes.

They were the ancestors of mankind
And were filled with affections to mankind,
and all the wisdom of mankind
had come from their transmission.

Many centuries ago
they have come to the world,
created the sacred civilizations
and the cities of gold.

Their offspring from generation to generation
lived and reproduced on the earth,
experienced numerous changes
To have humans today.

Those ancient civilizations
are still shining in space.
All the past time
are all in another space.

The prehistoric civilization of mankind
will come fortunately again to the world,
As if the underground seeds
sprout and bloom on the ground.

The countless great arts
will be brilliant youth!
That miraculous science and civilizations
will illuminate the new history.

The old earth, ah!
And will be young again.
The flames of his heart, ah!
Will make himself transparent.

The countless sleeping time, ah!
Will wake up from the stone.
The bright and holy lights
will turn into the springs.

Those holy giants, ah!
Will go out of the sun,
with the wisdom of those lights
Illuminating the time-space of mankind.

The golden halls will appear
in the transparent oceans,
like the giant ships
towards the coast of mankind.

In the silent mountains
will ring out the joyful songs,
the fragrant rivers
will flow into the paradises of mankind.

I opened the doors, ah!
And saw the space-times,
the great civilizations, ah!
laughing before my eyes.

The countless eras of light
are coming up to us.
The cities of crystal
blooming in the new time-spaces.

The great flowers of civilization
blossoming in the seas of time-space.
The rounds of the golden sun
are also laughing and singing in space.

The countless cities of gold
blinking towards me in the sun,
spilt the gay singings
like the colourful flowers.

I saw that heaven and earth
filled with laughters everywhere,
that giant planets
also turned into human homes.

I opened one door after another
And flew into one sun after another.
The sacred golden civilization, ah!
like an endless long corridor of time.

Those giants of the sun, ah!
working on the sacred creation.
Let the gold of time
Turn into the countless paradises

Their holy spirits, ah!
Illuminated the space-times,
and created the magic sciences
and that holy arts.

I heard the rounds of the sun, ah!
Singing to me in space,
as if there were countless suns
sending out the golden lights.

I entered the universes
and opened the time-spaces
Every crystal space, ah!
There were also the rounds of the sun.

The stars of time, ah!
Shining in the space of crystal
turned into the bright lights
and agglomerated into the sea of the universe.

All the wisdom of the world
came from the deep space.
The seas of time, ah!
were pregnant with the countless suns.

All the future of mankind
were enshrined in the sun.
The future pictures of the mankind
Will shine the joyful lights.

Every wanderer of the world
are all the descendants of the sun,
The countless centuries ago, ah!
were all the golden giants.

Opening the picture books of the time, ah!
The mankind had been incomparable tall.
The Himalayas, ah!
Was just a little giant.

Before the birth of the earth
mankind have already existed.
The countless stars of the universe
had all been the human homes.

The changes of mankind, ah!
Created the different civilizations.
The another great space, ah!
determined the course of the world.

The future of mankind has been arranged
in the golden palace of the sun,
as if the huge pictures
were enshrined in the rolls of golden book.

The golden books of the sun
shone the words of gold,
the lines of mysterious words, ah!
Gestated the future civilization.

All kinds of issues of human creation, ah!
Came from the revelation of the sun
Only the holy spirit
could understand the words of the sun.

The giants of the sun, ah!
Were the master of the sun.
The rounds of the great suns
were the lights of their hearts.

They were the ancestors of mankind, ah!
They were the earliest human.
In the sun, ah!
Watching their descendants.

I heard their singings
calling me days and nights.
That sweet and moving singing, ah!
were the cups of beautiful wine.

I saw the lines of words, ah!
Shining in the palace of the sun
Their divine wisdom
gave me the limitless comforts.

In the layers of the heavens
they were concomitant with me.
Watching me on the earth
To create the new poems.

Their holy lights
shining in my eyes
Turned into the lines of words
and wrote the new poems.

Their divine wisdom
perpetuated in these poems.
The bright future of mankind
turned into the pictures

I opened the rolls of golden book, ah!
Were full of my name.
It’s above that sun, ah!
Have already had my volumes of poetry

I don’t know if it’s today
Write down these words
Or hundreds of millions of years ago
Had already written them.

I don’t know if I am today, ah!
Or in the distant future.
Maybe those golden books, ah!
were enshrined in the future golden hall.

The time of miraculous change, ah!
You incarnated into everything.
The mysterious and distant prehistory
is maybe the human future.

The leisurely change of the universe, ah!
Is maybe the phantom of the mirror
That bright mirror, ah!
is exactly the divine eternity.

Time and time, ah!
Is maybe just you and me
When we disappear
Everything will be vanished without a trace.

I saw the lines of words
shining in the palace of the sun,
incarnated into the golden lights
and flew into my chest.

I was infinitely joyful in my heart, ah!
And saw the picture scrolls.
The completely new paradises, ah!
Smilling on the ground of the world.

The transparent and flashing earth, ah!
Like a charming girl,
the colourful gardens, ah!
were her gorgeous dress.

The clear rivers, ah!
The green mountains of jadite.
The blue eyes of the sea, ah!
Shining the charming glow.

The sky was glittering and translucent as the gem.
The soft white clouds,
the cities of light
appeared the beautiful smiling face.

I opened the picture books of time
and saw the giants.
They were flying in the air, ah!
rode in a huge spaceship.

The shining planets, ah!
took their greetings to them with smiles.
In the vastness of space
they set up the homes

Their magical eyes, ah!
Twinkled with the surprising wisdom.
Each of them was the mountainous figure and athletic
revealed the extraordinary temperament.

Their quiet eyes
it seemed to have insight into the future.
Everyone was chivalrous, ah!
And filled with holy love.

I looked at the picture scrolls, ah!
As if I had fell asleep
also as if to return to the past
the time of hundreds of millions of years ago.

The golden discs of time, ah!
You spined the wonderful music.
All the future of mankind, ah!
Were stored worshipfully in your chest.

The new giants will appear
in the changing space leisurely.
Let the holy civilization, ah!
To bloom again in the space.

The gates of crystal
leading to different time-space.
Every space of light, ah!
has the rounds of the sun.

The sacred fires of the sun, ah!
Will turn into the gold of the time,
and build the palaces of civilization
in the future centuries.

The flowers of science and art, ah!
Will blossom in the gardens of the world.
The lights of the holy civilization
will be turned into a completely new sun.

The huge flowers of the universe
will be the human homes.
The stars of the time
will be turned into sweet wine

Inky Interview Exclusive: Chinese Poet and Eremite: Hongri Yuan

Poetry Drawer: Golden Giant by Hongri Yuan: Translated by Yuanbing Zhang

Books From The Pantry: the x of y by Colin Dardis: Reviewed by Claire Faulkner

the x of y is the début full-length collection from Northern Irish poet Colin Dardis. I find his work is often reflective and expresses themes such as childhood, humanity, and the fleeting nature of life. It’s a strong and deep collection which demonstrates Dardis’ skill and ability to tackle almost any subject and write about it sensitively, and with passion.
‘Prescription’, the opening poem in the collection, not only lovingly instructs the reader on how to take poetry, but possibly reflects its importance to both the reader and writer. Its advice is:

Recommended dosage:
Take at least ONCE daily, or as required. Do not skip
doses or discontinue use unless directed by your local

I particularly like how Dardis captures and reflects moments of life we all recognise and experience. Poems such as ‘Coupled’ and ‘Two’ are quite simply beautiful.
I love the quality and effect of the prayer like lines from ‘Bird-Bathing’:

Every morning,
I baptise the birds
They do not know
I’ve blessed the water
so that each wing
may become holy

I enjoyed the idea and series of ‘The Peeling of Many Things’, in which Dardis describes the action and reasons for peeling things including: apples, bananas and the humble Crème Egg:

You must perform
the Dance of the Single Veil
before you can enjoy, consider
the foil container, rickety shell
between fingers and chocolate

In ‘Pliers’, Dardis writes about a trip to the dentist I think we all recognise:

You are a butcher of the mouth;
although one may proportion the blame
between us: I of indolent care
and you of savagery and destruction

The collection becomes more poignant with ‘Lepidopterology’ which draws comparison of being treated like a pinned down butterfly, and the subject of loss and grief in ‘Removal Day’.

There is a lot to read in this début collection, and I found it hard to pick a favourite poem. There were so many that stood out for me. Lines from ‘Fire-lighting’ reminded me of my own childhood and in it I heard echoes of my own Mum who tried repeatedly to teach me to lay a fire:

Mother reveals the exact procedure
perfected over the years without fuss:
how to twist and set yesterday’s paper,
bunching them together, laid at the base

I enjoyed reading this collection. Dardis writes with focus and expertise and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Inky Interview Special: Colin Dardis: with Claire Faulkner

Colin’s Website

Colin on Twitter


PoetryNI on Twitter

Inky Interview Special: Emily Oldfield

You are Editor of HAUNT Manchester. What is your idea of the Gothic? Walk us through a typical day in your world.

At HAUNT, I’m treating The Gothic with the broadest approach possible. Our tagline, revealing Manchester’s mysterious side, emphasizes an approach which celebrates the alternative and unusual, whilst looking at possible Gothic influences. From Manchester’s architecture to its myriad of subcultures, there is plenty of Gothic inspiration here and HAUNT seeks to celebrate the city as a Gothic tourist destination too.

The International Gothic Association 2018 conference came to Manchester this year, held at the same time as The Gothic Manchester Festival, so the city certainly has Gothic credentials. Plus it’s the home of The Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies (based at Manchester Metropolitan University) which HAUNT works with, and has shown that the general public really can get a great deal out of engaging with The Gothic. From dark walking tours to Halloween in the City, there is something for everyone here.

So my idea of the Gothic is a constantly evolving form, one that is capable of captivating audiences, as well as capturing cultural undercurrents and dark depths that society sometimes smooths over. To me, the Gothic is the weird and wonderful with some added weight to it.

There is no typical day in the life of a professional Goth! I typically work from the Manchester Writing School building, along with my colleague Helen Darby – who first developed HAUNT as a concept – and Andrew Turbine, who heads our spooky social media. We also have had great contributions from the likes of Lucy Simpson, Matt Foley, J.J Wray, Xavier Aldana Reyes, and many more. I also have a crow on my desk…Edgar Alan Crow, no less! A day could consist of anything from writing articles about the Gothic and alternative histories of places in the city, to interviewing the organisers behind Gothic nightlife, plus working with a range of Gothic-inspired writers.

Although my role does also consist of editing the work of others, I love contributing plenty of writing of my own to HAUNT – as there is a culture blog, plus sections for Events, Walking Tours, Places, Nightlife and Shopping – all with their own Gothic or unusual twist. I absolutely love it.

What is one of most interesting memories since working for HAUNT?

There are two stand-out moments for me. One has to be the launch event for HAUNT Manchester – because HAUNT is a network, not just a website… so connecting people interested or involved in the Gothic from across the city and wider North West. We held the event back in June in The Writing School Building (70 Oxford Street), with Helen Darby significantly behind what was a Gothic get-together of glorious proportions. It featured decoration from The Hungry Dog Emporium Of Curiosities (including a selfie coffin!), music from the ArA DJs , Helen and I wore beautiful Gothic-styled corsets from the city’s own Kiku Boutique and the turn-out was enormous. It was wonderful to celebrate the passion for the Gothic with so many people, and confirmed to us that there certainly is an appetite for HAUNT Manchester. We also gave speeches and I read my poem ‘Ghosted’.

Another stand-out moment is going to visit the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, a charity based in Haslingden which works both nationally and internationally to Stamp Out Prejudice Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere (SOPHIE). It was set up following the tragic death of Sophie Lancaster, who was from the town where I grew up (Bacup) was murdered in 2007, aged just 20- targeted due to her alternative appearance. We were interested in partnering up with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to support and spread their message of tolerance and acceptance. Meeting Sophie’s mum, Sylvia Lancaster, was a profound experience and we talked about the ways in which HAUNT can work with the charity. I have since written an article which talks about the charity’s development of  Black Roses
resources for schools and colleges.

You are a mental health activist. Tell us more.

I am completely determined that mental health should be treated with parity to physical health. Furthermore, talking about the mind is a massively beneficial thing and needs to be integrated as standard practice, for everyone. To open your mind is both a brave and beautiful thing.

Through a lot of life I have faced anxiety, depression and was severely ill with Anorexia. There were times when I never ever thought I would see beyond it. It has taken time, the support of so many fantastic people and pursuing my passions, which showed me that life is so full, crammed with opportunities and deserves to be enjoyed by everyone. Every single person has the capacity to feel, experience and turn what they face into good.

The recovery process and these realisations for me, made me even more determined to emphasize this to other people. You always can get more out of life – that’s a tantalizing and terrifying thought! There is so much out there for you. I have worked with and written pieces in the likes of I Love MCR, Student Minds, Cathartic and more, exploring mental health themes and accessibility.

What kind of poetry do you write? Would you share a poem with us?

It’s hard to describe poetry as a ‘kind’ – as I’m a bit of a maverick, the things I do seem to crawl in and out of definitions! I guess I’d like readers to make up their own minds, but there certainly is a dark, observational strand when I write. I particularly like to explore the occurrence of oddity of the everyday, the unnerving nature of feelings and the simultaneous power and strangeness of human connection. 

Setting Fire to Seat Naze

They torched the hill until it smoked
Heather hardening to coral, crumbled to ash.
The binoculars you never let me borrow
hung like pistols from my hands.

Your fingers captured in the distance
the stretch of flame from base to summit
which you held like an egg on either tip
like the pin from the object before you’d thrown it.

This was the length of adult patience
This was the length of National Service
This was the length of time in the living room
Before the cry ‘get your tea whilst it’s still worth it’

Your turn from the window I remember most
Like a match-head catches the sandpaper sleeve
But doesn’t light, reduced to the slow grind
Like salt over grandma’s potatoes and beef
For this was the evening we ate in silence
Breaking bread, I saw your fingers tremble
And World at War you’d left on the box
‘We shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’

Do you do any other forms of writing?

My jobs all involve article writing – I am also the Editorial Assistant at I Love Manchester, where I cover content celebrating the city and its cultural achievements. I also have written poetry and lyrics to be performed with bands (including St Lucifer, Room 1985 and Vieon on AnalogueTrash) and I am a music writer at Louder Than War and Bittersweet Symphonies. I have written some unnerving short stories, but I’m not sure if they will see the light of day…

What are you reading at the moment?

I am reading The Gallows Pole by Benjamin Myers – a fascinating alternative history of the North. It follows the story of the Cragg Vale Coiners in 18th century Calderdale, an area not far from where I grew up and studied as part of my dissertation (looking at the impact of West Yorkshire on the work of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath).

Do you believe in life after death?

I’m wavering, but that’s not necessarily a bad position.

Tell us a story in five words….

She gave them her hair.

(Photography: David Fox)

Poetry Drawer: Holding Time In Their Arms by Fabrice Poussin

It was but for a brief instant within their embrace
They brought time to a standstill
And created eternity within a twirling sphere.

Statues of remote eras almost forgotten
Precious stones of ancient lands gently sculpted
Blue veins pulsating at the rhythm of the universe.

The artist seeking perfection for the masterpiece
They hold each other flawlessly on a pedestal
In the changing mists atop Olympus.

curves espousing resting hearts upon their chests
they may be asleep within the deep glee of the moment
their souls smiling as the world continues it waltz.

Pressed onto the day of a private encounter
They recall a time when all things were one
Building in a fleeting memory an everlasting lifetime.

Pantry Prose: The No-Show by Robert Steward

Lisbon, Portugal 2003

I examine my watch; it’s ten past eight in the evening. My student should’ve
been here by eight. Maybe he’s just late. I check my watch again just to make sure, and that familiar feeling takes hold: he’s not going to show up. I can’t be certain, but with every minute that passes, it becomes more and more apparent. That’s when I start praying – praying to the teaching gods – for a no-show.

My student’s Spanish, from Valencia. He has his own business here in Lisbon and works all the hours God sends. He’s pale, serious, with black Brylcreem hair, which matches the colour of his suit. He always looks tired and stressed and has a five o’clock shadow. Sometimes I wish he’d go home to his wife and relax instead of coming here.

It’s now twenty past eight.

Come on, please!’ I say under my breath.

I might get to watch the football after all.

I sit at my desk, hoping. My eyes wander round the classroom. Among the posters of smiling students is a microphone sticking out the wall.

I wonder if Berlitz ever use that,’ I ponder. ‘Maybe they check to see if you use the method.’

I close my coursebook, International Express, which I borrowed from another school, but then re-open it again not to tempt fate.

Oh no – footsteps!

I hold my breath. The footfalls come closer and closer, louder and louder, with purpose. I try to prepare myself for the worst: the false smile, the Hi!, the Sorry I’m late, the That’s okay, don’t worry, the –

Phew. It’s the cleaner!

Olá,’ I say with a pang of relief.

Olá.’ He smiles and walks past the door.

In our lessons we talk about business, usually with the radio on. I find the background music creates an ambiance. But sometimes I lose myself in the song. I try to be present and conscious while he talks about his work, shuddering efforts to repress a yawn. But my attention wanders to wherever the music takes me: a beach, a road trip, meandering through an old city. I find myself nodding occasionally and feigning an expression of interest.

Oh my gosh. It’s half past eight!

I go to the reception.

Laura looks busy behind her computer – probably surfing the Internet. Behind her, five clocks show the time in different parts of the world: New York, Rio, London, Moscow and Australia.

He’s a bit late today, isn’t he?’ I tell the receptionist. ‘Did he call or leave a message?’

Er, let me see.’ She bites her lip. ‘No, he didn’t.’

That’s unusual.’

Maybe he’s stuck in a meeting.’ She pulls back a curl of blonde hair behind her ear.

Yeah, maybe. Are there any other classes tonight?’ I scratch my head.

No, just your one.’

Right.’ My voice tails off, collecting my thoughts. ‘Could you call me when he comes? I’ll just be in the classroom with the television.’

You want to watch the football, eh?’ Laura smiles.

Yeah, it’s the UEFA Cup final tonight.’ I grin back.

Força Porto!’ she lightly punches the air.

I didn’t know you liked football.’

Everyone loves football in Portugal.’ She smiles and shows me her Porto Football Club coffee mug.

I hurry down the corridor into the other classroom. On the table are a Shrek DVD and a baseball cap, and in the wastepaper bin a McDonald’s Happy Meal carton – evidence that the manager and the head of studies were here earlier. I reach up to switch on the television. First, there’s a fuzzy, grainy image, then the football comes on. The volume is high.

Deco toma la bola de volea pero su tiro se va abierto,’ the commentator yells, as Deco volleys the ball wide of the Celtic goal.

I grab the remote control from the table and turn it down. Then, I take a chair, turn it round so it faces the television and sit down.

I can’t believe my luck. All I need now is a bifana steak sandwich and a bottle of Super Bock!

What’s the score?’ Laura pokes her head round the door.

It’s nil-nil.’

Sorry?’ she frowns.


Ah!’ she says, coming into the classroom. ‘Which team is Porto?’

I thought you said you supported them. Porto are wearing the blue-and-white striped shirts and Celtic are in green and white.’

Just then, Deco chips the ball to Alenichev, who volleys it from ten yards out; the goalkeeper parries the shot, but Derlei reacts quickest, slamming the ball into the net.

Derelei!’ the commentator yells. Goooool!’ he continues for about half a minute.

Goooool!’ Laura joins in with her arms in the air. Força Porto!’

She makes circular motions with her hands as if she were a Hawaiian dancer.

I don’t believe it!’ I say with my head in my hands. ‘Just before half-time as well.’

Derlei jumps over the Carlsberg advertising hoarding and runs behind the goal with his arms out-stretched, his face beaming. The Seville stadium becomes a sea of blue and white, bleached by the floodlights. The fans jump up and down and hug each other.

English teams are rubbish! English teams are rubbish!’ Laura sings like a child.

Celtic aren’t English, they’re Scottish.’

I didn’t know you were Scottish?’

I’m not, but –’

So why do you want Celtic to win?’

I don’t know,’ I say, scratching my head. ‘I just do. Anyway, I like their manager, Martin O’Neil. Is that the phone ringing by the way?’

Oh merda!’ Laura says, and runs out the room.

To be honest, I’m not sure who I want to win. I secretly like Porto – especially Deco, their creative midfielder. And I like their manager too – Mourinho. He’s so arrogant that he reminds me of Brian Clough, one of the best English football managers of his time. But, I still find myself supporting Celtic – maybe I do have Scottish blood.

In the second half, Celtic start brightly. Agathe crosses the ball into the penalty area from the right-hand side, and Larsson heads the ball, looping into the far corner of the goal.

Goooool!’ the commentator yells, a bit shorter this time.

Yes!’ I shout a little too loudly.

This time the stadium becomes a sea of green and white. There are scarves, flags – Scottish and Irish, big green hats.

What’s happened?’ Laura asks, running into the classroom.

Celtic have equalised! ‘It’s one-one!’

This is confirmed by the action replay: the ball slowly hitting the bottom of the post and going into the net.

Then five minutes later, Deco avoids a tackle, cleverly slips the ball to Alenichev, who beats the goalkeeper from close range.

Alenichev!’ the commentator yells. Goooool!’

Goooool!’ Laura mimics the commentator. This goes on for a full minute.

I don’t believe it. Every time you come into the room, Porto score.’

Laura laughs, but suddenly her face changes: ‘Was that the intercom?’

I didn’t hear anything.’

I’ll just check and see,’ she says, and leaves the room.

Celtic have a corner.

Thompson crosses the ball into the penalty area, and Larsson, unmarked, powerfully heads the ball into the net.

Larsson!’ yells the commentator. Goooool!’

The crowd erupts in the stadium.

Get in there!’ I shout, fist pumping the air.

I hear something above the din.

Robby! Robby!’

It must be Laura.

I crane my neck round the classroom door. Laura trots down the corridor, holding her beige cardigan together, her shoes making a light clapping sound on the vinyl tiles.

What’s wrong?’ I frown.

It’s your student,’ she says, slightly out of breath. ‘He’s just called on the intercom, and he’s coming up right now.’

What?’ I reply, incredulous. ‘But it’s quarter past nine! What am I supposed to do – teach him for fifteen minutes?’

She nods sympathetically, then pauses for a moment. ‘I know,’ she whispers. ‘I’ll tell him you’ve already gone.’

What? You can’t do that!’ I say in a low voice, a little tempted by the idea.

Yes, we can,’ she says. ‘You’re only supposed to wait half an hour for a student, and then you can go.’

Really?’ My voice rises up nearly into a falsetto. ‘But, he’s coming up now and he’ll see me.’

Go and hide in there.’ She persists, pointing to the classroom with the television.

Hide?’ I protest, knowing this will be a new low for me.

Come on, quickly,’ she says. ‘Then we can both go home early.’

I half-reluctantly go into the classroom and turn off the television.

I don’t believe it – hiding from a student, so I don’t have to teach them. What depths have I sunk to?

I try not to make a sound and find myself cowering behind the classroom door, my breathing shallow.

What if he finds out? I fret. It would be so embarrassing!

Boa tarde, Laura.’

It’s my student. Hearing his voice makes me feel even worse.

Boa tarde, senhor. Desculpe mas…

I can just about hear Laura apologising to my student, and I cringe with guilt. I bet he knows I’m here hiding from him. I’ll never be able to look him in the eye again!

I catch my reflection in the glass panel of the door; my teeth clenched together as
if I’d just dropped a precious vase on the floor.

The voices stop. But I daren’t move.

What’s going on?

I wait in silence; it’s almost deafening. My stomach is clenched, my mouth is dry; my heart beats so fast.

Boo!’ Laura pokes her head through the classroom door.

Oh!’ I jump. ‘You gave me a fright.’

Laura starts laughing.

Your face!’

Very funny.’ I frown. ‘So what did he say?’

Nothing much,’ she replies. ‘But, he did seem a little disappointed, though.’

Oh well,’ I say, feeling a pang of apprehension, but that soon goes as I turn the television back on to see if the match has gone into extra time.

Poetry Drawer: Dinner at the Kitchen Island by Kevin Casey

The bird I’ve brought home, snatched from its roost
in the grocery store rotisserie,
lies trussed and supine on the kitchen island–
to be eaten by myself and whomever’s here,
now that the children are of driving age,
and only silence and shadows remain
impatient to greet me at the door.

From the darkness of the living room,
my seventeen-year old daughter emerges,
standing opposite at the counter
in the reticence she’s fixed toward me
for a week. And without a word or glance,
we begin to dismantle the bird.

White meat pulled from tendons, dark meat scraped from bone,
we crack joints in our accidental dinner,
unknitting ligaments, greasy fingers
raised to mouths, until our meal is done,
and she lopes back up the stairs, back to her life,
with the carcass reduced to a capsized keel
of cartilage and bone stranded on the island,
stripped to that treasured, elemental moment.

Inky Interview Special: Kevin Casey

Poetry Drawer: Quotidian by Kevin Casey

Inky Interview Special: Pebble Poet Jim Young: with Claire Faulkner

Can you introduce yourself to our readers? How long have you been writing for?

I am 69 years old and I live with my wife near the coast at Mumbles, Wales, UK. I am addicted to swimming in the sea every day of the year. Some of my poems are inspired by the sea, but the range and styles of my poetry is eclectic.

I love the idea of finding a poem somewhere. What inspired you to leave poetry on pebbles?

Being in the sea every day at Rotherslade Bay, and seeing the large number of benches there for visitors to sit and admire the view, prompted me to leave poems on pebbles there for everyone to read.

Where do you leave them? How many have you left?

I have left 10 to date. The number is constrained by the number of seats, but there are many more seats on the enjoining bay Langland, and I think I will start leaving them there as well.

Is there a theme to your work?

There is no theme to my work other than the “spirit” that moves me to write. I average a poem every two days. Once I have leeched the emotion from my mind, the writing is almost spontaneous and I do not “craft” my poems.

Have you had any feedback from people who have found them?

Yes, the people I speak to think it is such a great idea. I spoke to an elderly couple who had one of my pebble poems on their sideboard at home and their granddaughter loved it. I hope it will provide the idea that poetry is for everyone and not just book readers.

Will you be leaving many more?

I think I will continue to leave them at the seaside. The ink does fade after a few weeks, and I will replace them with new ones.

What or who inspires you to write?

I was born and live in Dylan Thomas’s “ugly lovely” town. His poetry is exemplifies “tight”word-craft. The poet who inspires me more than any other is RS Thomas. I do not have a car and walk everywhere all year around in all weathers, and, also, I have run a Photoblog since 2005, so every single day something, or the feel of a day’s events, inspires a poem. When I relax in my armchair after my swims I find things “come to me” unbidden along with the words and rhythm to express them. I call it the muse in my mind and the bard in my bonce. It is slightly uncanny the way it works.

Which writers / poets do you read?

I read all sorts of poets and poetry. I buy them all from the local Oxfam charity shop and I am enthralled and intoxicated by the different smells that fall from each book, and my imagination sees the previous owners in their time.

What are you reading at the moment?

Philip Larkin and T S Eliot, with Shakespeare’s sonnets waiting in the wings.

Do you have some poems which you would like to share with us?

Upon the Pyre of the World

At the sunset of the fishes,
upon the pyre of the world,
my: I told you! I told you!
Will wash no more dishes,
when the half-mast flag’s unfurled.
Adieu, adieu, adieu,
my beloved Gaia girl;
for we are floating down the Ganges,
upon the pyre of the world.

Music Returns To Auschwitz and a Lone Voice Sings

such longing, such an aching lamentation.
why do you not scream out, or
laugh in an inconsolable madness
and release me from the gibbet
of your anguish?
that i could manage,
that i could cope with.
and, no, i do not want to forget,
but there is beauty in the purity of the
voice that impales the pain;
it holds me spellbound.
i weep now for all mankind;
doomed, doomed, as we are,
doomed to relive a myriad deaths
and shades of suffering
before the end.
oh, i bleed down these ochre walls,
as i relinquish into a sea of wailing
all of my sorrow;
i dread what yesterday will bring
unto the ‘morrow;
it lacerates my sadness
to hang empty upon the night air,
and i wail and wail, but to no avail;
for alas is never enough;
is it?

The Sea Swimmer in Winter

(The Sea Swimmer in Winter on YouTube)

Beyond the breeze,

under the winter sun,
the sea is calling me,
calling me,
calling me.
Seething in the breath,
of the north wind’s spume,
in the push and pull of the tides.
That’s where my secret abides.

The blue jelly fish have pulled back
to where the cormorant stands on end.
As a grey seal bobs with ebony eyes,
and the snows press down the bay.
My knees compose some purple prose,
that will last me through the day.

Harder the winter,
larger the spring in my step,
where I see, in the icy briny,
that perennial phoenix of spring.
That frisson of flight,
born in the glassy might
of the quenching, churning tides.

Baptised, reborn, each shingle day,
in my way, in my bay, away
in the dappled waves of my sea,
my sea
my sea,
my sea

Away in the dappled waves of my sea,
my sea.
When I am dried by the sun and wind,
then, only then, am I alive.
As alive as live can be.
Alive as the roaring sea.
Alive as a swimmer in winter.
In the sea where he’s meant be.

In the sea where he’s meant be.

Jim on Twitter

Poetry Drawer: Love in the Time of Cold by Laura Potts

Before the dawn that walks the northern morning from the moors;
before the swans sing winter on and cough the fog upon the ponds,
we ask that through the Christmas mist and bells that bring December in
you pause and long-remember this: ever through the blizzard lives

the hospice on the hill, sleeping in the heart of dark beneath the stars
and still. How that leaping garden laughs; how that wind will never gasp away
the ashes of our past that live until the last; how those staff with candle-eyes
will guard our sleepers through the night. And as the nurses lull the light

the sentry sets above and bright-as-life upon the skies: ever does that crust
of moon push a light into those rooms, and pull away the dusk and gloom.
Oh how soon the seasons turn, and how the folk will come and go and once
will leave to not return, and how that tree will never know defeat against

the snow. Know only that the flowers grow and show their Sunday best,
and bow towards that sleeping house, and death is that much less

This poem was first published on The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Network and was commended in the Wish List challenge in 2018.

Inkphrastica: The Shore Of Forever: Ken Pobo (Words) & Mark Sheeky (Oil Painting): Part 3 of an Ingmar Bergman Triptych

I stuff a clock in forever’s mouth
which it chews up,
spits out—time, a Giant Hogweed,
poisonous to touch, can even

blind you. My Aunt Stokesia
says she wants forever.
It means Heaven
where she’ll be—
that will be heavenly.
When forever calls, a salesman
who gets his foot in the door
and won’t stop talking—ever—

she freezes, wants to stop
time, the one thing it can’t do.
Death pops in,
a jack-in-the-box clown.
She runs to the basement and locks

the door. I’m already there.
I never liked clowns. I keep death
from claiming me one pill at a time.
I’m a shore,
the water dried up.

The Shore of Forever by Mark Sheeky: Oil Painting for sale

Inky Interview Special: Poet Ken Pobo From Pennsylvania

Inky Exclusive: Interview with multi talented artist Mark Sheeky