Poetry Drawer: I was Originally the God of the Gods: The World is in a Box: The King of the Diamonds by Yuan Hongri

I was Originally the God of the Gods

I shall change seawater into honey,
smelt the stone into the gold,
the bitter is namely sweet,
the sun is born from the womb of the night.

Oh, my God! No matter what if you are really the God
Oh, the devil! No matter how many tricks you have
today, I am neither living nor dying
I want to put you all into the golden tripod of time.

I am originally outside of the earth
I will leave one day
although I have forgotten many years
but I woke up finally today

From a little drop of water
the world came into being
It was originally a tear of mine
I was originally the God of the Gods.

我本是上帝的上帝

我要把海水酿成蜜
把石头熔炼成金
这苦涩就是香甜
这太阳从黑夜的子宫诞生

上帝啊 无论你是不是真的上帝
魔鬼啊 无论你还有多少伎俩
今天 我不生也不死
我要把你们统统装进时光的金鼎

我本在这个尘世之外
有一天还将归去
尽管我遗忘了许多年
可今天终于醒来

这小小的一滴水
诞生了这个天地
它本是我的一颗泪珠
我本是上帝的上帝

The World is in a Box

The world is in a box
the little timeworn world
the countries of Lilliput
the President of the king’s prime minister
those kings, premiers and presidents
those dwarfs in the scroll of time’s picture

They do not believe the additional sun
both like a diamond and like gold
make you warm in winter
make you cool in summer

Neither have they seen the sweet ocean
nor have they known heaven outside time
forgotten those gods who like mountains
are the ones the former ancients owned

世界在一只盒子里

世界在一只盒子里
这个小小陈旧的世界
一座座小人国
那些国王 首相 总统
那些时光画卷里的侏儒

他们不相信另外的太阳
既像钻石 又像黄金
在冬天时让你温暖
在夏天时让你凉爽

他们没见过甜蜜的海洋
也不知时光之外的天国
忘了那些山岳般的众神
是古老的曾经的自己

The King of the Diamonds

The sun was rising in my breast
I woke up finally
said goodbye to the night’s nightmare
the world was lit up by me
this is actually the real me

There is no longer day and night
there are no longer newborns and death
I got myself back
before there was no earth and heaven
I have existed from the beginning

The world is just my works:
a picture, a poem
a symphony.
Give me a stone
I will turn it into the king of the diamonds.

钻石之王

太阳在我胸膛里升起
我终于醒来
告别黑夜的梦魇
世界被我照亮
这才是真实的我

不再有白昼与黑夜
不再有新生与死亡
我找回了自已
在没有天地之前
我就早已经存在

世界只是我的作品
一幅画 一首诗
一部交响曲
给我一枚石头
我让它变成钻石之王

Yuan Hongri (born 1962) is a renowned Chinese mystic, poet, and philosopher. His work has been published in the UK, USA, India, New Zealand, Canada, and Nigeria; his poems have appeared in Poet’s Espresso Review, Orbis, Tipton Poetry Journal, Harbinger Asylum, The Stray Branch, Pinyon Review, Taj Mahal Review, Madswirl, Shot Glass Journal, Amethyst Review, The Poetry Village, and other e-zines, anthologies, and journals. His best known works are Platinum City and Golden Giant. His works explore themes of prehistoric and future civilization. Its content is to show the solemnity, sacredness and greatness of human soul through the exploration of soul.

Yuanbing Zhang (b. 1974), is Mr. Yuan Hongri’s assistant and translator. He himself is a Chinese poet and translator, and works in a Middle School, Yanzhou District, Jining City, Shandong Province China. 

You can find more of Hongri’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Pantry Prose: The Man Who Shot Stonewall Jackson by Gary Beck

It happened once before, when I was a young man. The newspapers clamoured for war, self-appointed know-it-alls told us why we had to fight and everyone believed them, especially the youngsters like me who got all fired up to join the army. So now, when those big headlines screamed ‘Remember The Maine,’ there wasn’t any more doubt that there would be war with Spain. And off they went to enlist, just like they were going to a picnic, as irreverent and ignorant as we were back in 1861. My eldest son told me he had to join up and I tried to discourage him. I told him how crazy it was for two groups of men to stand and blaze away at each other, but he wouldn’t listen. All he said was: “War’s not fought that way anymore, Pa .”

So I held my peace and watched him go, like my pa watched me go. When he died of yellow fever, before he even fought in a battle, it was another terrible affliction that I had to accept. But I guess he was right about it being a new kind of war, because it was over pretty quick and we got all these new places; Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Philippines and Guam. I never even heard of Guam. So I kept on farming and doing my chores but I was pretty much empty inside. I had been that way ever since the surrender at Appomattox, which ended my daily suffering, but left me a hollow man. I went through all the motions of the living and tried my best to be a good husband and father, and I never told anyone how I felt. How could anyone who hadn’t been there understand? Sometimes, when I went to town and saw the few old hands who survived the entire war, like me, there was nothing we could say. We just looked at each other for a moment, nodded in recognition that we were still alive and moved on.

Then one day, long after Spain surrendered, I saw a soldier who had just come home from the Philippines. I was buying something in Dahlgren’s general store and his pa brought him in. He had that look that I hadn’t seen since the war with the Yankees. His flesh was sagging on his bones and his uniform hung on him like a scarecrow on a hard luck farm. He walked as if it was a great effort to put one foot after the other. Old Mr. Dahlgren kept prodding him to tell us what it was like over there, but he refused to talk, until his pa urged him. Then he looked at everyone for a moment and said coldly: “You want to know what it was like? I’ll tell you. I watched my buddies die in ambushes, or of tropical diseases, or in battles with savages who just kept coming at us, even after we shot them. I watched my friends butcher women and children!” A look of absolute horror ate his face. “All I saw was death and suffering. Is that what you wanted to hear?” Then he turned and walked out. I couldn’t get him out of my mind the rest of the day.

That night I thought about the war with the Yankees, which I had shut out of my life a long time ago. I remembered how I had rushed to join up that spring of 1861. I ignored Pa when he told me not to go, just like my boy ignored me. Then Pa told me how bad it was when he fought the Mexicans in ‘46, but I didn’t believe him. Everyone I knew was hurrying to the colours and I wasn’t about to be last. We were going to whip the Yankees good, then go back home with our chests full of medals. Once I was in uniform it didn’t take long for me to wake up. Almost half the boys I joined up with got killed or wounded in our first battle at Manassas. Maybe the Yankees finally ran off as fast as they could for Washington D.C., but not before they put up a mighty good fight. We fought up and down Virginia for the next two years and got leaner, hungrier, tireder and sicker. The more we ran out of ammunition, food, or shoes, the more the Yankees kept coming. We learned everything about the horror of soldiering the hard way.

One day we were camped somewhere near Chancellorsville, after a tough battle where we whipped the Yankees good. Of course it wasn’t like when the war first started. Then we knew we were better men then the city folk and immigrants they were going to send against us. Before First Manassas, most of us talked about beating them proper, then going home. If anyone thought it would go on and on for years, they didn’t say it where I heard. Anyhow, we had been resting because it had been a long, hard fight and these Yankees weren’t like the rabbits who used to run when they were beaten. When these Yankees lost, they retreated resentfully and we knew they’d be back. Then the word raced through the camp. Stonewall was dead. Rumours, like disease, travel swiftly in an army, especially when it’s bad news. This hit me and the old hands particularly hard, because we were the 31st Virginia and we were Stonewall’s men from the beginning.

We rushed to colonel Barstow’s tent, but he didn’t know any more than we did. Messengers kept arriving, each one with different news. The only thing they all agreed on was that Stonewall had been shot. The colonel finally got tired of our pushing and shoving at the messengers and he sent us back to our bivouac area. But he promised to let our company commander, lieutenant Rambeau, know as soon as he learned anything. We thanked the colonel, who was one of only three officers left in the regiment who had been with us from the start. All the others had been killed or invalided out. Colonel Barstow had started as a young lieutenant, full of fire and noble speeches. Now he was as old and tired as the rest of us. We snickered about lieutenant Rambeau as we walked. He was a moma’s boy, a blonde-haired stringbean with a mushy face that always looked ready to cry. He had reported to the regiment a few days ago, but he disappeared somehow before the fighting started. The joke going around the camp was who would shoot him first, us or them. Soldiers deserted other regiments before a fight, but not in the 31st Virginia.

We waited for news, but didn’t relax much. A couple of the younger boys babbled about beating the Yankees again, but the old hands quickly shut them up. By now we knew we could beat them and beat them, but they would still keep coming. We were sick, tired, cold and hungry and we didn’t have much hope left. The gossip around the campfire was no longer about victory. A few diehards still kept trying to convince the rest of us that massa Robert and ole Stonewall would find a way to defeat the Yankees. Most of us didn’t buy it. Now Stonewall was dead. One of the kids asked what would happen if General Lee got killed, but an old hand kicked him a few times and the kid slunk off, leaving the rest of us to brood about things. I couldn’t help thinking how lucky that kid was to get off so lightly. We had just lost our father and that dumb kid was talking about losing our grandfather. We didn’t need any more bad luck.

Later that night we found out that Stonewall wasn’t dead, he was just badly wounded. He had been returning from the battlefield in the dark and a nervous sentry, thinking he was a Yankee goblin or something, shot him. After two years of hurry up, then wait, it wasn’t a hardship to wait for news. We lost so many men at Chancellorsville that I guess they forgot about our regiment for a while, so we loafed in our tents. Once we packed up all the dead men’s belongings, they finally remembered us. They even gave us some food, probably pilfered from the Yankees endless supply of everything. Then the word flew around camp faster than wildfire. A new recruit named Billy Rawlins had shot Stonewall. They didn’t rightly know what to do with him, so they sent him home.

After Stonewall died, the war went on and on and the Yankees kept us on the run. When it was finally over, those of us who survived went back to our homes. I was one of the lucky ones. Pa had kept the farm going somehow, despite the voracious armies trampling back and forth across poor, battered Virginia. I had only been home for a couple of months when I heard that the man who shot Stonewall Jackson, Billy Rawlins, had hanged himself. It seems his pa kept telling him that he killed the man who could have won the war for the Confederacy. I guess the damned fool kid must have believed him, because he went into the barn, threw a rope over a beam and ended his life… But that was a long time ago.

I hadn’t thought about Billy Rawlins for many years. Seeing that soldier in Dahlgren’s store reminded me about what had eaten so much of my soul away. It all came back to me from a distance, like hearing a voice on that new telephone invention: the useless waste of young men, the suffering that devastated so many lives, the ease with which we forgot the dead. All I could think of was that if I knew then what I knew now, I could have gone to see Billy. I could have told him that what he did was just one more crazy mistake in a succession of terrible events. That Stonewall couldn’t have won the war. Hell, it was lost way before that. Only fools believed that we could win after the first year or so. The Yankees had everything. We only had pride and courage. Once they wore out our pride, courage just wasn’t enough. But my understanding of things came much too late to help poor Billy. I couldn’t help that trooper who lost his soul in the jungle. And I sure couldn’t help any of the other innocents who don’t start wars, only rush to fight them.

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 CitiesAssault on NatureSongs of a ClerkCivilized WaysDisplaysPerceptionsFault LinesTremorsPerturbationsRude AwakeningsThe Remission of Order and Contusions (Winter Goose Publishing, forthcoming is Desperate Seeker); Blossoms of DecayExpectationsBlunt 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.

You can find more of Gary’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Tap Tap: One for Alfredo: For Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (1957 – 2011): The Viewing by John D Robinson

Tap Tap

The knock on the door
always
comes at the wrong time,
when you’re lovemaking
on a sunny Sunday
afternoon,
during a drug-drop when
relatives pay a surprise
visit,
when the post delivery
hands-over a court date
as the landlady hammers
the door for way overdue
rent,
when your new lover drops
by with a surprise bottle of
wine and you’re already
fucked-up on narcotics
and your previous lover
is waiting on a call,
when a political or
religious pusher
relentlessly pounds
or when the
season of ghosts and
demons from your past,
rip the door clean
off its hinges,
it’s time to throw
away the key and
look out at the
countless shattered
doors
left in
your
wake.

One for Alfredo

First breath 1927, San Diego,
early years spent in Mexico
and then returned to USA in
1935 –
he was expelled from High
School for violence toward
a tutor,
sometime following he was
arrested for smuggling people
from South to North America,
spent 4 years in San Quentin
for possession of heroin and
whilst incarcerated painted
murals on the prison walls,
on release he worked as a
caricaturist for Disney for
2 years and in 1957 he
opened up his own Art
Gallery and in 1961 he
was apprehended for 1
lousy joint of marijuana,
Ajiijic, Mexico was his home
for a while where he
continued to paint and
sculpt and express himself
in various other mediums,
he returned to the States seeking,
as always,
neither fame or fortune
but continued creating
and died
in 2015,
how
Alfredo Santos,
his
life
and
work
have been kept secret
is a shameful,
sad, sin,
don’t take my word,
see for yourself
and make a
startling
discovery
that the
rich and ignorant
‘art establishment’
has, seemingly,
closed its
protected
doors upon.

For Marianne Joan Elliott-Said (1957 – 2011)

We met on a couple of occasions,
unfortunately, in a formal environment,
but she genuinely appeared taken that
I had recognised her and acknowledged
her unique impact upon me that remains
to this day:
straight off, she was so warm and
alive and we got grooving, she told me
of the horrific pedestrian injuries of
being hit by a fire truck some years
back and how she had been making,
producing and mixing recordings
recently, this was just a few years
before she lost to cancer:
Poly Styrene was doing it herself
decades before any sisters stepped
into the light, her spirit moved with
authenticity, blessed with talents
that stretched smoothly over many
mediums, creativity was deeply in
her heart and blood and were more
than just an extension of herself,
this was her life that reached out
across vast distances:
Marianne Joan Elliott-Said
sculptured pathways of beauty and
sadness, she carried the torch of
the muse, her voice and music
and artworks resonating
like a global choir of love and
peace:
Poly Styrene,
I hear you now,
I see you now,
I feel you now,
I sense you now,
standing before me
like a messenger
broken free from all
bondage
of this uncertain
world.

The Viewing

I couldn’t remember her name,
although we’d been dating for a
few weeks: an invitation came
for a private viewing of
Jonathan Coles
paintings and latest works:
within 15 minutes of the
opening, this woman, whose
name I couldn’t remember,
gripped attention by climbing
up into the loft rafters and
swinging and screeching
nonsense, hanging upside
down, exposing skimpy
panties and long, long legs
and streams of bright red hair
tumbling toward the ground:
‘Who the fuck is she?’
‘What the fuck is she doing?’
‘I don’t know,’ I told them
‘What the fuck! call her down
man! get her down!’
‘I don’t know her name,’ I said
‘Get her the fuck down now!’
‘Hey! Hey! come on now!
time to come down now!,’ I
shouted, waving my hands:
she dropped to the floor, the
loft studio stood still in utter
silence as she walked towards
me: she looked angry, serious:
‘Fuck you! I don’t know you!
I don’t know your fucking
name but you don’t fucking
tell me to stop enjoying myself!’
she screamed at me before
making her exit from the
studio and I never saw her
again, whatever, her name was,
but I guess, it didn’t matter
too much.

John D Robinson is a UK based poet: hundreds of his poems have appeared online and in print : he has published 14 chapbooks and four full collections of his poetry: he has also published a novel of fiction and a collection of short stories: he has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. 

You can find more of John’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: The Marvel of the Freedom: In patches by Paweł Markiewicz

The vault opens itself at dawn.
The calyx of an Arctic alpine forget-me-not reopens
for an enchanting glory of the sunshiny dreams,
because of the eternally august poem,
that reads lenient and benignant.

Throughout the day:
there is up there a paradisiacal flight
of all halcyon seraphim,
singing through the stoicism, eudemonia
of many celestial dreamers.

Under the sun: a rhythm in wings of butterflies.
After evenfall: the paradise closes itself.
The springtide has gone to bed in aestival splendor.

In addition overnight a balmy sempiternity sleeps as well.
Here below a sensitive firefly flies,
above so ravishing earth.
In danger owing to the raveners of the night.
Indeed spared thanks to the sheen of Luther’s star.
The earth becomes a dazzling hereafter.
It remains not far from June sparks, the little fire.

vault – (poetical) sky

benignant – mild

halcyon – peaceful

seraphim – seraphs

aestival – summery

ravener – bird of prey

sempiternity – eternity

Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poems. Paweł has published his poetries in many magazines. He writes in English and German.

You can find more of Paweł’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Unorganised: Less Is More: When Psychopath Met Showman by Lynn White

Unorganised

One day I’ll manage to
get my ducks in a row
sort it all out
stop procrastinating,
stop the coffee calling,
stop the sunlight
casting shadows
which distract me
and tempt me outdoors
to see the ducks
swimming
smoothly
sending
sopheristic shadows
across the water.
And as I watch
those shadows move
in effortless formation
negating the coffee
and lulling me
to sleep
again.

Less Is More

I thought it a bit overdone
that Summer Exhibition of long ago.
Paintings were floor to ceiling
filling every wall,
even leaning up against the wall
so it became a show
where nothing was shown
in all its glory,
all was a daze
a cacophony
shouting so loudly
it was impossible to contemplate
the individual.
You need space for that,
space in between.
Too much and nothing is seen.

When Psychopath Met Showman

When a violent psycho with overwhelming power
meets a deluded showman with a hero complex
it’s looking bleak for those caught in between.
Those displaced from their homes,
displaced from their lives,
those losing their lives.
those losing the life
they expected to live,
More and more of them,
a stream without end
as the show goes on.

Lynn White lives in North Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Gyroscope Review and So It Goes. 

You can find more of Lynn’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Pantry Prose: The Meaning Of Life? Is There One? by Chitra Gopalakrishnan

It took just a few seconds and a knotty brain teaser in class five to awaken me to the potent scent of life’s absurdity. This at a ridiculously young age of ten.

A lion, a goat and a bundle of grass, said my teacher, her face like a shut gate.

A person has to ferry them across the river in a boat. As the boat is tiny, this person can only carry one other alongside.

If the person leaves the lion and the goat alone together, the lion will eat the goat. If the goat and the grass are left together, the goat will eat the grass, my teacher announced.

The glee on her face, the glint in her eyes were unmistakable.

She seemed delighted with the riddle’s cunning as much as on the torture it would inflict on us youngsters in the next hour. Oh, the secret villainies of teachers.

Why on earth would a person want to take these beings along with them, this strange assortment of creatures, in the first place? I thought perplexedly.

This even as something began to spiral within my insides in concentric waves like waves in water. Whatever it was, it was moving round and round and it smelt of sweat, a black reek. It came to me that my teacher’s puzzle was not only stupid, uselessly disturbing and an irrational poser but one that showed up life as senseless.

I lost interest in the puzzle.

Instead, within my head, a series of quick thoughts bubbled.

It came to me that we all live in a closed-looped universe. One that is utterly uncaring of people’s survival. If sitting on a boat with a lion and giving up boundaries was meant to teach us anything it was this.

What’s more, the meaning of the phrase the road to hell is paved with good intentions, something my father used repeatedly, but I never understood, exploded bright and clear at this moment. I mean, if one wants, from the goodness in their heart, to spend time, setting everything aside, in service of a bleating goat, a sabre-toothed lion and a bundle of coarse grass and risk being eaten, butted and stung by tiny insects, then what can I say other than the fact that you have self-deserting instincts.

The fact that schools teach children to think along these lines made me lose respect for this institution.

Surely, you can understand how it must have been for me. A girl who had her head in the clouds suddenly staggered with the truth of life on a normal school day.

It seemed unfair. Rather than pay heed to my age, my girlhood, and start small then tip-toe around a bit to reveal the not-so-appealing truths, these awakenings had got going altogether and gobsmacked me in the face. No warning.

My throat locked up, my stomach was in knots, my body turned sweaty and I felt nauseous. Whatever sense of promise, magic and wonder there was to childhood was shot to hell.

At least to me, at that point, it seemed like it did.

From this point on, for the next two years of my childhood, a kind of boiling high noon set in for me. That’s the best way I can describe my many subsequent stir-ups.

If I began to regularly catch on to the truth that everything in life is pointless, I also began time and again to catch on to another truth: the stupidest thing one can do is look for meaning in life.

Life, in short, I understood, is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I know you will say that at my age growth is meant to be more about gathering physical skills, coordination and muscle control rather than one with huge mental changes. That such odd rhythms are reserved for those hitting puberty, big kids or for grown-ups.

But what can I say other than wisdom happened to me really young.

That I went to bed normal one day and the next day was different.

That, at twelve, I use my glimpses of life’s absurdity as a way to be free. To be myself. To push against rules and directions. To laugh. Yes, and to enjoy life’s senselessness.

That I choose to not carry the lion, goat and a bundle of grass, this forced baggage, to not solve the absurdity of this puzzle, to not be part of this clueless, self-inflicted nonsense, these annoyingly active verbs.

That I am in a happy place, not the sad place I imagined I would be three years ago.

That I am in a place of my own where I need to just carry my flag. And grow as I see fit.

My teacher says I am a ‘young rebel’, my school labels me ‘a misfit’, some of my friends think me ‘an enormously bold girl for saying that there is no meaning to studying or to life itself’ and others ‘weird’.

I do not care much for any of their comments just for the fact that life is easier for me when I refuse to take things around me, joy and sadness, success and failure, loss and gain, personally.

Far too many things happen during a day, even during an hour, a week, a month, a year. One can fool oneself to believe they have meaning or a certain pattern but wait for something unexpected to happen then you know the opposite is true.

I have found a place of comfort between the universe and I.

It’s time for my friends get to their best living experience by setting out on their own adventures. Like nomads.

Their awakenings may be vastly different from mine yet it would have equal merit for it would be their truth.

Some might understand life to be sensible, reasonable. Full of colour, rich with promise, plump with rewards.

Others may find their awakenings to be frighteningly different.

I say it’s okay to let go of the normal, sometimes. For, after all, the definition of normal keeps changing. And really there is no one definition of it.

Chitra Gopalakrishnan, a New Delhi-based journalist and a social development communications consultant uses her ardour for writing, wing to wing, to break firewalls between nonfiction and fiction, narratology and psychoanalysis, marginalia and manuscript and tree-ism and capitalism.

Poetry Drawer: The dress is mine: I’ll take the clouds, most days: The Ray days: The ‘D’ in Dave: I said “yes” by Emalisa Rose

The dress is mine

It’s red, more like maroon
with sequin spaghetti straps
somewhat form fitting, an
inch up the knee, lace, tulle
and blinged. “Kind of risque
for an old broad,” Rick laughs.

Bought as a bargain, but not
in the basement. Ten percent
off, then another ten, then
etcetera. A “steal,” as Aunt
Betty would say.

So, I’m giving you warning, hon,
three months before we sit side
by side, at that wedding.

We did it as kids, thanks to our
mother, who sewed the same
skirts for us, but it’s now, four
decades later.

Do not wear the same dress as me,
sister dear.

I’ll take the clouds, most days

“Too many clouds, not enough
bloodletting.” He read through
my poetry, critiquing all I’d once
written, mostly to him.

But I like the clouds. I can feel
safe with them, conjuring them
into all sorts of contortions.

Carousels, waterfalls; the cirrus
are perfect for those wispy white
whirl designs.

I’ll take the clouds most days. With
them, I am comfortable, forsaking
the opening of arteries or serving my
heart up, with a side of my spleen.

The Ray days

Missing my Ray. Ray, the barista
with the cherry stone eyes
steaming my mocha
hot filled with latte, with
his wink and his wisdom
surpassing just coffee.

Now it’s Renaldo.
He’s old and he’s cranky
and needs to go decaf.

But I need a Ray
when it’s 5AM starting time
and even the sparrows
sleep late.

The ‘D’ in Dave

With the robin revival, it’s time
to renew all those springtime
festivities. Finally, frost leaves
the trees.

As we visit the mom and pop
sweet shop on Third Street,
where that same letter ‘D’
on marquise, has been blacked
out for years.

Dave deemed it “bad luck,”
deciding to just let it be.

At that place, where they pipe
in the ‘oldies’, we’d slurp on those
frappes, cones and sundaes.

On our first visit back, today,
15th of March, we see that the
‘D’ was relit.

The new staff took care of it, saying
Dave had passed on, but they’d still
keep the same name and traditions

as ‘Dancing Queen’
played in the background.

I said “yes”

Kind of disheveled, but there’s
still some fight left in them. Red
over easy, in their partytime poses.

It’s been several weeks since
they prettied my doorstep
mid-day on Monday.

I jumped from the shower
hoping that you were the sender.

From the fields, to the table top
they adorned, all those days.

In their gestures of ”get well,”
“I’m sorry,” or “Sue will you
marry me?”

With yours, it was love
and a morning proposal.

3 weeks and thriving, are
your Valentines’ flowers.

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting and drawing. She volunteers in animal rescue, and tends to a cat colony in the neighborhood. She lives by a beach town, which provides much of the inspiration for her art. Some of her poems have appeared in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Spillwords, Origami Poem Project, and other special places. Her latest collection is On the whims of the crosscurrents, published by Red Wolf Editions.

You can find more of Emalisa’s work here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Tiny: As Days Go: Conscripted: Thug World: Times Like These: Slow Down It’s Only the End of the World by Joseph Farley

Tiny

I think I’ll live a small life,
not too long, not too short.
I will do tiny things,
tasks not worth observing.
I will keep my head down
close to the earth,
watching seeds sprout in spring,
and thanking all for the harvest,
however big or small it might be.

As Days Go

Tomorrow needs no introduction.
It is expected and waited upon.
The sun rolls out its red carpet
and walks its way across the sky
trailing its long dress over flowers
and coloured glass broken on asphalt.

Today is fine. I’ll take it.
It’s what I have now,
a sure thing until it ends.
But, tomorrow, tomorrow…
Who knows what it will bring?

Perhaps salvation,
all promises fulfilled,
Dreams run wild.
Joy after joy.

Or maybe nothing
more than the same.
Or trouble.
So much trouble
we wish it had never came.

Conscripted

We are being taken.
We are being shoved.
We are being beaten.
We are being loved.

We don’t know winning.
In losing we prevail.
One by one we get our medals:
six feet, board and nails.

Thug World

When a neighbour is murdered
a part of you dies.
When a burglar takes you
for all you’ve got
part of the heart that was in you
goes out the door with your stuff.

Hard times. Harder for others.
Drugs flows in the streets and in veins.
Love says we can all heal this.
Love knows, but it’s not easy to explain.

Sirens. Blue lights flashing.
At night it’s hard to sleep.
Don’t watch the news on television.
Don’t listen to updates on radio.
Don’t scan headlines on your cellphone.

There’s nothing you can do but grieve,
and you’ve done so much of that
you need to take a break.

Vote when the time comes.
Write letters to the power always.
Try for something new,
something different.
Search your mind and heart.
Tell the world what you have found.

Times Like These

You shouldn’t be sorry for yourself.
You should be sorry for others.
Yet the thought of those faces
Sets you down the road to remembrance
of times and places you once were,
Horrors smaller than war.

The streets here have their own noises
Gun shots, car crashes and sirens.
The dead bloom on concrete and asphalt.
The dead stay where they fall.
Far off the damage is bigger,
But you can’t stop seeing the damage at home.

Slow Down It’s Only the End of the World

Take your time. Slow down.
It’s only the end of the world.
Weigh each word.
Write every sentence with care.
The story is your life.
It’s why you are here.
You need to get it right
before “The End” appears.

Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory for 24 years. His poetry books/chapbooks include Suckers, Longing for the Mother Tongue, and Her Eyes. His fiction books include a novel , Labor Day (Peasantry Press), and two collections of short stories: For the Birds (Cynic Press) and Farts and Daydreams (Dumpster Fire Press). His work has appeared in Schlock, Home Planet News Online, US 1 Worksheets, Mad Swirl, Horror Sleaze Trash, Ygdrasil, Penine Platform, Understanding Magazine, and other places.

Poetry Drawer: Burying the Chimera by Daya Bhat

I break open the hourglass
release the silence of eons
grain by grain.
So slow the fall of passive echoes.
Look what eons of defying gravity does!
Losing touch of the shore.

The tectonics shift left
shift right . . . squirm for air.
Orchestrate a wave show.
Horseshoe clouds
now here, now gone.

Not knowing
to belong or not to
they build their own orbit.
Like the rings of Saturn
all ice and rocks
buffering on a loop.

Daya Bhat has authored two books of poetry. Her free verse, short poetry and short fiction appear in a number of journals. You can find her art, poetry and musings on WordPress and Instagram.

Poetry Drawer: School Bus: Fifth Grade: The Day I Got My Timing Down: Kissed-Off: Français Firsts by D. R. James

School Bus

When its arched brow rises
from behind the country hill,
snub-nosed, a grin
for a grill, you remember
you’re in second grade.

There’s Cindy’s old yellow dog
feigning outrage at your passing van,
his bark and lunge petering
to that bored, panting trot.
And there the synod
of grammar schoolers wrestling
lunchboxes into a line,
reinventing the rituals, the
hierarchies, the variations
of elemental courtship.

There the oil-rosy puddles
in rutted gravel,
the soaked toes, knots
of gossiping daffodils, tufts
of too enthusiastic grass,
the bristles smudged in sage and mustard
along the far edge of fields.

When you top the hill
you know you’ll see the bus swing
a backward right in your mirror, right
onto the main road, so
you lean, small-palm
the cracked leatherette,
grasp the memory of cool steel
framing the seat ahead,
all your uncertain world
still straddling the smeared window
slid halfway down.

The same low sun stuns you
when you glance back, forward, run
your times-nines, wheel left
and head for school.

Fifth Grade

As I flew into town
that first time, leaning over
the gull-winged sweep
of the handlebars, the burn in my
pudgy, mad-pumping thighs,
told me I was fast, was
free, was finally entering
the my country ’tis of thee
we’d all been singing,
sweet land of weekend-
playground liberty.
That mile I’d never ridden
was a hundred miles,
the fresh fall breeze speed itself,
as those fat tires
snarled through dunes
of shoulder gravel and
eddies of falling leaves.
When I jumped the curb
onto the school’s front sidewalk
town kids, exotic friends named
Cindy, Billy, Darlene, and Gary,
were already gathered, long
unchaperoned, at ease,
their pre-adolescences already
underway, their slow turn
toward my approach blasé
as I came skidding into
that newest of my old
neighbourhoods of memory.

The Day I Got My Timing Down

It was in that phase of pure
sarcasm, midteens, when guys
work out an awkward stance,

work their pack’s patter
’til they maybe have it. I don’t
really remember the day but

the single-moment wonder of hitting
my first come-back just right
by accident, then their free, true

laughter, my perfect follow-up,
the never looking back. From there
a career: from Senior Class Clown

to smooth talker in any crowd to
flip teacher spinning lit to wordsmith
chiseling chin-up come-backs

to the tin-clad sarcasms
every life dishes out as it
disarms or drops you or

leaves you hanging, slamming
its clanging locker door in your
gullible, stuttering face.

Kissed-Off

Lord knows I’m a voodoo chil’.

                        —Jimi Hendrix

Until that night a girl
had only kissed me. Not I
a girl. I was fifteen and for

over a year Jimi’d been telling me
he was a voodoo chil’, yeah,
and I wasn’t. No moon

had turned a fire red,
and not one mountain lion
had found me waitin’. Now

I was going with Sue,
at whose Midwest harvest party
I’d do the kissing. Nervous

and showing it, acting
distractedly, voice shaking,
our friends milling, I knew

it was a now-or-never situation,
even though I’d never ever
and didn’t really know. Giddy

and ridiculous, we slid into
the stairwell, out of range
of her parents in the kitchen,

the kids below: the outskirts
of our infinity
… We made eyes.
We made small talk. But all I

could think about was making
my move. (If only I’d had a
Venus witch’s ring.) Then inching

my arm and small-talking her
a little more, I aimed my face
and kissed her! And oh, Lord,

the gypsy was right: amazing
and no big deal at once. So we
kissed again (Lord knows I

felt no pain) and for three months
flew on as make-out fiends until
she dropped me for my best friend

at her party for my sixteen-and-
been-kissed birthday. And I fell
downright dea-ea-ead
.

Français Firsts

             —for Priscilla

After all your dainty tales from la rue
du Tel-ou-Tel, so many elegant snippets
de la Rive Comme Ci, Comme Ça—Oui,
I am forever sheepish I never made it

to Par-ee (sauf une gare on the outskirts,
eurailing toward Luxembourg, which was
all but fermé for the Halloween weekend).
But though now you could easily keep me

down on any farm, France in swah-sohn-canz?
Oh là là! —my version of the proverbial
semester abroad, and where un nouveau me
must’ve definitively begun. Par exemple,

near Nice, absorbing the glowing Côte d’Azur
then tour-busing by Monaco for Menton,
out one route en corniche and back another,
long before my paltry français could surface

fast enough to prattle with my teacher’s kids.
But un début—and it would take me only four
more largely lonely months to pass myself off
as a less evident américain, with at least

a decent accent to show for it, my being
the yoghurt-eating, knows-little sophisticate
I’d become. It would be two decades before
Starbucks blitzed very many Midwest cities,

so old Grenoble’s where the cafés and bistros,
wines finer than Boone’s Farm, addicted me
to a fresh perspective, to une idée de moi-même
transcending tackle football, college fraternity,

and culture as country rock. Granted, all
the exotic side-trips did make a difference:
that disorienting week in Warsaw (still
dictatorial), those goose-steppers in Chopin’s

park; the overnighter (avec les trois femmes!)
to Italy; Geneva on weekends; Christmas
on the Bodensee (which made me certain I’d
learn German for my Überlingen girlfriend

before Italian for those gorgeous Florentines.)
But en France? So seul? And working steadily
on the concept of an inner life? It was la
première fois that I knew I knew abnormally

nothing—and that I no longer wanted to. On
the vigntième floor of my international dorm,
some inside switch had somehow gotten flipped.
Souddainement, ancient history was interesting,

the future a matter for my contemplation, my
ignorance a currency I hoped to leave behind,
exchanged for novels in two languages and grand
prospects for actually using my mind. By winter

I could’ve stayed on through spring. And by spring,
back home again and left to reconnoitre, I began
that retrospective cataloguing that deepens
one’s appreciation—such as how a shy, petite

‘teep’ from Japon and a bold, femme noire from
La Côte d’Ivoire could intersect via moi via anglais;
or how tinny, small-car traffic is more romantic
in memory; or how geraniums are la plus rouges

à Chambéry, a few blues uniquely Mediterranean,
and no whites colder than novembre over Mont Blanc.
Or how some French are rich, canadien, but also
poor, arabe, c’est à dire, algérien. And how

my world seemed now to be le monde.

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. Recently retired from college teaching, James lives with his wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan, USA.