Poetry Drawer: Stick Figures Increase Cautious Limbs: Vague Threatening Ideologies: Made to Fail: warbly ounce of rosary: circumstantial assertions avoid by Joshua Martin

Stick Figures Increase Cautious Limbs

Debate a rag
into a frayed jacket,
            boundless shade
            structured around a colleague.
                     Yet grin.

Misses function until a baron avoids
bleeding that bestows a process beneath a pulp,
                             shoes CRATER earth
                             ,     from chaos Meek neck.

Pedaling mysterious takedowns in a pot
delivered as a battered orange motion
processing an ignored hive:
                          Pockets Swell,
                          express floundering
                          rough draft translation.

     chemical leather strap. Last bit
                                             of a crumb,
                                forthwith blemish
                                of limitations – – –
                menacing forlorn vistas, vibes,
                                                      instantaneous verge.

Tug & tackle & twilight
                             white noise.

Vague Threatening Ideologies

not a tongue animating stick
but the present tense sneezing
of a formaldehyde trapdoor
cinching ventriloquist dummy
less than
          OR equal TO
a fetus protected
                      more than
                      an idea
     , as if communion wafers
       were nourishment, tho
the insteps perform
matter of fact hexes
               all abandoned possibilities
               become the summation
               of     a

 Made to Fail

faster strutting

     eagle birthing

a murder of crows.

               all worth
of a liver,

       symbolic genealogy.

regulatory effects,
           this last
           of luxurious empires:

all that crumbles
and fades and
        from resisted

warbly ounce of rosary

portray miniscule trouser snippets
cough   cough   cough   cough   cough
        machine          HITS     sound    FiLe
    ‘harder than a neon empire sweatsuit’
& cylinder EXITS bellow cruising chop
                                               , whoosh
                                                      WHOOSH ,,
                         whiffing weapons of
           MaSs        discontent     – – –   ‘shower & join us
                                                            on the boot farm’ – – –
bona fide fourth trench of the industrial circus
window shipping vampiric snapping flask
                   ]whosoever blanched meeting martini shades[ ,,,
    AdDeD       bUrSt     of    yearly    stipend.

circumstantial assertions avoid

heretics assent outlining caricatures
lack distinguished section V further addressed
disease of profound anemic limping
all due wounded apprehension species

                     glow certain forms
                     common integral list
                     proper pooling arguments

of each
     of giving
          of ultimatum lungs

                               provided oxygen hampers
                               an end a functional virtue
                               wither substance however
                               such skills lacking weapon
                               existence assigned wholly

            destroy communal controversy
            the hollowed void of partial citations
            resisting the logic of common sense

Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is member of C22, an experimental writing collective. He is the author of the books automatic message (Free Lines Press), combustible panoramic twists (Trainwreck Press), Pointillistic Venetian Blinds (Alien Buddha Press) and Vagabond fragments of a hole (Schism Neuronics). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals including Otoliths, Version (9), Don’t Submit!, BlazeVOX, RASPUTIN, Ink Pantry, Unlikely Stories Mark V, and experiential-experimental-literature. You can find links to his published work here.

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

Poetry Drawer: Accident Prevention: A New World Record: Letter to a Medical Billing Company by Michael Ceraolo

Accident Prevention

A man was eating breakfast at a restaurant
and was subjected to a conversation
from a neighbouring table

The server came over to tell him
the restrooms were out of order
The man suggested the server
also tell the neighbouring table,
because the four of them were full of shit

The man left before he found out
if he had successfully prevented
any accidents

A New World Record

Scene: A grave that people are constantly passing by, stopping for a few seconds with their backs to the audience.

Announcer (in excited sports-announcer voice):

This is a day of great pride for our city; the Guinness people are here to confirm the record. Today there have been many tens of thousands of people passing by the grave of (Audience can fill in for themselves the name of the person to be so honoured).

And the Guinness people have confirmed it: the new world record for the largest outdoor urinal!

Letter to a Medical Billing Company

(Sometime in autumn. The MAN receives a bill from his wife’s doctor at the nursing home for her services back in January. The bill threatens him with collection if he doesn’t promptly pay. The MAN consults his records and sees that bills from this doctor both before and after January have been paid, and sits down to write a letter to be sent with the bill in lieu of payment.)

I dislike receiving threatening letters,
especially when the threats are due to your incompetence
Bills both before and after January have been paid,
so obviously someone in the office
knows how to bill the insurance properly
I suggest you find out who that person is
and give this bill to that person
so you can be paid
Under no circumstances
are you to contact me about it ever again

(The MAN never heard from the billing company again, and his wife switched doctors, though the switch had to do with the doctor’s medical competence, not her administrative competence.)

Michael Ceraolo is a 64-year-old retired firefighter/paramedic and active poet who has had two full-length books (Euclid Creek, from Deep Cleveland Press; 500 Cleveland Haiku, from Writing Knights Press) published, and has two more in the publication pipeline.

Poetry Drawer: Yet another Gun Death: Things My Parents Taught Me: Encountering Aliens: Howling at the New Moon Trijan Refrain: Encountering The Storm God by Jake Cosmos Aller

Yet another Gun Death

Turning on the morning news
Drinking my coffee
Seeing the news
About the latest school killing

This time in Texas
An 18- year old high school student
Bought two assault weapons

Shot his grandmother
Then went to an elementary school
Killing 18 children and two teachers.

Why he did this carnage
Remains a mystery
He was shot dead.

Why congress does nothing,
The State of Texas does nothing,
Is not a mystery.

The NRA and their minions
Continue to claim
The answer is more guns
For everyone

If only the other teachers
And students were armed
Perhaps only a few children
Would have been slaughtered.

Politicians offer useless thoughts
And prayers
But doing anything meaningful
Just can’t be bothered.

The dead don’t care about their prayers
And their useless thoughts
They remain dead.

And soon all too soon
We will watch the news
Of yet another gun massacre.

Things My Parents Taught Me

My parents taught me
A lot about life
They were unique
With their take on life.

My mother was born
Into a Southern Baptist faith
One of ten children

Part of the lost tribe
Of the Cherokee Indians
My father grew up
On a Farm
Became an atheist.

They could not agree
On religion
Said we would have to figure
That on our own,

But they had a Buddhist
View that the thing to do
Was to do the right thing

But we had to figure
Out that on our own.

My mother had a lot
Of sayings

Like Don’t trust experts
What is a PhD
Bullshit piled high and deep

All politicians are lying
When their teeth are moving

There is nothing worst
In this world
Than a reformed drunk

And despite their fiery
Love-hate relationship
They did love each other
And that showed.

In the end
We become our father
And mother

Just the way
The world is
It seems

Encountering Aliens

While walking on a moonlit path
Through the forest trail
Sam Adams looked up
At the stars and planets
And the full moon.

He was a detective,
Checking out a mysterious box,
Found in the woods

He had his pet wolf
With him
That he had won
As a tip
In a poker game
In the underground casino.

He came upon the box
There was a flash of light,
Relishing the chance,

To embellish a story
Fit for eternity,
Of how he had found,

The enemy aliens
And destroyed them

Before they could invade
The earth.

The crowd at the bar
were busy drinking that night
rushing about drinking

When the aliens came
To order a drink.

Howling at the New Moon Trijan Refrain

The lunatic light of the full moon
Lit up the night sky,
Turning the night into noon.
Making us feel quite high

The drinkers keep drinking in the bar,
Drinking all night until the mar.
Just howling
Just howling
The drinkers keep
Soon the night becomes quite bizarre.
Scent of bad craziness in the air.

The lunatic light of the full moon
Making the drinkers fly.
Soon they are ready to swoon.
Some want to die
Others want to fight and spar.
Some star at the dog star.
Want to drink more
Want to drink more

The lunatic light of the full moon
The drinkers ask why.
Naked dancing to the mad tune,
With a look very wry,
They howled at the moon.
They howled at the moon.

Encountering The Storm God

Sam Adams
Was walking in the woods
When he encountered
A furious thunderstorm.

Lightning lit up the sky
Revealing an abandoned cabin
Sam Adams ran to the cabin.

Sought shelter there
From the storm
That continued to howl
Outside the door.

He made a fire
Got out some food
And prepared to spend
The night.

Around midnight
The owner of the cabin
An old mountain man

He was angry at Sam
But declared that Sam
Could spend the night
Provided he could outdrink
The old man.

If he lost the bet
The old man
Would have to kill him
For the crime of trespassing.

Sam accepted the challenge
Around dawn, he got up
With a pounding hangover,
And went out the door.

The old man came at him
Shot him dead
And disappeared
Into the storm clouds.

John (“Jake”) Cosmos Aller is a novelist, poet, and former Foreign Service officer having served 27 years with the U.S. State Department serving in over ten countries including Korea, Thailand, India, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Spain. He has travelled to over 50 countries, and 49 out of 50 states. He speaks Korean, Thai, Spanish and studied Chinese, Hindi and Arabic.

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

Books From The Pantry: British People in Hot Weather by Paul McGrane reviewed by Neil Leadbeater

Born and raised in Ammanford, once the heartland of coal mining in West Wales, Paul McGrane is the co-founder of the Forest Poets poetry collective in Walthamstow, London. From 2006 to 2020 he was the Poetry Society’s Membership Manager. His first collection, Elastic Man, published by Indigo Dreams in 2018, won the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize. British People in Hot Weather (Indigo Dreams Publishing) is his second collection.

I have to admit that the title of this collection puzzles me. Arresting it may be, but there are no mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun which is to say that no poem matches the title, the phrase does not appear in any of the poems and the time of year is invariably winter. All this proves that you cannot judge a book by its cover. McGrane, I conclude, is a man who likes to surprise his readers, and there is plenty to surprise us here.

The main theme of this collection is centred round personal relationships. These relationships are seen through the lens of childhood and adolescence, a school nativity scene, a distant father-son relationship, a well-meaning next door neighbour, weekends with grandparents and characters from a Verdi opera.

McGrane writes more about his father than his mother. Both his father and his grandfather were miners. His father was a coal hewer to begin with, moving on to become a colliery repairer below ground. In the early 80’s he was medically retired before the mines were closed down. McGrane is proud of his working lineage even though his relationship with his father was a difficult one. In ‘Social Distancing’ he writes: ‘he’d see but look straight through me. / To him I was something that / my mother should take care of / like cooking and cleaning and the washing up.’ In ‘Your father’s gone to stay with cousin Cyril for a while’ we catch a glimpse of the domestic situation at home:

Bad husband, he was very rarely in,
spending all his time in the pub or the garden
sweet-talking seedlings into flower

but when they’d share a room
ice hung from the ceiling
and every cough or sigh could spark an argument
I’d be out of there as soon as I was old enough to leave.

In ‘Thrift’ McGrane sketches a picture of his mother through the extended metaphor of the sea pink. Like the Royal Mint, who used thrift as an emblem on the threepenny-bit between 1937 and 1953, McGrane plays on the double meaning of the word.

‘Going viral’ is another loaded title in which McGrane explores our recent experience of trying to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the pandemic. Despite all the rules around handwashing, the germs in this poem keep spreading.

Two poems that really caught my attention in terms of wit and originality were ‘Unit 8 / Series 53 has died (and, oh, the difference to me)’ and ‘Search: Mark E Smith’. The former explores the question of whether robots have feelings and the latter the frustrations we have all faced at one stage or another when trying to identify a particular person who happens to have a very common name. (My paternal grandmother’s maiden name was Jones so I can sympathise with the dilemma that this imposes when searching through family history).

Other subjects covered in this collection include ‘Dying Words of Patrick Moore’ which hints at the possibility of life on Mars and ‘Press Gang’ which compares and contrasts the fate of two people in different time frames: Brigstock Weaver, forced to loot ships by pirates in the 18th century and the teenager Jaden Moodie who got caught up in low-level crime and was murdered at the tender age of 14 by a rival gang member in East London in 2019.

British People in Hot Weather by Paul McGrane is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing.

You can find more work by poet and reviewer Neil Leadbeater here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Sand Becomes Water by Abi Carroll

I’m a sandcastle on the shore,
 watching idly by;
  not testing the waters
   – too afraid to make waves

I also ride out waves
 all day,
  with the tides
   rushing in,
    then out

But wait,
 aren’t I, too, a wave;
  formed from the flowing energy
   within this moon’s waters,
  climbing to the peak
   of this slippery cliff,
  and crashing down
   into energy forming,
    just to flow
     from the same water
      again and again?

From Katy, Texas, Abi (27) has been avidly writing poetry since her early 20s and looks forward to where it’ll take her. When she isn’t scribbling away, she can usually be found in her art studio, sculpting. Mental health is a common theme in Abi’s poetry, as her own has inspired much of her writing. 

Poetry Drawer: A curatorial practice by Mark Young

Chance, as always. Sudden
rain & a street without
awnings. Open double-doors
nearby, the room beyond
gaslit. A small hand-painted
plaque, Maximilian Planck’s
Wunderkammer, read in
passing, interpreted inside.


A personal museum, small
as they always are. Once might
have been a doctor’s surgery or
a dance studio. Not even a shop.
Windowless. A widow’s pension-
eking pittance, the widow’s mite.


He’d seen them before. Usually
military, the bits left over from
a life that was never shared. Medals
& Mauser bullets, though never the
one that got them in the end — if
they died that way. Most caught
the pox or plague, or fell from
their horse in a drunken stupor.


This one medical. Abnormal an-
atomical specimens on shelves
against the back wall. Inherently
dangerous. Jars full of alcohol. The
spluttering sconces on the wall.


Had seen better. Had friends
at St Bartholomew’s.


But still, but still. The
honesty of the items
stopped his heart. For a
moment, for this moment.
Later, as he thought about
them, it would happen again.


He knows there will be one
time it will stop forever.

Mark Young’s most recent books are Songs to Come for the Salamander: Poems 2013-2021, selected & with an introduction by Thomas Fink (Meritage Press & Sandy Press); Your order is now equipped for shipping (Sandy Press); & The Advantages of Cable (Luna Bisonte Prods).

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

Poetry Drawer: Campfire: This time last year: Red: Talented friends: Moments happen by DS Maolalai


walking at night
and the financial district fires,
I guess because they leave
the lights on
so the night-cleaners
can work.

seen from a distance
it looks damn impressive,
propped up against the velvet
of some soft and studded sky
like stacking racks of driftwood
gone ember on a lakeshore
and just far enough away
that if you didn’t know
you’d never guess the length –

during daylight city towers goliath
and sometimes I walk in it,
forever in the foothills of a mountain range
solid as the edges of eagles in the sky,
enough to disrupt gravity
and leave the birds that die in flight falling sideways
and toppling through windows
and ruining board meetings.

but at night
on the way to the store for wine or tonic water
you see them
for what they are;
the imitation of the lazy flame
gloriously burning like christmas trees.
without self-knowledge,
feeding on themselves,
showing their true light only
to those who cant afford to work there –

in 500 years
not even our bones will be remembered.

This time last year

I try to shy, somehow,
from this tiresome
“topical poetry”.
to just write the day
as it paces and lays itself
out. as if everything weren’t
an echo of everything.
just writing, just living,
things always bounce
in. life all around me –
awareness of life. and

it seems, this time last year,
that everyone wanted
some statement
of Pandemic Poetry. “Love
in the Time of Covid”
the “theme issue” title
that every third magazine
chose. consciously,
I didn’t write them,
but still, I did write –
and by doing so, probably did.
I am a personal poet.
but things happen – they do –
and I hear of them. of course
they effect me – the room

that you sing in
will alter the shape
of the song. an opera
house. showers.
the kitchen, making coffee.
different sounds, ringing,
though you use the same notes.
the room you are standing in
changes the shape
of your singing
though what people sing of
is so rarely ever
the room.

(March 2021)


red hair.
strwby hair.
nipples red,
a sofa, patched red
with grey patches
rubbed bald
by our asses
and hands.
and her name
was red in gaelic,
and a tv on with something
unimportant –
these are the memories:

her 15,
doing badly
at sex
at love
thinking about her friend
her thinking about
her friend’s

now she is in
a queer relationship
and her old boyfriend is somewhere

we used to screw
together and
quite slowly
in her mother’s apartment
after school
next to the window
in view
of the red decks
of buses.

Talented friends

the story goes: vonnegut
(he tells in a book)
was not really feeling
inspired. he wrote
to a friend about it –

feeling like that –
and the friend then
wrote back – was a poet,
apparently – and cut
up the text of

the letter. made it into a poem,
or to look like one, anyway –

the moral, apparently,
to tell him that even
uninspired he was able
to write. I don’t know
if it helps, even if
you’re kurt vonnegut,

when you feel like that,
having talented friends.

Moments happen.

sure, yes of course,
there are moments
we argue, as must
any people who make
any plan.

I forget where things go.
let saucepans boil over;
she’s sarcastic
about it and I
lose my cool.
moments happen,

but they’re bricks
which a life is made up of.
they are not
what we’re building
to live in.

DS Maolalai has received eleven nominations for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections; “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016), “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019) and “Noble Rot” (Turas Press, 2022).

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

Poetry Drawer: walk away/like a fool: in mercy blind: heretic: with broken wings, with bruised hearts: one from the valley of ashes: a wasted mouthful by John Sweet

walk away/like a fool

someone telling you it’s
almost too late your entire life,
and then it is, and is this
comedy or is it

do you outlive your children or
bury them all one at a time?

and maybe i’m part of
this particular picture

maybe the sunlight is
never as pure as we remember

you’re smiling at the edge of
a field of flowers, but
there are always shadows
spilling across your face

there are always angry
voices reach in from
other rooms

blame to be assigned and
refused and
some of us grow up while
others just grow old

some of us grow wings

none of us escape

what you feel about this
never really makes
any difference in the end

in mercy blind

here in this bluegrey room and
suffocating beneath the idea of failure
                                              of mine
                                              of yours
                                              of everyone’s
and here beneath this twilight sky
in the kingdom of oblivion

age of lies and age of truth

of pregnant women butchered by soldiers
of children sold into slavery
of endless fucking massacre and
                                    in the end
all we are is proof of the futility
of man-made gods

of untrue democracies

of all power coming from
weapons or wealth and maybe
we are even hope

maybe we can still learn to dance on
the graves of tyrants and
false idols with bloodthirsty joy

                            maybe we are
                             not quite lost


collision isn’t fatal but
the blood offers possibilities

tv on the wrong channel and
the president speaks of raping babies

shouts about the importance of wealth,
the need for vengeance,
the illusion of victory and
everything spoken through a
mouthful of sawdust and dogshit and
then the man with the gun laughs

says there’s no such thing
as something new

says this, and then he takes
his own life and, in a world without
safety, there can only be promises
kept or promises broken

can only be darker shades of
grey and red

the two of us alone in a
stranger’s room and
waiting for the first light of day

with broken wings, with bruised hearts

& the future is prisons, you see,
and the future is loss

let go of yr house, of yr
children, but hang onto the hatred
                             that defines you

give up christ

give up all those pretty songs
your mother used to sing

close in on holiness
like a soldier taking aim

one from the valley of ashes

motherfucking high in the bathroom,
nosebleed spraying all over
the wall, the mirror, dripping into the sink
and julie laughing about the
broken glass

laughing about the
beginning and the end

all of the shit in between

gods & priests & kings and the trails of
corpses they always leave behind

a wasted mouthful

nothing to lead and nowhere to
go and no one
cares if you die anyway

no one cares if you
live in sight of the land

we are all kingdoms, right?

we all go to sleep

we all burn

and don’t apologize, but don’t
expect any applause, either

the best gifts
remain unspoken

the best years are always
referred to in the past tense

do you see how that’s funny?

do you understand the
of corpse into god?

talk to cobain about
his cure for addiction

ask if he sees the irony in
the voice of a generation
being a suicide

once you’ve got that
sense of humour, there’s really
nothing else you need

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications) and A DEAD MAN, EITHER WAY (2020 Kung Fu Treachery Press).

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

Poetry Drawer: Roll the Film, Gotham: Regarding my Creation: The Fruit of Middle Age: Romance: The Saga of my Office: At the Border by John Grey

Roll the Film, Gotham

The source of night
finally enters the city.
Unwedded to sense,
it conjures up a storm.
An effort to become whole
through union with another
is thwarted by a stab of lightning,
a roll of thunder.
An imaginary picture in the mind
is set aflame.
So phony and brilliant
can’t get together
with conceited and raw.
Too much changing,
transference, transforming.
Sustained energy
comes in the form
of bad waking dreams.
Secret knowledge scratches
and shrieks and howls.
Suggestions are true
and make everybody nervous.
It’s a sideshow.
It’s a trapeze act.
It’s no longer about people.
A strange face
emerging from the shadows
suggests a different function.

Regarding my Creation

You were in error
to give birth to me.
If you want,
I’ll stay away
and you can replace me
with ceramics
or quilts.
That one moment of heat
can be your hands
feverishly working the potter’s wheel,
making shapes that stay shapes,
articles so useful or so decorative
they never outstay their welcome.
That dream of family
can be you gliding long patient needles
through endless skeins of wool
while folds of warm and loving fabric
gather on your lap.
It’s how we make sense
of those infrequent times I visit.
Yes I could have made something of myself.
But you could just as easily have made something.

The Fruit of Middle Age

A plump squash
plucked from the field,
she hugs all the way to the house
like a new baby.
Or breasts when she lifts it high.
Or her stomach
when her arms sag.

Her man watches
from the widow,
opens the door
as she approaches the stoop,
ushers wife and fruit
into the kitchen
where she plumps her prize
on the table.

She grew it, he’s thinking.
It’s an extension of her flesh,
her bone.
He runs his hands
over the smooth, hard rind.
Best of all, it’s new.
And at a time
when nothing else is.


Hasn’t happened yet
but I hold out hope:
the sidewalk café in Lyon,
the beautiful young French woman
at the next table,
sipping her expresso,
reading Arthur Miller’s “Tropic Of Cancer”
in English,
looking up at me with pale green eyes,
soft mouth,
and with an accent
like a get-together
of all romance tongues extant,
and who asks, “Can you help me with this word?”

You might think that
the more settled I am,
the more contented in my marriage,
the less likely I’m to be in such a situation
and, even if it did happen,
I’d act more like a language professor
than a young man in thrall
to delicate beauty, inviting demeanor.

But, all my life,
I’ve known the word,
have kept it close,
awaiting the opportunity
to explain, translate
or just say it aloud.
It’s a mighty word.
I would hate to waste it.

The Saga of my Office

Fingers tap an invigorating rhythm.
And I’ve never known a pen yet that didn’t
burrow like a rabbit in a bundle of papers.
And look, the coaster and the CD are transposed.
Can’t keep the desk from wobbling.
I’m buried in junk.
Disarray will have to be array for the immediate future.
This DVD has been watched once
but will never be seen again.
But it’s with me until the end.
That’s what I like about trash.
It doesn’t complain. It stands by me.
Every ill-suited thing
has always been suited to me.
I give my dress-sense as evidence.
Throw in the mix-tape that combines Def Leppard
with Carnival of the Animals.
And where did I put the screw driver?
And do I really need it now anyhow?
Meanwhile, I rest my coffee cup on Ray Charles.
And I’m surrounded by printers.
It’s all a mess but so is a field of wildflowers.
And it so resembles what I imagine
imagination to look like.
But I wonder where
I put that poem I was revising.
My brain says toss out what you don’t need.
But my heart’s having none of it.
Besides, who knows what use
the useless will someday provide.
My books are up to their old habits.
They just won’t stick to alphabetical order.
The one I’m looking for is around here somewhere.
So much else is.
Why shouldn’t it be?

At the Border

Shocked out of sleep. Coalpit dark.
Bus at a standstill. Windows coated in dust.

Men in uniforms, with guns, usher
us into a nearby building.

A thousand questions in stumbling English.
A thousand stumbling answers.
How long, who with and where.
Best innocent expression.

Passport glared at, begrudgingly stamped.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

Another guy is dragged off
to a different room,
door closed behind him.
He does not get back on the bus.

More sleep. In a different country this time.

Part of the pleasure of travel.
Not wanted.
But not wanted nearly enough.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head, and Guest of Myself are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

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

Poetry Drawer: The Cost of Living in Daydreams: The Cost of Living in Your Heart: A Renegade: Heroes in the Seaweed by Dr Susie Gharib

The Cost of Living in Daydreams

My adaptations of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Villette, and The Waves
have been adopted by three Hollywood directors for the big screen,
with Hans Zimmer as the main candidate to write the music themes.
My first collection of poetry is a best-seller in numerous countries
and in Glasgow there are endless queues before WH Smith.

I plan to purchase with the massive revenue
a small cottage overlooking some Scottish lake
and a rowing boat that bears my lapdog’s name,
away from sirens, bullets and roaring war planes.
I also intend on the thirty-first of May
to dance away the privations of the last three decades
in a club that plays the music of the eighties
for my sixtieth year.

The constant wagging of Lucia’s tail
terminates my self-hypnosis,
taking me back to another bland day
for we need to descend and ascend flights of stairs
with the absolute absence of electricity.
My mouth retrieves its bitter taste.
My nostrils quiver with revulsion
at the smells emanating from neighbours and cafes.
My eyes dread encountering the habitual, banal scenes.
The cost of living in daydreams is an extra acrid flavor
to fermenting reality.

The Cost of Living in Your Heart

The cost of living in your heart
was the rising blood level that swamped my hearth
every time your eyes encountered a bonny lass.

It was also draughty with your outdoor style,
so much skiing,
so many golf rounds,
chilling my bones on many lonesome nights.

Your heart accommodated so many rooms,
so many corridors and bolted doors,
so lavishly furnished with extravagant halls,
a labyrinth with no exits,
a citadel with rings of moats.

It was always resonating to international news,
to the Stock Exchange,
to the price of oil,
so enterprise had mounted its hallowed throne.

The cost of living in your heart
was a sheer waste of my blighted youth.

A Renegade

I was caught with a surplus of dignity
hidden between the folds of my brain,
with grams of self-respect
that exceed the permissible weight,
with currents of smuggled passion
that the throbs of my heart betrayed,
with psychological and emotional treason.

The PBI, Psychological Bureau of Investigation,
issued a warning that was stamped on my passport
and my ID,
a chip was inserted in my wrist
to monitor my pulse and inward heat
for I was a possible renegade
with my inability to hate.

Heroes in the Seaweed

“There are heroes in the seaweed,” Leonard Cohen sang in Susanne,
whose shortened form is the name I was given as a new-born,
after a character in The World of Suzie Wong.

How can the seaweed whose frailty is an established metaphor
conceive heroes who are usually born of mighty gods
with lineage, immortality, and some aesthetic form?
I always pondered but eventually forgot myself
in the poetry and music that enthralled.

Perhaps the ‘in’ refers to their dwelling place,
inhabiting the deep with anonymity,
performing their miracles and then vanishing
without making a public speech
to win the masses’ acclaim!

Who are “the heroes in the seaweed” of the twenty-first century
“when charity is a coat you wear twice a year,”
as George Michael reiterated
and pacifists are impotent before the wars that incessantly rage?
Hunger is still marching at a strident pace
and persecution is competing with the best torture tools
of the Medieval Age!

Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Susie’s first book (adapted for film), Classic Adaptations, includes Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

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