Poetry Drawer: Lora from Prishtina: For the years that have fled: Visit: Blindness: Delayed Meeting: You Ran Away Lora: In the Theater of Tragedy: One Day: Lora in Adriatic: Lora in the Rain: Valentine’s Day: Lora: When the Poet Loves by Lan Qyqalla

Lora from Prishtina

The Goddess descends into memories
Lora took into her arms
the blessed silence
an eye she gave to love
a song to the sun
to evil she gave the smile
her lips enchanted me
embracing the dream of the poet…

Again with Lora of Prishtina
we often meet on the boulevard
looking at the shadows of the rocks
beauty walks courageous
in love as the meteor of words
rain with arrows in sight
her lips put ash on my tongue
where the unspoken word slopes
the missing halt
during the white sleep
Lora of Prishtina –
gives a song to the sun.

For the years that have fled

Last night with Lora
we followed love
in the Garmia Valley
in the chest we spread the song
of Romeo and Julia.

In Garmia was afraid
of the fire of love. In the chest
we enumerate the hours
years that have fled to freshness
singing the melody of the forgotten poet
in the love of the ivory castle
on the “Green Path”,
Lora and I.

Visit

Unexpectedly the gate looks on the screen
on the keyboard taps the verse from his mind
the shadow is measured in tumultuous ecstasy
sparkle lit in mature age
in delusion you appear to me as a vision.

Lora walks into the heart of the verse
proudly stands in front of Naim’s bust
then goes to the waiting spa
where we were yesterday
embracing my dream with open arms
pouring earthquake into the alight tinder.

Blindness

blind yourself
I do not want you
having a look at the sea
I do not want you
to see the colour
in the ocean of your eyes
I want to drown
in your grace
to have you
my love.

This wish
in light
of birth
to perish
to infinity!

Delayed Meeting

Delayed meeting with Lora
in the Poetic Autumn
I continued the trip
in the Penelope Oasis
we look in the mirror of our eyes
among the waves of love
between dream and reality
between autumn and winter
between sun and sky
between birth and sunset
between maturity and childhood
between withered leaves
and the yellow petals
with the turmoil of fire
and thrill of heart …!

Delayed meeting with Lora
in the green spring
in the depths of your eyes
near the volcano
where awakening bites forgetfulness
in the late autumn
in the garden of heaven
stretched on the edge of the road
we met late
in the arms of Love.

You Ran Away Lora

You ran away so fast Lora
in the dark night of the modernism
before the next summer comes
in the smoke and alcohol basin
killed on the trail of mistrust.

Lora plays Satan’s dance
on the holy night of heaven
love drowns in the oasis
in the intoxication of the rain plague
becoming the postpartum of the broken age.

You did not wait for the promised summer
on the bed of roses
in the run of old time
of a dirty time whose name you do not know
I look at the rain as a rope in the faint face
and ask for the way out of love.

You ran away so fast Lora
you have remained the metaphor of the virgin paths
endless poetry of the poet’s longing
novel that starts with a real landscape
melted love in the spring of absences.

In the Theater of Tragedy

Hamlet is shouting on the stage
in the backstage
Romeo and Juliet
burn in the fire of love
caress the stains of the cloth
left from Kanun’s time
the intrigues of friends with empty souls
in the museum of memories
in the imagination of Eros in Prishtina.

Juliet
curses Hamlet beyond the scene
that he had penetrated her thoughts
she is seeking the paradise in poetry
why is Romeo lying
about fiery love
I do not have a covenant or ask for the breakup
Juliet feels that he speaks with his heart.

Romeo blesses the love
that remained like a wound
from the years that have passed
trots in the lit cup
the bedbed curses
at the table…

One Day
(Requiem for the poet)

You will not see the poet
standing
in Edi Café 2*
nor will you intercept
intrigues and contemplations
he will not order espresso
the table will be empty
as the memories that evoke
alcoholic beverages…
and a toast of friendship.

The poet blessed by hatred
does not withdraw
the words blossom with rose perfume
and cry for the memories in solitude
do not believe in dreams and magic
to give the world love
and the lyrics will need calligraphy

The poet burns in an ironic smile
the storm and the sky evoke a memory
every word in the fire of words
a world you do not know
Queen with beautiful eyes.

You will not see me
in the coffee shop
nor the streets of Prishtina
the atmosphere steps on your footsteps’ traces,
some quiet storms
strikes like the lightning in the sky without clouds
how many stars are lit
you are crystal in the heart and you know
memories of a distant time bring me
farewell and a voice
that babbles lyrics as a hymn…
we give life the spiritual dough
all the dreams we’ve written
the love we sang in each letter
we the unloving lovers!

*Edi kaffe in Prishtina

Lora in Adriatic

The plains swing
the unsung serenade
the text sinks into the water of the lake
the sounds of love cover the mountain
the eyes dissolve the exuberant magic.

The ring of the lake shines in the Adriatic
The lake wears the ring on the finger
The rays of the sun caress the face
Lora’s lips bite the words
curdled on the eyebrow
“For me you are unique, oh Lan”
and the lake trambles.

The lips redden in the drunkness of the kiss
Lora squeezes the fingers to her chest
the adder bite at the neck and at the nape
the chest whiteness shakes on the lake
the whips of excitement like the oak sap
Lora loses the trace in the longing of waiting
the cherry melts in the language of love.

Lora in the Rain
 
Lora was jealous in the rain
why it washed Lan’s
hair, lips
neck and eyes
imagined
in crazy
love?

Lora melts in eternity
sighs in words
stuttering took
and glimpses gave.
 
Lora stops the nomad time
Lan nihilist
in the burning rain
both faces
Prishtina’s fiery kiss

The rain makes Lora jealous
she gives
the kiss of the tear
to the rock in the dark.

Lora kneads her breasts
in the longing of love
Lan feels time
in the frozen sea
of wishes
 
Lora and Lan
tease each other in the galaxy.

Valentine’s Day
 
Lora
embroidered Valentine’s Day
on the map of love
Egnatia-Naisus street
and in passing I also took
the honey flavour
from the hot ashes
of the extinguished fire.

Lora
like a blonde ladybug in the meteorite
nobody whispers
on the map of love
and the star twister out of exhausted longing
in the timeless feeling
brought the freshness of age
the kiss of the mountain like Hera from Olympus
departed in the endless today
night.

Lora
frozen in heat
slightly heated to the bosom of love
“I’m very cold
Lan takes me with him
tonight
I do not want flowers
a white rose
to have for Valentine’s Day! “

Lora

Lora
we wander through time
like snakes in the bushes
Lora and I
in the ecstasy of the painting
I gave her Mona Lisa’s smile
I drank water from Lora’s bosom
and I lost myself in adolescent dreams,

I gave Lora a life
I gave the sky a kiss
the sun seemed to be silent
and left a free way to darkness
the rainbow lightens my way
fiery I take the stars to the bosom
I hug the sun
to feel its tenderness.

Lora is silent
and she silently speaks
in her blonde hair
I touch the love
embers in the lap
white frost
Lora left traces

Lora is asleep
with the fiery stars
tickling her lips
in the corrugated crown
the sounds of silence
I put her crown
and I read under her eyelids
the novel I will write
Lora with her bosom as virgin snow
lures the Talmudists’ years
Lora
crystalline meteor.

When the Poet Loves

When the poet loves
the moon becomes pregnant
with the autumn pollen
the stars laugh with Pitagora’s theorem
the sun receives rays of love
tsunami become the poet’s words
Lora is immersed in the block of salt.

When the poet sings
adorns the world
with the smell of love
he gives the mountains
Beethoven’s symphony
the rivers are enjoying
Mtika’s work
the sea of poet’s feelings
and Lora falls asleep
on the wedding stone
a living metaphor
in infinite verses.

Lan Qyqalla graduated from the Faculty of Philology in the branch of Albanian language and literature in Prishtina, from Republika of Kosovo. He is a Professor, poet, writer and editor of the prestigious international magazine ORFEU, as well as a television presenter.

PUBLISHED BOOKS:

  • “Autumn of love in Pristina” Collection of poems, 2022 Pristina
    “Parfumul iubirii” (Scent of love) Bucharest, 2020
  • “Lora” poetic collection in Turkish, translated and adapted by Kopi Kyçyku, Istanbul 2022
  • “A l`ombre des muses” (“In the shadow of the muse”) French, L’Harmattan Publishing House, Paris, 2018 December 24
  • “Nymph of a wounded heart” stories, in 2013 in Pristina
  • “Tears – sea of pain” Albanian poem, in Pristina, in 2016
  • “Tears-sea of pain” was translated into Romanian, published in Bucharest 2016
  • “LORA” Albanian poem, in 2017 in Pristina
  • “Passport of love” Bucharest, 2018,
  • “Lora mon amour” French, Bucharest, 2018 and
  • “Passport of love” English, published in Bucharest 2018
  • “Whiteness in Whiteness” School monograph, 1995
  • “Gani Xhafolli – prince of children’s literature” Mongrafi, 2018 co-author with Reshat Sahitaj
  • “Autumn of love in Pristina”Albanian SHB PRESS LIBERTY, poetry, Pristina
  • “Automne d’amour a Prishtina”. Translated into French Prof. Ismail Ismail, French, L’Harmattan Publishing House, Paris, 2023, Review by Francophone critic Laurent Griso
  • “Kärlekens höst i Pristina”, Swedish, Malmo Sweden, translated by Prof. Ismjal Jashanica
  • “Toamna dragostei la Pristina” Romanian, Bucharest translated by Baki Ymeri
  • “Pristine’de ask sombari” Turkish, translated by Akademik Kopi Kyçyku
  • “The chart of the soul” stories and novels, Prishtina, 2022

PRIZES

  • – In the International Competition for poetry in Torre Meliso in Italy, he received the 1st Prize of Albanian, on May 2017
  • – In 2017, he received the CREATIVE AWARD OF THE YEAR in Fushë-Kosovo
  • – In 2018, the Association of Albanian Writers in Macedonia gives the AWARD OF THE YEAR “Under the shadow of the maple” to Skopje, for the best poetic book
  • – A poet has been selected to participate in the International Festival in Tunisia, on November 20-25, 2018
  • – He is the Director of the Association of Writers “Naim Frashëri” in Fushë-Kosovo,
  • – Member of the presidency of the ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS OF KOSOVO,
  • – Editor-in-Chief at “Orfeu” Magazine and Web ORFEU.AL
  • – Member of the Editorial Board of the Magazine of World Historians based in Switzerland
  • – Vice-President of the Union of Albanian Writers and Critics
  • – He works as a Professor of Albanian Language and Literature at the Gymnasium.
  • He lives and works in Pristina.

Poetry Drawer: The Teacup by Sam Szanto

In the attic she finds a box.
Underneath an epidermis of newsprint
lies a blue-and-white china teacup,
part of the set used by her grandma
every week they went to see her.

The china, thin and determined,
pulls her into a warm room
and seats her at a groaning table.

Every cup has a saucer,
every plate has a doily,
silver sugar tongs rest
on white cloth
though no one takes sugar
in the tea poured from the squat pot
on top of milk.
On a birthday, the grandchildren
are given sugar lumps
and pretend they are horses.

They can start
when Grandma sits.
The plates are passed, achingly slowly,
sandwiches first. Egg and cress,
ham and English mustard,
soggy cheese and tomato,
too much marg,
bread cut into triangles,
crusts removed.

Then the homemade cakes are paraded:
a Victoria sponge oozing cream,
a dark ginger cake,
scones bursting with fruit.

The woman sees herself drop a saucer,
Grandma picking up the pieces
as if her fingers are tweezers,
the saucer never to be replaced.

She looks in the box again,
finding nothing.

Sam Szanto lives in Durham. Her poetry pamphlet, ‘Splashing Pink’ was published by Hedgehog Press and is a Poetry Book Society Winter 2023 Choice. Her pamphlet ‘This Was Your Mother’ won the 2023 Dreich Slims Contest and will be published soon. She won the Charroux Poetry Prize and the First Writer International Poetry Prize, and her poetry has been placed in journals including ‘Northern Gravy’ and ‘The North’. She was awarded an MA with distinction from the Poetry School / Newcastle University in 2023. Find her on Twitter/X Instagram and on her website.

Pantry Prose: Before True Rest Has Come: A National Train of Love: The House of Xmas Jocundity: Use of the Pane by Jim Bellamy

Before True Rest Has Come

That early evening, in September 1985, only one person was mad enough to light the lamps, and she was the cruellest. She behaved as a bore and did not like prosody. Call her Jasmine. She wore a strange suit that seemed washed by the tides. By her side there was a book and a phantom man and child. The moon was not yet out. I travelled home with a bag by my side. I bore an album too. I did not care for dancing.

Inside my home was a pair of tights that was torn down the legs. I padded barefoot to the parlour downstairs. Downstairs smelt weird. Pungent scents wafted from the cigars dad had smoked before today. I peeped noisily at the corners of my kitchen. It seemed as though the curtains there were forever drawn. My eyes were still heavy from a future dream. A dream of untouchable woman and I was falling, always. I heard my sister weeping. Beneath my larder, I sensed vegetables turn to utmost rot. Upstairs from myself, there was a family viewing the news. I closed the back doors: now there was nobody to disturb me.

But all the noises of the otherwise dead, darkened by mourning, intimated breathing on the mirrors in the hall. And the gaslight, gone, served as intimate relation to a past I had known long before this life had formed.

First there was a long strip of photos of my great grandmother. A professional dickybird with hood once snapped his way as he strode the vanished main streets, calling “Good morning” across the lanes where once shop-windows shone inside candle-light. And here I was, yet asleep, walking down the precincts. Here were the mendicant-blind and the cured killed. All I could do was to bleed into my own heart the peculiar fact that my life as an infant was now ended. But melancholy could not damn me. I was assured by sound of my own personal fate. And school is often spelt wrongly.

Bells rang in my ears. Bells rang at the heels of my school-mates. It was as if an earth of fear had been deposed to reveal a station with a train whose destination would appear neither hidden or absolved. I knew then that learning was to be my only future.

And here I was, running down the dead-ends of my childhood, stout, confident, in command. But I appeared to peek into the windows of forgotten stores. Buried in errands, stepping aside from the common kind , prying strange looks at the broken looking-glasses of furniture shops, my soul was photographed.

“Your image has been taken.” Immortality achieved in the space of one moment sent me skipping along the roads forever. And learning was to my immortality. With hairpins, buttons, screws, shampoo packets, knitting-needles. At nearly six-in-the-morning, I was hurried to awake for real.

The clock struck six. Daddy put his hand out and turned it askance. Then the whole of my life was dreaming but thence self-lead. The dog growled like a demon, and showed me his largest teeth. “Stay still, Stinker. Get back to sleep, boy.” I was yet too tired to speak with a slap. My eyes pulsed with a forgotten tiredness which was soon to permit for seven whole years of learned life. Most of the sheets on this table were dirty. A lump of coal from an open fire should somehow remark on the vandalism apparent thereupon. Foisted on the careful graffiti were drawings of legs and breasts which smudged out rude names and formless numbers. History is lies.

Now take the Jutes. Read ahead, read about King Charles. Move ahead, read about Prince Alfred. Discover who killed the headmaster’s daughter. Read about old Bennett and see him whipped down the corridors. See Liz stuffed with dates or dip a starched collar in the smirking inks as hammers smash teeth into a prim, bald, smirking head. Spiral away from Saint Nicholas and speak of his presence till gifts are stopped. Ride the piggyback of a drunken scream. Catch penny stains sketched as if silk garters. These tables are as true as History.

Upon the last sheet I signed my name several times with a pen which had no lead. I did not opt to scribble with the real. At a first glance there was no sign of interference. Thence I drew my eye to the coke inside its synthetic grate. Dust drifted up into a cloud, and then I settled down into my first true day. If only I could yell at the ceilings and trace dark circles made by former gas or crack into lines the figures and faces which danced and chased animals over hidden fields: Come, let’s look at Saint Joan who has somehow destroyed her parents’ house in Stephen’s Street, or else Staines Grove; he will never be allowed to come back. Mrs. Baker, have a peek now, perhaps, from under these cold sheets, at Mr. Baxter, who worked in the Post Office Tower.

“Be quiet”, I said to myself, “Surely I know nothing.”

Dad opened the gates of the pantry door. The worn best plates shone like fire. A pattern, akin to a willow tree, span round the cups and filled with flowers the fruits of the coiling texts. Jugs were piled up on one large shelf, on another the bowls, the soup-tureens, the toast-racks spelling Brighton, Hastings, Porthcawl. Then for the trifle-dishes. Thence the fitful afternoons when tea-service was brittle as biscuits but proud with gold-leaf. I cracked two saucers together, and the curved spout of a teapot came off in my own two hands. Inside five minutes I had perhaps smashed the whole set. May all the vices of Leicester Square bow down to see me as I whisper in this scullery: the spidery young girls who help at home. Calculating down this pavement where the rich-smelling shops, screwed up in their sensuousness, dry hair in the rooms to the side of this home. I blood off salt with the plant that’s grown. And I should have hopes that the office girls may knock at my door with the very stubs of their fingers. You can hear sex now gliding from the glass porch of this sealed room. “Oh yeah” I must have said, and the just male voices agreeing softly. “Shoo to them who snore in and out of Staines Grove”. I know that they are sleeping under vexed sheets up to the fringes of their grey whiskers. Meryl is marrying the Chamber and Mary is wedding to Lady Settee. I am breaking tureens in this bad cupboard beneath the stairs.

A metal plate dropped from out my hands and smashed to smithereens. I awaited the sound of my mother awaking. No one stirred outside. “Stinker is perfect,” I said aloud, yet the harsh noise of an inner mental voice drove pets in my world back to silence. My fingers became cold and numb for I knew I could not lift another plate without breaking it.

“What are you doing?” dad said to me at last, in a cool, flat tone. “Leave the Streets alone. Let them sleep.” Then I closed the pantry door. “What are you doing, raving away?” Even so the dog had not been awakened. “Raving away,” I said. God would have me hurt quickly now. The incident in the cupboards had made much of a trembling so much that I could hardly tear up the mess I had made inside the sideboards and the china that was scattered under the stairs was too difficult to destroy. The doilies and the patterned tea-cosies were still together, hard as rubber. I pulled them up as one, as if in a hope of wedging them up the chimney.

“These are such small things,” I said. “I should break the windows and stuff the cushions with this broken glass.” Dad saw his round soft face in the mirrors under the duplicate Mona Lisa. “But you won’t”, I said,, “Be afraid of the noise I have made.” Dad burnt away the edge of his mother’s guilt and shame and remembered to poke out his tongue to sap the tracks of my tears. “Still playing to cry,” he said. “Tears have salt and life is all salt. Just like the best of my poems.” Dad returned upstairs to the dark, with the light flailing, and seemed to lock the doors on the inside. He put out his hands and touched the walls by my bed. Good morning and farewell, Mrs. Barker. My window, facing his bedroom, was wide-open to the winds, but I could not hear the breathing of my mother. Most of the houses were still quiet. The main part of the street was a closed grave. The neighbours were still safe and deep in their separated silences. My head no longer touched its pillow and I knew that I should not sleep again. Dad’s eyes stayed closed.

Come down now into my arms, for I shan’t sleep. I know your rooms like the backs of my hands and I do not wish to sleep again. Tomorrow, today, I am going away by the 7.50 train, with five old pounds and an old suitcase. Lay your dreams against this bed for the alarm at six-thirty will hurry you back to the once drawn blinds where lit fires burn before true rest has come. Come with me quickly to where we may hear breathe the floats of the milk-men as they are waking.

Dad was asleep with his hat on still, and his hands were clenched. My family awoke before cock-crow. At least, I thought I heard them. They would stand in their dressing-gowns, stale-eyed and with ragged hair. O, come with me quickly.

A National Train of Love

I sat in a state of privy, with a slag-heap sat beside me. In all the compartments of the train I travelled, there were lessons to be gleaned and learned.Time was dressed in a bland tweed suit. The apologies of god were leaden with shame. Galbraith  served my mind and still I danced inside my sullen body whilst love reared up from the chains of the happy-killed. O, my soul lay dented and Everyman reneged on my thoughts and stilled the veins of my brain.

“I saw you use the dance-floor,” taunted a woman in a state of obfuscation and the side of Her head damaged by way of dreaming. The lavatories of Hell lay opened. My dark side appeared to rape my Gem. The scented sentimentalities of the seats which rode were forced to swerve. Lust’s hands turned askance. “Heavenward for these pages you read,” spoke my tutor. The peacock quills of a former state denied my dreams as passion raided the sly scenes of my languid ear. Home and help were ended. The gardens of the thrilled children of life stabbed me in both cheeks of my bum and the guards of Christ’s subhuman Turin Shroud noosed my cries with Atheistic lies. “Jain,” said a second teacher. The hands of the clock on the wall caused words to repeat as if entertained by self-flagellating cries. The hole in my sex descried gloom. It was clear to me that girl kind should desert me. After all, my denial of sex-abuse had been all too apparent and I could not find the masturbatory words whereby I might at last indulge in a sensuous scream. The handle of love turned.

“I do not consider youth as a bed-wetter and I must presume that when I cross my legs the scars of the ocean make a way for plum-duff?!’

These words from a third tutor seemed remotely powered. I dared not understand what She meant. Now my use of the train was gaining swiftness. Running down its rails, the gurgling noise of fellow-passengers caused a hapless sensation of disquiet.

A cloud of people stood arguing with the north-wind. I was not too maddened to experience pain and the length down my leg was never real.

“My name is Dom Daniel. Can anybody tell me why elderberry wine causes trips?”

But Dom Daniel was not blessed. Clasped in His hands was a copy of The Times Chronicle. It was my opinion (for what it was worth) that time was a funnel with weird noises closed around it.

“Thus is the beginning of the end.”

But there is no tangible end. Time unravels into itself and causes mirrors to intertwine. What should I choose to do but fall head-first into a tunnel of papers whilst lessons shoot past me. How should I refine timed life except by living inside my own estranged beliefs?

..

Strangled rats strode beneath my feet. The face of my tutors seemed planed away by foundations but the glibness of cosmetics coughed up invisible bleeding as my spirit lay half-awake in a medical room which did not inspire any true state of sex-yearning.

“Did you try to speak?” asked a man who had a bizarre birth-mark. His face was perhaps a miasma of purple and it was not until I found myself laying prostrate on an impossible settee when I considered my own face as a blemish. There are spectacles on my face and a nose never dinted by amateur boxing. I imagine you know the unhappy scene? “I snapped at you and that means you must listen!”

Slang spilled from the walls where the bodies burned and glistened. Often, I had thought of burning sculptures and thence the wholeness of statues struck me dead.

Now, every table must seem spread. Cold, snubbed peoples killed for home-time and here lay dying all over mean floors. There were no carpets but rugs of magical importance strove to stuff our eyes with Aladdin and His insane lamp.

The train rode faster. A waitress with a scrofulous cold served meringues to sleeping women. The briefcases of the working hordes seemed to pleasure the passing hour. I could neither weep nor taunt.

“I saw you using a pen for no abundant cause. Your words are worth two-pence and cannot change anything!” trilled a bent prefect who surely believed that heaven was still alive.

The rest of my pages are picked to bits by the howling of strange birds. Glimpses of hedges light all lamps and the dishonest peoples cause hateful pain. “I who saw you dancing,” Love said but Love was locked the other side of its door and the bit of sex-business pissed into the wind as the cloaks of the caned scaled the walls of Judea.

“Did you try to speak” asked a premier of learning but her face was pale and guiltless and her sight impossible to bear. She was perhaps ‘pretty’.

The wheels of my train span into the sun. The pleasures of sleeping travel surged beneath its counter. I did not think that a choir of songs would awake me but it did and as I walked up the slope to an outside street, bottles span from my fingers. There was a girl with shells for her hair. In the space of the city, a sea of whales span round. I have never considered true life since spent candles burn more brightly. There are tocsins heard in towns which mean all and nothing and the oceans of this earth collide beneath fled flames.

I gave my home three knocks. “Mr Anodyne,” God said, and softly strode away.

The House of Xmas Jocundity (a response to Shakespeare?)

IT is a burnished transparent night in the better half of December. The bacchanal Babylonian fields are enshrouded in a sobering coat of turgid ice. Here and there, amidst these cruel Phlegethonian sheets, dunes of Hippolytian snows dance upon the feline wind, and scatter Seraphic, white blankets across Asteroth’s astir sky.

The Acherontic eyes of a Clown with a boy’s face are focussed on starry Empyrean quarters. He cares so much for what faith sees, and has no desire to pass beyond those Perian Memories of a Dulcinea, whose sweet farewell chiselled a Lacrymose hole in His Soul and submerged His veins in molten-ice. Tepid saline tides erode His wan alabaster mask. “Well, you saddened Maecenas of mine, it is Xmas Eve,” he mutters to himself, “A time when we all decide to live under the same stars without conflict. These basic annual vows shine upon many a civilisation. But what of afterwards? Shall we still drink from the honey-choked wells of truth? Shall we still imprecate Martian fists?”

Far away, somewhere behind the Nectarious, female scent of lingering rain-washed wood-smoke, a Rosary-Clad Congregation, wielding Prayers, reveres the dark Olympian night. O, Saturn plays the organ, plays it just for me and you, and the Cherubic cavatina of the Midnight Mass intertwines with the Moon; and the Choral-Lamps resuscitate dreams in Atrophosian tombs. Over Lucretian valleys, and along interwoven Sirian passages , drifts the Congregation’s chaste Hymns.

Asmodeusan, a stygian lodger from profligate Italy, has a penile light in his eyes; a penile light that compels women to flaunt livery and virtuous men to file for castration. He grasps a vintage cheroot from King Aphonus ‘ cigar-box and lights it with a Plutovian whisper. It will soon be morning, and he is preparing himself for the arrival of Myrtle’s sentient bine, Asphodelte. “She has Houri’s unbridled favour!” he spits salaciously. “Paphos never beheld such vestal dulcitude!”

A lark’s transcendent cantata bids Asmodeusan’s annulet an antiseptic morning’s greeting. No doubt each mellifluous staff of recalls his lickerish, hymen-spewed past. Even before God’s thick, hispid hair sprouted from Love’s mammonian face, and bibacious wine clung to His soul, Asmodeusan was intoxicated by vile lust. When he was eight years old, he made a laconic virtue of boasting about the adroitness of His masturbatory deviations. And, on one dull Apollyonian day, he plundered a Venusian’s world and stained several pairs of her dew-laced silken underwear.

*

The phoebian star dances on the pock-drenched roof of the House of Xmas Jocundity, and swims within and without its ghostly tiles. The life which lies within is slowly and dearly exiting from the wrecks of hypnotic motion. Life – dear depressing animation – is returning to its enchanted and ghastly inhabitants, and the phantom moon is fading and fades back; back into the deep, dark Prussian blue meridian.

What is to happen to Asphodelte, as she lies in the fairest eiderdown, far away from those free-falling cucumbers in eastern and western markets? What I to happen whilst King Aphonus, her Father, sleeps so long? Is Asmodeusan to gain that lithe and labial fortress? Or will it be Jureis Divinoan, that free and righteous fellow who sleeps on time’s timeless floor? Who shall it be? That is the Question; and nothing lies beyond it..

Jureis reeks of fulfilment, but what can he know? For the solar bowl shines down on Humanity, spilling forth its Omniscient Soul, as if it were the home of Antihodean Wholeness. It knows for certain that Life is never planned?

And Jureis and Asphodelte are free to feel whatever they wish, while Asmodeusan fishes for the largest of lustful fish. And I know, as well as the clown with the boy’s face, that death is as drunk as Pluto’s Jury. Death’s befuddlement will teach the ignorant world that Hell is a mindful dell. “Screw, fuck, lick, suck! Learn of Peace without constructs,” God mumbles to Himself.

Asphodelte is here, singing for freedom, Jureis is present, learning of Healing. The noblest of servants, Hesperion, is endeavouring to quell the panic. “I am here, with self made evident,” he yells. “Learn of freedom, learn of pain, crush oppression, yearn to be the same. This may be a dream, of this may be Life, but mislay anguish for she exudes strife. Love, love is the answer. Learn it before you squander your hours inside this Earth. Surely you understand that Sex is wonderful?”

A fantastic, adoring wind strikes the House of Xmas Jocundity as jasmine-sprinkled Asphodelte arrives in Asmodeusan’s realm. She smiles upon him and burns hole in his odious trance. “You, sir,” she says, “are an example of Satan’s partner, and I have no desire to brush my breath upon your jaded soul. What ho, Hesperion? What ho?”

Hesperion appears and Asmodeusan backs under. There is no freedom for sexual plunderers. I know what I speak of, I know what I see. Lust is obscene yet resides within us. Asmodeusan must learn to confine his lust to reclusive hours?

*

The House of Xmas Jocundity glows with the light of a deity. It conveys the spirit of peacedom. Liberty lies within its gardens. Therein, repression is Dead.

Asmodeusan’s heart is smeared with sulphurous clay. He envies Jureis Divinoan’s love-glazed eyes. A further cheroot juts from his face, and he feels His lungs rapture into Obscurity.

Hesperion calls for understanding, whereas King Aphonus and His Queen, Perfidene, build a wall between each other. Neither of them can comprehend their daughter’ love for Jureis Divinoan. King Aphonus cannot comprehend Women, and nothing lies beyond His confuted Thoughts.

*

The sun shines upon the House of Xmas Jocundity whilst the clown with a boy’s face cries. He is the master of this chaotic, obfuscated demesne.

Jureis Divinoan awakens. He is Jupiter’s protean servant. but he is drunk, too. They are all drunk. Asmodeusan, Hesperion, Perfidene, King Aphonus, and lovely Asphodelte. All have partaken ofd December’s truth-seeking waters. They are all lying on time’s timeless floor whilst Asphodelte weeps. Tears flow down her disillusioned face. She is the only virtuous virgin in his place. She cries for Jureis’ innocence as the clown with the boy’s face understands that churlish Asmodeusan does not stand a chance. He is the master of this obfuscated ball, and nothing lies beyond Him. “O, life is an intoxicating well of Evil,” God shouts, “Drink from it, and your stomach will vomit diarrhoea. O, why is it that Life is so ferine? Why can’t we all live together?”

As the needles fall from the brazen coniferous tree, Asmodeusan and Jureis Divinoan realise that Christ is an unending Requiem. How do they know? For they have realised that Jupiter has turned against them and all they have nothing to aspire to but DEATH, DeATH, DEATH!.. Pain, degradation, decapitation. Please understand. One day, in the not too distant future, everything will change. When? I cannot predict. O, let the change come now!”

The House of Xmas Jocundity knows what it is like to be free. Its creator is wandering over the Hills of Avalon and strolling through Mammarian Fields. Yes, it knows what it is like. Don’t you see? There are no more Precepts. The Governments of Eastern and Western Markets are dead. The free-falling cucumbers have been shot from out the sperm-clogged sky, and the House of Xmas Jocundity bathes its souls in the sun’s solution. The clown with the boy’s face has created paragon of Liberation and nothing lies beyond it.

Asphodelte wanders across the House’s Fields of green and greets Jureis Divinoan. They are all Life means. They understand the clown with a boy’s face. Jureis smiles, and yells, “My Dulcinea! You are Jove’s finest pearl!” The clown with the boy’s face understands Him and inflames Asphodelte with Love’s life-kissed comprehension…

And then, and most quintessentially then, the House of Xmas Jocundity embraces the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Perfidene, King Aphonus’s Queen, reels for death’s purgatorial union. She cannot face the glory of quintessential care, for she has chosen to fish for the largest of lustful fish. Asmodeusan is incapable of catching her tophetic desire. She screams in expectant agony and gives birth to a sperm-choked being and, as Aphrodite’s warmth wraps the House of Xmas Jocundity in idolatrous light. Perfidene places her last brick in the wall between herself and King Aphonus. Nothing of value lies beyond it. The sperm-choked being rises to His Charonian feet, and swallows his mother’s esculent heart, and Perfidene, Aphonus’s Queen is dead.

Asmodeusan’s mammonian face loses its phallic edge. Saline waves burst forth from his isolated eyes. He remembers now. He remembers that poor, vulnerable Venusian in her vulnerable Venusian’s world. How many pairs of her dew-laced, silken underwear did He pollute? If only Death cold recall the Number. O, Asmodeusan is no longer befuddled. He has caught the largest of lustful fish. Now Love’s stomach will vomit diarrhoea.

-Asphodelte and Jureis Divinoan arrive back at the House of Xmas Jocundity. Aphrodite’s ethos complements their Ethereal God, and nothing lies beyond them.

The sperm-choked being fends off the Goddess of Love. He is Perfidene’s catch; the largest of lustful fish. “Am I not the most swarthy of demonic princes? I, Belias!” he shouts proudly at Jureis Divinoan and Asphodelte and “Silenced!” Jureis replies. “You are little more than Jove’s maleficent cast-off; a cataleptic ejaculation. Die, as your perfidious Mother did before you!” And Jureis, wielding a timeless sword, without a minute’s respite, cuts off Belias’s head.

Jureis, King Aphonus and Asmodeusan lose their individual identities and become one Entity. Their cleansed souls intertwine and pass up, up, up, through the roofs of the House of Xmas Jocundity and on, on, on into the deep, dark Prussian blue Meridian. The effusions of their Yuletide characteristics dissolve into a prism of music and swathe this world in understanding and the clown with the boy’s face avows, that one day, in the not too mystic future, dead earth may change.

I close my eyes and wipe out god’s screen. The clown with a boy’s face passes back into my imagination, and nothing lies beyond it. And I am quite alone now, as I shall always be. My eyes are focussed on those starry Empyrean quarters, and I care so much for what I see. I have no desire to pass beyond those Perian memories of my Dulcinea whose sweet farewell chiselled a spirit hole in my soul and submerged my veins in molten ice. What did this all mean? Well, you saddened Maecenas of mine, it meant whatever life is meant to mean? Nothing lies beyond the House of Xmas Jocundity. Nothiing!-

Come back to me, my Dulcinea. Help me shoot those free-falling cucumbers out of the sperm-clogged sky. Come back to me, and together we shall drift over Lucretian valleys and along interwoven Sirian passages. Together, we shall become as one and roam through the vales of purest, mellifluous honey while skating across the thresholds of Hypnos and embracing magical, Morphean planes. Come back to me, my Dulcinea. Let’s tread upon the beds of the Future and sail into Paradisiacal realms where the Governments of Eastern and Western markets are dead. Nothing lies beyond this Empyrean gleam. Nothing at all except PEACE.

(Jim wrote this short story when still at school aged 17).

Use of the Pane

It was way into Christmas. The dyes of the outside trees had stained the texts of school with a cry of scalded birch. The yellowed fists of winter were delving sense because the lustful  eyes of one thousand boys were here encased in a room of thirty young people.

There was, on a shelf, the manual of my mind. I could hardly think because the sensual words of feline girls were shrieking from the sun Languid verbs foamed from the desks of vexed kids who appeared to know just how the humane human body worked and the routed shell of beaches out of bounds spoke to the seams of coal-country. Where softness dug, the miners of minors turned around and before rude sin had towelled sweat from the birth of ships gone out to sea, the privateers of life descried their decks.. Veiled with nails, crucified senses were burned to death.

The forests of knowledge dammed the brows of teachers and their misbegotten words.

Eyes swallowed from tendril-trees apportioned sightlessness because their buds of vision were wet with seed. The quietus of death’s storm awoke the dead with a myopic whistle which framed the lids of time.

I could not fathom when the rhythms of speech might darken the staffrooms. Where the battered books of one billion books reproached exams, the lines written by children in detention deadened a need for ills.

‘I have words at the ends of my fingers,’ said a male pupil whose use of poems was perfect. Verse emerged from riled heaven as the names of God teemed with one zillion chic rhymes.

There was a ‘reason’ for glad talk but this reason had invaded life and had made creation void. When I say ‘void’, I refer to the indolence of word-thieves. School is full of thefts and because of this all essays are rebuked by a method of marking which imposes a ‘metaphorical’ use of the cane and inside my head, beds were soaked with fear. Sweat oozed  from the skins of youths who could not fathom a need for truth but the distant cries of  abandoned cats  freed folks from the cob-webs of the vain and sheer.

Infamy must serve as an instance of tuition where the startled screams of woman get lost in a forest. Rape streams from out the conifers of the love-maimed and the dirty clothes of inchoate sex must die or else become a spurious porn magazine….

I looked at the tired and saw therein a horde of waiters. Inside this mind’s eye, there were courtiers who downed G-&-T from disembodied sources. As drunk as tailors, the unravelling spool of space milked ambrosia from the clouds.

‘I am not daunted by lies and if you cannot read, please say!’ preached a part-time Prefect. But her Incubus of sensual frowns burst the curls of love’s faith because the darkness of the Void allowed fools to dispute all romantic lunar-landings.

‘I am assured that Aladdin made touch-down!’

Smog cloaked the eyes of Christ in a veil of black-and-blue while the surface of the moon burnt  one’s soul with drills, deepening into the very soul of this earth. Can one be sure that UFOs do not emerge from this world’s infernal crust?

‘I had babes when too young and was then relieved!’

Speech such as these was ten-a-penny and moved the uniformed throes of immaculate humankind. The blasting noise of several million farts silenced the gene-pools of Nazism and Hitler lay drowned in a pond of skin-veined metal.

“Oh, but how terrible,’ A dauphin child spoke from out  a board-rubber.

“It’s very kind of you to say life is comfortable, but look at the confusion. Just to think of living here. There’s something around which cannot make me happy.”

But happiness swelled from the ground as school-yards shortened the scent of earth’s cruel smile.

As the night rose above the rooms of this school, the trades of perverts spat forth. The stars of Time noosed the Deities of light and dark and the cornucopia of sense loosed aliens against the coitus of the laid as ships, wedged in bottles, drove the dawn ‘west of Suez.’

Lives dwelt in their own framed ball-park. Students crossed the lines and died before born. The canes of the killed  thrilled as they crushed chiliads of moaning and weeping.

The clime of  stiffened throes entertained the tiles of  fear. Crying thrilled the chapel of flowers, smashed inside red rain.

 ‘I cannot breathe because I am too young,’ spoke lads where future suffrage blocked the outside loos.

And ripped to bits were the buttocks where the fields of  soul soaped to slits the sexist Harness of killed cries..

‘Can you suck the teats of life or else constrain the etchings of mankind!’

And the skies of mad and disclaimed boys danced  inside pictorial heavens as the Doctored scars of mankind felt bared breasts.

In this glib space, the tits of suitors swelled with the sperm of the tamed and thrilled. Hung up by the penis till pens died, the strangled cocks of wisdom spared spoiled genes and the swiftness of red seed dazzled fusion with the pared deeps of  sun-lit drains. Here, the homes of murders roamed and the surfs of the tangled tamed ran with silk as sinks thrilled with the spilt skins of the penitential dawn.

‘I do not wear a bra.’ Thus were the words spoken by a highwayman of a female Fm-Tutor.

‘I cannot cane you but I change you!’ Thus were the words spoken by the cold lips of an aged Head-of-Year.

And the dire fates of the learned delved the sums of time as triangular pentacles appeared written on gleaming desks.

The plugs were trapped and water ran away with the blisters of the inchoately praised. The dugs of pets back home shed milk and the dining-halls of frailty served strange foods to forgotten souls. I was made sanguine by the main-meals I ate, all of which contained French stews stirred into smashed potatoes.

The scars of the stars roamed the fields of the damned and I was spent because my train of thought appeared to drift away. And where the mourning morning awoke  stoned, there was a quay of calm situated somewhere out my front window. I could neither weep nor sleep whilst the coda of songs extended their tunes to the beat of alarms.

‘Oh, can you please leave welts where there was none!’

And words such as these swiped dregs from the bottoms of queer beer-glasses as the teetotal throb of this enervated life got spanked by the missions of a ‘tutored’ mind.

‘Several puffs from my pipe please!’ spoke a School-Premier and I was scarred forever.

Jim Bellamy was born in a storm in 1972. He studied hard and sat entrance exams for Oxford University. Jim has won three full awards for his poems. Jim has a fine frenzy for poetry and has written in excess of 22,000 poems. Jim adores the art of poetry. He lives for prosody.

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

Poetry Drawer: Lone Folkie: Shine on: Winged Ones by Tom Pennacchini

Lone Folkie

There is a squat/stout duffer in a windbreaker and a Mets cap on the outskirts of the park
playing a rickety 5 string and hoot’in and holler’in.

I have no idea what he is singing.
There is no discernible melody.
Every now and then he stops/ freezes/ puts his forefinger in the air
to take some sort of measure
before plunging back into his flailing guitar.
After another stuttering burst he will stop/
then let loose with an elongated cry to the sky/
punk operatic/ style

nobody seems to stop/and listen/he does not have a container for contributions and probably would not get much trade/
he is playing/for his own/self/and that is / enough
It’s/utterly senseless/ wholly out of key.
Beyond the realm of anything/
resembling cohesive musicality
/rambunctiously obtuse

yet imbued with an innocence that casts proficient excellence into a pallid light.

His songs/ performance/ like life/ a messy and inconclusive/ thing/

You can have/ your polished practice and Carnegie aspirations/
and make of that an evening/ with class
but I like the way this codger lets her rip/
this ragged chanteur/
airs it out/ no class/ no talent/ but lotsa / style

Shine on

Shine on oh perishing republic of dreams
oh community of outcasts
Art in the essence with no need
for product or commodity
Convivial souls rabid rebels minds afire
Provincetown dunes Christmas Eve
Greenwich Village the 20’s to the 50’s
Innocent fervent glass of beer cafeteria a quarter
Shine on oh perishing republic of dreams!

Winged Ones

Bustling old fella dashing biddly bop by dressed to the nines
with briefcase stuffed under his arm equipped with fixed maniacal grin jabbering to himself while confirming his expressions
to an equally jazzed and jaunty westie he calls Ralph trailing exuberantly behind
let’s me know
that there are actually still some living beings out there
to learn from

Tom Pennacchini is a flaneur living in NYC.  Has had stuff published at The Free Poet, Mojave Heart Review, Jalmurra, The Scarlet Leaf, Poems for All,  Free Lit Magazine, Backchannels, Loud Coffee Press, Mason Street Journal,  Portsmouth Poetry, the Fictional Cafe KGB Lit Journal and the upcoming issue of Synchronized Chaos as well as the end of year issue of Every Writer Magazine.

Poetry Drawer: Dazzling Poesy by Paweł Markiewicz

Daphnaie
becoming she-conjurer
Thou – ethereal enlightenment
You are a sunflower
The elixir is tender poetry
And You are longing for wisdom
I wish, she had hope for destiny
Rumination

Epimelides
bewitching she-seer
Thou – bucolic romanticism
You are a violet
The solitude is delicate poesy
And You are yearning for acumen
I wish, she had desire for circumstance
Contemplation

Hamadryad
comely she-hex
Thou – demure existentialism
You are a rhododendron
The epiphany is supple verse
And You are yenning for foresight
I wish, she had aspiration for fate
Cogitation

Meliae
knockout she-sorcerer
Thou – dissemble impressionism
You are an Azalea
The aesthete is breakable ode
and You are thirsting for insight
I wish, she had expectation for future
Reflection

Phoebe
resplendent she-magician
Thou – effervescent stoicism
You are a begonia
The plethora is dainty song
and you are spoiling for caution
I wish, she had ambition for inevitability
Celebration

Chrysopeleia
amazing she-prognosticator
Thou – stunning Epicureanism
You are a hyacinth
The delicacy is frail rhyme
and You are itching for judgment
I wish, she had plan for afterlife
Consideration

Dryope
sublime she-charmer
Thou – vigorous Platonism
You are an iris
The felicity is effete rime
and You are hankering for poise
I wish, she had aims for fortune
Thoughts

Erato
statuesque she-enchanter
Thou – glamorous nihilism
You are a lily
The nemesis is feeble minstrelsy
and You are aspiring to prudence
I wish, she had belief for hereafter
Meditation

Eurydice
graceful she-prophet
Thou – halcyon eudemonia
You are a primrose
The scintilla is weak rune
and You are lusting after sanity
I wish, she had faith for paradise
Attention

Tihorea
dazzling she-diviner
Thou – idyllic historicism
You are a marguerite
The ripples are soft lines
And You have eye on sophistication
I wish, she had achievement for karma
Intuition

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 poetry here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Enjoy It While You Got It: Living In The Now: Lost Again: Hey Baby: The Language Is Everything: Far From Home: Existing in the poem by Joseph Farley

Enjoy It While You Got It

I was young once,
Although I felt so old.
I should have been
More childish,
Soaking up the wild morn.

Now what am I?
Old and fat and bald.
Yet still younger
Than so many
Who only exist in the past.

Living In The Now

As we continue our slow destruction
Of the only planet
Where our species lives,
Remember to pause
To display a middle finger
To all of your neighbours
And every plant and animal you see.
Especially remember the little children
That still run and play.
Give them both barrels
And your cruelest laugh.
As for infants in bellies
All those yet to be born,
Bare your ass to their future.
Let them and others mourn.

Lost Again

With sorrow I looked
At the road ahead
And the road behind.

How did I get here,
This place that is
So other?

Ah well, what is life
Without mistakes?
Sometimes the best
Memories come
From bloody errors.

I will continue moving
One foot after another
Until I get to
Wherever I go,

Whether it is
A shining city,
A place not worth
Mentioning,
Or more of the same
That was and will be,

Regardless of
My best intentions
Or my failed sense
Of direction.

Hey Baby

Yes, I am your baby.
Goo goo goo goo.
I love it when you feed me
All your juicy stuff.

Yes, I am your baby.
Goo goo goo goo.
I love it when you hold me
And when you treat me rough.

Yes, I am your baby
You better not have another one.
If I find out you do
It will be the end of all your fun.

Yes, I am your baby.
Goo goo goo goo.
And I will always be your baby
So long as you stay true.

The Language Is Everything

A poem is a short story.
A short story is a poem.
This is not always known.
It shouldn’t be.

All these words,
merely outflow
From that lake of sewage
Deep inside.

Come and take a swim.
Dive in.
Practice your backstroke,
Doggy paddle, and crawl.

You may want to shower
After you climb out,
But you will never feel
Completely clean again.

Far From Home

In the world but not of it,
You are merely a tourist
Far from home.

You watch, you listen,
You taste all the flavours
Of good and evil.

You hope your credit card
Will pay for all your crimes
With a single swipe.

If not you may need
To wash dishes
Or go to prison

Until you are pardoned
Or a sufficient bribe
Of prayers and offerings

Set you free enough
To return home
To rest, recuperate,

Work and save
For another trip
To lands forbidden,

But so much better
Than more
Of the same.

Existing in the poem

These verses
And so many others
Seem hardly worth it,
Both to write and read,
But they come anyway,
And go where they go.

They are seen by eyes
Unprepared for
Such foolishness.
The reader howls
Before crumbling paper
And throwing it away.

Oh, to be a banker
Or a plumber
Instead of a poet.
That would be
A solid life,
More easily understood.

Unfortunately
I have this curse,
This infection
That will not go away.

Words are the life
Of a poet.
There is only
Their sound
And how they look
On the page.

The rest of life
Is an illusion,
A mirage
A hand might reach for,
But never grasp
Or comprehend.

Joseph Farley has had over 1350 poems and 140 short stories published. His 11 poetry collections include SuckersHer EyesLonging For The Mother Tongue, and Yellow Brick Pilgrim. His fiction books include Labor DayOnce Upon A Time In WhitechapelFarts and Daydreams, and For The Birds.

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

Poetry Drawer: Heaven and Hell: Foolish Understanding: Redacted: Close To Me by Claudia Wysocky

Heaven and Hell

Silence fills the air,
as I sit, alone,
among endless rows of graves.

I wish for heartbeats,
for laughter,
for tears.

I miss the noise.

But I know that I can’t have it.

I can hear the footsteps of the living,
but there’s no sound for me.

Silence surrounds me,
as I lay in my own void,
a void of life,
eternal and silent.

I will never know happiness again.

But I accept it,
lying here, alone,
among endless rows of graves.

It was fun being dead for a while,
to feel the quiet
and the peace.
I thought hell would have fire and brimstone,
but I guess that’s only what they tell us.

I’m moving on now,
accepting my reality.
And I know that one day,
I’ll find my meaning,
In the cold abyss.

But for now, all I have is silence,
a silence that never ends.

And I bet there’s fire in heaven.

Foolish Understanding

The things I thought unmeetable—unattainable—as if from Eden—
Forever luring us with what could never be pure in value as it might have been—
  Or so we’ve all been told:
But why should my heart believe it this for so?
This is what I know!
My dreams!
As clear as the words of my own ears—
Unencumbered by notions of what I was or would be.
Just a child at that point in time;
  Unaware of the traps or whims of foolish understanding.
Always trying, always striving.
And now, standing here–where was I standing before?

Redacted

Routine is the devil of a stranger:
   A death spell is different only in name.
18th century England–the rise of industrialisation,
   the first factory system—the spilling out of a Satanic rage.
Alone, for I sought you everywhere.
  In Spain, at five paces away from me,
 Your torso moving gracefully like a flower blooming—
So perfect you were; I should have found a way
to grasp the beauty in it:
  To be with you was to be good, filled with God’s love,
But in that moment my heart dared leap out of my chest
    In the franticness to make time stop for us… To make us both strong enough to last
 eternally
— To love us amidst the world’s fear of each other— It is not as easy as it seems…
  It is enough that we are together.
  You are here beside me. And that’s enough.

Close To Me

It’s lovely, the number of times
you look down on me and forget to see,
 as if from your corner of the sea—
   You could not hear once I begin to plead;
It takes a little time before you come,
 To coax me back again up to the dreams.
  That there is no moon,
 only we are nearer the stars—
    I am but asleep. And yet, here we lie: Far apart.
At some point I think to wake myself up,
   To make sure I haven’t been lying,
And when finally I realize it’s true—
    I find myself so faint; Holding too tight; Too cold.
I think it may be time for a change after all.
  But as things are today—or so it would seem—I’ll sleep here alone under the covers awaiting you to come, more closely to me at last…

Claudia Wysocky, a Polish poet based now in New York, is known for her ability to capture the beauty of life through rich descriptions in her writing. She firmly believes that art has the potential to inspire positive change. With over five years of experience in fiction writing, Claudia has had her poems published in local newspapers and magazines. For her, writing is an endless journey and a powerful source of motivation.

Pantry Prose: Something Clicked by DL Shirey

Gershwin was not his favourite, but Blakey had no choice in the piece selected. Blakey’s job was to sit up straight and act like the music enthralled him. He kept his eyes closed to give the appearance of being spellbound, but in truth Blakey couldn’t bear to watch the hands at work.

Blakey’s arms swept back and forth across the keyboard, fingers landing on the black and white keys as if they had their own eyes, which could be true for all Blakey knew. He had no talent—whatever controlled his hands commanded movement. Blakey tried not to think of the hands as parasites, even though that’s the way he felt. The comparison wasn’t fair to his sister, nor to the legacy of music she gave to fans.

Endure one more performance, that was Blakey’s goal. And to do so, he let his mind wandered while the music played.

Just a few hours ago his sister, Eleanor, accompanied Blakey downstairs to wait for the towncar. The two of them sat in overstuffed chairs in the hotel lobby, wishing for a fire in the hearth, and held hands. They could have been mistaken for lovers. Blakey liked to eavesdrop on conversations and invent preposterous stories for Eleanor, trying to make her laugh; it helped him relax. When the car came, Eleanor kissed his hands and watched him go.

Attention made Blakey self-conscious, like when the driver opened the rear door for him. He felt the scrutiny of people’s eyes as they passed by on the sidewalk. Even with tint on the windows Blakey felt watched.

The black towncar left the hotel, turning from one busy street to another. He began to feel overwhelmed, so Blakey stared at the ornate braid of the woman driver’s hair. Eleanor often wore it that way. Blakey let the city streets roll by and focused on bringing Eleanor’s face to mind. And almost immediately, there was a click. Blakey couldn’t describe it any other way; something clicked, although it was more physiological than audible. In the early days of transfer, Blakey had to bring every ounce of concentration to click into Eleanor. Now, like muscle memory, it happened quickly: Blakey’s hands began to tingle, the pins and needles burning at first. Blakey flexed his fingers, balled them into fists. He flattened out his palms and rubbed them on the twill of his pants. Despite the discomfort, Blakey was relieved. He was always afraid the transfer wouldn’t happen.

Blakey made sure the driver wasn’t looking and turned his palms up. He watched the skin stretch smooth, creaseless for a moment. Then new furrows appeared in similar yet subtly different arrangements. Life line. Head line. Heart line. Fate line.

Someone in the audience coughed and it brought Blakey’s attention back into the auditorium. He couldn’t name the chord the hands just played. It sounded tragic and beautiful as it hung in the air. Next, a frantic pattern of notes searched the keys until a link was found to connect to the next big chord, this one soft and sad. Blakey knew enough about music to recognize the piece was coming to a close; a familiar melody returned in a joyful reprise.

But the only joy Blakey felt was in that long sustain that finished the piece, when hands splayed unmoving on the keys, when the breath of music lingered on the brink of silence, before the applause started.

Blakey opened his eyes, chin tucked down on his chest. Hands withdrew from the keys and rested in Blakey’s lap, changing back again. Life line. Head line. Heart line. Fate line. Calluses re-emerged from soft flesh; so did the scars from the automobile accident that started all this. He watched smooth, tapered fingers revert to ones that had healed bent and crooked.

Standing, hands behind his back now, Blakey bowed because that was expected of him. He left the stage quickly because he didn’t deserve the ovation. The sooner he exited, the sooner the applause would dissipate. Blakey rarely talked to the people at the venue, never signed autographs, and avoided interviews with the press at all costs. “He’s just that way,” they always said. “His music does the talking. Genius is like that. Runs in the family.”

Blakey had grown comfortable in remaining aloof. As long as his silence was interpreted as arrogance there was enough social distance to cope. Even if he could explain his newfound fame, no one would believe it: the auto accident, Eleanor’s career cut short, Blakey emerging with a prodigious talent even though he had sustained more grievous injuries than his sister.

Eleanor had recovered quickly with one small, but devastating, affliction that changed everything. But Eleanor worried less about herself than Blakey’s injuries. For a week he laid unconscious in the hospital, Eleanor at his bedside holding his hands. When he finally awoke, something clicked, and they discovered the gift they’d been given. There was no explanation or revelation how or why, just a car wreck, a before and an after.

He walked backstage and out the exit, hands stuffed in his pockets. The driver was waiting, and she opened the rear door of the towncar. She took her place in the front seat and offered Blakey a bottled water.

“Yes, please,” he said. “Do you mind opening it for me?”

“I understand.” The driver cracked the cap. “If I had those hands, I wouldn’t let them do anything but play piano.”

Blakey accepted the water. “Thank you.”

The bottle was cold. Felt good between his hands. A performance always brought—not pain exactly—discomfort and restlessness. Blakey glared at his old fingers as if to quiet them. Then he realized the driver had said something.

“I’m sorry,” Blakey said, “I wasn’t listening.”

“I just wanted to thank you for letting me hang backstage. I was always a big fan of your sister. How’s she doing, anyway?”

Blakey had heard this question a thousand times. It made him feel uneasy, so he didn’t answer.

“Excuse me. None of my business,” the driver said. “I’ll shut up now.”

He felt shame warm his cheeks. The woman was only trying to be nice and the silence between them was forced and awkward. Blakey noticed how she tightened her grip on the steering wheel and used her side mirrors to avoid the rear view. She was trying hard not to make eye contact.

“Actually, she’s doing pretty well these days,” he finally said. “All things considered.”

The driver looked at Blakey in the mirror. “I never heard you play before, but I have to say, it really reminded me of Eleanor. I mean, like, a lot. Must be amazing, two great pianists in the same family. A thrill to play together, I’ll bet.”

“Unfortunately, her hearing hasn’t returned since the accident,” said Blakey. “In the meantime, I don’t mind taking the lead until she can return. While we’re here in the city, we’re going to see another specialist.”

“Well, I hope it works out. I truly do.” The driver leaned back and handed Blakey a card. “If you need a ride, don’t hesitate to call.”

They didn’t talk for rest of the ride, but the silence was comfortable. Arriving at the hotel, a doorman opened the car door. Blakey did not extend his hand to be helped out.

Eleanor was waiting in the lobby, reading Mrs. Dalloway by the fire. In the adjacent bar a raucous crowd had gathered, cheering at a sporting event on TV. Half a dozen fans spilled out into the lobby, drinking and laughing. Blakey skirted the hubbub and approached his sister.

She looked up and asked, “How did it go?” At least that’s what Blakey assumed. Since the accident, Eleanor couldn’t modulate her voice properly; she was hard to hear even in the quietest of rooms. But Blakey was getting better at reading her lips.

“Fine,” he said, “the audience seemed to enjoy it.”

Eleanor stared hard at Blakey’s mouth, shook her head and pointed at her ears. Blakey had to laugh at his oversight, reached out and extended his hand toward his sister. As their fingers touched, something clicked.

Blakey repeated himself.

“I’m glad,” Eleanor said, her voice now clear and loud above the noise from the bar.

Blakey helped Eleanor to her feet. Just then, the bar erupted with shouts and cheering. Eleanor swung her head toward the noise, startled by the volume. She clamped her hands over her ears and nearly lost her balance.

Blakey grabbed Eleanor’s waist to steady her, then pointed at the hotel’s front door. She retrieved the paperback and stuffed it in her purse. He didn’t touch her again until they got outside.

Blakey folded his hand around hers. “That’s better, too noisy in there. Feel like a stroll?”

“Actually, I’ve got a better idea,” said Eleanor. “How about we grab a cab and go to this piano bar I was reading about. I haven’t been out all day.”

“Can we walk there?”

“I don’t think so.” She dropped Blakey’s hand and opened her purse. “I’ll get my phone and find the address.” The volume of her voice had dropped precipitously.

Blakey couldn’t see her lips as his sister bent over her purse, so he shrugged and stepped toward the curb. He was always happy to acquiesce to his sister’s wishes, so Blakey waved at an approaching taxi three lanes over. The yellow cab accelerated and careened toward Blakey. It sliced through traffic cutting everyone off, receiving a trio of car horns and shouted expletives for the maneuver. The taxi was traveling too fast, and the brakes screamed as it fishtailed toward the curb.

Blakey lurched back beside his sister. He glared at the man behind the wheel.

“What?” the cabby shouted. Palms up, feigning innocence.

“It’s in here somewhere,” Eleanor muttered, unaware, face still buried in her purse. “There. Found it.”

She reshouldered her purse while her brother opened the cab door. Blakey helped her inside and never let go Eleanor’s hand as he slid in beside her.

“Where to?” asked the cabby.

“Melody’s. Lexington and 73rd,” said Eleanor.

“Promise me one thing,” Blakey whispered to his sister, “Promise you won’t make me play.”

Eleanor giggled. “Silly boy. If you borrowed my hands to play, whose would I hold to listen?”

DL Shirey‘s work has appeared in 70 publications including Reflex Fiction, Gravel, Confingo, and Citron Review.

Poetry Drawer: Like Wile E Odysseus: This Could Be Enormous: Short Story by Paul Smith

Like Wile E Odysseus

When you put on your mask
your glasses fog up
as your nose exhales
all that super-saturated air
and the world acquires a halo
putting Homer’s
early-born and rosy-fingered dawn
to shame
but you cannot see
pulling off the mask solves that
the areola fades
the world sharpens
it is still beautiful
but with risks
Sirens still call your name at Hooters
Scylla and Charybdis whisper in one ear to sell
that stock you bought last week
and to buy more of it in the other
nothing has changed much
risk is everywhere
mask or no mask
antibody or no antibody
take your pick
be like Wile E Coyote
that manhole at your feet may be
a figment of your imagination
or maybe
your gateway to the netherworld

This Could Be Enormous

I’m not saying we have to be exact
what I’m saying is
try to be accurate within certain limits
I mean
how thorough are they?
they’re going to give this the once over
they’re not fact-checkers
or CPA’s
they are bean counters
and you know how they think
it’s all about the head bean counter
and as we all know
he knows nothing
except what is whispered to him
when the lights go out
this could be the next big thing
if we don’t blow it
there is no such thing as a
national average
even they know that
but they are stuck with their
protocols
the only one we have
is to make it look good on paper
now, here’s a ream of Grade 3
put your mark on it
and do us all a favour
don’t look back

Short Story

Eternity
long as it may seem
is like a short story
Beginning, middle & end
conflict, struggle and resolution
Guy de Maupassant
could have written it

In the Beginning
there was just Him
with all this time on His hands
He wasn’t lonely
but He fretted a lot about
His omnipotence and
what to do with it
a lot of it had to do with
miniscule details
what atoms He favoured
the chemical structure of hydrocarbons
and He kept wondering which one
would work out the best
although He should have known
this went on a long time
in geologic time yes it is
pretty lengthy
but in story-telling time
only a third of the whole
the conflict was His alone
that probably made Him grumpy
as there was no one
to blame
yet

Then He made up his mind
Bang!
Which was nothing but a diversion
designed to rid the universe of
the Evil One
and it didn’t work
He thought it might
but deep down knew better
and the Evil One prospered
due to us
after all
we had the common bond
of both being kicked out of somewhere
so we all struggled
and He fretted some more
having underestimated
our cleverness our intransigence
and our insatiable lusts
and watched as His plans
headed downhill

Finally things will get resolved
we aren’t there yet
but He, having whipped out His
slide rule
sees that about 15% of us
actually followed His rules
and the rest of us
are like Pop-Tarts in this
huge toaster
cursing
part of the resolution
is what they call the
denoument
the outcome of a doubtful series of occurrences
which now leads to sadness
and this is where He finds the culprit
and says:
‘I knew it was carbon all along’

Paul Smith is a civil engineer who has worked in the construction racket for many years. He has travelled all over the place and met lots of people from all walks of life. Some have enriched his life. Others made him wish he or they were all dead. He likes writing poetry and fiction. He also likes Newcastle Brown Ale. If you see him, buy him one. He is a featured poet at Mad Swirl.

Poetry Drawer: exit stage left: he picked up the rock: Fruit Bowl: A Golden Ale Sky: the remedy by Danny D. Ford

exit stage left

he worked there too
I would see him
in the foyer
coming in for evening class
asking me about open mics
chatting scenes & actors
mouth wide
goatee curling
like a thick black
hedgehog
under attack
always a laugh
a long toothy laugh
& then his tall man’s hand
extending & shaking

& then I stopped seeing him
& then I didn’t work there
anymore
anyway
& then
I heard the news

a balcony somewhere hot

he picked up the rock

expecting to find
perfection

but instead found
dead bugs
& happiness

he didn’t notice either

because that’s not what
he was looking for

Fruit Bowl

she rearranged
my furniture
while I was out
& later
tied me
to a chair
& used a blindfold

she bought me
a fruit bowl
blue fairy
lights
and
a Paddington Bear coat

I regretted ever
letting her
have a key

wealthy daughters
come along like rain

too much
& not enough

after I’d finally found
an umbrella
her father
remarked
that I hadn’t been
up to standard
in the first place

twenty years later
I still have the fruit bowl
& I’m still laughing

Mum Shagged the Milkman

but it’s not
as bad as
it sounds

she married him
& he was a barman
when they first met

then later
at some point
my brothers
& I
attended
their wedding
in pin stripe shirts

I still remember
the day
I found out
I was the dictionary
definition of a bastard

I still remember
feeling a little surprised
disappointed even
that the words
had no effect on me

but maybe that was when
I first learned
words can
just be
words

& nothing
at all

A Golden Ale Sky

the horizon
is pouring
itself
almost
imperceptibly
slowly
westward
shifting
its
every
thing
fraction by
fraction

either that
or I’m more fucked

than I realise

the remedy

for most
things

sleep

& the warmth
of someone
you’d
die
for

Danny D. Ford’s poetry & artwork has appeared in numerous online and print titles. He has sixteen chapbooks to his name, including the recent collections Rum Lime Rum (Laughing Ronin Press 2023) and Sucking on a Wet Pint (Anxiety Press 2022). He can be found in Bergamo, Italy.