Poetry Drawer: Faces I’d Rather Stay Unfamiliar: This Idiot and a Half: 5:35 am by Rp Verlaine

Faces I’d Rather Stay Unfamiliar

Pass me on streets disturbed,
anguished, or sunk
in unpayable debts of
yesterdays or tomorrow’s
that begin with light
and end with dark
voids lacking the velvet
softness of dreams
of the unfamiliar
shadings of hope.

But today I see
a man on a mild
and pleasant day
wearing several sweaters,
shirts, and pants.

His smile so genuine
I wanted to buy him
a suitcase.

Two corner boys higher
than a trapeze artist
decide to play him for sport,
shouting: hey old timer
what you gonna do
when it gets cold?

With the friendliest
of smiles, he stops
thinks, then answers
I’ll put on some more clothes.

This Idiot and a Half

Almost caught me stepping 
out of my apartment
building in the middle
of the day on some kind
of motorized scooter
on the goddamned sidewalk.
You asshole! I yelled
He looked back, but kept on
going down the block
into the street and gone.

Had his bike hit me
I would have been in
the hospital with something broken
maybe more than one thing.

Some men dream of blondes built
like starlets, yet delicate
as a baby’s breath.

Others dream of enough gold
to remake the entire world
with their name everywhere.

Or they want to be president,
but really mean dictator.

Me, I’ve simple tastes
I’d like to catch one of these
motorbike idiots
speeding on sidewalks
and stiff arm them into tomorrow
with their bodies going one way
and their bikes another.

Then just leave them there
opened mouthed and confused.
Not a lot to ask for,
but failing that I’ll take the blonde
and a few gold ducats.

5:35 am

Daylight is an hour away,
so I finish the last
of five poems,
go to the kitchen and find
sausage and eggs,
then check the mail
and discover none.
It’s now 5:47 am, still dark.
I seldom drink coffee before 6.
I read the poems and wait.
It’s the exciting life
of a poet in New York city.

Rp Verlaine, a retired English teacher living in New York City, has an MFA in creative writing from City College. He has several collections of poetry including Femme Fatales, Movie Starlets & Rockers (2018), and Lies From The Autobiography 1-3 (2018-2020).

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

Books from the Pantry: The Mask by Elisabeth Horan reviewed by Claire Faulkner

I think I was in an art lesson at school the first time I saw the work of Frida Kahlo. I’m not quite sure how old I was, but I remember the impact it had on me. I was intrigued and completely spell bound. I remember how the colours stood out, but also how they seemed to weave together to tell a story.

The Two Frida’s is an artwork which has stayed in my memory bank for years. That was until I read The Mask by Elisabeth Horan, and the image came flooding back to me. The Mask is the second collection of ekphrastic poetry by Horan in response to the artwork of Frida Kahlo.

What interests me the most about ekphrastic poetry is connection. How the reader connects with poetry through art, and how poetry can provide the reader with a different interpretation of the original work. Ekphrastic poetry also raises questions about the relationship between the reader and writer, and I was interested in whether my reactions or interpretations would be the same as Horan.

The Mask provides a mix of emotions, and Horan’s work has a touch of raw honesty and openness to it. Sometimes difficult to read, but worth the effort. The words, much like Kahlo’s colours, are intense, sometimes fierce, but each one adds value and strength to the story of both women.

There were a number of poems in this collection which stood out for me. Of course, The Two Frida’s, an inner struggle about duality with themes of desire and attraction, of who you are underneath, and who you want to be on the surface.

In Con Mi Cama (Ella y Yo), Horan describes the inter dependence and relationship between a cripple and her bed, with a dream like quality.

‘I know you are only a bed, amora / And I, but a cripple…/That’s what we have together~~~/

To touch and to love each other / Not to turn away / As the other burns.’

Nectar of the Gods and a Woman’s Throat is based on the self portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. A painting full of symbols and meaning. For me Horan’s words emphasise not just the pain Kahlo is presenting, but also strength and resilience of a woman searching for love and security.

The Mask, Vol 2 was perhaps the most impactful poem in this collection for me, and I feel this highlights Horan’s skill as a writer. Shocking the reader with the opening ‘I want the voices / to cease / shushing me’. The words reflect the darkness and uneasiness of the painting which inspired it.

Female strength and resilience feature heavily in this collection, but if you’re a fan of Kahlo, and are familiar with her work, I think you’ll enjoy reading this. Horan says the poems are a celebration and tribute to Kahlo, and I think this collection is a remarkable group of poems influenced by Kahlo’s art. The Mask by Elisabeth Horan is published by The Broken Spine.

With special thanks to Isabelle Kenyon from Fly on the Wall Press.

Poetry Drawer: Contemporary Irish Poetry by S.F. Wright

One morning,
Banging issued from down the hall.
Our professor opened the door, said,
“Could you please do that another time?”
A voice, some worker’s, said,
“When the hell am I supposed to do it, then?”
Our professor’s face blanched, then reddened.

But the banging ceased.

The lecture resumed,
The excitement over.

S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry.

Poetry Drawer: Extinction Rebellion by Raymond Miller

This marching, these banners, remind me of Tot,
gently spoken, dreadlocked, who once offered
to construct a house for our kids in the tree
at the end of our garden. He’d protested at
the Newbury bypass, built and inhabited
his own tree-house, so we figured he’d take
just a few days or so. He laboured all summer,
hampered somewhat by a refusal to hammer
nails into wood because of the pain that caused
the tree, and a penchant for stopping and staring
at the world from his heightened aspect.
He dropped dead last year, only 57,
a heart attack busking outside the train station.
His partner crowd-funded to pay for the wake
and that would have met his approval.
It was unlike him to exit so quickly, she said,
but he’d never have stood for a bypass.

Ray Miller is a Socialist, Aston Villa supporter, and faithful husband. Life’s been a disappointment.

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

Inky Hiaga by Jerome Berglund

Jerome Berglund is an author and fine artist who cowrote a television pilot which at a festival for them received numerous accolades including best in show. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California’s Cinema-Television Production program, with emphases in screenwriting and philosophy. Berglund is author to the novel Havenauts and the story collection Dick Jokes. His short fiction has been exhibited by the Watershed Review, Paragon Press, and the Stardust Review. His poetry appears in Abstract Magazine, Bangalore Review, Barstow & Grand, and most recently O:JA&L. A drama he penned was published in Iris Literary Journal. Berglund is furthermore an established, award-winning fine art photographer, whose black and white pictures have been exhibited in galleries across New York, Minneapolis, and Santa Monica. Berglund has some indigenous ancestry, identifies as lgbtiqa+, and is neurodivergent.

Pantry Prose: A Man is the Highest Created Being in the Universe! Earth is the Jewel, Masterpiece of All the Worlds by AE Reiff

You can say of Yeshua Messiah that he was made a little lower than the angels, however he was also in the beginning and without him was not anything made that was made. A man is the highest created being in the universe. What is man that thou art mindful of him? You can say Lucifer was the highest created being, but the covering cherub surrendered his position for the sake of himself, went after his own thoughts whose end is among the shells of the qliphoth, the end of death, from which there is no rescue as there is for the highest created being. You cannot even say angels are the highest created beings, even though they are more powerful in apparent dimensions, for of which of the angels did he say, thou art my son, meaning that where ever men turn, Yeshua Messiah precedes them. Those men made in the image of Yahweh take on the nature of the son, which is not to despise angels but not to worship them.

You cannot say the highest created being in the universe is the universe. Well you can say it, but you become an idolator. You cannot say that the highest created being in the universe should be amended to the highest created being in the earth, for remember, creating heaven with a touch, his fingers, he gave to man dominion of his hands. Everywhere you turn Yeshua Messiah makes Man the highest created being in the universe, and dignifies earth as much as Yeshua taking the form of a man dignifies a man. Sarah called him lord. Earth is his home, to be remade to suit him in his true state, this both at the end of Isaiah and Revelation, and everywhere between. The man remade inhabits the earth remade. The superficial evolved states of the biome are going to be redone.

Man is the highest created being in the universe.

Earth is the jewel, the masterpiece of all the worlds.*

There is a negative proof mentioned in all the attempts to neuter a man by science. Astronomy, mythology, every agency of civilization seeks to enthrone the demonic skulls. These forces have had their day. Approaching full flow they are to be dry as the Red Sea before they are engulfed. It is important to them to prevent the man from realizing he is the highest created being in the universe. A man’s enemies reveal a lot about him. Natively, it sounds wrong to say man is created highest because that title should be reserved for Jesus. But Jesus, blessed, is not created. Jesus, blessed, was the same in the beginning with Yahweh.  Putting him in the place of man promotes the man. According to his enemy, not the man but the universe is the highest creation and is creation itself.  More negation from the demonic skulls and their surrogates.

Man is a sculpture event. He is being fashioned as a man as we live. And what does that say about woman? How do you think he gets here! These sayings require a hearer. The first was said to Aeyrie after his two week tour of mid country, yesterday. When I heard it I was shocked. The corollary was said to Eden this morning in bed.

AE, Andrew Edwin Reiff works at Forms of the Formless Ceramic. He ran a Pharmacy garden for the U of Texas, taught at Fayetteville State University and again at Bishop College-Dallas, studied acoustic phonetics and took a doctorate in literature of the renaissance.

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

Poetry Drawer: Fashion: Recognitions by Robert Demaree

Fashion

Our grandson, starting high school,
Wants to be sure he has the right book bag.
I think back to the salt & pepper sports coat
In which I went off to college,
Random flecks of this and that
Against a background I recall
As a vaguely purplish blue.
Mortifying.
I paid to have the pleats
Removed from gray flannel slacks,
That useless belt and buckle
Appended to the back.
(This was 1955,
As you perhaps have guessed.)
When I finally got myself
A proper muted brown
Herringbone jacket,
It was from the wrong store.

Recognitions

At his college
The reunion was commencement day,
Steps in different directions:
The newly degreed and their kin
Exchange congratulations,
With old alums,
A pleasantness instinctive, spontaneous,
Someone’s plan.

At his fraternity,
Rife with the debris of
Last exams, last parties,
They found his class picture,
An off-hand, unsought kindness.
Rows of young men
With dark, severe hair, dated,
Is this you?

At the banquet
He recognized people
Who did not recognize him,
Which had also been the case
In nineteen fifty-nine.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

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

Poetry Drawer: Song of the Pandemic by Robert Demaree

Vocabulary new to us,
Unused for a hundred years:
Social distancing, flattening the curve.
Language borrowed from other calamities:
Shelter in place,
Hunkering down, ramping up.
Car parades, flyovers,
Fear,
Cable news
(Assault rifles in the state house).
Infrequent trips for groceries,
Masks, one-way aisles, empty shelves.
There are people taking risks
To provide even this
But others who ignore simple requests
For the common safety.
Seniors, their line spread about
The parking lot at Walmart, 
5:30 in the morning,
Hoping for toilet paper.
Martha and I converse
But not incessantly,
Companionable silences,
A sort of self-quarantine
We chose for ourselves
57 years ago.
Say it is not be heresy
To prefer meeting by Zoom,
To tire of hearing about
The new normal,
How we are all in this together.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

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

Poetry Drawer: From the Pound Cantos: CENTO XXIV: A line from Margaret Atwood: geographies: Chorley: Cursive script by Mark Young

From the Pound Cantos: CENTO XXIV

This is Mitteleuropa. Guns are a
merchandise. Have special privi-
lege. No retail tax or any of the
other taxes, no broken contracts.
Everything in its place, & nothing
left over. Let things remain as they
are. A perennial extension of fran-
chise to continue one’s labours. The

words rattle. Surely we have heard
this before. The bodies so flamed
in the air, took flame. Flames
flowed into sea. For three days
now as if snow cloud over the sea.
& for three days, & none after.

A line from Margaret Atwood

This talk of films made in the early
21st century, as if it was so very
long ago, is making me thirsty. But
then I’m more concerned with some

different points of view, working on
something done a century earlier,
1913, de Chirico’s The Uncertainty of
the Poet, with its strange foreground,

a bunch of bananas, poised against the
shadowy background porticos. So much
was going on in it: but now, with a 90°
rotation & the use of much erasure I’ve

reduced it to unlinked islands of activity.
Have kept its focus — though with the
certainty of a poet have retitled my piece
A Last Banana for Giorgio de Chirico.

geographies: Chorley

Sometimes the Bolton &
Preston Line of the Lanca-
shire & Yorkshire Railway
Company goes swimming

in the Chor. Sometimes,
when the rain is heavy, the
reverse can occur. Neither
bears the other any ill will.

Cursive script

I sit
in a chair
in a room lit
only by the
lost light
of late
evening

eating
dried fruit
from a mini-
pack made
of a dull
paper that
stamps its own
taste upon the
contents

& think about
moving
to a house in
the country
where the words
don’t have to
be summoned

but come
of their own
accord when
they’re ready
to be
milked.

Mark Young’s first published poetry appeared over sixty-two years ago. Much more recent work has appeared, or is to appear, in The Sparrow’s Trombone, Scud, Ygdrasil, Mobius, SurVision, NAUSEATED DRIVE, Unlikely Stories, & Word For/Word.

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