Inky Exclusive: The Austin Poets’ Union

Introducing the Austin Poets’ Union, a collective of well-published poets based in the US. The APU launched mid October 2020. Poets are Angie Dribben, Jena Kirkpatrick, Mike Whalen, and M L Woldman.

Angie Dribben’s poetry, essays, and reviews can be found or are forthcoming in Cave Wall, EcoTheo, Deep South, San Pedro River Review, Crab Creek Review, Crack the Spine, Cider Press, and others. A Bread Loaf alum, she is an MFA candidate at Randolph College. Everygirl, her first full-length collection, is due out 2021 from Main Street Rag. 

Upon Waking
by Angie Dribben

Once a wildebeest calf
fell behind the herd fell
prey to a spotted hyena
who had fallen to instinct
to survive
or so we’re taught
And it was hard to hear a mother’s child scream
But I did not change the channel

And the mother stayed
with her herd One glance back
A single clockwise canter
to witness her calf submit
And then the mother walked
away and it was hard to watch
a mother walk away
but I did not change the channel

and the hyena took
the hindquarter, tore the calf at the hip
leaving her untenable
and the hyena drank
from the wound of the calf
and it was hard to watch one take
what isn’t theirs

sometimes I dream
I am wildebeest,
when I wake, I am hyena
and I cannot change the channel

Poet for Hire, Jena Kirkpatrick, is editor of the poetry anthology Writing for Positive Change for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Texas. Jena tours nationally as a member of the Trio of Poets. She writes poems for clients worldwide. Jena is an artist instructor for Badgerdog Literary Publishing. Her work in the classroom was featured in Teachers & Writers Magazine. Over the last three decades, she has self-published seven books, co-written, three multimedia performance art shows, competed in two National Poetry Slam competitions and released two poetry CDs.

I wish you love & happiness…I guess I wish you all the best
by Jena Kirkpatrick

I wish you love & happiness…I guess I wish you all the best
(John Prine)

who lost me first?
was it God or Buddha or my ungrateful
lack of worth –alone or together
reflections on the past
not sure how many tears I have left
last night in a furious rage I actually said
I was grateful you were already dead
because that was one less person I love
I’d have to worry about losing –who
who lost me first? –you
you lifted me up
you always stuck around
you never left my side –from the day I lost my child
now we’ve got this virus
screaming bloody fucking murder
endless echoes of a tool pitting one against another
over fences –on TV screens
panic attacks forged by violent dreams
spooning with a psychotic ventriloquist
everyone is scared scribbling ridiculous lists
who lost me first? was it Christ
was it heaven or hell
was it the ability to practice free will
was it set forth as a precedent
carved in stone by some ancient
was is illicit drugs or sorcery
some flaw in personality
every precious moment is countered by adversity
maybe there are answers in pollution or abuse
or all the callous judgments
we throw like seeds to sprout on this earth
maybe we have babbled long enough
repeated beatings for too long
ignored are the hungry children
the sick all too often pushed aside
in favor of elitist
when given the chance
will we ever correct what’s wrong
who lost me first?
stay at home and sing on your marble terrace
have your slaves bring you your breakfast
revel in the thought that
what you squander makes you

somehow eccentric
your dirty money won’t save you
you will die like the rest of us do
who lost me first?
I was lost to the trees
to the wind
to the stars
on my knees praying for forgiveness since birth

yeah I knew love. love knew me. and when I walked love walked with me.
but friends don’t know. they can only guess –how hard it is
to wish you happiness

Michael Whalen has been a member of the Austin Poetry Slam Team, and coached two Austin Neo Soul Poetry Slam Teams and four Austin Youth Poetry Slam Teams. He’s edited numerous chapbooks by young poets, and released 1.5 of his own poetry chapbooks.

M L Woldman is a GED graduate with a heart full of fire. Founder of Austin Poets’ Union, poet and playwright. Author of three books and numerous publications. 5th generation Texas.

autumn
by M L Woldman

the fire recedes from the sky and we know it’s autumn
four months of autumn and eight months of summer
that’s what we get now
in texas
i relish these months when dusty coats can find their place in circulation again
and you can see your breath:
making each exhalation
a visual affirmation
that you are alive
i write this poem every year
a love poem to autumn
in the hopes that she might stick around a little longer this time
it’s an exercise in diminishing returns
because the sun won’t be happy until it swallows the world

Poetry Drawer: Car and Lizard: Good Neighbour #94: Doctor Moreau: by Glen Armstrong

Car and Lizard

I find a car
and a giant lizard

no one knows
what I’m talking about

but to me
it could not be clearer

a car allows
me to be both the delivery

man and the package
I arrive

I wreck the city
I find

being male
increasingly problematic

sometimes I want
to wear eyeliner and carefully

align the paper doll’s
dress with her chubby

two-dimensional body
as for the giant

lizard
it is just a giant lizard.

Good Neighbour #94

Expect childish words from children and broken words from broken people. Only the lonely hope to hear from the small, the discontent. Expect nothing. The guest speaker favours keyholes and tiny spoons of breath-cooled soup.

I expect the impossible.

What does not exist never / continuously disappoints. It comes from the sky like lightning or a slash mark or the new fall / fall fashions. The guest speaker used the phrase “cash cow” so offhandedly that, for a moment, the audience imagined itself collecting lactations in golden buckets.

Doctor Moreau

I used to go back and forth.
On Brando’s insane portrayal.
Of Doctor Moreau.
I used to wear eyeliner to class.
Now I insist on wearing.
My own ice bucket.
And other people insist.
On staying away.
It’s a lovely day.
On some other green planet.

There are miniatures and echoes.
I used to blow soap bubbles.
From the open third-floor window.
When you didn’t want to do so alone.
It’s kind of neat to think.
About that thin line.
Between saving the world.
And acting like such a fuck-wad.
That only the most broken.
Among us respond to our efforts.

Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three current books of poems: Invisible HistoriesThe New Vaudeville, and Midsummer. His work has appeared in Poetry NorthwestConduit, and Cream City Review.

Poetry Drawer: An Act of Suppression: Hummingbird: Gorget by Henry Stanton

An Act of Suppression
(for William Wantling)

Dragging a sorry-ass body to the studio
riddled with pain
I see there up ahead a Yellow Tiger-Swallowtail
flopping around on the pavement
bizarrely
like something convulsing
or someone improvising
or a body working through a choreography.

I know this isn’t normal
I am intimate with this poet-butterfly – it has made me aware
as I bend down and unfold the massive flopping wings
I see there the Bald-faced Hornet
beautiful and black terrible and white
clutching the body with its
desperate and powerful and elegant embrace
locked in the same brutal struggle,

And I know this
never intervene
don’t do it
don’t
who knows which animal is more rare?
who knows what is beauty really and what is life
and what is death?

but I can’t help it
I am exhausted and riddled with pain
I pry them apart

and feel better
watching them fly off
in opposed direction.

Hummingbird

The gaggle of kids burst out the door
and flush the hummingbird from the feeder smack into the glass.

I lift the small bird from its awkward contortion on the concrete stoop
into the palm of my hand
and breath again because it lived.

I smooth the feathers.
The little bird straightens out
blinks its tiny eyes and struggles a bit to breath.
I dribble some sugar water in my palm since I had read somewhere
that it is possible to starve again in flight.

And I wait there with it
this bird this poet this perfect work of art
whispering and humming because it makes me feel fine.

Until suddenly, miraculously it bursts from my palm!
Ohhh… look at that! sweetheart look at that! It’s fine it’s fine!
The kids gather together close the little girl squeals
up there the bird the bird look!
settling in the cedar
fluttering its wings
and then off! into the Honey Suckle to feed.

Gorget

She will always be powerful.
Small girl with these runes
tattooed up and down her arms her legs.
Life’s flame humming
and dreaming.

And,
iridescent purple gorget feathers
flare out
around that being.
See here she hovers
over the mirror-shine of Cloud Lake’s gloaming
delicate composite of delight
despair.

While we all suspect she has departed
as the storm still traverses that ridge
see there I will always be powerful
small flyer beats back turbulence
dissipates our torment.

These poems are from Henry Stanton’s collection, Pain Rubble, published Holy & Intoxicated Press. Henry Stanton’s fiction, poetry and paintings appear in 2River, The A3 Review, Alien Buddha Press, Analog Submission Press, Avatar, The Baltimore
City Paper, The Baltimore Sun Magazine, Black Petal Press, Cathexis
Northwest Press, Chicago Record, Down in The Dirt, High Shelf Press, Holy &
Intoxicated Press, Kestrel, North of Oxford, Outlaw Poetry, Paper & Ink
Zine, The Paragon Press, PCC Inscape, Pindeldyboz, Ramingo!, Rust Belt
Press, Rusty Truck, Salt & Syntax, SmokeLong Quarterly, Under The Bleachers,
The William and Mary Review, Word Riot, The Write Launch and Yellow Mama,
among other publications.  His book of Short Stories, River of Sleep and
Dreams
, is due to be published by Alien Buddha Press in 2019. His book of
poems, The Man Who Turned Stuff Off, is being published by Holy &
Intoxicated Press in June 2019.

His poetry was selected for the A3 Review Poetry Prize and was shortlisted
for the Eyewear 9th Fortnight Prize for Poetry. His fiction received an
Honourable Mention acceptance for the Salt & Syntax Fiction Contest and was
selected as a finalist for the Pen 2 Paper Annual Writing Contest.

A selection of Henry Stanton’s paintings, published fiction and poetry can be viewed at the following website. Henry is the Publisher of Uncollected Press and the Founding & Managing Editor of The Raw Art Review. Check out more of Henry’s poetry on Soundcloud.

Poetry Drawer: Only Child: Iconography: Downsizing by Robert Demaree

Only Child

You were an only child, weren’t you?
The look on the face,
The tone of voice,
Assumption, condescension, accusation:
That you are wrapped up in yourself,
That you lurk on the edges of greed:
A minority group
Without advocates to lobby
For our interests.
Don’t tell me what I missed
Having no siblings,
What I never learned to do.
There were advantages:
We never lacked for books to read,
And when the time came
To attend to the frail and failing,
Lay them to rest,
We did it by ourselves.

Iconography

I spent the morning
Trying to restore the Zoom icon
To the home screen on my phone,
Not an unlikely way
For an 82-year-old to pass his time.
The grandchildren are some help
And know to resist eye-rolling.
We got a Facebook account
So we could watch the church service
Online.
We did not add pictures or information.
We have not listed friends
And do not know
If anyone has listed us.
Someone I think I might have known
In Kiwanis
Keeps wanting to add me to his
LinkedIn list.
We rely on Zoom in this strange time.
People carry on about it
But it suits me fine.
I thought I had restored the icon
To the home screen.
That’s not quite true,
But I can get to it now
With only one extra click.

Downsizing

Favourite authors dropped off
For the church book sale,
The passing of a friend.
Easier to part with:
Those memos to the file,
Notes on events
Of interest to lawyers.
We did not succeed:
A storage shed, tight
With boxes, whose labels
Have lost meaning;
Somewhere in there
Green Depression Glass
That did not sell on eBay,
The Chelsea we bought for Caroline.

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 Bob’s poems here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Making: “& see all these things”: The Pound Cantos: CENTO XXII: geographies: Mojave Desert by Mark Young

Making

The van brakes, but at a less
frantic pace. That’s what life
is like in lockdown. Different
uses though the same materials
provided. Now we make single-
serve liturgies of cryogenic ice
cream; filled loosely, uncompacted.

She calmed down after he’d fini-
shed talking. The photographer’s
shadow & her breathless carols fell
across everything like patented
dentifrice. I’m in a groove where
I’d rather not be. The perform-
ance lasts roughly two hours.

“& see all these things”

Humour has to do with the
fact that certain restrictions
are often imposed upon
people’s movements. That
any major drive for banning

customized services will ex-
plode due to excess demand
& denial of service unless it’s
sponsored by the Noh theaters
of central Japan. That spring

protection entails sealing off
a spring’s water source to all
women & girls. (This last idea
first floated in a memo attri-
buted to the Pope’s equerry.)

The Pound Cantos: CENTO XXII

Wild geese swoop to the sand-bar.
Hot wind came from the marshes.
The reeds are heavy, bent. Next
is a river wide, full of water. Small
boat floats like a lanthorn. Drift of
weed in the bay. She gave me a
paper to write on, made like fish-
net, of a strange quality that sets

sighs to move, to fascinate the eyes
of the people. Light also proceeds
from the eye. The echo turns back on
my mind in a biological process that
very few people will understand.
Matter is the lightest of all things.

geographies: Mojave Desert

Somewhere here, among the
rare earths, there’s an artificial
Afghanistan, complete with
working casinos & a replica of
the Louvre. People go dancing
in those areas especially critical
for bird conservation & feel right
at home. The few Devils Hole

pupfish left like to do a mean
Lindy Hop which the planes in
the bone yard manage to ignore.
They remain in wallflower stasis,
stirring only to watch the tourists
when they sometimes fly overhead.

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959. He is the author of over fifty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are a collection of visual pieces, The Comedians, from Stale Objects de Press; turning to drones, from Concrete Mist Press; & turpentine from Luna Bisonte Prods.

More of Mark’s work can be found here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: The Crime Scene: Running Low by John D Robinson

The Crime Scene

A pen pusher,
the nib a
shark’s tooth,
words ripped
with passion
and fury,
pages consumed
and attacked
with a soulful
thoughtful
ferocity,
leaving behind
a clean
crime-scene.

Running Low

The ink seems to be
running low,
the poems walk a
high-wire,
most fall
but some
fragments
survive: I gather
them like
fire-wood
and wait for the
incineration,
the cremation
of the words
to step forward
and
sacrifice
themselves.

John D Robinson is a UK poet. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in print and online. He has published several chapbooks and four full collections. New & Selected Poems will be appearing later in the year. Red Dance was recently published by Uncollected Press.

Poetry Drawer: Exegi monumenta: Red Lights: Fairy-Tale: Hauptwache, Frankfurt: By Way of Introduction by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Exegi monumenta

The monuments to ignorance and to reason have been staring at each other’s recapitulation from time out of mind. Ignorance is measurable in monuments; reason, in moments.

Momus chooses a moment—and clay comes into play, so one can sculpt something meaningful (occasionally called Auris.) This is a susceptibility experiment. Some have called it palliation; some have called it abductive inference (Intel inside.) Watch possibilities caper beyond the buoy.

Monument huggers live bronze-coloured lives. They grow lemons of embarrassment; they lag musical flags. Note the smoke of their vigils, the mouthful of kisses. Some others travel, but they sprout where they’ve been planted. Only and only.

All questions bow before this: are we prepared to kill somebody to prove that our imaginary guru is better than theirs?

——

Red Lights

We hide from our naked past in our see-through garments. What can they reveal, anyway, if not what makes us all look like banana fingers?

Somebody shows off his big red zero. Somebody gets diagnosed with BDSM. Marine mud gets rather gummy on a muggy day. If the mud had a brain, would it be deep-brown or see-through? If a womb had a brain, would it nurture an Einstein or cheese crisps? And what if it suffers from misperceptions? 

Wherever you are, the world sees your bare blossoms. Here’s a portrait of your confidence as a younger ape, the age of prunes before they wrinkle. Innocence is pleasurable, sex profitable, control very pleasurable, murder extremely profitable. Never bite the tomatoes of my lips.

This is libertinism, it withers and museifies. This is destiny, it excels in making evil from good and good from evil, especially where there’s nothing else to make them from. 

——

Fairy-Tale

How easily heads can be detached from a dragon! All those young men hypnotised by grimaces and tail movements… Don’t be so cheesecake! Do it! A simple chop-chop—and new borders get puffed out, already proof-tested for spelling and spillage.

Out there, watch out for ideology bonfires: you can end up in one if you don’t supply a flamethrower. And this is where dragons come in, short-fused but quick-blinking. What’s not to like about a bouncy walk along the border chalk?

As we powder our reflections’ twin noses in double-glazed mirrors, a brand new yesterday gets shoved into our windows. This is beyond comprehension, like thirsty shadows or torrential trees. Like an egg with a flag.

——

Hauptwache, Frankfurt

I like talking about salamanders and goblins. I feel a little like a toy; sometimes like Tolstoy. I’ve put my last 100 clams into betterment, but the upper-crest accent eludes me. You can’t change yourself on a budget; you need a shipment of paint and pain. Your time is a deadwatch time; your medical condition is fiddling. What are you going to do about it?

Look around: your city has always been a moveable beast. Yesterday it worshipped the Holy Randomer; today the Eiffel Tower grows atop some heads. Angels have invested in yellow vests; they are busy with portfolio rebalancing. Wherever you go, ethical judgments stare at you from the local cloaca. Jack Wolfskin appears from around the corner and says, Howdy doody.

——

By Way of Introduction

Meet the serial killer called progress. Read his book called Backward Induction for Dummies. Note his frozen eyes, his despair. Nothing dies on this planet; this muddles the streams of perfection. Survival is a black aroma; the puddle of choices never dries up. Passing caracaras wonder if they’re seeing an extra-long worm or history in the making. They are not sure, and neither are we. After all, there is something nematodic about thinking.

Somebody said life is an overture. To what? Universe opens little apertures – and here we are, transparent on every side. Happy motherless day! Still, some of us have a positive altitude, while some others conceal their thoughts in ten-foot-tall elephant grass.

——

Anatoly Kudryavitsky lives in Dublin, Ireland, and in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. His poems appear in Oxford Poetry, The Literary Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Prague Revue, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry, The Honest Ulsterman, The North, Ink Sweat and Tears, Cyphers, Stride, etc. His most recent poetry collections are The Two-Headed Man and the Paper Life (MadHat Press, USA, 2019) and Scultura Involontaria (Casa della poesia, Italy, 2020; a bilingual English/Italian edition). His latest novel, The Flying Dutchman, has been published by Glagoslav Publications, England, in 2018. In 2020, he won an English PEN Translate Award for his anthology of Russian dissident poetry 1960-1980 entitled Accursed Poets (Smokestack Books, 2020). He is the editor of SurVision poetry magazine.

Poetry Drawer: Collectivity: First Lesson in Chinese Characters by Yuan Changming

猋:three dogs running together means to fly fast

毳:three pieces of hair put together indicates as much subtlety as sensitivity

贔:three mounts of money deposited together stands for hard work

鑫:three kinds of metals stuck together signifies prosperity

垚:three units of earth piled together represents a mountain towering against the sky

森:three trees standing together presents a whole forest

淼:three bodies of water flowing together describes a vast expanse of sea

焱:three fires burning together refers to an extremely bright flame

Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Jodi Stutz Award in Poetry & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) BestNewPoemsOnlineamong 1,689 others worldwide.

Poetry Drawer: Mother Abandoned by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

After my father abandoned her
Mother moved back to the country
to live with her sister
in the house in which they grew up

My aunt was feeble
as she’d been in childhood
but my mother was strong
from all the farm labour she’d done
and still resentful of her sister
whom she considered a malingerer

Mother did some work for local farmers
who felt sorry for her
She put on overalls and pulled on high boots
Behind her back they called her “Martha the Hired Man”
She worked harder than any of the men
though she could be mean to the animals
if they gave her trouble

The plaster in the farmhouse was cracked
and getting worse
as the house, after a century
continued to settle

Mother bought adjustable metal poles
from Ace Hardware
went into the leaky cellar
did some wrenching
propped up the first floor

All around her were cans
with dribs and drabs of paint
tools rusted on shelves
old, decayed baskets

Mother looked over the baskets
and remembered the
Indians who had lived in rough houses
at the border of the property
where the lumber train used to run

Spiders made homes in canning jars
The rusty cream separator looked arthritic and thirsty
like Old Man Creighton down the road

The cellar clutter depressed her
She carried the cream separator upstairs
and flung it into the yard
She put her arms around the gasoline-powered
washing machine
–it must have weighed two hundred pounds–
carried it up the rickety stairs

fired up her dad’s ’55 Chevy pickup
and backed it through the yard

She ran over some day lilies her mother had planted
to the consternation of her weak sister
who stood behind the screen door
a handkerchief held to her mouth

Mother hefted the metal
into the truck bed
threw in some pipe
and a well pump
and drove to Padnos’s recycling yard
where she sent it all crashing to the ground

Smoke drifted around her
and a front loader shoved around mountains of junk
Rain was starting to come down

She took the grubby bills the attendant gave her
and drove back to the farmhouse
the truck rattling over every rut

She went into her bedroom
where she had a laptop
hooked to a satellite

went back to what she’d been doing
for most of the day every day since she’d returned

staring at photos of international orphans
with cleft palates
and abused dogs and cats

You can find more work from Mitch here on Ink Pantry.