Poetry Drawer: Houndstooth Gamma Burst Maybe by Terry Trowbridge

While leaving a party
this person put on their houndstooth coat
and looked down at their shoes
(paused), but the metronome of partygoers kept time
a couple scooted past
but even bumping the shoegaze personified
did not interrupt their ESP conversation
with the houndstooth doormat
but to be honest that blankness was probably
the pattern on the doormat cancelled the coat
and, space case, suddenly stuck in the magnetic repulsion,
their mind was erased and the silence
was more of a bubble where ESP is impossible
and psychology itself is meaningless
the cosmological equivalent of a mental singularity
forming at the Lagrange Point inside a quasar
and the wormhole that expelled them was either
a laugh in the kitchen
or the slush stain on the doormat’s houndstooth offering a sliver of detail
to the un-narrativity
and imagine if they had not come back
then the party-thrower would have had to put a guitar pedal
under the person’s toes and run patch cables to the bedrooms
and turned up the amp, turned down the stereo,
called
clear

Terry Trowbridge’s poems have appeared in:
The New QuarterlyCarouselsubTerrainpaperplatesThe Dalhousie ReviewuntetheredQuail BellThe Nashwaak ReviewOrbisSnakeskin PoetryLiterary Yard, Gray Sparrow, CV2Brittle StarBombfireAmerican Mathematical MonthlyAoHaMCanadian Woman Studies, The MathematicalIntelligencer, The Canadian Journal of Family and Youth, The Journal of HumanisticMathematicsThe Beatnik CowboyBorderlessLiterary Veganism, and more. His lit crit has appeared in ArielBritish Columbia ReviewHamilton Arts & LettersEpistemeStudiesinSocialJusticeRampike, and The/t3mz/Review. Terry is grateful to the Ontario Arts Council for his first writing grant, and their support of so many other writers during the polycrisis.

Poetry Drawer: If Everything Is Maria: vines, tangled with frost: beneath the slow drift of sunlit clouds: (the tools of the trade are the head and the heart): the other prayer by John Sweet

If Everything Is Maria

Always something that needs to be
kept from someone, and so
I stay quiet

Always a truth I would tell you
that might feel like a lie

A room filled with enemies or
ex-lovers, a boat on fire in the middle
of the ocean, my house at the edge
of the flood

Find the room where I
kissed you for the first time

Find the stretch of highway where
the children were murdered,
were buried by their father

Look in all directions and
call whatever you see America

I am just beyond the
edge of it, waiting

vines, tangled with frost

no fear because you’re pretty
sure it’s a dream, this silence,
this late afternoon room with
the shadows of trees climbing
the walls, dust caught in sunlight,
child facedown on the bed you
sit at the foot of, your oldest
son, crying softly, dying, which
is a weight left unspoken, air
thick with the taste of metal,
of sweat, of the fear you
thought was missing, and you
can’t get warm enough and
you have no words

you wake up lost
in an empty house

sound of ragged breathing

beneath the slow drift of sunlit clouds

and the heavy buzz of bees and
the slamming of doors

wait until the rain has passed

until the smothering
heat has returned

and why would you spend
every second of every day being
christ and what will you prove
by ridding your lawn of all weeds?

sit in the car on a wednesday
afternoon, ask your wife if there’s
anything she wants to tell you and
then pretend to believe
her answer

remind yourself that
poems are only clues

vallejo is dead
and the world still continues

pollock’s bones cannot be
broken any more

it doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t keep trying

(the tools of the trade are the head and the heart)

the plague years, but
not without warning

the false king, who lies about
everything while the assassin waits
patiently, because history takes time

these shallow graves are endings, yes,
but only of their own stories

you grow up in a dying
town in a bankrupt state

you understand empty fields and the
claustrophobia of hills
pushing in from all directions

you understand the suicides who
leave no notes,
because words are
their own form of failure

because actions mean nothing
without resolution

if all that’s left at the end of
each day is silence,
then let us laugh to pass the time

if time is all we have to
truly call our own,
then let us gather as much as we can

let us forever
burn down the palaces of fools

the other prayer

or darker rooms or distant laughter or
maybe just the bitter hum that
trails behind the neverending stream of desperate days

rainsoaked flag at half-mast in the courtyard on
some grey monday afternoon

man says it needs to burn

says he wants to cast a shadow, maybe just
make a fist or pull a trigger

ends up in a field of ghosts

believes in the lesser mercies

bare trees and empty wires
against a dead twilight sky

says he’s sick of this town says he’s
sick of this state but
his hands are nailed to the life he’s made

holds his children hostage

paints white circles on a
white canvas and calls it art

says it’s a portrait of christ or an
effigy of his father and he says there’s never
anything out here but time to waste

says let’s just pull the goddamn house
apart board by board and
call it good

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

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

Poetry Drawer: Like the Dinosaurs: Caught on a Face by Mitchel Montagna

Like the Dinosaurs

Evening came, and never passed through
It clung to the valley like smoke
The heat settled in and no earthly wind blew
A layer of clouds swiftly broke.

People looked strange in the dim purple light
Their pallor and features were gone
They huddled on corners and waited for night
But twilight just kept holding on.

Shadows had coiled like snakes on the street
A river was ready to flood
A figure crept close, wrapped in only a sheet
Its footprints were outlined in blood.

When the mountains fell, nobody would scream
The valley was buried in earth
A slow waltz of ages moved past like a dream
A dapple of sunlight gave birth.

Caught on a Face

I am caught on a face
like a fool in the rain
In daydreams I trace
a delicate plane

Where the sky feels too near
and wind howls from afar
Where a glistening tear
burns as bright as a star

The night air blows cold
with a sparkling frost
Her cheekbones look bold
but her dark eyes are lost

As if sparked in the haze
of a glittering moon
Time explodes in a blaze
that takes her too soon

Those mountains still stand
while our lifetimes are brief
A face healing and grand
casts a shadow of grief.

Mitchel Montagna has worked as a special education teacher, radio journalist, and corporate communicator. He is married and lives in Florida, U.S.A.

Poetry Drawer: Many Moons: Only Illusions: Summer Sky by Jerome Berglund

   Many Moons

      medias res
smash cut in for punchline
     set-up never explained

      deer and hound
look startlingly similar
      splayed disemboweled by side of road

      just leave
cardboard stay in collar –
      puppeteer’s hand

      assemblies
should be fool proof…
      they had to add stickers

      darting flame
reflected appears to battle itself
      carnival glass

 Only Illusions

      one windmill rests
exhausted, lifeless
      out of breath, bushed

      walls press in
close quarters
      become trash compactor

      in the stage directions,
bolded:
      everything goes wrong!

      old school squib discharges
none of painted noise for him…
      real, loud, messy

      morning dew
fog over rolling plains
      car with hood up

  Summer Sky

      roads closed ahead
under construction
      recalculating rerouting

      beside lavatory
just grateful
      to be seated

      rabbit tracks
are diminutive –
      look hard

      The prayer plant…
Is flowering?!  …The prayer plant
       is flowering!!


     squirrel on high bar
don’t tell him because has no wings
      is not flying

Jerome Berglund has many haiku, senryu and tanka exhibited and forthcoming online and in print, most recently in the Asahi Shimbun, Bear Creek Haiku, Bamboo Hut, Black and White Haiga, Blōō Outlier Journal, Bones, Bottle Rockets, Cold Moon Journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Daily Haiga, Failed Haiku, Frogpond, Haiku Dialogue, Haiku Seed, Ink Pantry, Japan Society, Modern Haiku, Poetry Pea, Ribbons, Scarlet Dragonfly, Seashores, Time Haiku, Triya, Tsuri-dōrō, Under the Basho, Wales Haiku Journal, and the Zen Space. 

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

Poetry Drawer: Downtown Guy: Our Guru: I’m Corralled by an Uncle at a Family Gathering: Spring Rain: The Abandoned Lover by John Grey

Downtown Guy

I’m on
a half-lit street
where feral cats
chase rats
from Norway

and a pawnshop window
is hawking stuff
I recognise

and sirens roar
somewhere off stage

and alleys smell
of piss and cheap whiskey

and I hear voices
but don’t see faces

and the bar’s so dark
there’s no seeing
from the outside –

I feel at risk
and I’m loving it.

Our Guru

He was more of an impediment than a teacher.
A leech if you must know.
Not a guide.
And an expert only in helping himself
to the contents of a fridge.
Of course, in his own head, he was the master.
But, in my kitchen,
he was no more than a free-loading brother-in-law.

“But he has nowhere else to go,” my wife implored.
“There is always Katmandu,” I replied.
For someone so thin,
he could eat like a hyena.
For someone so hairy,
I had to wonder why my blades went missing.
And the constant presence of him sitting
in the lotus position
in the centre of our parlour
was off-putting.

A coffee table would have been far more
attuned to the rest of the furniture.
“I am a parent of your mind and soul,” he told me.
I prefer that my parents be older than I am.

He stayed with us for six months,
by which time even my wife had had enough.
He never offered to help with the bills.
And he had long since transcended household chores.
She advised him to move some place
where his eastern wisdom would be more appreciated.

He liked to quote from the Upanishad,
how the word “guru”
is split into gu, meaning darkness,
and ru, which dispels it.
If only I were a guru myself.
I could have dispelled him on the spot
and how the darkness would have lifted.

I’m Corralled by an Uncle at a Family Gathering

The unfunny bounce off my ears.
Sad jokes scatter across the ground like beer cans.

No uncle, I’m not embarrassed.
Nor am I the snooty one in the family.
I like a laugh as much as the next man…
as long as that man is not my father’s brother.

Frustrated nuns, over-sexed farmer’s daughters,
well-endowed guys, X-rated farm animals –
witless perversities all.

I’ve heard folks say that comedy
is tragedy plus time.
Your tragedy still has years to run.

Spring Rain

So it’s drizzling.
It doesn’t bother me.
The trees lap it up
Why shouldn’t I?
Warblers sing through it.
Egrets shrug the droplets off
in style.
To the waxwings,
it’s a bath that keeps on giving.

The weather can’t dampen mating season.
For the male crane,
courting season is short.
Every dip of the neck
is doubling important.
The strut, the dance,
the fanning of feathers,
has consequences
for all the cranes to come.
Same for the female.
She hunkers down
in that low-key rainfall,
to watch the show,
succumb if the performance
meets her approval.

Early spring
is where life struggles forward
and death falls back on wintry habits.
March winds blow into April.
Boughs dribble water
into up-and-coming buds.
My face is cold.
My clothes are damp.
Nothing here for comfort.
But the spirit is appeased.

The Abandoned Lover

She’s terrified of wind
yet there she is on her porch steps,
trembling, shivering,
as a blast of northern air
whips against her body.

She’s afraid of water,
yet she dresses all in white,
walks out into the pond
as mute as the swans.

Ice is even worse,
It could crack at any time.
But there she goes, barefoot,
ignoring the danger signs,
crossing the winter surface
one chill at a time.

She’s fearful the snow will bury her
but she waits beneath the overhanging ledge.
Or that the hungry wolves will carry her off.
Yet she walks slowly in the direction of their howls.

She doesn’t want to die.
But it’s the weather of impending doom.
And she’s a woman after her own heart.
That’s where the culpability lies.

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

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

Poetry Drawer: Heroes by Mark Young

There is something about
this song, there is some
thing about this song sung
live in Berlin, there is
something about this song
sung live to an audience
who maybe weren’t alive to
hear the beginning & yet they
all still remember how the
foretelling went. There is

something about this song
sung along to by an audience
who may not even be old
enough to see when what
was foretold came to pass.
There is something about
this song written in Berlin,
that was performed there
a year later, that may have
remained just another pop

song until it was Live Aided
into prominence. That, two
years after that concert, was
performed on a stage backed
up to the Berlin Wall so that
the audience on both sides
could hear it & then, two more
years on, remembered the song
as they attacked the Wall &
brought it tumbling down.

& some years after that, back
in Berlin, Bowie is brought to
tears when he realises the
audience he is performing in
front of is made up in equal
parts of those, the seen & un-
seen, who sang along with
him from both sides of the
wall & who added a new
chorus, “the wall must fall.”

Mark Young was born in Aotearoa, New Zealand, but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. His most recent book is the downloadable pdf, XXXX CENTONES, available from Sandy Press.

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

Poetry Drawer: Brief Encounters on the Red Line by Christopher Johnson

The Red Line clitters and clatters and clutters along from Howard Avenue with its genuinely frightening demeanour and dark dangerous corners.

The train clumps along through Rogers Park to the Loop and then to the terminus at 95th Street,

A different world entirely from the one you enter at Howard

If you know anything about Chicago.

The train is a mechanical beast rocking back and forth

Flinging passengers willy-nilly in existential patterns.

It’s December in all its Christmassy glory,

And the others and I are wrapped up in our Chicago-y fleeced winter coats that bulk us up and turn us into shapeless pathetic blobs.

As the Red Line rattles southward,

All us human beings including me stare at nothing,

Avoid all dangerous murderous explosive incendiary eye contact.

Staring blankly, emptily, staring at nothing, their and my faces as seemingly empty as the vast ocean.

They and I stare at nothing.

They and I think nothing.

They and I stare aggressively impassive.

I am sitting while others younger than I stand because in their eyes I am Methusaleh—ancient, tired, glancing boredly at my watch that says 9:13 PM.

The raucous clattering of the train worms into my ears and wipes them clean,

Attacks my senses and destroys them.

A young woman enters at Belmont and grasps a strap in front of me.

Her blue jeans sparkle with silver beads that wind like sacred snakes up and down her legs.

She hangs onto the strap and joins the others and me in staring at the edges of the universe, seeing the origins of life, the remnants of the Big Bang.

She wears a black mask, but above the mask, her eyes strike glimpses of something beyond.

Accidentally (or not?) her booted toes touch the toes of my clunky antediluvian shoes that I bought ages ago at Dr. Waxberg’s Walk Shoppe on Dempster Street with its infinite miles of strip malls and fast-food nirvanas.

The toes of her boots barely touch the toes of my old Dr. Waxberg specials, worn through so many hundreds of miles,

And send a bolt of electricity that storms through my ancient sunken body and leaves me

Gasping.

Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. He’s done a lot of different stuff in his life. He’s been a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. He’s published short stories, articles, and essays in The Progressive, Snowy Egret, Earth Island Journal, Chicago Wilderness, American Forests, Chicago Life, Across the Margin, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Blue Lake Review, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines.

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

Poetry Drawer: That Special Ordinary Day by Navratra

What should I ask for,
when my birthday is knocking on the door?
I’ll get lots of love and blessings,
and tonnes of gifts for sure!

A new dress will be ready for me,
which I’ll wear happily
I’ll paint the town red
with my friends and family

No, I’ll not be an ordinary girl,
though just for twenty four hours,
I’ll turn into a fairy,
with my hands full of stars

All these dreams still keep me awake
when my birthday is knocking on the door
But THEY say I am no more a kid,
celebrating birthdays are childish ideas,
which THEY don’t like anymore

I am growing up at the speed of light,
and this is my nineteenth birthday,
here the problem lies
Now I can’t show my excitement,
just for an ordinary day,
when I first opened my eyes!

Navratra is an emerging poetess (writer), public speaker and artist from Jaipur, India. Her poems have been published in various national and international journals like Sahitya Kunj, Indian Periodical, Ode to a poetess, Spillwords, Setu Magazine, The Criterion and elsewhere.  part from this, she is very interested in the thrilling trips of the country and the world and likes to write spontaneously on various subjects according to her observation.

Poetry Drawer: Too Tired For My Life: The Beach by K.G. Munro

Too Tired For My Life

Getting up in the morning
I’d rather be canoodling with a stranger
in my dreams
But work isn’t going to wait for me
As I push the duck feather pillows away
My bones ache with the strain of age
I would rather spend the day
Numbing my mind with soap operas
And stuffing my face with chocolate
Instead of going to meetings
Filling the bath with soap and water
I am exhausted
As lavender and vanilla permeate my senses
The urge to call in sick increases
But the hot water does little to ease my woes
Because the routine itself drains my energy
Work, home, friends, and so on
The same pattern, the same people,
I’m tired of this routine, I’m tired of my life,
I’m sick of these walls. I’d rather be somewhere else.
These thoughts fill my mind
As I sink further into the bubbles
Trying to escape from another round
Of self-loathing and regret.

The Beach

Charcoal sands is my only company
As I stare down the icy blue ocean

Flowing as the wind skinny dips in it
Whilst my thoughts are elsewhere

Wondering how many people have stood
In this sand admiring nature’s landscape

How many breaths have been inhaled here?
Questions without any answers

As I pick up a pebble and throw it
I wonder if my lover is across these tides

This beach is my anchor
In the chaos of my pursuit to find love

An action some people spend a lifetime on
But I know regardless of the outcome

I can always walk on this sandy panacea
Without sadness and without judgement.

K.G. Munro is an author and poet. Here are a few of her writing credits: Oddball Magazine, Poetry Potion, Scarlet Dragonfly Journal, Splendeur Magazine, Green Ink Magazine, Feversofthemind and so on.

Poetry Drawer: One Poem by Sushant Thapa

Let me think
One word
To talk about the day.
Let me feel
One feeling
To talk about the night.
Let me draw
One drawing
To colour life.
I dwell in my garden
I attain
The university of imagination.
Let me be one lesson
That rethinks the ambition
Of escaping time
Running away
With the modern cobweb.
Being me
Is the true
Unselfish desire.
It does not create misfortune
On the less fortunate ones and
Every possible door greets
Everyone.

Sushant Thapa is from Biratnagar, Nepal. His fourth book of English poems is going to be published by World Inkers Printing and Publishing, Senegal, Africa and New York, USA. Sushant has an M.A. degree in English literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.