Poetry Drawer: After a Hard Rain: Where They Have To Let You In: Year of Covid by Robert Demaree

After a Hard Rain

We do not have a rain gauge.
You can look it up on the Internet
If it matters.
Or you can
See how the dock sits in the water.
The pond is up two inches, I would say,
Maybe three.
We have one of the last wooden docks on
On the east shore,
The top still slick after the storm,
Maybe a little spongy in places
(Barry will give us a quote)
But it will dry.

Caroline and the kids
Will come down in a while
This kind, warm afternoon,
Float in innertubes, read magazines,
And joke of things known to them,
Their sense of family palpable
This kind, warm afternoon.
They are leaving in the morning
And the dock will revert
To its customary solitude.
Now and then Martha and I
Will gingerly ease 80-year-old bodies
Into cooler August waters.

Where They Have To Let You In

Across our New Hampshire pond
The pink and purple
Of dawn and dusk
On brisk September days.
Someone asks if I grew up here.
For years we were summer people
Except my father worked.
Skipping pebbles on the inlet
By the rented cottage,
Clearing the land for our own place,
Steamy summer jobs at the laundry.
Watching children then grandchildren
Take a first plunge
Off the dock.
Since retirement I think of us as
Three-season residents,
Crisp blue mornings, September into
October, foliage trips
To the Third Connecticut Lake.
Shorts and sweatshirt weather,
A day to get apples.
People ask if I grew up here.
I have started saying yes.

Year of Covid

Almost a year
Since that last public gathering,
The women’s basketball tournament
At the college near Golden Pines.
I have a picture in my camera, my phone,
Girls in teal shorts
Bringing the ball up court,
Captured in time.
Their season will end in 20 minutes.
The losers know this already,
But the winners don’t, their hopefulness
Captured in time,
In my camera, my phone.

In the months since
We have learned how to work
The drive-up app
On our phone.
We get groceries early on Sundays,
We take classes on Zoom
That we would skip
In person.
Out walking, I cross the street
To avoid people without masks,
Valuing some things more
Than neighborly companionship.
For that we have each other,
Susan and I. It wears well,
As one would hope it might
After 57 years.

In my camera they have not moved,
The girls in the teal shorts,
The other team, the pep band,
The handful of people, probably parents,
Who have driven up for the game,
Captured in time, their looks of
Hope and expectation,
Those girls from Pompeii
In teal basketball shorts,
Bringing the ball up court.

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: 5 Modern Tanka by Steve Black

my dustcart a shield
i grasp at happy meal boxes
in an unkind wind
my mother isn’t angry
she’s disappointed

i cradle the bear
her loving companion
since childhood
i ask it straight
what do i do now

i walk the field
where we built straw castles
as children
i heard recently the first of us
are beginning to die

after years on the run
i’ve finally caught up
with myself
we are both
getting used to the idea

filled with the spirit
she confesses
on the night bus from town
apart from the driver
we vote she shall be forgiven

Until recently Steve Black was a road sweeper living within spitting distance of London, and is now looking for gainful employment. Published now and then.

Poetry Drawer: Crib: Close quarters: January break: Emissary by Tony Beyer


after Christmas
I re-wrap separately
depending on their rank
angels humans and beasts

Jesus and his
earthly parents
are first to be accorded
tissue paper privacy

the King who comes
bearing gold has lost his crown
after years of journeying
and annual storage

ox and donkey
fit together
knee to knee
in a corner of the box

lastly a sheep
that seems
to have strayed into the mix
from a childhood farm set

Close quarters

in summer
the boards under the house
are dry
and reverberate
when trodden on

birds treat
the veranda as theirs
hopping and pecking
at leavings
under the outdoor table

we wait
all year for this
bearing the winter
like a bye-child
spring like fresh news

then the heat
on the planet
that never quite suits us
our ancestors
left for us to resolve

January break

the barber from India
spends his days
razoring the edges of beards
of large men
in the provincial centre

this is the first I’ve heard
about the subcontinental diet
and its spices
affording staunch
resistance to coronavirus

from the park across the street
the fountain sings
and gulls disagree
concerning entitlement
to takeaway scraps

nearly everything in town
commemorates somebody
even the ambulances
parked regularly at lunchtime
outside hot bread shops

single rooms to rent
up a staircase
no longer there
off the laneway between
two main thoroughfares

the man in the bookshop
advises me
to hang on to change
for the meter
though I’m on foot

in the heat
the council-commissioned murals
slide down buildings
to pool colourfully
on the ground


mail comes late
and is sparse

requests for payment
real estate flyers

only the occasional
much creased

and redirected
envelope from the frontier

one containing
dead leaves

another crushed parts
of a praying mantis

the kind of messages
composed in the

kind of script
a ghost might send

Tony Beyer’s print titles include Anchor Stone, a finalist in the poetry category of the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards, and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press. Recent poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone ReviewMolly BloomMudlarkOtoliths and elsewhere. 

Poetry Drawer: A Man in Neutral: Mystery Woman: Death Of Miss America 194..: Two for the Sno-Cat: The Living and the Dead by John Grey

A Man in Neutral

I won’t cut my arm just to see myself bleed.
Nor will I roam the cemetery trails,
as if the dead are the perfect company for the likes of me.
Not that I’m about to take up dancing.
Not with these clumsy feet.
Or give up alcohol.
I have too many demons deserving of drowning.
But I won’t stick my head in places
from, which it’s not easily extracted.
Like fence railings. Or stocks.
Not that I’m about to find someone
and then do everything together.
But I won’t lop off my toes with a scythe.
Or crack open my head on the rocks below.
No affairs of the heart. But no opiates either.
And no passion, for good or for bad.
I won’t deny my body what it needs to survive.
But nor will I promise these bones, this flesh,
anything beyond that.

This time it will be different.
The highs, the lows, will be so controlled
they’ll think they’re twins.
Such is my pledge.
So I go on from here,
Ecstasy is uncalled for.
Despair no longer suits my style.

It’s Saturday night.
I’m not going anywhere.
My mind is babysitting my heart.
It’s not going anywhere either.

Mystery Woman

notate each awakening
and flash of foreknowledge;

on your balcony,
face east, over ocean
to where the horizon stretches
to no end in sight;

the country can’t get enough
divine philosophers,
seers who tell our fortunes
in a crumple of feathers
or a spinning ball,
who reach into the dark chasm
of the days ahead,
extract a telling tale;

wear icons round your throat,
talismans on your wrist;
spread Tarot cards before you,
stir tea leaves with your fingernail;

explain the enigmas,
lift the shadows,
quiet the doubters,
offer holy incentive
to the believers;

I think you’re the one
but I need you
to tell me;

it’s the mysteries
of the universe
and it’s all in a life’s work;

Death Of Miss America 194..

“Say, does the coffin pinch?”
No one thinks of you anymore.
Miss America 194…
Ah, Miss America. So old. How dull.
Your compass watches
more than your gallery.
And the angel of numbers
is counting down to zero when it suits.
And meanwhile, you, in the wind,
flutter worse than butterflies –
by Government declaration,
the moon is wrinkles,
the sun is red-streaked eyes.
You’re no longer forbidden
the fear of winter’s white bear.
From one of one
now a miniscule fraction often billion –
gold dust and tiaras…goodbye.
Hunting with memory,
there’s still no game.
Just yawning
Miss America,
queen of all states
but not one of them
thinks of you anymore.
Nor do sun, moon, or stars.
Just the sullen greenish-yellow air.
Only mildew is left to ask,
“Do your shoes pinch?”
Lightning, thunder,
even sky is prohibited –
the weather has settled
on streaky wind
whipping the flesh
from the bones of your face.
No one believes that you were lovely once.
Your chalk flames out shrill
on the heavenly blackboards.

Two for the Sno-Cat

Joe’s fifty seven
and his knees
won’t stop whining,
Anne’s twenty seven,
recovering from
a busted relationship.
And within this glacier,
lies a man,
his body preserved by
his moment of death,
even to the seal meat
in his stomach
that’s caked in frozen acid.
His skin is hard
as Arctic earth,
eyes closed
by the weight on him.
His heart’s encased
in a jewel box of ice,
his blood stalled
on orders from
his perfectly
encapsulated last breath,
His brain is a prison of neurons
awaiting a thought, a sensation,
so all can break free.
A Sno-Cat,
piloted by Joe,
navigated by Anne,
is grinding its way
through the area,
studded steel belts
ripping up the surface,
about to accidentally
unleash the distant past
on the world.
“It’s hard getting old,” he says.
“You should try
the singles scene,” she replies.
Within this glacier,
lies a man
about to meet his public.
He’s a thousand years old,
in a time when no one else is.

The Living and the Dead

The lilies are born on their death-bed.
Come morning, these pretty blooms
will be all funeral.
I stare out my window at their cool breeze wake.
How they flutter.
How we’d all flutter
if we didn’t know the truth.

I’m in a coffee shop
taking forever over the latest nectar
from the Kona Coast.
A lovely young woman nibbles on a muffin,
reads The Great Gatsby.
I swear her lips move
reciting Daisy’s lines.
I’m on the west coast for a week.
I’ll never see her again.
That’s a kind of death.

It can join shooting star
or glimpse of scarlet tanager
or grizzled face
in the attic window of the old house –
their brief is brevity.
Here then gone,
my life is this constant killer.

But some things stay around.
I have loved ones.
I’ve got possessions.
And a neighborhood, a town.
I may live for the transitory
but I live in the permanent.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Poetry East and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.

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

Poetry Drawer: Untitled by Rus Khomutoff


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

Poetry Drawer: Getting Lucky: waiting for the day: The Rising Storm of Sedition Overwhelms Us All: Tired and Burned Out – Let 2020 Go!!!: Toilet Gate Fit Metaphor for the End of the Trump Affair by Jake Cosmos Aller

Getting Lucky

I have been extremely lucky
In life
Lucky in love
Not so much in cards

Met the love of my life
In a dream
Then she became my wife

Over the years
We have been extremely lucky
As our investments grew and grew

Fuelled by the skill
Of my financial advisor wife
Born in the year of the Golden Pig

Making me wealthy
In my old age

I often think meeting her
Was like winning the lotto
Or getting a jackpot

A jackpot of love
That continues to pay me
Dividends for life

Until the day I die
With my lucky charm
By my side

waiting for the day

I lay in bed
Waiting for the sun to rise
Next to my sleeping beauty
Filled with her love

But with the dawning sun
The nightmares come back

Filled with fearful thoughts
Of what fresh insanity
Will soon overwhelm me

I watch the daily news
Absorbing the latest
Scandal d’jour
The latest fresh hell

As I watch with dismay
America the land of my birth
Tear itself apart

As politicians play games
Thousands die
Becoming Corona Ghosts

It is enough to make me
Want to hideaway
For the rest of my time
On this earth

The Rising Storm of Sedition Overwhelms Us All

A rising storm of sedition and treason
Threatens to overwhelm us all
As the alt. right wing forces

Complicit in treason
And committed sedition

A failure of law enforcement
And politics as well

As the craven proud boys
do not hide anymore

screaming fraud
Trying to foment civil war

Storming the Capitol
On instructions from their hero

The craven President
Hides out

Watching the carnage
That he unleashed
Descend on the capitol

Tired and Burned Out – Let 2020 Go!!!
January 15, 2021

It has been two weeks
Since the beginning of the year
It seems like it has been a Year
Of horror condensed down

Into two-weeks
Of daily chaos
As the centre frays

We are so Tired
and Burned Out
yet we can’t Let 2020 Go!!!

Madness grows
Can’t take it much more
can’t shake off
the 2020 hangover

2021 You are so old
We are so done with you
Just go away
And never haunt us again

Toilet Gate Fit Metaphor for the End of the Trump Affair

News that the President’s son-in-law and daughter
Refused to allow secret service agents
To use any of their 6.5 toilets
Is a fitting metaphor
For the end of the Trump Era

The news captures the false sense
Of royal privilege
Among the Trump family
And shows how shallow, cruel
And inhuman the family really is

How did such a family of grifters
Manage to take over the WH?
And how can anyone still support
Such despicable human beings?

They deny it of course
But the Secret service
Says it is true

And they had to pay 100,000 dollars
3,000 dollars per month
To rent an apartment across the street
So, agents could relieve themselves

What were they thinking?
Perhaps they were thinking
The agents could use the bushes
Out back?

Or beg to use the neighbor’s facilities?
Anyway, not their problem
What the hired help does
After all

So glad that this band
Of grifters are on their way out
And sanity will return
To our nation

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

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

Poetry Drawer: Interaction is crucial: Brand positioning: Three French Horns: Another set of anterior appendages by Mark Young

Interaction is crucial

The most elegant inter-
pretation of quantum
mechanics states that
macrophages are re-
quired for a parallel
reality to exist; & that
can only happen if
zebrafish are the sole

peer-reviewed species
allowed to be taken out
of captivity to become
an accepted model for
neuropsychiatric studies
into tissue regeneration.

Brand positioning

A spectrum is a
collection of scalar
values with its
black curve being
an analog of
the momentum.

Which is why a
fixed dimensional
living space may
wish to concede
that abacus marble
or rock counters

can take the place
of trees when
considering the cause
for some cases
of partially-
working proteins.

Three French Horns

Winnebago shared a post
on Instagram, a screenshot
of some anthropologist’s tale
of the deconstruction of the
phrase a partridge in a pear
by a group of pueblo
dwellers. Some individual
ideas were reported; but
essentially the consensus
rotated around two oft-repeated
questions: where’s the buffalo?
& why is Angela Merkel so
often criticized on social media?

Another set of anterior appendages

Anchored to the hair by
centipedes wearing
elastic sombreros, even
the most advanced anti-
rain cycling accessories

cannot avoid bringing with
them more than a hint of
biting arthropod. It dis-
plays as an inflammatory
reaction similar to that

occurring when a library’s
dustiest corner is disturb-
ed. Only the addition of
mirrored aviator goggles
will work as a deterrent.

Recent poems by Mark Young have appeared or are to appear in Word For/Word, Die Leere Mitte, Home Planet News Online, experiential-experimental-literature, Utsanga.it, Hamilton Stone Review, & BlazeVOX, amongst other places.

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

Poetry Drawer: The Italian Kitchen: Politics: Ingratitude: Pan by Dr. Susie Gharib

The Italian Kitchen

Paulette was the most elegant person I had ever known,
a ballet dancer, half-Swiss, half-Italian, with a British home.
We walked into a cafe in Glasgow’s trendiest zone,
the only friend I had made then during my studentship abroad.

It was an Italian restaurant with wooden seats and long queues,
and after standing for half an hour we found a table next to the wall,
not far from another where he instantly spotted me with the serenest of looks.

I always wondered what my presence in his arena provoked.
His face was inscrutable and no muscles could be construed.
I always said the wrong things and made the wrong moves,
and I forgave him for whatever thoughts he brewed
over my aloofness, my indifference, and ill-disguised fondness.

I failed to greet him and I knew he would not pardon me for being rude.
How could I tell him that I always kept away from the people I valued most,
for whoever I touched, I was bound to lose !


I associate the word with all that is odious and morbid,
with the oppression of nations,
the starvation of millions,
with the Massacre of Glencoe,
the Genocide of Armenians,
with scepters that turn into pythons
to devour an entire millennium,
with sectarianism and schisms
within familial unions,
with blood-sheds at altars
and contagious vermillion,
with manipulative spouses
and exploitative chameleons,
with labyrinthine circumlocution
and orchestrated rebellions.


Let me sing my ode for ingratitude.
My palm is a cemetery of deep-dug holes,
drilled by your claws
in the wake of every gift and handshake I proposed.

My smiles enthuse a trickle of gall
that ruffles the stillness of your stagnant soul
that cannot be consoled
by words or glows,
devouring every ray that beams from my mouth,
like an astral Black Hole.

I tread upon your discourse of thorns
to partake of the pricks of a saga of wrongs,
but you disdain my every groan
that empathizes with your excruciating woes,
spurning my solace with habitual scorn.

[A Reading of Richard Le Gallienne‘s essay ‘The Spirit of the Open’]

Richard opted for a woodland, green office
in the blue-eyed wilderness
to conduct literary transactions,
with expected diversions from celestial bodies such as
the moon and morning stars,
and the squirrel that haunts his wood-pile,
with his thoughts often ferried by the river nearby
to the sea, far-off.

He had been simply summoned by the god Pan
whose death was mistakenly proclaimed
by Plutarch as Christianity reigned,
but Pan’s life is inextricably linked with that of the earth.
There will always be little chapels to Pan
on whose lintels Virgil’s words are inscribed:
Blest too is he who knows the rural gods,
Pan, old Silvanus, and the sister-nymphs!

There is only one creed that makes us both happy and good.
It is that of the flourishing grass and the dogwood,
of the cerulean sky and the brisk brook,
of the blue heron and the redwing.

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

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

Poetry Drawer: stick wackle the loaf ode: I hit 99 and the coffee was making me talk: would you prevent a cavity like crest toothpaste for astronaut powers?: tree grease by J. D. Nelson

stick wackle the loaf ode

room for those stars, too
milky way simult.

swinging hard like a merk
half slathered with glue and doom

there will be one minute of silence
after the explosion

fingers on my feet
cutting polaroids from a loaf

I hit 99 and the coffee was making me talk

the soap is a little rectangle
how long until my hands are clean?
smells like pea sprouts

in case of emergency contact the moon pirate
when you were something like a robot with ears on the planet of earth

I have the keys to the kitchen sink

za tree fork P/ plus
staunch reptile

and that was that until the doubts started creeping in
high above the city the robotic vultures were circling

we took it to the wall every night and tried to see thru it
your chains dragging should tell you that

look at me now with my gills and water pants and no ocean
forest grockerly until notice of federal nachos

would you prevent a cavity like crest toothpaste for astronaut powers?

a new love of the cosmic goose
what is the dream number of this toast?

the rook is now a diamond of the same eye
in sheets the rain was a powerful ghost and goose

that hurts our chances of learning the moon numbers
time to separate the numbers from the apples

to wonder aloud about the suns
a new window of the rookie forces

the saint of the clock
we get that hank of the heaven

the game of the wild face
the shimmering face of christ

tree grease

the sports tomorrow when I am that old drac
get there with that morning hand

that long acre of the simian tree for butter
do you need to climb a window for the grief?

we need the green tree to stop
the meteor knows why I was the heart

why is the ark of the natural earth of the egg?
would you like a lark of the pumpkin?

the heart of the bagel
to start with that help is the halo

the muscle of the chart of detergents
the tight window of the spinning eye

to win a window
the natural useless face

would you like that head of the cheddar wheel to speak?
we are the rose of the caramel jump

going back to see that friend of the fridge
milk or mud?

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. More than 1,500 of his poems have appeared in many small press publications, in print and online. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Visit Madverse for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.

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

Poetry Drawer: French Fries: Read My Lips: Shower Drain Lovers: Searching: Geppetto by Charles K. Carter

French Fries

When we were dating,
I used to come to the fast food
restaurant where you worked and eat
with you on your breaks. We’d order
two large fries and you would dump out
both cartons on the tray, teaching
me to share while I dipped my fries in
mayo and ketchup and you dipped
yours in sweet and sour, not knowing
the sour was yet to leak out of

Read My Lips

On our one-month anniversary
I learned that you could read lips.
I put your powers to the test.
I mouthed my order for you to transcribe
for the confused waitress.
I spent the whole meal mouthing
my thoughts and jokes and dreams.
I gladly footed the bill because for the first time,
I felt solid in the world, I felt present.

When we would wake up together,
in the soft angelic glow of morning light,
I used to run my tongue down your back,
blowing chills into your spine,
feeling like a god as I watched goosebumps and faint hairs rise.
I would spell out I LOVE YOUs and I WANT YOUs
and you could sense every letter.
I felt your weight in my bed, your presence,
you truly and totally tethered to me.
For the first time in a long time, I felt acknowledged.

Sometimes I lie awake in the dark,
worrying about work and money, dreading the approach of death,
caught up in the cacophony of this harsh world
and I wonder if you are able to read my mind,
because as if on cue, you rub your foot against mine,
nuzzle yourself into my arms as if you know
I need something to hold on to, to keep myself
from floating off into my own anxiety
and I know that I am seen. I am heard. I am

Shower Drain Lovers

Sometimes I leave you messages on the shower wall,
stray hairs molded into an I ❤ U
but they are never acknowledged, never appreciated, talked about, or replied to.
They are only washed down the drain
as if this effort from my morning brain was all in vain.

I hope somewhere out there, there is a shower drain you,
made up of your stray hairs,
that is reaching out for me.
I hope he is moved by little gestures,
tangled up in love with a shower drain me.


we aren’t meant to put all this pressure on each other,
like we are the only ones for each other,
like we have to serve and fulfill and be everything for one another,
we could be open to lightening the load on this lonely, heavy heart.


I fill up the car and drive to your place.
Everyone’s driving slow on the highway,
there must be a cop or an accident nearby,
some warning to slow down.

Laugh and make jokes, flirt and flutter.
It usually doesn’t happen this quick,
must be something in the water wetting appetites,
something calling us to speed up.

Kiss kiss him, kiss me, kiss us, kiss kissing you
Touch touch us, touch him, touch you, touch touching me
You were speaking in tongues of ecstasy.

We had been searching
for someone who could speak our
language. Someone who
could tap the source of passion
burrowing deep in our bones.

Like a forgotten word
in a forgotten tongue,
you left me feeling hopelessly incomplete,


You were sad and liked to lie there broken,
to wallow in your sad boy, boy toy misery.
I was sad and I liked to fix things to distract myself from my pain,
to mend things made me feel less broken.
I thought it would work out perfectly,
like I could help piece you back together,
sew up your seems, solder your hinges,
fix your fissures, clean the rust from the gears around your heart,
paint the sunshine back into your eyes,
that I could fix you and then you would love me,
that you would lay on my lap, find a fondness for me.
But boys are not toys and I am not a toymaker.

Charles K. Carter is a queer poet and educator from Iowa. He shares his home with his artist husband and his spoiled pets. He enjoys film, yoga, and live music. Melissa Etheridge is his ultimate obsession. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. His poems have appeared in several literary journals. He is the author of Chasing Sunshine (Lazy Adventurer Publishing), Splinters (Kelsay Books), and Salem Revisited (WordTech Editions).

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