Poetry Drawer: Home by John Hansen

Each time the screen door closes,
a mother rabbit sprints off

through seedlings I mowed slowly around
twenty-three years ago.

John Hansen received a BA in English from the University of Iowa and an MA in English Literature from Oklahoma State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Summerset Review, Spillwords Press, Trouvaille Review, 50-Word Stories, One Sentence Poems, The Dillydoun Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Eunoia Review, Sparks of Calliope, Amethyst Review, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. He is English Faculty at Mohave Community College in Arizona.

Poetry Drawer: The Strange Emptiness of the Night: Long Forgotten Memories: Strange Pulses in my Questing Mind: The Goddess in my Mind Garden by James G. Piatt

The Strange Emptiness of the Night

Eerie emotions stormed through my weary mind
as dark visions screamed
into my haunting memories
streaming through the wind,
and as the moon flowed into the darkness
of the unforgiving horizon,
my mind was forced
to wade into the icy metaphoric ocean
ebbing in the shallows of my sorrows.
I strived to extinguish
the absurdity of the sorrowful existence
with cheerfulness,
but pieces of metallic anxiety
spewed from under the earth
to a place near where my mind
could not carry the heaviness of oxidized time,
and while climbing inside
rusting silence to escape,
I failed to bury
the demons of the night that called to me
in the hundred stolen voices of a mocking bird.
In the far-off distance,
I heard the faint haunting sound
of a ghost train’s whistle
echoing in the space between life and death,
a place where those in their fading years,
like me,
watched nervously
as the spectre with a scythe
searched for us to end our absurd existence.
The decomposing hours of the night,
continually held me captive
in this nightmare of dread,
left me with a sense of agonized wistfulness,
as I anxiously waited,
to no avail,
for reality to smother the hauntings of unreality
that had arrived in the strange emptiness
of the night.

Long Forgotten Memories

In an old cardboard box in the attic,
personal notes sent on cold mornings,
bent nails,
rusted paper clips,
a high school ring,
pencil stubs,
a chipped red checker piece,
but mostly just long lost memories.
The old box sits beside
an antique mirror,
a single bed,
a dented in trumpet from the 1930s,
boxes of esoteric philosophy books,
magazines,
sacks of old games;
monopoly,
chess,
clue,
and an old picture album
of unknown faces… unfinished;
the forgotten memories attached,
are covered with countless years of dust.
The things glistened with newness
a long time ago
when those who lived in this old house
still breathed, laughed and loved… now
a dull silence.
Life, so brief, so taken for granted,
as precious moments fade,
and then,
what was can only be found
in old picture albums,
and in the memories of
those very few of ebbing years,
who are still alive to remember.

Strange Pulses in my Questing Mind

The quivering lobes in my questing brain,
wait for soothing symbols
from a remote entity,
to tell me I should not be afraid.
I know it may be true, but,
I see the limits of reason
when concerning the problems,
and questions, concerning God’s existence.
Even scientists claim
that nothing can
evolve from nothing,
ergo something,
God, must have created everything.
But then what created God?
Or does God
have no beginning,
and time does not really exist,
except in our limited
time controlled minds?
My grandfather’s clock,
peals the message that death is inevitable.
However,
my mind still refuses
to accept the reality of the timing,
for it is still playing with an unreality…
that we do not really exist,
and are only imaginary figments
in the mind of a God.

The Goddess in my Mind Garden

Sekhmet the lioness,
covered my withering mind garden
with seven arrows and three tears,
and I watched grief growing
in my plastic garden soil
of red crystals
where shadows of sorrow lived.
It was a dark metallic day,
and the rusting sun
hid in the lonely thoughts of tears,
as she released
an icy wind into my mind,
so that I couldn’t remember
the warm metaphors
that would grow
beautiful visions into memories.

James, a retired professor and octogenarian, Best of Web nominee and three time Pushcart nominee, has had four books of poetry; “Solace Between the Lines,” “Light,” “Ancient Rhythms,” and “The Silent Pond,” over 1530 poems, five novels and 35 short stories published worldwide.  He earned his BS and MA from California State Polytechnic University, SLO, and his doctorate from BYU. His fifth book of poetry is set for release this year. 

Poetry Drawer: Sleepy Whale Poems 236-435 by Terry Brinkman

Sleepy Whale 236

Mary’s without a second care
Every animal’s fault
The art of man
Barring the Bees
Ship of the streets
Brutes of the field
Ambulating, acquaintance, passionately
Friendly fashion indubitable
Making her look sideways at me
Hankering new vistas
Had her father’s gift
Irish exquisite, variations

Sleepy Whale 248

What did you see on the range?
In your father’s house
Your dying sister in the kitchen
Her point of junction
Flow from Round wood Revivers
Liner aqueduct yard exultance
Did it flow, subterranean bounty
Fallen below the sill
Water works unshed tears
Lay in the glen of the downs
Prolong the summer’s doubt

Sleepy Whale 407

Granite rocky mountain’s Utah High
Best Snow on Earth anywhere
Gloved hand, Cast Iron pan to fry
Message from Salvation Auctioneer
Lime-Green-Jell-O Frog Prince lie
She began to weep, wept an embrace
Be-mused over his limp wet rag
Shifty looking fellow playing the base
Drinking beer in an Irish Pub we all brag
Un-hasty friendliness to face
She melt a hearts of stone, rich silk stockings nag

Sleepy Whale 427

Sleepwalk to the grave, buried last evening
Wayne’s hand on his quest
Brightness of the stained glass
Haunting girlish shyness drinking beer
Instantaneous smoking effigy
Proceeding the sage sloops heard of Deer
Dark woman and fair man seated at Mass
Witchy bluest Irish blue eyed volunteer

Sleepy Whale 435

Shadows over her childhood’s crest
Her eyes glistering with tears last evening
Slightly flecked hair with gray, a long kissed guest
Gazing out the window’s Azul Glass
Have mercy, her end so near
Holiday’s lattice window Mass
Verge of tears, sighted eyes volunteer

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years. He started creating poems. He has five Amazon E- Books, also poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed, Jute Milieu Lit and Utah Life Magazine, Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, In Parentheses, Adelaide Magazine, UN/Tethered Anthology and the Writing Disorder.

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

Poetry Drawer: Fish Chips and Mushy Peas by Gail Thornhill

Fish and chips on a plate
A meal meant for me
But I was late
Wait…
I wasn’t

A misunderstanding
Clear to see
But fate already awaited me

Back of my head
Fistful of hair
Thrust my face
in that plate right there

Fish, chips, and mushy peas
embedded my face
with apparent ease

But that wasn’t enough
to vent your rage
Slapping followed
Head to toe
Bladder reacted
and let it flow

The shame, the pain,
Still felt today
Memories
Never go away…

Gail Thornhill is a bookworm from Cheshire. Her best subjects at school were English Language and Literature. She has always enjoyed reading, fact, fiction, and poetry.

Poetry Drawer: Suffrage: Negation: Covid Winter: Christmas Lights: Letter Against Anger to the Daughters of George Hoshida by Brian Glaser

Suffrage

My grandmother was asked as a young woman
by her young son:

What do you want for Christmas
besides world peace?

The anecdote survived for decades in my family.

Tonight I realize it said more about her
than I had seen:

she was born just after the First World War,
her Cold War Catholic parenting

was unafraid of the Red menace—

she didn’t want to frighten her children
about the Communists,

she had been able to vote,
she had made something,

call it a difference.

Negation

     Twilight—
there are many brief
         hues to it—

Covid Winter

My grandmother would carefully select
Hallmark cards
with the appropriate words for the recipient and occasion.

I defended Hallmark for this reason—
without the detail that this was my grandmother,
she was a possible person in my comment—

I defended Hallmark to my literature teacher in college
and he said, with a laugh,

“If you have to rely on Hallmark, you’re in trouble.”

My son’s world history teacher showed his class
a Hallmark movie today at the end of the semester,

and she told them all that
she and her husband love to watch Hallmark movies together.

We laughed at them afterwards in my son’s room,
gentle, brief, slightly sad laughter.

And I walked in the cold darkness of December tonight
and prayer graced me

and language itself died like night at the dawn
and was reborn in the unspeakable pain of the dying.

Christmas Lights

      I am proud
                   of the dark houses,
            their hopefulness—

Letter against Anger to the Daughters of George Hoshida

Begin with the beauty of smallness:
on the evening of the convergence,
on the longest night of the year,
winter solstice, my children and wife looked for the bright planets
coming together, joining,
and they could not find them in the dark winter sky.

The vastness of the universe has for decades
seemed to me annihilating,
the dark everywhere around us—
so that meaning would become as if it never was
if I thought about that emptiness for too long.

But tonight I discovered how small I am,
my loves and worries,
and realized that it is, despite this, more than nothing, my life,
my family and my home, my being,
my human body and soul,
truly small though I am in the winter solstice of space.

Your father had every reason to be enraged,
imprisoned as he was simply for being Japanese in Hawaii—
losing his oldest daughter from whom he was separated—
and through it all
he kept drawing,

mostly human figures,
as he had been taught by correspondence school,
often three of them sharing a loose-leaf page—
maybe there was a rageful healing thoroughness there,
assembling families of separate figures again and again,
like laughter occupying each body
until its independence was complete.

Brian Glaser has published three books of poems and many essays on poetry and poetics.

Poetry Drawer: Applause of a Nightmare: Lips of Summer by Yuu Ikeda

Applause of a Nightmare

Applause of a nightmare
resounds in my room

I try to cover my ears
with floating images of you

But on the stage of boring energy,
I can’t escape from the applause

I don’t know what to sing
I don’t know how to dance

The applause never ceases

It looks as if
endless discord
dives into me

Lips of Summer

Lips of summer
kiss my eyelids fiercely

I feel the heat
I feel the beats

Waves of vehemence
and
ripples of softness
mix on my eyelids,
then,
I’m soaked in
a curtain like fire

Yuu Ikeda is a Japanese based poet. She loves writing, reading mystery novels, and drinking sugary coffee. She writes poetry on her website. Published poems are in Nymphs, Sad Girl Review, and JMWW.

Poetry Drawer: We / feel cooler / in dry air: elephant cup cakes: A line from Billie Jean King: Hosomaki: A Paumanok Picture by Mark Young

We / feel cooler / in dry air

Parts of the morning collide
with the eventual winner

of the home & away series.
Not much is left. A few shards

cause craters in the eyes, a part-
pennant does pennance as it

wraps around the nearest set
of ankles. Then a dog sled ar-

rives, still moist with snow. We
welcome it with closed arms.

elephant cup cakes

           ‘ Pachyderms and pastry! I love it.’   Tom Beckett

That a pachyderm is highly comp-
etitive in the global pastry market
does not adequately capture the true
sense of how unlikely scenarios such
as this are. Those Instagram influencers
who talked this up were all probably
tickled by the ivory. Money may have
changed hands. But the natural attri-
butes of the animal are ideal for the
task — tusks, tail, trunk; all master
mixers — why be surprised? & those
feet! Pancakes galore. The perfect size
for carving out cheesecake casings.

A line from Billie Jean King

An exciting update is coming.
A chart’s been prepared to
illustrate the main points. Small
popups will appear that use

colour & typography to provoke
a psychological reaction. There’s
certainly a place for that, simple
or complex, since we are both

made up of energy & used to
the use of icons to represent
emotions. It won’t be that long
before you have command of

the update, can use all parts of
it intuitively. Savour the small win —
this victory is fleeting. Another
update is now only days away.

Hosomaki

The queue outside the sushi
bar melts into one another
as the bagpipes suddenly
arrive. Raw fish & rice is no
match for tartan, even one
only rarely worn. That’s the

problem with living in a
garrison city — too many con-
tradictions, too much bias.
Too few true conflicts. Which
is why the military make what
they can out of what’s available.

A Paumanok Picture

Later, when the road
had opened,

Walt Whitman
was allowed to pass.

Mark Young was born in New Zealand but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. He has been publishing poetry for over sixty years, & is the author of around sixty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, creative non-fiction, & art history. His most recent book is The Sasquatch Walks Among Us, from sandy press, available through Amazon.

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

Poetry Drawer: st elena: golgotha postcard: muted splendour: modigliani’s gun: first attempt at escape: westward by John Sweet

st elena speaks with the voice of a carrion bird

the almost and the
always and the never and then
everything in between

close yr eyes

do you see now?

let the map take you
from here to there

let the desert be your
starting point
and your destination

no walls and no water

no true purpose

you’ll live and you’ll die
just like the rest of us

you’ll be forgotten

maybe you
already are

golgotha postcard

pilate shot through the throat and
then the crows at his heart

the dogs drinking his tears

grow up fast or
not at all,
right?

a lifetime of dying played out in
the space of an hour and i
forget if i ever told you i loved you that summer

i forget if you were the one who
taught me how to bleed

was too busy making promises that
turned without effort into
such heartfelt lies

muted splendour

and then dali grows old
and then dali dies and
i am left in this room
with your sister

says she’s cold, but
she won’t get dressed

won’t get up off the floor

just tells me she hates
me while i kneel down
to kiss her feet

modigliani’s gun

barefoot on broken glass at the
end of november and maybe it feels as
good as a bullet through god’s filthy heart

maybe only children
will be killed in the war

each tiny death made into a movie and
all of them playing in another room while
we’re trying to sleep, and so how can you
claim to be famous if no one wants
to see you naked?

why would you keep on bleeding
all over the carpet when it’s
all you’ve been doing for the past 30 years?

there’s a got to be a better way
for you to waste the rest of your life

first attempt at escape

late winter snow from dull pewter skies,
driving west but never fast enough,
laughs & tells me he’s the one who took the
pennies from christ’s blind eyes

says he’s looking for a
girl named jennifer to fall in love with then
says the heater’s broke

tells me i look like shit

asks how long I’ve been
bleeding to death

turns the radio up way too loud while
i’m trying to think of an answer

westward

and then you and i and the
sleeping face of christ, all of us
radiant and each of us alone here in
the sudden warmth of november,
in the flickering shadows of falling leaves,
beneath the ominous web of powerlines,
blue sky reduced to meaningless
geometry, startled birds, endlessly
crashing planes and the children laughing,
screaming, running home across barren
fields or down haphazard sidewalks,
the memory of their motion, the way i
tell myself over and over again not to
forget this moment and then the
ease with which i forget it

the reasons i write these
meaningless poems

the idea that maybe even one
of them might find you

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: Improvisations: Unbearable Lightness: Somerset: False Advertising by Jenny Middleton

Improvisations

We have taken to living life
as if it were jazz
rouging wan days
with bright notes
born from barren weeks

hollow as the tin-can lanterns
recycled and strung up
in the spindly birch trees
by kids, next door.
Each cylinder’s dark interior
is pierced with geometric patterns
so they gleam with empty space
marking out the night
with absence, as death is cut
into our lives.

We philander from the garden
and let it straggle, feeding
on its own leaves, drunk
with fermenting sugars
set to sweeten autumn
without us.

Grief’s time-signature surges
days in eight bar riffs
dubbing evenings
to waves of past voices –
ghosts we drink to extinction –
and stand at last
in the darkness of a new street
awake and broken with dawn.

Unbearable Lightness

I lent Kundera’s novel,
and then separately,
a pair of daisy spotted culottes
(smart enough for an interview)
to friends
light enough not to return,
their words, ceiling trodden
and walked to air.

I find I still wonder where
the pages spore their print
in absence
from my shelf
as if they were
chilli pepper seeds –
papery and disk like
skimming ideas to flame
even after they are eaten
and gone.

And whether clothes
absorb memories
with their wear
to larger shapes,
stained and stretched
to age.

The rails of thrift shops
hung, heavy and spooling
sky, touched, scraped
with the beyond
of these days.

Somerset

The plough’s metal ribs are turned to the sky. Rust flakes in fingernails from the iron core of abandoned machinery amongst the unmown grass sprung with daisies and summery warmth. Flattened clouds rule the sky, pulled taut as clavichord strings that hum with a storm’s jigger at the afternoon and its wobble of espaliered peaches.
We run barefoot with the children, laughing, circuiting the field, drunk with exertion, feeling the rub of damp roots fleck with the music of first rain.

weather charts
blue sky to numbers
rain blurs us

False Advertising

Billboards feather boa the street
taxiing minds and high balling eyes
to palm tree spas kissed
with sangria and sunshine’s
strut in snakeskin thigh highs.

The adverts promise
the everything of lies
to anoraked pavements
apace with slow stepped lives
loitered with the fur
of Friday night zooms
and the lurch between
stops to and from home in buses
pelted in more soft sell.

the earth a dream mumbled in pentameter
curved, foetal and asleep
beneath a tarred city’s rumble

Jenny Middleton is a working mum and writes whenever she can  amid the fun and chaos of family life. She lives in London with her husband, two children, and two very lovely, crazy cats. 

Poetry Drawer: Definitions (On Naming Things) by Richard Helmling

That line, that grey smudge, in the sky—like a shadow of something moving out beyond the world
Was it a passing ship? A sail wide as limbo
The mind reels at the distances, knowing they can only be fiction, that only the self is real

Lost now (because a petrified forest is really just a field of rocks)
I sit down in the shadows of the palm fronds reaching over me with dagger fingers
What am I—but a sinking wetlands, methane-rich refuse rotting into usefulness?
Or really
I think I am the output of some formula—a reductive algorithm
Definitions slip through the cracks between their own words, eel-slick and mucosal
It’s June now, and this too must pass, this uncertainty
Things do, pass, always

 Richard Helmling is a teacher and writer living and working in El Paso, Texas.