Poetry Drawer: Worcester Airport: April 2021 by Robert Demaree

Worcester Airport

In the ’80s you could fly
Piedmont into Worcester, Mass.
Weary Friday-night salesmen joked,
Helped the attendant pronounce the name.
This was my parents’ penultimate
Summer in New Hampshire,
My father agitated,
Convinced they had left
Without packing, and hoping
He could get a shave
At the barbershop in the lobby
Of a Days Inn motel,
My mother, exhausted,
Glad someone else would drive
The rest of the way.
The other day I bought a postcard
On eBay, outbidding someone
Who must have wondered
Why anyone else
Would want a souvenir
Of the Worcester Airport.

APRIL 2021

1.
On television every day
Several people tell us
That the images we are about to see
Are disturbing.
Shocking.
Dispiriting,
Though that is my word,
Not theirs.

2.
On our street at Golden Pines,
Red lights flashing more often now:
We’ve been here 15 years.

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

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

Poetry Drawer: You Woo Me: Nostalgic: Lucia: The Lamp by Dr. Susie Gharib

You Woo Me

You speak of a coast that’s so pristine,
where the sand is decked with shells and pearls,
where the fish that venture into the air
are safe from spears and goring hooks.

There the trees that hum to the eager wind
have never been bled, or to fires fed
and nestlings whose parents fly all day long
are safe from fangs that crave for blood.

The ripples that lap its ancient rocks
know not the taste of flotsam or waste,
have never been whisked by engines whose grunts
can agitate the souls of the deep.

There I would romp with my shepherd dog
and walk barefooted along the bay,
and feed the dolphins as I do the swans
every urban but blessed weekend.

You woo me with a notion,
I scrutinize my map,
but startled wake up to the alarm clock:
my dog has been departed for over twelve months,
and your headstone is covered with ivy and moss.

Nostalgic

Castle Street,
the shop where I used to purchase my pint of milk,
the telephone booth that conjured up my next of kin,
the oldest house in Glasgow that nourished my medieval bent.

On Cathedral Street,
our window commanded an imposing view
of the historic cemetery where the gentry repose,
shielded by monuments of stone,
which are now a metaphor for tranquility and hope,
my shelter from a never-ending war;
the inn where I consumed my very first scone
with a Scot who wore no kilt
but was Celtic to the bone,
my very first friend in Glasgow.

Sauchiehall Street,
the window-shopping of gorgeous stores
the Glasgow Film Theatre whose exotic films enthralled
aided by John Doyle’s jellies and popcorn.

Lucia

She sat in a cage matted with wood shavings
opposite a cat who pranced with fright,
I wondered why he had placed them thus.

I was walking to escape our dose of darkness,
a three-hundred-minute power-cut,
periodically robbing evenings of work and fun.

A whimper then a scream of remonstrance
made me retreat to the very same spot
I always avoided with utter disgust.

With a stick, he was terrorizing his products:
rabbits, chickens, and all sorts of birds
to be docile and curb their wants.

I shun all dealings with whoever trades with lives,
but gazing into her eyes, I was utterly mesmerized,
a seven-month Loulou Spitz, mere merchandise.

He made me pay double the price she brought
for alarm was resonant in my voice
that had a pitch in the presence of abuse.

I called her Lucia, she brought me light.
Her name’s pronounced with the Italian tʃ sound
as in charming and cheering, the traits of my new friend.

The Lamp

The lamp that illuminated your pensive face,
kindling freckles that dot unadulterated benignity,
gilding the auburn that crowns your head,
rippling above a well-nurtured suavity,
cascading over your variegated lips,
suffusing wan cheeks with cordiality,
imbuing each iris with fiery rays,
redeeming each dilation from obscurity,
has been auctioned for sale.

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: Maverick by Ray Miller

Maverick   

She’s stubbed out her last cigarette,
we marvel that she managed it;
a sixty-a-day inveterate,
a Marlboro-mad smoking stick
who craved not only nicotine
and the repertoire of motions,
from hand to mouth and back again
essential to devotions,
but had augmented the habit
to flatten flames that burnt within,
by applying lighted nub-ends
to the stubbornness of skin;
to steady flight and cushion fall
and obviate oblivion;
to moderate the mercury
indifferent to Lithium.

She caught us glancing at her arms
for pale uneven patches,
rolled her sleeves and turned the palms,
her burns exchanged for slashes;
the scars of broken beer glasses,
scores of jewelled and jagged edges,
brooches, blades and coloured plastics,
crampons spiking every crevice.

At the weekly self-harm classes
we will sterilise her weapons
with a sigh at further damage
and an eye upon infections.
She plays the part of maverick
and scoffs at antisepsis,
seeks the tear of fraying fabric
and heightening of senses.
She’s courting her intrusive thoughts
when she doesn’t take the tablets,
like the thrill of sexual intercourse
without the prophylactics.

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

Poetry Drawer: Simple by Robert Allen Beckvall: Answer to Simple by Vera Wang

Simple by Robert Allen Beckvall

I have a simple life
A simple wife
A simple kid
Some simple strife

I like a simple meal
A simple book
A simple look into the workings of the USA

I have a simple outlook
A simple philosophy
And, simple friendships

Simple man, not simpleton
Simple mystery of life:
Be kind to all, and to all a good life

Answer to Simple by Vera Wang

The simple man has simple demands,
Get me a simple beer, and
Get me a simple bag of chips,
Get me some simple crackers, and
Some simple cheese!
Ah, a few more to add on,
How about some simple chocolate and simple ice cream?
“What, you are not?”
“All I ask is every Friday some G. D.
simple treats!!”
Why?
“Because I’m simply a simple man with these simple demands, and
If my simplest list is not fulfilled
I will simply yell and scream,
Amen!

Poetry Drawer: Dear Poem: A Letter to Tali: Untitled: Kohenet: It’s Almost a Decade Since: To My Father’s Surgeon: Sabbath by Tali Cohen Shabtai

Dear Poem

I offered congratulations from this morning to tomorrow
even though I was corrected regarding the date of birth.
How do I explain that a person
has no idea when
he will end his life this time around?

I write to my mother, my love for her
in the most unexpected moments
of tribute

how will I explain that perhaps it is the penultimate
greeting of a daughter to her mother before the present
cuts
the latter and not the resurrected midwife
from the year ’80
the umbilical cord between me
and her placenta and not to give birth
to me again? But to kill.

I look at my father and cry for another
twenty years or so
that he will not be here
I was ahead of the artist to “grow and sanctify her great name”
in the Kaddish prayer in the twilight hour in Sacker Park.
I shed a tear.

If you live in consciousness as I wrote
“God does not pass over life from man, as he does not
pass over death.”

You are the most miserable person there is, with such insight
you do not enjoy a single piece of bread and no
drink.
You are dead.

A Letter to Tali

There’s a whole world
waiting for you
around the darker
corner of life

in which
you are adept enough to sort clothes
of the same
ethnic group of
the black cloth
of your life.

If you hadn’t been a little better
than the decorations that would add
figurativeness

so as to decorate the rhetoric
of the black cloth of your life

I promise you that you would
get
to see
a star fall in the dark!

Untitled

I planted you, my love, I planted you
And how come what flowered was not what was planted/and the bearing did not yet give birth
What was born

How come what did not wane could be weakened
And on the other hand, the trouble is.

And only into my life they husked this mix
Of how and why, the slips I saved
From your eyes.

Kohenet

You are willing to come
To Jerusalem
Where I kill myself
Every single day –

You can’t live in a place
Where the Transfer is
Conceptually different
For you –

As much as you warned me
About America

Where people don’t realize
The difference between Poetry
And Song,

I want to go back to
Europe – where people live
By caricatures

You say you like Jews

You thought I came from
Those countries – where it is forbidden
To uproot
My Ghetto

So I am going to the hospital
What the hospital asks
Is one less lady
Who smiles.

It’s Almost a Decade Since

She saw you in the Irish pub that night
With your Japanese wife

Wearing westerly clothing
You held her Kimono
The one she hid

While she imposed the “Misogo”
Instead of the Mikve.

Her name the same as the Filipino
Domestic of my dead
Gramma

You know, many Jews died since
You left, more than Gentiles,
But you,
You are my best lesson
It is not forbidden to walk with an
Ilk of “Geishas”-

It was your best deal
To leave me alone, when I
First died in my
Twenties.

To My Father’s Surgeon

I’ve realized how it
works: It is announced that …
and it’s known all of a sudden! *

You know that suddenness has
an action plan that is comprehensive
and detailed – it’s
a strategy within itself.

When it (the suddenness) receives existence in a person’s
ears
it is experienced as a malicious trick indeed it has no
advance warning or alert before taking
action.
Did you know that I had to
dismantle this trick
of suddenness

On the 27th day of January, 2015
on the 10th floor
of hearts in question marks
under full anesthesia
and full monitoring
in waiting
very exact
for waiting for the
cardiology ward.

After all, the obvious suddenness
is no longer
understood
and has many consequences, it is the realization
that we are winning something that we
would not necessarily be entitled
to
when
my father is on the operating table
at a supervised temperature
at which
you bypassed the blockage with an
additional route
in his heart

and I could not
offer you assurances
at this time
my father!

And
I was to the Traveller’s Prayer
and the chorus in the Book of Psalms, from “Blessed is the Man”
and to
the verse
“And all that he does will succeed.”

Did you know
that I have connected to every special quality
for any trouble that may
come
obsessively?

And I was for every letter
of the letters of your name
in Psalms

and I searched for any mention in those hours
of heredity

Did you know that my father has three
daughters of wonderful Semitic beauty
will you recognize my father in them?
When you operated
with this suddenness on father.

And is charity not just a theological term
for gratitude
to be
considered –
please accept this (from me), surgeon!

*Heart bypass surgery, decided on within three days of detection!

Sabbath

When I don’t have cigarettes,
it determines my
Sabbath fate.

Nevertheless,
it all begins with a cigarette on
Sabbath
with an exhale just
before sunset
until the inhalation
the next day when the stars
emerge
with the blessing “That distinguishes between sacred and profane”

This is the most important day
to consume cigarettes, because the day when
God rested
from all his work is not an idea.

That every business is closed
in Jerusalem, even if they made
enough from tobacco
consumption during the week.

Really, there’s a woman for whom the cigarette is
her language
and the way she counts
in cigarette butts
corrects her phobia
with numbers.

I need a cigarette that does not exceed 10 centimeters and is no more than 7 millimeters in diameter
The effect of the nicotine substance found in tobacco on the human brain
inspires in me at the same time
the quality of writing on the Sabbath.

It should be seriously considered

that there are withdrawal
symptoms arising from a lack of
nicotine in the brain that is prevented from me
to contain them
when a person does not consume cigarettes
on the Holy Sabbath.

Accordingly, the biblical saying will come here that
“the Sabbath may be broken when life is at stake”

Should I silence any thirst
and adhere with the Creator blessed without
any adherence to an object
for an entire day?

Generally the week enters on the Sabbath.
For me? On Sunday.

Tali Cohen Shabtai is a poet born in Jerusalem, Israel. She began writing poetry at the age of six, an excellent student of literature. She began her writings by publishing her impressions in the school’s newspaper. Her poetry was published in a prestigious literary magazine of Israel ‘Moznayim’ when she was fifteen years old.

Tali has written three poetry books: Purple Diluted in a Black’s Thick, (bilingual 2007), Protest (bilingual 2012) and Nine Years From You (2018).

Tali’s poems express spiritual and physical exile. She is studying her exile and freedom paradox, her cosmopolitan vision is very obvious in her writings. She lived some years in Oslo, Norway and in the U.S.A. She is very prominent as a poet with a special lyric, “she doesn’t give herself easily, but subjects to her own rules”.

Tali studied at the David Yellin College of Education for a bachelor’s degree. She is a member of the Hebrew Writers’ Association and the Israeli Writers’ Association in the state of Israel.

In 2014, Tali participated in a Norwegian documentary about poets’ lives called “The Last Bohemian”- “Den Siste Bohemien”, which was screened in the cinema in Scandinavia. 

By 2020, her fourth book of poetry will be published, including Norway. Her literary works have been translated into many languages.

Poetry Drawer: Angels: No Place Like Home by Brian Edeki

Angels

Some are sent to watch us, and show us the path
Others are destroyers who will bring a certain wrath
Angels and demons, are said to be one and the same
One brings protection, the other brings suffering and pain
Anything is possible with a Guardian Angel by your side
But a demon will lead you to destruction through pride
We all need some extra help from the trouble life brings
From pauper, solider, nurse or drunken kings
An Angel will carry you when things are hard to bear
Alleviate any doubt, suspicion or fear
Climb the tallest mountain, survive the biggest fall
Angels help you when your back is against the wall
A Devil’s Angel on the other hand brings doubt in the ear
Causing you to panic, and act out of despair
Two sides of the coin, which one will you get
Will it be a loyal companion or a vicious pet?
Who knows how we are chosen, at random it seems
Do they come to us through deeds or dreams?
Majestic, beautiful Angels covered in loving grace
The destroying Angels also come with a loving face
Miracles and healing are an Angel’s gift
With their positive aura they give us a lift
But not all Angels fly and have wings
Descending from Heaven, above the cherub sings
There are earthly humans that have an Angelic nature
They live amongst us, but are guided by the creator
Willing to give their lives for the sake of others
And are not ruled by greed, or unfaithful lovers
An Angel in disguise that helps the poor and unwell
While other living Angels try to send souls to Hell

No Place Like Home

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle
From Liverpool, London, Manchester to Newcastle
Go around this world like Phileas Fogg in eighty days
Still you feel lost, like a wraith and stray
There’s no better place than where we call home
Mine is London, the home of the Millennium dome
Living in a palace may prove you have money
But I would rather be at home eating toast and honey
The smell of the sheets, my own pictures on the wall
Sit on the sofa, cook or shower, give a friend a call
A place to rest and escape the buzz of the city
I can stay in bed if I ever feel shitty
Play some Jazz, soul, rock and blues
Walk around naked if I drink too much booze

I’m not a rolling stone, don’t feel comfortable where my hat lays

And I get home sick after about ninety days
Dorothy walked the yellow brick road to get away
But there’s no place like home, she would say
Home is where the heart is constantly beating
Hot in the summer, cold in the winter, put on the heating
Our own island to escape the madding crowd
A place to feel happy and proud

Poetry Drawer: I Shall Not Want: Inspired: Firsthand: Fries with That: Conception by Dr Gale Acuff

I Shall Not Want

Jesus, He’s my Lord and Saviour, which means
that when I croak my body will, die that
is, but my soul will go to Heaven to
be judged and chances are I’ll get to stay
there, in Heaven I mean, for forever,
which means Eternity. At Sunday School
I’m the first to come and the last to go,
except for Miss Hooker herself, she’s our
teacher, and usually I beat her


there in the morning, too, and wait for her
Ford F-150 pickup, she’s driving
it, of course, and it’s red with lots of chrome,
real, not fake, kind of like Jesus Himself.
I sit there on the two-by-four and ply
-wood porch of our portable building, kill


time in the dark and by the time it’s time
for Sunday School the sun’s up, like Jesus
again, I guess, and when it’s time to go
the sun’s hotter and moving up the sky,
and when I wake from my afternoon nap
at home it’s as hot as it can be, at
least for summer. I know that God loves me
because I love Miss Hooker, and I want


to marry her when I’m old enough, not
10 like I am now but 18 maybe
to her then-33, that’s religion
for you, don’t ask me why, wait until I
start shaving and driving and my armpits
smell like compost piles. Bad, but not wicked

Inspired

After Sunday School today I proposed
to Miss Hooker, my teacher, marriage was
on my mind even though she’s 25
to my 10, it’s never too early to
make a promise and keep it but of course
she turned me down although she said she felt
flattered but one day when I’m older, much
older, I can come back and try again
so I said, Yes ma’am, thank you, and I hope
you’ll still be single then because I’d hate
to bust things up between you and your man

and she laughed and said, Yes, I’d hate for you
to have to
, and then I said goodbye but
before I could turn and walk out of our
portable building she bent over did
Miss Hooker, in my direction I mean,
her face I mean and kissed me on the cheek,
the left one but I’m right-cheeked for chewing


most of the time anyway unless it’s gum
and my jaw gets tired so I park my chew
on the other side and I almost asked
If I turn the other cheek would you kiss
that one, too
, which would’ve been biblical
and would’ve worked in my favor as well
so that Miss Hooker would remember that
I’m the man for her but instead I wiped
it off forgetting that might offend her
which it must’ve because she asked, Are
you wiping my kiss away, Gale
? so I
thought fast, it must’ve been inspiration,
the divine kind, that’s the kind that comes from
God, and answered, No ma’am, I’m rubbing it
in
, which saved me, so she kissed me again
and I kissed back but even though I missed
I came pretty damn close. That’ll teach her.

Firsthand

Miss Hooker is my Sunday School teacher
and the prettiest woman in the world,
even prettier than Mother–I hope
it’s not a sin to say so–even
though I haven’t seen every woman
in the world. I just believe in God and if
I believe that Jesus is His Son and
died for my sins and everyone else’s,
too, past, present, and future, then I’ll go
to Heaven when I die. I don’t want to
–die, I mean–but if I have to, and I
have to, then Heaven is the place to be
and not Hell, which is like being inside

a black car with black interior on
the hottest day of summer, the windows
rolled up and the car full of people and
we smell bad and all the doors are locked from
the outside and the windows are too thick
to crack and we can’t get out and that’s Hell
and it’s sure not for me. But if I sin
that’s what Hell will be like, Miss Hooker says,
not that she knows firsthand but that she knows
her Bible and goes to junior college
at night. And she has red hair and green eyes
and about a zillion freckles and that’s
just on the parts of her I can see so

who knows how many she’s got everywhere?
God knows–I can’t know because that’s a sin.
I wonder if Miss Hooker knows herself.
Probably. Maybe when she’s got spare time
she counts them and counts them again. I hope
she doesn’t lose count and then starts over.
Poor thing. I had a dream one night that she
was sleeping and somehow I was in her

room and took a crayon and connected
all those freckles like dots. I had to pull
back her bedsheet to do it and almost
woke her, it was pretty close, and then I
had to wait until she turned over so
I could finish the job and she looked just
a mess when I was through but I guess I
connected the dots the wrong way and made
the wrong picture. But I could try again
if she took a bath and washed ’em away

but that will be another dream and I
can never seem to dream the dream I want,
I only dream by accident, I guess.
So I’d rather go to Heaven and I
might die at any time so if I die
in sin it’s Hell for sure, so the best way
to protect myself is to marry her
when I’m old enough. I’m only 10 now
and she’s getting old, 25 I’d say,
so when I’m all grown up, 16 maybe
to her 31, then I’ll ask her out
and to save time because she won’t have much

left I’ll ask for her hand when I take her
home. I hope that I don’t dream tonight I
walk her home and say, Miss Hooker, may I
have your hand in marriage, Baby
, and she
uses one hand to pull the other off
and hands it to me. So sometimes I do
dream what I think about in daytime but
hardly ever what I really want and
I don’t want any nightmares because that’s
Satan trying to fool with me but if

I lie in bed after I say the Lord’s
Prayer and one for my dog and one for
my folks and one for Miss Hooker–I save
the best for last–and pretend I’m looking
right at her up there on my ceiling then
I’ll fall asleep with beauty on my mind
and dream about that, her gigantic face
looking down on me like I’m her baby
and me reaching up and mouthing Mama.
And if she bends to kiss me I’ll kiss first.

Fries with That

Grace Hooker is my Sunday School teacher.
Mother says her skirt’s too short but Father
disagrees. Oh no, he says–it’s just right.
Mother frowns and frowns. He doesn’t look back.
He keeps staring straight ahead. In the rear
-view mirror I can see him trying not
to smile. We’re on our way home from chowing

Sunday lunch at the Buffeteria.
I saw Miss Hooker there with her boyfriend.
Or maybe her brother. I’m not sure. I
hope he’s her brother because I love her
and want to marry her. Oh sure, she loves
her brother, too, if that’s who he is, but
that’s a different kind of love so I

still have a chance, a wee one, to woo her
–she’s a lot older, at least 25
to my 10. So I’ve been praying like hell
–like heck, I mean–every night that God
will shave the difference off our ages
down at least a bit so that when I’m old
enough, say 16, to date her, she’ll be
only 20 and then I’ll have a shot.

I’ll borrow Father’s car and pick her up
–it’s Mother’s, too, but she doesn’t drive. And
she won’t sit as far away from me as
Mother sits from Father, no sir–she’ll sit
plumb next to me. I’ll have my arm around
her and her head will rest on my shoulder
and I’ll steer with my left hand, which is free,
and just two fingers, maybe, like Elvis
does in his movies. I’ll sing like him, too.
After supper we’ll go to the show, then

to the drug store for hot fudge sundaes,
then to the back of the drug store to look
at the comic books. Look–Wonder Woman,
I’ll say. I didn’t know you had your own
comic book. She’ll like that. She’ll laugh and blush.
Look, she’ll say–Superman. Just like you.
But I’m looking for Batman so I guess
I’ll buy him and some chocolate-covered
cherries for her, and then I’ll take her home

and we’ll sit on the porch with her brother
until he starts yawning and goes inside.
Then we’ll sit on the porch swing and we’ll look
into each other’s eyes until we feel
a kiss coming on and we’ll close them tight

to meet it. Smack. I guess I’d better go,
I say. Oh no, she says–it’s early yet.
I’m sorry, Darling, I say, but I’ve got
school tomorrow. Oh, I forgot, she says.
Gotcha, I say–tomorrow’s Saturday,
and we laugh and laugh and I don’t get home
until at least 9:30. Hello, son,
my parents say. Did you have a good time?
Yes, I say–I had the time of my life.

At the Buffeteria I have steak. It’s
the best part of the cow. And french fries and
apple pie. Mother and Father light their
cigarettes and I wave the smoke away
but I’m not too disgusted. Father asks
What did you learn from Miss Hooker today?
Sin’s bad, I say, and, Have a lot of faith.
That’s good advice, Mother says. Yes, it is,
says Father. Yep, I say. I can’t tell them

I love her because I’m afraid they’ll laugh
at me–I can’t tell them what I pray for.
That would be like betraying Miss Hooker
but I’m not sure why. We’re just a secret
that we don’t exactly share. Love’s like that.

Conception

I don’t know anyone who loves me
like Miss Hooker, my Sunday School teacher,
unless it’s God but somehow He doesn’t
count, He’s way beyond me. Sure, He loves me
but so do my parents but somehow they
don’t rate much either, God bless ’em, they’re too
busy with jobs and each other and they
can’t give me what I want and neither can
God–well, He can but He doesn’t care to,
I guess. He never answers my prayers
and I have better luck with Santa Claus
though only once a year but that’s ten times
the luck I have with God. Probably more.
There’s my dog but he has the excuse that
he isn’t even human and maybe
God isn’t, either, but Miss Hooker says

that I was created in His image,
and every other person, too, so
maybe He’s confused with all the people
He’s created, He can’t keep ’em straight so
to be fair to everybody He won’t
answer any prayers and if He did
so for everybody He wouldn’t
have much power anymore, we’d all be
gods. That is, I guess He created me,
I don’t know where else I could’ve come from,
but I’m just 10 and have a right to be
ignorant, forget I’m in the fourth grade
and not exactly stupid, there’s just not
much in my head now. All I have is heart.
I think maybe I came from my parents
but I’m not sure and when I ask them

they either smile or grimace. If I ask
on Friday nights they look at each other
and maybe Father will say, Well, well, well,
wouldn’t you like to know, which means he won’t
tell me. Then he winks at Mother and I
look at her fast and she’s blushing, staring
at her hot dog like she’s never seen meat
before. And if I ask on Sunday through
Thursday sometimes he answers the moon, or
I dunno, or I wish to Hell I knew,
or look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls,
but we use Comptons and they don’t tell me,
(continued / no stanza break)
or under a rock in the River Nile
but even I know that’s far, far away.
I asked Miss Hooker once and she told me

to ask my folks and I said I did but
they won’t tell me and I’m starting to think
that they don’t know but are too embarrassed
to confess it. She laughed. I’m not sure why.
I prayed to God about it but struck out.
I’d do better just to ask my dog and
I’ll be he knows but he can’t speak people,
only dog, which I don’t know. Cat neither
but we don’t have one of those anyway.
Miss Hooker’s an old lady, 25
I’d guess. When I grow up I’ll marry her
no matter that she’ll be older, too. Ask
me if I care. I don’t. When I’m her age

she’ll be 40, which is pushing death but
we could have a few good years together
and maybe even a few babies and
if I don’t know the skinny by then she
can fill me in and then maybe I’ll learn
how I was put together, too. I have
a clue or two: it helps to be married
and sleep in the same bed in the dark and
have the door shut, even locked, like my folks
do, and I think they even put something
over the keyhole so I can’t see in,
which I don’t. No, that’s a sin and a lie

–I tried to but all I saw was darkness.
And maybe you turn the radio on.
And maybe you giggle and sigh and moan
and then light cigarettes. I smell the smoke
clear up to my attic bedroom. Then you
whisper for a while and then you snore and
your wife goes to the bathroom and when she
comes back she wakes you up, or tries to. And
as near as I can figure, that’s how I
happened. I wish I could remember but
I was awfully young then. Smarter, too.

Dr Gale Acuff taught English university courses in the US, China, and Palestine. He has been published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, Slant, Poem, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and has authored three books of poetry, all from BrickHouse Press: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives.

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

Poetry Drawer: Calliphora Vomitoria (Blue Bottle) by Elizabeth Chell

In a fluid string of sun, she basks.
Spreads her iridescent cape that winks
Blue, green, blue.
She stirs. Swivels her eyes with a deft
Swipe of a cleft limb. Listens. Stops. Struts
And turns. Poised.
Intently inclines her head and waits –
Antennae astutely tuning in
Tasting vibes.
She shakes and gathers her virgin shawl,
Now exquisite enough to entice.
She dances,
Her inner rhythm stirs, and stresses-
Now is the time to tease her stockings.
So, she twists,
Pulls, strains and combs six appendages.
Preens hairs left, right, methodically.
Spittle on
Forelimbs, flannel and polish her head,
Probes her proboscis, picks it tidy.
Silently,
The shaft of light switches, her feet tap
Out the tempo of her nuptial dance
and she’s off.
A parting shimmer and buzz of aqua
Surfs the tide of sun, and exits through
the window.

Elizabeth Chell is currently studying for an M.A. in Creative Writing at Leicester University. Elizabeth thinks flies are beautiful and scary at the same time. They underpin the eco system and pollinate on a wider scale then bees. They keep our planet clean.

Poetry Drawer: The Machine: Yarbles: Missa Solemnis by Neil Fulwood

The Machine

(after R.S. Thomas)

I doubt science fiction
had much of a place
on bookshelves reserved
for the philosophical,
the theological, the poetic.
Austere works, works
for the mind and soul
to wrestle with, not always
in support of each other.

And yet you saw it,
brutal and destructive
as any tripod, any
fighting machine, any
alien force, striding
across valley and hillside
like a pylon latched
to the service of the Other:

the machine – inhuman,
unstoppable, the very
non-soul of technology,
stamping over farmstead
and chapel and centuries
of things done in a quieter
more Godly manner.

The machine, cables
like tendrils, its brain
subdividing thought
through venomous strings
of code that know nothing
of mystery.

Yarbles

But what if I put it this way:
you listen carefully
to what the Minotaur has to say
about benefits, holiday

entitlements, index-linked
pension, reward scheme,
every word falling to the clink
of chains, the screams

of untold millions before you
who believed the spin.
Seeing through it, would you
sign on the dotted line,

go all in and learn to love
the labyrinth, embrace
its endless switchbacks? Of
course not! You’d place

your kneecap where it hurts,
leave the Minotaur
to his just (and crushed) deserts,
blow the joint for

anywhere without an HR team,
one to ones, peer reviews.
Resign, walk out, live the dream.
Nothing’s stopping you.

Missa Solemnis

Interior lights extinguished, signboard
bullishly insisting ‘NOT IN SERVICE’,
you’re tearing this single-decker
through the midnight streets, discharged
of passengers and running light.

All that’s left of your shift is the small ritual
of rolling into the depot; leaving
the vehicle on the pump. The small ritual
of walking across the yard, hi-viz on,
rucksack slung over one shoulder, dodging

rainbow flecked spills of fuel or detergent;
the small ritual of filing the running card
in the appropriate slot, of dropping
any lost property in the overnight safe.
And that’s you done. Trudge back

to the car park, drive the fifteen minutes home,
fall into a made or unmade bed. Lie awake
for a while, mind ticking over. The yard hands
are still at it, putting the last few buses –
the night owl shuttles – through the wash bay,

lining them up in place for their few-hours’-time
run out. The cleaners are scooping up
the litter, the scrunched tickets. The yard
is a counterpoint of light and shadow.
Silence threads the streets surrounding the depot.

Neil Fulwood was born in Nottingham, England, where he still lives and works. He has published two collections, No Avoiding It and Can’t Take Me Anywhere. His third collection, Service Cancelled, is due for publication later this year.