Poetry Drawer: Nuked by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

She finally moved from Fukushima
fled its failed, toxic nuclear plant
I wasn’t close to her,
don’t want to be close to her

I get nervous when she moves toward me, arms wide
with a smile unnaturally bright
like the ladies who painted radium on watch dials
and licked their brushes to keep them pointy

I don’t want to love her
don’t want to be inside her
No means no

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. His new poetry collection was published in 2019, The Arrest of Mr Kissy Face. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

More work from Mitch, including his Inky Interview here.

Poetry Drawer: Dual by Christopher Johnson

Ancient stump with brown pine needles sprinkled on the forest floor.
No sign of the trunk and canopy that was once rooted
Through and by this humble stump.
Further ahead, a hickory stands like granite.
Around its crooked and askew trunk winds a vine,
Embracing the hickory.
The vine is splayed, its fingers fly out
Like the digits of a child touching the air.
To my left, a white pine, the monarch of trees,
Massive and straight and soaring to untold and mythical heights.
Directly in front of me, two trees,
Soldered together like conjoint twins.
Are they/is it one tree
Or two?
Do they nourish each other?
Sprinkling the forest floor,
White flowers as delicate as spiderwebs.
Lazy in the sun that bleaches the air.
The breeze is gentling,
Touching my skin like a breath.

Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. 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, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines. In 2006, the University of New Hampshire Press published his first book, This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains. His second book, which he co-authored with a prominent New Hampshire forester named David Govatski, was Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forests, published by Island Press in 2013 .

Poetry Drawer: Four Poems by Samantha Terrell

Our Children

Our children,
Who art of future generations,
May your lives be blessed,
Your dreams fulfilled,
Your hearts content for now and ever after.
Forgive us our socio-political mistakes and the work it will require of you,
As we must forgive our own parents and previous generations.
Do not be led into the temptations of hatred and hypocrisy,
But deliver yourselves from the paths of injustice and inequity.
For your children’s kingdom
Depends upon what you leave to them.

Revealing

The life I thought I’d have,
But wasn’t it at all,
Became as much a surprise to me
As tulips in the fall,

That odd expectancy
Of unanticipated pregnancy.
Or, life bled from a story
As from humanity’s great vein.

A blanket was unfolded
To find, instead, a tapestry.
And, I didn’t so much unfold it,
As stop preventing it being opened.

Torn Photo Legacies

Towards the end,
You were tearing up photos
When we came to visit you,
Bring you chicken from your favourite restaurant,
Brew you coffee in the machine
We gave you for Christmas.

We asked you why you tore them.
You had a guilty look, but a realistic reply.
“No one wants them. I don’t have anyone left.” It was true.
What were we to you?
Family, yes, in a sense – but not relatives.
We don’t know anyone
Who knew who you once knew.

But, then again,
Breaking bread with you
Alongside our children
Was always more important
Than whomever you once
Broke bread with.

Mourning the Future

Children cry for many reasons
That adults ponder for many seasons
As they cry too
To understand
The tears of babes,
The punishments of man.

Freshly birthed, departed
From all that’s known, unaware of all that’s started
The healthiest
Newborn cries,
As mournfully as a parent
Who sees their grown child die.

Parents and children are separated
Because of politicians who have long loved to hate
The poor,
Vulnerable, and innocent,
While inculcating
Policies of ignorance.

Yet crying fails us.
Or does it? It may not solve what ails us.
But it expresses
A need,
For acknowledgment,
Making demands for a future we must heed.

Samantha Terrell is an American poet whose work emphasizes social justice and emotional integrity. Her poetry has been published in a variety of chapbooks and journals, including:  Algebra of Owls, Dissident Voice, Dove Tales by Writing for Peace, the Ebola chapbook by West Chester University (PA), Knot Magazine, Lucky Jefferson, Peeking Cat Poetry, Poetry Quarterly and others. Raised in the American Midwest, Samantha and her family now reside in Upstate New York.

Poetry Drawer: Piper At The Gates Of Dawn: The Fencers : Matins by Phil Wood

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn

True, back then, he was a foolish fellow
– mind lost in mazes, avant garde for fame.
The dawn he heard those warblers singing in
the willow wood ended his foppish ways.

He let his lyrics amble, breathed the songs
within the trees, came to the river bank.
The pipes of Pan unstrung his childhood pages.
He saw Ratty and timorous Mole rowing.

He waved to them. Badger, Badger, they called.
Badger he became. A life of black and white.

The Fencers

His habits build a fence with hammer and nail,
unplugged rhythms gives pulse to purpose.
He pins the wood as if it were untamed.
a greening thirst rooted in earth. His son
thinks him daft, hungers for things electric.
Time is money, he mutters to himself,
scoffing the bara brith his mum had made.
Cake defeats him. Binds the beat of his heart.

Matins

The stoop of cloud broods
a hunchbacked cumulus. Work beckons.

Slowly drying she switches on
another humming light

and mumbles along flowery margins
tying curtains that thread

to rituals of waking with tea
and toast and thick cut marmalade.

Repeating and rehearsing and repeating
will map the muddle of intentions

but she swims the waves with mermaids
long after the breakfast hour.

Phil Wood studied English Literature at Aberystwyth University. He has worked in statistics, shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, most recently in: Fly on the Wall Press (Issue 6), Ink Sweat and Tears, Poetry in Public, Poetry Shed, Allegro.

Poetry Drawer: Sisters of the Cement by Christian Garduno

Line of Demarcation

She stood naked at the hotel window
God stuck to the roof of her mouth
the dying bury the dead while Stukas dive-bomb overhead
remembering mid-morning along the banks of the Rhine
Hunnish maidens sleep-dancing while Czechoslovakia re-disappears
I told you- there’s no point in waiting for me-
& you, you had red eyes like a Japanese sunrise
Tanks stuck in the snow

It used to be that when the phone rang, it was you
and if it didn’t ring, well, I knew it wasn’t you at all

Sharing oilcakes in Sarajevo-
Elenita, aren’t you a little bit drunk?
tiny angels swirling- how many close calls can one soul have?
(I was hoping you would know)
Chewing on coffee grounds- nothing goes to waste out here
seems like the world was just going through the motions
I love you when you sing that song
it lets me pretend it really hasn’t been that long

Yelena, years ago I should have known you
You are an exception even to the exception
I’m sorry, she whispered again, one thousand summers I’ll wait
”Well, DON’T!!!,” I yelled
“I have always loved you,” she reminded me,
“Baby, you’re white like snow, I’m white like a cloud
…..I will never stop smiling on you.”

Count to One

Don’t wanna walk past your house because you might just be home
maybe I send my drone, just to check things out-
I can tell when you’re not in town and it makes this city sadder
your songs have become my songs
can’t un-ring the bell, can’t send ‘em back
you got me like an angel coming down like hell
it’s been so long since I’ve lost touch
One of these days, I’m going to take your picture down
You know your love is a morning glory at midnight

Watching the rain glow
I’m all brokenhearted since the day we started
making eyes
I’m so broke down, mixed up since the day we met up
meeting eyes
And it starts all over again tomorrow
everything that was already over yesterday
The nights get so strange when memories rearrange
I’m gonna tear down all the stars for reminding me-
So slow & suddenly

Getting time for a new star
well, as long as I’m staring off into space-
bouncing and balancing between Satellites
    Jumping off the deep ends of ships
all headed further East,
   upward and onward unto Tibet
to settle a debt with my old mind
fly out to Berlin with a new kind
A strange day started in a strange way
Now I know the next time I live a life
every-time I close my eyes
I’m gonna see the light
and everyday you know
We lovers of the soul

Past Perfect

And for the first time
makes me wish I had a soul to pray for-
must have been that wine at 5 this morning-
must have been because I knew you were leaving for the coast this evening-
Catching a train to a star, I know you are

but all men unfaithful
and all children ungrateful

I’m thinking you’ll make out alright in your new life
you’re just past…you’re just past perfect
makes me for the first time wish I had a soul to pray with-
So then I could pray for your safe return

Edge of Never

Starting at the beginning will ever do any good
lemme tell ya, honey
we were spending too much time insane but just not doing it together
cuts and bruises and chipped teeth to boot,
I fired you off a letter from the Maricopa Station
and it showed in the dream I had of you in Phoenix
I had to move down in-to the country just to try to shake you off
that morning, I woke up with a letter from you on my bed
your letters always smell like the beach
I mean, not the beach, but the sand in the wind
when it’s in your hair, on the beach-

your handwriting burned on me like a gloomy humid sun
I replied in Cheyenne on my way drifting North
I found the Continental Divide a proper description of us-
why, I had to leave the country just to try to shake you off a bit
Vancouver nights by the Pacific had me wondering & wandering again
so I slid back down the coast and with all my great timing, I missed my connection
and did not get to see you
So the arc took me back out to the desert once again
this time, your letter was waiting for me
and me, I was absolutely beaming

I slept with the photo you sent me
I lit tiny fires in my afternoon room
and I spent a mighty long time in that haze
all the lights went foggy and then one early evening
the very moment I began to miss you less- you called
“I’m sorry for being sad…I’m feeling better now…”

I been back & forth, across this galaxy
oh, that very very first night we met….
I really found my new love…
I guess that was our naïveté
but I still like to think about it sometimes
oh, and my, how from time to time
I wish I hadn’t burned all your letters, yknow
well, not all of them…I still have the first note
still sandy breeze
mademoiselle,
even to this day.

Stars Burnt

Stars burnt too close to the sun
clouds looking to raise a little dust
the snow in summer has no place to fall
just like when you’ve no words & I’m the number you call
you’re like a full moon at high noon
I spent the whole season swimming in your room…
a ghost looking for a little action, I know the feeling
I’m not begging, but I’m certainly kneeling

Steal me some roses
from a neighbour’s side-yard
I don’t mind the thorns, baby
when I’m crushing so hard

Stars so dirty, they turn straight to ice
clouds act so innocent
when their lightning strike twice
and all their sleet, just can’t wait for fall
you’ve no more colours, only my number to call
must have been some kind of eclipse
when you brushed passed my lips

So go steal me some roses
I don’t care whose yard
no, I can’t push you back
when you come on so hard

Christian Garduno lives and writes along the South Texas coast, balancing between Forensic Files and Moscow Mules. 

Poetry Drawer: On the Wings of the Morning by Fred Miller

Straddling a divide between snafu and turmoil,
We dare to risk lessons on these people.
Ducking ambush, fierce and endless,
We kick doors and search in frustration.
Then race the moon to new vistas,
Where we counsel and seed hope with promise.
Amid chaos we coach, build visions,
And endure where insanity reigns.
What epic duty remains to carry this mission to fruition,
A day, a fortnight, a year or more?
How we ache to move out with character and honor.
We’ve sowed this land with spirit, compassion, and blood.
Oh, how we yearn, on the wings of the morning, to go home.

Fred Miller is a Californian writer. His first poem was selected by Constance Hunting, the New England Poet Laureate in 2003. Over fifty of his poems and stories have been published around the world.

Poetry Drawer: Trowel by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

I asked Princess Di to dance
She was biking across the heath
in a glum mood

wearing an expression
that might have suited
Thomas Hardy

In fact, she would have taken up my offer
She would have danced with me
Who knows what else she might have done?
what we would have done together

But a tornado had blown down Windsor Castle
and she had to hurry back
to make repairs

I saw a trowel in her bicycle basket
caked with cement
I knew that besides being a princess
she had many other skills
and here
was still more evidence

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. His new poetry collection was published in 2019, The Arrest of Mr Kissy Face. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Read more of Mitch’s work on Ink Pantry

Poetry Drawer: A line from Catherine Deneuve: The Pound Cantos CENTO V: J7 on the selection list: The doors by Mark Young

A line from Catherine Deneuve

I live way out. It gets real
quiet. Little random adjust-
ments have been made to
keep me there, & filmed in

one continuous shot. People
in these small municipalities
often pass the time in strange
mixes of activities — juggling

chain saws while wearing a
two-piece bathing suit is a not
unusual example. The culture
can be different even when it

stays the same. This book was
company for me; but the suits
I wear when I work in major
cities would cause division here.

The Pound Cantos: CENTO V

Sound drifts in the evening haze,
North wind nips on the bough;
& in small house by town’s edge—

slung like an ox in smith’s sling—
now was wine-trunk here stripped,
here made to stand, stilling the ill

beat music. A young man walks,
grave incessu, at church with
galleried porch, drinking the tone

of things. Brown-yellow wood,
& the no-color plaster, all flat on
the ground now, making mock of

the inky faithful. When you take
it, give me a slice. A poet’s ending.

J7 on the selection list

Today, again, it is The Supremes
who propel me into the morning.
An interwoven medley, Love Child
& Reflections, no reason for that
particular pairing — it’s just
the way of things, the past, un-
bidden, rising up to push the
hidden jukebox of the mind along.

The doors

Everything
has continuity; though the
light changes shapes
& some things resonate
with memory whilst
others stay silent
in the hand. Each
has a number.

*

Grasp as in
within. With-
out. The door
open, the doors
closed. The way
picked through. The
detritus is a picked-
over poem. Number
unencumbered,
the writing
not the same.

*

To find the expression
first design the primer.
Sequence. Consensus.
Homogenous percentage.

*

There are things scattered
around the door. Pieces
of glass in different
colours, paper wasted
since the writing’s
all the same. A couple
of statues, one stained
with blood. Bowler
hats piled up on
top of one another.

*

Two doors beyond.

*

Everything might be
remembered in time
but it’s the linkages
& the lack of space to
keep them near that
make it difficult.

*

Memory is not linear.
Straight lines are
for planning a future
where you write
yourself preliminary
notes & leave them
in strategic places. So
that, whenever it is
you arrive at where
you were going you
can open them up &
see what was penned,
then compare it with
what actually hap-
pened along the way.

*

Everything
has contiguity; though the
night changes shades
& some things emanate
from memory whilst
others shape themselves
within the hand. None
has a number
greater than one.

Visual & text poems by Mark Young have appeared recently in several journals including Indefinite Space, E·ratio, X-Peri, Word for/Word, & Futures Trading.

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

Poetry Drawer: I Lost: No Victor: Poem # 226: A Plucked Flower: There is all over the world by John Tustin

I Lost

I lost my God
And my faith
In this world

I lost my reason
And my will
And my books
And my children
And the woman
I love and still
I never gained

Insight

No Victor

Prostrate in the bed we used to share
On a Sunday night
Staring at all the nothing
And thinking about how swell life was
For those too brief interludes
Between the disasters
When you would hold me so close
And I could feel your heart beat

Wondering what you’re doing now
Since you broke my heart in two
And disappeared with my light
And my hope

Just then the phone rings
Just like it used to
When you’d make your
“Sorry I’m calling so late”
Phone calls

My heart mends for a moment
And I answer it
Not knowing what I will say
But screaming I Love You
I need your voice
In my mind
As my pulse pounds
In my ears

I answer the phone
And when the man on the line
Asks to speak to Victor
I tell him he has the wrong number
Because there is definitely no victor here

And there never will be

Poem # 226

Just as I was ready for her –
Her feet upon my rug,
Her body in my bed,
Her coffee smells in my nose,
The way her upper lip looks when she sips;

Her positivity, her proclivities,
Her anger when drunk,
Her endless enigmas…

Just as I was ready for her
She was not ready for me
In spite of how long
We both waited

So here’s another poem about that.

A Plucked Flower

I refuse to be a plucked flower
That is pulled from the ground,
Clipped, sprayed to look shiny
And put in a bouquet or garland

With the others.

There is all over the world

There is all over the world,
but I live here.
There are these millions of women everywhere,
but here I am with you.
And I have this job,
and I raise these kids,
and I eat this food you place
before me.

I come and I go
with each tide of chance,
every ripple of circumstance.

There is all over the world,
but I die here.

More poetry by John Tustin on Ink Pantry

John Tustin’s poetry

Poetry Drawer: Dead Cow on Route 5 During a Pandemic by Corey D. Cook

It had been dragged to the edge of the field,
now just a mound inside the barbed wire

fence, the windowed panel of a wedding tent
draped over it, failing to hide the mottled coat,

bloated body, as I drive by in the northbound lane,
following the saturated bank of the Connecticut

River, thinking of those whose lungs have become
wet sponges, who are slowly drowning, dying alone.

Corey D. Cook’s fifth collection of poems, The Weight of Shadows, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019 and is available for purchase online. His work has recently appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Freshwater, The Henniker Review, The Mountain Troubadour, Trouvaille Review, and Viscaria Magazine. New poems are forthcoming in the Aurorean and Muddy River Poetry Review. Corey works at a hospital in New Hampshire and lives in Vermont.