Poetry Drawer: Burying the Chimera by Daya Bhat

I break open the hourglass
release the silence of eons
grain by grain.
So slow the fall of passive echoes.
Look what eons of defying gravity does!
Losing touch of the shore.

The tectonics shift left
shift right . . . squirm for air.
Orchestrate a wave show.
Horseshoe clouds
now here, now gone.

Not knowing
to belong or not to
they build their own orbit.
Like the rings of Saturn
all ice and rocks
buffering on a loop.

Daya Bhat has authored two books of poetry. Her free verse, short poetry and short fiction appear in a number of journals. You can find her art, poetry and musings on WordPress and Instagram.

Poetry Drawer: School Bus: Fifth Grade: The Day I Got My Timing Down: Kissed-Off: Français Firsts by D. R. James

School Bus

When its arched brow rises
from behind the country hill,
snub-nosed, a grin
for a grill, you remember
you’re in second grade.

There’s Cindy’s old yellow dog
feigning outrage at your passing van,
his bark and lunge petering
to that bored, panting trot.
And there the synod
of grammar schoolers wrestling
lunchboxes into a line,
reinventing the rituals, the
hierarchies, the variations
of elemental courtship.

There the oil-rosy puddles
in rutted gravel,
the soaked toes, knots
of gossiping daffodils, tufts
of too enthusiastic grass,
the bristles smudged in sage and mustard
along the far edge of fields.

When you top the hill
you know you’ll see the bus swing
a backward right in your mirror, right
onto the main road, so
you lean, small-palm
the cracked leatherette,
grasp the memory of cool steel
framing the seat ahead,
all your uncertain world
still straddling the smeared window
slid halfway down.

The same low sun stuns you
when you glance back, forward, run
your times-nines, wheel left
and head for school.

Fifth Grade

As I flew into town
that first time, leaning over
the gull-winged sweep
of the handlebars, the burn in my
pudgy, mad-pumping thighs,
told me I was fast, was
free, was finally entering
the my country ’tis of thee
we’d all been singing,
sweet land of weekend-
playground liberty.
That mile I’d never ridden
was a hundred miles,
the fresh fall breeze speed itself,
as those fat tires
snarled through dunes
of shoulder gravel and
eddies of falling leaves.
When I jumped the curb
onto the school’s front sidewalk
town kids, exotic friends named
Cindy, Billy, Darlene, and Gary,
were already gathered, long
unchaperoned, at ease,
their pre-adolescences already
underway, their slow turn
toward my approach blasé
as I came skidding into
that newest of my old
neighbourhoods of memory.

The Day I Got My Timing Down

It was in that phase of pure
sarcasm, midteens, when guys
work out an awkward stance,

work their pack’s patter
’til they maybe have it. I don’t
really remember the day but

the single-moment wonder of hitting
my first come-back just right
by accident, then their free, true

laughter, my perfect follow-up,
the never looking back. From there
a career: from Senior Class Clown

to smooth talker in any crowd to
flip teacher spinning lit to wordsmith
chiseling chin-up come-backs

to the tin-clad sarcasms
every life dishes out as it
disarms or drops you or

leaves you hanging, slamming
its clanging locker door in your
gullible, stuttering face.

Kissed-Off

Lord knows I’m a voodoo chil’.

                        —Jimi Hendrix

Until that night a girl
had only kissed me. Not I
a girl. I was fifteen and for

over a year Jimi’d been telling me
he was a voodoo chil’, yeah,
and I wasn’t. No moon

had turned a fire red,
and not one mountain lion
had found me waitin’. Now

I was going with Sue,
at whose Midwest harvest party
I’d do the kissing. Nervous

and showing it, acting
distractedly, voice shaking,
our friends milling, I knew

it was a now-or-never situation,
even though I’d never ever
and didn’t really know. Giddy

and ridiculous, we slid into
the stairwell, out of range
of her parents in the kitchen,

the kids below: the outskirts
of our infinity
… We made eyes.
We made small talk. But all I

could think about was making
my move. (If only I’d had a
Venus witch’s ring.) Then inching

my arm and small-talking her
a little more, I aimed my face
and kissed her! And oh, Lord,

the gypsy was right: amazing
and no big deal at once. So we
kissed again (Lord knows I

felt no pain) and for three months
flew on as make-out fiends until
she dropped me for my best friend

at her party for my sixteen-and-
been-kissed birthday. And I fell
downright dea-ea-ead
.

Français Firsts

             —for Priscilla

After all your dainty tales from la rue
du Tel-ou-Tel, so many elegant snippets
de la Rive Comme Ci, Comme Ça—Oui,
I am forever sheepish I never made it

to Par-ee (sauf une gare on the outskirts,
eurailing toward Luxembourg, which was
all but fermé for the Halloween weekend).
But though now you could easily keep me

down on any farm, France in swah-sohn-canz?
Oh là là! —my version of the proverbial
semester abroad, and where un nouveau me
must’ve definitively begun. Par exemple,

near Nice, absorbing the glowing Côte d’Azur
then tour-busing by Monaco for Menton,
out one route en corniche and back another,
long before my paltry français could surface

fast enough to prattle with my teacher’s kids.
But un début—and it would take me only four
more largely lonely months to pass myself off
as a less evident américain, with at least

a decent accent to show for it, my being
the yoghurt-eating, knows-little sophisticate
I’d become. It would be two decades before
Starbucks blitzed very many Midwest cities,

so old Grenoble’s where the cafés and bistros,
wines finer than Boone’s Farm, addicted me
to a fresh perspective, to une idée de moi-même
transcending tackle football, college fraternity,

and culture as country rock. Granted, all
the exotic side-trips did make a difference:
that disorienting week in Warsaw (still
dictatorial), those goose-steppers in Chopin’s

park; the overnighter (avec les trois femmes!)
to Italy; Geneva on weekends; Christmas
on the Bodensee (which made me certain I’d
learn German for my Überlingen girlfriend

before Italian for those gorgeous Florentines.)
But en France? So seul? And working steadily
on the concept of an inner life? It was la
première fois that I knew I knew abnormally

nothing—and that I no longer wanted to. On
the vigntième floor of my international dorm,
some inside switch had somehow gotten flipped.
Souddainement, ancient history was interesting,

the future a matter for my contemplation, my
ignorance a currency I hoped to leave behind,
exchanged for novels in two languages and grand
prospects for actually using my mind. By winter

I could’ve stayed on through spring. And by spring,
back home again and left to reconnoitre, I began
that retrospective cataloguing that deepens
one’s appreciation—such as how a shy, petite

‘teep’ from Japon and a bold, femme noire from
La Côte d’Ivoire could intersect via moi via anglais;
or how tinny, small-car traffic is more romantic
in memory; or how geraniums are la plus rouges

à Chambéry, a few blues uniquely Mediterranean,
and no whites colder than novembre over Mont Blanc.
Or how some French are rich, canadien, but also
poor, arabe, c’est à dire, algérien. And how

my world seemed now to be le monde.

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. Recently retired from college teaching, James lives with his wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan, USA.

Poetry Drawer: Egg: Darkness: Resilience: Declaration: Fish: Chain: Child by Allison Grayhurst

Egg

Periwinkle garden,
flowers folded
into a dumpling.

I sit on the bottom floor
of a blessing
before it builds and blooms,
before its face has distinction,
expression, perfect individuality.

Low ache of forming,
wandering cold plains, over icy lakes
through dead forests and caves.

Almost ripe,
platelets connecting, composing
a singular solid substance. Then

out of the egg and into the vast ocean,
forward, shell collapsing, imploding, out
free-riding, embodying
a fully sufficient infant form.

Darkness

Darkness heavy as a hunter’s
footsteps, as a sermon
up the sleeve, offered like
a ripe strawberry covered in ants.

Darkness like the green
on a last slice of bread
or the dome of pollution that mutes
Earth from the zodiac hymns.

Darkness that binds
thumbtacks to the temples,
smokes weed everyday through
a mousehole piece of glass,
dirty as a campfire after the fire
or a marriage after infidelity.

Darkness as a shell, hardness
masquerading as strength, terrors
of complexities, moral confusion
and the allotment of grief that mushrooms
in tiny pockets here, here, until all greenery
is overcome with fungi and poisonous fruit.

Darkness that says
‘I have a right, for my heart is broken
more than any other heart has been broken, and then
there is the boredom!’

Darkness that holds no peace, no joy in just breathing,
makes up myths and ceremonies to blast out
the darkness, flaking at the core.

Darkness I am done with your engulfing disease,
your canopy wings, trickery, making me believe
there is rest and safety in your shade.
I lay down my fossils and my weeping.

Darkness sticks out its tongue,
builds idols and wins the air.
Darkness, I blow you over
and when I am blown over,
I will offer no resistance.

Resilience

Violet-hue star of mighty purity,
a fixed point, directly overhead, anointing,
a release from the symbiotic purgatory-fold,
from the loop fire enduring coil
and the billowing dead land once before me.

I will build a bonfire and dance
under this eight-billion-year-old star,
no longer held hostage by what I know,
inevitable observations, time turned to stone,
locked in one position, dammed to have no meaning,
no longer trapped in a rippling tremble, continuous
and static state.

I will lean into this bright gathering,
translating the bursting floral mastery
of endless constellations, keeping my height,
keeping my mind, ready to engage
in a divine exchange, discourse.

Declaration

The declaration came,
ground-breaking, significant
to every aspect of my nature.
At stake is the stability
of my core symbolism, the root
and the fruit combined.

What matters is this day
to walk the wooden floors,
replenish my joy
in the simple things of duty and care,
opening to the embrace
of alternate thought patterns,
pursuing the paradox,
digging out its core for a braver scenario
to catch and be malleable with, kneading
and knowing the vision will form,
overtake and dissolve superfluous
dreams and attachments until it
pulses like an embryo
forming, being formed
readying for
exposure.

Fish

           I saw a fish in sleep
beneath a curly wave
dreaming in a prophet-trance,
its lips and fins relaxed, no resistance
against the water’s sway.
          Some say the fish was dead,
but I could see its eyes enflamed,
travelling deep in a vision unnamed into
crevices of underwater caves, finding
peace in a pitch-black reverie.
          I cupped that fish inside my hand
and still it did not move, continuing its
placid ephemeral journey,
now journeying into the sky,
able to breathe, transitioning
into flight and becoming intimate
with the sun’s heat like never before.
         That fish was so far gone
into a state of transcendence as
I released it back into its salty wet home,
kissing it forehead first.
         I felt it absorb my love
under its scales, floating away from me,
silver and white.
         Tranquil, in steady rapture,
I watched it vanish as it rolled
across and under the oceans’ blanket,
as though it never was.

Chain

The chain is cracked, only
a small tug will break it
and the wall will let down its curtain,
the leech will release its hold, find
a new host or none at all.

I empty my heat on the bed
toss with disorder, too slow on my feet.
But even so, I am carving a future
I can get behind, lift myself onto a plateau
that has many plateaus above it, sure of my growing
strength. It is possible to keep my internal
promises, not like before when the dirty current
rippled through me like a disease,
threatening, consuming
my substance and storages.

Can I say the chain is rusted,
dissolving, no access
to its binding power?
I go for walks. I am grateful
for the open door, one step
forward.

Child

           The child twists a ringlet,
runs to the shops to buy
candy, rides her bike
by the river and assembles
a dream-world, bigger world
than her whole reality.
           The child found worship in her heart
for God and love
for an infant raccoon alone under a tree,
talked to herself incessantly, and often,
she talked to God, and to his son, Jesus.
           She went to school, but chalked it up
to unimportant servitude, felt joyful
and free, plucking the autumn leaves,
engaging with the neighbour’s dog.
           The child was wild, swinging
from willow branches, throwing stones,
skipping stones, toes always at the edge
of the unsettled river.
Cats were her guardians, confidants and kin.
Church was boredom, except for the one place
where the light was let in, that place
took over her full imagination
as she travelled through and into
an instinctual reverie.
           The child loved her family,
was allowed every independence,
was ostracized by the other children
for her crocheted clothes and the colour
of her flaming hair. Some called her witch,
others, an atrocity, and the grown-ups, beautiful.
           The child rode horses when she got older,
wrote down the songs of clouds and the names of
the crows that would follow her, converse with her
from the school bus window.
           The child found her belonging in her own head,
with the animals, and sometimes, she remembers,
walking silently, holding the hand of a great angel.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for Best of the Net, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry, 12 collections and 6 chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.

Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 2017.

Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); SUFI Journal (Featured Poet in Issue #95, Sacred Space); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; Buddhist Poetry Review; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine, The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Existere; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.



















Poetry Drawer: Resurrection (After an Incident of Dying Birds, Midwest USA, 2021) by Keith Hoerner

No wind flows
Through wingspan

No lift
Force

No air-
Foil

Aves find
Themselves

As thrown
Stones

Beaks raking
Earth like plows

To sow dying swan
Songs

*Golden
Seeds*

*Feathered
Prayers*

*Sacred
Supplication*

To germinate and
Grow

And as like Lazarus—rise again—
And go

Keith Hoerner (BS, MFA) lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois, USA. He is frequently featured in lit journals (75+ to date, including decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro—to name just a few). He is founding editor of the Webby Award recognized Dribble Drabble Review, and his memoir, The Day the Sky Broke Open, is a recent Best Book and American Writing Award Finalist. A collection of short fiction and poetry, entitled Balancing on the Sharp Edges of Crescent Moons, publishes later this year.  

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

Poetry Drawer: Cabin Fever: For Jeremy at Fifteen: Closing up the Cottage by Robert Demaree

Cabin Fever

Ten inches of wet
Heart-attack snow
Sits in the driveway.
When we first came to Golden Pines
My shovel was a shield
Of pride and pleasure, unwilling
To give in to the years,
Eager to break out of restive days.

But Golden Pines does not want
The 80-year-old guys shoveling snow,
So, on this third day,
I lounge in pajamas at noon,
Working from my easy chair
On paper tasks of little consequence,
Saved up for such a time.

The snowplow has cleared the driveway now
And we can get to the store,
Past sooted, graying mounds that will remind me
Of Pennsylvania.
Later this afternoon I may try to
Widen the path a bit.

For Jeremy at Fifteen

The life of a friend, a teammate,
Ended
Suddenly, inexplicably:
You honoured him by playing hard,
By standing for him
In the chancel,
All of you, your uniforms
Still damp from trying,
As if you did not already know
Of the fragileness of life.

Closing up the Cottage

1) September 2020
Our daughter came back up
To help close the cottage.
We sat down and watched her
Wash the refrigerator.

82-year-old bones ache
From cleaning, packing, lifting,
Awaiting the subtle vibrations
Of two days on the road.

We stood one cold morning
By the side of
The Third Connecticut Lake
Wondering which would be
The penultimate trip north.

Back at Golden Pines
We are trying this morning
To remember where and how
We store things for the winter,
The TV, the toaster,
Computer, coffee maker.

2) September 1986
My dad’s last summer on the pond
I flew up Labor Day
To help close up, drive them home.
The airport bus
Only came as far as Dover.
Somehow they managed to get there,
Him wandering around the restaurant, 
Agitated,
My mother with the
Caregiver’s exhausted sadness.
The restaurant is still there,
Different name, different owners:
I pass by that place
And still feel 
An unbidden welling up,
How one thing comes
To stand for another.

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: Coppers for a Bluebird: Herds of Deer: Sonnet CCCXXVIII: Eyes of a Raccoon: Kiss of a Queen by Terry Brinkman

Coppers for a Bluebird

Fore Coppers for a Bluebird
Fasting at her house means drinking only beer
Well worth the money buying her gear
Picking your pocket like a Blackbird
Mozart’s Twelfth Mass moody as absurd
Two out of Eighty can’t hear
With a second to spare, herds of deer
Muttered facial expressions heard

Herds of Deer

Without care, herds of deer
He muttered expressions heard
Brushing swathe of might
Too weak on his pins to go all the way
Whale with a harpoon hairpin light
Last words on the cross to pray
His creation Lord of light
Chairs upside down in the field

Sonnet CCCXXVIII

At day break maze of dark will be gone
Unable to read chalk scrawled back door tonight
Her joust of life at first light
Human shell’s crucified shirts chiffon
Dishonours of their flesh at the Pentagon
Outcast man’s high mined appetite
Weak wasting hand confessional Fahrenheit
Quacking Soul’s utter triviality fawn
Spiritual eager anticipation to fly
Solemnities slightly ironical glee
Hymn to heavenly beauty horrify
Church yard behind the tree our favorite place to pee
White Biscuit tin’s pie
Last swig of the pint to be

Eyes of a Raccoon

White Ivory fur sea cold eyes of a raccoon
Deep looms of sea’s moon on Halloween
Making friends without half trying
Limp as a wet rag nobbling his beer
Blue Trousers and a white alabaster shirt
Red nose rag old sloppy eyes guzzler
Like holding water in her hand not his
The moon sets before the clock strikes twelve

Kiss of a Queen

Pink articulated lips, kiss of a Queen
Double dark increasing vaster Moon
Stood pale silent by a Bee was stung at noon
Said over her shoulder drinking perfect caffeine
English steams of coffee from her canteen
Tide sheeting the lows of the Green Lagoon
Ivory fur, sea cold eyes of a raccoon
Deep velvet of sea’s moon light on Halloween

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years. Has Five Amazon E- Books. Poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed. Winamop, Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, Adelaide Magazine, Variant, the Writing Disorder, Ink Pantry, In Parentheses, Ariel Chat, New Ulster, Glove, and in Pamp-le-mousse, North Dakota Quarterly, Barzakh, Urban Arts, Wingless Dreamer, LKMNDS and Milk Carton Press.

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

Poetry Drawer: Exchanges detail quotidian sandwich: Affected Collagen Dissolving: Transient Substation Oxygen: Linear Absorption: terrestrial by Joshua Martin

Exchanges detail quotidian sandwich

twisted figures function like toothpicks
ponder subjugation circles in village colour
self the pants principle to grammatical tense
through wacky intrusive logic shocked centers
propulsive reflections fascinate like attraction
limit quirk to linguistic subterfuge
thick unshakeable compelled repeated
picking margins flattening refuge arbitrarily
insecure familiar narrative a flapping
elusive still closer removing modular chances
drawn fueled debunked concluded as a presence

Affected Collagen Dissolving

The meandering centipede
invokes Hollywood Squares
as a scare tactic.

                  Paranoia pleases chess masters
                  leaving moldy clock on the train,
                  better to save a parenthesis than
                  shout at a letterbox perforation.

Performed a molecular transfer
without a stable anchor to hook
the syncopated suffix to a mattress.

                                  Intuitive clown car,
                        superstitions                 recline,
                                         struggle to keep profits,
             though mostly that’s
             just the bubble to the soap.

Transient Substation Oxygen

Weak atom cannot function
in symbolic sleepwalking
         a — Part   ,           space that bears
                                      currency daydream.

Interior
of a protein,
              clever funhouse
              weigh station
                             preserving charmless
                             war machine.

For the sake of a dimple,
awaken before midnight
& bemuse prophylactic enzymes.

Linear Absorption

Uptight boogie burglar
staking claim to road diets,
                        starting tomorrow,
              awash in verbal gymnastics,
                                 downward facing nylon.

String pulling organic CPR
through senior living facilities
before releasing scarecrow into
unsuspecting public lavatory crusaders.

                     Meaning of a phosphorous
                     alpine ski lift?

                                  Tertiary bromide emitting
                                   necrophilia at sunset?

Packed tightly in hyperbolic acid
constant as an equilibrium milkshake,
     seizing conjugated saddle,
                              high-pressure horse
                     running washing machine aftershave
                                                without brain embolism song.

terrestrial

crux influx
your typewriter
carrier pigeon
reverberates goop

famished TIDES
pulled AsundeR
laughter called
NameD X in
parabolic etch

sink yet who
sink rotting
fathomed
barnacle speech

multi
     -use
     -faceted
     -modal
     -hyphenate
     -step
     -factor
     -level

ruled recycled
printS curved
wall PLASTER
end of NaMe
blame GaMe
tick BiTe

Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is the author of the books automatic message (Free Lines Press), combustible panoramic twists (Trainwreck Press), Pointillistic Venetian Blinds (Alien Buddha Press) and Vagabond fragments of a hole (Schism Neuronics). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals including Otoliths, M58, The Sparrow’s Trombone, Coven, Scud, Ygdrasil, RASPUTIN, Ink Pantry, and Synchronized Chaos.

Poetry Drawer: For Hours: Rotator Cuff Repair Blues: Words: Diagnostics: From Nothing by Michael Estabrook

For Hours

      Don’t like going into stores
      prefer sitting outside on a bench
      waiting for her to come out.

Sometimes you don’t feel like talking about anything
answering questions, hearing excuses, explaining yourself
you don’t want discussions or lectures
don’t need the sharing of ideas or opinions, anecdotes, or dreams.

Sometimes you simply want to sit alone
in your rocking chair in your quiet little room
stare out the window into the street at nothing in particular
for hours like grandpa used to do.

Rotator Cuff Repair Blues

      I should sound stronger, confident
      when instead it’s still
      the same old blah, blah, blah.

Thanks for checking in
the shoulder thing has been a long grind I do now
recommend
breaking your shoulder any time
for any reason
Monday I check-in with the surgeon
see if I can do away with the sling and stop sleeping
in the recliner
trouble is it’s hard to tell if the damn thing is healing as it should
I’m hoping the fancy-pants hotshot surgeon can determine that
been doing the best I can on the poetry front
everything takes twice as long
because
I can only use my left hand
but I do what I can
juggling trying to move forward on 7 projects
my head a wellspring of projects
hopefully
one of them will jump out
and take charge of the confusion
but really I shouldn’t be such a complainer
remind myself it can always be worse
my beautiful wife
hasn’t yet run off with that hunky UPS guy!!!

Words

       . . . a nightmare
       trying to organize
       all this damn writing . . .

Of course I keep a writer’s notebook one of those
old-fashioned black and white covered
college ruled notebooks.
I do my “creative writing” in there:
poems and bits of prose and prose poems
and hybrids of poems and prose.
I write in there at night before sleeping and while sitting
in the car waiting at the airport or the school
or while sitting in the doctor’s waiting room or in hotel lobbies
or at the grandson’s basketball practice . . .
you’d be surprised how much writing you can get done
in between everything else. I don’t draw
pictures or symbols, hieroglyphics, or images of any kind
I don’t doodle, it’s all just words simple old words.

Diagnostics

       . . . mathematics is postulating
       that we might be able to travel
       backwards in time through wormholes . . .

Dad, if you returned to life after being gone 58 years
I wonder what you’d find most surprising.
Because you were a car mechanic and loved cars
particularly your Buicks
I suspect seeing how far car technology
and style has come would make your head spin.
Don’t know where to begin explaining it to you:
power steering, airbags, automatic windows
pushbutton ignition, CD players, GPS . . .
I’m not even getting into
car diagnostics by hooking it up to a computer
when you could tell what was wrong
with any old engine simply
by cocking your head back and listening.

From Nothing

      . . . they dreamed
      of being together never apart
      until the end of time . . .

Physicists, astrophysicists, geophysicists, astrobiologists
astronomers, cosmologists . . . all of them
state it like it’s clear, obvious
irrefutable – in the beginning
of the universe there was nothing, nothing at all
no space, no time, no matter, no energy, only emptiness.
Then suddenly out of the darkness
out of nowhere for no reason
like someone flipping a switch
an infinitesimally small speck of something-or-other
appeared then immediately exploded
into the Big Bang BOOM!!!
And the universe – everything there is
or was or ever shall be –
spiral galaxies, dwarf stars, planets, comets, asteroids,
black holes, quasars, quarks, dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos
gamma rays, leptons, red giants, globular clusters
gravitons, photons, electrons, mesons, and the Higgs Boson –
was formed just like that, from nothing
absolutely nothing.
Seriously?

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

















Poetry Drawer: Swimming in Walden Pond by Christopher Johnson

The water enraptures my body, which feels like forest-shrouded silk
As I clip and clop my awkward way through the water
And then suddenly feel like a dolphin.
The underneath of Walden Pond is riven by rivers of currents birthed from mysterious
          sources.
As I swim, the current changes from foot to foot,
           now alienating cold,
           now feathery warm
The currents caress my body like eels that brush their liquid bodies against my chest,
          torso, groin, legs,

          tingling and tangling all up and down my skin,
          shagging me, changing me, freeing me.
I slow down, feel the water like echoes of the past,
Know that Thoreau swam and fished and walked and lived here.
I feel the sensuous caress of history,
          of self-reflection,
          of rebellion against the ordinary.
The electric call of infinite Walden seduces me with its sweet and subterranean melody,
Like the trapezer who paints the last act.
I swim past the why current,
Feel the fins of curious fish brushing me.
None knows really how deep Walden is,
Or what the source of the pond is.
It was born eons ago in the distant primordial past of the past of the earth,
Born in the majestic ruptures of the earth,
Born in the thousand-yard-deep chaos of water and stars,
Lifeless at first, then slowly emerging in the slow movement of unforgiving atoms and
           aimless instincts
And meandering, sensuous being.

Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. He was a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. Published short stories, articles, and essays in The Progressive, Snowy Egret, Earth Island Journal, Chicago Wilderness, American Forests, Chicago Life, Across the Margin, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Blue Lake Review, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines. In 2006, the University of New Hampshire Press published my his 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.