Louder than the island’s traffic cicadas’ shake a tinder percussion from long, straying grass.
They are as unseen as a writer, who years away, will tap at a keyboard
and listen to a printer scuttle over paper in the hope of recapturing the fizz of you and me waiting
for a bus amid buzzing cicadas -burning with songs more ancient than lyres joking about the bus being as mythical as Pegasus or Persephone
before scrunching the poem of it back into the blankness of letters hissing as they flicker out – incompleting a neon cocktail sign outside a city window, while miles away
your hand is still tightly holding mine as we clamber aboard a bus and pay drachmas for our tickets.
She has no words in school today. To match, I make mine tiny, firm stones; imperatives placed next to pictures to round their requests,
balancing the real on a surf of swaying meaning. She responds, tracing sounds to her own.
Reading opens and closes its booked meanings. She decodes words into elephants, heavy, andante, stepping sense slowly from the page to something new from thumbed pages.
Her body folds beneath a uniform of crumpled grey polyester, as she hunches at the desk, skin prickling with webbed scabs, self-scratched; still raw, still red.
The bathroom’s razored blur smudging at the back.
Jenny is a working mum and writes whenever she can amid the fun and chaos of family life. Her poetry is published in several printed anthologies, magazines and online poetry sites. Jenny lives in London with her husband, two children and two very lovely, crazy cats. You can read more of her poems at her website.
You can find more of Jenny’s work here on Ink Pantry.
We think of the fascinating charm. We fantasize about wizardry. We ponder on the amazing bard. We reflect on poetic beauty.
We muse about astonishing moon. We dream of the surprising vessel. We philosophize about fair throne. We describe awesome Indian summers.
We ruminate on the brilliant pearls. We remember overwhelming sun. We commemorate impressive tides. We daydream of bewildering souls.
We recall the staggering sailor. We contemplate the breathtaking storm.
Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poems. Paweł has published his poetries in many magazines. He writes in English and German.
You can find more of Paweł’s work here on Ink Pantry.
Dream of the Vulture the night before Find an eleven by fourteen inch canvas Sharpen a true H Pencil Sketch the outline of the Vulture between your tears Paint the white first and last Paint the sky blue of her eyes Drink a pint, let to dry Three yellows and two Reds Paint the beak, the eye Blood Red for her Head Paint feathers using last night fire ash Highlight the beak and eye so to speak Paint Cliff and toes with shades of sorrow Pen your name
Sleepy Whale 412
Gallivanting around Like Vultures hunting in the wet straw Driving dusty old Macintosh Cadillac Vulture-ugh subsequently ride Freely cracking with her Guffaw in the back seat Saints and Sages fly over like Hopscotch See-Saw Tiger Lilies Three half ones in a stack in the glove box Horns Dragon-Lilies Zodiac lie in a bunch on the floor Taste her Irish Brandy sniffer lips in Awe
Sleepy Whale 415
Spiritual condition of a Vulture falling slowly Eager anticipation drinking communal Wine Emunctory field of blue Apricots Haunting remorse with holes in her blindfold Motley affair nightly with her robot Solemnities of the very new sun rise Shiny used white flint pocket knife She covers the Biscuit Tin’s full of gold
Sleeping Whale 387
Humours of her midnight criticizing Dancing at the book release ball Dark woman, fair man’s brawl In the dark Gun Powder Cigarettes appetizing Life after life baptizing Eager anticipation for all Golden poop slips and falls Blue Irish eyes apologizing Drink a Pint to heavenly blessed The last come first Weasel rat pest Alabaster silent outburst Like a cat to its claws dressed All wind, piss with the worst Nobbling his last pint best Always knock first
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.
That cold cube of ice against a flurry of fire escape lips, naughty rap rap knuckles so far beyond initial infraction, dead batteries for a dying world; I am twisted nerve endings like internal ponytails on the pull, and feelings don’t mean what tuk tuks mean, the data could not be less clear; sciatica for the flimsy paper plate rapture – Ostracism is a vast love of distance above all else, corrugated rooftops catch distant rin tin tin rain, this retina detached outlier behind weepy ronin pink eye sabbatical; unbroken briefcase cyphers so file folders can stay on the lam – you cannot touch me for I am unquarried stone on salamander prowl: biting, glacial, indifferent as a mild pooling blah.
And who among you would censure moth for flame, spire from bell, who among the narrow-numbs should be first to fasten the restraints, limit passage, lob cannonballs of criticism? Count my absence as a disavowal, you who manage rank with truncheon-exact priggishness, wall in that wretched wild Thunderbird of ideas; from my wilting lamb’s lettuce, hissing radiators of this balding Rapunzel tower – listen to the plethora horns in the swelling streets below: all awe, all awe… toot toot toot toot.
No need for the maudlin insincere, the man at market names his price which is never the price if you know better, the way he crosses his arms, closes himself off and prepares for battle; the barter system is total exhaustion if I am to be honest, my heart and head and more generous foibles never really in it, that absurd dizzying way bountiful hypochondriacs imagine themselves afflicted with every ailment known to medicine and a few the white coats may have not thought of, and the way my last monies leave my hand hurts more than any lover that has ever retired from once warm beds; that wrecking ball shame of heavy feet, of being taken again.
The Daily Catch
On one of my many chuffed-lung walks, past boxed-ribboned confectionery, beyond mossy breaker wall protections, the smell is what you notice before anything else; those large industrial pails below various trawler net-tangles, the daily catch on the death squirm, saucer-eyed dilations unaware of the descaling knives just feet away, the numerous yellow-smocked men with vicious nicotine faces, ashing down over the creaking wood haunt of the salaried man, unsavoury jokes exchanged in strange mother tongues as I nod half-friendly, pull my collar up for the cold; shuffling by in a Salvation Army Peacoat to the end of a rotting dock where the circling gulls squawk over the dead and dying throwaways from this morning’s briny fog-soaked haul.
Voila & Other Silly Little Miracles
Humiliation, yes yes, there is plenty of that & brackish homestead guile & voila and other silly little miracles so small you almost miss them, trip over your own feet and blame the laces of your premature birth, even the eagles in the trees bald before too long, squatting as much as nesting; nature is everyone’s landlord, the bees and the birds & chimney soot faces with glass golden briar hoppers for hands… the zipper on my change purse suffering from inactivity, Swan black Thomas Mann as clunky dialysis machine, it’s calipers squeezing infant brain juice from apricot dayglow, breakdowns along Bullshit Road – mold in the hinges of the kitchen cupboard now caught under nail; what I have is mine so long as a man is willing to catalogue his entire existence: Roman nose, Irish liver, enough beard hairs to invite a thousand men to the gallows.
Secrets Never Cease
Plucked treasure hunter eyes befall you, secrets never cease: the crimp, the golem, this patch-played foil derived which should offer exits for a saving face, whirling tango divots into lined gymnasium floor; I’m the poster child for posters, no eight ways around it… procrastination should be an Olympic sport, or at least a local watering hole with recycled beer and creaky wind-chattered windows.
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Ink Pantry, Impspired Magazine, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.
You can find more of Ryan’s work here on Ink Pantry.
the long and short hands move in synchronous precision sand flowing seamlessly in realms of truth and reality
time, delicately sacred, yet essence lost and wasted in a game of algorithm, chasing shiny bugs and trolls down the winding rabbit hole
where the long and short hands dig a graveyard of morrows where sandstorm hits the eyes with biases and lies
wind from unknown seas beckon to leave the harbour sail into the uncharted, the peregrine’s heart pumping salt water comes alive… heals
Hear, hear! Captain’s missing Oh dear!
You clown, Take the lifeboat. Or drown.
You cluck, This is a plane. What luck!
Lorelyn is a self-published author of Twin deLights, “Haikuna Matata (a collection of haiku) and Hainaku! It’s Pundemic! I am Balot. Acovida dito (a collection of word plays and puns).” She is also a member of the Write Your Legacy community in the Philippines, working overseas as a medical transcriptionist. Her poetry has been featured and published in several anthologies and journals like The Haiku Foundation and Lothlorien Poetry Journal.
In accordance with night-time tradition, the granaries were lit in unison to forge an awakening of honey, and there we were on our knees: punctual in thought, with the body in horizontal delay. Tongue, huge tongue, angular and yellow, flaming pagan tongue speaking the abstract language of colour, thundering to the ice dormitories of the mind, tongue as still as the extinguished rifle which, uttering a sound delivers to dictionaries “flock”, a winged soup of living swallows which only a short while before was freezing in the nests. But wanting to improvise the day in the middle of the night, sacrilegious anticipators in the tradition of every sleep, we were woken by a false mechanical god each in his bed, sweaty and expelled from the dreamy hut, unworthy of the Halakhah and therefore branded with tufts of wheat entangled in our pyjamas, waking up, rolling on cliffs of pillows, falling on mattresses of icy water, foaming with desire for the light coming, coming in carousels of neon, pale at first, sanguine later, fading sleep in ridges, in the chorale of dissenting senses. In awakening, head swooping to the ceiling, tufts of wheat between his fingers.
The copper tree builder
He roamed at night in the narrow hollows of the streets, twisting through the fires his crackling hands. From here his industrious crime moved into railway stations: He would steal copper from the depots. Filiform foxes accompanied him, at night, swinging on his back. At the window, I would watch him and learn to know how to run in the dark like swimming, on asphalt that before my eyes does not exist. In this way I learnt to know how to cook a thought à la cocque that perhaps exists and shines, white and orange – when light has no other role than to distribute arms, legs, nerves, fingers and hands, under a face. But under the occipital river when there is total darkness, he insists, he works. And here is the branch, and the flower sprouts, and he twists that tip on his finger. I watched it weave the bloody texture of the roots, and make them converge in the centre, inside the trunk, then vanish again into branches: the wind sniffs, approves and escapes returning to the sky, and then comes the light. And here is the branch, and behold, the flower sprouts, and at that tip, along with the copper, he twists me.
Mauro De Candia was born in Italy. He studied Modern Literature at the University of Bari. He lives in Lombardy where he works as a teacher of Literature.
In 2018, he made his debut on the literary scene with the syllogue ‘Le stanze dentro’ for Edizioni Ensemble, a book that was runner-up in the 2019 Nabokov Prize and a finalist in the 2020 Carver Prize. In 2021 he published, again for Edizioni Ensemble, a second syllogue entitled ‘Sundara’, which was awarded second place in the Nabokov Prize 2021, with live television broadcast.
Somewhere under the Bixby bridge, high off the spirit of Kerouac, I formed words with the letters left in the sand while you stood silent. At the time, it felt like a new beginning, where we could start over, to recollect the words the tide spit back up onto the shore. But, it was the end of an article that took two years to read, the headline: Man Searches for Himself in Other People. Then you would creep so far into silence, apathy would engulf me, and all the things I thought were important are what drag me under the ocean.
My ears still ring, and my chest still aches from standing waist deep with my back to the sea when the riptide whipped me under.
So when I think of Big Sur I think about all the cars that have driven over the cliff— whether intentional or not.
And I think about how they’re abandoned, rusting below the waves, clawing upward against the rocks. I think about the couples who vanish from the shoreline, consumed beneath the morning fog. I think about what it takes to stop searching, what it takes to give up hope, and where the hope goes when it eventually slips beneath the sand.
I picture Kerouac sitting beneath Bixby rummaging through grains of sand searching for a sense of sustenance in a life he felt was insignificant. Then I think about all the lives lost underneath Bixby bridge, the minds that wandered over the edge hypnotized by its beauty. I think about us running back to the car, and the words we left, how the tide eventually came back to claim them, and how I found a part of myself that was never missing.
David Blake is an educator, musician, and someone who pretends to be a serious business person Monday through Friday.
My heart aches and breaks as I sit in my self made grave Disconnected and trapped, I feel alone as I build my own tomb I sit and liquify myself into some sort of melancholy happiness Becoming some sort of wobbling feeling
Even as I quake and cry Even as my mind turns poisonous And I think I should die Even as my walls move around me and trap me inside With a smoke and a drink, I still know where joy lies
Joy lies down on the sidewalk in front of a bar Where me and strangers scream poems at each other and into the stars It’s where the bouncer laughs and eats curry after playing a song on stage It’s where all these artist come together to make noise and dance away
Joy lies at the bottom of my double whiskey And that’s not a sad statement because that’s where it rests for all of us At the bottom of our drinks, we turn our heads up and smile At the bottom of our drinks, we kick our heels and turn wild
Joy lies in the afterglow of a kiss As two faces pull apart Joy lies in two interested parties Walking past each other at the bar
Joy lies in the saxophonist’s sound That bops around our heads and makes us feel all It’s where the bartender and I talk about drinks Books, music, and wine Where we smile because, at least in this moment, we’re alright
Joy lies in the aftermath of the night In the shotgun boom explosion of fun It blows me a kiss and wishes me well As I slowly meander on back home
On and Off and On and Off
I stir There’s a man on the TV And he’s calling me over Motioning me to come to his side With the curve in his hand
And from my perch on the window I can look down upon the world At all the ants that are people Walking around loud and proud
But I got distracted from the man on the TV And he gets angry at my forgetfulness So I approach again and listen to him whine He pushes his grey hair back and tells me Tells me
The walls have nice colours They have stories when they’re all beat up like mine Chipped paint and water stains that will be there, always This is my eternal home
And the man on the TV is screaming now About how I am causing all these problems That I have no focus and no will That I am weak and a coward
But I’m just sure he hasn’t looked at the trees long enough If you stare into those branches I swear you see God, or someone All wrapped around somewhere and nowhere Trees and their leaves, wrapping and spinning and staying I think trees are all we need. Trees
And that man! That man on the TV Screaming his deafening battle cry at me It’s all too much He’s saying that if I keep this up I am nothing But I am already nothing, according to him He tells me I need to buy this I need to be that I need to love my country I need to hate this country It’s too much I turn off the TV And go perch on my window Above the world And stare at a tree
Samuel Plauche was born on the island of Vashon in Washington. With not much to do on the heavily forested island, Plauche quickly found a love in books, which quickly led to a love of storytelling as he would make up stories of magical creatures in the woods around his house. At the age of twelve, Plauche moved to southern Louisiana where he became more involved with his Cajun heritage and began hearing more and more Cajun folktales, songs, and poetry. These writing lessons only found on bayous and southern porches continued to influence Plauche’s writing, and soon he too was joining these storytelling sessions with ones of his own creation. Eventually, Plauche moved to Seattle, and his writing changed yet again to include more stories about living in the city. Plauche now combines the magic found in forests and the themes of old Cajun storytelling into setting specific stories, often inspired by events from his own life, about the highs and lows of the cities he has been to. Plauche moved to Chicago and graduated from Columbia College Chicago with his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing with a specification in Fiction. He has recently had work published in Commuterlit, Black Poppy Review, and Mementos CHI as well as having an active website where he self publishes poetry and short stories for his ever growing audience.
Sunny thought that he was the Birdman of Alcatraz but it was only five months in the county slammer
The day that his girlfriend, Miss Sunshine, came to retrieve him from his dank cell was dark and gloomy but their two children, the girl, “Bright,” and the boy, “Glare,” lit up the back seat of their battered old Cadillac so intensely that that they blinded three other drivers, (one who’d been drawn to them like a moth and was tail-gating) and caused three serious accidents.
Miss Sunshine had left their adult child, “Solar Eclipse” at home, where he was working on his private research project, critiquing local meth dealers’ product
He thought that his father, Sunny, was a “lame-o,” and wasn’t looking forward to seeing him rejoin them in their dilapidated abode.
While in lock-up, Sunny had been making plans to do some renovations, but lacked the funds. He was hoping that his kids would get jobs. Bright, he thought, would make a good counter girl at the local Dairy Queen, which was only two blocks away. She was so cute, he thought, that she would attract new customers who would want to lick her body but, in an American adaptation, would settle for soft-serve
Glare, he thought, would make a good construction worker, though his arms and legs were painfully thin. In fact, Bright and her girlfriends, even the skinniest one, whose hair was green and purple, beat Glare in arm-wrestling contests whenever he challenged them
Though Glare was regularly humiliated in this way, he didn’t mind, because it gave him the opportunity to hold hands with sexy girls, who otherwise would refuse to have him touch them. Still, Sunny’s idealizations of Glare had him swinging a hammer.
Sunny wanted his house, which was a wreck, to get unwrecked so when he died, he could leave it to his kids and feel that he had done something in life.
Sunny was in poor health and his stints in dank jails weren’t doing him any good. He’d never been to a doctor in his life (though toothaches had driven him to a couple of tooth yankers), so, though he had no official data to support his belief, he felt he was likely to depart this world at any time, hopefully without much pain.
Then his kids could sit in their bedrooms, lacking lamps and not needing them, their own self-generated light strong enough to peel paint from the walls, and they would realize that Sunny was a much better dad than they had ever given him credit for.
Japanese Beetles, I capture them and, though the Buddha warned me not to, I put them into a killing jar
This plastic “jar” once held pretzel nuggets filled with peanut butter, part of my wife’s efforts to sabotage her weight loss regimen and mine
Once the pretzels were eaten, their caloric content assimilated into our flesh, I repurposed their container. I filled it quarter-full of water and added a little Dawn When I drop in the Japanese Beetles, they are helpless— they cannot get away and, silently, they die I wonder if they have the capability to feel fear or regret
I kill them because they molest my beloved Virginia Creeper vines, condemning the leaves to ragged lace
The beetles are not “fit”— they lack survival skills To capture them, I only need to hold the open container under the leaf on which they sit and tap the leaf or gently shake it and the beetles tumble into the soapy water
When I do my killing rounds, many of them are in the process of mating and I find it poignant that while engaged in procreation they meet their doom, tumbling together into the jar Do they feel love, attachment, excitement, jealousy? I doubt it Still, the Buddha told me not to kill any sentient beings A few of them cling to the leaves, resisting capture (The Buddha said: Nothing is to be clung to as I, Me, or Mine)
but my will is greater than theirs my power is greater I am Vladimir Putin considering the Ukrainians but unlike Putin I have not suffered major set-backs in my campaign and, for the sake of my project, I have not sacrificed 70,000 of my countrymen
Toward the end of their season, a few of the beetles fly away at my approach— has it taken all these weeks for them to figure out that they can take advantage of their power of flight? It doesn’t matter–if I don’t capture them today, I’ll get them tomorrow.
The Buddha told me not to kill, so I feel some remorse Is the aesthetic pleasure I get from the vines more important than the beetles’ lives?
(By the way, Japanese beetles are beautiful, their bodies concise their wings shining with pretty colour)
The Buddha observes my activities and frowns
Martin Luther dreamed Protestantism every man his own priest communing with God and Jesus in exactly the way that suited him
There was no way Luther could view the Deep Future and see a huge new country filled with idiots who call themselves “Christians” but committed genocide on the Great Spirit’s sons and daughters and enslaved dark folk seized from lush jungles and mistreated them mercilessly, who waged war on innocents abroad and exploited whomever they could while praising Jesus but worshiping money, guns, drugs, celebrity, entertainment and possessions
Then MLK Jr. idealism coursing through his blood mercy permeating his flesh ensconced before a congregation of the descendants of slaves had a dream a deep dream in which love permeated the souls of persons and they were judged by their characters and not by trivialities like the colour of their skins
but there was no way he could see into the Shallow Future where his dream would be corrupted
I had my own dream a hollow one in which I was a famous writer respected and revered for stripping down human life to its essentials
but my hands were manacled by a Chinese finger puzzle in which the more I pulled with one hand the more I reinforced my feelings of worthlessness that enslaved my other hand There was no way I could see into the future to understand that even if my dreams were realized I would feel no better about myself than if I had failed In fact, I would likely feel worse like David Foster Wallace whose acclaim only made him feel more of an imposter until he killed himself while still in his forties (his wife found his body hanging)
So there sat Luther, Luther King, and the arch-villain Lex Luther who lived inside me all of our dreams broken, curdled or abandoned.
Catholic priests sitting in their confessional boxes still rule the world justice cannot be achieved and language is a poor substitute for Life
I sit at the edge of a vast field of grass Interspersed heavily with clover and at the other edge of the field the surface of the vast inland sea known as Lake Superior sits silently waveless
My mind is blank thoughtless, mindful also at peace though not nearly as fluid as the lake because, after all, I am only human
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.
You can find more of Mitch’s work here on Ink Pantry.
Bare trees stand like black cadavers outside my window in the darkest dreariest days of March in Chicago. A whole row of them, without hope, with tangled teasing tumescent limbs and branches pointing everywhichway without insane order, Creating a beauty-reft thick dense woods of lingering resentments and busted hopes and Yugo dreams. The trunks of the bare naked trees as black as night, black as diamonds, stark, relentless, absorbing sunlight and never freeing it. The limbs of the despairing trees soar leafless and naked toward the distant sky leaden with drooping clouds— Clouds like clumps of iron ore floating in the fruitless sky, Clouds that weigh me down like empty gestures and silent remonstrances, Limbs that follow their own crazy-angled gaze to touch the bleak steel sky, Which has its god-forsaken secrets, Which looks down upon us and laughs. Oh, bare trees, an empty ode to you as you hide your laughs and grin at our expense As you stand there on the other side of my jagged window and read me, The way that nature mocks us for our futile gestures and our insane hopes. Good God, I need someone to blab to and avoid the insanity of these bare naked trees staring relentlessly at me, Seeing into me, seeing through me, sizing me up, giggling at my expense. Will we ever escape from the soggy morass of March, Which clings to us like ugly spears stuck in all-encompassing ugliness? Age oppresses me, weighs me down, the world continuing without me, And me, unable to escape the incessant, accusing stares of the bare trees standing in their singular soltariness, On the other side of my jagged crooked window.
Christopher Johnson: I’m a writer based in the Chicago area. I’ve done a lot of different stuff in my life. I’ve been a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. I’ve 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 first book, This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains. My second book, which I 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.
You can find more of Christopher’s work here on Ink Pantry.