Poetry Drawer: I’m the Writer and the Woman Buying a Bus Ticket: Trauma by Jenny Middleton

I’m the Writer and the Woman Buying a Bus Ticket

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.

Trauma

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.

Poetry Drawer: Sonnet about Apollonian beauty of the world by Paweł Markiewicz

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.

Poetry Drawer: To paint a Vulture: Sleepy Whale 412: 415: 387 by Terry Brinkman

To paint a Vulture

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.

Poetry Drawer: Outlier: Strictures: Market Man: The Daily Catch: Voila & Other Silly Little Miracles: Secrets Never Cease by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Outlier

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.

Strictures

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.

Market Man

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.

Poetry Drawer: unsocial media: the cure: Wake up! by Lorelyn De la Cruz Arevalo

unsocial media

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

the cure

wind from unknown seas beckon
to leave the harbour
sail into the uncharted,
the peregrine’s heart
pumping salt water
comes alive…
heals

Wake up!

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.

Poetry Drawer: The granaries were lit: The copper tree builder by Mauro De Candia

The granaries were lit

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.

A third book is ready to be published in 2023.

Poetry Drawer: Missing Person: Big Sur by David Blake

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.

Instagram/Spotify

Poetry Drawer: Where Joy Lies: On and Off and On and Off by Samuel Plauche

Where Joy Lies

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.

Poetry Drawer: Sunny: Japanese Beetles: Bad Dreams by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

Sunny

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

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

Bad Dreams

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.

Poetry Drawer: Bare Trees by Christopher Johnson

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 Forestspublished by Island Press in 2013.

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