Poetry Drawer: Aysgarth Falls in July by Peter Donnelly

Had the car park not been full
we’d not have driven on to Castle Bolton

where the picture from the calendar came to life.
We wouldn’t have seen meadowsweet

or meadow cranesbill
as we walked to the Lower Falls

and back a slightly different way,
over the old railway line.

We’d still have come by Middleham,
passed Jervaulx Abbey

and driven back through Leyburn,
stopped in Bedale for a pint of milk,

then down what was once the Great North Road.
We’d have eaten our picnic by the Ure

not in a field as I did with others
far away on this day long ago.

I’d still have known today
was my English teacher’s birthday.


Poetry Drawer: 3 poems and visual art by Cleo Howard

Balloons are red, a worldwide affirmation of caution.
My eyes are dry though they appear to be running wild.
Tears are the ocean bliss I long to float amongst.
Turquoise hues of inner peace surround.
I see in black and white but the colour of you blue.
Limp limbs drift silently with the wind.
Your cuddle isn’t temporary.
Your warmth ties souls to your healing properties.

Push me away.
Pull me back in.
Dance beneath the luminosity of a millions stars.
Make us sway without human interruption.
Erase the land.
Allow all irrationalities to dissipate.
Capture joy with a bottle and cork.
Travel with me through time and galaxy.
Kiss me before I go to sleep and you may just become my reality.

Proceed with caution they said.
Work twice as hard as your peers they said.
Don’t be too different they said.
Fit into the category of success they said.

Don’t wear short skirts they said.
Don’t shave your head they said.
Wear heels they said.
Be classy they said.
Respect your elders they said.

Always smile even when your hurting they said.
Mental illness is all in your mind they said.
Don’t get tattoos they said.
Your too fat they said.
Your too thin they said.

You look ill they said.
Eat something they said.
Your trying to hard they said.
Be subtle they said.

Don’t cross social boundaries they said.
Don’t break the rules they said.
Don’t be too revealing they said.
Be sexy they said.

Don’t talk to much they said.
Don’t hold too many opinions they said.
Be seen and not heard they said.
Why can’t you be more like so and so they said.

You’ve had too much to drink they said.
Go to your room they said.
Don’t talk about racism they said.
Deal with it they said.

Control yourself they said.
Why are you crying they said?
Pull yourself together they said.
Your making a show of yourself they said.

Eclectic mind.
Open to the very fibre of another’s truth.
Sit with me for a while.
Pour your dreams into my minds eye.
Grant me the perspective of the creator.
The symphony to your goals.

Untie your soul.
I am not the prejudice to which you recoil.
Allow the sweet birds to sing from the pits of your stomach.
Draw a diagram expressing true desires.
Be the kite above who has earnt true perspective.
Flood the tree’s pages with inked ambition.
Eclectic minds think alike.
Authentic smiles perpetrate insight for the otherwise unkind.

Find the beauty in cultural difference.
The history, the talent and cultural superstition.
Personal projection leaves ears firmly shut.
Open the mind and close your mouth.
Digest the palette of another’s spoon.

Determine knowledge through personal experience.
Interact soulfully removing convenience.
Believe in what you know.
Believe in ceaseless growth.
Eclectic be the ear.
Eclectic be the nose.
Eclectic be words spoken.
Free will. Free expression.
Opening the eyelids to the beauty that surrounds.
An eclectic world.

Cleo Howard is a mixed race woman of Jamaican/English descent, now living in West Yorkshire, prior to being a Cypriot resident for the past year. Cleo is a writer and artist full time, currently writing a first novel based on personal experiences in life thus far. Cleo considers writing as therapy, something of an antidepressant as Cleo is a self-professed mental health survivor, creatively showcasing the distinctive individual phases of recovery through chosen art forms. Cleo is also a tattoo artist.



Poetry Drawer: Life by Brian Edeki

Life is a molotov cocktail of joy and pain
Look into the mirror and feel sane or insane
The negative and positive forces at work
The way trouble can wipe away a smirk

A marathon life can seem, or a quick sprint
Some lives are a novel, others have just a few lines to print
How is life treating you some say?
That depends on moods or the time of day

The rich can be sad, the poor content
Even though one has a ‘Bentley’ the other can’t pay the rent
This thing called life that keeps the heart beating
New faces and trials we are constantly meeting

Toss the coin, or spin the roulette wheel
Ups and downs of life the Ying and Yang feel
Still for me life is a blessing, so enjoy your path
Even though tough times won’t make you laugh

Be optimistic even when the skies are grey
Believe in a ‘higher power’ and give a daily pray
The planet we live on is such a beautiful thing
Watch the moon and the stars and listen to birds sing

So from the cradle to the grave keep the head high
Life is a journey we travel until we die
Take risks, be careful explore new life
Have children spread your seed with partner or wife

As we all grow old the mind may change
Places and people the world seems strange
Through it all keep in mind we only have one chance
So take life by the hand and have the last dance

Poetry Drawer: Jesus was a Masochist by James Kowalczyk

hourly they spread across uneven eons
a second-hand tapestry of woes
naked shame
clothes his name
and the daily joie de vie turns a sacred screw
as viscous iron blood
smelts an ancient block of fever’s night

between the eyes it climbs a fence
like caged ivy down vena cava lane with Joey Gentile
and her weekly digital pacifier

charged with
apocryphal bible belt bullshit
in the south

rumour consumer ads
squirt like fish through an endless
stream of consciousness

heading north

Poetry Drawer: Sonnet about the fallen moon and morning star by Paweł Markiewicz

Heavenly sailorling spy out the wan light-sheen of star.
Baffling unearthly time: weird having just thieved by elves.
One of pale mornings longs for some meek fulfillment of night.
Moony and nostalgic chums – comets are upon the skies.

Lonely dreamery – lying just blink-sea, weird above.
Endless nostalgia is being of pang. Hades is fay.
Heavenly moony lure, beings seem dark, Ethics fly off!
Poignant decease has become drab black, comet has picked rain.

The glow, which is deathless, at length in the sadness full bane.
Grim Reaper loves more than you dream – a bit lights on the worms.
Marvel of starlit night: I have found a little of my name.
Starry night – dreamy glow are only in the tender souls.

Sensing the moonlet, demise of cool-blue song will be free.
Your worm bawls after all certainly. Death blubbing like me.

Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Poland (Siemiatycze). His English haikus and short poems are published by Ginyu (Tokyo), Atlas Poetica (USA), The Cherita (UK), Tajmahal Review (India) and Better Than Starbucks (USA).

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

Poetry Drawer: Counting Blessings: Exacting Revenge: Bleeding For Jaco: Waves: The Photographer’s Pupil by Stephen Mead

Counting Blessings

Begin with bent brow in hands and hands unfolding,
hinged doors as wings of the suddenly happy bird,
hopeful as Dickinson’s in that opening,
in those feathers spreading, encompassing horizons,
the visions wide & present, calling to & from the soul.
Now even these fallow fields are less depressing,
still being of earth, its potential, to just blend
with rich compost, keep moist and wait
with the clarity of deep breaths taken, released.
Hands in rich silt are mere flesh
made of water and air, the synthesis of elements,
the celestial given physical form.
Is this what real unidentified angels
actually are everywhere,
and the great patterns of their work
evident in the ploughed furrows,
those waves churned over & up?
Humble and holy come other stored examples
in the heart and the head.
Sample now Grandma’s drawers of saved twisted bread
ties, baggies, folded aluminum squares
whose crinkles were cleansed,
scents smoothed under water to dry amid dishes.
The next space which opens fans with cards of
gin rummy, fancy suits flat against cushioned
table mats ringed with the blue of Grandpa’s cigars.
The green glass corners of his ashtray
forms a diamond of use graced
by the tall frosted gold pillar of beer.
A little salt gives the best head, froth whiskers tickling
the tongue’s tip refreshed past that entrance
of the old gas stove’s aroma amid the dust and lead paint
of that sunny lead-in back porch.
This is the covenant of how blessings
open out from each other, snow-globe contained
but macro from the micro producing vistas
further and farther.
What other extreme unction to ask for than that?
What more really to want for ever?

Exacting Revenge
(For Louis Enrique Mejia Godoy)

Will indeed be
a pleasure, say

some acid burns on each still
pus-running knee.
(We agree. Can’t wait.)
Add these lime-laden eyes
remembering that sack & almost
asphyxiation in lungs yet too raw
for adding their two cents.
(Sounds fine.)
The will shall have to compensate,
one spirit taking prayer

& honing its frantic edge
toward the faith of some future soothing
every scar which winces with salt. Also

there, in that sphere, distant as
peace, the torturers, having lost
ground & passed into freedom’s blow,
will have no choice

but to live knowing
that their vileness failed.

This is my dream anyway, the revenge
of a good life handed to everyone
descending from repression with hope
savored because of all the vaccines poured
orange as mercurochrome under the sun’s gold.

Bleeding For Jaco

Electricity gone awry… boundary lines blurring…
the jarring of feedback, the blisters of static
where, from amps, scabs bleed…

Jaco, who were you? The homeboy made good?
The mutt derelict genius?

The usual labels as commentary, tragic speculations all…
We cough up explanations to digest brutality
& then remember…

Duality looks deeper. Gropes for control:
Your callused fingers cut by bass strings,
the palm ripped, a gash pouring jazz…
Physically too: the bones of your face shattered,
having been beaten outside some pub.

Blood is a poignant reference, a vivid metaphor for pain.

But what sabotaged you, Jaco? The ecstasy of an Icarus,
with the eyes of the drowned?

The surplus of ground zero conveys abrupt shots:
the numbing by lithium, the detox quarantine.
Yet life you still attempted, blinking an eye, twitching
a toe, & Jaco,

It wasn’t madness that drove you, but bloods’ pure notes.
A virtuoso from day one, a whole improvised opus you became,


to rock out, rock out, as a solo


This one, ten foot slate, a girder unearthed & returning.
These others are meniscuses too grey for reflecting
the sky sliding on each curve…

Here the post cards are all black ‘n white.
If any difference occurs shades blur it in a slap
of repeated graceful savagery.

Why be a non-conformist when insanity is all the rage?

Instead, weather tongues, the multitude’s mouth,
a basin with teeth gnashing to spit out…

Oh Deus, do you exist, & from such
a tough rugged heartland must not
wounds be genuinely felt, entered,
before healing can spark mercy?

Mama, I’m going in, goat-shaped froth
gnawing off despair’s crabgrass.
Where are my bones?

Now the pleated sheets form leaves, an excess
of light & the coast whitens.
In excelsis, purity burns liquid brimstone,
the amethyst face, hands, a spirit looks on
in tenderness, dispossessing memories,
a passage to float from & open upon
Baltic cliffs, Gibraltar balustrades—–

The other world, the other world,
this must be a birthing place.

The Photographer’s Pupil
(For D. Arbus)

A heart on the wind, you’d been opened that exposed,
waiting for initiative to take over, give way to instinct.
Imperative is clarity
utterly unmasked by the camera which hid you.
Then the subject’s impact would hit the pit of the stomach.
You were a portal from which the real sight blew through.

Vision extender, what you saw was recorded
not so much as documentary, but an intuitive view.
Does such gentle predatory perception replenish what feeds it?
Dimensions transcend the image & shudder forth cut.

How can I tell you your existence did the same?
Its traces wash fossil-like from the acid baths.
As you develop I grow astonished, senses reeling
with what yours’ encapsulated: the freaks & the street people,
the transvestites and circus attractions, all horrific & mortal,
remarkably so.

Shy nymph, you crept up to them, finally asking permission &
then taking command. What a surprise! Their faces freed, all
artifice stripped, a psychological truth, now emblem-poignant.

Here I see the proof, their lives passing alibis, affidavits
without judgment. Yes, there’s no verdict in the flesh
except that it gives. But how did you go with it at your
own perilous risk: the last supper of Barbiturates
the slit wrist tub?

Now deep & enlivened, I attempt wading through.
I find you like a deer caught off guard, no empathy siphoned
from your quite earnest pupils. Just so, I am not vacant.
I walk from this crypt, its portfolio, & wander susceptibly.
You did too, more real in the dark, exploring the dank subway
tunnels, their wired tired tribes. The trains lurched & pulsed,
such tireless fury ritualized by your gaze.

In those eyes, both of us have known death,
have been there & come back.
but who taught that, & how does one live with the tie?

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, The Chroma Museum.

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


Poetry Drawer: Maybe I’m the Imposter Among Us: God in my Perspective by Krishti Khandelwal (Aged 11)

Maybe I’m the Imposter Among Us

There is nothing great about me.
There is nothing I am like a prodigy.
I can’t remember many important things,
and I don’t know, if you need to help me.

I’ll think I am awesome,
but isn’t that just me?
I don’t know what I’m amazing at,
but I’ll be happy if you approach me.

I’m not great at maths,
I don’t have great mental abilities,
I’m not that great at science, 
I’ll never be a prodigy.

I’m no good at singing,
I’m not good at playing an instrument either,
I’m not even good at walking,
and I’ll never be a decent dancer.

My art is stupid,
I can’t be great at anything,
I can’t process a lot of information,
so, I sit there staring at a pixelated screen.

I know that I’m no good
at many other things I love,
but these thoughts now won’t hurt me,
as no one can be perfect and nothing really matters.

I think having higher expectations from anyone should rather not be expected,
because having lower will never help you and you end up disappointed.

So, I’ll be me, in my own world, 
you don’t have anything to say.
I have my own power and family to protect me,
from you any day.

God in my Perspective

When I was small,
I believed in God like everyone else did.
I thought the pictures they drew,
In real life existed.

And I grew up and learned more,
And heard from dad about the world and God.
And learned how those people wrote down their thinking,
Which led to the people to believe in the lord.

So, I don’t believe in god,
The way most people usually do.
I don’t believe in ghosts and curses,
That could have brought fear upon you.

I believe that the mantras work for some people,
Because of their subconscious and placebo,
It’s a thing that works when you really believe in something,
That makes your wish come true.

Although it still is a mystery,
How placebo actually works, to what you desire.
Those mantras help you by increasing your knowledge,
To get something you always wanted to acquire.

So, I never said I’m an atheist,
This is just god in my perspective.
Our consciousness and intelligence,
To make sense out of almost nonsense,
And how we find their reason of being connective.

(in just a small organ inside our skull!)

So, if you do something risky and dangerous,
Worshiping god won’t make you protected.
If you continue to do that and be stupid,
You can’t blame god by being affected and neglected.

Krishti Khandelwal (aged 11) is brilliant in astronomy and astrophysics, you can discuss amazing concept of physics with her, however when at coffee table or with a glass of her favorite mocktail, she loves to pen down her thoughts into words…..Writing has always fascinated Krishti as it was something she always wanted to do. This season (Lockdown) Krishti had created and shared her writing with some of the prominent publishing houses, and with the grace of the God her writing was appreciated and encouraged, and she was honoured.

Poetry Drawer: Universe of Lies: Religious Rightness: The Meaning of Survival: Smokeless Noir by Paul Ilechko

Universe of Lies

The universe is dissolving into
silken skeins of fire     dripping

glistening threads of protons
and neutrons     that dissipate into

an echo of atomic waste     leaving
behind a soft electron whisper

if there are survivors     do they
remember when the world was

tokenized     do they recall the years
of stripping meaning     discarding

all we once had known in favour of
the romance of our corporate dreaming

working men and working women
gathered in a human river     flooding

through the central demarcations as
a wavelength of forgetting     carrying

their hand-made flags that still
proclaimed the truth of lies

true believers of the myths
and legends that evaporated

in the cold hard morning of the end
of time     when the structures

we had long imagined     were
finally revealed as emptiness.

Religious Rightness

Bodies filled the undergrowth
as religion swamped the land

your citizenship merely
a pattern of crosses   punched

into cards and misplaced in
a cupboard at the Pentagon

your birth was accidental
vomited out like volcano steam
erupting as clouds of tear gas

the shelves of your market creaked
under the weight of ammunition

I used carrots in my cabbage
soup to add the extra sweetness

but damn   and if it wasn’t
time to start our engines.

The Meaning of Survival

Morning begins with carnage
the heat-glaze of an exterminating sun
exploding as gasoline

organic chemistry reaching
its limit as the safety fails to trip
the sky filling
with a diamond glare

light tightening its grip
from red to blue and finally
to a blistering whiteness

the smell of meat and burning rubber
as a necklace melts into the purity
of flesh and thought     leaving behind
little except sharded bone

heat death of a city
the broken facades of crumbling homes
phased and zoned into map-written
territories beneath the still white sky

smudged and cindered by
smoldering remnants     the air
adrift with wave and particle
fighting for survival

the shattering
of so many lives as the future is destroyed
by inarticulate sloganeering

every banner laid to waste
the last survivors lingering by a river
breathing in the beauty of the silence

Smokeless Noir

We’re lacking something
now that even the bad guys
no longer smoke

where is the shadowed room
the blatant chiaroscuro
the curl of blue smoke
the carefully illuminated profile

what we have gained in health
and cleanliness
we have lost in the purity of art

but where is the forgotten actor
the one whose name we never knew
cigarette clutched
between brown-stained fingers

and in his throat
or the deepness of his lungs
the first tender stirrings
of the tumour.

Paul Ilechko is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Pain Sections (Alien Buddha Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Rogue Agent, January Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Book of Matches and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

Poetry Drawer: Heart Ache: Nautical Miles: Pungent Rubbish by R. Gerry Fabian

Heart Ache

With very slow frost-free words,
he mimes to them
that his heart.
like day old sour dough toast
has become a plopped rock
settling slowly to the bottom.

They shake their heads
almost birdlike
and regard him in asphalt indifference.

His heart becomes the taste
of someone chewing aluminum foil.
He says nothing more.
He begins walking with a cane
while his heart becomes an autistic child.

It has served him well in love
and now,
on an afternoon in the park,
it kills him.

They buried it with him
as a minor tremor
begins in each of them.

Nautical Miles

He moves with the instinctual wisdom
of alley cat balance.
His doctrine follows
an iceberg principle.
His eyes see more;
his chapped lips say less.

he takes his trawler
deep into the ocean
a simple apostle
of the earth’s last frontier.

Pungent Rubbish

Our love-
a white garbage bag
fitted to the top
of the garbage can.
Inside –
dead roses
I bought as a surprise
for no special occasion;
the greasy pizza box
we splurged on because
the day was just too long;
the blood stained bandage
you used to cover my cut hand
when the knife slipped;
the tear stained tissues
because you just needed to cry
the burnt omelette
when your single kiss
ignited so much more.

On Sunday,
when I take the bag
to the curb,
you shake and replace it
with another one
to start all over again.

R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He is the editor of Raw Dog Press. He has published two poetry books, Parallels and Coming Out Of The Atlantic. His novels, Memphis MasqueradeGetting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense are available from Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble. He is currently working on his fourth novel, Ghost Girl.

More of Gerry’s work can be found here on Ink Pantry & Twitter.

Poetry Drawer: Greenhouse: At a Reading: Capital Punishment: Doodle by J.R. Solonche


I wonder if they know –
as much as chlorophyll
can know anything
other than the sweetness
of the energy of sunlight
and rain on its tongue —
that as they perish
into winter’s dead sleep,
these inside, these rich
relations, will live on, all
wide awake and wide-eyed,
glowing in the warm glow
of their winter palace.
I wonder if they knew,
would they then demand
their own entry there, or like
a revolution’s mob, break
every pane with bricks
and cobblestones?

At a Reading

After the last poem,
the poet, clearly drunk,
answered questions.
A student asked him
how he made a poem.
There was a wide smile
and a long silence.
Then, “Fuck the muse
and wait nine hours.”
There was laughter,
some embarrassed,
some self-consciously loud.
Then the student said,
“But Mr. C___________,
according to that metaphor,
isn’t it the muse who makes
the poem and not the poet?”
There was a narrow
smile and a short silence.
“True enough, but poetry
has always been a messy
business,” he said, a drop
a spittle dangling from
the corner of his mouth.

Capital Punishment

Should a seventeen year old
be put to death for murder?

was the question under discussion.
No, he argued, the psychologist,

because, he said, the limbic system,
which, in a seventeen year old,

overpowers the neo-cortex, so it
must be life in prison for such,

to be, without the possibility
of parole, imprisoned with his

limbic system and his neo-cortex,
to play, for life, the Play of Everyman,

to doubt, for life, between devil and angel,
to live, for life, in the capital of punishment.


The phone
at the ear
listening to
the recorded
music to keep
the temper
assuaged and
diverted while
you wait for
the customer
service rep
to help you
with your
problem to
answer your
simple question
you decorate
the number
you jotted down
on the pad
with filigree
and curlicue
with alphabets
in arabesque
with gargoyles
and this poem…
… cut off.

J.R. Solonche has published poems in more than 400 magazines and journals since the early 70s. He is the author of 22 books of poetry and co-author of another. He lives in the Hudson Valley.