Poetry Drawer: I am not barren: Don’t avert thy gaze: How to fulfil dreams there? by Shafkat Aziz Hajam

I am not barren

I am not barren.
My fecundity has not dwindled yet.
Enough as before to bring forth blossoms of all sorts and I do.
Alas! Frequent invasions of atrocious autumn
Debilitates their potency to bloom in full
To show my greatness in their daintiness and redolence
That would once captivate aves from overseas
To warble in praise of my nature.
O God! Free me from this brutish autumn,
Can’t endure it any more.
To glitter with my flair
Let clement spring reign over me.

Don’t avert thy gaze

Don’t avert thy gaze, behold these cemeteries!
The voices for peace and averse to slavery
Are interred here.
The eyes anti to tyranny and the altruistic hearts
For the persecuted are interred here.
Don’t avert thy gaze, behold these cemeteries!
The buttresses for the decrepit and the comforts for the pained,
The joys for the dejected and the glims for darkness are interred here.
Don’t avert thy gaze, behold these cemeteries!
The gallant patriots of my nation- moral for the coward Slaves
The upshots of the tyrannous reign and even of the traitors are interred here.

How to fulfil dreams there?

How to fulfil dreams there
Where one often takes breath in the net of fear of disappearance and of death
And where one carries more coffins but palanquins few.
Not many raiments for weddings
But more shrouds one has to sew.
How to fulfil dreams there
Where each moment is spent in jails and yowls
And youths decay in dingy jails.
Where one while fishing, fishes out a corpse
Of a mother’s only progeny and succour
Beheaded or mutilated or putrefied
Or still from his wounds, is dripping blood of innocence.
How to fulfil dreams there
Where one’s childhood is caged, divested of its joys
Where deranged mothers (as if their sons) are lullabying toys.

Shafkat Aziz Hajam is a poet from Kashmir, India. He is the author of two children’s poetry books, The cuckoo’s voice, and The canary’s voice. His poems have appeared in international magazines and anthologies like Wheel song anthology (UK based), Prodigy, digital literary magazine USA, PLOTS CREATIVES online literary magazine USA, Inner Child Press International USA, AZAHAR anthology in Spain, SAARC anthology, Litlight literary magazine Pakistan etc. He has also written more than a hundred funny limericks for the children and adults’ poetry book, The Unknown Wounded Heart.

Flash in the Pantry: Looking ahead (with dread) to turning forty by Angela Fitzpatrick

Holding up the champagne flutes, Di and I looped arms and tried to take a drink, laughing.

‘Happy New Year!’ she said.

‘Here’s to turning forty,’ I replied.

‘Oh God. Don’t remind me.’ She covered her eyes. ‘I’m dreading it.’

I knew she was. ‘I’ve had an idea. Let’s make it a celebration, a joint party. And I challenge you to do forty new things before you’re forty.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do, but not got around to, or been too chicken? Well, now’s the time. You’ve got eight months to do it in. Make a list.’ I opened the kitchen drawer to pull out a pad and some pens.

Di thought for a moment. ‘You mean like belly dancing?’

‘Yes. Exactly like belly dancing,’ I handed her a pen. ‘You’ve been saying for years you wanted to learn. Write it down.’

‘Okay, I’ll do it. What about you? Back atcha.’ She pointed. ‘You’ve got to do it too.’

‘Alright…I’m going to get a second piercing in my ears.’ I touched my earlobe. ‘My mum never let me when I was young – said it was cheap – and I forgot about it till now. I’m going to buy myself some tiny diamonds, stylish ones.’

‘Good choice. I’m going to read War and Peace. Always intended to, but never found the time.’

‘Good luck with that,’ I replied. ‘Life’s too short! I’m going to volunteer on a charity project for a couple of weeks, somewhere in Africa or maybe India.’

‘Great idea. I’ve always fancied seeing Dubai, so I’m going to quit my job and go work there.’

I frowned. ‘Won’t Jack have something to say about that?’

Di shrugged. ‘I don’t care, he’s never home. I think getting a divorce will make it onto the list too. How many are we up to?’

‘Oh, not even ten yet. Miles to go.’

‘Right then, I’m going to get myself arrested. Never done that yet.’

‘Too drastic! I’ve never even spoken to a policeman in my life,’ I said. ‘Don’t get arrested in Dubai – they still have death by firing squad. You might not even make it to forty.’

She thought for a moment. ‘I’m going to try smoking pot, or maybe something stronger. Pop some acid and go to a rave. Do they still do that?’

I shrugged. ‘No idea. It sounds a bit extreme. It’s not really what I had in mind…’

‘Well, now you’ve started me off. It’s your fault.’ Di laughed.

I tried to bring the conversation back to sense. ‘Is there any food you’ve never tried that you like to?’

‘Hmm, magic mushrooms. What’s that called? Psilocybin, yes that’s it. I’d give that a try.’

‘No, I mean like…trying Japanese food, for example.’

‘Nope. Though I’ve always wanted to own a katana: one of those curved, razor-sharp blades…’

‘Oh, well we can put that on the list.’ I smiled.

‘…and to behead somebody with it. Somebody famous, or obnoxious. Jeremy Clarkson, perhaps.’

‘Maybe this is getting a little out of hand.’ I put the pen down.

‘I’d like to learn to fly,’ Di said.

‘Oh, that’s a good one. Do you mean like a Cessna; pilot lessons?’

‘No. I mean like, flap-my-arms-and-launch-off-the-balcony. Fly. Like this.’

She lifted her arms like a football supporter watching a goal scored, then stepped right out of her silver glitter shoes and ran through the living room, her chiffon dress trailing and rippling like the skirt on a hovercraft.

Di shouted, ‘I’m going to fly!’ then crashed through the patio doors and straight over the balcony rail.

‘Wait!’ I sprinted behind her, almost grabbing the fabric of her dress as she slipped on the smooth floor where the snowfall had melted then refrozen into a thin sheen of ice.

I couldn’t bear to look over the edge; I live on the sixth floor.

-o0o-

The policeman passed me a tissue and patted my shoulder. ‘Don’t blame yourself, Miss. A lot of people take it hard at this time of year. Even closest friends often don’t see it coming.’

‘She was depressed about turning forty this year. I can see now: she was acting strangely all evening.’ I sniffed.

‘I’ll break the news to the husband. Are they separated?’

‘I think they were having trouble. I don’t know why he didn’t come to dinner with her.’

-o0o-

It took me an hour to clean up all the broken glass from the patio door.

I was tempted to text Jack, but it was too risky, so checked my online banking instead and was satisfied the police had already broken the ‘tragic’ news.

Then I flushed away my insurance policy: the psilocybin container with Jack’s fingerprints on.

Angela mostly writes short stories and has been published in Café Lit and Backstory Journal as well as shortlisted in various competitions. She is currently working on her debut novel having recently completed an MLitt in Creative Writing with University of Glasgow.

Poetry Drawer: Insomnia: Contemplation III: Calculations by Dr Susie Gharib

The silence of the night,
in the wake of many bullet-rent years,
is torn by the remonstrance of three stray dogs
who find no food in the garbage container,
having been emptied by junk-collectors
who would not now hesitate to consume
any available leftovers.

In the background, the festivity of a posh nightclub,
which is not very far-off,
aims at the slumberous heart
with enervating beats of folklorish drums.
This happens every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night
until the break of dawn.

Poverty and excessive wealth sit side by side
in this part of the world.
There are no West Ends or East Ends,
which only makes the contrast more flagrant.

My dog is agitated and responds with a series of barks.
I have to find a way of calming her down
or I will meet with a wave of disapprobation
from the neighbours themselves,
who will sift all other noises
and only hear my dog’s responding soundtrack.
I start stroking her coat
and her barks eventually subside,
but she remains unsettled
by both the shrieks of the nightclub
and the intermittent howls of homeless dogs.
How can I explain to friends that insomnia
has nothing to do with the intake of caffeine
or psychological strife?

Contemplation III

What is God?
I ask myself as I contemplate the interwoven clouds.
Far on the horizon, faint streaks of lightning corrugate the gloaming sky,
Ruffling my meditative stance,
for now we dread whatever can herald a storm,
which we associate with floods, earthquakes, and apocalyptic doom.

I retrieve my thoughts from the menace of apprehensiveness
that tends to dominate our current moods.
How can I paint a mental picture of a featureless Lord?
He is not supposed to possess eyes, a mouth, or a nose.
In paintings, He is depicted with a white beard
and sagaciously old.
What if He is eternal youth
and this virgin world which we have contaminated
is one of his countless words?

I like the idea of inhabiting a word.
It is simpler than the metaphysical and transcendental schools
for within each word He utters
dwells realms and worlds to roam.

Calculations

She twists every word I speak.
I decide to calculate how many words I utter
in her presence every day,
and to monitor their denotative and connotative implications.
She does not say Good Morning,
because she knows that every conversation would end
in acrimony and ill feelings.
She resurrects the past instantaneously
and blames me for every single decision
taken by my dad,
whose headstone is now twenty-two years old.
These calculations would hopefully divert my mind
from the putridity of every memory she unearths
to derail any dialogue aimed at peace-making.
I can put up with the abuse that pours into my consciousness
but the desecration of the memory of the dead,
especially that of my kind-hearted dad,
is more than I can take.
She seizes every opportunity to heap blame
on his decaying head.

On the first day, it does not work.
I wade into her lukewarm morning talk
until it gets scorchingly hot
and lava is forced out of my tongue.
It becomes so hard to keep silent
once the agitation of the nervous system sets in
and she is so good at awakening the worst in you
not even slumberous demons on narcotics
can ignore her venom.

On the second day, I succeed in shortening each argument
by five minutes
and though I cannot count the words in use,
the shortened time of the interchange
indicates the inevitable decrease.

On the third day, I begin to enjoy this test of patience;
however, the less words I use,
the more infuriated she becomes.
It is a no-win situation.
I begin to turn my thoughts inwardly
every time she starts her turbulent orchestration.
Half her words go unheard
and the lack of physiognomical reactions on my part
makes her mistake taciturnity for acquiescence
in her never-ending remonstrations.

Dr Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Susie’s first book (adapted for film), Classic Adaptations, includes Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

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

Poetry Drawer: Just visiting: Strike by Glenis Moore

Just visiting

Slipping softly through sun-dappled trees
swaying grasses in time to summer’s hum
casting pollen up like sequinned sparkles
strolling though blossoming fields
ruffling the feather of the nesting birds.
Whipping waves into mountains of spray
stripping the last leaves from autumn’s dying.
Hats are tossed into the air
the rain flies in the face of night.
Forever moving, a restless rover
knowing no settled home.
Tonight there may be howling
and the windows may shake
but by morning there will be little sign
except the detritus of the wild.
Packed up gypsy-like,
the wind trails his life through the world
and is shut out
even in the quiet times.

Strike

I saw a spark of lightning in the dark,
its burst of brilliance lit up the whole sky.
The mark of blackness after was so stark
with depth impenetrable to the eye.

The grit and fury split the world in two,
with haunted trees denuded of their leaves.
The houses silhouetted by the view
of such a force that threatens all that breathes.

As quickly as it came it struck no more,
the night remained untainted by its thrust,
and all that stalked the darkness as before
returned to living as they always must.

Glenis has been writing poetry since the first Covid lockdown and does her writing at night as she suffers from insomnia. When she is not writing poetry she makes beaded jewellery, reads, and sometimes runs 10K races slowly. She has been published by Dreich, Dust Poetry, and Wildfire Words.

Poetry Drawer: Shake Infinite Do: Tart Mayhem Brick: Rate Reek Bikini: asleep in the brambles: awash in graceful varieties of limping by Joshua Martin

Shake Infinite Do

Bill to Gross A cinched Flame
     threw – – – – – form – – – – –
MOAN   a   Lease   A   attacked
              forbearance wheelbarrow
(un)avoid(able)
                      conflict
Negation                     therapy
– – – – – pursuit phobia
            stoic branch – – – – –
     happy harpy made a Pen
Is     never     underworked
  hairy     chest     heave X-
Ray            tape            measure
      treasure

Tart Mayhem Brick

new        release        PeR        gloved
     hand             FuLL                      steam
shipping label cut upward
featured Wrist home in
pigeon foRt short hOpe In
hAlf maverick round UP
supper formulation ProTecTed
        d   e   g   r   e   e

Rate Reek Bikini

defamation triangulation doubt bricks
speechless brother of a tonic spandex
Tangent practice metal accessibility leak
        memorial speech
        fired expatriate
        acid steam
                         intimate bAr
                         WaX        ed

asleep in the brambles

crisp snowflakes
                        on the frontlines of global teddy bear wars

        rainstorms with oats
        unforgettable suspenders

               stretched like a mislaid zig zag
               of loch ness monster promenades

this prolonged wonderment spinning like a helicopter

awash in graceful varieties of limping

cashews shovelling gelatin racing down bankruptcy
     fingernails could grow six, seven, eight inches
              motorcycle attaché trifle snickering

the bunch of clumsy grapes
punch a stage hymn

                        a dinosaur skeleton
                        in cheap fabrication
                        backsliding

Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is member of C22, an experimental writing collective. He is the author most recently of the books peeping sardine fumes (RANGER Press) and [Ruptured] >> Schematic <<  MAZES (Sweat Drenched Press). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals.

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

Pantry Prose: Marlon’s Mint Choc Chip by John Caulton

‘Any sauce, sir?’ asks the ice-cream man.

Marlon shakes his head. He takes his ice-cream neat. All his dessert buddies know that!

Tub in hand, he spoons the mint choc chip into his mouth. Smacking his lips, he says to me, ‘Not bad, but I’ve had better. Remember that place in Frisco, back in ’54? Down on the waterfront. Damn, that was the best; a fine balance of liqueur crème de menthe and California cream.’

‘Spearmint, not peppermint,’ I say.

‘Correct, Doc. They had it just right.’

Finishing his first serving, he’s already ordering seconds.

‘Hey, fella! Two birthday cakes for me and my partner. And please, make ‘em doubles.’

‘Coming up, sir! Wafers too?’

‘No, thank you. Say, are you new here? I ain’t seen you around before.’

‘Yes, sir. I started a week ago.’

‘What’s your name?’

‘Romeo Ricci.’

‘Really? Sounds Italian. Is it Italian?’

‘I’m not sure, sir. I’m from Boise, Idaho.’

‘Well, you should know, Romeo Ricci from Boise, Idaho. All men need to be acquainted with the blood that runs in their veins. Here, get yourself an ice-cream, young fella. It’s on me.’

‘Why, thank you, sir. I’ll have a pistachio, if you don’t mind.’

‘I don’t mind at all, but I had you down for a tutti fruitti.’

‘To your health, sir!’

‘And yours.’

Marlon begins on the hard stuff: Neapolitan, rum raisin, and a pumpkin-watermelon twist.

I try my upmost to keep up, but the raspberry ripple leaves me reeling.

‘Think I need the men’s room, Marlon. I may be some time.’

‘That’s okay, Doc. I’ll partake in a triple cookies and cream. That’ll keep me good company ‘til you get back.’

When I return, fifteen minutes later, Marlon has moved on to a maple and oyster special. His eyes are bulging and there’s stains on his jacket. I pass him a napkin to wipe his chin.

‘You’re a wild one,’ I say.

Marlon smiles. ‘Romeo made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’ve never had oyster ice-cream before.’

‘Any good?’

‘Stick to the bacon and banana, Doc. That’s my advice.’

Bud suddenly appears.

‘Hey, Bud, where the hell have you been?’ asks Marlon.

‘Stopped for a quick one at Sugar & Sprinkles, down on 37th. One became two became three. Y’dig?’

‘Sugar & Sprinkles? I thought the parlour on 37th was named Creamy Confections. Owned by what’s-his-name, Guisseppe. That’s right, ain’t it, Doc?’

‘Yes. Guisseppe Gentile and his brother Gerardo.’

‘Well, it ain’t now. It’s called Sugar and Sprinkles and run by some Sicilian named Stefano Savellini.’

‘Well, damn me,’ says Marlon. ‘That’s a lot of alliteration for one ice-cream parlour! Anyhow, what was your poison, Bud?’

‘I had me a cake batter chaser.’

‘Chaser?’

‘Blue moon and then a bubblegum.’

‘You animal!’

‘Says you!’

Bud orders a round of butterscotch and is the first to wolf it down.

‘Ah, reminds me of Chicago in ’52. The Palmer House. Picked up a hot waitress called Katie in the Chin Chin Cream Club. Remember, Doc?’

‘Sure do. I spent the week with a German dancer named Gerda. You too, Marlon. You fell for that Irish singer. The redhead. Freckly face, long legs and swinging hips. That doll had it all. Was it Caitlin or Cliona?’

‘No idea, Doc. But I recall the Parmesan like it was yesterday. Never had ice-cream like it before or after. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it was flavoured with lemon zest, red fish eggs, chipolata infused olive oil, bitter artichoke and the finest Manzanilla sherry.’

‘No, you’re spot on, Marlon,’ Bud says. ‘And sprinkled with chive flowers.’

‘Heavenly blossom,’ says Marlon.

‘Say,’ says Bud. ‘I don’t know about you guys. But I’ve been over-indulging lately. I had my tailor let out my pants this afternoon. Too much of this creamy courage, I reckon. After tonight, I’m gonna abstain for a while. I don’t want to be no Jackie Gleeson.’

‘Or Raymond Burr,’ I say.

‘Oh c’mon, Bud,’ says Marlon. ‘Man up! Eat as much ice-cream as you damn well like. This is America. No one needs to be dieting in the land of milk and honey.’

‘But what about the work?’ asks Bud. ‘A guy needs to keep slim if he’s to get the parts, don’t he?’

‘Ah, you know the business,’ says Marlon. ‘Once a star always a star. You get fat, so what? You’ll get paid the same.’

‘Or more,’ I say. ‘Like Raymond Burr.’

‘Exactly, Doc, Exactly.’

An hour later, Marlon slumps over the counter.

‘You’re not looking too good,’ says Bud.

‘Like you got a mutiny down below,’ I say.

‘I’m fine,’ mumbles Marlon. ‘But maybe I shouldn’t have had that last butter brickle! It’s always the butter brickle that gets you in the end. Hey, Romeo!’

‘Yes, sir?’

‘I need one more for the road, but something unostentatious.’

‘Sir?’

‘Humble. Simple. Plain. Whaddya got?’

‘Just French vanilla, sir. You’ve tasted every other flavour.’

‘He hath eaten me out of house and home; he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his!’ says Bud.

Marlon says, ‘Spare me the Shakepeare, wise guy.’

‘Maybe you’ve had enough ice-cream for one night,’ I say. ‘Don’t forget, you’ve got a shoot in the morning.’

‘I’ll call a cab,’ says Bud.

‘Where to?’ asks Marlon.

‘I was thinking of Maria’s Cheesecake Pantry on 44th.’

‘Cheesecake? Now you’re talkin’! Let’s go, boys! Sayonara, Romeo!’

‘Have a pleasant evening, sir.’

John Caulton is the editor of the website Flash Fiction North.

Poetry Drawer: To a Saccharum Spontaneum! by Monalisa Parida 

O congenial queen of Autumn!
Why so sweet of all flowers?
Tall in height, colour so bright!
Venerations of all walks in life.
Paradise on earth and for human beings.
Primal ballerina for mellowest breeze,
Crony of the ablaze sun
And a guest of rainy season.
One after another hour
Full of motivations and fun
For the worldly lasses and sons!
O convivial queen of Autumn!
Your farewell is so near
Nearer than the poet’s pen
On the paper filled with emotions!

Monalisa Parida is an assistant professor of English in Bhubaneswar College of Engineering, Jankia, Odisha, and a prolific poetess. She is very active on social media platforms and her poems have been translated into different  languages and published in various e-journals.

She has 100 international awards for writing poetry. Her poems have been published in international e-journals “New York parrot”, “The Writers Club” (USA), “Suriyadoya literary  foundation”, “kabita Minar”, “Indian Periodical” (India) and “Offline Thinker “, “The Gorkha Times “ ( Nepal), “The Light House”(Portugal), “Bharatvision”(Romania), “International cultural forum for humanity and creativity”(Aleppo, Syria), “Atunispoetry.com”(Singapore), also published in various newspapers like “The Punjabi Writer Weekly (USA)”,  “News Kashmir (J&K, India)”, Republic of Sungurlu (Turkey)” etc.

One of her poems has been published in an American anthology named “The Literary Parrot Series-1 and series-2 respectively (New York, USA)”. Her poems have been translated into various languages like Hindi, Bengali, Turkish, Persian, Romanian etc.  She is the author of the books “Search For Serenity”, “My Favourite Grammar”, “Paradigm”, and “Beyond Gorgeous”.

Books from the Pantry: The Arctic Diaries by Melissa Davies reviewed by Neil Leadbeater

Poet and travel writer Melissa Davies lives in the North West of England. After embarking on a short career in cancer care, she spent 18 months in 2018 exploring the mountains of Europe and North Africa by bike and on foot before spending the winter of 2018/19 on Sørvær (South Island), one of only a handful of inhabited islands in the Fleinvær archipelago off the Arctic coast of Norway, a place that is described as having as many islets, reefs and low islands as there are days in the year. When she is not travelling, Davies spends her time working with local communities to create collage poems which have been displayed in National Trust woodlands, high street restaurants and shopping centres. The Arctic Diaries is her debut collection.

In her introduction, Davies tells us that all the stories, myths and events referenced in the book belong to the people she met on the island but have been embellished by her own research or her own imagination. The book therefore sits between fact and fiction with every word written having come from the pen of an outsider. More crucially, her aim is to give some of their stories a sense of permanence and a life of their own before the oral traditions of a windswept archipelago are lost forever. A short, helpful guide to Norsk words is included for the benefit of the reader.

Reading this collection, we can almost taste the tang of seaweed at the back of our throats, smell the brine off the sea and catch the scent of juniper everywhere. Living on such a small remote island, ‘a scatter of barely land’, we have a heightened awareness of the weather and the sea, of ‘tarpaulin / slapping wind thick with bursts of sea spray, / ropes jumping waves like hounds restrained’ and ‘currents tearing islands apart’. One of the strengths of this collection lies in the way in which Davies can conjure up a sense of place with just a few well-chosen words. In ‘The Fisherman’s Wife Collects Books’, for example, the Arctic archipelago becomes ‘this place of moss and juniper, amber skies / melting into pools of kelp and always those coils of blue rope’. Some of her images stay in the mind too, such as this one, from the same poem, where she imagines sending a book through the post to the fisherman’s wife:

                           The cover is thin,
cheap print that feels like slightly more than another page.
It won’t travel well. Waves of damp will swell each leaf
while it waits out weather in her post box over the sound.

The poems in this collection are populated by sea-monsters, fisher folk, lookout men, otters, sheep, sea eagles and curlews. Despite the empty spaces, there is plenty going on: everything from scaling fish to emptying crab pots.

While the inhabitants collect feathers and fish bones, Davies collects stories which are just half-glimpsed at when read between the lines: stories of people disappearing without trace and then just as mysteriously reappearing, imprisonment by a freak tide, a tale of a sunfish pulled from a hat or the sudden discovery of a jawbone found on a beach with all its teeth intact: isolated incidences from insular communities dredged up from the past.

For me, the centrepiece of this collection was ‘Vanishing Act’. It speaks powerfully about the need to preserve something, a way of life, perhaps, before it is gone forever. Here are the opening lines:

How can you know what it is like to lose
your magic? When surviving here was an act
set up by fishermen with no view beyond the sea.
Their rope frays between your fingers
until a single thread holds your whole animal
reason to continue.

In this collection, which is beautifully illustrated by Natasha Emily Lynch, Davies brings us a snapshot of island life in one of the most remote communities in Norway. This is a book where folklore, poetic imagination, dialect and language come together in lines that are as powerful as a storm force wind.

You can find more of Neil Leadbeater’s reviews here on Ink Pantry.

Neil Leadbeater was born and brought up in Wolverhampton, England. He was educated at Repton and is an English graduate from the University of London. He now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, articles and poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His publications include Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014), Finding the River Horse (Littoral Press, 2017), Punching Cork Stoppers (Original Plus, 2018) River Hoard (Cyberwit.net, Allahabad, India, 2019), Reading Between the Lines (Littoral Press, 2020) and Journeys in Europe (co-authored with Monica Manolachi) (Editura Bifrost , Bucharest, Romania, 2022). His work has been translated into several languages. He is a member of the Federation of Writers Scotland and he is a regular reviewer for several journals including Quill & Parchment (USA), The Halo-Halo Review (USA), Write Out Loud (UK) and The Poet (UK). His many and varied interests embrace most aspects of the arts and, on winter evenings, he enjoys the challenge of getting to grips with ancient, medieval and modern languages.

Poetry Drawer: Unlikely Candidate by Karol Nielsen

It was the 90s and I was in my 20s walking down Broadway on my way home when a man grabbed my boob and grinned as he passed by.

I was an unlikely candidate for groping with my A cup chest.

A woman watched the whole thing go down and asked, “Do you know him?”

I said, “No!”

Karol Nielsen is the author of the memoirs Walking A&P and Black Elephants and three poetry chapbooks. Her first memoir was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her full-length poetry collection was a finalist for the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her poem “This New Manhattan” was a finalist for the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.

Poetry Drawer: The early: flirty singles, power players, & celebrities: adagio by Mark Young

The early

sonnets of Michelangelo,
those composed whilst
on a limited folic acid
intake, are so twisted
in upon themselves
they have become
both water-resistant
& washable. Even so,
that insane artistry,
the multiple narrative
perspectives, the forward-
thinking use of glass—
all still tempt like fresh
raspberries at the local store.

flirty singles, power players, & celebrities

It’s evident from
the way that
the angles of the
owner’s jawbones

project that this
laundromat is a
reincarnation of
the original late

night dance-spot
where mansion chic
& rock-star bach-
elor pad collided.

adagio

Words come back to me —
pizzicato, arco, bass clef — from
that part of my past which
has to do with music. Finger
positions come back, the
horsehair bow, & that upright

stance you have to adopt &
adapt to with an instrument
as big as yourself. Associat-
ions come back, & favourite
pieces — currently it’s the
Concierto de Aranjuez that’s

picking its way across my
forebrain. You might say
everything comes back; but
as long as time continues its
inexorable march forward you
know that will never be true.

Mark Young was born in Aotearoa / New Zealand but now lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia. His most recent books are with the slow-paced turtle replaced by a fast fish, published by Sandy Press in May, 2023, & a free downloadable chapbook of visuals & poems, Mercator Projected, published by Half Day Moon Press in August 2023.

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