Congratulations to Sanjeev Sethi. His new collection of ‘wee poetry’, Bleb, has been published by Hybriddreich from Scotland. Here is a glimpse into his new work..
Campestral locales furnish the song and dance routine with a context. Ill-lighted rooms caution me of you. When their consciousness darkles, I am snug as a bug. Why does sadness complect my cheeriness? Is alertness a curse?
The happy wear no brassard, nor those with the black dog baying at them. In- ternalized emotions blaze inexperienced deliveries. During the phase, it’s advisable to be wary of moonshine. It hikes the fit. Falsity obscured in papyrus will singe in its conflagration. Every deletion has its erasure dust. Weightlessness is illusory: guilt is the grief.
your circle is a triangle this is my pile of moons
the unified heaven the name of the silence
the machine is boiling the numbers this old owl is the lantern
in the marigold half-pipe on the morning of the crying
the sound of the furniture of the brook (wear a new cape)
the slipping book of vowels is not moving thru the window the letter of the moon when I am the calm apple
a new apple for the paris & the london & that old world of the channel I become the clever alien when I see the street level world of the pines
I was the laughing huck of the old island we are here in the sweet dust of the something
another time is the layer of salt to feel a hundred more the french bread is the weather of the cardboard name
the grass in the gandalf rays
in the pines I saw a meteor shaking a glass I won a news trumpet
is that the worm of the winter dust? is that the paper of the doll?
to see a measurable nothing the breakfast of the cloud
why my copper is in the doritos that nectar could slow the earth
why it hums
J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. His poetry has appeared in many small press publications, worldwide, since 2002. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). His first full-length collection, entitled In Ghostly Onehead, is slated for a 2021 release by mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press. His work has recently appeared in E·ratio, Otoliths, and Word For/Word. Visit Madverse for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado, USA.
I’m ten, trying to sit still but my blinks grow long. I’m following crumbs from pew to balcony, dropping bulletins to watch them spin. The exhale of noise and rituals of hymnals begin.
I’d rather be zip-tied to the ladies room sink pipe. My Sunday nylons with toe seams make my feet squirm in my flats. I’m thirteen, hung over, my eyes too full of sun. There’s smoke in my hair like a stale hat.
Is God out the window in the parking lot? His voice in the foyer in the missionary map, on the lobby wall lined with colourful tracts? Sometimes God lives in my head, there last night when I snuck out and boys surrounded me, when I threw up in my sister’s bed.
Toss My Pics Like I Don’t Exist
Father, these years of silence I prefer to your vaults of verses and violence, words from your rotted tongue rip me for my faults off the family tree.
You scissored my form from the Xmas portrait, I took husband and sons with me.
Edges of my baby album are wavy with age. The cover’s mother duck pulls a train of chicks. I’m the one she dumped out and ditched.
Two lifetimes ago, Catherine Zickgraf performed her poetry in Madrid. Now her main jobs are to write and hang out with her family. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press.
The mist hangs heavy on the sodden fields, A shroud cloaking the world in soft grey muslin. Charcoal trees hold their bare branches up in supplication And each blade of chilled grass drips diamonds. A far off river of cold traffic is muffled thunder But all else is silence under the dead white mist; Only the sound of wetness seeping out and Stillness loitering under the trees, wrapped in cloud. Underfoot the mud is black and stiffly oozes, Half released from its armour of hard frost. Beneath the sharpness of jagged blackthorn twigs The green of returning spring flowers has faded grey And the grass shrinks back from the dark nakedness Of the tyre-ravished path and hoof-trodden mire. Only the tips of bluebell leaves and of arum lilies Stand green below the weeping hedgerow. A solitary robin hops from the blackthorn Picking its breakfast from the livid green moss And a chaffinch shouts his warning call from the ash tree. Piercing the misty shroud with the sound of light.
Sadly, Jan de Rhe-Philipe passed away recently. As a fellow student of the Open University, her poem was chosen for the first Ink Pantry anthology, back in 2012. We send our deepest condolences to Jan’s sister, Fleur.
For years, the East Asians have been ranked among the top in the International Maths Olympiad. It is no wonder that this continuing success eventually leads many to assume that East Asians are good at maths. Well, although there is some truth in that stereotypical statement, it is still not entirely true. There are many prolific East Asian artists who have found success in their artistic and literary pursuits. As much as most traditional East Asian parents believe that arts enrich a child’s well-being, it is not a lucrative profession. But what if there is a positive correlation between arts and maths? That’s what British East Asian author Maisie Chan wants to explore in her latest children novel, Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths.
Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is a delightful read. It’s funny, well-paced and heart-warming. The author invites us into the world of Danny Chung, a precocious eleven-year-old boy who loves drawing more than anything else. He would even hide under the duvet to draw his comic strips that document his daily life. His parents run a Chinese takeaway, Lucky Dragon, which is located in ‘one of Birmingham’s remote suburbs’, Longdale High Street. The only problem is, Danny hates maths and he has a maths project to complete at the end of his Easter holidays (yikes!). He is in for a surprise when his parents clean his bedroom one Saturday morning to make room for a bunk bed. Thinking he can finally invite his best friend and comic wingman, Ravi, for a sleepover, Danny happily makes plans for it. But his excitement dissipates when his surprise turns out to be a little, wrinkly, ex-maths champion grandmother from China. Nai Nai can’t speak a word of English. To Danny, she sounds like a ‘mixture between a baby singing and a frog’. Just when things can’t get any worse, Danny is tasked to look after her during the holidays while his parents are busy tending their takeaway shop.
Hilarity ensues when Nai Nai embarrasses Danny at a local grocer with her seed spitting antics and her surprise appearance at Danny’s school with her delicious braised chicken feet. Soon, he realises that both of them have more in common than he thought.
Throughout the novel, we are also introduced to the other Chinese family, the Yees, who live within five miles of each other. Clarissa Yee, also known as Auntie Yee to Danny, is the epitome of an Asian tiger mum. She sends her daughter, Amelia Yee, to a private school, various enrichment classes, and elevates her prized daughter on the pedestal. And Amelia doesn’t disappoint. She is a model Chinese high achiever who excels in both her studies and music. But beneath this intelligent and obedient façade lies a rebellious streak that is waiting to break free from her mother’s iron fist. Adrian Yee, also known as Uncle Yee, is an avuncular figure that Danny can relate to.
Illustrator Anh Cao does a wonderful job with Danny’s comic strips, which fits perfectly into the narrative. Likewise, there are many light-hearted moments to savour. One of them is the unlikely friendship forged between Mrs Cruikshanks and Nai Nai, and their bingo adventures. Despite not knowing each other’s native languages, their shared love for bingo is one that transcends all language barriers and often had me in stitches.
Essentially, the themes of love, hope, intergenerational relationships and friendships are universal. This is exactly what we need during this precarious time. Chan develops her characters well with each of them having a strong distinctive voice. Nai Nai is such an endearing character that I eventually fell in love with at the end of the story.
But ultimately, what Chan does really well in this novel is her inclusion of the Chinese culture. When Danny’s parents remind their son about respecting his elders and looking after them, it highlights how much first generation Chinese immigrant parents have a need to reinforce these Asian values, for fear that their second generation British-East Asian children might forget about them. Likewise, when Clarissa and Danny’s mother compare their children’s academic achievements and extra-curriculum activities, it is a common sight, which most East Asian children experience during growing up. Such one-upmanship and boasting only illustrates the inferiority of one’s parenting style and the need to save face.
I believe Chan hopes to debunk the stereotypical statement that East Asians are good at maths, but instead, see each child as an individual – one who is special in their unique way, and skills. Despite being a children’s book, it surprisingly rekindles my memories of growing up in a Chinese family and helps me to reconnect with my heritage. Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is one of those children’s books that will make you laugh, cry, and tug your heartstrings.
Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths is now available at Waterstones, The Rocketship Bookshop, Amazon UK and Book Depository.
I roll out the mist and the moon trickles down on my shoulder.
Each night I lose to another alphabet, another syllable, The slapping of stars on the mirror how all build this raga amidst chaos.
Your smile is like heart-shaped leaves and the wetness is on my palm, so many verses flower near bedside.
A solitary leaf waits with my words, stream path crossing is not as hard as you might think.
Kolkata High Street
Fine rain walks with the pedestrians, mirror halls and amber rooms shine with the shadows of back garden walls and noiseless leaves.
The flood of colours excavate the layers of the city, the allure of words collecting, from inside out, waits for a new language.
The footprints seek the light of a deeper place, commoners talk about freedom without compromise for good or evil- willing to be struck dumb.
Rumbles of cars on the street seek the meaning of memories, each trope comes close to song, the whispers write libretti, the music embraces the alphabets of evening.
A solitary flower tumbles from the long arms of the branch and then the ovation of the unknown birds splits the rainbow of night.
Like the hum of a taut string in the dark the city loves to sing his own words taking us down numerous mystic lanes and bye lanes.
Every time we speak of darkness the metaphors are faced with the black and white lines the syllables pass through the grills with ease.
The street identifies the follicle of shadows and then becomes the domain of trivial, the tiny rafts of refuge knock the door.
Rain-puddles chisel the grey clouds the world dissects morning whispers with the weight of gravity and gravitas.
The proverbial truth hangs in a frame silent dawns rise above the bends of rivers, the soft reel runs out in haste.
Images draw the sky-blue kingfisher letting a little light in the dark chamber, count minutes to converse in sunbeams.
Gopal Lahiri is an Indian based bilingual poet, editor, critic and translator, published in Bengali and English language. He has authored 23 books to his credit. His poetry is also published across various anthologies and in eminent journals of India and abroad. His poems are translated into 14 languages.
Pandemic assents time and space for Drew to ponder. With stricter lockdown regulations and protocols, as Covid-19 cases soar to millions worldwide, Drew eventually finds comfort remaining home and works online.
Drew looks back to his younger days, remembering how he wanted to become an animator or illustrator. A passion meaningful to him than being an engineer. Ironic how the same youthful ambition keeps him going now.
At the start of his high school years, his family encouraged his options in a course that he did not particularly have a passion for, like law, business, or engineering. He could not forget the day the entire class laughed when he wrote to become an animator in his chosen career.
These encounters shifted him away from his formerly desired choice- and interest.
Eventually, he stopped doodling at the back of his notebook and filled them with formulas; filled them with scholarly words; filled them with the knowledge he did not find engaging at all. But everyone seemed to praise him for it. Although not the best, he tried to top the class each time. Acing his way through high school- but at the cost of his passion for the arts.
Forward some years later, in college, where he was taking up engineering. He sacrificed a lot already. He did his best- working hard for something that was not his joy. Drew ended up failing. Sure, he must sacrifice for it, but there is only so much hard work for him to do, at least for him. It honestly had not been working out for him since that college life. He succumbed to depression now and then, without everyone knowing.
At the moment, he seeks redemption through improving his art. He takes it seriously with enthusiasm and passion. He is making himself up for it because he knew people come and go. It goes the same for their support. He must learn to stand on his own. No denying people have been walking out of his life. If he turns back away from himself, it will be over. Young as he is, he has some handful of regrets in life, and the biggest one yet is not believing himself!
Not to mention the complexity of the current pandemic, politics, state of the entire nation, and the world. It prompts Drew to ask himself, what is to be my place under the sun?
That’s why he is clinging so hard to this career. It is quite a demanding job in terms of time and skills. Competition is tough. Drew doesn’t have enough income. But Drew hangs on and struggles for it because it’s like him telling himself not to give up on himself when everyone else does.
He feels delighted when somebody says they like his art. Or if they commission him. Or even if they request free artwork. Because then he acknowledges that there are still people who believe and fuel his hope.
Pandemic times are challenging enough. People all flock online to find jobs and opportunities, but Drew is fearless now. He is confident with some time he will improve and make that break as an artist.
Zea Perez lives in the Philippines. She writes children’s stories. But only now did she dare to share some of her writings. She has some pieces published at Flash Fiction North, Literary Yard, and soon at TEA. She also writes reviews for Booktasters and Goodreads.
Thwack! Performance piece disintegrates toes pointing in stubborn candle wick diary of a mad Madonna & child
Race to pomegranate shuffling board games: whack a mole!
Zeroing in on skull fracture summon enough airtight desk lamps to strut standing orange grove grooving sounds of escape blaring bam! bam!
looming diaphanous alabaster pole
Desk Drawer Enterprise
Carpenter bee dizzy adolescent scrape scrape scraping look at that woodwork! whew!
rope length hair lines criss to the crossing mannerisms spell grief X Y Z
Indifferent Lack of Initiative
Yoyo diatribe daughter of canned ham never had it so good as indifference
razor eyelash arm expanded the quiet is the pulse shivering magnetic field
Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is the author of the book Vagabond fragments of a hole (Schism Neuronics). He has had pieces previously published in E-ratio, Nauseated Drive, Fixator Press, The Vital Sparks, and Breakwater Review among others.
her hair tumbles blowing like unfurled cotton through unforgotten fumbles in vegetation of our own interpretation of each other in the dark.
my desk grown out of a tree sown from my lover where i carved these words in the bark sitting in her branches knowing what life is all about as i look out of wooded windows
and absorb it’s shows as it goes through each obscenity of extreme supremacy- a woman must not let a man forget she is a suffragette in her soul and under his blanket so never kept
or chatteled forever to the custom weather of his debt.
A Woman Does Not Have To Wait
under the old canal bridge you said so i can hear the echoes in your head repeating mine this time when it throws our voices from roof into water where i caught her reflection half in half out of sunshine. that’s when i hear Gerschwin playing his piano in you working out the notes to rhapsody in blue that makes me float light and thin deep within through the air when you put your comforts there. Waits was drinking whisky from his bottle while i sat through old days with Aristotle knowing i must come up to date because a woman does not have to wait.
The Two Saltimbanques
when words don’t come easy they make do with silence and find something in nothing to say to each other when the absinthe runs out.
his glass and ego are bigger than hers, his elbows sharper, stabbing into the table and the chambers of her heart cobalt clown without a smile.
she looks away with his misery behind her eyes and sadness on her lips, back into her curves and the orange grove summer of her dress worn and blown by sepia time
where she painted her cockus giganticus lying down naked for her brush and skin, mingling intimate scents undoing and doing each other.
for some of us, living back then is more going forward than living in now and sitting here-
at this table, with these glasses standing empty of absinthe, faces wanting hands to be a bridge of words and equal peace as Guernica approaches.
you stay and grow more mysterioso but familiar in my interior- with voices peeled full of field of fruiting orange trees fertile to orchard breeze soaked in summer rains so each refrain all remains.
not afraid of contrast, closed and opened in the past and present, this isolation of Hopper’s ladies, sat, thinking in and out of ifs and maybes in a diner, reading on a chair or bed knowing what wants to be said to someone who is coming or gone-
such subsidence into silence is a unilateral curve of moments and movements that swerve a straight lifetime to independence in dependence touching sublime rich roots then ripe fruits.
we share their flesh and flutes in ribosomes and delicious shoots that release love- no, not just the fingered glove to wear and curl up with in a chair, but lovingkindness cloaked in timeless density and tone in settled loam- beyond lonely apartments in skyscrapers and empty newspapers, or small town life gutting you with gossips knife.
Oviri (The Savage – Paul Gauguin in Tahiti)
woman, wearing the conscience of the world- you make me want less civilisation and more meaning.
drinking absinthe together, hand rolling and smoking cigars- being is, what it really is- fucking on palm leaves under tropical rain.
beauty and syphilis happily cohabit, painting your colours on a parallel canvas to exhibit in Paris the paradox of you.
somewhere in your arms- i forget my savage self, inseminating womb selected by pheromones at the pace of evolution.
later. I vomited arsenic on the mountain and returned to sup morphine. spread ointments on the sores, and ask: where do we come from. what are we. where are we going.
Strider Marcus Jones is a poet, law graduate and former civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry reveal a maverick, moving between cities, playing his saxophone in smoky rooms. He is also the founder, editor and publisher of Lothlorien Poetry Journal.
His poetry has been published in the USA, Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Germany; Serbia; India and Switzerland in numerous publications including: Dreich Magazine; The Racket Journal; Trouvaille Review; dyst Literary Journal; Impspired Magazine; Literary Yard Journal; Poppy Road Review; Cajun Mutt Press; Rusty Truck Magazine; Rye Whiskey Review; Deep Water Literary Journal; The Huffington Post USA; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; The Lampeter Review; Panoplyzine Poetry Magazine; Dissident Voice.
Acrobats abound on the benches of the transit lounge. Everyone else is staying clear, washing their hands in rosewater or anointing their brows with the blood of pygmy possums. Curtains are drawn across the picture wind- ows, dampening down the noise
of luggage trolleys, keeping out the sun. It may be we are all waiting for flights out; but since there are no flights scheduled out into the future, this may be where we have decided to make a stand.
The Councilman, in his tutu
The tractors have all escaped & run off into the forest, or so the mayor tells me. They’re John Deere, green, which makes them hard to see though I do hear them turning pirouettes at night. The elephants are annoyed, & jealous. Not be-
cause the tractors are destroying most of the foliage available for foraging. Turns out the tractors can perform a plier- retirer far better than even the most delicate of pachyderms.
The King James Version
It becomes obvious that saving your sex life is more important than saving your soul when you see in a com- posite advertisement of available titles that the price of a book on breast
augmentation is over six times the cost of the Bible. Mind you, those perky nipples on the cover do make it the more attract- ive proposition of the two.
Today the postwoman brought me an elephant. “What’s this?” I asked. “Wondered if you were interested in a pet,” she replied. “It was thrown out from a house earlier on my round. A big guy
lives there, named Hanni- bal. Apparently he’s down- sizing after a trip across the Alps, & there wasn’t room in the room for both him & the elephant.”
Mark Young’s The Toast will be published by Luna Bisonte Prods in a few months time. Recent poems have appeared, or are to appear, in Word For/Word, Die Leere Mitte, Home Planet News Online, experiential-experimental-literature, Utsanga.it, Hamilton Stone Review, & BlazeVOX, amongst other places.
You can find more of Mark’s work here on Ink Pantry.