Poetry Drawer: Eventually: The Councilman, in his tutu: The King James Version: Alpenstock by Mark Young

Eventually

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.

Alpenstock

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.

Pantry Prose: My Insatiable One by Sabrina Mei-Li Smith

         The breeze releases Ceris’s hair. It tumbles down her back as the artificial wind subsides. Trains vanish into the miasma of tunnels and eyes adjust to a world not ruled by sex, absinthe and narcotics. Her world is private. Ceris exists between the setting of the sun and every new dawn. She’s separate from the smells of drying wool, from commuters who move around like water. Ceris tugs the fur tighter and strides the length of Hackney Downs platform. Adverts meet her eye line, maps for long-forgotten tube stops, overflowing rubbish bins and polystyrene cups live on the floor. Stuff that doesn’t matter. London offers anonymity. Somewhere to hide but no privacy. The freedom to be a nobody within its own contradictions.

And she loves it… like an infatuation with a terrible boyfriend.

The poison and

Love

Of London.

          A boy shoots Ceris a curious glance from the British Telecom phone booth. She glides by with hands thrust into her white, fur coat. Ceris checks out his brown chin-length hair and needle-thread cords. He’s one of her people, somebody who wears second-hand coats and walks the streets with holes in his shoes.  His brown eyes follow her slow walk. One knee-high boot in front of the other.

        “Hey?” he says. Maybe into the telephone handle, maybe to her? Maybe they’ve met? Maybe not? Ceris ignores him and carries on. Night people vanish by now.

        Stepping on the escalator, daylight, rain, headaches await. Two teenagers brush past in school blazers.

        “It’s what’s-her-name? Courtney?” one says, over his shoulder. The other tugs his friend by the bag strap.

        “Courtney Love?” he laughs but they’re up and away, barging past suits and up. Ceris ignores them and their stupid half-insults. She stares at every advert on the ascent: musicals, paper cups, televisions, and pure black T-shirts… Ceris smiles to herself, like a private joke.

         There’s a newsstand at the top. Commuters buy chewing gum, tissues and cigarettes. They stand in a single-file line to pay the frowning Indian man. Sometimes Farrand says ‘hello’ to him but today the newsvendor is busy. He digs his hands deeper into the pockets of the stripy money belt.

      “I can’t change that,” he says with a raised eyebrow at the fluted five-pound note waved under his nose.

      “It’s money isn’t it?” says the suit. He slams down The Sun and runs to catch his train. Ceris catches the vendor’s eye. He shrugs.

      “Prick,” he says. Her eyes become wide but she doesn’t smile back.

      “Is he a prick for buying The Sun or not having change?” Ceris asks.

       “Both,” he says. She gives him a half-laugh and turns towards the concrete grey of the early morning. “Wait,” he calls.

       “Why?” she asks with a frown. She can do without the vendor’s ‘funny’ banter. Farrand isn’t with her so she doesn’t see why she should chat if she doesn’t feel like it.

         “Don’t be an on-your-period little madam. There’s something,” he says gesturing to the overstuffed wire racks of papers. Out of habit, Ceris eyes gaze to the top row. The women with blank, pornography faces stare back.

        “No thanks,” she says. Rudeness is a mode of defence. She turns on her heel.

         “Oi, Ceris, isn’t it? Speak to your boyfriend, then. He got it already,” he yells after her.

        “Farrand’s my manager,” she says under her breath and walks through the doors of the tube station. Taxi drivers try to park up, swearing escapes car windows in the nose-to-tail crush. She steps onto Hackney Road and its puddles, chalky dog-shit, potholes. For a moment, she looks up at the pigeon-coloured sky. She loves days like this, where she can do fuck-all and watch time pass. Ceris takes a turn home, south down the concrete road, avoiding splatters of multicoloured vomit and MacDonald’s cartons and watches newspaper dancing in the wind. She pulls fur. It’s freezing.

        Ceris crosses the road, past a greasy café, past grimy Chinese takeaways and stops by the flat. Her keys have vanished. The shop underneath her flat is open. The yellow sign reads ‘PATEL’S POUND SHOP’.  Another new blue-tacked advert sits in the front window.  She fishes through her suede handbag and her fingers brush change, tampons, broken eyeliner pencils, loose matches, and gum. Her eyes study the advert as fingers hunt… 

It’s not an advert.

Ceris sees something that looks a bit like her face. A shock of blonde, a crystal blue eye? There’s a weird moment of mental disconnect as she looks closer. It is her face. But she doesn’t recognise the person staring back. It looks too polished, too alabaster, too perfect than the everyday face she sees in the mirror. Ceris takes a deep intake of breath.

It’s the front cover of Knight– a soft porn mag.

          “What the fuck?” she asks nobody. Lorries zoom and expel gas. Cars swish past. The world goes on but Ceris stands still. Nausea rises up from the feeling of surrealism. Is this shock? This is weird. So fucking weird. Ceris gawps at herself. Herself? On the front cover of Knight? Underneath her head and printed in bold capitals is the legend ‘AMATURE PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIAL’ and in smaller letters ‘COVERSTAR: CHERYL ‘CERIS’ LEWIS’. The wind blows her hair with waspish energy. Holy Fuck.

          “Ceris, babes, it’s too early. My bones feel like fucking glass,” says a voice. She doesn’t turn around. She doesn’t have to. Farrand seems to just know when she can’t find her keys.

          “Did you do this?” she asks, staring at the picture.

          “Nah, nah. Mrs Patel stuck it up first thing,” says Farrand.

          “No, I mean… Knight?” she asks.

         “Knight’s reputable, it’s a photography mag,” he says. Farrand’s warm hand touches her shoulder and she turns. Ceris looks up at Farrand’s androgynous, cat-like face. She shrugs his hand away.

            “Fuck sake Farrand, what if my mum sees this?” Ceris says pushing the door to the Pound Shop. Sitar Tabla and incense warm the skin. Farrand follows her, holds the door to stop the tinkling wind chime. 

              “Ceris, baby, you said ‘modelling’,” Farrand says, running a hand through crude-oil coloured hair. Twiddles it. Mrs Patel’s in deep haggle with a local landlord about the price of tiles. She pays her upstairs tenants no attention.

                 “I said no porn. Singing yes, modelling, ok. This can’t stay,” says Ceris striding to the window and peeling BluTack off the glass. Farrand’s hand lands. He pins glossy front covers down.

               “Baby, you’re not topless,” says Farrand. His tone implies boredom.

               “That’s not the point,” Ceris says, pulling at the paper. Farrand’s hand remains. A huge tear rips across Knight– Ceris’s eyes.

               “You’re being stupid. Where you been, anyway?” asks Farrand. He knows Ceris had a date.  He knows where she went and who with. He knows everything. He’s trying to humiliate.  

               “I’m not embarrassed by the number of men I’ve slept with,” Ceris says through a yawn. Her eyes yearn for sleep.

           “Babes, I’m embarrassed. By the fucking quality of them. You’re giving it away. Try escorting,” says Farrand. You. Cannot. Believe

-the shit that comes out his gob.

             “A singer, not fucking porn! You said you’d find me a band, a recording contract,” Ceris says. Farrand told her it would be ‘fun’. It’s not the first time he’s lied to her.

             “Hey, hey? No swearing. No trouble,” says Mrs Patel, looking up from tile-based conversations. She waves her fingerless gloves to waft Ceris and Farrand out of her shop.

              “Sorry, Mina baby. Ceris’s annoyed” shouts Farrand with a smile designed for Mina Patel alone. Mrs Patel says something in quick Hindi to Farrand and they laugh.  Ceris’s face feels flushed, reddened, shameful.   

             “Pretty white girls use looks to make money. Won’t be around forever,” Mrs Patel says, she makes a face, wraps tiles in a newspaper, and rings prices through tills. Ceris looks up at Farrand’s achingly green eyes. He’s so serious. Too serious.

             “C’mon, babe,” he says and grabs. Ceris shrugs him off. Mrs P raises an eyebrow but says nothing. Hindi sitars whine but give no answers.

              “Nah,” Ceris says. Farrand raises his palms up. He grins from ear to ear, looks at Mrs Patel and says:

            “White girls?” to laughter.

           “What do you think you are? Some sort of pound-land Pimp?” Ceris spits, blood thumping through her temples, crimson spreading cheeks and chin.  Farrand aims his fixed Cheshire cat smile. All teeth and nails.

              “Baby, your choice. Let hysteria pass and then we’ll talk,” he says, spins heel. Gone. The smell of unwashed sweat, patchouli and spice linger. Ceris shreds glossy paper into confetti shoves Knight-trash deep into pockets of her second-hand fur. Mrs P and the landlord whisper behind hands, firm eyes glued to her long, tall figure. Ceris feels like shit stepping out in the brittle-cold street, confused but never alone.

Sabrina Mei-Li Smith is a PhD scholar, writer, lecturer, and researcher in the discipline of creative writing. She lectures on De Montfort University’s undergraduate Creative Writing B.A. Her first play, The Holy Bible, received Arts Council funding In 2019. She specialises in writing with marginalised individuals, and challenging accepted narratives, through writing residencies with Writing East Midland’s Elder Tree project, and Leicester City Council’s Memories into Healing Words project which documents the narratives of Leicester’s elderly, street-homeless, and Irish Traveller communities. She runs specialised and mainstream creative writing workshops for Leicester City Council’s Adult Education College and has been a writer in residence for Coalville Writes 2019. Sabrina was part of De Montfort University’s National Writing Day Creative Writing and Practice Research Conference in 2020. She writes for Feminist Trash Store on topics such as intersectional feminism and is a reviewer for the Chichester Centre for Fairy Tales, Fantasy and Speculative Fiction. 

Poetry Drawer: Incendium: Vorpal Glades: Zeroes On The Right by Hibah Shabkhez

Incendium

Laughter sets aquiver
The cane, sends a shiver
     Of anger, pure

As melting gold, that cuts
Through eternal darkness
     But it stops. Shuts

Off, with gentling sadness
Into smiles laced with rain.
     Tell me again,

How did you learn to flee
Sorrow like a perched thing
     Cawing and free?

Vorpal Glades

They kept faith with memory, stayed the same;
     While I did change to forge ahead

Queenly Cathy of the bench-shack palace
     Where each day my toe I stubbed
Scarlett, proud victor of all the races
     In which I came a panting last;
Ellen, the laughing ghost of the graces
     To which custom nailed my life’s mast;
Marian who outside class-windows dwelt
     To save my aching head from sums;
Anne, who beside the best-lit window knelt
      Reading on through the P.T drums;
And Darrell, with her wild temper of flame
     That made her all my bullies’ dread

The hardest goodbyes are from friends more real
     Than those whose grins are flesh and blood.

Zeroes On The Right

Mellon, ride forth with us on our quest for
      True poems to drain the rot from our land.
Poems to treasure like elven-lights or
Zeroes on the right, like the smallest strand
      Of cellotape, that needed, heeded thing.

Poems awaited like tomorrow’s toothpaste
     To dissolve the debris-prison and free
Our teeth to smile. Poems sweet to the taste,
Fashioned from good words like a good fruit tree,
     With the promise of freshness and cleansing.

Hibah Shabkhez is a writer of the half-yo literary tradition, an erratic language-learning enthusiast, and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Her work has previously appeared in Zin Daily, Litbreak, Broadkill, Rising Phoenix, Big City Lit, Constellate, Harpy Hybrid, and a number of other literary magazines. Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.

Poetry Drawer: Sleepy Whale 385: Sleepy Whale 417: Bluest Irish Eyes: Portugal Red Brick by Terry Brinkman

Sleepy Whale 385

Alabaster rich silk crucified shirt
Fan shoals above oval face
Playing her acoustic Base
Ghost woman’s maladroit silk skirt
Sitting on treeless grave dirt
Tobacco shop-girl’s stocking’s lace
Blue Irish blue eyes embrace
Shattered window pane insert
Gyasi unshed tear drop, eyes
Twilight walking in her sleep
To find pouter perfect lies
Tide over sand sheeting sweep
Jess of sunshade, sunrise
Over her shoulder Bar Keep

Sleepy Whale 417

Her boat left stuck in the mud last fall
She allowed her bowels to ease without compromising
Smelling like fresh printed rag paper from Budapest
Darkness shining in the brightness from the touch of the nurse
Shadow lay over the rock hiding her Purse
Fly bristles shining wirily in the weak eyes light infest
Her hat left hanging on the floor of the Hearse

Bluest Irish Eyes

I met her at the Wayside Inn
Her Ilk Horns Parrot Zodiac tattoo
Was on her breast
Half-life awe whenever we met
Her Bluest Irish Blue eyes
She left my love Pollinate paraphernalia
Limp as a wet rag
Her alabaster white navel jests a totty grace.

Portugal Red Brick

For Sale Cotton-ball Barron’s Moccasin
Humours in the morning after being Catholic
All wind and piss in the air like Arsenic
Third race gloaming grey muddler did win
The sun rises in the west of Berlin
Timeless as Portugal Red Brick
Fashionable exquisite charmingly low music
Nobbling with her beer grin
Red Bank Oysters for the bride
Gullet and gob are still his
Largest trees found world wide
Where the booze is cheaper quiz
Beamed Mud Cabin between the divide
The beer that tastes like Bear Wiz

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years. He started creating poems. He has five Amazon E- Books, also poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed, Jute Milieu Lit and Utah Life Magazine, Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, In Parentheses, Adelaide Magazine, UN/Tethered Anthology and the Writing Disorder.

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

Pantry Prose: The Chimera Narasimha Epic Battle by Balu Swami

Chimera was having a bad day. A string of bad days, in fact. She thought it was the goat overgrazing the hair on her back. Actually, it was a monkey on her back. The monkey was telling her to go East. Places to conquer, enemies to vanquish. Of late, she had been seeing visions of lion-like beasts – just like her – in distant lands. She was itching to match her strength against theirs and wage do or die battles. Could another creature match her speed and strength? Is there another being that possesses her prowess – a fiery breath that could destroy an entire forest, a serpentine tail that could inject poisonous venom, and a goat on her back with enormous horns that could spear an enemy to death in an instant?

She listened to the monkey and headed east. She crossed many rivers, climbed a number of mountains, swam across a vast body of water for days on end until she saw land on the other side, land vastly different from hers – arid and dry. Along the way, she stopped to hunt wild hogs, hares and birds on land and buffaloes, turtles and crocodiles in the water. The goat grazed on grass on land and survived on sea weeds in the ocean. The snake survived on rodents, rabbits and birds. Once on land, Chimera went looking for a mountain and found a kopje. The kopje was surprisingly thick with vegetation. She found a low-hanging canopy and went into hibernation. Months later, she awoke to the smell of humans. She roared and breathed fire. The humans scattered making shrieking noises. The next day she set out hunting and found all sorts of kill neatly lined up at the edge of the canopy. She understood the feast to be a tribute from the terrified humans. As days went by, she started to feel anxious again. This time, she saw a vision of a shape-shifting beast whose head alternated between that of a lion and an eagle. Within days, she heard a thunder louder than any she had heard followed by torrential downpour. She could sense the presence of a monster being somewhere close by. Chimera switched to war mode and went out looking for the beast. She found him/her in a pasture. The beast had a human face and the torso of a lion. As Chimera got closer, the head turned to that of a bird with a long beak and the torso turned into a bull’s. The bull developed wings and one of the beast’s spines turned into a tail. The form shifting was so disorienting that Chimera had difficulty focusing on the heightened sense of danger.

The two beastly beings fought with everything they had for two nights and a day. Every time, Chimera had the other beast cornered, she/he would fly up in the air and attack Chimera from behind. Chimera’s fire breathing did nothing to faze the enemy who doused the flames with waters from the sky. Finally, Chimera hit upon the tactic that won her the battle. When the enemy landed behind her, instead of whirling around to face her, she duped the enemy into thinking she had been fooled. When the enemy got close enough, she unleashed her tail and stung the enemy several times. The venom instantly killed the other beast. Chimera’s victory roar travelled to the end of the earth.

Narasimha heard the roar. As an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, the half-lion, half-human Narasimha recognized it as the roar of a heavenly beast. Narasimha had descended on earth for the sole purpose of killing the demon Hiranyakashipu, who, armed with the powers given him by Lord Brahma, the lord of all creation, had begun terrorizing Gods, Godmen and God’s devotees alike. After killing Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha, in a fit of rage, had drunk the demon’s blood. As a consequence, Narasimha had turned into a demon himself and had begun to terrorize the world. Having terrorized nearby villages, he had set out to rampage villages on the foothills of the distant mountains. It was then that he had heard Chimera’s roar.

Narasimha set out in the direction of the roar. Excited by the prospect of battling a worthy challenger, he raced, leaps and bounds, up the snowy mountains with heavenly peaks, the abode of all beings celestial. He trudged in the snow for days and nights until he reached a pass and waited there.

After slaying the form-shifting beast, Chimera had started towards the world he came from when the monkey commanded her to go further east. In a vision she had that night, she could see Narasimha waiting for her at the pass. Chimera left the arid land behind and reached the snowy mountains after many arduous days.

Narasimha and Chimera could sense each other’s presence even from a very long distance. Eventually, they met in the middle of the pass and the epic battle began. It was ferocious from the start. Narasimha’s advantage was his speed. He could move at the speed of light, so he manifested himself in several places at the same time. Chimera would see Narasimha near a tree, a rock, a twig, all at the same time. When wind kicked up snow, Chimera saw Narasimha in every particle. But Chimera was bigger and stronger and had more weapons. Their roars echoed in distant valleys. The fires they breathed melted snow on the peaks and started avalanches. Hundreds of villages at the foothills were destroyed. The melting snow swelled up the rivers that flooded the plains a hundred days away. The holy sages who had gone into meditational trances many moons ago, awoke to the sound of thunderous booms, bangs and blasts. They beseeched the Gods to intervene and put an end to the death and destruction caused by the demons.

On the 10th day of the battle, Lord Zeus, the king of the Hellenic skies, appeared before Lord Indra, the king of Indus heavens, to plead with him to end the battle. Lord Zeus said he himself was helpless since taking Chimera’s powers would mean breaking sacred vows: powers ceded to Chimera shall remain hers until her pre-ordained death at the hands of Bellerophon, the slayer of demons. Lord Indra confessed to his own inability for the same reason. Even though Narasimha was his brother, he had no control over Narasimha’s demonic powers.

The two Gods went to see Goddess Pratyangira, the personification of all energy, good and bad. Pratyangira gave Lord Zeus power over Narasimha and gave Lord Indra power over Chimera, thus ensuring that no vows were broken. At the 11th hour on the eleventh day of the battle, Lord Zeus took away Narasimha’s lightning speed and Lord Indra took away Chimera’s ability to advance. Narasimha became disoriented and started backing away. Chimera wanted to advance to make the kill, but her legs kept retreating – the tail had taken control of the body. Soon both demons headed towards the lands they came from.

Mission accomplished, the Hellenic God entered into a pact with the Indus God to seek each other’s assistance henceforth in battling demons that threatened heavenly order. The pact ensured peace on earth for a long time to come.

Balu Swami is a new writer. One of his pieces is in Flash Fiction North.

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

Poetry Drawer: Has the Train Arrived?: I Have Your Skin On My Mind: I Long To Be Loved: Our Hair Reposed: Quatrains by John Tustin

Has the Train Arrived?

I am sitting here alone, hair shower-wet,
Carefully digging the pebbles out
From the bottoms of my feet
(Where they’ve been embedded)
With the little sharp digging tool
Found folded in a cheap nail clipper.
I think about breakfast in the morning,
Wondering if I will wake up to make it,
Wondering if I will wake up to eat it.
Then,
Going to the window for the tenth
Time
With three questions in my mind –
Has the rain arrived?
How furiously will it fall?
How long will it linger?

I Have Your Skin On My Mind

I have your skin on my mind.
I have your sadness in my eyes.
I wear your apprehension, a pure white cloak
I work day by day to shed.
I hold you in my imagination.
I want you the way I have always wanted.
I long for you and the twisted smile
I see when I close my eyes.
I see it grinning over me as you ease me in.
I see you going slow on top of me.
I feel you dripping down each thigh,
My hands in your hair,
My mouth on yours.
I want to make you happy.
I want to see you smile just like that.
I know you know this wish to make you content is all about me.
I feel your hands going through the hair on my chest.
I shiver in compliance.

I would feel better with your body up against mine.
I have your skin on my mind.
I have your scent in my imagination.
You have me on a string.
Please pull me toward you.
I closed the door.
It’s just us.
You can still be invisible, just not to me.
I promise.

I Long To Be Loved

I long to be loved
And understood
And wanted

And that is why

The moon, the sun, the dirt beneath them

The wind and the clouds
And the depths of the ocean

The splashing on her rocks and sand
And the falling of the rain
Will always be more powerful

Than I

Our Hair Reposed

Our hair reposed on the same pillow,
You face away, I face toward,
My fingers clenched on your hip,
My body heaved to yours.
Smelling the evening in your hair
And on the back of your neck.
Just glorious.
No more worried lonesome blues.
You sigh and turn to me
And our mouths meet again,
Tasting hot and wet,
Just like the first time.
I grow hard against your leg
And your breasts strangle into my chest hair.
Now it’s hands and eyes locked
And tongues and lips,
Bodies moving as one.
The chains fall,
The music begins
And the room is burning
Like a star.
It’s time to show each other
What love feels like
Again.

Quatrains

In these poems I read
I see women compared to the moon, the sun,
A lovely spring morning
And even the ebb and flow of The Milky Way

But whenever I think of you
I just see a beautiful woman
Who is unaware of her power,
Uncertain of her beauty.

Not a force of nature,
Not a season or the impetus
For the growth of crops
Or the cycles of the ocean tide.

No, It’s just you –
A human woman so indescribably gorgeous
Whether waking from sleep or sitting alone
Or looking back at me with such kindness

And unfathomable love.
To me, that is more astounding
Than the movement of the tides
Or the aligning of the stars.

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

List of John’s work.

Poetry Drawer: Composting: Early November: An Aah Poem: Taxi: Lake Harmony, May 2020: Camping, the Safety in our Numbers by John Grey

Composting

Earth’s been composting for centuries.
Ted just hastens it a little.
That wire-mesh bin is at the heart of it,
five-sides and shiny wire,
cut and assembled it himself.
Twigs and roots, grass and rotting fruit –
he stirs it together like making broth.
Sure the smell is fierce
but he’s the kind of man who’s invigorated
by foul odours.
His nose connects them to plump red tomatoes,
golden turnips, melons fat as pregnant sows.
Indeed, the stench is a bridge
from his nostrils to the kitchen table,
from sweaty brow, strained hands,
to the McCreedys gathered together
for a delectable Sunday dinner.
So earnestly, he hurries nature along.
All for growing family in its own good time.

Early November

My breath-smoke greets yellow leaf
with silent echo, invisible ripple,
just this whisper made mist
in clusters of cold.

Keep moving through pallid light,
wild-honey froze tree trunks,
by cold metal fences,
blood and air, a crisp, wary mix.

There, in the distance,
the sniff of a chimney,
the pucker of faces
through window’s frail shine.

The onset of hearth,
the dusk hoops of flame,.
the flight of ash, the hug of fire,
and a house thawed of indifference.

An Aah Poem

Stream constant
in its flow,
its sounds,
no wonder I fall asleep
on the banks.

My nature incursion
pauses in a patch of soft grass.
And I don’t breathe as much
as swallow a long draught of air.

There’s a tear
in the clouds, the treetops.
Sun shines through inexorably.

Taxi

Taxis ignore me
on a dismal, rainy night.
No matter how far I stretch my arm,
the cabs speed by,
blurs of yellow indifference.
Snug in the back seat,
warmed by engine air,
that’s all I ask.
A short trip to my apartment.
five miles at most,
that’s all I need.
And I’m even willing to pay.
Look at my face,
dribbling with water.
my shirt, drenched
to the chilled skin.
Doesn’t that say big tip to you
in every language.
Finally, a taxi does stop,
a miracle.
but a woman appears out of nowhere.
pushes me aside
with a brusque “Excuse me. sir,
but I’m in a hurry.”
More rain, more soaking.
Patience will be lucky
if it doesn’t catch pneumonia.
Only a rush, a dash, keep dry.

Lake Harmony, May 2020

Daylight mops up after rain,
puddles ripple faces of drinking sparrows,
grass glitters, trees glow like glass,
new growth, flush with moisture,
welcomes sunshine into its fecund mixture,
the afternoon rolls out like a towel
drying its way into coming darkness,
where the moon waits behind Earth’s curve
ready to launch the night.

Camping, the Safety in our Numbers

They’re out there somewhere,
bears, wolves, maybe even a cougar.

The fire is dwindling down
so the cold also joins the pack.

But we have the tent, the bed rolls,
and the body heat that moves between us.

Protection comes down to your kiss,
my hug, your hair spilled on my shoulder.

A coyote howls. A great horned owl hoots.
You’d think they’d learn.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon.

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

Poetry Drawer: Man Out Of Time by Ray Miller

Man Out Of Time

Here’s where I get it, stood in the playground
next to parents who attended school
with my eldest, or when the new teacher
enquires if I’m her granddad.

Here’s where I get it, taking the youngest
to the cinema, bumping into an ex- colleague
I’d not seen for ages, who assumes
I’ve embarked on a second marriage.

Here’s where I get it, at the G.P. practice,
explaining Foetal Alcohol Syndrome,
quickly adding, that of course, she’s adopted –
otherwise what would they think of my missus.

Here’s where I get it, on Christmas morning
when she stops me from unwrapping
the present with Daddy written upon it,
because it’s intended for her real father.

Ray Miller is a Socialist, Aston Villa supporter and faithful husband. Life’s been a disappointment.

Poetry Drawer: Worcester Airport: April 2021 by Robert Demaree

Worcester Airport

In the ’80s you could fly
Piedmont into Worcester, Mass.
Weary Friday-night salesmen joked,
Helped the attendant pronounce the name.
This was my parents’ penultimate
Summer in New Hampshire,
My father agitated,
Convinced they had left
Without packing, and hoping
He could get a shave
At the barbershop in the lobby
Of a Days Inn motel,
My mother, exhausted,
Glad someone else would drive
The rest of the way.
The other day I bought a postcard
On eBay, outbidding someone
Who must have wondered
Why anyone else
Would want a souvenir
Of the Worcester Airport.

APRIL 2021

1.
On television every day
Several people tell us
That the images we are about to see
Are disturbing.
Shocking.
Dispiriting,
Though that is my word,
Not theirs.

2.
On our street at Golden Pines,
Red lights flashing more often now:
We’ve been here 15 years.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

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

Poetry Drawer: You Woo Me: Nostalgic: Lucia: The Lamp by Dr. Susie Gharib

You Woo Me

You speak of a coast that’s so pristine,
where the sand is decked with shells and pearls,
where the fish that venture into the air
are safe from spears and goring hooks.

There the trees that hum to the eager wind
have never been bled, or to fires fed
and nestlings whose parents fly all day long
are safe from fangs that crave for blood.

The ripples that lap its ancient rocks
know not the taste of flotsam or waste,
have never been whisked by engines whose grunts
can agitate the souls of the deep.

There I would romp with my shepherd dog
and walk barefooted along the bay,
and feed the dolphins as I do the swans
every urban but blessed weekend.

You woo me with a notion,
I scrutinize my map,
but startled wake up to the alarm clock:
my dog has been departed for over twelve months,
and your headstone is covered with ivy and moss.

Nostalgic

Castle Street,
the shop where I used to purchase my pint of milk,
the telephone booth that conjured up my next of kin,
the oldest house in Glasgow that nourished my medieval bent.

On Cathedral Street,
our window commanded an imposing view
of the historic cemetery where the gentry repose,
shielded by monuments of stone,
which are now a metaphor for tranquility and hope,
my shelter from a never-ending war;
the inn where I consumed my very first scone
with a Scot who wore no kilt
but was Celtic to the bone,
my very first friend in Glasgow.

Sauchiehall Street,
the window-shopping of gorgeous stores
the Glasgow Film Theatre whose exotic films enthralled
aided by John Doyle’s jellies and popcorn.

Lucia

She sat in a cage matted with wood shavings
opposite a cat who pranced with fright,
I wondered why he had placed them thus.

I was walking to escape our dose of darkness,
a three-hundred-minute power-cut,
periodically robbing evenings of work and fun.

A whimper then a scream of remonstrance
made me retreat to the very same spot
I always avoided with utter disgust.

With a stick, he was terrorizing his products:
rabbits, chickens, and all sorts of birds
to be docile and curb their wants.

I shun all dealings with whoever trades with lives,
but gazing into her eyes, I was utterly mesmerized,
a seven-month Loulou Spitz, mere merchandise.

He made me pay double the price she brought
for alarm was resonant in my voice
that had a pitch in the presence of abuse.

I called her Lucia, she brought me light.
Her name’s pronounced with the Italian tʃ sound
as in charming and cheering, the traits of my new friend.

The Lamp

The lamp that illuminated your pensive face,
kindling freckles that dot unadulterated benignity,
gilding the auburn that crowns your head,
rippling above a well-nurtured suavity,
cascading over your variegated lips,
suffusing wan cheeks with cordiality,
imbuing each iris with fiery rays,
redeeming each dilation from obscurity,
has been auctioned for sale.

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 multiple venues including 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.

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