Poetry Drawer: Unorganised: Less Is More: When Psychopath Met Showman by Lynn White

Unorganised

One day I’ll manage to
get my ducks in a row
sort it all out
stop procrastinating,
stop the coffee calling,
stop the sunlight
casting shadows
which distract me
and tempt me outdoors
to see the ducks
swimming
smoothly
sending
sopheristic shadows
across the water.
And as I watch
those shadows move
in effortless formation
negating the coffee
and lulling me
to sleep
again.

Less Is More

I thought it a bit overdone
that Summer Exhibition of long ago.
Paintings were floor to ceiling
filling every wall,
even leaning up against the wall
so it became a show
where nothing was shown
in all its glory,
all was a daze
a cacophony
shouting so loudly
it was impossible to contemplate
the individual.
You need space for that,
space in between.
Too much and nothing is seen.

When Psychopath Met Showman

When a violent psycho with overwhelming power
meets a deluded showman with a hero complex
it’s looking bleak for those caught in between.
Those displaced from their homes,
displaced from their lives,
those losing their lives.
those losing the life
they expected to live,
More and more of them,
a stream without end
as the show goes on.

Lynn White lives in North Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Gyroscope Review and So It Goes. 

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

Pantry Prose: The Meaning Of Life? Is There One? by Chitra Gopalakrishnan

It took just a few seconds and a knotty brain teaser in class five to awaken me to the potent scent of life’s absurdity. This at a ridiculously young age of ten.

A lion, a goat and a bundle of grass, said my teacher, her face like a shut gate.

A person has to ferry them across the river in a boat. As the boat is tiny, this person can only carry one other alongside.

If the person leaves the lion and the goat alone together, the lion will eat the goat. If the goat and the grass are left together, the goat will eat the grass, my teacher announced.

The glee on her face, the glint in her eyes were unmistakable.

She seemed delighted with the riddle’s cunning as much as on the torture it would inflict on us youngsters in the next hour. Oh, the secret villainies of teachers.

Why on earth would a person want to take these beings along with them, this strange assortment of creatures, in the first place? I thought perplexedly.

This even as something began to spiral within my insides in concentric waves like waves in water. Whatever it was, it was moving round and round and it smelt of sweat, a black reek. It came to me that my teacher’s puzzle was not only stupid, uselessly disturbing and an irrational poser but one that showed up life as senseless.

I lost interest in the puzzle.

Instead, within my head, a series of quick thoughts bubbled.

It came to me that we all live in a closed-looped universe. One that is utterly uncaring of people’s survival. If sitting on a boat with a lion and giving up boundaries was meant to teach us anything it was this.

What’s more, the meaning of the phrase the road to hell is paved with good intentions, something my father used repeatedly, but I never understood, exploded bright and clear at this moment. I mean, if one wants, from the goodness in their heart, to spend time, setting everything aside, in service of a bleating goat, a sabre-toothed lion and a bundle of coarse grass and risk being eaten, butted and stung by tiny insects, then what can I say other than the fact that you have self-deserting instincts.

The fact that schools teach children to think along these lines made me lose respect for this institution.

Surely, you can understand how it must have been for me. A girl who had her head in the clouds suddenly staggered with the truth of life on a normal school day.

It seemed unfair. Rather than pay heed to my age, my girlhood, and start small then tip-toe around a bit to reveal the not-so-appealing truths, these awakenings had got going altogether and gobsmacked me in the face. No warning.

My throat locked up, my stomach was in knots, my body turned sweaty and I felt nauseous. Whatever sense of promise, magic and wonder there was to childhood was shot to hell.

At least to me, at that point, it seemed like it did.

From this point on, for the next two years of my childhood, a kind of boiling high noon set in for me. That’s the best way I can describe my many subsequent stir-ups.

If I began to regularly catch on to the truth that everything in life is pointless, I also began time and again to catch on to another truth: the stupidest thing one can do is look for meaning in life.

Life, in short, I understood, is not all it’s cracked up to be.

I know you will say that at my age growth is meant to be more about gathering physical skills, coordination and muscle control rather than one with huge mental changes. That such odd rhythms are reserved for those hitting puberty, big kids or for grown-ups.

But what can I say other than wisdom happened to me really young.

That I went to bed normal one day and the next day was different.

That, at twelve, I use my glimpses of life’s absurdity as a way to be free. To be myself. To push against rules and directions. To laugh. Yes, and to enjoy life’s senselessness.

That I choose to not carry the lion, goat and a bundle of grass, this forced baggage, to not solve the absurdity of this puzzle, to not be part of this clueless, self-inflicted nonsense, these annoyingly active verbs.

That I am in a happy place, not the sad place I imagined I would be three years ago.

That I am in a place of my own where I need to just carry my flag. And grow as I see fit.

My teacher says I am a ‘young rebel’, my school labels me ‘a misfit’, some of my friends think me ‘an enormously bold girl for saying that there is no meaning to studying or to life itself’ and others ‘weird’.

I do not care much for any of their comments just for the fact that life is easier for me when I refuse to take things around me, joy and sadness, success and failure, loss and gain, personally.

Far too many things happen during a day, even during an hour, a week, a month, a year. One can fool oneself to believe they have meaning or a certain pattern but wait for something unexpected to happen then you know the opposite is true.

I have found a place of comfort between the universe and I.

It’s time for my friends get to their best living experience by setting out on their own adventures. Like nomads.

Their awakenings may be vastly different from mine yet it would have equal merit for it would be their truth.

Some might understand life to be sensible, reasonable. Full of colour, rich with promise, plump with rewards.

Others may find their awakenings to be frighteningly different.

I say it’s okay to let go of the normal, sometimes. For, after all, the definition of normal keeps changing. And really there is no one definition of it.

Chitra Gopalakrishnan, a New Delhi-based journalist and a social development communications consultant uses her ardour for writing, wing to wing, to break firewalls between nonfiction and fiction, narratology and psychoanalysis, marginalia and manuscript and tree-ism and capitalism.

Poetry Drawer: The dress is mine: I’ll take the clouds, most days: The Ray days: The ‘D’ in Dave: I said “yes” by Emalisa Rose

The dress is mine

It’s red, more like maroon
with sequin spaghetti straps
somewhat form fitting, an
inch up the knee, lace, tulle
and blinged. “Kind of risque
for an old broad,” Rick laughs.

Bought as a bargain, but not
in the basement. Ten percent
off, then another ten, then
etcetera. A “steal,” as Aunt
Betty would say.

So, I’m giving you warning, hon,
three months before we sit side
by side, at that wedding.

We did it as kids, thanks to our
mother, who sewed the same
skirts for us, but it’s now, four
decades later.

Do not wear the same dress as me,
sister dear.

I’ll take the clouds, most days

“Too many clouds, not enough
bloodletting.” He read through
my poetry, critiquing all I’d once
written, mostly to him.

But I like the clouds. I can feel
safe with them, conjuring them
into all sorts of contortions.

Carousels, waterfalls; the cirrus
are perfect for those wispy white
whirl designs.

I’ll take the clouds most days. With
them, I am comfortable, forsaking
the opening of arteries or serving my
heart up, with a side of my spleen.

The Ray days

Missing my Ray. Ray, the barista
with the cherry stone eyes
steaming my mocha
hot filled with latte, with
his wink and his wisdom
surpassing just coffee.

Now it’s Renaldo.
He’s old and he’s cranky
and needs to go decaf.

But I need a Ray
when it’s 5AM starting time
and even the sparrows
sleep late.

The ‘D’ in Dave

With the robin revival, it’s time
to renew all those springtime
festivities. Finally, frost leaves
the trees.

As we visit the mom and pop
sweet shop on Third Street,
where that same letter ‘D’
on marquise, has been blacked
out for years.

Dave deemed it “bad luck,”
deciding to just let it be.

At that place, where they pipe
in the ‘oldies’, we’d slurp on those
frappes, cones and sundaes.

On our first visit back, today,
15th of March, we see that the
‘D’ was relit.

The new staff took care of it, saying
Dave had passed on, but they’d still
keep the same name and traditions

as ‘Dancing Queen’
played in the background.

I said “yes”

Kind of disheveled, but there’s
still some fight left in them. Red
over easy, in their partytime poses.

It’s been several weeks since
they prettied my doorstep
mid-day on Monday.

I jumped from the shower
hoping that you were the sender.

From the fields, to the table top
they adorned, all those days.

In their gestures of ”get well,”
“I’m sorry,” or “Sue will you
marry me?”

With yours, it was love
and a morning proposal.

3 weeks and thriving, are
your Valentines’ flowers.

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting and drawing. She volunteers in animal rescue, and tends to a cat colony in the neighborhood. She lives by a beach town, which provides much of the inspiration for her art. Some of her poems have appeared in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Spillwords, Origami Poem Project, and other special places. Her latest collection is On the whims of the crosscurrents, published by Red Wolf Editions.

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

Poetry Drawer: Tiny: As Days Go: Conscripted: Thug World: Times Like These: Slow Down It’s Only the End of the World by Joseph Farley

Tiny

I think I’ll live a small life,
not too long, not too short.
I will do tiny things,
tasks not worth observing.
I will keep my head down
close to the earth,
watching seeds sprout in spring,
and thanking all for the harvest,
however big or small it might be.

As Days Go

Tomorrow needs no introduction.
It is expected and waited upon.
The sun rolls out its red carpet
and walks its way across the sky
trailing its long dress over flowers
and coloured glass broken on asphalt.

Today is fine. I’ll take it.
It’s what I have now,
a sure thing until it ends.
But, tomorrow, tomorrow…
Who knows what it will bring?

Perhaps salvation,
all promises fulfilled,
Dreams run wild.
Joy after joy.

Or maybe nothing
more than the same.
Or trouble.
So much trouble
we wish it had never came.

Conscripted

We are being taken.
We are being shoved.
We are being beaten.
We are being loved.

We don’t know winning.
In losing we prevail.
One by one we get our medals:
six feet, board and nails.

Thug World

When a neighbour is murdered
a part of you dies.
When a burglar takes you
for all you’ve got
part of the heart that was in you
goes out the door with your stuff.

Hard times. Harder for others.
Drugs flows in the streets and in veins.
Love says we can all heal this.
Love knows, but it’s not easy to explain.

Sirens. Blue lights flashing.
At night it’s hard to sleep.
Don’t watch the news on television.
Don’t listen to updates on radio.
Don’t scan headlines on your cellphone.

There’s nothing you can do but grieve,
and you’ve done so much of that
you need to take a break.

Vote when the time comes.
Write letters to the power always.
Try for something new,
something different.
Search your mind and heart.
Tell the world what you have found.

Times Like These

You shouldn’t be sorry for yourself.
You should be sorry for others.
Yet the thought of those faces
Sets you down the road to remembrance
of times and places you once were,
Horrors smaller than war.

The streets here have their own noises
Gun shots, car crashes and sirens.
The dead bloom on concrete and asphalt.
The dead stay where they fall.
Far off the damage is bigger,
But you can’t stop seeing the damage at home.

Slow Down It’s Only the End of the World

Take your time. Slow down.
It’s only the end of the world.
Weigh each word.
Write every sentence with care.
The story is your life.
It’s why you are here.
You need to get it right
before “The End” appears.

Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory for 24 years. His poetry books/chapbooks include Suckers, Longing for the Mother Tongue, and Her Eyes. His fiction books include a novel , Labor Day (Peasantry Press), and two collections of short stories: For the Birds (Cynic Press) and Farts and Daydreams (Dumpster Fire Press). His work has appeared in Schlock, Home Planet News Online, US 1 Worksheets, Mad Swirl, Horror Sleaze Trash, Ygdrasil, Penine Platform, Understanding Magazine, and other places.

Poetry Drawer: Burying the Chimera by Daya Bhat

I break open the hourglass
release the silence of eons
grain by grain.
So slow the fall of passive echoes.
Look what eons of defying gravity does!
Losing touch of the shore.

The tectonics shift left
shift right . . . squirm for air.
Orchestrate a wave show.
Horseshoe clouds
now here, now gone.

Not knowing
to belong or not to
they build their own orbit.
Like the rings of Saturn
all ice and rocks
buffering on a loop.

Daya Bhat has authored two books of poetry. Her free verse, short poetry and short fiction appear in a number of journals. You can find her art, poetry and musings on WordPress and Instagram.

Poetry Drawer: School Bus: Fifth Grade: The Day I Got My Timing Down: Kissed-Off: Français Firsts by D. R. James

School Bus

When its arched brow rises
from behind the country hill,
snub-nosed, a grin
for a grill, you remember
you’re in second grade.

There’s Cindy’s old yellow dog
feigning outrage at your passing van,
his bark and lunge petering
to that bored, panting trot.
And there the synod
of grammar schoolers wrestling
lunchboxes into a line,
reinventing the rituals, the
hierarchies, the variations
of elemental courtship.

There the oil-rosy puddles
in rutted gravel,
the soaked toes, knots
of gossiping daffodils, tufts
of too enthusiastic grass,
the bristles smudged in sage and mustard
along the far edge of fields.

When you top the hill
you know you’ll see the bus swing
a backward right in your mirror, right
onto the main road, so
you lean, small-palm
the cracked leatherette,
grasp the memory of cool steel
framing the seat ahead,
all your uncertain world
still straddling the smeared window
slid halfway down.

The same low sun stuns you
when you glance back, forward, run
your times-nines, wheel left
and head for school.

Fifth Grade

As I flew into town
that first time, leaning over
the gull-winged sweep
of the handlebars, the burn in my
pudgy, mad-pumping thighs,
told me I was fast, was
free, was finally entering
the my country ’tis of thee
we’d all been singing,
sweet land of weekend-
playground liberty.
That mile I’d never ridden
was a hundred miles,
the fresh fall breeze speed itself,
as those fat tires
snarled through dunes
of shoulder gravel and
eddies of falling leaves.
When I jumped the curb
onto the school’s front sidewalk
town kids, exotic friends named
Cindy, Billy, Darlene, and Gary,
were already gathered, long
unchaperoned, at ease,
their pre-adolescences already
underway, their slow turn
toward my approach blasé
as I came skidding into
that newest of my old
neighbourhoods of memory.

The Day I Got My Timing Down

It was in that phase of pure
sarcasm, midteens, when guys
work out an awkward stance,

work their pack’s patter
’til they maybe have it. I don’t
really remember the day but

the single-moment wonder of hitting
my first come-back just right
by accident, then their free, true

laughter, my perfect follow-up,
the never looking back. From there
a career: from Senior Class Clown

to smooth talker in any crowd to
flip teacher spinning lit to wordsmith
chiseling chin-up come-backs

to the tin-clad sarcasms
every life dishes out as it
disarms or drops you or

leaves you hanging, slamming
its clanging locker door in your
gullible, stuttering face.

Kissed-Off

Lord knows I’m a voodoo chil’.

                        —Jimi Hendrix

Until that night a girl
had only kissed me. Not I
a girl. I was fifteen and for

over a year Jimi’d been telling me
he was a voodoo chil’, yeah,
and I wasn’t. No moon

had turned a fire red,
and not one mountain lion
had found me waitin’. Now

I was going with Sue,
at whose Midwest harvest party
I’d do the kissing. Nervous

and showing it, acting
distractedly, voice shaking,
our friends milling, I knew

it was a now-or-never situation,
even though I’d never ever
and didn’t really know. Giddy

and ridiculous, we slid into
the stairwell, out of range
of her parents in the kitchen,

the kids below: the outskirts
of our infinity
… We made eyes.
We made small talk. But all I

could think about was making
my move. (If only I’d had a
Venus witch’s ring.) Then inching

my arm and small-talking her
a little more, I aimed my face
and kissed her! And oh, Lord,

the gypsy was right: amazing
and no big deal at once. So we
kissed again (Lord knows I

felt no pain) and for three months
flew on as make-out fiends until
she dropped me for my best friend

at her party for my sixteen-and-
been-kissed birthday. And I fell
downright dea-ea-ead
.

Français Firsts

             —for Priscilla

After all your dainty tales from la rue
du Tel-ou-Tel, so many elegant snippets
de la Rive Comme Ci, Comme Ça—Oui,
I am forever sheepish I never made it

to Par-ee (sauf une gare on the outskirts,
eurailing toward Luxembourg, which was
all but fermé for the Halloween weekend).
But though now you could easily keep me

down on any farm, France in swah-sohn-canz?
Oh là là! —my version of the proverbial
semester abroad, and where un nouveau me
must’ve definitively begun. Par exemple,

near Nice, absorbing the glowing Côte d’Azur
then tour-busing by Monaco for Menton,
out one route en corniche and back another,
long before my paltry français could surface

fast enough to prattle with my teacher’s kids.
But un début—and it would take me only four
more largely lonely months to pass myself off
as a less evident américain, with at least

a decent accent to show for it, my being
the yoghurt-eating, knows-little sophisticate
I’d become. It would be two decades before
Starbucks blitzed very many Midwest cities,

so old Grenoble’s where the cafés and bistros,
wines finer than Boone’s Farm, addicted me
to a fresh perspective, to une idée de moi-même
transcending tackle football, college fraternity,

and culture as country rock. Granted, all
the exotic side-trips did make a difference:
that disorienting week in Warsaw (still
dictatorial), those goose-steppers in Chopin’s

park; the overnighter (avec les trois femmes!)
to Italy; Geneva on weekends; Christmas
on the Bodensee (which made me certain I’d
learn German for my Überlingen girlfriend

before Italian for those gorgeous Florentines.)
But en France? So seul? And working steadily
on the concept of an inner life? It was la
première fois that I knew I knew abnormally

nothing—and that I no longer wanted to. On
the vigntième floor of my international dorm,
some inside switch had somehow gotten flipped.
Souddainement, ancient history was interesting,

the future a matter for my contemplation, my
ignorance a currency I hoped to leave behind,
exchanged for novels in two languages and grand
prospects for actually using my mind. By winter

I could’ve stayed on through spring. And by spring,
back home again and left to reconnoitre, I began
that retrospective cataloguing that deepens
one’s appreciation—such as how a shy, petite

‘teep’ from Japon and a bold, femme noire from
La Côte d’Ivoire could intersect via moi via anglais;
or how tinny, small-car traffic is more romantic
in memory; or how geraniums are la plus rouges

à Chambéry, a few blues uniquely Mediterranean,
and no whites colder than novembre over Mont Blanc.
Or how some French are rich, canadien, but also
poor, arabe, c’est à dire, algérien. And how

my world seemed now to be le monde.

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020), and his prose and poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. Recently retired from college teaching, James lives with his wife in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan, USA.

Poetry Drawer: Egg: Darkness: Resilience: Declaration: Fish: Chain: Child by Allison Grayhurst

Egg

Periwinkle garden,
flowers folded
into a dumpling.

I sit on the bottom floor
of a blessing
before it builds and blooms,
before its face has distinction,
expression, perfect individuality.

Low ache of forming,
wandering cold plains, over icy lakes
through dead forests and caves.

Almost ripe,
platelets connecting, composing
a singular solid substance. Then

out of the egg and into the vast ocean,
forward, shell collapsing, imploding, out
free-riding, embodying
a fully sufficient infant form.

Darkness

Darkness heavy as a hunter’s
footsteps, as a sermon
up the sleeve, offered like
a ripe strawberry covered in ants.

Darkness like the green
on a last slice of bread
or the dome of pollution that mutes
Earth from the zodiac hymns.

Darkness that binds
thumbtacks to the temples,
smokes weed everyday through
a mousehole piece of glass,
dirty as a campfire after the fire
or a marriage after infidelity.

Darkness as a shell, hardness
masquerading as strength, terrors
of complexities, moral confusion
and the allotment of grief that mushrooms
in tiny pockets here, here, until all greenery
is overcome with fungi and poisonous fruit.

Darkness that says
‘I have a right, for my heart is broken
more than any other heart has been broken, and then
there is the boredom!’

Darkness that holds no peace, no joy in just breathing,
makes up myths and ceremonies to blast out
the darkness, flaking at the core.

Darkness I am done with your engulfing disease,
your canopy wings, trickery, making me believe
there is rest and safety in your shade.
I lay down my fossils and my weeping.

Darkness sticks out its tongue,
builds idols and wins the air.
Darkness, I blow you over
and when I am blown over,
I will offer no resistance.

Resilience

Violet-hue star of mighty purity,
a fixed point, directly overhead, anointing,
a release from the symbiotic purgatory-fold,
from the loop fire enduring coil
and the billowing dead land once before me.

I will build a bonfire and dance
under this eight-billion-year-old star,
no longer held hostage by what I know,
inevitable observations, time turned to stone,
locked in one position, dammed to have no meaning,
no longer trapped in a rippling tremble, continuous
and static state.

I will lean into this bright gathering,
translating the bursting floral mastery
of endless constellations, keeping my height,
keeping my mind, ready to engage
in a divine exchange, discourse.

Declaration

The declaration came,
ground-breaking, significant
to every aspect of my nature.
At stake is the stability
of my core symbolism, the root
and the fruit combined.

What matters is this day
to walk the wooden floors,
replenish my joy
in the simple things of duty and care,
opening to the embrace
of alternate thought patterns,
pursuing the paradox,
digging out its core for a braver scenario
to catch and be malleable with, kneading
and knowing the vision will form,
overtake and dissolve superfluous
dreams and attachments until it
pulses like an embryo
forming, being formed
readying for
exposure.

Fish

           I saw a fish in sleep
beneath a curly wave
dreaming in a prophet-trance,
its lips and fins relaxed, no resistance
against the water’s sway.
          Some say the fish was dead,
but I could see its eyes enflamed,
travelling deep in a vision unnamed into
crevices of underwater caves, finding
peace in a pitch-black reverie.
          I cupped that fish inside my hand
and still it did not move, continuing its
placid ephemeral journey,
now journeying into the sky,
able to breathe, transitioning
into flight and becoming intimate
with the sun’s heat like never before.
         That fish was so far gone
into a state of transcendence as
I released it back into its salty wet home,
kissing it forehead first.
         I felt it absorb my love
under its scales, floating away from me,
silver and white.
         Tranquil, in steady rapture,
I watched it vanish as it rolled
across and under the oceans’ blanket,
as though it never was.

Chain

The chain is cracked, only
a small tug will break it
and the wall will let down its curtain,
the leech will release its hold, find
a new host or none at all.

I empty my heat on the bed
toss with disorder, too slow on my feet.
But even so, I am carving a future
I can get behind, lift myself onto a plateau
that has many plateaus above it, sure of my growing
strength. It is possible to keep my internal
promises, not like before when the dirty current
rippled through me like a disease,
threatening, consuming
my substance and storages.

Can I say the chain is rusted,
dissolving, no access
to its binding power?
I go for walks. I am grateful
for the open door, one step
forward.

Child

           The child twists a ringlet,
runs to the shops to buy
candy, rides her bike
by the river and assembles
a dream-world, bigger world
than her whole reality.
           The child found worship in her heart
for God and love
for an infant raccoon alone under a tree,
talked to herself incessantly, and often,
she talked to God, and to his son, Jesus.
           She went to school, but chalked it up
to unimportant servitude, felt joyful
and free, plucking the autumn leaves,
engaging with the neighbour’s dog.
           The child was wild, swinging
from willow branches, throwing stones,
skipping stones, toes always at the edge
of the unsettled river.
Cats were her guardians, confidants and kin.
Church was boredom, except for the one place
where the light was let in, that place
took over her full imagination
as she travelled through and into
an instinctual reverie.
           The child loved her family,
was allowed every independence,
was ostracized by the other children
for her crocheted clothes and the colour
of her flaming hair. Some called her witch,
others, an atrocity, and the grown-ups, beautiful.
           The child rode horses when she got older,
wrote down the songs of clouds and the names of
the crows that would follow her, converse with her
from the school bus window.
           The child found her belonging in her own head,
with the animals, and sometimes, she remembers,
walking silently, holding the hand of a great angel.

Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Five times nominated for Best of the Net, 2015/2017/2018, she has over 1300 poems published in over 500 international journals. She has 25 published books of poetry, 12 collections and 6 chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay.

Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 2017.

Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); SUFI Journal (Featured Poet in Issue #95, Sacred Space); Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; Buddhist Poetry Review; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine, The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Existere; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.



















Poetry Drawer: Resurrection (After an Incident of Dying Birds, Midwest USA, 2021) by Keith Hoerner

No wind flows
Through wingspan

No lift
Force

No air-
Foil

Aves find
Themselves

As thrown
Stones

Beaks raking
Earth like plows

To sow dying swan
Songs

*Golden
Seeds*

*Feathered
Prayers*

*Sacred
Supplication*

To germinate and
Grow

And as like Lazarus—rise again—
And go

Keith Hoerner (BS, MFA) lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois, USA. He is frequently featured in lit journals (75+ to date, including decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro—to name just a few). He is founding editor of the Webby Award recognized Dribble Drabble Review, and his memoir, The Day the Sky Broke Open, is a recent Best Book and American Writing Award Finalist. A collection of short fiction and poetry, entitled Balancing on the Sharp Edges of Crescent Moons, publishes later this year.  

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

Poetry Drawer: Cabin Fever: For Jeremy at Fifteen: Closing up the Cottage by Robert Demaree

Cabin Fever

Ten inches of wet
Heart-attack snow
Sits in the driveway.
When we first came to Golden Pines
My shovel was a shield
Of pride and pleasure, unwilling
To give in to the years,
Eager to break out of restive days.

But Golden Pines does not want
The 80-year-old guys shoveling snow,
So, on this third day,
I lounge in pajamas at noon,
Working from my easy chair
On paper tasks of little consequence,
Saved up for such a time.

The snowplow has cleared the driveway now
And we can get to the store,
Past sooted, graying mounds that will remind me
Of Pennsylvania.
Later this afternoon I may try to
Widen the path a bit.

For Jeremy at Fifteen

The life of a friend, a teammate,
Ended
Suddenly, inexplicably:
You honoured him by playing hard,
By standing for him
In the chancel,
All of you, your uniforms
Still damp from trying,
As if you did not already know
Of the fragileness of life.

Closing up the Cottage

1) September 2020
Our daughter came back up
To help close the cottage.
We sat down and watched her
Wash the refrigerator.

82-year-old bones ache
From cleaning, packing, lifting,
Awaiting the subtle vibrations
Of two days on the road.

We stood one cold morning
By the side of
The Third Connecticut Lake
Wondering which would be
The penultimate trip north.

Back at Golden Pines
We are trying this morning
To remember where and how
We store things for the winter,
The TV, the toaster,
Computer, coffee maker.

2) September 1986
My dad’s last summer on the pond
I flew up Labor Day
To help close up, drive them home.
The airport bus
Only came as far as Dover.
Somehow they managed to get there,
Him wandering around the restaurant, 
Agitated,
My mother with the
Caregiver’s exhausted sadness.
The restaurant is still there,
Different name, different owners:
I pass by that place
And still feel 
An unbidden welling up,
How one thing comes
To stand for another.

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: Coppers for a Bluebird: Herds of Deer: Sonnet CCCXXVIII: Eyes of a Raccoon: Kiss of a Queen by Terry Brinkman

Coppers for a Bluebird

Fore Coppers for a Bluebird
Fasting at her house means drinking only beer
Well worth the money buying her gear
Picking your pocket like a Blackbird
Mozart’s Twelfth Mass moody as absurd
Two out of Eighty can’t hear
With a second to spare, herds of deer
Muttered facial expressions heard

Herds of Deer

Without care, herds of deer
He muttered expressions heard
Brushing swathe of might
Too weak on his pins to go all the way
Whale with a harpoon hairpin light
Last words on the cross to pray
His creation Lord of light
Chairs upside down in the field

Sonnet CCCXXVIII

At day break maze of dark will be gone
Unable to read chalk scrawled back door tonight
Her joust of life at first light
Human shell’s crucified shirts chiffon
Dishonours of their flesh at the Pentagon
Outcast man’s high mined appetite
Weak wasting hand confessional Fahrenheit
Quacking Soul’s utter triviality fawn
Spiritual eager anticipation to fly
Solemnities slightly ironical glee
Hymn to heavenly beauty horrify
Church yard behind the tree our favorite place to pee
White Biscuit tin’s pie
Last swig of the pint to be

Eyes of a Raccoon

White Ivory fur sea cold eyes of a raccoon
Deep looms of sea’s moon on Halloween
Making friends without half trying
Limp as a wet rag nobbling his beer
Blue Trousers and a white alabaster shirt
Red nose rag old sloppy eyes guzzler
Like holding water in her hand not his
The moon sets before the clock strikes twelve

Kiss of a Queen

Pink articulated lips, kiss of a Queen
Double dark increasing vaster Moon
Stood pale silent by a Bee was stung at noon
Said over her shoulder drinking perfect caffeine
English steams of coffee from her canteen
Tide sheeting the lows of the Green Lagoon
Ivory fur, sea cold eyes of a raccoon
Deep velvet of sea’s moon light on Halloween

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years. Has Five Amazon E- Books. Poems in Rue Scribe, Tiny Seed. Winamop, Snapdragon Journal, Poets Choice, Adelaide Magazine, Variant, the Writing Disorder, Ink Pantry, In Parentheses, Ariel Chat, New Ulster, Glove, and in Pamp-le-mousse, North Dakota Quarterly, Barzakh, Urban Arts, Wingless Dreamer, LKMNDS and Milk Carton Press.

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