Poetry Drawer: Back Roads: Diorama: Invisible Man: Scout and Jem: Give or Take by Michael Estabrook

Back Roads

Longing for the good
old days even knowing
you can never go back.

As the months and years have rolled by since I’ve retired
I’ve lost touch with most of my old coworkers.
It’s the nature of the beast I tell myself
the natural order of things
as you have less and less to do with someone
less and less in common, you lose touch
it’s simply the way it is, it’s normal.
Lisa’s wealthy now, goes biking through the back roads
of Tuscany and Scotland, what
would I have to say to her, or to Craig
who is younger than me, visiting colleges with his son?


But I’m not done living!
he shouted at the gods
shaking his fist.

Strange to think that I’ve lived twice as long
as my father lived.
He died as a young man.
But as my father
no matter how much older than him I live to be
he’ll always be older than me
because time itself at his death
is forever frozen unable to move forward.
So he’s 36 and I’m stuck at 15
in this timeless diorama forever.

Invisible Man

Don’t take your yourself
too seriously. Without humour
you’re dead in the water.

Rick was a good guy
the handsomest guy I ever knew.
We worked together sometimes stopping
at a bar at the end of the day.
Fascinating watching the ladies buzzing around him
winking and waving
or coming right over to say hi
ignoring me completely
even though I was sitting next to him.
It was like I was the Invisible Man.
“That happen often?” I asked him
as a stunning young woman handed him
her business card, touched him
on the shoulder saying call me.
He shrugged and smiled, such a modest guy.
Yep. Rick was a good guy
the handsomest guy I ever knew.
Fun to be around unless of course
you were hoping to find a date for yourself.

Scout and Jem

Memory’s the second
thing to go you know
she said with a giggle.

I remind myself that doing really well
at Trivial Pursuit is not
I repeat NOT proof that you are smart. But I suppose
recalling so many facts pertaining to history,
literature, science, sports, even entertainment is cause
for feeling pride particularly when
you’re a Septuagenarian supposed to have a fading memory.
“But before getting too inflated and self-satisfied,”
spouts the damn Devil floating in the corner,
“I’d be remiss in not reminding you that you did think
Victoria Falls was the tallest waterfall in the world
and you did forget the nicknames
of Atticus’s children in
To Kill a Mockingbird, you moron.”

Give or Take

Don’t waste time worrying
about what you can’t change
or fix, she tells me all the time.

The fancy-pants astrophysicist
with the big glasses and crazy hair explains
in logical scientific detail
that in 5 billion years (give or take)
our Milky Way Galaxy will collide
with our neighbour
the so much larger Andromeda Galaxy
and be torn apart.
Oh no! I think and begin to worry
but abruptly realize – 5 billion years, seriously!
Even I can’t be that stupid to worry
about something 5 billion years down the road
I tell myself as I see the Devil in his corner
shaking his head not having to say anything
this time for a change.

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

Poetry Drawer: A Fluffy Cat by Monobina Nath

A fluffy cat standing at the top
of the wooden stairs
Grey hair, black- headed sphere,
Five claws on each front paws,
eight on rear.
Relishing the evening sea
With white, long moustaches, rolling glee.
She lifts her pink yogurt ears
To hear-
Her unblinking yellow, black- stripes,
Smoky eyes, that reply
To the wise, to rise, to say goodbyes.

Monobina Nath is a poetess living in Kolkata, India, and also a third year student of English honours in Brahmananda Keshab Chandra College. Poems published in the anthology Chrysanthemum, newspaper International Times, Meghalaya Times, Indian Periodical. Magazines- Evepoetry, Setu Bilingual, TechTouch Talk, Spillwords Press, Ode to a Poetess and various e-magazines. Monobina’s work was selected in the National Bilingual Poetry Competition in 2021. 

Poetry Drawer: Sway and Sway: Another Dream, Another Chance: Slant Rhyme With Me by Joe Albanese

Sway and Sway

Sway and sway the birds away

the vine, it grows like autumn slumber,
heroes died along the way

weakness is my fallen glowing,
just like villains kept at bay

trick-or-treat the youthful sending,
Pleiades owes the warmth come May

velvet houses are my queue unknowing,
sway and sway the birds away

Another Dream, Another Chance

An angel fare, my modern scream—a day
within a day
I lost myself and found you there—within
the wild fray

Hope! The return of desperate prayer—luck,
anointment, haze
Another dream, another chance—one more
along the way

Slant Rhyme With Me

Won’t you stay and slant-
        rhyme with me?
Sometimes—lost in omni-pain—I
bleed right
        up the wall, then
get doused in stain.
        Call it what you will, it’s all
the same—at times I need
what’s in the mud, and all you
What’s left in me?
Maybe I just need a moment
tomorrow to breathe, but not
        today is for slant rhyme.
Won’t you stay and
        slant-rhyme with me?

Joe Albanese is a writer from South Jersey. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in 12 countries. Joe is the author of Benevolent KingCainaCandy Apple RedFor the Blood is the LifeSmash and Grab, and a poetry collection, Cocktails with a Dead Man.

Poetry Drawer: Mavericks: The Blood That Makes Us Black: In Maid’s Water: The Head in his Fedora Hat by Strider Marcus Jones


you taste of cinnamon and fish
when you wish
to be romantic-
and the ciphers of our thoughts
make ringlets with their noughts
immersed in magic-
like mithril mail around me
stove dark forest, pink flesh sea
touchings tantric-
make reality and myths
converge in elven riffs
of music, so we dance it-
symbols to the scenes
of conflict, mavericks in dreams
that now sit-
listening to these pots and kettles
blackening on the fire
of rhetoric and murderous mettles-
before we both retire
to our own script.

The Blood That Makes Us Black

imagine yourself,
in a photo-fit picture
with every nothing that’s new-
minus in health,
quoting icons and scripture
under the whole black and blue.

optimum dreams
turn out fake in the mirror
facing what’s been like fallen heroes-
in so many scenes
like a ghost who is giver
passing on wisdom, who knows-

the blood that makes us black
of two from one,
is schooled by fungus fortunes
and faiths old hat
to be sold on-
like tamed-trained gangs, making golden dunes.

In Maid’s Water

we’ve left the well-footed
the rutted
and rebutted
of shadows cast
by towered glass.

opened closed curtains
for fusty moths,
chanted white spells with Wiccan’s
left pictured
rooms and halls-
become un-scriptured
hills and squalls-

in maid’s water
pouring down her
erect chalk man,
like a wild gypsy,
love tipsy
smelling of cinnabar
and his cigar,
like whirling
while the changed wind howls.

Minds and Musk

so now
we both came
to this same
branch and bough-
no one else commutes
from different roots.

me carrying Celtic stones
with runes on skin over bones-
and you, in streams
on evicted land
trashed ancients panned-
our truth dreams
under star light crossing beams.

in here, there is no mask
of present building out the past
with gilded Shard’s of steel and glass
shutting out who shall not pass.
the tree of life breathes
a rebel destiny believes-
we are minds and musk
no more husks and dust.

The Head in his Fedora Hat

a lonely man,
and music
is a poem
not knowing-
a caravan,
whose journey does not expect
to go back
and explain
how everyone’s ruts
have the same
blood and vein.

the head in his fedora hat
bows to no one’s grip,
brim tilted into the borderless
so his outlaw wit
can confess
and remain
a storyteller,
that hobo fella
listening like a barfly
for a while
and slow-winged butterfly
whose smile
they can’t close the shutters on
or stop talking about
when he walks out
and is gone.

whisky and tequila
and a woman, who loves to feel ya
and outside

when ya move
and live as one,
brings you closer
in simplistic
muse Babylon.

this is so,
when he stands with hopes head,
arms and legs
all a flow
in her Galadriel glow
with mithril breath kisses
condensing sensed wishes
of reality and dream
felt and seen
under that
fedora hat
inhaling smoke
as he sang and spoke
stranger fella

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.

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

Poetry Drawer: Polarized Ends: Attempt Two by John Maurer

Polarized Ends

My soul is not kindred, it is imaginary
Like Jesus in the concentric circle of dots
It is not solar exclusive, stare at anything too long and you go blind
The page-turning and sage burning has me unlearning the words I once hoarded

Like what for? Who for? No amount of beauty or love sustains the flower
Abstract concepts do not grow the grass; that is sun and water
That is the son and daughter who eat your dreams in front of your face
Not I, I spot a spy in my circle and show him the use of a circular saw

Show him how stable a table can be with three legs
No horses but the fields get plowed, no need to be proud
The process is enough, the work is the reward

Attempt Two

Making water and fire out of firewater
This is reverse engineering quite literally
Impoverishing myself as to engorge rapidly

What is really worth my while
and what’s just worth it for a while, I don’t know
I have permanent solutions for temporary problems
Medical grade solvent for the slightest stain

The crystalline Sistine slipping off my lips like the Listerine
Let’s talk real standards, don’t talk to me about how many publications you have
How many books in pending: tell me how many friends you’ve lost
How much blood (in pints) you’ve spilled, how much do your parents resent you?

John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than sixty others.

Poetry Drawer: Stranded in a Fairy Tale: In Between Sleep: Watching: Partnered To Lost Time: Too Early For Brunch by Rp Verlaine

Stranded in a Fairy Tale

Far from
Romantic, the
rain untangles
our first embrace.

A downpour
circumvents desire
when she tells me
“I have to go”

while she attempts
covering her hair with
the poem I wrote her,
undone in an instant.

“My hair, my makeup”
she shrieks, getting
into a cab without me
as if I’m culpable.

Left stranded,
I’m a relic of

a knight
sans armour

My mighty sword
hidden, my would be
queen long gone,
& castle torched to ashes.

In Between Sleep

Been drinking all day, though its not yet night
in a crowded bar with no room to doubt
angels I talked to that might just exist
giving me warnings to seek enough light
to make peace with myself I’m still without
all that I lost, to forget or dismiss.
Sleep eludes, escorts faces of the past
to relive mistakes I can’t walk out of
with certain pleasures that grow vague each day.
Can’t say how much longer this long game lasts
I’ve played my hand both in loss and in love
I have one more drink see the time and laugh
leaving the bar a drunk walking dark streets
humming blues songs of death promising sleep.


The watch strapped
to her wrist could
be from another
As she steps
out of a car into
the forever that
will be the rest
of my day…

spent wondering
why I did not ask
for the time
to hear her voice,
signal logistics,
and checkpoint
to the eternity
I’ll need to forget her.

Partnered To Lost Time

Vanity submits truth,
saw her eyes again
predisposed to mirror.

With few ambitions
like the rainbow
after touching sky.

She studies her face
while I wait as if
Godot made promise.

We have reservations 
at a pricey restaurant 
waiting to extort us both. 

Finally, she comes out
asking how she looks
glorious, I say.

she returns to mirror
two or three more times.

Dating a narcissist
partners you to lost time
the young ones are the worst.

With that said, I’ll take
what I can steal
even borrow.

For the miracle
of her walking
across the room.

Only to me
which is all I see
if I don’t really look.

Too Early For Brunch

Huevos rancheros in a brand new place
more Anglo than Mexican yet quite good
maybe its the beer or tequila shots
That tamper my mood seeking to erase
All I took for granted, misunderstood
over a love that once burned scalding hot
which had tapered to a chill in the air.
Hard long looks of doubt and mistrust
and long drives at night just to get away.
Only to return while all too aware 
it was a mistake swallowing disgust.
Till we ended it, I guess I’m OK 
but that’s a lie I tell myself again
drunk in a tourist trap at eleven am.

Rp Verlaine, a retired English teacher living in New York City, has an MFA in creative writing from City College. He has several collections of poetry including Femme Fatales, Movie Starlets & Rockers (2018), and Lies From The Autobiography 1-3 (2018-2020).

Poetry Drawer: repressed: broken days broken by beauty: the haunting truth by Tohm Bakelas


labyrinths shift and
awaken buried truths—
i walk dark twisted paths

broken days broken by beauty

coloured weeds growing
through cracked grey sidewalks—
do you even take notice?

the haunting truth

when life is good, i think:
i will die someday
and i am afraid

Tohm Bakelas is a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He was born in New Jersey, resides there, and will die there. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, zines, and online publications. He has published 12 chapbooks. He runs Between Shadows Press

Poetry Drawer: Steel by Christopher Johnson

Glazing and glistening grey clouds clot and rust over the city
Like dreams pouring from the steel mills and
Spilling their detritus.
Red-black smoke thickens like scabs,
Suffocating lives and dreams.
This was where I worked one summer because my old man
Told me to.
Me, all tender behind the ears,
Naked white and barely shaving,
Nineteen years old and totally innocent of the ways of the
The shoes I wore were
Steel-plated in the toes to prevent my little footsies from being
Should gravity bring a beam or a box or a barrel barrelling down.
Furnaces burn the incense of hell,
Red with angry scourging heat,
As fierce and frantic fires melt the ore
And birth it into steel for buildings, for furniture, for cars, for staplers, for lamps, for file
For glowering skyscrapers,
For bridges, for trucks, for catwalks.
Me, afraid that the furnace-sparks will
Light me up and burn me and
Ruin my day,
As I try my best to coagulate from the world of innocence to the world of experience.
A world built on steel,
Hard, impervious, tough,
Cold to the touch.
Steel spans and chokes the globe–
The hard edge of a hard civilization.
Will no one say I care,
And whisper somewhere beneath this conglomeration
That things are not as they gleam?

Christopher Johnson is a writer based in the Chicago area. He’s been a merchant seaman, a high school English teacher, a corporate communications writer, a textbook editor, an educational consultant, and a free-lance writer. He’s published short stories, articles, and essays in The Progressive, Snowy Egret, Earth Island Journal, Chicago Wilderness, American Forests, Chicago Life, Across the Margin, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Blue Lake Review, The Literary Yard, Scarlet Leaf Review, Spillwords Press, Fiction on the Web, Sweet Tree Review, and other journals and magazines. In 2006, the University of New Hampshire Press published his book, This Grand and Magnificent Place: The Wilderness Heritage of the White Mountains. His second book, which he co-authored with a prominent New Hampshire forester named David Govatski, was Forests for the People: The Story of America’s Eastern National Forestspublished by Island Press in 2013. 

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

Poetry Drawer: All those broken bits of voices aren’t lost by Rida Zulfikar

The wind is still screaming
against the windowpanes-
radio-statics pitched a little too high
and wavering like wildflower-dandelions in yesterday’s storm,
and I wonder whose screams
got carried away by the wind before
they could echo into their own hands
(and maybe they’re all lost forever-
too entangled in wind-shrieks to be
pulled back; maybe the music will be left unheard)

I heard that birds have hollow bones-
a necessary equipment for flight-life, you see,
& so maybe they hollowed out their hearts and the
secrets left in-between
scattered bones,
and I wonder if the wind was just
a quirky-collector of life-
maybe she picked up the trash and
flew into her own flight,
Filling her hollow body with
secrets of another,
maybe she was in search of a new ‘her’

Poetry Drawer: Love, I Must Leave: Outside Of History by Ray Miller

Love, I Must Leave

Love, I must leave, we’re covered in lichen,
the kind found fogging a graveyard address
that draws you close to decipher the writing

of praises for people we never knew.
Love, I must leave, I’ve trodden on tombstones
and questioned if eulogies are ever true.

Love, I must leave, the letters are burning
and someone should summon the fire brigade
to quench old flames and stop them returning

in the gowns of girls they impersonate.
Love, I must leave, the mist has just thickened,
the clock has just struck, it’s almost too late.

Don’t wave goodbye, don’t try to figure me.
Love, I must leave, to rewrite a history.

Outside Of History

After many a summer time must have a stop:
an empty stage and a canopy hung starless.
Aldous Huxley’s dying and Kennedy’s been shot;
the United States are watching Dallas.

He asks his wife to tip the boy two dollars
for delivery of the oxygen tank;
there’s an infinite succession of tomorrows
that Huxley is attempting to outflank.

The worn out stoic, the literary gent;
something of a saint or bodhisattva,
undertaking a brave new experiment
to illuminate the world that lies thereafter.

Idolaters venerate the sacred ground
of some Golden Age or Utopia;
only outside of history is goodness found
and mankind is a martyr to myopia.

The Western world murders a scarecrow saviour
and confabulates a Cuban connection;
a fine day to sneak underneath the radar
and disappear through the doors of perception.

Fortified by pain relief and LSD,
he floats upon the pleasure dome waves.
There’s no heaven or hell, just eternity.
Yet perhaps there is an entity that saves?

Not Mohammed, Jehovah, Krishna or Buddha,
nor these nightmarish machinations;
not these temples and schemes for a perfect future,
just this emptiness enhanced by medication.

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

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