Poetry Drawer: Fun by Laura Stamps

Here’s a newsflash. Rachel
has lost her sense of smell.
(Okay, sometimes I refer
to myself in the third
person.) But it’s true. Can’t
smell a thing. Can’t. It’s
this head cold. Fighting,
fighting, fighting it. I am.
And winning. Kinda. And
yet, and yet. My nose.
Dead. Pretty much. What
a bummer! And my perfume.
White Linen. Estee Lauder.
Love it. I do. But now.
You know. I can’t smell it.
Can’t. So I stopped wearing
it. I mean. What’s the point?
And then, and then. I got an
idea. I could slather myself
with scented lotions. The
ones I never wear. They’re
nice. They are. Just not my
favourite. But now. You know.
I can’t smell them. Cool!
And Etsy. Did I tell you?
Saw a vintage Coach purse.
Yesterday. Super cute.
Mint condition. $300 value.
Got it for $25. I did. Yeah.
What can I say? I’m having
too much fun. Really. I am.

Laura Stamps is a poet and novelist and the author of over 60 books. Most recently: THE GOOD DOG (Prolific Pulse Press, 2023), ADDICTED TO DOG MAGAZINES (Impspired, 2023), and MY FRIEND TELLS ME SHE WANTS A DOG (Kittyfeather Press, 2023). She is the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations.

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

Pantry Prose: Untitled by Mehreen Ahmed

Clouds trailed crisscrossed across a clear blue sky. A cotton candy man stood by a huge Ferris Wheel with his cart at a theme park showground. He watched the Ferris Wheel move slowly to a full circle. Maya Julian stepped forward with her five-year-old and joined the long queue to get on the Ferris Wheel. Tilting her neck, she put a hand across her forehead like a vizier to cover her eyes from the blazing sun. She felt that the wheel did not move much; almost too slow for the world to be defined from the top there. Her daughter, Saira, and her, perhaps didn’t look all that different from ants and moths, milling about haphazardly on the showground.

As Maya looked at the top, she didn’t see any trepidation in the children or the adults. All was shipshape. The candy man attended to the many children on the ground; adeptly adjusting the pinky floss around the candy stick, and handing them over the pink dandelions in a bouquet, as it were, with a benign smile.

Children couldn’t wait to mouth the pinky candy. However, the Ferris Wheel stopped moving for a while which no one else noticed except Maya, who felt nervous and felt she must alert the authorities for an alternate way to get those people down. They didn’t see it coming. They sat here without a concern. Maya gathered the reason for their placidness was perhaps they couldn’t see much from above.

The candy man looked up a few times like Maya. A frown appeared on his forehead too, which Maya saw, and wondered if he also noted that there was a problem. If the situation went out of hand, people could be in fatal trouble. Her daughter pulled her towards the candy cart, and they both came out of the queue losing their place in it. On her way to the cart, she saw people—mainly children with an older sibling or an adult jostling in the bottom of the wheel as they dribbled out of the lower cabins of the Ferris Wheel touching the green grass beneath. 

The ones at the top hung precariously, oblivious to what was coming next. The sky couldn’t look clearer. The clouds spread out like a fishing net through which no fish could escape. Trapped inside the net—not until then, not really until it happened that someone dropped a net into the blue bowled ocean and trapped all these frantic fish inside it; the net teeming with all the fish out of water when life was pulled out of this oxygenated cosmic ocean into the outer. Until then calm prevailed.

Those sitting at the top, were clueless, enjoying a breezy morning—chirping and laughing spring birds. Maya trembled in the fresh air as she took her daughter to buy candy floss. The candy man continued to look at the Ferris Wheel.

“Are you thinking, what I am also thinking?” Maya asked.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

“I think that the wheel is broken. Those who are at the top, are all stuck.”

“Hmm, that’s exactly what I was thinking too.”

“What now?” Maya asked.

“Someone must tell the manager of this theme park, I reckon,” replied the candy man.

“Do you know where his office is? I’ll let him know.”

The candy man looked over his shoulder and pointed toward a building at the far end of the park. Maya squinted to follow his directions. Then she took her daughter’s hand and began to walk toward the management building while the decadent candy floss melted in her daughter’s mouth. Maya looked at her and smiled. She smiled back.

“Where’re we going Mammy?” she asked.

“To tell the manager to fix the Ferris Wheel?”

“Why? What’s wrong with it?”

“It isn’t working well, darling. ”

“Is it broken?” she asked.

“I think so,” Maya replied.

“Will they all die at the top?” the daughter asked.

“No, of course not, the manager will ensure that,” Maya said.

The daughter kept licking the candy cane to its bare bone until the stick was fully exposed. She looked at it and gave it a long-lasting lick, top to bottom. The manager’s building was far, but Maya persevered. She stepped up, determined to stop the disaster at the Ferris Wheel at any cost. At any cost? However, when she reached the building, she found a big padlock at its gate. She pushed it and pulled the lock but it did not open. Lights in one of the rooms were on. She looked up and she screamed; strikingly close, not quite far enough. She looked around for an object and found a rock. Maya did the unimaginable. She picked it up and hurled it aiming higher at the glass window. It rocketed through the glass. Shards fell and hit Maya on her forehead.“Oh” she uttered and sat down.

The daughter looked up at the window and shook Maya by the shoulder. Maya felt an urgency in the shake and looked up too. Her jaw fell. At the window, there was a man, not even a full man, maybe a half-man and half-elf. He—it looked like a statue with inky tears running down its cheeks. This was a make-believe theme park. A rock came flying out of nowhere; it transpired into a piece of paper as it landed with just one word written—ignis fatuus

“What does this mean?” the daughter asked. 

Maya replied, ‘Illusion,’ ‘foolish fire’. 

“Isn’t that what your name also means?” 

The daughter wanted to know from a breathless mother.

Multiple contests’ winner for short fiction, Mehreen Ahmed is an award-winning Australian novelist born in Bangladesh. Her historical fiction, The Pacifist, is an audible bestseller. Included in The Best Asian Speculative Fiction Anthology, her works have also been acclaimed by Midwest Book Review, and DD Magazine, translated into German, Greek, and Bangla, her works have been reprinted, anthologized, selected as Editor’s Pick, Best ofs, and made the top 10 reads multiple times. Additionally, her works have been nominated for Pushcart, botN and James Tait. She has authored eight books and has been twice a reader and juror for international awards. Her recent publications are with Litro, Otoliths, Popshot Quarterly, and Alien Buddha.

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

Poetry Drawer: The Disagreeable Ocean Between Us: The Stag in the Lake: A New Pattern: Inhouse Mail: Greasy by Holly Day

The Disagreeable Ocean Between Us

I wonder if my son, when he’s out getting the paper or a cup of coffee
if he stops and talks to squirrels or rabbits or dogs
like he did when he was little, like I always did with him
if he stops to chirp at sparrows, throw them bits of donut
or if he’s forgotten to notice these things, he just sips his coffee
thinks of grown-up things.

And I wonder if, when he’s out with friends late at night
coming back from the bar and laughing too loud for the quiet surroundings
if he points out the startled frogs that leap across their path
to huddle in the damp, dewy grass, trapped by footfalls on one side,
heavy traffic on the other?
Does he stop walking, stoop down by the grass
carefully pick up the frightened frogs and set them safely
on the other side of the sidewalk, where they can disappear
into the taller, dark growth of garden plants and hedges?
Or are these things invisible to him now, as they seem to be
to so many other adults I know?

And I wonder, if, among his friends
there is just one girl who sees him
almost stop to greet a squirrel
or rescue a frog
or toss a surreptitious pocket cracker to a lone speckled pigeon
and knows that she is not alone in her own love for this world
sees that same love hidden
in the eyes of this boy I used to know?

The Stag in the Lake

The stag stumbled out onto the lake in the middle of the night
fell through the thin crust of ice halfway across. He must have floundered
for hours out there, cut a path through the lake until the ice grew too thick
for his hoofs to crush through. He might have made it if it had been daytime
the sun might have kept him alert enough to make it to the far shore,
where he could have stumbled out, shook himself, jumped
and leapt to the beach until he was warm enough
to run through my parents’ yard to some safe spot in the forest next door.

But because it was night, he may have lost time swimming around in circles
thrashing against the same patch of ice again and again in an attempt
to reach a far shore he could not see, the flashing lights of passing cars
bouncing off the water as late-night traffic thundered down the nearby freeway.
Sometime during his struggle, he gave up and just froze in place
one foreleg stretched out on the ice, a pair of broad antlers
preventing his head from sinking below the ice.

There was a good month where one could walk out onto the ice
right up to the frozen stag, stare straight into its glassy, black eyes
touch it if you wanted to—I never did. My dad talked about taking a hacksaw out
cutting the antlers off and making something out of them, some kind of
outsider wall art, but in the end decided against disturbing the animal’s corpse
mostly because my son started crying about the poor deer, that poor deer.

It disappeared overnight during a freak thaw, slipped free from the ice
and carried away by some sudden current from the nearby spring.
My son was convinced that the deer had finally gotten free
and run away, swam to safety to the other side of the lake
and because I’m not a monster, I told him he was probably right.

A New Pattern

I feel the knots and scratches on my husband’s back
and I can’t stop touching them, tracing them with my fingertips
in a mimicry of romantic caressing. They don’t feel like
fingernail scratches, don’t feel like anything
but random bumps. “You should start putting lotion on your skin,”
I blurt out, wanting him to turn over so I can see his back
get a look at these marks I keep feeling, reassure myself.
“I can do it for you, if you’d like.”

“I bumped into a machine at work,” says my husband
a little irritably, he’s try to get me to cum
and I’m obviously distracted.
“You can take a look at them later.”

I close my eyes and tell myself that the reason I married this man
was because I didn’t have to worry about the things
bumping around in the back of my head, I force myself
to completely succumb to trust. I do trust him.
There are too many leaves in this book of mine
dedicated to past betrayals, heartbreak, denial, surprise
that being in this place, with this man,
is an unexpected happy ending, almost too good to be true.

Inhouse Mail

I’d find his letters to my mother in the most unexpected places
shoved under the mattress in their bedroom,
tucked between the desk and the wall
as if it had slipped and gotten stuck there,
sometimes, just lying out on the kitchen table, as if opened and read
just minutes before. I couldn’t help read them, because I was a kid
and I just read everything, I was a snoop.

From those letters,
I learned that all of their hand-holding in public,
the proclamations of love,
it was all a lie. It was a fantastic performance.

Years later, when my sister started drafting her suicide notes
she also would leave them in unexpected places,
half-written under her mattress, balled up in the trash can in our bedroom
folded up and stashed with her homework, shoved in the bottom of her purse.
Having learned already to accept all smiles and outward signs of happiness
as lies, the subsequent drafts never surprised me,

and, like the evolution of letters that led to my parents’ divorce,
the evolution of suicide notes into that last one
spread out on the coffee table, waiting for me
when I got home from school
barely needed reading, I already knew what it said.

Greasy

He goes out to the bar just so he can tell real women
all of the things that are wrong with them, point out
the dirt under their nails, their dried-out hair
the way half their lipstick is worn off after a couple of beers.
Because most women are conditioned to take such comments
as helpful instead of insulting, they just nod and smile
wonder why they aren’t even good enough
for this lonely slob at the bar.

When he gets bored of judging human women, he goes back home
to his apartment full of quiet sex dolls, all posed
in front of the television, which he left on for them
considerately. He doesn’t even bother getting a beer
when he comes home—he doesn’t need beer
to talk to these ladies. They already understand him
they already and always know just what he wants.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Analog SF, Cardinal Sins, and New Plains Review, and her published books include Music Theory for Dummies and Music Composition for Dummies. She currently teaches classes at The Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, Hugo House in Washington, and The Muse Writers Center in Virginia.

Books From The Pantry: The Greatest Forgiveness of All: Worcestershire Young Writer Competition Anthology 2023

This anthology, organised by Kevin Brooke, Worcestershire Literary Festival Young Writer Ambassador, was created from the entries for the Festival’s Young Writer Competition 2023 which in turn was generously supported by The Story Knights and Worcester Arts Council. Competition entrants were asked to submit stories of up to 300 words on the theme of forgiveness. There were three categories of entrants: Senior Years 1-12, Intermediate Years 7-9 and Junior Years 3-6. The judges were Professor Rod Griffiths, Polly Stretton and Dr. Tony Judge and the winning entries for each category were announced at the festival launch event on 11th June 2023. The anthology comprises 2 entries from the 10-12 category, 6 entries from the 7-9 category and 41 entries from the 3-6 category.

Hidden in the title is the notion that forgiveness is the greatest healer of all. This notion is made more explicit in the stories that make up this anthology. Particularly impressive is the way in which many of them reveal a level of maturity, insight and wisdom which some of us only reach later on in life. I am thinking here of the need we all have to not only forgive others but also, crucially, to forgive ourselves.

The stories cover a wide range of themes: everything from precious objects broken in the home, hurtful relationships at school, our lack of understanding of others, our disrespect for the environment and for each other’s feelings. Jealousy, envy and selfishness are the main culprits and these are explored imaginatively through the medium of the school playground, animals (horses, bears, dinosaurs, cats and mice) and even, in one case, planets in outer space.

In reality, forgiveness is not always the end of the matter. These young writers know that life is not as neat as that. As one writer puts it: ‘Her words of forgiveness didn’t mean it hadn’t happened, it’s just a cut that’s turned into a scar.’ All, however, speak to us in some way of the power of forgiveness and also of the importance of friendship, especially of friendship restored.

The Greatest Forgiveness of All is available here from Black Pear Press.

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

Poetry Drawer: Ribbon by Sayani Mukherjee

My mind’s a ribbon blue
Black hued parsley green
Ivy lead open
My further glance into
My Casanova smile
Delicacy lasts long
Old enough to fly
My cookies know that shape
Criss cross suburban South
Too ordinary for living
A motel of sky scrapers
Munich to Vienna
Topples into
Swimming nothing
My hats are over there
Hibiscus orange
Playing with fire
Rituals of ordinary ordinance
That shape still plunges
My mind’s a ribbon blue.

You can find more work by Sayani here on Ink Pantry.

Poetry Drawer: Birthright Profane: Opal Ball-Dress: Mustang Chalice: Sonnet CCIII: Descending Love by Terry Brinkman

Birthright Profane

Drawn up the limit of ten
Swelling caves in silk hose she often leaves then
Insulting to any lady double-envelops white
Chastise her horse-wimping vain
Unbuttoned her gauntlet with laughter
She flogs no such thing insane
Little poor girl by the rock rafter
Ghost woman’s birthright’s profane
Soft cling aristocrat ever-after

Opal Ball-Dress

Her pal wears an Opal Ball-dress to write
Improper overtures coming from him
Writing with Tortoiseshell Pens
Cracks between shutters brings in light
Frost- bound coachman arrived at midnight
Drawn up the limit of ten
Swelling caves in her silk hose happens often
Insulting to any lady double-envelops white

Mustang Chalice

Ramparts of the horizon yearning strange phenomenon
Peaceful sleepy tenor watchful eye of Arithmetic
Wild horse Red River swollen thundering high
Sheep-Headers sleeping at breeds Sage Palace
Tormenting monstrous rocks and cactus horrify
Thundered past ears laid-back Mustang Chalice
Yearning of her heart, Pine Fringed Pie

Sonnet CCIII

Rocky ramparts Red-Walled with Seasoned Brick
Rolling ridges giant cliffs steely skies lost in the sun
Hair flying down her skeleton
Vague loneliness with the scarlet walking stick
Fragrant sage memories of haunting sweet Arsenic
Expostulated sentimental simpleton
Ramparts of the horizon yearning strange phenomenon
Peaceful sleepy tenor ever watchful eye of Arithmetic
Wild horse Red swollen thundering river high
Sheep-Headers sleeping at breeds Sage Palace
Tormenting monstrous rocks and cactus horrify
Yearning for her heart Pine Fringed Pie
Thundered past ears laid-back Mustang Chalice

Descending Love

Descend that’s love light at your peril
Were bout under the same Sun and Moon?
English watering place by moonlight her voice floating out
Gnawing petticoats twisted into the water
Spring cleaning worst moral pub
Wild ferns howled bay sleeping sky
She hangs like a cat to its claws
She cries true love soul dissolves
Delight in love’s rake
Her young mouth laughs at her gift
Pink articulated lips storm of a kiss
When a poet loves in unassail reason
UN shivered enraptured God’s eyes weep a ton
Love’s time fool an ever fixed mark
Sun or Moon Roses by a bee will sting

Terry Brinkman has been painting for over forty five years; now he paints with words too. 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, True Chili, LKMNDS and Elevation.

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

Poetry Drawer: Lora from Prishtina: For the years that have fled: Visit: Blindness: Delayed Meeting: You Ran Away Lora: In the Theater of Tragedy: One Day: Lora in Adriatic: Lora in the Rain: Valentine’s Day: Lora: When the Poet Loves by Lan Qyqalla

Lora from Prishtina

The Goddess descends into memories
Lora took into her arms
the blessed silence
an eye she gave to love
a song to the sun
to evil she gave the smile
her lips enchanted me
embracing the dream of the poet…

Again with Lora of Prishtina
we often meet on the boulevard
looking at the shadows of the rocks
beauty walks courageous
in love as the meteor of words
rain with arrows in sight
her lips put ash on my tongue
where the unspoken word slopes
the missing halt
during the white sleep
Lora of Prishtina –
gives a song to the sun.

For the years that have fled

Last night with Lora
we followed love
in the Garmia Valley
in the chest we spread the song
of Romeo and Julia.

In Garmia was afraid
of the fire of love. In the chest
we enumerate the hours
years that have fled to freshness
singing the melody of the forgotten poet
in the love of the ivory castle
on the “Green Path”,
Lora and I.

Visit

Unexpectedly the gate looks on the screen
on the keyboard taps the verse from his mind
the shadow is measured in tumultuous ecstasy
sparkle lit in mature age
in delusion you appear to me as a vision.

Lora walks into the heart of the verse
proudly stands in front of Naim’s bust
then goes to the waiting spa
where we were yesterday
embracing my dream with open arms
pouring earthquake into the alight tinder.

Blindness

blind yourself
I do not want you
having a look at the sea
I do not want you
to see the colour
in the ocean of your eyes
I want to drown
in your grace
to have you
my love.

This wish
in light
of birth
to perish
to infinity!

Delayed Meeting

Delayed meeting with Lora
in the Poetic Autumn
I continued the trip
in the Penelope Oasis
we look in the mirror of our eyes
among the waves of love
between dream and reality
between autumn and winter
between sun and sky
between birth and sunset
between maturity and childhood
between withered leaves
and the yellow petals
with the turmoil of fire
and thrill of heart …!

Delayed meeting with Lora
in the green spring
in the depths of your eyes
near the volcano
where awakening bites forgetfulness
in the late autumn
in the garden of heaven
stretched on the edge of the road
we met late
in the arms of Love.

You Ran Away Lora

You ran away so fast Lora
in the dark night of the modernism
before the next summer comes
in the smoke and alcohol basin
killed on the trail of mistrust.

Lora plays Satan’s dance
on the holy night of heaven
love drowns in the oasis
in the intoxication of the rain plague
becoming the postpartum of the broken age.

You did not wait for the promised summer
on the bed of roses
in the run of old time
of a dirty time whose name you do not know
I look at the rain as a rope in the faint face
and ask for the way out of love.

You ran away so fast Lora
you have remained the metaphor of the virgin paths
endless poetry of the poet’s longing
novel that starts with a real landscape
melted love in the spring of absences.

In the Theater of Tragedy

Hamlet is shouting on the stage
in the backstage
Romeo and Juliet
burn in the fire of love
caress the stains of the cloth
left from Kanun’s time
the intrigues of friends with empty souls
in the museum of memories
in the imagination of Eros in Prishtina.

Juliet
curses Hamlet beyond the scene
that he had penetrated her thoughts
she is seeking the paradise in poetry
why is Romeo lying
about fiery love
I do not have a covenant or ask for the breakup
Juliet feels that he speaks with his heart.

Romeo blesses the love
that remained like a wound
from the years that have passed
trots in the lit cup
the bedbed curses
at the table…

One Day
(Requiem for the poet)

You will not see the poet
standing
in Edi Café 2*
nor will you intercept
intrigues and contemplations
he will not order espresso
the table will be empty
as the memories that evoke
alcoholic beverages…
and a toast of friendship.

The poet blessed by hatred
does not withdraw
the words blossom with rose perfume
and cry for the memories in solitude
do not believe in dreams and magic
to give the world love
and the lyrics will need calligraphy

The poet burns in an ironic smile
the storm and the sky evoke a memory
every word in the fire of words
a world you do not know
Queen with beautiful eyes.

You will not see me
in the coffee shop
nor the streets of Prishtina
the atmosphere steps on your footsteps’ traces,
some quiet storms
strikes like the lightning in the sky without clouds
how many stars are lit
you are crystal in the heart and you know
memories of a distant time bring me
farewell and a voice
that babbles lyrics as a hymn…
we give life the spiritual dough
all the dreams we’ve written
the love we sang in each letter
we the unloving lovers!

*Edi kaffe in Prishtina

Lora in Adriatic

The plains swing
the unsung serenade
the text sinks into the water of the lake
the sounds of love cover the mountain
the eyes dissolve the exuberant magic.

The ring of the lake shines in the Adriatic
The lake wears the ring on the finger
The rays of the sun caress the face
Lora’s lips bite the words
curdled on the eyebrow
“For me you are unique, oh Lan”
and the lake trambles.

The lips redden in the drunkness of the kiss
Lora squeezes the fingers to her chest
the adder bite at the neck and at the nape
the chest whiteness shakes on the lake
the whips of excitement like the oak sap
Lora loses the trace in the longing of waiting
the cherry melts in the language of love.

Lora in the Rain
 
Lora was jealous in the rain
why it washed Lan’s
hair, lips
neck and eyes
imagined
in crazy
love?

Lora melts in eternity
sighs in words
stuttering took
and glimpses gave.
 
Lora stops the nomad time
Lan nihilist
in the burning rain
both faces
Prishtina’s fiery kiss

The rain makes Lora jealous
she gives
the kiss of the tear
to the rock in the dark.

Lora kneads her breasts
in the longing of love
Lan feels time
in the frozen sea
of wishes
 
Lora and Lan
tease each other in the galaxy.

Valentine’s Day
 
Lora
embroidered Valentine’s Day
on the map of love
Egnatia-Naisus street
and in passing I also took
the honey flavour
from the hot ashes
of the extinguished fire.

Lora
like a blonde ladybug in the meteorite
nobody whispers
on the map of love
and the star twister out of exhausted longing
in the timeless feeling
brought the freshness of age
the kiss of the mountain like Hera from Olympus
departed in the endless today
night.

Lora
frozen in heat
slightly heated to the bosom of love
“I’m very cold
Lan takes me with him
tonight
I do not want flowers
a white rose
to have for Valentine’s Day! “

Lora

Lora
we wander through time
like snakes in the bushes
Lora and I
in the ecstasy of the painting
I gave her Mona Lisa’s smile
I drank water from Lora’s bosom
and I lost myself in adolescent dreams,

I gave Lora a life
I gave the sky a kiss
the sun seemed to be silent
and left a free way to darkness
the rainbow lightens my way
fiery I take the stars to the bosom
I hug the sun
to feel its tenderness.

Lora is silent
and she silently speaks
in her blonde hair
I touch the love
embers in the lap
white frost
Lora left traces

Lora is asleep
with the fiery stars
tickling her lips
in the corrugated crown
the sounds of silence
I put her crown
and I read under her eyelids
the novel I will write
Lora with her bosom as virgin snow
lures the Talmudists’ years
Lora
crystalline meteor.

When the Poet Loves

When the poet loves
the moon becomes pregnant
with the autumn pollen
the stars laugh with Pitagora’s theorem
the sun receives rays of love
tsunami become the poet’s words
Lora is immersed in the block of salt.

When the poet sings
adorns the world
with the smell of love
he gives the mountains
Beethoven’s symphony
the rivers are enjoying
Mtika’s work
the sea of poet’s feelings
and Lora falls asleep
on the wedding stone
a living metaphor
in infinite verses.

Lan Qyqalla graduated from the Faculty of Philology in the branch of Albanian language and literature in Prishtina, from Republika of Kosovo. He is a Professor, poet, writer and editor of the prestigious international magazine ORFEU, as well as a television presenter.

PUBLISHED BOOKS:

  • “Autumn of love in Pristina” Collection of poems, 2022 Pristina
    “Parfumul iubirii” (Scent of love) Bucharest, 2020
  • “Lora” poetic collection in Turkish, translated and adapted by Kopi Kyçyku, Istanbul 2022
  • “A l`ombre des muses” (“In the shadow of the muse”) French, L’Harmattan Publishing House, Paris, 2018 December 24
  • “Nymph of a wounded heart” stories, in 2013 in Pristina
  • “Tears – sea of pain” Albanian poem, in Pristina, in 2016
  • “Tears-sea of pain” was translated into Romanian, published in Bucharest 2016
  • “LORA” Albanian poem, in 2017 in Pristina
  • “Passport of love” Bucharest, 2018,
  • “Lora mon amour” French, Bucharest, 2018 and
  • “Passport of love” English, published in Bucharest 2018
  • “Whiteness in Whiteness” School monograph, 1995
  • “Gani Xhafolli – prince of children’s literature” Mongrafi, 2018 co-author with Reshat Sahitaj
  • “Autumn of love in Pristina”Albanian SHB PRESS LIBERTY, poetry, Pristina
  • “Automne d’amour a Prishtina”. Translated into French Prof. Ismail Ismail, French, L’Harmattan Publishing House, Paris, 2023, Review by Francophone critic Laurent Griso
  • “Kärlekens höst i Pristina”, Swedish, Malmo Sweden, translated by Prof. Ismjal Jashanica
  • “Toamna dragostei la Pristina” Romanian, Bucharest translated by Baki Ymeri
  • “Pristine’de ask sombari” Turkish, translated by Akademik Kopi Kyçyku
  • “The chart of the soul” stories and novels, Prishtina, 2022

PRIZES

  • – In the International Competition for poetry in Torre Meliso in Italy, he received the 1st Prize of Albanian, on May 2017
  • – In 2017, he received the CREATIVE AWARD OF THE YEAR in Fushë-Kosovo
  • – In 2018, the Association of Albanian Writers in Macedonia gives the AWARD OF THE YEAR “Under the shadow of the maple” to Skopje, for the best poetic book
  • – A poet has been selected to participate in the International Festival in Tunisia, on November 20-25, 2018
  • – He is the Director of the Association of Writers “Naim Frashëri” in Fushë-Kosovo,
  • – Member of the presidency of the ASSOCIATION OF WRITERS OF KOSOVO,
  • – Editor-in-Chief at “Orfeu” Magazine and Web ORFEU.AL
  • – Member of the Editorial Board of the Magazine of World Historians based in Switzerland
  • – Vice-President of the Union of Albanian Writers and Critics
  • – He works as a Professor of Albanian Language and Literature at the Gymnasium.
  • He lives and works in Pristina.

Poetry Drawer: The Teacup by Sam Szanto

In the attic she finds a box.
Underneath an epidermis of newsprint
lies a blue-and-white china teacup,
part of the set used by her grandma
every week they went to see her.

The china, thin and determined,
pulls her into a warm room
and seats her at a groaning table.

Every cup has a saucer,
every plate has a doily,
silver sugar tongs rest
on white cloth
though no one takes sugar
in the tea poured from the squat pot
on top of milk.
On a birthday, the grandchildren
are given sugar lumps
and pretend they are horses.

They can start
when Grandma sits.
The plates are passed, achingly slowly,
sandwiches first. Egg and cress,
ham and English mustard,
soggy cheese and tomato,
too much marg,
bread cut into triangles,
crusts removed.

Then the homemade cakes are paraded:
a Victoria sponge oozing cream,
a dark ginger cake,
scones bursting with fruit.

The woman sees herself drop a saucer,
Grandma picking up the pieces
as if her fingers are tweezers,
the saucer never to be replaced.

She looks in the box again,
finding nothing.

Sam Szanto lives in Durham. Her poetry pamphlet, ‘Splashing Pink’ was published by Hedgehog Press and is a Poetry Book Society Winter 2023 Choice. Her pamphlet ‘This Was Your Mother’ won the 2023 Dreich Slims Contest and will be published soon. She won the Charroux Poetry Prize and the First Writer International Poetry Prize, and her poetry has been placed in journals including ‘Northern Gravy’ and ‘The North’. She was awarded an MA with distinction from the Poetry School / Newcastle University in 2023. Find her on Twitter/X Instagram and on her website.

Pantry Prose: Before True Rest Has Come: A National Train of Love: The House of Xmas Jocundity: Use of the Pane by Jim Bellamy

Before True Rest Has Come

That early evening, in September 1985, only one person was mad enough to light the lamps, and she was the cruellest. She behaved as a bore and did not like prosody. Call her Jasmine. She wore a strange suit that seemed washed by the tides. By her side there was a book and a phantom man and child. The moon was not yet out. I travelled home with a bag by my side. I bore an album too. I did not care for dancing.

Inside my home was a pair of tights that was torn down the legs. I padded barefoot to the parlour downstairs. Downstairs smelt weird. Pungent scents wafted from the cigars dad had smoked before today. I peeped noisily at the corners of my kitchen. It seemed as though the curtains there were forever drawn. My eyes were still heavy from a future dream. A dream of untouchable woman and I was falling, always. I heard my sister weeping. Beneath my larder, I sensed vegetables turn to utmost rot. Upstairs from myself, there was a family viewing the news. I closed the back doors: now there was nobody to disturb me.

But all the noises of the otherwise dead, darkened by mourning, intimated breathing on the mirrors in the hall. And the gaslight, gone, served as intimate relation to a past I had known long before this life had formed.

First there was a long strip of photos of my great grandmother. A professional dickybird with hood once snapped his way as he strode the vanished main streets, calling “Good morning” across the lanes where once shop-windows shone inside candle-light. And here I was, yet asleep, walking down the precincts. Here were the mendicant-blind and the cured killed. All I could do was to bleed into my own heart the peculiar fact that my life as an infant was now ended. But melancholy could not damn me. I was assured by sound of my own personal fate. And school is often spelt wrongly.

Bells rang in my ears. Bells rang at the heels of my school-mates. It was as if an earth of fear had been deposed to reveal a station with a train whose destination would appear neither hidden or absolved. I knew then that learning was to be my only future.

And here I was, running down the dead-ends of my childhood, stout, confident, in command. But I appeared to peek into the windows of forgotten stores. Buried in errands, stepping aside from the common kind , prying strange looks at the broken looking-glasses of furniture shops, my soul was photographed.

“Your image has been taken.” Immortality achieved in the space of one moment sent me skipping along the roads forever. And learning was to my immortality. With hairpins, buttons, screws, shampoo packets, knitting-needles. At nearly six-in-the-morning, I was hurried to awake for real.

The clock struck six. Daddy put his hand out and turned it askance. Then the whole of my life was dreaming but thence self-lead. The dog growled like a demon, and showed me his largest teeth. “Stay still, Stinker. Get back to sleep, boy.” I was yet too tired to speak with a slap. My eyes pulsed with a forgotten tiredness which was soon to permit for seven whole years of learned life. Most of the sheets on this table were dirty. A lump of coal from an open fire should somehow remark on the vandalism apparent thereupon. Foisted on the careful graffiti were drawings of legs and breasts which smudged out rude names and formless numbers. History is lies.

Now take the Jutes. Read ahead, read about King Charles. Move ahead, read about Prince Alfred. Discover who killed the headmaster’s daughter. Read about old Bennett and see him whipped down the corridors. See Liz stuffed with dates or dip a starched collar in the smirking inks as hammers smash teeth into a prim, bald, smirking head. Spiral away from Saint Nicholas and speak of his presence till gifts are stopped. Ride the piggyback of a drunken scream. Catch penny stains sketched as if silk garters. These tables are as true as History.

Upon the last sheet I signed my name several times with a pen which had no lead. I did not opt to scribble with the real. At a first glance there was no sign of interference. Thence I drew my eye to the coke inside its synthetic grate. Dust drifted up into a cloud, and then I settled down into my first true day. If only I could yell at the ceilings and trace dark circles made by former gas or crack into lines the figures and faces which danced and chased animals over hidden fields: Come, let’s look at Saint Joan who has somehow destroyed her parents’ house in Stephen’s Street, or else Staines Grove; he will never be allowed to come back. Mrs. Baker, have a peek now, perhaps, from under these cold sheets, at Mr. Baxter, who worked in the Post Office Tower.

“Be quiet”, I said to myself, “Surely I know nothing.”

Dad opened the gates of the pantry door. The worn best plates shone like fire. A pattern, akin to a willow tree, span round the cups and filled with flowers the fruits of the coiling texts. Jugs were piled up on one large shelf, on another the bowls, the soup-tureens, the toast-racks spelling Brighton, Hastings, Porthcawl. Then for the trifle-dishes. Thence the fitful afternoons when tea-service was brittle as biscuits but proud with gold-leaf. I cracked two saucers together, and the curved spout of a teapot came off in my own two hands. Inside five minutes I had perhaps smashed the whole set. May all the vices of Leicester Square bow down to see me as I whisper in this scullery: the spidery young girls who help at home. Calculating down this pavement where the rich-smelling shops, screwed up in their sensuousness, dry hair in the rooms to the side of this home. I blood off salt with the plant that’s grown. And I should have hopes that the office girls may knock at my door with the very stubs of their fingers. You can hear sex now gliding from the glass porch of this sealed room. “Oh yeah” I must have said, and the just male voices agreeing softly. “Shoo to them who snore in and out of Staines Grove”. I know that they are sleeping under vexed sheets up to the fringes of their grey whiskers. Meryl is marrying the Chamber and Mary is wedding to Lady Settee. I am breaking tureens in this bad cupboard beneath the stairs.

A metal plate dropped from out my hands and smashed to smithereens. I awaited the sound of my mother awaking. No one stirred outside. “Stinker is perfect,” I said aloud, yet the harsh noise of an inner mental voice drove pets in my world back to silence. My fingers became cold and numb for I knew I could not lift another plate without breaking it.

“What are you doing?” dad said to me at last, in a cool, flat tone. “Leave the Streets alone. Let them sleep.” Then I closed the pantry door. “What are you doing, raving away?” Even so the dog had not been awakened. “Raving away,” I said. God would have me hurt quickly now. The incident in the cupboards had made much of a trembling so much that I could hardly tear up the mess I had made inside the sideboards and the china that was scattered under the stairs was too difficult to destroy. The doilies and the patterned tea-cosies were still together, hard as rubber. I pulled them up as one, as if in a hope of wedging them up the chimney.

“These are such small things,” I said. “I should break the windows and stuff the cushions with this broken glass.” Dad saw his round soft face in the mirrors under the duplicate Mona Lisa. “But you won’t”, I said,, “Be afraid of the noise I have made.” Dad burnt away the edge of his mother’s guilt and shame and remembered to poke out his tongue to sap the tracks of my tears. “Still playing to cry,” he said. “Tears have salt and life is all salt. Just like the best of my poems.” Dad returned upstairs to the dark, with the light flailing, and seemed to lock the doors on the inside. He put out his hands and touched the walls by my bed. Good morning and farewell, Mrs. Barker. My window, facing his bedroom, was wide-open to the winds, but I could not hear the breathing of my mother. Most of the houses were still quiet. The main part of the street was a closed grave. The neighbours were still safe and deep in their separated silences. My head no longer touched its pillow and I knew that I should not sleep again. Dad’s eyes stayed closed.

Come down now into my arms, for I shan’t sleep. I know your rooms like the backs of my hands and I do not wish to sleep again. Tomorrow, today, I am going away by the 7.50 train, with five old pounds and an old suitcase. Lay your dreams against this bed for the alarm at six-thirty will hurry you back to the once drawn blinds where lit fires burn before true rest has come. Come with me quickly to where we may hear breathe the floats of the milk-men as they are waking.

Dad was asleep with his hat on still, and his hands were clenched. My family awoke before cock-crow. At least, I thought I heard them. They would stand in their dressing-gowns, stale-eyed and with ragged hair. O, come with me quickly.

A National Train of Love

I sat in a state of privy, with a slag-heap sat beside me. In all the compartments of the train I travelled, there were lessons to be gleaned and learned.Time was dressed in a bland tweed suit. The apologies of god were leaden with shame. Galbraith  served my mind and still I danced inside my sullen body whilst love reared up from the chains of the happy-killed. O, my soul lay dented and Everyman reneged on my thoughts and stilled the veins of my brain.

“I saw you use the dance-floor,” taunted a woman in a state of obfuscation and the side of Her head damaged by way of dreaming. The lavatories of Hell lay opened. My dark side appeared to rape my Gem. The scented sentimentalities of the seats which rode were forced to swerve. Lust’s hands turned askance. “Heavenward for these pages you read,” spoke my tutor. The peacock quills of a former state denied my dreams as passion raided the sly scenes of my languid ear. Home and help were ended. The gardens of the thrilled children of life stabbed me in both cheeks of my bum and the guards of Christ’s subhuman Turin Shroud noosed my cries with Atheistic lies. “Jain,” said a second teacher. The hands of the clock on the wall caused words to repeat as if entertained by self-flagellating cries. The hole in my sex descried gloom. It was clear to me that girl kind should desert me. After all, my denial of sex-abuse had been all too apparent and I could not find the masturbatory words whereby I might at last indulge in a sensuous scream. The handle of love turned.

“I do not consider youth as a bed-wetter and I must presume that when I cross my legs the scars of the ocean make a way for plum-duff?!’

These words from a third tutor seemed remotely powered. I dared not understand what She meant. Now my use of the train was gaining swiftness. Running down its rails, the gurgling noise of fellow-passengers caused a hapless sensation of disquiet.

A cloud of people stood arguing with the north-wind. I was not too maddened to experience pain and the length down my leg was never real.

“My name is Dom Daniel. Can anybody tell me why elderberry wine causes trips?”

But Dom Daniel was not blessed. Clasped in His hands was a copy of The Times Chronicle. It was my opinion (for what it was worth) that time was a funnel with weird noises closed around it.

“Thus is the beginning of the end.”

But there is no tangible end. Time unravels into itself and causes mirrors to intertwine. What should I choose to do but fall head-first into a tunnel of papers whilst lessons shoot past me. How should I refine timed life except by living inside my own estranged beliefs?

..

Strangled rats strode beneath my feet. The face of my tutors seemed planed away by foundations but the glibness of cosmetics coughed up invisible bleeding as my spirit lay half-awake in a medical room which did not inspire any true state of sex-yearning.

“Did you try to speak?” asked a man who had a bizarre birth-mark. His face was perhaps a miasma of purple and it was not until I found myself laying prostrate on an impossible settee when I considered my own face as a blemish. There are spectacles on my face and a nose never dinted by amateur boxing. I imagine you know the unhappy scene? “I snapped at you and that means you must listen!”

Slang spilled from the walls where the bodies burned and glistened. Often, I had thought of burning sculptures and thence the wholeness of statues struck me dead.

Now, every table must seem spread. Cold, snubbed peoples killed for home-time and here lay dying all over mean floors. There were no carpets but rugs of magical importance strove to stuff our eyes with Aladdin and His insane lamp.

The train rode faster. A waitress with a scrofulous cold served meringues to sleeping women. The briefcases of the working hordes seemed to pleasure the passing hour. I could neither weep nor taunt.

“I saw you using a pen for no abundant cause. Your words are worth two-pence and cannot change anything!” trilled a bent prefect who surely believed that heaven was still alive.

The rest of my pages are picked to bits by the howling of strange birds. Glimpses of hedges light all lamps and the dishonest peoples cause hateful pain. “I who saw you dancing,” Love said but Love was locked the other side of its door and the bit of sex-business pissed into the wind as the cloaks of the caned scaled the walls of Judea.

“Did you try to speak” asked a premier of learning but her face was pale and guiltless and her sight impossible to bear. She was perhaps ‘pretty’.

The wheels of my train span into the sun. The pleasures of sleeping travel surged beneath its counter. I did not think that a choir of songs would awake me but it did and as I walked up the slope to an outside street, bottles span from my fingers. There was a girl with shells for her hair. In the space of the city, a sea of whales span round. I have never considered true life since spent candles burn more brightly. There are tocsins heard in towns which mean all and nothing and the oceans of this earth collide beneath fled flames.

I gave my home three knocks. “Mr Anodyne,” God said, and softly strode away.

The House of Xmas Jocundity (a response to Shakespeare?)

IT is a burnished transparent night in the better half of December. The bacchanal Babylonian fields are enshrouded in a sobering coat of turgid ice. Here and there, amidst these cruel Phlegethonian sheets, dunes of Hippolytian snows dance upon the feline wind, and scatter Seraphic, white blankets across Asteroth’s astir sky.

The Acherontic eyes of a Clown with a boy’s face are focussed on starry Empyrean quarters. He cares so much for what faith sees, and has no desire to pass beyond those Perian Memories of a Dulcinea, whose sweet farewell chiselled a Lacrymose hole in His Soul and submerged His veins in molten-ice. Tepid saline tides erode His wan alabaster mask. “Well, you saddened Maecenas of mine, it is Xmas Eve,” he mutters to himself, “A time when we all decide to live under the same stars without conflict. These basic annual vows shine upon many a civilisation. But what of afterwards? Shall we still drink from the honey-choked wells of truth? Shall we still imprecate Martian fists?”

Far away, somewhere behind the Nectarious, female scent of lingering rain-washed wood-smoke, a Rosary-Clad Congregation, wielding Prayers, reveres the dark Olympian night. O, Saturn plays the organ, plays it just for me and you, and the Cherubic cavatina of the Midnight Mass intertwines with the Moon; and the Choral-Lamps resuscitate dreams in Atrophosian tombs. Over Lucretian valleys, and along interwoven Sirian passages , drifts the Congregation’s chaste Hymns.

Asmodeusan, a stygian lodger from profligate Italy, has a penile light in his eyes; a penile light that compels women to flaunt livery and virtuous men to file for castration. He grasps a vintage cheroot from King Aphonus ‘ cigar-box and lights it with a Plutovian whisper. It will soon be morning, and he is preparing himself for the arrival of Myrtle’s sentient bine, Asphodelte. “She has Houri’s unbridled favour!” he spits salaciously. “Paphos never beheld such vestal dulcitude!”

A lark’s transcendent cantata bids Asmodeusan’s annulet an antiseptic morning’s greeting. No doubt each mellifluous staff of recalls his lickerish, hymen-spewed past. Even before God’s thick, hispid hair sprouted from Love’s mammonian face, and bibacious wine clung to His soul, Asmodeusan was intoxicated by vile lust. When he was eight years old, he made a laconic virtue of boasting about the adroitness of His masturbatory deviations. And, on one dull Apollyonian day, he plundered a Venusian’s world and stained several pairs of her dew-laced silken underwear.

*

The phoebian star dances on the pock-drenched roof of the House of Xmas Jocundity, and swims within and without its ghostly tiles. The life which lies within is slowly and dearly exiting from the wrecks of hypnotic motion. Life – dear depressing animation – is returning to its enchanted and ghastly inhabitants, and the phantom moon is fading and fades back; back into the deep, dark Prussian blue meridian.

What is to happen to Asphodelte, as she lies in the fairest eiderdown, far away from those free-falling cucumbers in eastern and western markets? What I to happen whilst King Aphonus, her Father, sleeps so long? Is Asmodeusan to gain that lithe and labial fortress? Or will it be Jureis Divinoan, that free and righteous fellow who sleeps on time’s timeless floor? Who shall it be? That is the Question; and nothing lies beyond it..

Jureis reeks of fulfilment, but what can he know? For the solar bowl shines down on Humanity, spilling forth its Omniscient Soul, as if it were the home of Antihodean Wholeness. It knows for certain that Life is never planned?

And Jureis and Asphodelte are free to feel whatever they wish, while Asmodeusan fishes for the largest of lustful fish. And I know, as well as the clown with the boy’s face, that death is as drunk as Pluto’s Jury. Death’s befuddlement will teach the ignorant world that Hell is a mindful dell. “Screw, fuck, lick, suck! Learn of Peace without constructs,” God mumbles to Himself.

Asphodelte is here, singing for freedom, Jureis is present, learning of Healing. The noblest of servants, Hesperion, is endeavouring to quell the panic. “I am here, with self made evident,” he yells. “Learn of freedom, learn of pain, crush oppression, yearn to be the same. This may be a dream, of this may be Life, but mislay anguish for she exudes strife. Love, love is the answer. Learn it before you squander your hours inside this Earth. Surely you understand that Sex is wonderful?”

A fantastic, adoring wind strikes the House of Xmas Jocundity as jasmine-sprinkled Asphodelte arrives in Asmodeusan’s realm. She smiles upon him and burns hole in his odious trance. “You, sir,” she says, “are an example of Satan’s partner, and I have no desire to brush my breath upon your jaded soul. What ho, Hesperion? What ho?”

Hesperion appears and Asmodeusan backs under. There is no freedom for sexual plunderers. I know what I speak of, I know what I see. Lust is obscene yet resides within us. Asmodeusan must learn to confine his lust to reclusive hours?

*

The House of Xmas Jocundity glows with the light of a deity. It conveys the spirit of peacedom. Liberty lies within its gardens. Therein, repression is Dead.

Asmodeusan’s heart is smeared with sulphurous clay. He envies Jureis Divinoan’s love-glazed eyes. A further cheroot juts from his face, and he feels His lungs rapture into Obscurity.

Hesperion calls for understanding, whereas King Aphonus and His Queen, Perfidene, build a wall between each other. Neither of them can comprehend their daughter’ love for Jureis Divinoan. King Aphonus cannot comprehend Women, and nothing lies beyond His confuted Thoughts.

*

The sun shines upon the House of Xmas Jocundity whilst the clown with a boy’s face cries. He is the master of this chaotic, obfuscated demesne.

Jureis Divinoan awakens. He is Jupiter’s protean servant. but he is drunk, too. They are all drunk. Asmodeusan, Hesperion, Perfidene, King Aphonus, and lovely Asphodelte. All have partaken ofd December’s truth-seeking waters. They are all lying on time’s timeless floor whilst Asphodelte weeps. Tears flow down her disillusioned face. She is the only virtuous virgin in his place. She cries for Jureis’ innocence as the clown with the boy’s face understands that churlish Asmodeusan does not stand a chance. He is the master of this obfuscated ball, and nothing lies beyond Him. “O, life is an intoxicating well of Evil,” God shouts, “Drink from it, and your stomach will vomit diarrhoea. O, why is it that Life is so ferine? Why can’t we all live together?”

As the needles fall from the brazen coniferous tree, Asmodeusan and Jureis Divinoan realise that Christ is an unending Requiem. How do they know? For they have realised that Jupiter has turned against them and all they have nothing to aspire to but DEATH, DeATH, DEATH!.. Pain, degradation, decapitation. Please understand. One day, in the not too distant future, everything will change. When? I cannot predict. O, let the change come now!”

The House of Xmas Jocundity knows what it is like to be free. Its creator is wandering over the Hills of Avalon and strolling through Mammarian Fields. Yes, it knows what it is like. Don’t you see? There are no more Precepts. The Governments of Eastern and Western Markets are dead. The free-falling cucumbers have been shot from out the sperm-clogged sky, and the House of Xmas Jocundity bathes its souls in the sun’s solution. The clown with the boy’s face has created paragon of Liberation and nothing lies beyond it.

Asphodelte wanders across the House’s Fields of green and greets Jureis Divinoan. They are all Life means. They understand the clown with a boy’s face. Jureis smiles, and yells, “My Dulcinea! You are Jove’s finest pearl!” The clown with the boy’s face understands Him and inflames Asphodelte with Love’s life-kissed comprehension…

And then, and most quintessentially then, the House of Xmas Jocundity embraces the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite. Perfidene, King Aphonus’s Queen, reels for death’s purgatorial union. She cannot face the glory of quintessential care, for she has chosen to fish for the largest of lustful fish. Asmodeusan is incapable of catching her tophetic desire. She screams in expectant agony and gives birth to a sperm-choked being and, as Aphrodite’s warmth wraps the House of Xmas Jocundity in idolatrous light. Perfidene places her last brick in the wall between herself and King Aphonus. Nothing of value lies beyond it. The sperm-choked being rises to His Charonian feet, and swallows his mother’s esculent heart, and Perfidene, Aphonus’s Queen is dead.

Asmodeusan’s mammonian face loses its phallic edge. Saline waves burst forth from his isolated eyes. He remembers now. He remembers that poor, vulnerable Venusian in her vulnerable Venusian’s world. How many pairs of her dew-laced, silken underwear did He pollute? If only Death cold recall the Number. O, Asmodeusan is no longer befuddled. He has caught the largest of lustful fish. Now Love’s stomach will vomit diarrhoea.

-Asphodelte and Jureis Divinoan arrive back at the House of Xmas Jocundity. Aphrodite’s ethos complements their Ethereal God, and nothing lies beyond them.

The sperm-choked being fends off the Goddess of Love. He is Perfidene’s catch; the largest of lustful fish. “Am I not the most swarthy of demonic princes? I, Belias!” he shouts proudly at Jureis Divinoan and Asphodelte and “Silenced!” Jureis replies. “You are little more than Jove’s maleficent cast-off; a cataleptic ejaculation. Die, as your perfidious Mother did before you!” And Jureis, wielding a timeless sword, without a minute’s respite, cuts off Belias’s head.

Jureis, King Aphonus and Asmodeusan lose their individual identities and become one Entity. Their cleansed souls intertwine and pass up, up, up, through the roofs of the House of Xmas Jocundity and on, on, on into the deep, dark Prussian blue Meridian. The effusions of their Yuletide characteristics dissolve into a prism of music and swathe this world in understanding and the clown with the boy’s face avows, that one day, in the not too mystic future, dead earth may change.

I close my eyes and wipe out god’s screen. The clown with a boy’s face passes back into my imagination, and nothing lies beyond it. And I am quite alone now, as I shall always be. My eyes are focussed on those starry Empyrean quarters, and I care so much for what I see. I have no desire to pass beyond those Perian memories of my Dulcinea whose sweet farewell chiselled a spirit hole in my soul and submerged my veins in molten ice. What did this all mean? Well, you saddened Maecenas of mine, it meant whatever life is meant to mean? Nothing lies beyond the House of Xmas Jocundity. Nothiing!-

Come back to me, my Dulcinea. Help me shoot those free-falling cucumbers out of the sperm-clogged sky. Come back to me, and together we shall drift over Lucretian valleys and along interwoven Sirian passages. Together, we shall become as one and roam through the vales of purest, mellifluous honey while skating across the thresholds of Hypnos and embracing magical, Morphean planes. Come back to me, my Dulcinea. Let’s tread upon the beds of the Future and sail into Paradisiacal realms where the Governments of Eastern and Western markets are dead. Nothing lies beyond this Empyrean gleam. Nothing at all except PEACE.

(Jim wrote this short story when still at school aged 17).

Use of the Pane

It was way into Christmas. The dyes of the outside trees had stained the texts of school with a cry of scalded birch. The yellowed fists of winter were delving sense because the lustful  eyes of one thousand boys were here encased in a room of thirty young people.

There was, on a shelf, the manual of my mind. I could hardly think because the sensual words of feline girls were shrieking from the sun Languid verbs foamed from the desks of vexed kids who appeared to know just how the humane human body worked and the routed shell of beaches out of bounds spoke to the seams of coal-country. Where softness dug, the miners of minors turned around and before rude sin had towelled sweat from the birth of ships gone out to sea, the privateers of life descried their decks.. Veiled with nails, crucified senses were burned to death.

The forests of knowledge dammed the brows of teachers and their misbegotten words.

Eyes swallowed from tendril-trees apportioned sightlessness because their buds of vision were wet with seed. The quietus of death’s storm awoke the dead with a myopic whistle which framed the lids of time.

I could not fathom when the rhythms of speech might darken the staffrooms. Where the battered books of one billion books reproached exams, the lines written by children in detention deadened a need for ills.

‘I have words at the ends of my fingers,’ said a male pupil whose use of poems was perfect. Verse emerged from riled heaven as the names of God teemed with one zillion chic rhymes.

There was a ‘reason’ for glad talk but this reason had invaded life and had made creation void. When I say ‘void’, I refer to the indolence of word-thieves. School is full of thefts and because of this all essays are rebuked by a method of marking which imposes a ‘metaphorical’ use of the cane and inside my head, beds were soaked with fear. Sweat oozed  from the skins of youths who could not fathom a need for truth but the distant cries of  abandoned cats  freed folks from the cob-webs of the vain and sheer.

Infamy must serve as an instance of tuition where the startled screams of woman get lost in a forest. Rape streams from out the conifers of the love-maimed and the dirty clothes of inchoate sex must die or else become a spurious porn magazine….

I looked at the tired and saw therein a horde of waiters. Inside this mind’s eye, there were courtiers who downed G-&-T from disembodied sources. As drunk as tailors, the unravelling spool of space milked ambrosia from the clouds.

‘I am not daunted by lies and if you cannot read, please say!’ preached a part-time Prefect. But her Incubus of sensual frowns burst the curls of love’s faith because the darkness of the Void allowed fools to dispute all romantic lunar-landings.

‘I am assured that Aladdin made touch-down!’

Smog cloaked the eyes of Christ in a veil of black-and-blue while the surface of the moon burnt  one’s soul with drills, deepening into the very soul of this earth. Can one be sure that UFOs do not emerge from this world’s infernal crust?

‘I had babes when too young and was then relieved!’

Speech such as these was ten-a-penny and moved the uniformed throes of immaculate humankind. The blasting noise of several million farts silenced the gene-pools of Nazism and Hitler lay drowned in a pond of skin-veined metal.

“Oh, but how terrible,’ A dauphin child spoke from out  a board-rubber.

“It’s very kind of you to say life is comfortable, but look at the confusion. Just to think of living here. There’s something around which cannot make me happy.”

But happiness swelled from the ground as school-yards shortened the scent of earth’s cruel smile.

As the night rose above the rooms of this school, the trades of perverts spat forth. The stars of Time noosed the Deities of light and dark and the cornucopia of sense loosed aliens against the coitus of the laid as ships, wedged in bottles, drove the dawn ‘west of Suez.’

Lives dwelt in their own framed ball-park. Students crossed the lines and died before born. The canes of the killed  thrilled as they crushed chiliads of moaning and weeping.

The clime of  stiffened throes entertained the tiles of  fear. Crying thrilled the chapel of flowers, smashed inside red rain.

 ‘I cannot breathe because I am too young,’ spoke lads where future suffrage blocked the outside loos.

And ripped to bits were the buttocks where the fields of  soul soaped to slits the sexist Harness of killed cries..

‘Can you suck the teats of life or else constrain the etchings of mankind!’

And the skies of mad and disclaimed boys danced  inside pictorial heavens as the Doctored scars of mankind felt bared breasts.

In this glib space, the tits of suitors swelled with the sperm of the tamed and thrilled. Hung up by the penis till pens died, the strangled cocks of wisdom spared spoiled genes and the swiftness of red seed dazzled fusion with the pared deeps of  sun-lit drains. Here, the homes of murders roamed and the surfs of the tangled tamed ran with silk as sinks thrilled with the spilt skins of the penitential dawn.

‘I do not wear a bra.’ Thus were the words spoken by a highwayman of a female Fm-Tutor.

‘I cannot cane you but I change you!’ Thus were the words spoken by the cold lips of an aged Head-of-Year.

And the dire fates of the learned delved the sums of time as triangular pentacles appeared written on gleaming desks.

The plugs were trapped and water ran away with the blisters of the inchoately praised. The dugs of pets back home shed milk and the dining-halls of frailty served strange foods to forgotten souls. I was made sanguine by the main-meals I ate, all of which contained French stews stirred into smashed potatoes.

The scars of the stars roamed the fields of the damned and I was spent because my train of thought appeared to drift away. And where the mourning morning awoke  stoned, there was a quay of calm situated somewhere out my front window. I could neither weep nor sleep whilst the coda of songs extended their tunes to the beat of alarms.

‘Oh, can you please leave welts where there was none!’

And words such as these swiped dregs from the bottoms of queer beer-glasses as the teetotal throb of this enervated life got spanked by the missions of a ‘tutored’ mind.

‘Several puffs from my pipe please!’ spoke a School-Premier and I was scarred forever.

Jim Bellamy was born in a storm in 1972. He studied hard and sat entrance exams for Oxford University. Jim has won three full awards for his poems. Jim has a fine frenzy for poetry and has written in excess of 22,000 poems. Jim adores the art of poetry. He lives for prosody.

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