Electroman: moral rectitude or top-down fascism & mindless violence in 8-parts by Evan Hay 

Electroman is alpha & omega: shocking old-school authenticity in a virtual ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ social media era of asternal semantics, communicated en masse, with intense feeling yet atrophied definition. Electroman’s legendary power represents veritas: the whole damned truth, & nothing but. With humanity’s rank & file, running a real risk of losing sight of its impersonal raison d’etre over a trifling tangle of inconsequential options, amid modernity’s treacherously mixed reality, this scientifically designed OG is pre-programmed to re-magnetise our sacred universes fine-tuned moral compass, & save western civilisation’s time-honoured dynastic concepts, cultures, & networks from obliteration. Traveling time & space at warp speed, soaring in honour of our abiding godly empyrean, Electroman ventures into oblivions deepest lifeless valleys; surviving volcanic chasms spewing volatile fiery substances, braving uncharted fenlands infested with freaky web-footed inbreds, & scantily clad sultry harlots, before scaling the snowiest mountaintops, without concern for life or limb.

A blēssed & anointed OEM production, Electroman arises erect: a clean, unerring ghost, in his own portable machine. Brand new, & reassuringly expensive AI; a patented intellectual property untarnished by contemporaneity’s monstrous rattle of uncouth virtue signalling, come ignorant self-expression. Trademarked sigils engraved across this cybernetic organism’s proud meaty chest, pay tribute to heroic derring-do; E-man’s wry smile revealing unparalleled valour, & an absolute focus on duty. Only the epic majesty of Electroman can avert what only last week seemed inevitable; flashing across earthly skies he seeks out evil, harbingers of calamity, or any bugger who gets on his manufacturer RTX Corp’s wick. Typically, lukewarm types, whom Electroman’s gilded creators regard as the apotheosis of everything effeminate, outlandish, &/or un-Anglo-American; fell creatures, that must be nipped in the bud, lest they surreptitiously spread, like urban fox faeces, which if ingested, provokes infected wretches to vomit mauvais oeufs of anarchy, over countless innocent, societal casualties.

One such cockroach, queer Bernie Sanderson, a shifty, adventitious pharmacy proprietor, groomed that honest, congenial confidence, manifest amongst east London’s openly landless teenagers: turning susceptible minds involuntarily against national service, with a vile style of humanist propaganda, neo-socialism, balalaika music, charcoal burning ethnic teapots, caviar, & mind-altering fungi. Sanderson, a disagreeable Bitcoiner, Muslim sympathiser, & suspected Marxist, was particularly distasteful with a piss-yellow polyester shirt collar, & rampant facial acne. This Russian-speaking interloper appeared on the plot one day, leached of empathy: an ephebophile, with an unwelcome, adoptive cod-English accent. Apologists opined he’d escaped from an oblast of total misery, loaded with immemorial hurt & resentment; others carped he’d crawled out from under an alien rock, or an acrid cloud of condensed communist fog, wilfully determined to undermine an intergenerational ‘us versus them’ bulldog mentality obligingly bred by forelock tugging neo-villein forefathers, into Blighty’s native adolescents.

Tintack, LSD, GHB, & liberal doses of Rohypnol were force-fed during class A drug orgies, carried out on camera, in the box bedroom of Sanderson’s grubby ground floor maisonette (located within that oddball borough of Hackney), which sported crass pro-Palestinian flags, & lurid 1970s wallpaper. Poor unfortunate street urchins were bound with rainbow electrical wire prior to being submitted to bestial rape, & associated pansexual degradations of every description, after inducements of flattery, false promises, small change, & intoxicating vodka-based cocktails. Sanderson’s diabolical web of terror was strong, persuasive, & repetitive; his distinctive Slavic silhouette cautiously espied from betwixt dusty venetian blinds, a permanent depraved fixture of this deprived, ragtag community’s life: a painful indelible blot on Vicky Park’s penny-pinching, cutpurse neighbourhood, bordering the river Lea. Sanderson’s dank stain seeped into an offbeat communal mindset; securing easy ingress, through the needy district’s basest behavioural patterns-cum-preoccupations.

Weird spectral souls, subsisting in this down-at-heel neck of the woods, tended to be gig economy bedsitters, cowed, intimidated, & routinely harassed by absent retiree landlords (gloating over vicious price rises across London’s property-cum-rental market). Or disengaged mothers, & a handful of lickle babyfathers, in the zone; each too wrapped up administering day-to-day operations, celebrating uncanny arrays of narcissistic tics ’n’ tats, to notice Sanderson sucker punching their offspring’s solar plexuses. None of these creatures targeted by Sanderson alerted appropriate authorities about an assortment of rank obscenities playing out in the middle of terraced residences; nor did the manor’s dime droppers, errant parents, their random bedfellows, or local OAP bedwetters up to no good, sneak peeking from behind twitching curtains with silent contempt. Persons in this fey section of E9 were permanently out to lunch, on the spectrum, addicted to self-absorbing pastimes as likely to drive them mad, as bring delight.

Howbeit, no amount of terror or vacuity cast dark shadows over prophetic-cum-proprietary state-of-the-art detectors: super-duper pulsed kaleidoscopic micro-sensors. 3D mapping innovation for rugged cyborgs, generated by Raytheon in collaboration with Boston Dynamics. Plenary digital surveillance kit reimagined, boasting unbounded range, E-man’s omniscient electronic componentry relayed flashing transgression alerts to smart monitors. Simultaneously processed data capture predicted mission implications, enabling an immediate response. Instant reports summarised & sent to control panels, melded to the sweatless palm of E-man’s steady righthand; all part & parcel of advanced nanotechnology implanted into his fire-retardant membrane. Thus, highly sensitive LiDAR scanning devices, accurate enough to spot common clothes moths aflutter beneath smoke-stained cornicing, ogled at debauched hot kink sessions (with chaste clinical precision) in the mind-blowing, liminal actuality of Sanderson’s musty deathtrap of a property: riddled, as it was, from cracked ceiling to threadbare carpet, with dry rot & mould.

Searing down from the stratosphere, Electroman smashed through these rented dwellings leaky roof, & upstairs loft room, startling untold millions of illegal, brown-skinned immigrants, squatting there on a hair trigger. All of whom later in custody, pleaded that in droves they’d fled US, EU & UK sanctioned homelands, on account of economic hardship, irrevocable environmental catastrophe, or due to being terrorised victims of colonial warfare, perpetrated by NATO collaborators claiming divine rights to profit at some other mug’s expense. Not a fanboy of diplomatic procrastination, angry Electroman crashed headfirst, straight through Sanderson’s vulgar, artexed ceiling. Surprise, shock & awe were in the air, but Electroman had no truck with banalities, or idle conversations with a low budget porn king; this ugly quarry barely had time to quail, as in a blinding moment of stark-naked perception, Electroman’s powerful fists righteously smote Sandersons’ crooked nose (an unmissable, unstraightened, aquiline schnozzle, protruding provocatively from this insolent, steppe-hopping blackguard’s rodent-like physiognomy).

Electroman unleashed a sustained heavy barrage, of explosive, military-grade blows, snapping Sanderson’s Eurasian spinal cord, as if it were mere soft canned fish bone. Yet, with an unfathomable wrath provoked, & his gander up, E-man was unfinished. As Sanderson lay grounded, helplessly paralysed, nude from the waist down, spreadeagled across disjointed parquet flooring, E-man knelt on his target’s puny physique. Deploying a level of professional detachment typically attributable to seasoned vivisectionists, he continued pummelling & pounding Sanderson’s repugnant face till it was an unrecognisable quagmire of bleeding, excoriated flesh. Brown bread, Sanderson had paid the ultimate, terrible price of criminality (plus compound interest). Let it be known, shit rolls downhill. Cry God save the King, England, & Saint George! Rejoice in a proper top-down execution of justice: a sobering lesson to dodgy johnny foreigners, or dubious strangers, considering pushing their luck, by daring to cock slimy snooks at Electroman’s unforgiving robotic fortitude-cum-monumental skull & crossbones Old Testament aggression.

Evan Hay exists in Britain & rather than follow spurious leaders – over the years he’s intermittently found it therapeutic to write out various thoughts, feelings & ideas as short stories to be examined, considered, & interpreted by clinical practitioners who may be able to offer him professional psychological assistance.

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

Poetry Drawer: 100 Titles From Tom Beckett/56/Translate Objects: Nothing to merit treatment: TyouBE by Mark Young/Image by Thomas Fink

100 Titles From Tom Beckett
56: Translate Objects

We started by creating a scene.
Then came the arguments.

The first argument set what
import format to expect, set

the attributes. The second argu-
ment set the format to output.

A translated object doesn’t
change — it just goes some-
where else. At least that’s the
translation of Euclid’s defin-
ition of translate. That if every
point of a shape or figure is
moved by the same distance
in a predetermined direction,
even though it may end up
in another place, it’s still the
                                        same object.

Animists believe that all objects
share the breath of life. Trans-
lated, that means everything’s
got a soul. Or a brand new bag.

Hi. I just found a way to move
objects around. Was wondering
if this is the best way to do it.

Nothing to merit treatment

What does Proverbs 26:24 mean? Meta-
phorically: the glaze covering a clay
pot may be attractive, but it’s just a thin
disguise. She preferred solar flares light
up the undercarriage. A battle of concepts.
Fashion crime, thought crime — they
don’t break the law despite the will of
the one who practices them. Some doc-

trines are intuitive, others invoke Stare
Decisis, “let the decision stand,” adher-
ing to a precedent that determines the
relative weight to be accorded to different
cases. Always the chance of being more
upset by the things that you didn’t do.

TyouBE

Instead of writing one or
several poems — which is
what I should be doing —
I sidle into YouTube & into
a sequence of songs that —
effort for output —seems
much more productive,
even though it will end up

being a private poem. But,
hey, I’m in there singing
along, even if the only evi-
dence of that is some cryptic
reference in a public poem
written many months later.

Mark Young was born in Aotearoa New Zealand but now lives in a small town on traditional Juru land in North Queensland, Australia. He is the author of more than sixty-five books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, memoir, and art history. His most recent books are a pdf, Mercator Projected, published by Half Day Moon Press (Turkey) in August 2023; Ley Lines II published by Sandy Press (California) in November 2023; un saut de chat published by Otoliths Books (Australia) in February 2024; and Melancholy, a James Tate Poetry Prize winner, published by SurVision Books (Ireland) in March 2024.

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

Image by Thomas Fink, who has published 12 books of poetry– most recently Zeugma (Marsh Hawk Press, 2022) and A Pageant for Every Addiction (Marsh Hawk, 2020), written collaboratively with Maya D. Mason. His Selected Poems & Poetic Series appeared in 2016. He is the author of Reading Poetry with College and University Students: Overcoming Barriers and Deepening Engagement (Bloomsbury Academic, 2022), as well as two books of criticism, and three edited anthologies.  His work appeared in Best American Poetry 2007. Fink’s paintings hang in various collections. He is Professor of English at CUNY-LaGuardia.

Poetry Drawer: Inside Ashes: These Lines Are Bitter: Obscure Book: Unscripted by Aneek Chatterjee

Inside Ashes

After every finished poem,
ashes smile.
My numbed limbs find shelter
in fugitive lyrics, inside
ashes.
I want to jump out to the
world, where stages have been
set up to accommodate words;
where flowers and chairs have been
arranged to welcome lyrics.
I search new syllables inside
flowers; — in vain.
I find new sense of
burnt out lines
drowned in ashes.

They come up like
fresh twilight
in a summer evening.
I realize ashes have a
different warmth,
full of love and the
magical depth
of twilight.

Resuscitated, I feel like
rising from the ashes.

These Lines Are Bitter

Do not sail your tongue
over these lines.
These lines are bitter.
They contain black smoke from
every battlefield schemed by us.
They have deep wounds, visible
and invisible.
From every wound visible,
blood drips. Do not sail
your tongue in blood.
It’s thick
and bitter.
Here, flowers have
refused to bloom.
Agonies only carry
these lines, aptly.

Do not touch these
with your decorated eyes.
These are full of tear gas

and failed promises.

Obscure Book

You are a chair.
I’m all dust on the soil.
You’re a designation.
I’m the obscure book looking
from the corner of a
tinned rack.
You’re a crowd.
I’m the lonely bush
by the side of the road.
You’re a festival.

I’m still searching the
festive light.

Unscripted

Here you come, slowly
like long-awaited thoughts,
yet to bloom in a poem.

I’ve seen you already, —
like clouds see the river, —
from a secret 3rd floor window.

I’ve seen you long ago,
like the sudden childhood flower,
yet to acquire a name.

I’m also searching the name of
the river and the unscripted poem.
in my secret chamber

But I’m sure they will
forever
remain untitled.

Aneek Chatterjee is from Kolkata, India. He has published more than five hundred poems in reputed literary magazines and poetry anthologies. He authored and edited 16 books including five poetry collections. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Dr. Chatterjee received the Alfredo Pasilono Memorial International Literary Award. He was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia, USA, and a recipient of the ICCR Chair (Govt. of India) to teach abroad. 

Poetry Drawer: Nobody is Reading Poetry: This Siege: Earthquake Tremors by Dr Susie Gharib

Nobody is Reading Poetry

Nobody is reading poetry,
I reiterate in my bed,
my head repelling the pillow
with multiple authorships at stake.
This is the age of ridicule
and trendy trivialities
readily uploaded on the internet.
I sigh and with difficulty
close my reluctant eyelids.

Nobody is reading poetry
which is being bled
at the altar of social medias
that are preoccupied with current affairs,
such as posers,
disasters,
and pointed fingernails.
I think of ailing Muses
desperately awaiting remedies
that resuscitate
in vain.

This Siege

‘This siege,’ I state.
He attempts to interrupt with a piercing gaze.
‘This siege’, I repeat.
He beckons with his forefinger to me to discontinue.
‘This siege has not weakened me,’ looking him in the face.
‘Can’t you see that pressure has not made me yield.
What have you gained from the deaths of my peers,
the crucifixion of my dreams,
and the maiming of my career?’

His features twist with a menace
that he fails to conceal.

‘Intimidation and blackmail are not the way,
to win people over to the implementation of your ideals.
What’s so successful about your enterprise,
a fraternity of slaves,
whose loyalty is enjoined
by subtle threats and fear?
What a waste!’

Earthquake Tremors

They aim at that part of the brain
that maintains balance and equilibrium
and make the strings of hearts vibrate
to its contagious electricity.

I sway tremulous like a half-cut tree
on the onset of an eternal delirium.

These headaches I have that harass my day,
the weakened joints,
the lethargic ankles,
the feeble feet that now feel faint
the bewildered eyes,
the reluctant tongue
are my own unacknowledged diagnoses
of the Tremor-Shock Syndrome, TSS.

Dr Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a PhD on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ink Pantry, Mad Swirl, Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine, and Down in the Dirt.

Susie’s first book (adapted for film), Classic Adaptations, includes Charlotte Bronte’s Villette, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

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

Poetry Drawer: Waiting for the Bluebird of Happiness: Yoga Mat: Comforting the Enemy by Salvatore Difalco

Waiting for the Bluebird of Happiness

I could have been better. I know that.
But I was asking questions that could
not be answered. My spells turned out
to be voluntary and self-sustaining.
The vast fields I traversed
were greener than my waistcoat
traded from an armless man
who needed fresh shoes.

We all live in our own little dream.
If I gaze at my hands I feel
waves of blue-grey guilt,
and a wish to run at the field ram
harassing the billowy sheep
in order to relieve myself of this feeling.
The ram always wins, so no guilt
would stem from that collision.

Yoga Mat

Give me shelter or simply take away my boots
so I may better freeze to death on this yoga mat
and leave all my worldly belongings to another
broken person, or a cat who needs somewhere
to rest it’s little head. I’m easy to please, man,
just give me a chance to show you I’m as human
as anyone else on the planet, albeit I’m nowhere
as good as most people. My mother dropped me
on my head when I was a toddler, after my father
dropped her on her head. What goes around,
they say, those people who always have something
to add that makes no difference to anything.
Hey, don’t get down watching me lie upon
a stinking yoga mat I found in a trashcan.
I wore it like Rambo for a while, but it lacked
gravitas and made it hard to defend myself
against gremlins and demons and warlocks.
They all come for me at night, that’s the thing.
They won’t leave me alone. In the pitch black
darkness they can handle me with many hands.
Otherwise the tiger in the tank reverses course
and without delay roars out from the gas cap.
That’s the story from the jungle, friends.
Take us home now, Jerome, we have horses
to feed and cows to milk and a small black cat
waiting for a cozy yoga mat to call it a day.

Comforting the Enemy

Show me the way to the bedroom,
I’m so tired I could sleep for a year.

Don’t be afraid of the bandages.
Tomorrow, medics will change them.

But show me the way to the bedroom,
don’t be afraid, I will not harm you.

Don’t be alarmed, we are just people.
Yes, I am less than I was, nevertheless …

I only want to sleep the sleep
of the nearly doomed, of the blessed.

Fluff up the pillow for me, please,
my hands were lost in the war.

Some say the war isn’t over,
I say it’s over for me. Do you agree?

Pull the blankets to my throat, dear,
same reason as before.

Sicilian Canadian poet and short story writer Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto, Canada. Recent work appears in RHINO PoetryThird Wednesday, and E-ratio.

Poetry Drawer: Bad Date Blues Haiku by Laura Stamps

So me and Hazel.
Here we are. Sitting on a
bench at the new mall.

Saturday morning.
First the dog park. Then the mall
for compensation.

The sweet kind. Ice cream.
Chocolate Cookie Dough for me.
Pup cup for Hazel.

Ice cream. The best cure
for bad dates. Can’t believe his
dog bit Hazel. Geez.

Dating. Not my thing.
Should have listened to myself.
Why didn’t I? Why?

Well, I’m listening
now. No more dates. No more men.
None. I’m done. Promise!

Ice cream and Hazel.
She’s the best date. No stress. Yeah.
Dogs are much more fun.

Laura Stamps is a poet and novelist and the author of over 65 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.

Poetry Drawer: The River Knows: Observations: Memories of Floridian Nights by Wayne Russell  

The River Knows

The spirit of dark and
lonely waters calling me.

Into her flow, I follow
hollowed with the years.

Clutching at tree branches,
dropping across her visage.

But alas, it is too late, tonight
I have lost my grip on reality.

Tonight, the river shall devour
me, as slowly I slip into her
icy clutches.

Tonight, I am hers for all eternity,
breathing in her liquid allure-

as slowly, I slip into unconscious
slumber, fading out into the dawning
of a new day, that bleeds into being.

Observations

The dogwoods naked and unperturbed,
basking in the silence of slumber;
a skyline born again, rising from the throes
of slate grey.

Grassy knolls and footpaths coexisting,
until the loud rebirth of Spring time, breaks
their drab attire.

In the distance, the lazy haze grey factory is
looming; like ominous death birds hovering;
fading red brick at its base; smoke stacks

reaching, indifferent into the dreamscape
sky, hovering always, like an unpredictable

friend.

Memories of Floridian Nights

Spanish moss, strewn throughout
whispering branches of live oak and
pine.

The concerto is in full swing, down at
the boggy marshes, tonight.

Glow bugs are dying stars, counting
down the apocalypse; in frantic strobe
lit code.

Frogs croak with supreme confidence,
convinced that they are indeed one of
the famed Three Tenors; reincarnated.

Crickets rubbing their sleek wings in
chirping cadence, the shrillness could
awaken the dead.

An acorn drops out, from the nestled
safety of a towering oak tree; it splats
into the swamp below-

parting the dark green algae and lily pad
tainted waters in the night.

Parting my thoughts, scattered on the
warm Florida breeze, like memories
evaporating within the mist of time.

Wayne Russell is the author of the poetry book 2020’s “Where Angels Fear” via Guerilla Genius Press, available for purchase on Amazon; his second book “Splinter of the Moon” published by Silver Bow Publishing; has just been released and also can be found at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback edition.

Poetry Drawer: Golden Smock: Kind Souls: Low Country: Plucked Pebble by Dana Zullo

Golden Smock

Vibrant colours and geometric prints
burst from the curated
and manicured environment.
Fanciful flower stems
and lucky turtles
lovingly adorn a plain corner.
Intricate patterns
made with mathematical formulas.
A randomly placed,
colourful floor tile,
next to a gumball machine
catches her eye,
and her mouth curls up on one side with a smirk,
remembering times long ago.

Portraits, collages, stories,
and whole histories
are sewn into the quilts,
with nimble fingers,
yet they aren’t used on a bed or couch
to curl under for warmth and security,
they are presented
on the wall as fine art,
a fabric mosaic masterpiece.

Tiny chairs in primary colours
and toddler tables
are tucked in a children’s corner with blocks,
Legos, a toy truck, and baby dolls
so carefully packed,
yet quiet and still,
oddly waiting
for a playful child to return?
Mother’s apron is carefully sewn
from burnt orange and gold cloth
with a beautiful rosette decoration.
The smock has pockets,
like a pouch in the front,
and ties with ribbons at the sides.
Her lovely work shirt,
soft and light to the touch
with bright colours for the child’s eyes to admire.
She wants to be present for them,
sturdy, kind, creative and accepting,
so when she can’t be there,
they will remember
the calm and warmth of the golden smock,
like a shining sunset.
It is her armour,
her uniform that gives her courage and confidence
to be better and wiser for them,
for herself.
She touches her fingertips to her chest
where a miniature sun resides within,
and she knows she is changing.
She calls upon that sun
to guide and nourish her motivations.
When it sets,
the moon’s silver glow
shows the way until morning.

Kind Souls

Socks and shoes
are soggy wet.
Thunder rumbles
and lightning flashes.
It sounds like a tall oak snapped in half. 
Today I am uneasy,
not knowing which way to go
on almost every decision,
so I try different directions
to see what works.
The first one didn’t seem right
so I start over and try again
in a safer place.
I found a kind face,
who took pity on me,
and a nice helper
who sewed thread onto my torn apron string
with stiff, swift fingers. 
I feel my body is weak.
I need wholesome food for nourishment
and to settle the knot in my stomach.
I had a bad night.
Up intermittently,
but never knew the time.
I had sweats then a jolt of chill.
I slept in late
and wrong footed the day.

A river of water
flows down the street.
I am only half prepared.
I have a large umbrella,
found in the trunk from father,
but I am dressed for a sunny summer day
in a jumper and white sneakers!
Can’t step in a puddle or they will be ruined,
so I turn back for cover
like an alley cat crouched in the doorway
with big eyes looking out onto the world,
hoping for kind souls to cross my path,
not nasty boars with sharp tusks.
The storm tricked me.
Just when I thought it would let up,
it struck again
and rain came pouring down
on the town, on the town, on the town.

The sun tried to come out again
and clear up the mess. 
Plans dashed
and confusion came over me again.
My mind went to a sick child at home
and my parents worry for me being alone.
They tell me to leave early
and come home.
They do not understand this place.
My husband says to stay,
do my work,
take the journey,
but the tone in his voice sounds impatient
that I am hesitating
and checking in.
Communication is strained.
Which way should I go?
I am happy to be here on this quest
with these characters
in the play.
They are trying to figure out the puzzle too.

It is calm now
and a little boy bends down into a puddle
and splashes water with his hand,
so does father.
Rose pink glasses catch the setting sunlight
at the dinner table
and it provides hope
tomorrow will be a better day.

Low Country

Driving carefully
through the storm.
Lines of swollen clouds
like black and grey ribbons.
Take me home angels.
Don’t let me go off course.
Follow the map
as it guides me through
the countryside.
Dark trees
with green buds.
I saw a mare standing over her foal
as protection in the rain.
The thunder scares me
but I have to drive straight through it
to get to the other side.
A fire smouldered in the rain
and filled my nostrils with smoke
from an old brick chimney,
years ago in a northern village.
Large black crows swoop
from the pine tree tops.
I am embarrassed that I left early,
but I know myself.
I know what I came to do.
I accomplished it
and I am ready to go home,
even though I could sense in his voice
he was disappointed in me,
not achieving the miracle.
Broken rooftops
and cottages sag by the roadside.
There are some white picket fences
that are kept with care.
Lone scary cypress
and Tuscan orange grass
sprout up like an Italian countryside,
yet the pines and thunder clouds
remind me
I’m in the low country.
Ditches are swelled with water
in this ghost town.
Rusted tin awnings and decaying black iron balconies
are on my view
as I creep around the storm
toward home, home, home.
Safety of city lights,
places I know
and the tender faces
I love, love, love.
 
Plucked Pebble
 
Round like a gumdrop or lozenge
Old and wrinkled
and yellowed with time,
like cracked and chipping wallpaper.
If it had a smell
it would be one of lingering cigarette smoke,
or dust.
I’m not sure why
I picked this pebble.
It was in a sunny spot
on the ground.
It is golden in colour,
like a warm beach.
Smooth like a bathtub
but hard, like a bone.
My two-year old daughter presses her fingers
to my collarbone
or to my wrist
and says, “Bones in there.”
It’s a tiny thing,
just a nothing
from the dirt.
Yet, I picked it
and study it
like it is special.
Doesn’t it feel nice to be picked,
as special?
To be regarded with care?
To spend time
with this nothing pebble?
Then, I vow to spend this quality time
with the people I love,
with myself.
Take time to understand the ugly and beautiful.
That is where connection is knitted.
I haven’t said a word,
yet I understand this pebble.
It will sink to the bottom of the creek
if I toss it there.
Probably, no one on Earth
will hold it or look at it so closely ever again.
Then, make the most out of this immediate time.
This moment matters.
All moments matter.
If this pebble has meaning,
then zoom out
and everything in my eyesight
has meaning and significance.
Everything and everyone
special to me,
is worthy of notice.

Dana Zullo is an educator and mother in Georgia. Her poems have been published in Paprika Southern and Literary Yard. Her artist biographies are seen in printmaking guides at Crown Point Press. She received artist residencies at South Porch Artists in SC and Dairy Hollow, AR. She also creates floral art with the Ichiyo School of Ikebana and previously taught art in the Peace Corps in Ghana. Inspired by personal development, motherhood, and the natural world, her writing and designs are found on Instagram.

Poetry Drawer: Unveiling The Absolute Identity by Rajendra Ojha (Nayan)

In practice, are you a proactive nationalist?
Are you a happy, patriotic person-
Who is bursting with intense emotions of patriotism?
Are you a man with socialist ideology?
Do you think like a conservative or a democratic man?
Alternatively, do you take pride in the culture and-
religion you were raised in from birth?

Apart from our identity as a social being,
You might also identify yourself in a different orchestra.
What do you believe your true self to be?
Oh Humanity! full of rain-soaked nature,
What do you say about your real identity?

Is our absolute identity based on—
being nationalist, democratic, religious, or culturalist?
Or are these the identities that are imposed on us-
To align the structural power with the demands of the wider society.

We are happy to identify ourselves with the relative identity—
that is created within the limited reality of the cosmos.
While —The Absolute Identity —We Have,
May haven’t been unleashed yet.
Be it in the fertile land of policy making,
Or- ‘Social Contract’.
This is the real seed of every chaos we harvest

Our true identity is, of course, our personality. And,
It is defined by the quality of our ‘Soul Thoughts’.
But the absolute identity we might have,
Lies within the quality of our—’Soul Awareness’.

Rajendra Ojha (Nayan) is a Nepalese poet, philosopher, social researcher, social worker, and EU-certified trainer. He also served as a citizen diplomat for three months under the ‘Ministry of Population and Environment’ in 2018 in Switzerland for the diplomatic program of the Minamata Convention, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Poems and philosophical writings of Rajendra Ojha have been published in various national as well as international literary journals from Nepal, the U.S.A., India, China, Russia, Spain, Myanmar, and Pakistan in both Nepalese and English. He has also published two anthologies, ‘Through the World’ (a collection of experimental poems) and ‘Words of Tiger’ (a collection of philosophical and psychological poems), in 2011 and 2019, respectively. Mr. Rajendra Ojha has been honoured by two major prestigious awards named ‘Asia’s Outstanding Internship Solution Provider Award 2020/21’ and ‘Dadasaheb Phalke Television Award 2023’ respectively for his work as a ‘Social Researcher’ as well as a ‘Social Worker’ (activities related to social responsibility), respectively, in 2021 and 2023.