“and then She was shipped across the world” and “Document2” by Parag Desai

Visitants

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and then She was shipped across the world

to work and produce, and to work and produce,

in a fortress of infinite greed,

tending slot machines,

for donald trump in february of ’93.

 

She met the man she married after a lapse

of two years. his belly had grown since then,

his smile had yellowed since then.

 

and exactly—with mechanical precision—a year later

i was conceived. Her belly too would grow. She quit work

to produce, and then worked to produce: a clean kitchen,

an undisturbed bed, warm roti, daal, shaak.

 

the tasks never truly added up in this fortress

of infinite greed. husband came home drunk, sorrow stuffed in a

parle-g cookie jar, a thums up in the fridge—foreign around these parts.

 

and even when nostalgia flooded Her mind

about the time Kiran did this and Jothi did that,

a foreign namesake struck Her skin like a dagger—

reminding Caesar of her place.

 

in the belly of an american beast. where they eat flesh

without cooking it and drink each other’s blood

without indignation—some savage, pagan ritual.

 

father never prepared Her

for this. never taught Her this.

 

he was a banker.

 

Photographic Print_ Burnt Earth I by Doug Chinnery _ 24x16in.jpeg

Document2

I was introduced to death the day I learned that I did not have a grandmother. At some faint point in my childhood, my mother told me that everything would have been different if she was still around. The magnitude of everything was inconceivable to grasp as a child barely able to comprehend simple arithmetic, let alone a phrase that transgressed my embryotic reality. It was at this point I learned of a state beyond living, a state of perceived presence, and a state of consequence. Possibly, since being ensnared, at the tender age of four, five, or six, by the first concepts of the world snapping its fingers in my face demanding for attention—while death itself is growing out of the pores of my backside like the bathroom ceiling mold tattooed to the walls above my head in this makeshift apartment—these seemingly ubiquitous laws have weighed heavy on my ever-shifting conscious since. The opacity of a short, stern, round woman with a mole above her lip who once appeared in a dream, shrouded in a smoky haze, smiled, nodded, “Everything will be alright,” and disappeared from her ethereal, heightened position just as quick as my shower runs out of warm water. I become stiff. I look at the black disease above my head in contempt every single day, venting to the weeping, plastic walls where I visit the playground of gods and reflect on the circumstances I wish I had the power to change, or the wars I could have won, all while subconsciously replaying the image of a doppelgänger whom I have no distinguishable connection with, but owe all of my existence to, for the majority of my life. And since, within this downward, spiraling montage of violent, flashing images a piece of me withdraws to a palpable vision of an alternate world where I hear her scold, taste her food, feel her warmth, and grasp at the philosophies she has imparted on another me. Do I dare conclude this is the basis of all optimism—all of which is objectively blind, or one’s trust in a higher being—all of which is fueled by grandiose delusion? It is true that I lost faith, arguably never had faith to begin with, since my consistent appointment with reason refused to give a sufficient answer for my grandmother’s death, refused to explain why father threw our dinner against the wall, refused to justify, refused to apologize, refused to heal.                 

I have been chasing a thought of chasing the thought of what could have been but isn’t. For twenty-three years, I have been manifesting a suffering not bound by a physical pain, but of a stinging malaise buried deep within the cage of my chest. As each cold shower, as each whiff of slight sickness cycles throughout the years, I’ve anesthetize this triple-headed behemoth born out of another’s burden. This beast: one head of a son—sweating of ethanol—who lost his mother before my birth; one of a child drowned in tears, wed into dysfunction; one head suffocating, with a muffled screech, bound in a tight mask made of reflective glass, claws made of burned ivory, an evil, steel-bristled coat, fangs drenched in a bubbling saliva, an anger, a sadness, a haunting moan bouncing from all angles in this dying, darkened prison. There is no mist covering the mirror, so I see my demons perfectly. As my grandmother echoes everything, as my father warns of everything, as my mother cries about everything, I am left with nothing but the taunt of positions that do not exist and paradoxically could exist all within the same timeframe. If I was

there goes the if              

how do I move forward?

 

 

 

Parag Desai is a graduate student at Coastal Carolina University studying in the MAW program. Currently, he holds the position of design editor for Waccamaw Journal (Conway, SC), an online publication of contemporary literature. He likes hip-hop and renaissance art.

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“ON THE WALL” by Moriah M. Mylod

Playground Rules & Physics

Smacked for my ever first drawing

A depiction of a Cephalopd on my bedroom wall

I shared the pale blue room with my twin

Cribs adjacent

A marker taken out of the grips of my clinging little finger tips

As my brother watched the beginning of my art career fail

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

Locked mom out of the house as I colored the walls with oily red lipstick

And the porcelain blue and white lamp too

Bang, bang on the door

Bang, bang on the window

And “Watch me, mom- destroy the integrity of the walls”

My lipstick utensil taken out of the palm of my sweaty, but bigger hands

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

In a hospital bed, hot

Face pressed up the cool bars of the frame

Trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, trouble eating

Sick 4 year old infantile

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

Hamsters that bites and eat their kin

Tiny blood spatters inside the dirty glass tank

Belvidere Hotel, tasting Budweiser and watching Jaws with Dad

Throwing half eaten peaches down the toilet

Clogged

Waiting for the Plumber

Mom is cooking pre-made stuffed clam shells

Stubbed and skinned atop the big toe

Chasing Rollie Pollie bugs on the cracked hotel pavement

Just in the heat of summer’s end

We found ourselves in a Blue Cobalt and Fire Hydrant House

Chicken Pox and a stranger sleeping over telling me to get out of my mother’s room

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER ME

 

It’s night, in the doorway stands a Three Headed Sumo Wrestler

Then he is walking into my room

Lights still on

Hiding under Rainbow Purple Unicorn Cloud covers, keep me safe until tomorrow

He disappears & reappears

Stranger said, “You can’t paint the house in your pretty pink dress, honey.”

 

PAINT OVER, PAINTED OVER YOU

 

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Original painting on a wall by Moriah M. Mylod c. 2017

“Life // slip // stream” by Elisabeth Horan

Arsenic Hour

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It’s nothing / hangs / like toile / white gauze / surgery / comes and goes / lab coats I never wore / monkeys & rabbits / guilty / I am always / I hate the inaction / I hate the mascara / raccoons flood my airways / knowing what I don’t or won’t do / embarrassing / I want the chicken but waste her every time / her bones unlovable / her beak / as my tailbone / so broke so broke / the shells too thin / they crack they crack / when I brood / they smash a million pieces below my tired wide ass / unfeminine to heap one’s load upon a pile of baby trash / I pray to God… Please make it last / keep it in / give it life / he cares not / he kills things / easy as life floats in unwanted/ so it goes out out with the bathwater / sesame seed / so wanted / first term ova / non teen abortion / the rainbow baby / the dead squirrel / this mad woman / just has questions of life and the mercy of the Lord / might as well ask the tree trunk / what or why the hell / is all this praying for—

 

 

 

 

 

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. Elisabeth is honored to serve as Poetry Editor at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and is Co-Owner of Animal Heart Press. She recently earned her MFA from Lindenwood University and received a 2018 Best of the Net Nomination from Midnight Lane Boutique and a 2018 Pushcart Nomination from Cease Cows. She has books coming out in 2019 with Fly on the Wall Poetry Press, Twist in Time Press, Flypaper Magazine, Hedgehog Poetry Press, and Cephalo Press.

 

“Portrait of a girl and her films” by Anjali Bhavan

Visitants

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take a scalpel to my temple and carve out;

frame your questions and let my dreams splay

out on your petri-dish. ask me what I really want.

and here’s what I’ll tell you: sometimes, I want to

be framed like a Guru Dutt film,

I want to be nothing but cotton balls and luminous

umbrellas shadowing lovers with cups of sake.

I want to hide, blush and drape myself in my

embarrassing ardour. I want to be a black coat and

a graduate’s moustache, perhaps the last blot of grey

ink on a dying poet’s poem for the muse who faded

away and left a stale smell winding through his fingers.

I want to be the sum of all the softness a girl and

her anklets might carry, but I find that I must

crawl through gravel and the back of my weary hands

to get through.

Sometimes, I want to be a Mani Ratnam film: towering

landscapes that fail to eclipse my lust for life, intimate

spaces between lovers I find myself breathing past, the

ceaseless, eternal roar of the seas that raises a crescendo

of completeness in my bloodstream. Maybe I’m just a girl

looking for something new to shatter over.

Sometimes, stories about sad girls around architectural

marvels will do. I could wind myself tight around a

medieval lighthouse, maybe breathe in the loneliness

plastered in its cobblestoned silence, maybe walk around

in thrushes like an invisible blip of my mother’s existence.

Sometimes, poems wearing boots and walking around

in London will do. If poetry didn’t save me and hold me

together like a house holding all its broken windows in

fragile, teetering place – would anyone, then, tie lace

around my fingers and keep me from vanishing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anjali Bhavan is an engineering undergrad. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in Speaking Tree, Porridge Magazine, Coldnoon International, Allegro Poetry Review and Sooth Swarm Journal among others. She currently writes according to her moods, and looks forward to oddball experiences.

“A Queer Hymn Sung by an Atheist” by Jeremy Mifsud

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During my silent days,
your corpse leans
its heavy weight
against the door.

I lie in bed,
on the shards
of a smashed phone,
burning incense,
burning the sheets
and any bed bug
that might have kissed you.

I breathe
the fumes
and hope
to kill
withstanding memories.

I bathe
in starry tears
to rebirth
my soul,
knock at heaven
to claim
a second chance.

& what am I
if not a vulnerable boy
seeking redemption
from a Father
that had abandoned
his son,
kneeling in front of him
like I kneeled in front of you.

I long for his love
like I’ve longed it from you,
but you fed me lies;
I starve on his silence.

You can’t replace divinity.

If I live my life
hoping
a man will save me,
I’m doomed.

If I live my life
believing
in a God,
at least I’ll have
hope.

 

 

 

 

Maltese-born Jeremy Mifsud is an autistic, queer poet, currently reading for a Masters in Cognitive Science at the University of Malta. Social ineptitude becomes a catalyst for his art as he weaves unsaid words into poems and short fiction. He has self-published a full-length collection Welcome to the Sombre Days (2018). More of his poetry and fiction appears or is forthcoming in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (2018), Lucent Dreaming, Constellate Magazine, Royal Rose Magazine and others.

“THE WAIT” by Michael Akuchie

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i keep a pinch of soul on the nightstand & leave open the windows

of this room plagued with fear of the great unknown

of my heart continually exposed to grief stricken events

a bible nestles close, perfumed pages advertise ageless wisdom

our fleshes meet briefly as stares are visited upon each other

my mouth folds up a prayer & holds on until it is perfectly shaped

to fly across the night & carry my life on for the next stretch of days

because i swallow enough problems to cause incurable bloatedness

because everytime of day is a gift to write on my wrists with knife

because light locks me out & designs self to deny entry

i plump up hands & have them go together to bear God

to carry him right inside the crevices of pain holed up in my body

i wonder if his healing touch knows where to look inside me

this snowballs into scenes of a boy echoing moments saddled with hurt

while commonplace things like prayer requests wear titles of importance

as i navigate through the red & white of  communion for miracles

 

 

Nigerian-based Michael Akuchie is a writer and dreamer whose works have appeared on Barren Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Agbowo, Kalahari, peculiars mag, IsacousticVol and elsewhere.

 

 

 

“Befrust” by Gabrielle Lawrence

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tom hill

Image by Tom Hill

befrust

 

 

 

 

Gabrielle Lawrence is a writer and editor. Her writing can be found in The Squawk Back, Rising Phoenix Review, Gravel Magazine, A Gathering Together Journal, Sundog Lit, and others. Even when she isn’t doing the most, she is still in the spirit of much. Follow her on Twitter @gabrielle__l or visit gabrielle-lawrence.com for more info.

“Damocles” by Jennifer Wholey

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A haibun

 

Brush firmly tangled into a deep nest of my hair, I learned about the sword of Damocles from my father one perfect Hawaiian evening. The sun was a picturesque blur of color bleeding on the horizon; I knew the brush must stay in my hair until it set, or I would surely die. I feared the knives asleep in the kitchen island, the balcony of the bedroom loft, my mother’s too-reassuring smile. I needn’t be afraid, my father said, of a sword hanging over my head by a horse’s hair, lest I waste away wondering when it might drop.

 

Sea swallows sunlight:

treading water endlessly,

fear digs in its heels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Wholey is a poet, journalist and editor. She is an AWP Writer to Writer Mentee, and a reader for Palette Poetry. Her work has recently been published in Panoply, and Sheila-Na-Gig’s ‘Under 30’ collection. She earned a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in communication (and medieval studies) from Cornell University. Jennifer lives in upstate New York with her husband and two dogs.

“Dead Trees” by Chloe Smith

Visitants
susan eder

Image by Susan Eder

You laugh, loud and clear,

At my look of pure horror

When you tell me what paper is.

Careful, you’ll stick like that, love –

You said, as I blink at the thin page,

As barely there as my pale skin.

Not at all rough, like its body outside,

That glimmers with bright baubles,

Even when it’s not nearly Christmas.

There is no shine here, no warmth,

Like the pies, golden, and sweet –

Or presents, and smiles. Just nothing.

The lack of, the after,

Empty plates and frowns –

It reminds me of the stones,

Dry, blank, and rough, just standing there

In the long, loud grass. Like dead trees –

Only at least they have names,

Scratched into them, like promises, reminders,

So they aren’t just stuck, bare, in the cruel wind.

I asked you for a pen. You didn’t ask why –

But your face scrunched up when I wrote my name

Then flattened again, like a page, bent over, turning…

You understood where I was going, I think,

So you whipped it out of my hand, quick –

Told me I was too young for that kind of thing. The after.

But trees get cut down all the time –

I just didn’t want this one to die

With empty branches.

Reaching out, waving, just for someone

To sit, just for a second. Join them

Before they go, and get split, alone and scared, into paper,

Like this one, a single page, shaking in my still hand,

It’s not fair –

The least I can do is be there, Mum,

Give them something, a sign, a covering, comfort –

Even if only in spirit. In shining wet ink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe Smith is a disabled and autistic writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in the Honest Ulsterman, TERSE. Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Cauldron Anthology and more. Her flash fiction has been published in Ellipsis Zine, TRAIN, Three Drops From a Cauldron and The Ginger Collect. For more about her writing, please visit her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. You can also find her on Twitter: @ch1oewrites.

“Bloodbath” by Aremu Adams Adebisi

Visitants
eve atkins

Image by Eve Atkins

 

 

A meal is bought with blood,

and then, chaos of hard clay.

You linger in nudity, the night

 

is serrated in embarrassment;

rusty mist, absence of flowers,

a floodtide of dust & shadows.

 

Your eyes fall into the crevice

of sound & quietude, an escape

for boys who pray themselves

 

into guns of empty cartridges.

I write with your life & my own

when all is made equal & each

 

follows the pattern to emptiness.

When smells are the carnage

of our skins that we bear in vows

 

to the renewal of paradise.

The wind flits me in its infinite palm

to the other side of the ritual

 

where I soak myself in water,

my past cleansed to the urgency

of a foreign god. Where we find

 

a religion in your burden that lays

before us, & musing on parchments,

we pray upon your corpse

while you are alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aremu Adams Adebisi lives close to the riverine and loves to eat shrimps and crayfish. A boy among five older girls, explores the themes of equality, liberation, womanism, boyhood and existentialism. He has works published in Mistymountain Review, Kalahari Review, Africanwriters, and elsewhere. He likes to call himself the Jos-plateau Indigobird which is endemic to Nigeria and one of a kind.