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Vol.2, No.1 February 2014

LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts

Runner up, The Best Magazine - Saboteur Awards 2013, London “A Brilliant Journal. Truly International.” - Hanif Kureishi

Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College, Thevara


LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts

Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College, Thevara


Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Vol.2, No.1 February 2014 Published by Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College Thevara, Kochi, India Only the copyright for this collection is reserved with the editors of Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts. Individual copyright for artwork, prose, poetry, fiction and extracts of novels and other volumes published in this issue of the magazine rests solely with the authors. The magazine does not claim any of those for its own. No part of this publication may be copied without express written permission from the copyright holders in each case. The magazine is freely circulated on the World Wide Web. It may not be sold or hired out in its digital form to anybody by any agency whatsoever. All disputes are subject to jurisdiction of the courts of the Republic of India. © Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, 2014 Graphic Design - Mariam Henna Page Settings - Mariam Henna Cover Artwork -John Antoine Labadie Title: Virtual Garden v.9 Media: Pigment & Dye on Vinyl Mounted on Aluminum Panel Dimensions: 45” x 96” Date: 2014 Editorial Board – Jose Varghese, Aravind R Nair, Mariam Henna, Abraham Varghese, Abraham J Thayil Visual Arts Editor - John Antoine Labadie Advisory Board - Alan Summers, Bill Ashcroft, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Loree Westron, Mel Ulm, Patrick Connors, Rana Nayar, Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sudeep Sen


Editorial

W

e are glad to present before you another issue of Lakeview that has become even more international in nature since you saw us last. Our team is no more a small one, though it seems we need to expand a bit more to meet the editorial tasks. But no complaints at all – we know how lucky we are, to be able to pick the best works from among the high quality submissions that pour in. So, this time we were content with some virtual hi5, biscuits and coffee, as we worked from various locations – Kochi, Jazan, London, Hyderabad, North Carolina, Chennai and Toronto.    Special thanks to Kala Ramesh who curated and designed our Special Issue on Tanka this time. I believe it adds so much value to this issue.    We consider ourselves lucky that John Antoine Labadie is now our Visual Arts Editor. He provided us great support by bringing the best from the world of Visual Arts and also his own brilliant art work for our cover.    Thank you all our advisory board members who helped us find the defining voices of our times, and our contributors who reached out from all parts of the world.    Thank you Mariam Henna, our student editor, who is now an expert in all work related to copy editing, layout and design.    Welcome aboard our new advisory board member Patrick Connors. We have always loved your poetry, and are now glad to have you with us on our exciting journey.    Dear readers, hope you enjoy what you find in the pages that follow.

Jose Varghese February 2014


In This Issue Martin Heavisides (Poetry) In and/or Out Shanta Acharya (Poetry) Not Everything Begins Elsewhere One day

11

11 12

John MacKenna (Poetry) Bikers

12-13

George Szirtes (Poetry) Eden

13

Billy O’Callaghan (Short Fiction) The Weighing of the Heart Bhupesh Little (Visual Art) Geoffrey Heptonstall (Poetry) The Acquisition of Love A Treasure Of The Western Han Dynasty

14-23

24-25

26-27 27

Nancy Brashear (Poetry) Champion

27

Farah Ghuznavi (Short Fiction) Waiting

28-35

Henry Stindt (Visual Art)

36-37

Neal Whitman (Poetry) In the Garden Incantation

38 38

John Sibley Williams (Poetry) This Could Be a Love Song

38-39

Shirani Rajapakse (Poetry) Driving Down Galle Road

39-40

Valentina Cano (Poetry) Rejecting Domesticity Family Infestation

40 40

Kate Murray (Short Fiction) The floor isn’t safe

41-42

Burritt E Benson (Visual Art)

43-44

Renuka Mendis (Satchithananthan) (Poetry) time bombs

45


Alan Halford (Poetry) Darker Days

Ali Abdolrezaei Tr: Abol Froushan (Poetry) Dark Veins World War Final

68-69 69-70

46

Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani (Poetry) Destitution.

70

Oscar Windsor-Smith (Short Fiction) A Portrait of the Artist

47-50

Catherine McNamara (Short Fiction) Tales from Bodri Beach

71-80

Turlach O’Broin (Visual Art)

51

Quinton Hallett (Poetry) Instructions for a First Time Widow

80-81

Alan Britt (Poetry) Uncle Jack

81

Ishrat Bashir (Poetry) Suddenly She Grew Old Walking alone with the crowd

45

46

Alegria Imperial (Poetry) Light as Magic

52

Satish Verma (Poetry) Crisis Moment

53

Sheri L Wright (Visual Art)

82-84

53-54

Deborah Emin (Short Fiction) Lauren, Christmas

85-88

John B. Lee (Poetry) The Third Kindness

88-89

89

89

Jyoti Modi (Poetry) The Glory of Battles Sarah Dobbs (Short Fiction) Yellow Flames in the Easter Sun

55-62

John Antoine Labadie (Visual Art)

63-67

Uma Gowrishankar (Poetry) How To Breathe

68

Jyotsna Jha (Poetry) My prodigal friend

Reena Prasad (Poetry) Rickshaw wala


Gina Gibson (Visual Art)

90-91

Gabriel Don (Short Fiction) The Umbrella Acrobat

92-101

Gireesh G V (Visual Art)

102-104

M端esser Yeniay (Poetry) I Move the Earth in My Eyes Neelam Saxena Chandra (Poetry) Perfect Picture

105

105-106

Ketaki Datta (Poetry) Mixed Feelings

106

Gopakumar R (Visual Art)

107-110

Martin Bradley (Short Fiction) The Long Drop

111-118

Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois (Poetry) Announcement

118

Neeraj Patel (Visual Art)

119-120

Ellen Wright (Poetry) To a Green Ash Tree After a Storm

121

Shyam Sunder (Poetry) Smoke Screen

122

Sunil Sharma (Poetry) A white river of light

122-123

Steve Babbitt (Visual Art)

124-129

James Wall (Short Fiction) Niagara Falls

130-137

Raj More (Visual Art)

138-141

Tanka (Special Feature)

142-155

Sergio Ortiz 146 & 150 Jenny Ward Angyal 146 & 153 Laura Maffei 147 & 154 Margarita Engle 147 Claire Everett 148, 152, 155 Ken Slaughter 148 Susan Constable 149, 151, 155 Shernaz Wadia 149 Michele Harvey 150 Paresh Tiwari 153 Sonam Chhoki 154 List of Contributors

157-172

Editorial Board

173-178


Poetry|Martin Heavisides In and/or Out I talked to M.C. Escher tomorrow Concerning the vagaries of space and time Walk up a rope shaped like a moebius Strip and you’ll meet yourself coming back In the distant past perhaps where neither of you Have been in this life to the best of your knowledge In whose life then? How many do you live? Enter a book but check if you survive to the end It may not be possible to exit before the fatal Accident on page two hundred seventy six If they find you dead in real time and space Make sure it’s on a moebius Strip with right of re-entry

Poetry|Shanta Acharya Not Everything Begins Elsewhere Some things start right here – within the unfathomable heart of desire irritant in oyster maturing into priceless pearl. Now close your eyes let your inner universe unfurl. Cast aside all doubt of your ability to soldier on knowing failure has as many faces as stars in heaven. Celebrities arrive disguised like masked guests at a ball dancing in a hall of mirrors, holding you in thrall. In the clear light of day, stripped naked success appears arbitrary, undeserved Greatness comes not from trying to please others, nor does it come trailing clouds of glory blinding us. It lives among us unnoticed, goes about its business like sap filling us with the iridescence of consciousness. 11

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One day A massive asteroid will collide with the earth. There will be no injustice, war, disease or poverty, No floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, drought or famine. Nature will protect biodiversity, life and liberty. One day my lottery numbers will hit the jackpot But I’d have forgotten to buy a ticket. My poems will live in every human heart. One day I’ll stand humbly before God, Learn why I was born, how I played my part. One day I’ll understand the secret of happiness. I will not worry if I failed, got things wrong. What are the odds of being right, alive and young? One day all my ships will come home. Chances are in my life such a day will not come.

Poetry|John MacKenna Bikers (for John Costigan) The bikers have assembled on the cemetery road, machines squat silent in the quiet of the day. An hour from now they’ll rev, a lengthy, blaring convoy, but here the raucous engines only glint, mute swans. Assembled at the graveside, the blazing leathers catch what’s left of this year’s sun, hard helmets like bouquets upon their arms. Do I sense the others, too, the ones who had no more than months to live when they, impatient for the highway dream took flight from school? Their lives were ambushed by stone walls, dark trailers on the narrow, winter roads and corkscrew bends that turned an unexpected twist too far. 12

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They closed their eager eyes on gravel furrowed with their bone; against the chrome and glass of half-expected cars; in fields beyond vague hedges, on sleepy summer nights. Did I sense them today? Or is that just some hunger for the past, some despondent hope that we might gather, all alive, their Monday morning books, again, unopened mysteries?

Poetry|George Szirtes Eden We carry strangeness in our blood. We are outcasts from our own Eden.

He invites us on to consider our options, if we have options.

Eden is elsewhere. That is its definition, he explains, smiling.

We have dust and smiles. We have rage within Eden. These are our options.

Not that this helps us. Not that knowledge of Eden makes Eden a place.

There will be trouble, he says, smiling. What to do but smile and talk on?

Nothing of Eden remains except memory, which is not a place.

We rise from our chairs. They take the coffee away. We pay, smile, and part.

Outside, the fury. Outside, the storm in the waste and the rage of dust.

In his smile, agony. In his calm, uncertainty. Nothing in his hands.

He says this smiling: he refuses to console except by smiling.

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Short Fiction|Billy O’Callaghan The Weighing of the Heart

T

he hotel room is less than a honeymooning couple might reasonably expect, clean enough but cramped, with walls in need of painting and a small balcony that looks out onto part of an empty street and a building site that seems to have been abandoned in a half-finished state. The air conditioning makes the noise of an old car engine, but even turned to its highest setting, the night is too hot for anything more than underwear. And they have been travelling all day and are weary. They switch off the light, peel away their clothes and lay down.    Jenny can’t sleep. The bed moans beneath them, echoing every hot breath. By five, she is showered, dressed, and determined to get up onto the rooftop terrace so that she can watch the sun rise. Mike wants to come, too, but can’t seem to get his eyes to stay open, and she leans in across the bed, kisses him and tells him that she’d rather be on her own for this anyway because she wants no distractions. She needs, she says, to study the light, and to remember it. She slips her hand down inside the front of his boxer shorts and, nibbling at his lower lip, adds that when she returns she’ll expect him to be wide awake.    The hotel is silent, but won’t be for long. Because the lift they’d taken from the lobby upon arrival had such an oppressively low ceiling and came with the sound of someone screaming through a gag, she opts for the stairs to the rooftop, three more flights from their floor. She is wearing a simple white cotton dress with stringed shoulder straps and loose pleats to just above the knee, but even taking each step slowly, she can feel her flesh turn clammy and the material begin to cling. Still, it is worth the climb.    The rooftop has a cordoned-off area for sun worshippers, but its greater section serves as a restaurant by day and late into the night, with green carpeted flooring, a disordered scatter of tables for two and four, and a small but well-stocked bar, shuttered now. Even in the first blush of an indigo dawn, this space is the hotel’s best feature. There is nobody else around, and the early hour is so still and tranquil that she can hear the Nile running wide and dark below her, sluicing through the rushes that line the nearest bank. She moves to the railing half a pace from the edge of the roof. Beyond the water, and the leisurely slopes of hills, lies the Valley of the Kings.    Today will be their fifth day in Egypt, having arrived first in Cairo, and the seventh of their married life. In two days, they will board one of the luxury cruise boats, the Isis, a five-star all-inclusive floating palace of a hotel, for seven nights on the Nile, a tour that will take in all the major sights, Edfu and the sprawling Dendera complex, the relocated island temple at Philae in Lake Nassar, the stunning Nubian 14

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temple at Abu Simbel, far to the south. She is excited about what lies ahead, but this, here and now, is where she most wants to be. Since her mid-teens, images of Luxor have dominated her thoughts. She has lived with the history but it is the fictional depictions, the fantasies, that have made the place real for her, and now that she is standing here, waiting for the sun to properly bring on another day, the air feels ancient and alive with its own flavour, distinct but unidentifiable, caught somewhere between fruit and spice.    She leans on the rail and watches the beards of shadow shorten and recede against light colouring the world by degrees, the hills seeping from darkness to sanguine, to red, and slowly toward the hard burnt yellow of dust, the water stirred from a dead slate colour to a shade of blue that is almost silver and almost gold. The Nile is everything, broad, heavy, feigning stillness, already old when this world was coming to power and the gods seemed close and very real. From minute to minute, the colours stiffen until the scene becomes nothing more and nothing less yielding than rock and sand and river and sky.    By six, what she’d perceived as silence has been replaced by a dull, distant bedrock of noise, the snug drone of a city stirring awake. She is tired and contemplates returning to bed, but in the stairwell she begins to miss the light and the weight of the hot air on her face and bare arms, and instead of stopping at her floor she continues the three flights further on down to the lobby, which is brightly lit but, at this moment, deserted. And once outside, she follows the river north. Four lanes of empty road run in parallel on her left and keep her from the near bank, but the water is wide enough to watch and study as she strolls, to enjoy the glint and play of the light across its flat surface. Stretching her legs feels good, even with the heat rising.    Ten or fifteen minutes later she is wandering through streets lined with mostly empty market stalls. A few men in traditional tan or grey ankle-length thawbs stop what they are doing and watch her, then return to unloading crates of oranges, dates, and enormous whole and pre-wedged watermelon. Embarrassed without quite knowing why, she bows her head and hurries on, trying not to appear lost. And within a few paces the city seems to converge around her, narrowing and heightening to a kind of beige claustrophobia, though it is a comfortable rather than intimidating closeness because the glinting river keeps to the ends of the alleyways and the gaps between the buildings all along her left side. The ground underfoot is lined with broken cobble, the air tastes of dust, roasting meat and the livid hint of open sewers, and the shade has the heft of dark rooms except where the buildings separate and sunlight flashes through to obliterate detail. She stops and raises a hand to shield her eyes, instantly if momentarily blind. This is the world she has imagined, the real thing.    There is no warning. Nothing plays out in slow motion.    From somewhere very close behind her comes a rush of footsteps, 15

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but before their sound can even properly register and awaken panic, an arm tightens around her throat and pulls her off-balance. A stubbleridden mouth presses to the side of her face and hisses something, ‘English whore,’ barbed words that penetrate deep inside her ear and leave behind an almost unbearable itch. She still can’t see because the sun is directly in her eyes, and the strangling hold constricts her breathing to sips. She can feel the air frothing between her clenched teeth and something hard and round, a fist, pressing on her spine at the small of her back.    Nothing makes sense. She can’t seem to register what is happening even as she is dragged backwards out of the sunlight, and when her eyes regain their focus all she sees are the looming black holes of upper-story windows, the sheer edges of where the buildings deliberately run out of brick an entire floor at least short of their intended design, and beyond and still above, a soft blue void that is exactly the way her imagination has always known an Egyptian sky would be. She is dragged seventeen paces backwards and helpless across cracked, uneven cobblestones into an alley and pressed face-forward against crumbling plaster that even without the direct caress of sun is already beginning to warm with the day.    “English whore,” the voice says again, with brusqueness rather than anger, and the arm that has her throat releases her but comes pushing flat against one shoulder and collarbone, holding her to the wall, preventing her from turning. She flinches against his touch, his palm dry and hard as dirt against her own milk-soft skin, and his fingertips ease the straps of her dress down the slender biceps of first one arm and then the other. “I have a knife,” he hisses, again pressing close, his sound digging inside her, and the tip and edge of a blade poke into her periphery, and she gasps and the first tears break, momentarily shattering her field of vision. “If you call out, you will die.” Then his hand slips around her and begin to knead her left breast, first through the thin cotton and then, when that no longer satisfies, baring her. His other hand comes open along with the flat of the knife’s handle to the back of her head and presses her face against the wall. She manages to turn her head so that her nose won’t break, and he yields a little and lets her, but doesn’t loosen his hold, and the hand at her breast continues to squeeze, pausing only to pinch and thumbnail the stub of her nipple. Her tears cause everything to blur, but the feel and smells of the morning, the heat even in the shade, make this nothing like a dream. And when, after several seconds, he releases her, she holds still, afraid even to breathe, knowing that worse is coming but clinging to the hope that maybe he is one of those who can be sated by what has already gone. But then he is pulling at the hem of her dress, bringing the cotton up her back and dragging her panties awkwardly and one-handed down over her thighs until they spill of their own accord around her ankles.    “Please,” she gasps. “Don’t do this. I have a husband. Please.” 16

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He neither reacts to nor acknowledges her words. She can feel a new sharpness come into his breath as his hand slips along the back and inside of her thighs and up over her ass, his thumb knuckling the hollow, then he draws back again from her, dredges phlegm from the bottom of his throat and spits. Her stomach turns over and she feels certain that she will be sick, but he kicks her feet apart and his hand returns, wet now, to between her legs and begins to massage her, and in this instant she understands everything. She clenches her eyes shut but that focuses her mind completely on what is happening, and what is about to, and what may happen when he is finished, whether or not he will decide to cut her throat anyway, depending on how afraid he is that even though she has not properly seen him, she will still somehow be able to describe him for the authorities and pick him out of a crowd. She opens her eyes again and fixes on the the crazing that veins the plaster barely an inch from her face, trying to concentrate on the smell of its dust, tasting it fine as flour on her tongue but granulated between her clenched teeth.    When he pushes inside her, she almost screams. Maybe he senses it because his right hand curls around her throat. His grip is tight, but she can breathe, and weep in something like silence. He moves slowly at first, and then faster, his hard weight pressed against her back, and his breath has the airy stammer of a bicycle pump, a forceful panting that keeps no obvious rhythm, no natural time. And in less than a minute, he is done. His face burrows against the curve of her neck and utters a prolonged and exhausted moan, and for a few seconds the world stops turning and there is nothing, no life, no death, not even pain. The bristles of several days’ beard growth irritate her skin, and his mouth moves down over her jawline, bringing the wet scratch of his tongue. His stench is a combination of sweat, halitosis and tobacco smoke, and she shudders and again wants to scream, but when he pulls himself away a chasm opens up that is almost worse than having him against her. She presses to the wall, for the feel and support of the warming brick, and her tears come harder, understanding that now is the moment for the knife. He stands there, rearranging his clothing, breathing in whispers, composing himself, and all she can go is shut her eyes once more and this time keep to the darkness and wait, braced against and expecting the cool touch of the blade beneath her chin. But time passes, and when she finally risks a half-turn, she finds herself alone. She strains to listen, but the narrow street beyond this alleyway’s mouth is still against the distant swell of a city meeting the new day. Shaking inside, resting a shoulder against the wall, she wipes her eyes with the dusty heel of one hand. The shadow that engulfs the alley seems painted onto the cobblestones. She waits until her breathing has turned somewhat steady, then steps out of her panties and uses them in a fist to wipe herself clean. The clotted salt-smell of semen comes at her, strong and alien, and her groin and thighs are wet to the touch, which brings yet more tears. She 17

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cleans herself as best she can, then tosses the ruined underwear away, covers up her breasts and straightens the dress around her hips. One of the shoulder straps has broken, but after considerable fumbling she manages to re-bind it in a clumsy, temporary knot.    Some time passes, not long. She remains against the wall, crying in waves that do nothing to help, trying to avoid having to think about what filth she has inside her, or how she’ll go on from here, what she’ll say, what needs to happen. The tears cause her throat to ache, and every taken breath finds that soft spot and presses down on it. She looks around, understanding that if she had seen her attacker’s face she’d be dead now. The alleyway is narrow, hardly broad enough for two people to stand side by side. A lot of towns and cities of a certain age have places like this, lovers’ lanes that impose intimacy. With her back to the wall, help stands an impossible distance away to her right, a tall slender white-blue box of daylight in the direction of the river and the Valley of the Kings. But darkness hangs like a curtain between her and the morning, and when she feels capable of walking steadily again, she turns in the opposite direction, choosing the few easier steps that return her once more to the still-empty street.    She seems to know her way back through the maze by instinct, and the occasional glimpse of the river reassures her that she is not lost. Then the channels between the buildings widen, and she recognises details: the torn-up pavement that she’d earlier skirted to avoid and, a little further along the same road, the dusty antique shop with its window decked in plaster-cast Sphinxes, cheap gilt Tutankhamun death masks, and scale model reproductions of the iconic Ramesses II statues that decorate the façade of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel. And as she approaches the area where the market stalls have been set, a call for prayer rings out, a loud, masculine, static-laden tone that pulsates melodious and elongated from some unseen minaret through and above the city blocks, repeating in a series of slight contractions toward a climax. A beautiful, terrible sound that she has longed for years to hear and feel in an authentic setting, it now becomes yet another aspect of the world to frighten her. When people begin to emerge from doorways and side-streets she stands against a building, beside a caged window. She can feel a tide shifting. Some men look at her and let their gazes linger on the foreignness of her legs and bare arms, but no one stops. They approach, notice her and stare, then pass by, and ashamed simply for existing, she clutches at the hem of her dress and tries to make herself small, invisible. The call continues to pour out and becomes part of the air, part of the blueness of the sky, and she watches after the men as they stride on either alone or in twos and threes, and wonders if they will pray during the next few minutes for the thoughts they have just held. And then they are gone, everyone is gone, taken into the arms of their latest god, leaving her behind, alone.    In twenty minutes she is back at the hotel. The man behind 18

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the desk in the lobby is much younger than the man who’d been there last night to check them in. A name tag pinned just above his heart reads, Hamdi, and he is tall and very thin, with a look that strikes her as more Indian than Arabic. Clearly busy with paperwork, he raises his head at the welcome sound of her footsteps on the tiled floor and smiles a wide greeting. His crisp white shirt is threadbare but acceptable because of its cleanliness, and his teeth are also very white and clean. She sees at once that, despite the charcoal smear of moustache clinging to his upper lip, he is even younger than her, probably still in his teens. A boy. She sighs and smiles back, and his dark eyes tighten a little as if sensing some distress. “It’s already very hot,” she says, and fans her face with one hand in further, unnecessary explanation. And without waiting for a response, she crosses the lobby and calls for the lift. It takes a full minute to arrive, groaning like an old sail ship close to death in a windless drift, but she waits without turning and, when the door finally shudders open, steps inside.    Mike is still sleeping. She keeps an arm’s reach clear of the bed. The sound of the door opening has caused him to turn over onto his back but not to wake. He must have kicked away the covers because they have spilled from the foot of the bed onto the floor. A sparse black nest of hair sprouts fine and frail at one of the key Chakra points in the centre of his chest, and his limbs, even in their slackened pose, have the bone-hardness of a history with manual labour. She knows him by heart but finds herself wondering, for perhaps only the second time since they met, who he really is.    “I’m back,” she says, softly at first and then with a little more force, using his name, and he opens his eyes in response and quickly shuts them again, throwing a forearm across his face. “I’ll just jump in the shower,” she says, stunned that her voice can be such a separate thing from the rest of her. “Christ, this heat is nearly unbearable.”    In the bathroom, she starts to run the water before getting undressed. In a desert, nothing is more sacred than water, and nothing more sinful or scandalous than wasting it, but she doesn’t care. She slips the straps down over her shoulders and arms, peels the dress to her hips and lets it fall to the floor. There is a mirror over the sink, a long unframed oval, its surface in places tarnished through with an acne of black rust, and she considers herself for a long time, minutes, not moving, wanting to note some change. But everything looks the same. The flesh around her eyes holds some redness, but her surface is otherwise unmarked. The figure in the mirror is young, pretty in the offhand way that girls or women of twenty-three often are, but noticeably thin. Too thin. Her breasts are small and slightly bottom heavy, with nipples that jut at a gentle up-tilt the rough size and nearly precise pink-tan colour of plum stones, and the lattice of her ribcage seems to heighten the taut white frailty of her flesh. She gazes into the glass. Just in view on the inside of her mirror-image’s right thigh, reversing reality, is the smear 19

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of a birthmark, a chocolate thumbprint. It is the only real blemish in the entire picture, and maybe also the closest point to perfection. Her fingertips drop to it, but there is nothing to feel.    The water of the shower is warm and intense, spearing her skin. She scrubs herself clean with a fresh bar of soap, as if that will help. Over and over, lathering, rinsing. Beneath the stream of water there is the chance for further tears. Her stomach is churning and she wants to vomit. It is not yet even eight o’clock but the world seems to have turned. Hours, even entire days, feel lost. The nipple that her attacker had pinched so hard still stings, and her left breast still feels tender from the violence of his hand, but there are no visual indications at all to show that something has happened to her. She towels herself slowly dry, not bothering too much about her hair, leaving it loose to spill down across her back and shoulders. Under the electric light, its colour is the marble-navy blackness of a raven’s wings.    She comes out of the bathroom still naked, climbs onto the bed and pulls herself against Mike. “I’m awake,” he says, and within seconds he is. She whispers his name when he holds her in his arms, still too newly wed to be comfortable with making anything greater than almost silent love, and some time later says it again, breathing it against his shoulder just before dimpling his flesh with her teeth. She closes her eyes and lets her hands trace the lines of his back, the smoothness of his skin, the nubs of his spine, telling herself as the bed sings and squeals beneath them just how different this is and trying hard to keep from counting the ways.    Afterwards, they lie on their sides, facing one another, arms cradling, legs entwined. The door to the balcony stands open, letting in the searing heat. The day awaits them, and she has made plans. At eleven, following a leisurely breakfast, they will be collected from the lobby to join a seven-hour small-party guided tour of Karnak and the Temple of Luxor before crossing over to the West Bank to visit the Colossi of Memnon and the royal tombs of the ancient kings and queens. After a lifetime spent reading about them, even the unpronounceable names have become ingrained, along with their convoluted histories. The tour guide can tell her nothing that she won’t already know. But knowing is not the same as understanding. Mike has no interest in old stones, and is here only because it is what she wants. His mouth is hot and lazy, but even though they have been sleeping together for almost two years he still can’t begin to guess what is entirely real with her and what’s not.    When she closes her eyes she can still feel the attack. Her senses now seem primed to its memory. To go walking alone in a strange city, to go wandering in quiet corners, was more than just a mistake. And she hadn’t even put up a fight. It happened, and probably would have happened even if she’d struggled, but at least it wouldn’t have been so easy. There was the knife, of course, and her attacker was strong, but he should have been made to work for what he’d taken. 20

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Instead, she had surrendered. Even when he called her an English whore she hadn’t corrected him.    “What’s the matter?”   “What?”    “Are you crying?” Mike’s hand comes to her face and the pad of his thumb brushes at the skin beneath her eye. She looks at him.    “What is it?” he asks.    His gaze is steady, and full of concern. And now she glimpses what she’d earlier missed: the certainty of his feelings for her, the realisation that there is nothing he wouldn’t do to protect her. She has to tell him, and she wants to. I went for a walk, a stupid thing to do, I know. An hour ago. A lifetime ago. But the morning was so still. And in one of the narrow streets, a man grabbed me from behind, held a knife on me. I was certain he’d cut my throat. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Just that, a fistful of sentences. Over in a minute, even with deep breaths. It won’t be enough, and she’ll need to say more, but at least it would be a start. She must tell him, and once the words are out they can begin to make things better, to put things right. He won’t want to know, but he’ll listen and hold her, and everything will be fine, or not fine but good enough for them to be able to find a way forward from here. He won’t blame her for this. Nothing will change between them.    “I love you,” she says, the words breaking into whispers in her mouth.    He smiles and kisses her again. Her lips first, then the tip of her nose, then her left eye when she closes it still wet and salted with its tears. Slowly, savouring every touch, ritualising the act.    “We didn’t need to come here. We could have stayed at home. A weekend in West Cork would have been enough.”    She can feel the rise and fall of his body against her own, each slow breath announcing itself. Then he shifts, raising himself up onto one elbow in a way that helps at least a little to block out the light. She loves to feel him above her in this way, and turns her own body a little, in encouragement and anticipation.    “Jen?” he asks. “Are you feeling all right?”    “It’s just that you didn’t want to come. I made you.”    “No you didn’t.”    “I did. You never said anything but you didn’t have to. I knew. You’re here because I wanted it.”    “Well? So what?”    “I’m sorry, that’s all.”    “Stop, okay. Just stop.” He leans in again, and this time when he brings his mouth to hers she answers with intent. She cradles his neck and lets the tip of her tongue rub against his teeth, and he pushes her gently down and over onto her back. His right hand caresses her body’s left side from shoulder to hip and halfway back again, and her breath catches and whispers long and loose when his palm closes on her 21

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breast. “I want to be here,” he says, looking deep into her eyes, “Why would I want to be anywhere else?”    This time, it does feel genuinely different, and now there is no need to count the ways. She puts her head back on the pillow, raises her chin and concentrates on the feeling of his body against and on top of and inside her, and the breath in her chest shifts like mountains to a seismic tremor. What happened, she decides, did not happen at all, a bad dream, a story breaking for her in her mind. When they get back she’ll see a doctor, and beyond that she can write about it, if she wants to, as a fiction, or she can choose to forget it, put it away, bury it. This is Egypt. Everywhere a tourist turns, the past is on show, the pyramids and monuments and temples and tombs, but these are selected, or at least limited, details that only begin to hint at the full picture. And distinctions matter. Even when the dead are no longer buried, they remain dead. The glimpses afforded of the past preserve a sense of mystery, magic and the surreal, but anything more would be too much.    The heat helps, dictating the pace and drenching them. The best moments hold a newness, some revelation that can’t now be undone. Threads of hair cling to her cheeks, and Mike picks them gently loose and tucks them behind her ear. As he nears a finish, he squeezes his eyes shut, and her right arm falls loose around his neck and draws him down over her like a shield. She can feel his heartbeat clattering against her, drowning out her own, or capturing it. The skin of his forehead has the sheen of a road after rain and the clench of his teeth shows clear with every twitch of his jawline. She kisses his chin, letting her lips savour the taste of him and feel the brush of a night’s sandy beard growth, and then he gasps and jerks very hard and she pulls him to herself, trying to swallow him inside, wanting suddenly and forever to be him, to have his strength and his mind, to be free from all thought of fear.    He gets into the shower first. She lies back on the sodden mattress, still breathing hard. The room is basic, its three-star boast not quite a con but a definite short-changing. The walls in the morning light are the colour of buttermilk, rubbed darker in places, as if passing shadows have somehow found a way of leaving an essence of themselves inside the paint. The air conditioning, which was too loud to run by night, is still now far too loud. The heat is severe but the noise of the machine is worse, the same kind of rumble that large wild animals make, bears, lions, a terrible sound that seems to rise up from beneath you, that you feel in your bones full seconds before you begin to hear. Keeping the balcony door wide open doesn’t help but at least presents an illusion of freshness. She closes her eyes, opens them again. A pair of straight cracks, each half an arm’s length, point outward from the corner of the ceiling behind and to her right, touching at their base but, from there, diverging, like the spokes of a wheel or the stuck hands of a clock reading five or ten minutes past the hour.    On the streets below, the morning has finally come to life. The 22

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sound of traffic clogs the road, engine drone punctuated by stabs of car horn, making a lie or a fantasy of the earlier quiet. Closer, and louder because Mike has left the bathroom door ajar, she can hear the shower running. Still considering those ceiling cracks, she raises her fingertips to her mouth and forces a smile but its shape feels unfamiliar.    A few days earlier, at the Cairo Museum, she and Mike had broken off from a multi-language guided tour and spent half a day exploring the Tutankhamun exhibition. At every turn lay wealth beyond measure: golden idols, fine weaponry, master-crafted vases, death masks, piecedtogether slabs of wall tattooed in visually spectacular hieroglyphic accounts of lives two hundred generations lost and waiting to be let live again. Most striking of all, though, was a single glass-encased wooden statue, a magnificent resin-coated statue of Anubis, god of mummification and divine protector of the dead, presented not in the usual way so familiar and instantly identifiable, but rather in the full natural form of a jackal, recumbent on a gilded, heavily inscribed wooden ark. Carved some thirty-three hundred years ago, and placed to guard the treasure room of the boy Pharaoh’s burial chamber, its steadfast devotion to realism rather than the symbolic seemed to touch something in her that she couldn’t quite decipher but could appreciate on an instinctual level. She’d explained the statue’s significance to Mike, how the ancient Egyptians believed that the heart carries all of a person’s good and bad deeds, their finest qualities and failings. After death, the god, Anubis, comes and weighs the heart against the Feather of Truth. Passage to the afterlife is secured if the heart proves lighter than the feather, but if the scales should tip the other way then the Devourer, Ammut, will come to feast. Mike had seen some hieroglyphic depictions of this story, and he gazed at the statue, the resin gleaming in the electric light, and asked, after several seconds of silence and without apparently expecting an answer, if anyone ever beat the scales, even in the stories, if any heart could ever possibly hope to balance the feather.    He comes out of the bathroom, wrapped to the waist in a large white towel, and though she is reluctant to move she climbs from the bed. This time she avoids the image in the mirror. She steps into the shower, washes herself clean, dries off and hurries into a loose mid-length summer dress the precise pale yellow of a summer morning’s sun. Mike is sitting on one corner of the bed, tying his shoelaces. She kisses the top of his head and he looks up and in mock terror asks, “Again?” Then they go downstairs, hand in hand, to breakfast.

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Visual Art|Bhupesh Little

I Say That

Digital Media 12.5” x 18.3” 2006

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Visual Art|Bhupesh Little

India Enchantment

Digital Media 13.4” x 17.9” 2010

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Poetry|Geoffrey Heptonstall The Acquisition of Love Shadow lines cast their history Across his well-defined face. A veteran at leisure, One who has fought and loved. He is taking cool wine in the afternoon Toward sunset with light clouding. His eyes, turned to the old harbour wall, Watch for the sea kings. His smile is the arc of the bay, Beckoning welcome To homeward cargoes Turning the headland. From a window an old woman sings. He remembers the song Word by word, Touch upon touch. As a young man wandering He found many half-hidden doors. Entering, as if by invitation, Courtyards with fountains, Where flowers were opening Everywhere he glanced. And the fruits he devoured Before sleeping in satiety. Later came the rain. And memory passes Through the battered land. He has known wars of many kinds, And victory paid with fear. In the saw-like hum of the mosquito, For example. And in lightning. But for love he would have died. Salvation astonished him When through unknown by-ways She led him to the straw Where they lay down To the sound of the earth 26

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Beneath the plough after harvest. The bread she broke, and fed him. Then deeply they drank of all that is good.

A Treasure Of The Western Han Dynasty From fire and air one world is made, From eyes and ears another. A game of sticks and counters, Unearthed from the tombs, intrigues. No-one knows the rules. These things are lost over time.

Discovery is a matter of chance. So much of history is guessing In the guise of evidence. The wise go down the well. What they find is darkness With echoes of worlds falling.

Poetry|Nancy Brashear Champion Atop the green twister tunnel he pumps his arms like a warrior, shouts, and weaves magic, topples like he has been shot, head first his blue trainers flashing goodbye, his shrill voice echoing down, down, down. What if he simply vanished, that shiny tube gobbling him up? What if his forever-squeal forever squealed in that in-between place of here and there? He slips and slides—he must! he must!—unbeknownst to us who have to take his descent on faith because what else could he possibly be doing? Until at last he shoots out like a torpedo, from the monstrous smiling mouth still hungering to keep him dangling upside down, stubby fingers still clutching the toy soldier, muddy nose signaling a close to this scrimmage, his wingéd beastie cap falling onto stippled leaves. Playground victor! And you, O my courage, from where you linger watching said valiant champion and yet surrounded by your own memories of battles fought and won seek confirmation that you faced your fears no matter what and finding lapses, tag not one.

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Short Fiction|Farah Ghuznavi Waiting

T

hey were on the move again. Hashem suppressed a groan as he felt the tiny pincers of an invisible army digging into his brutalised scalp. How could it not be sore, when he had already scratched his head until it bled? No doubt that was an added bonus for the lice, he thought bitterly. Sherry-brown eyes watered at the injustice of it all; that lice could flourish even as the humans on whose blood they feasted remained unfed.    Ma had promised to take care of it as soon as they could afford to – and although Hashem dreaded the liquid bite of the lice-decimating kerosene, he knew there was no alternative. In the meantime, he didn’t dare scratch himself in public. It would provide yet another incentive for the tinted car windows surrounding him to remain determinedly closed – protection against throat-catching diesel fumes and verminous life forms, whether of the two-legged or six-legged variety.    For once the eleven-year-old was grateful to be bare-bodied; the heat rendered clothing burdensome. As it was, he was constantly thirsty – along with everyone else. Hashem was convinced that the mandatory fasting during the month of Ramzan brought out the worst in people. Tempers frayed, as even the wealthy (perhaps most of all the wealthy!) thought only of food. It was the only time they had anything in common with the other 90% of Dhaka’s population.    The irony of course was that any sense of fellowship ended with the azaan. The call to prayer signifying the breaking of the fast served to herald self-indulgent iftar meals in well-off homes that made a mockery of the original injunction behind the fast. In the meantime, the population of the streets – beggars with missing limbs, haggard old men wearing dirty prayer caps, women toting babies, and children like Hashem – cursed with their hungry eyes the outdoor tables heaped with delicacies for sale at the many restaurants scattered across the ravenous metropolis.    With days to go before the next instalment of his father’s splintered income resumed its irregular trickle into their lives, Hashem’s family had already run out of almost everything – including the precious kerosene. And while his devout mother maintained that God would provide, Hashem was less certain. So he and his younger sister Raya contributed what they could to the family coffers. But although Hashem willingly performed errands, however menial, for the shopkeepers in Banani Market, sometimes there was just no work. On those hateful days, quiet desperation drove them to begging.    Hashem’s friend Jamil, who had a permanent job as a helper at one of the stores, had told him about another possible source of income. 28

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But the prospect sounded distinctly unappetizing.    “Someone said that the clinic on road 14 needs more blood, so they’re paying a lot of money for people to donate their blood,” Jamil told him.    “Why does the clinic want blood?” Hashem asked, bewildered.    “They do operations there, na?” Jamil said with great confidence. “Sometimes the rich people don’t have enough blood. So then they take blood from poor people and put that blood into them!”    “I don’t believe you!” said Hashem. “How can they put one person’s blood in another person’s body? And anyway, if someone sells their blood to the clinic, won’t they die?”    “No, silly! They only take a small bag of blood from each person. So nobody dies. But it is very scary - they use big needles and it hurts a lot. You can hear people screaming from inside the building when they are pulling the blood out!” Jamil said ghoulishly.    “Well, I’m not doing that!” Hashem said. “I’m not scared of the needles, but I’m sure that it’s bad for you to take your own blood out of your body, even if they pay you for it…”    The truth was, the idea of selling his blood terrified Hashem, though he would never have admitted it. And regardless of what Jamil said, he couldn’t believe that clinics could take blood from one person and put it into someone else. Surely both the people involved would die if they tried that. No, as far as Hashem was concerned, there was no alternative but to stick to begging on days when he couldn’t find work.    At five, Raya could not be sent out on her own, so she accompanied her older brother on his forays into the traffic-choked streets. Weaving in and out of the tangled strands of cars, scooters, rickshaws, trucks, and buses – simultaneously keeping a sharp eye trained on his quicksilver sidekick - invariably left Hashem battling knots of anxiety in the lower reaches of his belly. But he had to admit that Raya was an asset in the begging business. Her luminous eyes reflected an unquenchable spirit, and her mischievous smile could coax a few coins from even the most hard-hearted mark.    Hashem found it harder to beg with any semblance of grace or gratitude, not least because he was invariably hungry and disoriented. Fear that his mother would go without, in order for him and his sister to eat as much as possible, kept him vigilant at mealtimes. So instead of eating, Hashem held back, watching with bleak eyes as his mother interspersed her faith-based rituals with the occasional burst of arcane wizardry to conjure up something edible.    Their remaining stores were dwindling fast, Ma pinning her hopes on the distant salvation of Eid, when the rich took the opportunity to display their charitable inclinations amidst their conspicuous consumption. And while Ma hoped modestly for the makings of a good family meal - a piece of gristle free meat and some oil to cook up one of her rare, delicious beef curries - Raya dreamed of a red dress with white lace. 29

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Like Malati, who lived in their neighbourhood, and whom she admired from a distance; the relative prosperity of Malati’s family meant that she was not allowed to play with Raya.    For days now, Raya had woken up asking the same question, “Is it Eid today?” Hashem could not bring himself to crush his sister’s hopes, despite his conviction that this was all wishful thinking. He confined his own expectations to the more humble desire for a replacement for his tattered khaki shorts. The inner seam of the garment revealed how a patchwork of cloth scraps had been welded together to create the outward illusion of a single garment. It attested to his mother’s skill with the needle as eloquently as it reflected the story of making do for most of his young life.    Much as he wanted things to be different, it was his own despair that Hashem saw mirrored in his father’s bloodshot eyes on the occasions when he returned home early enough to see his son awake. His mother was protected by the invisible, invincible armour of her faith, his sister still young enough to believe things could be different.    Hashem adored Raya – the age gap between them made him feel older, wiser, and infinitely protective. It was mostly for his sister’s sake that the otherwise solemn eleven-year-old tried making light of their privations. At mealtimes, he would stretch out the rice on her plate by making bite-size morsels that became imaginary birds which “flew” into her mouth – rainbow-shaded kingfishers and bright green parrots.    It was a similar attempt to bring a little colour into their lives that had inspired Hashem to plaster the one tin wall of their cramped shelter with images foraged from discarded magazines - everything from Alpine vistas to the more familiar Bangladeshi celebrities, like Hashem’s favourite, the action man Ananta Jalil, who invariably prevailed against impossible odds.    Those hints of a distant, distinctly more glamorous existence made it easier to shut out the realities of life in a cramped shelter consisting of scrap metal, cardboard, and hessian sacking held up by bamboo poles. Their “tin wall” didn’t actually belong to them; it was there by virtue of the fact that the shack had been built against the neighbouring wall of a tin structure - perhaps in an attempt to make their fragile home a little more durable.    Now, as he endeavoured to keep his restless hands off his stubbornly itching head, Hashem did a double-take as he realised that his little sister was not - as expressly instructed – glued to his side. A strand of terror uncoiled itself at the pit of his stomach and slithered malevolently towards his throat. “Raya!” he cried, ignoring the way his voice cracked in a sudden rush of panic.    His fear subsided just as quickly when he spotted a small figure standing on one of the broken paving stones by the side of the road. Raya was staring intently into a nearby provisions store. Relief washed over Hashem, quickly dispatched in its turn to make room for anger 30

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what on earth did she think she was doing? * Mrs. Chowdhury’s face contorted as she exhaled with an exaggerated whoosh. Really, service just wasn’t what it used to be in Dhaka, she thought exasperatedly, not even in the established old-style general stores. And to make matters worse, there were now these new supermarkets that actually expected you to cart around your own shopping!    As she had earlier pointed out to her bored spouse, who’d been zoning out from the conversation as usual (the only time Mr. Chowdhury ever communicated with his wife was when he was articulating something related to his needs), “Even if you take one of the servants with you, you still have to walk from one end of the place to the other. You end up getting more exercise than you would from a walk in the park!”    No, Mrs. Chowdhury had decided long ago that she was a traditionalist. Her old friends at J.L. Store knew how to treat a valued customer, waiting on her with fawning diligence. All that was required of her was pointing at something and indicating how many of those she wanted. The manager’s small talk invariably revolved around how fortunate the store was to have customers like her, while hapless shop assistants scurried around putting together her substantial order.    Today the voluptuous diva was feeling out of sorts. It was a scorcher of a day, and her peacock-blue chiffon sari did nothing to combat the debilitating effects of the heat; the short walk from her air-conditioned car to the air-conditioned store was too much to expect of a woman used to comfort literally every step of the way.    “Your popularity clearly outstrips the provisions you have made for car-parking!” she said with a sour-lime twist to her petulant, lush-lipped mouth. In response, the manager nearly prostrated himself in a seizure of frenzied grovelling, determined to pacify his lucrative but highmaintenance customer. Mrs. Chowdhury’s sulky sexuality often had this effect on the men who came into contact with her – even when she was in “screen-saver mode”, paying no attention whatsoever to them.    Under normal circumstances, the manager would have rushed to offer her a soft drink, but Ramzan made that a risky proposition. The most unexpected people became ostentatiously pious during this month. So the manager was taken aback when Mrs. Chowdhury said, with her usual imperiousness, “Bring me a Choc-bar - it’s just too hot today! And make sure it’s not one of those that has melted and then reconstituted after a power cut. I don’t know why you people insist on having these generators that don’t even work properly...” And with that, she began eating while the helpers carried her purchases out to the car.    As for Mrs. Chowdhury herself, after a moment of discomfiture at having forgetfully bought the ice cream, she abandoned herself to the pleasure of consumption. After all, what did she care what these 31

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low-class people thought anyway? They had no understanding of how demanding her life was, how hard she worked.    Mr. Chowdhury was a millionaire many times over thanks to shrewd investments in the tinned condensed milk industry; he had launched his brand at a time when refrigeration was erratic in rural Bangladesh, and his wealth had since been further enhanced after the melamine contamination scare with Chinese powdered milk. But he was no picnic to live with.    Not that his wife would ever have admitted this to her envious friends and acquaintances. But the truth was, she resented having to drag her unwilling body out of bed at eight o’clock every morning because of his insistence on having his breakfast cooked by her. “It’s not as if you have anything else to do,” he would say dismissively, on the rare occasions when she voiced a protest.    She was careful – when holding forth to her jealous kith and kin about the Chowdhurys’ enviable standard of living – to frame this inconvenience as a sign of her indispensability to her CIP husband (a bonafide Commercially Important Person, with an ID card to prove it).    “You know, my husband will not touch any food unless I have personally overseen the preparation of it; even though our cook’s salary is over 5000 takas! In fact, he prefers to eat dishes that I have prepared with my own hands. Though of course he understands that it’s difficult for me to find the time, given all the other things I need to do. He’s very particular, you see….”    Just how true that last statement was, Mrs. Chowdhury kept to herself. Her husband was in fact obsessive where details were concerned. Everything had to be just so. To keep his difficult temper at bay, she had taken to stationing one of the servants in the corridor in the morning, to warn her when the Master had completed his toilet rituals. The boy would rush to tell her as soon as Mr. Chowdhury stepped out of the bathroom; that was the moment at which his wife would release the egg she had been holding into the warmed oil waiting to receive it in the frying pan.    Her entire life was spent standing on tiptoe to serve a demanding master, Mrs. Chowdhury fumed internally; and she couldn’t even risk losing face by complaining to anyone about it. Meanwhile her spouse viewed her efforts as no less than his due. After all, he had fulfilled his side of the bargain in a society where a man’s job was to be successful, whereas a woman’s challenge was the far easier task of producing the requisite number of male heirs and making sure that she maintained her looks thereafter.    Mr. Chowdhury’s lack of consideration was all too evident in this latest invitation he had sent out to the cottage industry of business associates he cultivated so assiduously. It meant that she had to put together an iftar party for dozens of guests at one day’s notice! Not only that, in line with her husband’s expectations, it had to be a gala event 32

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reflecting his net worth; one that people would talk about for days afterwards.    So, while she would never have admitted it – even to her closest friends – Mrs. Chowdhury was relieved when her period arrived several days early, and freed her from the tiresome responsibility of fasting during the final week of Ramzan. She took full advantage of the exemption from fasting that menstruating women, travellers and those suffering from ill-health were granted according to religious conventions. And although Mrs. Chowdhury was now a little worried that the shop staff might wonder at her public ice-cream consumption and speculate about her period, she consoled herself with the thought that they probably considered a woman of her status free from the onerous burdens of piety.    Besides, as her son Ronny would say whenever he refused to fast – “Eating in front of the faithful will just bring them closer to God, Ma. Instead of fretting over us sinners, they can earn extra brownie points for not giving in to such earthly temptations. Unlike the rest of us, who have better things to do than starve!”    And with that recollection, Mrs. Chowdhury abandoned herself to the hedonistic – if illicit – pleasure of her Choc-bar…. * Stepping out of the air-conditioned DVD store, Diya was hit by a hammer-blow of almost palpable heat. It reminded her how badly she wanted a drink. Beads of sweat sprang up to embroider patterns across her body, as her lightweight top and linen trousers were reduced to a sticky layer of second skin.    Diya was carefully negotiating the cobweb-cracks on the pavement when she spotted the children. Poised to flag down a rickshaw being piloted erratically by its famished driver, she dropped her arm without realising it.    She was feeling a little light-headed herself. Fasting had never been easy for Diya, even in the days when the shared excitement among classmates made the fasting less of a struggle. It maddened her that these rules were always more strictly applied to girls than boys, as her brother Zarif’s steadfast and successful refusal to comply, on one pretext or another, conclusively proved.    At no time was her artful brother – a veteran of his university’s canteen fare, as well as an unscathed survivor of the most unhygienic street food available in Dhaka – more likely to succumb to mysteriously convenient stomach ailments than during Ramzan. He was too smart to refuse outright to fast, but invariably managed to carry off these bouts of illness successfully. Requiring copious infusions of oral saline throughout the day, miraculous respites from diarrhoeal nauseaoccurred at iftar time. 33

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Her mother frankly acknowledged that it was unfair to expect Diya to fast when Zarif so rarely did, but pleaded nevertheless, “Don’t be difficult, darling! People expect more from girls. Your uncles and aunties already have a mouthful to say about how I allow you too much freedom. Your Abba’s family is so conservative…”    Despite wishing that her relatives would keep their attention-deficit concentration spans focused on their Hindi serial addictions, in the end Diya gave in. At 16, she knew that her mother already despaired about whether her tomboy daughter would ever give up her passion for sports in favour of more “feminine” pursuits. Was there any point in making life more difficult for everyone?    In order to motivate her spiritually, Amma had taken the temporal route, allowing Diya to buy DVDs as a distraction. Ostensibly, this was to help her overcome the challenges of fasting; and certainly after a shopping spree, the teenager found herself better reconciled to meeting unfair parental expectations.    Now, she focused on the tableau that had captured her gaze. A boy was standing with his arm placed loosely – yet somehow protectively – on the shoulders of a much younger girl. They were staring at the entrance of a shop, where two men were running back and forth, loading a host of packages into an SUV parked nearby.    A closer look revealed to Diya that it was not the shop-helpers transporting goods that held the children transfixed; it was the sight of a pale, generously proportioned woman sitting in the shop eating what looked like a Choc-bar. What was she thinking of, Diya wondered, doing that in a public place during the month of fasting? It was generally considered bad manners, albeit not illegal.    It wasn’t the impropriety of her actions that had drawn the attention of the children, Diya realised. They were staring longingly at the Choc-bar in the woman’s hand as they stood in the sweltering heat. The teenager was suffused by an unexpected rush of shame – how many ice creams would 1000 takas worth of DVDs have bought?    Without stopping to think about it, Diya stepped past the children to enter the shop and addressed the man behind the counter. Indicating the ice cream Mrs. Chowdhury was eating, she said “Give me two of those, will you?” The woman smiled at her, perhaps relieved to be in the company of another Choc-bar lover. Diya couldn’t bring herself to smile back, although she held off an instinctive grimace of distaste; after all, she was just as guilty of ignoring her surroundings as the obtuse ice cream-eater.    The children looked bewildered as she came out and stood in front of them. The boy dragged his gaze away from Mrs. Chowdhury almost immediately, ashamed to be caught staring at her; his younger sister took longer to shift her attention away from the woman in the shop. Before either of them could say anything, Diya placed one Choc-bar in each child’s hand,, turning to walk swiftly away. She ignored the 34

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small, jeering voice in her head demanding to know if she considered herself absolved of guilt by that small act of generosity. Perhaps not, but it was a start, she decided.    Diya didn’t look back when she heard the children’s squeals of delight. But a quick smile bloomed across her face, driving the heat away from her flushed cheeks. * As the unfamiliar textures of the deliciously cool ice cream and flakes of chocolate waltzed together on his tongue, Hashem struggled to understand what was happening. While Raya and he had been staring at the woman in the general store, an unknown girl suddenly materialised, handing each of them a Choc-bar like the one the fat woman was eating, before just as abruptly disappearing.    As he pondered, Hashem folded both the ice cream wrappers, carefully placing them in his pocket for later; there were always remnants to be found on the paper. That was how he and Raya knew what Choc-bars tasted like. They had occasionally come across the discarded wrappers lying around and been unable to resist a quick, shameful lick at the sweet traces smeared on them.    But he didn’t know what to make of this turn of events. Ma would say it was Allah’r dan, a gift from God. Had God then understood how badly he and Raya wanted to taste a Choc-bar? But why would He choose to answer that prayer, which Hashem hadn’t consciously articulated, and not all the others?    Captured by the incandescent joy on Raya’s face, Hashem let his questions float away unanswered into the ether. His enjoyment of the unexpected gift was eclipsed by the pleasure of seeing his little sister’s reaction to it. And at that moment an unconscious decision was made, fear departing to parts unknown. Even if Hashem had to give his blood to the clinic every day until Eid, Raya would get her red dress. He would make sure of it.

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Visual Art|Henry Stindt

More Prescious Objects Photography 8” X 10” 2013

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Visual Art|Henry Stindt

Spin the Bottle - An Interactive Piece

Photography 8” X 10” 2013

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Poetry|Neal Whitman In the Garden My nephew, Zeke, is making rainbows with the garden hose. I supervise from my lawn chair. I tell him all about how the doctor put something like a soda straw in one of my heart vessels to keep the blood flowing. I’ve been growing heirloom tomatoes. I too need watering, weeding, pinching and pruning, not too much sun, not too much shade. Need to be alert, watchful. Wear gloves. Gardens are stony.

Incantation stir twice the oil of faith with the water of doubt the stream still, yet still is moving Life Force blue-green winter twilight your nurse gently knocks, twice visitng hours are over It’s Time

Poetry|John Sibley Williams This Could Be a Love Song We are deadened image, a surface no longer reflecting. We are something like a watery divide, a river of unused bridges. 38

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We are a history smaller than the mouth that narrates it, a pure song deep in an unsung heart, a heavy weakness for guilt, a heavy absence of bone. We have lost all but the words for it. What was home was home, has become a mantra we must repeat into belief. The walls around us are less than the bricks we stacked heavenward, less than any heaven. And still nothing can extinguish us.

Poetry|Shirani Rajapakse Driving Down Galle Road Did you see the dead walking along the shore last night? Or hear the mournful wails of souls caught up in limbo? They came ashore from the bottom of the sea that stole them many years ago. Branches of the coconut trees shivered as they stood swaying in the balmy nights’ breeze. The lone dog howled from the house many miles inland. He seemed to sense all was not right. Was he the only one to know of your 39

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presence? Did others inside houses not know? Or were they tired of it all? Lost souls wrenched away by the sea so long ago now coming ashore to call on the living, asking for things they couldn’t get in their life. Taken away too soon, before they could begin to live. Borne away by the roaring waves away, away many fathoms into the deep. They now cry to return, unfinished lives, unfinished business but the seas only roar as they hover about on land. Waiting.

Poetry|Valentina Cano Rejecting Domesticity Sometimes bruises overtook her entire body, turning her skin into the color of fish scales. It came on her suddenly, like a tide of color and pain,

while she washed her hair or swept the kitchen counters. She’d look down at her hands or knees and see the ebb of purple and greens. And with them, an ache like a sustained scream in her bones.

Family Infestation Flies hover over our house this summer. They balance in sheets of black on the gaps between what we’ve done and what we meant to do, turning everything the green of rot and dead tissue. We’ve trained ourselves not to see them, the maggots and translucent wings. We don’t even smell them anymore. We know them only by the buzzing that fills our silences with static.

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Short Fiction|Kate Murray The floor isn’t safe

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he old man who leads me up the stairs is bent over with age, back curved and feet unsteady. We just locked it, he says with a shrug. He isn’t worried; the room holds no pain for him. They just don’t need it any more, yet before me is a silent tableau; a shrine to childhood. I go to step past him and he stops me.     The floor isn’t safe.    He leaves and I remain at the doorway looking into what must have been a happy home. Now all the laughter has gone; the red has faded and the orange looks more like rust. In our home we evolved, we became adult and moved on, taking our rooms and changing our possessions, here they just left. Cobwebs coat everything but even in the dim lighting I see the toys; a rocking horse, a tin robot, a teddy and in the centre a toy balloon surrounded by a still life. I feel as if I’m trapped in a lost and found room, that someone has lost their childhood but instead of being found it was forgotten. A playroom once filled with footsteps and laughter now echoes with silence.    Automatically, I step forward and the floor gives a violent shriek. Not safe, a voice floats up from below. I know the farmhouse has been empty for a few years but I am still surprised at its sudden demise. The day we moved into our house was the day the James’s moved out. I remember Dad’s tight lipped rejection as they offered the farmhouse just after he had signed for the little cottage we call home. But then Dad’s like that, even though he could have walked away and taken the larger residence he said, no, that we were signed into a deal. Mum just raised an eyebrow, but she understood. One thing Dad is, and he will never change, is honest. He rarely lies and never hurts, but he is prone to exaggeration. A couple of years back, before the move, he had been invited to go out on a boat. He is an avid beach caster and jumped at the chance, despite the fact that he broke his back many years ago. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not in a wheelchair but he has restricted movement and can’t really handle stepping up – like stairs. It was sad, he loved to teach, he was a whizz at getting the students with learning difficulties through maths. Someone had left a can on the stairs, just a coke can, so insignificant. Yet he’s foot came down on it and he fell. I remember the stairs being grey concrete and that was the rub. His back came down on more than one edge and he fell to the bottom. I suppose he was lucky. He did get up and limp away, but then Dad doesn’t acknowledge personal pain. Course, he can get flu and act like he’s dying, but pain he just works through.    And that is what he did. He walked away and came home. 41

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Complained of backache and carried on. Just like those sayings you can get on cushions and tea towels, Keep Calm and Carry On. Except that in this case with every step my Dad placed another nail in the coffin of his career. Six months later he hobbled into the hospital only to be told, you will be in a wheelchair in five years. He took it hard and mum spent most of her time pulling him out of the doldrums where, like a ship he languished slowly, becoming more despondent. So she tried another tack, we all did. We bought my father a handful of chickens. Growing up in Africa his father had kept a chicken farm and Dad’s dream had been to follow suit. So we rented land and bought some rare breeds. They would waddle about the field with menagerie of colours. Slowly, as the birds grew and laid eggs my Dad got better. His sails filled and slowly he moved into choppier waters.    He quickly outgrew the small plot of land and we started looking for a smallholding, and yes, I do mean we. I had tried living alone but I couldn’t see the point. Why buy meals for one when you can sit around a table and argue some insane point, like why forks have four prongs? I love family and while I don’t have one myself I will be in one.    So we were looking for a smallholding and found the cottage. The James’s sold a section of land and we had a self-sufficient, food-making, Dad-healing home.    Now five years later we are moving the last of the James’s belongings out. Those that they want. Those not destined to become mouldering wrecks of their lives. I call down to Mr James if he wants anything from the playroom. No, he says. So I close the door. My Dad walks past conquering his Everest by walking up and down the stairs with a slow steady gait, arms full of Welsh blankets and bric-a-brac. He smiles and I grin back happy to see him coping and thriving in the choppy waters mum and I placed him. It is a different story for Mr James and his farm. Retire, they say and for once he listens. So the house is locked, like the room. No evolving, just forgotten and as the roof sags and the walls bow, Mr James bends closer to the earth as if seeking its calming darkness. One year from that day, a year of firsts for us; first sheep; first orchard apples; first bacon, Mr James has his last. I think it was the lead being stolen from the roof of the farmhouse. If you fight your whole life for something only to watch it fall apart, surely a little of yourself dies and crumbles with it. Sometimes when I see the farm poking through the trees in the dead of winter I hear his reedy laugh and his warning that the floor isn’t safe.

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Visual Art|Burritt E Benson

Moonlight Critters

Acrylic Paint 36” X 48” 2013

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Visual Art|Burritt E Benson

One

Acrylic Paint 60” X 72” 2013

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Poetry|Renuka Mendis (Satchithananthan) time bombs little presents in pretty pink boxes like ice cream your little lies your little cruelties tied up in warped tinsel little time bombs going off three times a day shattering ear drums from so far away like new year crackers gone wrong

Poetry|Alan Halford Darker Days Dying nettles tell no tales of butterflies in darker days with little left to sing their praise they fall in the evening sun. Early frost sees all is lost as winter bares its lonely cross a final sneeze from the autumn breeze and dark days start to loom. Leaves turn gold in rich decay knowing they have another say in breathing life back into clay and dress the naked branch. The snail it moves at faster pace while taking part in nature’s race to see the days soon laid to waste as evening fades to gloom. Honeybees now head for rest to cluster in their winter nest warm the queen for being the best and bring her safe to spring. Now misty rain draws a veil leaving dreams and hopes impaled until we wake to better days on a bed of lavender blue. Dying nettles tell no tales of butterflies in darker days with little left to sing their praise they fall in the evening sun.

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Poetry|Ishrat Bashir Suddenly She Grew Old Suddenly she grew old. Age enveloped her youth Like a dirty dog-fly Shoo it away from this part of body It would cling to another… Caressing her left arm with her right palm She was lulling her soul Like a troubled baby at her mother’s breast. Calm, calm, calm… I said, ‘Time heals all’ She smiled as if saying Some wounds are like Deep waters of the Dal Enveloped in frost by subzero winters But the summer stirs all… I said, ‘it will pass’ She smiled and looked on And Somewhere the stereo goes on ‘without the beloved the heart grows restless’

Walking alone with the crowd Walking alone with the crowd Down the Chinar-flanked lanes today The blue mountain was calling me. Caught between the lofty Blue And misty shadow of your form I returned with memories, a million The setting sun even today Arrogantly shines into my face I turned to complain to you And the sun smiled even brighter…

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Short Fiction|Oscar Windsor-Smith A Portrait of the Artist A fine art auction house, Knightsbridge, London, 2012

In this vast universe abounding with stars, encompassing countless worlds inhabited by myriad gods who together comprise the Supreme Consciousness, I, for all my great age and powers, am but a small and inconsequential part. Of course the circumstance of this latest reunion with my consort is undignified, but it is no less auspicious. For truly, and I speak with all due modesty, experts – and London experts, no less – have described her depiction of me as, I quote: The male Giaconda. I am her finest work, they say, describing my visage as enigmatic. Regrettably, however, and I whisper this so as not to awaken my lady or offend her delicate sensibilities, the same experts have likened her self-portrait on the neighbouring stand to The Scream by Edvard Munch. In fairness, we did meet at a difficult time in our respective incarnations, as the lady herself has recounted on more than one occasion: A private studio, Simla, Himachal Pradesh, India, 1858

Bored and at a loss for inspiration, I sent a manservant to bring to my studio a native I had earlier observed squatting at the roadside as my carriage passed by. Our summer quarters were replete ad nauseam with my vibrant images of saris, turbans and spices in the bazaar. What I required was a challenge, a character study.    The dazzling sunlight had travelled from one window to the next before the servant returned alone and cowering to report that the man refused to pose.    ‘He is proud, memsahib,’ the servant whispered.    ‘Proud?’ I said. ‘Does he know who I am?’    ‘He knows, memsahib.’    ‘Is he aware that my husband is an official – an extremely powerful official – of Her Britannic Majesty, Queen Victoria’s Empire?’    ‘He knows this also, memsahib.’    ‘Then tell him I shall pay him for his time,’ I waved the servant away, but he hesitated, confused. ‘Go, now,’ I snapped, ‘and bring him to me.’    I had bathed, changed and taken tea by the time the servant returned, alone.    ‘Memsahib,’ said the servant, averting his eyes, ‘the man sendsgreetings and apologies, but says he cannot accept payment.’ 47

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‘This is insufferable. I have observed the fellow begging. Why will he not accept my payment?’    ‘Memsahib, he is a sadhu, a holy man. He accepts only gifts of alms.’    ‘Piffle. I see no difference between alms and payment.’    ‘With respect, memsahib, he receives alms to pursue his own enlightenment and the instruction of others.’ The servant gave a sideways wobble of his head. ‘It is said that kindness to a holy man can bring good fortune.’    ‘Very well, put a few coins in his bowl, and instruct him to meditate here.’    With obvious reluctance, the servant departed once more.    Seated by a shaded window in a breeze bearing the scent of jasmine and lotus blossoms, I watched him scuttle off toward Lakkar bazaar.    Again he returned alone.    ‘The sadhu thanks you for your generosity, memsahib,’ the servant said. He took a step backward, head lowered. ‘He compliments you on your youth and beauty, but he insists that he will meditate where and when he pleases.’    Declaring my intention to prevail and that my husband should hear of this insulting behaviour upon his return, I waved the servant from my sight.    ‘A thousand pardons, memsahib,’ my servant mumbled, backing toward the door, ‘but, with great respect, if it please the memsahib, it is— ‘ The servant paused, head bobbing, ‘—unwise to force a sadhu to act against his will.’    ‘You presume to question my actions? How dare you? Tomorrow you shall take the houseboys and bring this, this, sadhu to me. Tie him up and drag him if you must. I refuse to be slighted.’    Such rigorous measures, however, proved unnecessary on this occasion. The sadhu, clearly having reconsidered his position, presented himself at the servants’ entrance soon after daybreak.    A houseboy brought him to my studio and there the sadhu stood, hirsute, serene, indifferent to my class and status, surveying my studio and me at his leisure. Self-assured. Infuriating.    His manner of dress and apparent lack of hygiene were inexcusable. Had one of our servants presented in such a fashion I should have ordered him soundly thrashed. But then, as I reminded myself, what I required was character, and this man’s face and body – for his grubby dhoti covered little – had character aplenty, sunburned and craggy as they were.    Minutes ticked by. Overhead the punkah fan sighed and through the open windows a hazy buzz of insects drifted from the garden. The sadhu neither spoke nor displayed any intention of doing so. It occurred to me that he might not understand English.    ‘What do you wish of me, Princess?’ 48

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Caught off guard by his sudden utterance and his near-perfect diction, I started. Was his manner of address born of ignorance, insolence or flattery?    ‘I am the wife of a senior civil servant of the British Empire, not a princess, as I am sure you know.’    The infernal man actually chuckled. ‘You British change the meaning of your words with such ease. Your husband wears clothes laced with gold and a fine hat with plumes of feathers like a maharaja, and yet you call him servant.’ He gave that irritating head wobble, but his usage conveyed a very different, frivolous, meaning to that employed respectfully by my servants.    Struck dumb by his effrontery, I collapsed into my wicker armchair.    ‘Please, forgive my apparent rudeness—’ He paused as if in thought, smiled, and made the hands-together gesture they call Namaste, ‘—but I refuse to call you memsahib. “My lady” is recognition enough, when necessary.’    This was intolerable disrespect but something about his conduct made me loath to challenge him. Instead, I turned a deaf ear and suggested that he strike a meditative pose upon my workbench.    He complied without further protest, belatedly readjusting his dhoti.    I do not feel that I caught the true essence of the sadhu at this time. Indeed, over following days I realised that he understood more about my world and me than I did, or possibly ever could, of his.    He explained to me that everything in time and the universe is one and indivisible. The one is the only reality and apparent multiplicity, as perceived in Western philosophy, is illusion created by the veiling power of Maya. I was never certain what all that meant, but the mere act of telling me appeared to make him happy.    The sadhu performed his ablutions more thoroughly for these visits, his hair and beard neatly trimmed and dhoti freshly laundered.    To my confusion he took to calling me Kali, explaining that Kali was a mother goddess, the consort of another powerful god he called Vishnu.    It could have been an effect of the damnable Indian summer heat, or perhaps the prolonged absence of my husband, but I began to anticipate the sadhu’s visits with unladylike enthusiasm for more than the modest challenges of painting him.    When he suggested that I undertake a self-portrait dressed as Kali I willingly agreed without the slightest regard for propriety, even asthe sadhu hastened to undress me before the mirror. His enthusiasm for the task was evident – dhotis are not best fashioned to conceal such things.    Of course, one thing led to another, delaying the completion of my self-portrait for several strenuous but rewarding weeks.    If only my lover had explained to my naïve human incarnation the scope of her alter ego’s significance. If only he had been honest with 49

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her, his own incarnation as sadhu might have lasted longer.    But an unexpectedly returning husband is not predisposed to understanding when he discovers his wife in flagrante delicto, her yoni full to overflowing with the rampant lingam of a god. In short, the spouse killed the lover and dispatched to yet another life the mortal iteration that was I, instructing servants to destroy the paintings.    Days of Empire notwithstanding, could one ever trust the hired help? A fine art auction house, Knightsbridge, London, 2012

   And now ladies and gentlemen we come to the main lot of today’s sale. Showing before you is a pair of fine nineteenth century portraits of Indian deities painted by a titled English lady of considerable talent, and no little notoriety.    On the left we see Vishnu captured wearing little but his dhoti and an enigmatic smile, while on the right is the blue-breasted warrior goddess, Kali, the creator and destroyer.    Before opening the bidding, I would draw to your attention the fact that this depiction of Kali is unique in possessing only one pair of arms.

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Visual Art|Turlach O’Broin

Photography 18”x24” 2012

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Poetry|Alegria Imperial Light as Magic The essence of magic is light says the puppeteer to me as I peer through his box of a stage yet but a shell of trash -limp pieces of strings, sleeping snakes of light cords, tubs of light shades, the puppets mere swaths of rags. Life moves only where there is light, he seems to chant, invoking magic from his words. In the myth of creation, God first bid Light with words and Light burst into rays like wings or so the puppeteer imagines. You can ride on light, the universe does, speeding and crashing on taut streams of translucence. I can transform you into a nymph under these lights, the puppeteer turns to me, sensing my longing. Could I grow into wings if I wish and vanish in the light? I ask. Or like my puppets be born and live if only for a fraction of light, he answers grinning. I hesitate but then, step in to his box of a stage. Among scraps of life, I give in.

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Poetry|Satish Verma Crisis Moment Stakeholders, are coming. There was conflict between logos and mythos. One black thorn was in the flesh. You come out of the body to find the window. One long eel─ surreptitiously enters,

in the guts─ to pluck your eyes out. But you were already dead─ after the search of slant light coming from the liberation. Crossing the time zone, you enter the black hole traveling at zero hour.

Poetry|Jyoti Modi The Glory of Battles Fire like globs, tucked, on emerald ocean flowing free, on aqueous moire their splendor, enticing pink. period rested, on their sail nothing existed before their birth none, past them shall prevail. Departing, the day, was one of its coiled petal drooping in the youth of coy blush A fuel had burned, in blazing hours to revive the flaming spark let not wilt in rising grey. 53

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Setting eve weaved the darn of chequered luminescence a reminder of chasm of my spirit in seams and your existence elsewhere. Thickets shone, anew wimpled bride of moon and those eyes, pink yet and covet peeked through to hide back behind emerald hood. Palm, held the moon, tipsy lover, swaying on zephyr’s furrow then gently slid down the molten silver ball as life came full circle in a drop, from arched brow. My night wheeled on with spokes of stagecoach and moon was again a mate, teasing in spectrum. On way, I counted the stars for a forgotten cause later, my fingers, sought, the glory of battle in the silence of beast’s chimed clause. The embers weren’t ashen until then in night’s cold tent.

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Short Fiction|Sarah Dobbs Yellow Flames in the Easter Sun

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he village, Annie’s father used to say, was home to the physicians of Myddfai. Herbalists of the twelfth century. Healers. Their family cottage was lodged in the thick, green quiet of this village. It was the place she and her brother Neal realised their mother was broken. It was also the place their father’s gentleness had finally hurt him too much.    As Annie’s old Punto ploughed deeper into Wales, leaving England behind, tyres scoring tarmac and slicing white lines, she thought it was funny how it was always Easter when she was in Mydffai. It had also been Easter the night she’d started the end with Richard.    ‘Promise me you’ll come back here one day,’ she’d said to him on the cottage’s back step.    Richard had reached up and pointed out Cassiopeia. ‘The saucepan,’ he’d said.    Over the bank beyond the back step, the brook had roared, openmouthed. The surge of water had seemed relentless. Ruthless almost. That was the word. It had stood in her brain; 3D.   Ruthless.    She’d stared at black lines of tree branches scratching the sky. The sky had seemed tall and high, startled by an infestation of starlight. She’d pressed her palms on the floor. Pricked by cold, her dizziness eased. The glow from the kitchen had soaped out; a line of daffodils fringed the bank.    ‘Promise me, Richard.’ But that feeling had already been tightening her gut.    His eyelashes had tickled her cheek. Huddled under the sleeping bag, their backs propped against the door, they’d pressed their cheeks to each others. His skin so hot it had pinched her. She’d smelled onions, his hot breath streaming onto her forehead. His regular, steady breathing. * She looked in the Punto’s rear-view mirror. A van piled with logs blared towards her. The last time they’d been a family at the cottage, it had been another unusually hot Easter. Their father had always seemed like more of a long-legged boy, a skinny giant whose love for their mother was as long as school holidays. Seemingly unending.    ‘Is it five minutes yet?’    Neal, Annie’s brother, had flicked a page in his comic. 55

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‘Neal.’ She’d made the teacup handles neat, just like mum. ‘Neal.’    ‘Trying to concentrate,’ he’d said from the dining table, fists bunching his cheeks.    ‘But it’s going cold.’ She’d looked at her paper toast. Wilfred was still the only guest. The yellow dog had twitched like he wanted to go busy-busy.    ‘Sit, Wilfred.’ She’d pointed.    Sitting, head bobbing as he panted, he’d cocked his head.   She’d copied.    Wilfred had licked his chops and looked away, groaned. He wanted to whirl about the garden and bash his stinky paws at the flowers. His slobber had dripped onto the toast, making it wilt.    Annie poured her invisible but delicious raspberry tea and stared out at the cottage’s garden. Legs sticky, she’d tugged at her leggings. How long now? The garden had seemed yellow, all the greens soaked in sunshine. The grass and flowers and sky had looked like layers of trifle. The sunlight like pennies when mum washed them in Coke. Not like the sun up North.    Wilfred had whined.    ‘Shut up, Wilfred.’    ‘Don’t be horrible, Annie!’    She’d glared at the dog. Sighed, then offered him some toast. He’d pinched it from her with careful teeth.    In years to come, she would remember how her father was on his knees before their mother in the cottage garden. Their mother’s legs tucked up in the deckchair, sobbing with all her body. How he’d smoothed her face until she smiled. They’d thought this was his job. They’d thought he would always do it.    The workshop had squatted behind her parents and she’d thought of Dr Who and his time machine. Daleks. The wide-eyed fear she’d get whenever they came on telly with their gritty voices.    Annie had looked at Neal. He’d shrugged, looking away from the window and going back to his comic.    ‘How long now?’ she’d whispered to Wilfred, who had raised his doggy eyebrows. Realising this was not the command he’d been looking for, he’d snapped his tongue, buttoned up his jaw and fell back to panting.    Really, it should have been their mother who put a gun to her coral mouth and changed their world.    After it happened, Annie had discovered a dormant desire to run. Was good at it. Her body relishing that stretch and burst towards the finish line. She’d become the fourth leg in the relay. People had talked about coaches. Training. About competition.   Run.   Run.   Run. 56

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The crowd drumming her to win from their guts, hoofing the stands with their feet. Blasting out her name, the syllables clapping against her ears. Her Breath loud like the cottage’s brook. Loud and ruthless.    Almost every time she crossed the white lines she would coil over, attacked by a spasm of vomit. She had run each day since she’d fingered the jammy sawdust in her father’s workshop.The one he had built at the cottage.    After it happened, their mother did not run. Did not buckle or fade as she and Neal had expected.    Their mother had never been able to open her own doors. Annie had often wondered how this could not make her impatient. Waiting for him, thanking him, walking with a little swish to her rump afterward.    After it happened, their mother learned about doors. She learned to drive and took courses and Annie’s hate climbed and so she ran.    It happened the same day their father had smoothed the tears from her mother’s wilted body.    Their father’s workshop was really just a shed. Her parents loved a music called ‘Motown’. Any and every singer from this particular club was welcome. Their father especially liked a man who sang in a voice like coal about docks and bays. Annie wasn’t sure he was in the same club though. Their father played the song a lot and water swished from the workshop. His oasis, she would later think, between banking, their family and his wife’s constant tears.    In his workshop, their father made boring things exciting. Like the church bench that became a table. The wooden duck shaped for her from a knot of wood discovered on New Quay beach.    Her father’s blank eyes had bulged like a dead rainbow trout. She had hoped it was a game.    After Easter ended, the machine of school began again. The smell of new pencils and erasers.    ‘Karen says he got it from the farmers. He shot baby rabbits for fun.’    ‘My mummy says your mummy was crazy, and that’s why.’    ‘Why did your daddy not want to be your daddy anymore?’    Whispers grew like hedges around Annie and Neal, binding them together in their isolation. It became impenetrable.    In retrospect, she knew why their father did it. And yet it was still a surprise. That stark clap in the garden like an Olympic gun. She had been singing in the bath and her body had false-started. And she had sat and thought about the sound, the strangeness of it. What was that sound?    This was the Easter she had hopscotched barefoot over tarmac that was hot and wavy like burnt blackberry pie. She had watched Annie on TV and belted out ‘Tomorrow’ from her bones before each bath-time. She had been sailing the carved duck her father had made in the bath, her wet fingers darkening the wood.    She’d never eaten fish after that day. 57

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Despite his job and the suit he plastered himself in and the boyish fringe he slicked and the briefcase he hefted that wasn’t really heavy, their father was a joker.    She remembered staring at the jammy sawdust and wondering, Was it a game? Musical statues? What would the prize be? But the music still swished. The man with the coal voice whistled as she looked at her father’s still figure. There was a weird wet rattling sound that would stay in her ears forever. Her stomach tightened. Don’t touch the sawdust. Her fingers stretched forward.   ‘Daddy?’    He twitched. She’d fallen.    Annie swerved. Zig-zagged past the van piled with logs. When had he overtaken her? Her heart ticked. ‘Shit.’    She blew out. Focus. She stared at the road, concentrating on following its bend until her pulse calmed.    She couldn’t avoid being enclosed in the memory again. Wading through the soup-thick dusk towards the workshop, darkness sitting at the ankles of the hedges. The bird chatter, shrill and curious, like newly hatched chicks, a farmers’ tractor clearing its throat, the stretched bleat of the sheep and the sheepdog’s bark that Wilfred, hot and lazy, had echoed half-heartedly from his favourite place before the oven.    Her father’s pointy elbows had been resting in a bed of wood curls. She and Neal had often nudged each other as he scissored up dry chicken or chased peas around his plate.   Grasshopper.    Or she had. Neal was older and above such things. He watched everything in his quiet way that she would only understand later.    ‘I’d been waiting,’ he’d said.   ‘Eh?’    They were in refurbished gin palace near London Bridge. They’d both happened to be in the city at the same time. Her for another interview, him in an attempt to stitch up another unraveling relationship.    ‘Waiting.’ He’d bounced his palms, as if weighing something.    His spit had tapped her ear. She frowned. The Friday crowd roared around them. Suits. Banker types. And she’d realised. Waiting for it to happen.    A sign flew past flagging up the miles to go. The crack in the car window ruffled her hair, letting in the meatiness of cow shit. Why was she going to the cottage anyway? Richard wouldn’t keep his promise. And even if he did, why would he do it today? Simply because she’d texted him out of the blue. He’d be with someone else by now, surely. Married? Engaged? Curled up on the sofa rubbing someone else’s feet? It had been a year. Annie glanced at her phone on the passenger seat. Missed calls from Neal.    She stabbed the radio on, fitted her sunglasses to stop fromsquinting. Lines, young lady, her mother would say. Look at me. And she 58

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would arch her neck like a swan. A Welsh weather woman told Annie the obvious.    ‘Mummy?’ Annie had said, rubbing the jam from her fingers onto her leggings.    Her stomach had felt tight and sore as she stood before her mother. A sensation that never really stopped. Something, she imagined, most people experienced temporarily. At a job interview, on a date. But it accompanied Annie on the bus to town to pick up dry-cleaning, in a summer-filled park with friends, sitting inside a new romance, waiting to hurt. To stitch as though she’d just run another relay.    She had found her mother in the bedroom at her dressing table, making her face happy. But it was unfinished and it took Annie a while to find her mother in the looseness of all that skin.    ‘Something’s wrong with Daddy.’    Although their mother smelled like Chanel and grown ups, she didn’t like rules. Daddy had rules. Bedtime. Washing Your Hands. No Chocolate Mondays to Thursdays or After 5pm.    Her parents argued about rules.    Why, Lydia? Just support me on this. They shouldn’t be running around at midnight for God’s sake.    The mouse voice. Patrick, don’t shout at me.    Looking back, Annie would realise that their own boyish father had waned. He had to be the only adult all of the time. He became the conifer shadows on a sunny day, ruining the heat and summer and fun. Casting blank darkness on the lawn. The adult who spoiled their games. Was she like that with Richard? He had bought her daffodils for their holiday.    ‘Think it’ll last?’ Richard had said on the step, about Neal and Cheryl. He had chosen to sidestep the promise she’d wanted him to make. It wasn’t unkind. Richard was never unkind, one of the things that infuriated her. But he’d known about the two wives before Cheryl.    Annie had shrugged, and was reminded of her brother’s shrug that Easter. His comics, their mother’s tears. Their father the healer. In the funeral car, Neal had wailed a siren of grief. Mute, Annie had known if she allowed hers out, it would pool and flood and never stop.    Like the brook.    Before Neal and Cheryl had come and gone, before she had sat on the step with Richard and decided it should end, they had wandered through Lampeter. Its university was the size of a swimming pool, shy Goths had sloped about in top to toe black in the prickling heat. She’d taken pictures of the ice-cream-coloured houses, the bric-a-brac shops with their Retirement Sales!    Daffodils had ringed every flash of green.    Once, a woman at a bus stop in Leigh with a voice like an old dragqueen, looking at the town’s circular garden and its fringe ofdaffodils, had coughed next to Annie and pointed. ‘Daffodils.’ 59

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Annie had raised her eyebrows. ‘Oh? Yes.’ A smile.    ‘Don’t ever grow with other flowers, you notice that?’ She thrust out her bottom lip. ‘Hadn’t thought about it.’    The woman reminded Annie of a gnome. Small and wide. Made of cobblestones. She gurned, thrusting her chin up to her nose. ‘Proper poisonous little bastards, y’know. Kill everything they touch. Gotta keep em away, eh?’ Annie had faced front, catching widened eyes from other passengers.    But at some point, the observation fossilised inside her. Was she like the daffodils?    In the window of the closing down store was a faux-retro bag that said ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’. She’d had one, the words in Coca Cola font. The colour of the 80s. What had happened to that bag? Nothing since the workshop had seemed important. That unique entangled smell of wood and burning, like a bonfire but not quite. And her father’s stillness. And before the stillness, that faint hatching movement that had made the wet rattle. Even as his eyes bulged. Nothing had the same reality after that. Nothing ever really started again.    Neal liked Sinatra. While he and Cheryl were at the cottage, he and Annie had stood over the record player until a real LP of ‘My Way’ ran out. Richard and Cheryl chatted about motor racing in the tiny kitchen. There were lots of hand gestures.    Annie and Neal had migrated to the window. She’d thought of Wilfred’s panting tongue, her failed tea party. The blackberry pie tarmac, hopscotch and paper toast. And her brother beside her, the strong silence around them like nettles.    A tractor had blared up the track.    ‘I miss Wilfred,’ Annie had said.    Neal had looked at her. His lips moved. She couldn’t hear what he said, but it could have been, ‘Ah, Sis.’ ‘Come on you two. Drink?’ Cheryl glittered from the kitchen. Neal had seemed to wince. But he’d brought up his home-brew and the four of them had drank and chatted. Relaxing, feet up, Richard’s thumb drawing ovals over her back.    For a while, the tightness in her stomach had softened and left a gap.    When Neal and Cheryl were gone, the needle had bumped and bumped. And Annie’s stomach hurt again. She could hear the bumping as she and Richard had sat outside in the cold. The record player spat out magnified static as they’d huddled in the dark under the sleeping bag. She’d thought of her brother who would, by now, have indicated out of the farm track. The road would have been black and bare, but still he would indicate. Always responsible, and yet he would choose women who jingled, flimsy as Kit-Kat foil.    On the A roads, he would be thinking of Annie as he drove away. 60

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He would be warmed at the fact that Richard was solid. A good job, a firm handshake, knowledgeable about politics. Her brother would be hopeful and the hope would tick in his own nervous stomach like a dripping tap as he gripped the steering wheel, fielded patter from Cheryl and checked for shadows where squirrels might dart out from.    And then she’d said it.    There was a moment where she could have closed her mouth and swallowed. Relaxed against Richard’s body.    She’d said, ‘You know that daffodils have to be planted alone? Like how you can’t put bananas near apples? They kill them.’    ‘You can’t put bananas near apples?’    She’d hugged her knees and Richard made sure she was tucked up. They’d drank vodka and coke. He’d put a slice of lime in hers.    ‘I didn’t know that,’ Richard had said.    ‘So they say.’    She’d thought of their stories, the ones they’d unwound to each other like skipping rope in bars and cafes, country walks and late night talks, eyelids dry from lack of sleep. Their fractured childhoods and how well Richard had coped. Naturally ebullient, yet with an unsolved space inside him that she’d recognised. Where once it was keen, the desire to erase that lack in him, the desertion that made him eager to please, to plant a family, had grown fuzzy.    ‘Even if we’re not together, promise me you’ll come here,’ she’d said again. Annie could hear the brook’s roar, water skidding over rock. Running, running.   ‘Richard.’    ‘Why d’you think about stuff like that?’    He would keep his promise. It’s what he did.    She’d imagined the day he would come and look at the stars again without her, remembering the strange girl who evoked this promise and never trusted his love. He’d be with his wife. She’d be dark-haired and smooth-skinned. Free from the poisonous dread that wrung her stomach like a twisted dishcloth.    That things went bad.    Richard’s wife would squeeze his arm and give him space and she would feel lucky that she had found such a man who would keep such a promise.    ‘I think we should split up,’ she’d said. Her stomach had relaxed.    Two days later, Richard had texted:    Might not be able to put daffodils near other flowers. Doesn’t mean they can’t be with other daffodils. Googled it.    In the Punto, Annie checked her phone again. Just the samemissed calls from Neal.    If only Richard would text her like that again. If their connection was present enough to be fixed. Only now did she realise her mistake, like finally getting a joke. A realisation that saw her driving alone at 61

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Easter, hair streaming down the a-roads, towards Lampeter and Myddfai and the old family cottage. A place their father had paid off before he did what he did. As if he’d known, or wanted, something of their family to endure. Their mother had signed the place over to Annie and Neal and never ventured there again.    On dates, in bed, watching a film, scratching cereal off a bowl at the sink, her thoughts were always bloated with Richard. Patient, gentle Richard. She saw the blazing rows of yellow, of lemon and gold. Solid hedges of colour that ringed each lawn and roadside. Everywhere, together.    Her foot eased, her tyres slowed, the corners got tighter. Eventually, she crunched up the familiar gravel lane.    There was a vehicle at the cottage, and she allowed herself a small, frivolous romance; Richard had kept his promise. But the tight face that got out, the long-legged boyish man with the floppy fringe just like their father’s, was not Richard.    ‘Hey. Wondered if you’d be here,’ he said. ‘Been calling you.’    ‘Must’ve already set off.’    He shrugged. ‘Arguing with Cheryl.’    But the shrug belied his care. He wanted something different from the ending in the workshop that they were both stuck at.    They hugged awkwardly, never close in that way, but tonight he held her so tightly she almost panicked. She’d half thought Neal might have turned up.    ‘I sort’ve knew you’d be here,’ he said.    She thought of the hedge that had grown up around them as children and the lines of daffodils that grew together. Not isolated by their poison, but together in their difference. Like she and Richard could have been, could still be. Annie and Neal. Yellow flames in the Easter sun.    ‘Drink?’ she said.    The tightness in her stomach eased somewhat.

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Visual Art|John Antoine Labadie

Hidden in Plain Sight

Digital Media 2012

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Visual Art|John Antoine Labadie

Hunger for Knowledge Digital Media 2013

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Visual Art|John Antoine Labadie

Hunger for Knowledge Digital Media 2013

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Visual Art|John Antoine Labadie

Hunger for Energy Digital Media 2013

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Visual Art|John Antoine Labadie

Doing the Math Version

Digital Media 2008

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Poetry|Reena Prasad Rickshaw wala The red dust flew. He pedaled standing up at the slopes his ribs emerging with each push The orange gamucha, a bandanna catching beads of perspiration being born The curly-haired little girl poked him with a pencil “Can you get us some candy? You promised last week ” The rest of the red neckties and muddy whites put up a chant of deafening pleas and the heat got to him He pulled over to the tin-roofed shop and leapt off. We fought over the colored half-moons in a glass bottle with sticky fingerprints while he fanned himself in the shade with a leaf thinking about the puffed rice his daughters craved and what a waste of money was school.

Poetry|Ali Abdolrezaei Translator: Abol Froushan

Dark Veins You are shot there so your red cells flower ... in Freedom Avenue you die so snow with its white cells soft and softly shroud you hide you so an ill wind won’t blow to steel you who were not one of them You are not one of them your arteries are arteries of a city that which beats in Revolution Square is still your heart which sends off one by one 68

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all taxis down any street that leads like a dark vein toward my heart that is in Freedom Square We both fight in the same street you are shot there I die here

World War Final We who had not believed the war has ended did not leave the trenches nor put down our “Death to...” or quit being so ridden in dust We who have not believed the towns are still on the offensive the fields, still in retreat and in between the forests are lost While the war is still in between us we are worming Kusturika’s Underground like when the bombs came and we hid under the school bench so behind the desk they could give a seat to Mr Veteran The war is approaching again so Zahra’s Heaven Cemetery won’t sit so far apart from Tehran so the military police swap places with the street dogs and women who recently learnt to smile sit a little closer to tears There won’t be sirens in between respites to run to the basements this time there shall be no enemies the earth shall be the trench in which to take refuge We who don’t believe The missiles won’t arrive this time 69

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to take away a hundred people at a time this won’t be a soldiers’ war we shall all flap feathered wings One cannot play pranks with an atom bomb

Poetry|Umm-e-Aiman Vejlani Destitution. A faint, low howl, to the grey moon, ripped through the garden forest, The sound of astute crickets, rare, stark, flitting about in the dense keep that portended of hollowness housing the haggard, weathered trees, For it had been many years for the desiccating ground to have felt of gratification from finding colourful, bulbous orchids bloom ripe within it, A death wish loomed upon every lamenting pore of things yet breathing, Trees communed with the fleeting winds in comatose sleepy whispers as the soiling air wisped in silent cause of erasing the truth absolute, There was a rumour that whistled between grains of fading sand about the nifty, crafty sunlight that washed parts of elective lands, These did not see owls trotting in their thick brown fur of opulence on stones that did not sheen other than grey like its paternal moon, The scent of betrayal spread wider through the rusting winds of hope, So the rivers green lay dead below arid hills of abandonment stooped, The land wept strife in hapless droning of a bleak aspiration for resurrection while the sun cowered behind its black plate to watch solitude’s ascension...

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Short Fiction|Catherine McNamara Tales from Bodri Beach    This is how it is. Miranda rises early and goes to the beach wearing her old green shirt over her bikini, barefoot. She leaves Leo in thick sleep, dew at his mouth. Leo is half-aware of Miranda kneeling in the tent tying up her black bikini, and when she is gone rolls over sensing the summons of a new dream. He feels his consciousness waver, then come apart as a series of dishevelled constellations. In the north, on a local bus savagely ridden around hairpin bends, their daughter Manou wishes she had stayed in Paris. Hot, regretful, she unravels a scarf that dances from the window and becomes lifeless in the dirt. As close as they are to the coast, the land breathes hot wind and flames. *    Miranda walks down the track to the water. She drops her towel and elbows out of her shirt. She thinks of Leo and strides into the waves. She kicks away, her face shifting across the water surface, in and out of its hem, surveying the shallows as her arms rotate. She tips onto her back as the soundless gulf pulls away, hears the whine of a boat. At the first buoy she stops and turns around, checking the vessel has headed off. She can see the camping ground with its pageant-like spread of tents. She can’t see their blue triangle, or the red one-man tent she has put up for her daughter Manou. She turns. A rogue wave hits her like a fist. Then a long crest rides through her as a vast front. She dunks under to see seams crafted in the sand, the underwater vista extending to a rubbery blue. Beneath her, the buoy chain sways down to a cluster of bricks like a burial mound. *    Leo dreams that he has evaded peril. And while peril has no shape for him he knows its glueyness, its permeation. He is awake looking at netting beneath the gauze of the tent. The dream withdraws, defused but still cudgelling him somewhere. Demystification. Manou’s arrival today. The daughter he and Miranda had never truly wished to produce. The young woman who has written them off in a book, won a major prize, compiled Jen-and-Louis out of Miranda-and-Leo, denuding their drug-fucked clenches. Leo throws off the sheet. Miranda had gotten over it first, speaking to Manou in a matter of months. But Leo has almost begun to see himself as Louis, the undignified writer on his knees. He’s read it three times and even wept. He remembers how colleagues 71

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at the news desk reconsidered him with sifted looks; how when Manou won the prize the papers printed whole extracts concerning the deplorable parents. Leo turns over, twists in the sheet, recalling their drinks at the square yesterday. The way Miranda’s breasts were flattened under her black sports top, the way other men fingered her erect nipples with their eyes; the hard cycle home, for him mostly. Miranda, she has been careful this last year. But he hasn’t written a plausible word since. He picks up their two phones and types a message to his wife. Watches his message appear on her screen. It makes him feel non-existent. *    Miranda backstrokes to the coast. She rises on each wave, feeling her body released into the pocket below, then scissor-kicks onto the next swelling crest. The exertion pleases her. She pushes harder, calmed by motion and the soulless chucking of the water. She remembers that Leo’s fitness is no longer a voluntary thing, and that since Manou’s book had devalued them both he has wandered off into a wretched treeless territory. She hauls herself up, shakes her hair. Spreads her towel on the sand as young families lug umbrellas, buckets and toddlers onto the beach. Her daughter’s version of childhood had involved film festivals and after-parties, taunting long-haired men and being carried into the night. Miranda removes her top and lies on her belly, hitching her pants into her bottom. Lately, she’s never seen a sadder sack than Leo’s depleted organs. *    The bus swerves along the coast, blue inlets simmering like hands wanting to delve and touch. Manou thinks of Helen with a deep shudder of love, an arresting warmth. She’s always thought she would have shunned love’s unreliable delirium. She sees two massive ferries nudging the horizon, back to the mainland with their fodder of tourists. Tumbling down the hillside next to the road are prisms of brown rock fitted together, bereft of vegetation. On some of the beaches umbrellas are starting to appear in stands, and she can see dark heads moving through the broken waves. She hasn’t seen her parents in over a year now. At a gathering there had been a type of stand-off. Her father Leo, pinched in a tight T-shirt that threw his chest muscles into relief, had called her ‘artless’. No efforts had been made after that to retrieve what might have been semi-functional, and based upon their roles. She has taken her last boxes from their house. She has always felt foreign to their bones – the baby in the basket on the cold steps – and now it is Helen who has orchestrated a reunion in this parched place. On neutral ground. Where Leo and Miranda spend the summer months in their reincarnation as drug-free campers and cyclists with maps. When a 72

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decade ago they were jaded pill-poppers on a steep comedown. There had been heart problems, a blood clot, all payback. She thinks of her mother, so snide and blessed, carefree as ever with her cut muscles and masculine jaw, now a grinning eco-warrior. *    Miranda has a craving. As the sweat wells all over her she nestles into the towel on the sand, feeling hornier than most days. The swimming should have helped. Except for the breaststroke. All that open leg movement, that gaping apart such that some days the salt water enters her cavern and trickles from her. She hates feeling big like that. Hates the thought that Manou had passed through her. She is no Earth Mother. She wants her organs pressed neatly together – vacuum sealed – not some bag lady with her parts sloshing about inside. She does a quick series of Kegel exercises. One-two-three. First floor-second floor- third floor. Clench. Squeeze. She should get back into the water. Swim out one more time into the middle of the bay – backstroke clearly – far from everyone except the young man in checked swimming trunks who surf-skis around the point every day. Did she see him this morning? She raises herself on her elbow and sure enough he is a pale fleck on his way back round the rocks. She wants to straddle another man, wishes this thought would leave her.    There is a skirmish further along the beach. She’s heard at the bar that a thief had made off with a woman’s handbag, a teenager’s phone. She looks up to see two men pinning down a shirtless darker-skinned man, jerking his arm up his spine, his head thrashing in the sand and one man sitting on his legs. She ties on her top. Sits up, sees there are less people than usual, perhaps because the sky has filled with high gauzy cloud. She lifts herself and shakes out her towel. She passes the three men anchored in the sand, a composition of victory. *    Leo drags himself up to the communal loos and takes a long piss. He brushes his teeth, staring at the lines crossing his face. While Miranda continues to look pristine and glowing his face is going to the dogs. Or perhaps he still needs to shed the all the brooding the year has drawn on him. He looks hard at his features. He knows that somewhere within his cranium is a zone that is rotted like wet wood. He can sense it some days, grey porous sponge with noxious pulses. Implosions below deck. He wanders back to their tent, briefly perving at some Scandinavian girls emerging in tiny shorts with ruffled hair. Manou had sketched him to a T, he nearly grunts. He looks at the Italians with their well-equipped vans, plastic tablecloths printed with orange petals, fat kids on folding chairs. If it weren’t for the beach he would never have agreed to 73

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stay in this circus.    He walks in the dust, kicks off his flip-flops and throws himself on the wheezy mattress. He writes another message to his wife. I will prepare thee coffee with undying love. Sees it arrive on her telephone. This time he feels good. He rolls over, but sleep will not call on him again. He remembers how he used to feel blissful on this island, how together they opened a door and stepped into a peach-scented room. He remembers nights of dancing to French pop music in the bar on the hill, necking like strangers on plastic chairs. *    Manou looks over and sees a big rock career off the hillside into the path of a little car in ascent, which with narrowing logic jerks across their lane into the front of the bus. It isn’t a strong impact but it sends her lolling into the seat in front, jerking her back in slow motion. She feels a crack in her neck. Sees the bus driver thrown into shedding glass. Her seat slides forward with a crunch where it compresses a woman yodelling into the air. *    Rather than return to the tent Miranda walks towards the rock pools and takes the trail onto the headland. This is the way to the town, it is the path she and Leo trod together yesterday, pulling along their bikes. Leo now sweats more than she can bear and his odour is of purging, of pollutants. And he had wanted her. She had taken him into the sea and done it quickly. Now she squats, pulls aside her bikini crotch, shakes herself, undecided whether to go on or tread down to the first of the pools. She looks over the violet surface barely jostling over its deep bed. Later, waves will push through breaches in the partition, and the trapped water will thrash like a beast. She descends carefully, reaches the pebbly water’s edge, removes her shirt and swimming costume and wades into the pool. Here the water clasps her with viscous hands, a purple coating.    She swims out towards the outer wall of the pool, near to where a long slit guides the mounting waves through its fissure. She hears the crump of volume against this, then a long sheeeesh from the other side. A splatter of blue coins reaches her now-dry hair. Fear grasps her by the ankles and it is cold.    She turns back and above her sees a man on the path above, watching her. He is standing there, hands on his hips, bare-chested, dark-skinned. *

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The concertina doors at the rear of the bus are slapped open. Manou sees that the next thing she must do is to articulate her body. At first this feels impaired and she thinks of Helen with light worry. Like her Helen was born a stray, only her parents had been kind enough to give her up. Pretty rooms and archery lessons. A motorist climbs on board, pounds down the centre aisle to the slumped driver. Other passengers are turning heads, twisting around. The woman in front looks with grief at the seat pushed upon her.   Vous etes blessée Madamoiselle?    Manou shakes her head, realising her phone fell from her hands with the impact. The woman speaking to her has sweaty blonde hair and a nose ring. Manou can’t bend down because something is torn behind her neck. She feels a little deaf. Outside she sees that the sea has adopted its brilliant green daytime hue, wind racing across it.   Mon téléphone – *    Leo sits up. He scrambles outside, looking for Miranda coming out of the trees. He doesn’t want to face their daughter alone. Manou was supposed to be coming at lunchtime, but sent a message from Marseilles saying she’d found a ticket for a cheaper all-night ferry. She’ll be here soon, with her beleaguered face, with her disconnected blue eyes – more a Leo’s spin-off than a product of her mother’s Mediterranean tones. Leo needs Miranda now, craves her. He finds the coffee percolator in the tub of dirty plates, unscrews it and tips the grounds into the dirt, rinses each piece from an upturned water pitcher on a rope tied around a tree trunk three times. His eyes flit to the passage where wooden steps lead up from the beach. He opens the coffee tin on the small camping table and presses down the powder, turns on the hissing gas and lights an invisible butane flame. The wind is up, roving over him. He shields the coffee pot with a saucepan lid. Leo crawls into the tent and picks up the two telephones in the blue light. He texts his wife. He pulls on socks, ties up his runners and zippers the tent. Families are trailing down to the beach now. He drinks his coffee in a small blue cup, black and sharp. He unlocks his bicycle from hers and rides across a paddock the tents have not yet sprawled over, scrolls of dust lifting behind him. *    Miranda wishes the man would go away. If she weren’t naked she would be floating on her back, lingering here for just a little longer. But she isn’t poking her muff and tits into the air for some pervert. Soon enough other nudists will come to this spot. Old shameless gays reading classical novels, young tanned couples on the brink of sex. She looks up again. He is gone. Now she stretches out, circling her arms, curling her 75

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toes into the water. Her hips roll from side to side and her spine arches, her forehead dipping under.    That’s it, she’s had enough. She knows Leo will be fretting about Manou’s arrival. He won’t want to face her alone. Miranda pulls into the shoreline, rubs dry with her towel, ties on her costume, picks up her shirt. Another wave pounds the outer walls of the rock pool, sends a sheer flare over the black filigree, hits the water like nails. *    Manou is less mobile than she thought and needs the help of the blonde woman to rise to her feet. She sees the injured lady in front – the chair removed – has a gash in her side a man now pats with a beach towel. Manou hears a siren, holds her rucksack, is helped down to where the tilted bus has thrown traffic into disarray. Cars slow and swill around them. A man in a checked shirt is pinned in the small car. But his hands are moving and he is speaking to a man with curly grey hair. The blonde woman wants to take Manou to the hospital in the next town, but Manou thinks she has the hard look of an addict. The blonde woman couldn’t find her phone on the floor and Manou thinks she has stolen it. She sees her hair is naturally black, but dyed an acidic blonde that makes the hair seem like fat stems. Manou shakes the woman off her arm. The woman stands there offended, swears at her.   Conasse!    Onlookers standing in shorts with folded arms watch her walk back to her car on the verge. *    Miranda retraces her steps and as she hikes upward, head bowed, nestling her Birkenstocks into crannies, she nearly walks into a groin and set of legs. It is the dark-skinned man, whom she now recognises as the man who’d been tackled on the beach, the man plunged into the sand. He grasps her shoulder to stop her toppling. Miranda regains her balance and wraps her towel around her fast.   You are English?   Miranda nods.   You must swim with me.   No. I’ve got to get back. Let me pass.    You will swim with me.    He nudges her back down the path. *    Leo cycles out of the camping ground in a matter of moments. He hauls up the steep hill to the coastal road, realising he’s taken off 76

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without hat or cream, hoping he has a few euros in his pocket. He aches already. His calves burn and his lungs are on lockdown, supplying small foul gasps. He doubles over, muscles pealing, blood thumping, orifices leaky. The coffee runs through him and he wants to piss again. He’ll do that at the top of the hill. A couple of youngsters fly past, girl and guy, all kitted out. He thinks of himself dead, all his zeal and function no longer of him, his corpse on a bench, the soul gutted out of him and launched into its wilderness. He used to think of Death principally as his separation from Miranda, or the corrosive thought of another man’s dick inside of her. Now as he feels quick razors of pain embedded in his thighs and a clutch across his chest he thinks that Death might be the most humane and perfect suspension. Weightless. Sightless. Never ever having to come back. He pedals onward, bike inching ahead but almost at a standstill, entering the final reaches of his body’s capacity. He is ready to black out. He reaches the top and dry-retches into the scrub, a dud valve releasing stomach acid and coffee slew into his mouth. He turns to the scrub to piss, watching the thin strain of his urine.    The coastal road pitches downward around the next bend and Leo has decided where to go. The cars are packed in two slow lines. He sees the glint of a disabled bus on the hill as he branches left towards a village he and Miranda have visited at dusk many times. He is breathless again in ascent, his throat rasping and face burning red. But still he cycles, granted incomprehensible endurance in the roiling heat. He is thinking of the village water fountain and the long terrace bar skirting the hill and this makes him cycle faster. *    Manou makes her way to the second ambulance, just arrived. The first is just leaving with the battered bus driver, already making jokes with the crowd. Heavy tools are being used to prise open the little vehicle with the good-humoured man in the checked shirt, whose ankle may be broken. There is no shade so she is sat down on the passenger’s side of the vehicle where a young paramedic shines a torch into her eyes and examines her head and neck. She wonders why she threw her headscarf out of the window just after the port. It has something to do with not wanting to bring Helen into this any further. She will have to wait in the wings until it is done. But now Manou is hungry and thirsty, which the medic says are good signs. Does she want to go to the hospital? Instead Manou mentions the name of the camping ground, says her parents are there, not mentioning that her parents are a pair of middle-aged English drop-outs on bicycles. The medic calls over a policeman and instructions are given. Ten minutes later she is dropped at the reception area of the camping ground with its panorama of high-tech fabrics and drooping eucalypts. * 77

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The dark-skinned man is standing before Miranda on the pebbles. In this short time the rock pool has changed temperament. Waves rush up the sides of their prison, propelled from behind, frittering and spilling downward. The rock walls lie in bare runnels until the next surge. The water is a foamy heaving blue.    Look, I’ve had my swim. And the waves are rather rough now, don’t you think? Perhaps we could meet here tomorrow.    Miranda wonders if he is the local fruitcake with a grim set of family circumstances. He indicates that she drop her towel.   Swim now. Avec moi. With me.    She thinks of running but knows she will be pulled down, dragged by her ankles. She feels patches of distinct fear, liquid in her gut, then imagines she hears voices – finally – from the ridge. But there is no one. She follows him, resisting the urge to sob. When the water is waist-deep a wave nearly knocks her over and he is there again, righting her. She says a brief merci, wondering whether the old gays will look up from their classical novels to see their swollen bodies. Or whether it will just be her own torn frame.    They paddle off the shelf. *    Heaving, Leo shifts gears as he pedals along a flatter stretch. Bleached grass flanks the roadside, mildly tossed and everywhere. Far below, the coastline engineers a series of spectacular peninsulas, all luminous with luxury homes, while inland the dry geology has produced erratic spurs and hostile terrain where the views are broad and tenebrous. Leo looks up the hill to the village settled on the rock. He knows the white façade of the church and its disappointing interior like a cracked Sicilian bathroom. He knows the wisteria-laden bar over the valley folds where they serve a rosé even at this hour of the morning.    Just before he reaches the town Leo feels his body become tingling and blotchy. He dithers, no longer the man clutching these handlebars, beginning to wobble on the bike. What washes over him fills him with despair. The things he thought so smoothly before – his corpse on metal, the soul in flight – he does not want them now. Not now, not ever this.    He has time to pull over and dismount the bike, throw his head between his knees. But it is too late, his vision goes to white and his head pushes into the dirt and he senses his body clunk sideways, the bicycle rattling to the ground. He enters a world of breezes too soft to decipher. *    Miranda feels his foot stroke hers. He is a beautiful swimmer, so pleasedwith himself in the water. He circles her, dunks under, bursts forth beside or behind her. She is crying because she doesn’t know 78

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what the game is here. If he wants to rape her why doesn’t he come up between her legs? If he wants to kill her why drag her here first?    The waves come rollicking now in masses through the slim shaft. He reaches this point first, and she has no choice but to follow him there, legs dangling. The waves tip over her head, fill her mouth. She thrusts back up, thinking of Manou, thinking of Leo bearing news she won’t give a shit about. Next he disappears into the cavern and she thinks it is over. He does not surface. She paddles there, suspended, another wash roaring through her and spilling into the agitated pool.    Then he is above her on the rock wall, yelling down at her in the water.    Je suis pas voleur! I am not a thief!    He turns towards the town and begins running away from her, spindly and bare-backed.    She catches the next wave to the shore where a couple of bemused old queens lie out pretending to read their novels. *    Manou sits at the bar for a long while. She orders a grapefruit juice – un jus de pamplemousse – and listens to the crock-crock of the billiard balls on the pool table. Helen said that coming here would allow her to dispense with her parents. She wishes to do this. But today she is worried she feels differently, that the dimensions have widened or turned. The book was a departure point, a conglomeration, a road through things. Today she feels so wilted.    She pays for her juice and leaves the bar, wondering how long it will take to find their tent. The park is far too populous for them, far too democratic. But the trees are heavy-limbed and stationed everywhere, swaying in red-fringed stands. The dust sifts up between her toes. Manou pictures them down towards the beach in a triangle of trees, a string of washing, a tiny table for their long beloved lunches. A word has just seeped into her being. It is the word forgive. *    Leo awakes, pulls himself up, rubs down a scuffed knee and forehead. Shakes his head and sees too much light. He’s been dumb enough to leave without water. On his knees, he is grateful, so bloody grateful. He walks into the town on shoddy legs, mouth full of paste. He dunks his head in the vat of cool water in the empty square. He finds enough coins for a croissant, asks for a pitcher of water at the bar. *    Miranda walks up the wooden steps from the beach. She picks out 79

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their blue tent, sees that Leo is not at the table or trussed up in the hammock waiting for her. She knows she will tell him another time, months away from now, when their lives are placid. Or perhaps she will tell him now, over coffee, as they wait for Manou to glide down from the bus stop. That way it will leak from her into Leo’s thoughts. She needs to shower, remove the salt dusted over her. Drink coffee, sit awhile. Feel safety in a warm clasp. She touches a row of cuts in her palm where she supposed she had been pushed against the rock. She thinks of how her daughter will be dressed, some sort of headscarf and printed baggy trousers. They will swim together, Manou likes to swim.    As she walks she sees her daughter through the trees carrying a rucksack. Manou is looking for their tent. Then Leo skids across the paddock and rests his bike against hers, scanning the park for her green shirt. Miranda thrums inside, staring at them. She calls out and jogs up the trail. These are her people.

Poetry|Quinton Hallett Instructions for a First Time Widow Remember, you are no caretaker of air. Keep your mouth open like a bronze goddess who maintains reciprocal stillness. Keep company with spiders and elephants, those sweet preposterous scouts, for they know the way back from bruxing rivers, from gridlock. When you feel naïve let a memory slide up through your kelp hands. Be the green slug bride trailing a viscous train. Do not be the extinct Basilosaurus, or Hell’s Canyon swallowing its own weather. Snap to, now. There’s no air raid drill 80

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in your town this year. Get out from under that tiny desk. Hear the first brash frog of spring.

Poetry|Alan Britt Uncle Jack I’ve got the uncle to end all uncles, not that uncles are on the endangered list, but my uncle arose at 3 am, while the rest of us dreamed of Diane Demuth & chased baseballs in our snuggly REM’s; he arose at 3 am to endure 16º & two feet of snow covering Williamsburg Pike for the next twelve hours before detouring to retrieve his young flock from tap lessons, Boy & Cub Scouts, without the slightest complaint, without a hint of regret, & he did this (still does, by the way), he did this with a determination that only uncles fully understand. The rest of us, well, the rest of us are the better for it. May you, dear reader, in need of an uncle to anchor your circuitous foundation, an uncle willing to donate large chunks of himself so that you might thrive, well, I hope your good fortune includes an uncle like Uncle Jack.

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Visual Art|Sheri L Wright

Four Windows Photography 10” X 15” 2013

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Visual Art|Sheri L Wright

Corporate Ladder Photography 10” X 15” 2013

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Visual Art|Sheri L Wright

Two Silos

Photography 10” X 15” 2013

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Short Fiction|Deborah Emin Lauren, Christmas Christmas, 1980 Hi there Lauren,    It’s Christmas in NYC. John Lennon is dead. Reagan’s about to be inaugurated. I’m moving in with a former nun. I owe you lots of apologies and letters.    I know you’ve been writing to me. A stack of your letters sits on my desk. I’ve not read every one of them. Some I have, many times. Mostly, though, I have been ignoring what is going on in your life. You, on the other hand, may be the only reason I’m here and doing what I do now. Please, don’t give yourself pats on the back for that. I am grateful. Very grateful for the years of love and help you provided so that I could climb out of that hole I dug for myself while in graduate school. It was an awfully confused Scags who showed up on your doorstep asking to be let back into your life. This Scags in New York remembers how she had to take your advice or else spend the rest of her days in complete misery. Learning to like me helped me to love you and then that helped me learn how to leave you. That was more important than I can say, though, you can’t hear me, I talk to myself about that decision every day.    I know the way I am putting this here for you to read must seem both blunt and painful. I know. These months in New York feel like I’ve left home for a second time and must cause the same kind of pain to you and me in order for that move to be permanent that I had to cause my parents when I left them to go to college.    Right now I can’t be nice or sweet to you. The rupture between us had to be extreme. I decided that it would be better to cut off a living limb than it would be to kill either one of us. Something inside me had died anyway and it meant to me that I needed to move away and do something radically different.    Simply said, I did something very different based on my completely screwed up notions of what love is or why we must love. I only know it’s essential in life that we love. I see evidence of that everywhere.    You filled me full of love. I don’t know why I couldn’t return it to you with the same sense of belonging with you and in that town. Something made me hunger for more and I have no idea what it is. When I arrived at your door I was mostly wounded by the work of graduate school and the loneliness of being in a new place again with no one at all to share things with. Then I came back to you. That was great and so helpful and then out of nowhere, this girl who had been leaking, a perforated soul who felt mortally wounded by each sight and sound, now all of a 85

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sudden, I had to leave, had to pack up, get on the bus and move to New York and take a job with a think tank so that I could fill up that hunger. At least, dear Lauren, that was the plan.    Now I’m in a city. Still feeling wounded but you know what, when you live in a city, you can observe life in a totally different way. Maybe it’s because there aren’t trees to keep me true. Three years with you and now I am living like a city girl.    My new friend, Margaret, is more like what I want to be. I’m very attracted to her cool, stand tall, show no fear attitude towards the world. Secretly, I wait to see if these protective shields she has devised will always work. I don’t do that to be mean but because I want to know if this is in fact the way for me to live. I’m like that, as you know. I learn best by imitation.    I like my job for these reasons too. While the work isn’t difficult, I mean you know me, writing papers is how I could fill up my time for the rest of my life. I have more trouble with the meetings I have to attend. They happen at night, so while I get to meet people I wouldn’t know otherwise, and they are part of an intellectual club and it is always reassuring to be welcomed into that company, they aren’t really MY club. Working for Jay gives me automatic access but their exclusiveness is a form of entitlement. Through birth, education, money they have the proper credentials. I’m of a lesser sort, like at the College; because I have the education, they tolerate me.    My recent paper on the use of myth as propaganda as evidenced in television situation comedies pleased them all. That paper’s roots, as you know, began in graduate school and was part of what got me kicked out of the Ph.D program but who cares and they will never know. The fact that it made me seem like one of them, that I had something to say about the necessary balance that a society must maintain between high and low culture showed them I had the same values as they had. The Kultur Klub was pleased with me.    I have not just been the recent darling of the intellectuals, I also hang out with a group of friends that doesn’t approve of my professional ties and the people I work with. This other group of friends resembles, to me, the Anarchists’ Convention. They are scruffier, more iconoclastic, and purposely living at the very edges of what can pass for a legal life than the people I meet at work. I suppose their acceptance of me is due to their belief that even a legitimate member of society can agree with them.    Their credentials are quite different from those who belong to the Kultur Klub. One couple lives in a squat on E. 7th and Avenue D. One guy lives in the art studio of whichever artist he’s fabricating work for. One of the women serves us free drinks at the bar where we hang out. Of them all, I look the part of respectable and presentable worker bee. Many nights, after spending hours drinking at Mickey’s, I leave the bar and head straight for the office. If it’s 6:00 am, I walk down West 86

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Broadway and straight towards my office without heading back the other way, towards home and a bath and clean clothes. The winter sky sits like a huge cover over the steely silence of Tribeca where empty warehouses and abandoned cars are the most that landscape has to over. Silence reigns, except for the blast of the wind through the Twin Towers. I trudge down the street hearing my footsteps on the cobblestones. Some mornings, the sun rise gets caught on the squared corner of one of the towers, becoming a beacon in the early morning to keep moving, keep life in order, don’t trip over anything. You see, the landmarks in a city are very different from what one sees in the country.    Then I met Margaret after many months of balancing my life between the Kultur Klub and the Anarchists’ Convention. The balancing act was not that difficult but not all that exciting after a while.    There are nights when I don’t hang out with either group and go off by myself to Carnegie Hall or the Joyce Theater. This is my secret club. It is almost like going to church. Margaret and I saw each other first at a dance performance at the Joyce Theater. I saw Margaret and Margaret saw me. We stood in the lobby during intermission. I was all charged up from watching this dance troupe from Philadelphia, their physicality on that cold night warmed me more than physically.    We stood near each other staking out a spot in the room as others around us talked and smoked. Like in a movie, we looked at each other and the noise ceased, everyones’ physical form blurred. Margaret and I turned to each other, saw each other, the moment of recognition lasted however long it needed to and then the scene unfroze. Her friends came to collect her. I watched her walk away and noticed her. Noticed her as in paid attention to her, to all of her. I saw the length of her raincoat, the stitching on the belt, the black leather gloves in her pockets, the weave of the purple woolen scarf laying across her shoulders. I noticed the muscles in her calves and how defined and delicate they were.    In those few moments I noticed her deeply and something dislodged in me. Like a book falling off a shelf. She walked away and I would have put the book back and stopped thinking about her. Then two days later, I was waiting in a cafe near my apartment for someone I had to interview for work. Margaret walked by. She saw me reading my notes at the table near the window. When I looked up there she stood on the other side of the glass watching me. I motioned her to come inside. She looked at her watch, which I didn’t like, then she came inside. My appointment arrived at that moment too. Margaret sat at the next table. I interviewed the man I had been waiting for. As it turned out, I had a very long list of questions I had to get answered for the a report Jay needed the next day. But when he left, Margaret was still sitting near by with a coffee and a large notebook into which she was writing.    We decided to leave the cafe. Both of us carried heavy briefcases filled with papers and books. It had begun snowing and it 87

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continued to snow. The wind blew and flicked the icy snow into our faces. Out of a fear, I think that we should not be alone anywhere indoors, we walked in that storm. By the end of our forced march, our exposed skin looked like ruddy masks. No longer able to withstand the weather or avoid our feelings, we headed for her apartment, a big old sprawling place on Fifth Avenue and that is where I am for now.    I’m telling you all of this because you’ve been pestering me to let you know what is going on and to let you know that I am okay. I am okay.    I love you, Scags (An early version of the first chapter of Deborah Emin’s novel, Scags At 30)

Poetry|John B. Lee The Third Kindness why do you say “I” so often my aging mother asks— her memory of morning blank as blue sky— she accuses her talking son of the sin of self-involvement though he visits her frequently taking the long drive from his own lakehouse following the coastline among windmills looming like a shadowforest pinwheeling dark lances on the landscape near Lampman’s cairn past the battle of the longwoods memorial and the old earthworks of an ancient people all shell circles and ghost-stoned graves making one green lamentation for the coming on of summer as this incarnation of her vanishing memory remembers one reprimand for the son whose voice she hears faintly 88

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as if only the third kindness were true, the one where you disappear little by little from your own story

Poetry|Uma Gowrishankar How To Breathe When moisture swamps down the marsh land mist rises like coils, snaking to the branches that arch to make a dome of luminosity. Leaves sigh beads of humidity, they tremble in the drowsed and fetid air; silence spreads under sinuous density of jade. Just then like lanterns of hope light floats from turquoise patch of sky, parakeets tear into the green bowl, and the universe starts breathing.

Poetry|Jyotsna Jha My prodigal friend After it seemed you’d never visit me again You are back once more, my prodigal friend! You visited the bumbling child, the blushing bride, and the lover, And your most beautiful smile you saved for the mother You raised a toast to all that is lost Yet ignored the feast from your present host You evaded the poor man who seeks you the most And went about knocking unwelcoming, strange doors I’ve learnt my learning, to be worth your while For there is no accounting for you, or your ministrations Happiness, I’m content to receive a trifling from you Even as I know you’ve squandered a fortune someplace else. 89

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Visual Art|Gina Gibson

Experimental Digital Photography 18” X 24” 2013

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Visual Art|Gina Gibson

Experimental Digital Photography 18” X 24” 2013

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Short Fiction|Gabriel Don The Umbrella Acrobat

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he doorbell rang at the same time as the phone. Abigail continued to apply her make-up and adjusted her short shimmery dress in the hallway mirror. She leaned forward and pulled her breasts further up in her bra before using the straightening iron on her hair. Her opaque blue eyes were lined with black kohl and glittery shadows. Layla sat on a stool nearby, her black hair swooped up in a bun, her muscular legs were crossed and revealed. She wore dark grey shorts and a tight white tank top. Her knee knocked against the big wooden dining table that seated ten. The same one as children they had hung cloth over, connected to coffee tables, chairs and couches. The table clothes, loose fabrics―waiting to be tailored into a dress or suit for Abigail’s mother― bed linen and towels weaved a maze. A shelter. A fort. A cubby house. They hid. They whispered. Layla had left Lebanon at the age of three, the same age Abby emigrated from Australia. Those countries: a distant memory, they could not relate to. A place only to visit, to see family and leave again (Layla had once overheard her mother, “There’s not a day I don’t hear planes. Always flying over. Always dropping bombs”). They, two cherubs entwined like doves, knobby knees and tiny tanned hands, admired their work and decided to never leave. They tried to create a plan.    “My mum will come and get me after work,” Layla said, softly.    “How will she find us? We’ll be very quiet.” Layla looked doubtful. “I’ll make an invisible spell,” Abby promised. She fingered at the creased crimsons, achromatic golds, silvery swirls and pale purples dangling down. “Mum,” Abby screamed. Her mother, with bleached hair like fresh snow, appeared, squatted and squashed, lifted the veil and asked what they needed. “Can Layla sleepover tonight?”    “Sure honey. I’ll call her mum,” she said, escaping the entanglement of their new home, she blew kisses at both girls, “I’m heading out for a little while. Ask Mali if you need anything. Be good.” Once alone, they laid back on Arabic cushions from the souk. They looked up at the posters they had stuck on the bottom of the table, their roof. Abby thought about the posters at school she had seen last week. A bleeding Star of David superimposed over a dead Palestinian child. She had heard her older sister getting upset about it at the dinner table. Eve was also complaining to their parents that the school had ripped the pages about the holocaust out of their modern history books in her social studies class.    “You’re my best friend?” Abby asked.   “Yes.”    Like my bestest, bestest in the world right?” 92

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“Yes,” Layla repeated and held her hand up to show one of the friendship rings they had bought at the mall and the many friendship bracelets they had braided for each other, “Best friends forever.”    “If I tell you a secret, you promise not to tell anyone?”   “Yes!” Abby held out her pinky to Layla, “Pinky swear.” They interlocked their little fingers and touched their thumbs to seal the deal.   “I’m Jewish.”   “You’re Israeli?”   “No.”    “But you just said you were Jewish.”    “They’re not the same thing.”   “Really?”    “Jewish is a religion. You can be from any country. Just because a person’s Christian doesn’t mean they are English or Italian or whatever.”    “So you’re sure you’re not from Israel?”    “I’m not Israeli Layla! I’ve never been there. None of my family is from there. I’m from Russia originally, before my great great grandparents left―I told you that already. Israel has nothing to do with me or my family.” Layla creased her eyes and forehead, squinting, she looked at Abby for a while.    “Promise you’ll never tell anybody? Never ever Layla!”    “Never ever ever.”    “I’m hungry. Let’s go and ask Mali for some lunch.”    “Can we go and play outside with the hose after?”    “I thought we were going to make up a dance to my new Lion King CD.”    “You always get to be Simba though. It’s not fair.”    The phone rang again. They picked up their purses and walked out the door, through the gate, under palms trees towards the sand coloured government taxi. “Thank God it’s Thursday,” said Layla, re-applying her sticky thick lip-gloss. Abigail sighed deeply looking out the window at all the houses covered in fairy lights. The night was lit up by them glowing into the sky. The lights were configured in various patterns. Some were arranged in the shape of flowers or raindrops. Others strung in waves and stars. It was finally the weekend and both Layla and Abby were very relieved. They had spent the week promoting cigarettes at a car-racing event dressed in formula one themed costumes. The taxi navigated its way through the old city, on the western bank of the creek, past Indian merchants selling gold, watches and electronics.    The women alighted and approached the bar. It was a dingy establishment but it had nostalgic charm for the locals. Rockbottoms, like every other, legal, alcohol-serving venue, was inside a hotel. 93

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South Asian men―Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, congregated outside on the corner, elbows linked, holding hands, arms affectionately over each other’s shoulders―stared at Layla and Abby. At the door the bouncer asked for their IDs and Abby presented hers as Layla rummaged through her bag.    “Shit,” said Layla, “I left it at home.” She looked flirtatiously up at the bouncer, “Please, I swear I’m 26. I forgot my passport. I have a photocopy here. See,” she said, handing him a crumpled sheet out of her wallet. The bouncer, a buff man with gelled raven coloured curls dressed in a shiny black suit, took his time examining the piece of paper.    “She’s definitely over 21,” said Abby, “She’s a year older than me. Wallah.” He didn’t say anything but moved out of the way and gestured for them to enter. The aged watering hole was barely lit. There was a table set up near the front distributing free drinks to females. The drink on offer was a bright green Bullfrog. It contained Bacardi, Gin, Tequila, Vodka, Blue Curacao and Red Bull. The house band was playing retro top forties. The performers, four men and a woman, were from the Philippines and dressed in matching black and white striped outfits with slight variations such as a waist coat or a hat. Two of the men played instruments while the other two danced, choreographed, up front with the woman who wore a miniscule skirt and high socks.    It was almost impossible to move through the stifling crowds and Abby complained someone had burnt a hole in her new dress with their cigarette. It was a vespertine town and the people had come out to play. People of all ages danced, squashed, swayed their hips to the music, pressed up against the stage. A small man with an ebony moustache meandered his way through them selling shots in test tubes. The band sang, “No diggity, I got to bag it up. Bag it up girl.” The room shook provocatively. Individual outlines faint, each dancer indistinct, in the dim surroundings. Around the back there were three pool tables, where strangers met and competed. The blackboard was filled with names waiting for their turn. The music played through loudspeakers attached to the wall. There was a smaller bar in this back room and it housed video games for the drunken to play, testing skills such as memory and matching which deteriorated in the patrons as the night progressed.    Abby and Layla stood in a corner, checking out the clientele for familiar faces and new attractive ones. They slurped their drinks down fast and Layla went to get them another round of free Bullfrogs. Abby took a new packet of Marlboro Lights out of her bag and peeled the plastic wrapper off. She turned it upside down and hit the bottom of it, to pack the tobacco tight. She flipped two of the cigarettes upside down in the pack, an old habit of hers, “One for luck, One for fuck,” the saying went. 94

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Layla walked towards her with drinks in hand, momentarily delayed by a tall guy with a pool cue, who asked her if she wanted to join him in having a shot. She downed the florescent red concoction and giggled, holding his gaze, before rejoining her friend.   “Cava?” Layla inquired. “Don’t look so gloomy,” Layla said, her mouth close to Abby’s ear, hand cupped around her mouth, yelling over the music. My Hips Don’t Lie started playing and Layla squealed, “I love this song!” She grabbed Abby’s hand and pulled her towards the dance floor, moving her bottom vigorously in circles. Abby gyrated and ran her hands through her hair. They danced song after song, sweating, until the band started doing a rendition of Lady Gaga. They retreated to the drinks table, euphoric. Poker Face continued to play and Layla and Abby feigned vomiting, miming gagging with their fingers in their mouths. There was now a shawarma stand next to the Bullfrog table. A man in a small cap and apron was selling them for five dirhams but Layla negotiated some chicken pieces, shaved fresh off the spit, for free.    The girls clinked their glasses together and Abby maintained eye contact as she drank, though Layla looked away, reaching for her mobile phone in her handbag.    “Hey, eye contact… eye contact. Seven years bad sex if you don’t,” Abby said continuing to stare into Layla’s eyes as she gulped her drink through a straw till the glass was empty. Layla laughed and stuck out her blue tongue. Her phone bleeped and Abby inquired who it was. Layla made a coy face.    “Who’s texting you?” Abby reiterated. Layla’s cheeks were becoming rosy as she replied, “You’ll make fun of me.”    “No I won’t. Don’t be silly. Tell me.”    “Well remember the guy I met at the event last week…”   “Yes.”    “Well he just invited us to join him and his friends at Barasti Bar.”    “Okay, fine, let’s go. What’s so embarrassing about that?”    “Well… he’s a bit younger.”    “How much younger?”   “Ahhh…”   “How much?”   “He’s nineteen.”    “Haha you cradle snatcher!”   “Stop it!”    “One more drink? Then let’s go meet them,” Abby said as she requested another strong cocktail from the barman, still laughing to herself.    Their thoughts had become clouded, their walks wobbly, their speech 95

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slurred, their gazes glassy: vacant and unfocused, their small frames uncoordinated hobbling unevenly, clip clopping their high heels towards the taxi line. The weather had started to cool and people more frequently, less inclined during the brutal heat of the day, ventured outdoors. Layla and Abby collapsed into the beige cushioned seats and inquired if the driver knew the location of their destination. Recent expansion of the city had brought thousands of new drivers, recently emigrated, who didn’t know the streets. This wasn’t made any easier by the rapid development and restructuring of the roads and the vastly changing layout of the place. The driver, who had fiercely green emerald eyes, responded by tilting his head side to side, indicating no problem. Abby asked him lots of questions about his life and established he came from Peshawar where he had left his sixteen-year-old wife and three children. He imparted his words of wisdom to his inebriated passengers, “No money, no honey. No wife, no life.”    The taxi driver took the highway with several names and his speed monitor, installed by the taxi company, beeped consistently as he exceeded the speed limit, which was 120 kilometres per hour. He swerved between lanes over taking and picking up more speed. The numbers of lanes, in each direction, varied between four to seven and due to the erratic behaviour of the drivers, were not easily defined as separate entities by the eye. The highway was dusted with sand from a recent shamal. They past buildings, steel, metal and concrete twirling structures that almost reached the heavens. The meter continued to chime, too fast, too fast. Layla, leaned her head, in the gap between the seats, into the front and asked the driver to put on some music. He inquired which radio station she preferred and she told him to play what he liked. He put a tape into the deck and Pashto music filled the cab. Layla and Abby started to swirl their hands in the air and danced sitting down. There was a car crash up ahead and four cars were obliterated, piled up on top of each other and the driver slowed down to take a look. The metal frames of the cars were bent and dented, imploded. Soot and smoke rose from the accident. Layla and Abby looked away, focusing on the motley crew of buildings they passed. The skyline illuminated the lightless night. The origins of the styles and designs of the buildings endlessly varied. Some Chinese inspired. Some Arabic. Some Italian. Some Modernist. Some Post-Modernist. Some Classical. One building, 2, 716.5 feet, more than 160 stories, stood out, significantly higher than the rest. The Trade Centre, which had been the tallest when Abby and Layla were growing up, once visible from anywhere, looked tiny in comparison.    In the past, Barasti Bar, inside a hotel and Marine club―wherethey hosted international boat races and so forth―was so far out from the centre of town and surrounded by sand and shrubs. Now it was being swallowed by a city that had grown over night in the middle of the 96

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desert. There were two imitation Chrysler buildings. Dredging equipment from around the world had been brought here to alter the landscape. Some of the buildings now sat on the edge of a made-made marina. Once where people pitched tents, next to their four-wheel drives, were now scarcely inhabited residencies and unsold apartments. The bar was by the beach, a naturally formed one, busy and bustling with men and women in casual chic attire, shorts and tight t-shirts, white muslin flowing dresses and sandals. Tanned faces, flat bellies. Layla and Abby navigated their way past the pool, through the tiki huts, brownhatched bungalows with straw roofs on a wooden deck, searching for Layla’s crush.    It was clear to Abby when he was in Layla’s line of sight: her eyes lit up and her cheeks rouged and she started acting more self-conscious than usual. “He’s from Brazil,” Layla told Abby as they made their way over. He was towering boy with an immaculate gym going body that looked like it was trying to escape his surf brand shirt. His hair sandy blonde and his eyes, amid thick eyelashes, were blackish brown. He was standing with two other guys. They were pumping their fisted hands in the air, to the DJ’s choice, DOOSH DOOSH. Olli introduced himself to Abby and smiled shyly at Layla. He asked if they wanted a drink and took off in the direction of the bar, fake ID in pocket. His two friends were from Russia and Holland. After introducing themselves Nick and Alex remained silent. “They are either arrogant or introverted,” Abby thought. She made a mental note to share this with Layla, later, when they were alone. Viewing them with platonic disdain: Boys.    Olli came back with their drinks and a round of shots, wobbling on top of a plastic server’s tray. After they had all downed their Sambuca and grimaced, Olli and Layla slunk off to the beach. They walked down the stairs onto the white sand and found a deck chair in the dark underneath an umbrella and sat down, pretending to be fascinated by the process of lighting their cigarettes, unsure and certain, the anticipation of the first kiss of the night. Layla stared out at the man-made island in the shape of a palm tree, blocking their view of the horizon, in the Gulf. His hand made its way to her shoulder and he began to rub her as she focused on the lit up skyline along the fronds. Lists ran through her head. Things she needed to do, things she hadn’t done, things she had done wrong, what she should do, what she wouldn’t, what she thought she couldn’t. He kissed her just above her collarbone and she tingled, turning to meet his lips. Their kisses grew more desperate, their bodies overlapped, their hands were everywhere at once. Suddenly, they felt the weight of three people on top of them. Abby, Nick and Alex laughed hysterically, piled up, falling, rolling on the sand. They had swapped sunglasses and were wearing cocktail umbrellas in their hair. Left alone by Olli and Layla they had bonded and were 97

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now behaving like long lost frat friends. The three of them, once standing again, ran into the ocean, clothed.    Abby invited everyone back to her house for an after party when the bar shut at three in the morning. They exited the club, trying not to fall, holding onto each other for balance, hoping to remain vertical as they wavered and stumbled around the pool. They stopped for Lebanese pizza on the way home. They waited in line, behind the other bleary eyed partiers, hungry post night out, among baklavas stacked high, honey glazed pistachio pastries, dough folded into triangles stuffed with sour spinach, deep fried gulub jamun soaked in syrup, pretzel shaped bright orange jalebi, mahalabia and halva. They ordered a lot with various different combinations of fillings: cheese, zaatar, meat, egg, mint, chilli, labna and tomato. Abby chatted away to the man taking the orders. He told her they had been really busy because it was Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. He gave her a vine leaf to snack on while their pizzas were being made. She asked him all about his life and gave him a forty Dirham tip, after discovering how he had been working for 48 hours straight, with barely any breaks. He worked these hours throughout the year and made almost nothing.    Outside the gates to Abby’s parents house, they realised they were locked out. Abby emptied her bag out onto the pavement and couldn’t find her keys. Alex volunteered to climb over but he was too late because Layla was already halfway up. She got stuck with one leg on the other side, her knee wedged over the top. She hung upside down laughing. They eventually broke and entered and crept around the back. They sat in cane chairs, decrepit with age and heat, their blue paint peeling, a matching table between them. Abby’s parents were away on holidays. Somewhere. She was not sure. “Maybe Vietnam. Maybe Russia. Maybe Canada. Maybe Malta.” She couldn’t recall if they had actually ever told her. Flame trees and palms towered over the drunken group.    Alex and Nick went inside to raid their alcohol cabinet. Layla sat on Olli’s knee and Abby smoked pensively and stroked her cat. Alex and Nick made gin and tonics and added a dash of bitters and a squeeze of lemon, filling the glass to the top with ice. They sat outside, unlit, drinking and filling their inebriated mouths with pizza. Their next round was rum and coke or “Cuba Libras,” as Abby declared, “A cocktail not a sailor’s drink.” There were shots. Whatever was going. Lemoncello. Tequila. Arak. Amarillo. Frangelico. Campari. More mixed drinks. Vodka, Cointreau and cranberry. Whisky and water. Abby and Alex and Nickwere discussing their pets. How old they were, silly things they had done, their personalities, the time they had peed on their bed, how hard it was to get over the death of their last dog. Olli and Layla were squashed together on one seat, not listening to the others, giggling 98

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and being amused at whatever the other had to say, no matter how mundane. While the other three moved from laughing to crying to raised argumentative voices to laughing to crying to raised argumentative voices, Olli and Layla went inside and walked upstairs.    Layla led him into Abby’s sister’s room. Eve was in England studying medicine. The room was painted a gloomy green. The bed was made tight; sheets pulled over the top and tucked in under the mattress. Layla pulled Olli on top of her and his weight, pushed down on her. He went fast, taking off all their clothes, putting on a condom, quickly entering her. Layla held his arms, trying to slow him down but he was like a persistent and eager jackhammer. “Hey,” she insisted. She moved herself back and squeezed her legs together to control their movements. “Kiss me,” she commanded, gesturing to her nipples. He began to lick and suck on her breasts and she moaned. She put her hand between her legs and stimulated her clit. He continued to use his tongue on her nipples, which made her squeal and groan loudly. He moved more accurately under her guidance. She came and he followed suit. They lay next to each other, with a space between them, not speaking, not touching. He looked at her, waiting for her to make the next move, speak first, move first, decide. She closed her eyes and tilted her head back. She rolled onto her stomach and jumped up and said, “I’m dying for a cigarette.” She found her clothes around the room in various nooks, under the table, hooked on the bookshelf, on the floor. She couldn’t find her top so she looked in Eve’s cupboard and borrowed a big baggy t-shirt that read, “I fear no beer.”    Downstairs, Abby was putting on red lipstick. It was dusk and they were surrounded by haze. They had brought a guitar outside and Alex was strumming Oasis accompanied by Abby and Nick singing Wonderwall. They kept forgetting the lyrics and just hummed or wailed along. When Layla and Olli re-emerged they sat on opposite sides of the table. Alex passed Olli the guitar and he started to play and sing, “What’ll you do when you get lonely
. And nobody’s waiting by your side? 
You’ve been running and hiding much too long. 
You know it’s just your foolish pride. Layla, you’ve got me on my knees. Layla, I’m begging, darling please.
Layla, darling won’t you ease my worried mind…”    Abby and Layla exchanged glances and Abby rolled her eyes. Nick was leaning back in his chair; his head flopped sideways resting on his shoulder, barely conscious. Abby tickled his chest and yelled into his ear, “Wakeup dude!” He didn’t move.    “Come on! Let’s go up on the roof and watch the sun rise,” she enthused.    “It’s already risen.”    “No it hasn’t”    “Yes it has.”    “Whatever. You’re an idiot,” Abby said and turned towards the 99

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other three, “Let’s go up. It’s an awesome view.”    “Okay, Okay,” Nick said, with eyes still shut.   “Wake up!”    “Alright, alright. Get some drinks to take up.”    “We’re all out of mixers,” said Layla.    “No there’s still some left in Mali’s kitchen. In the spare fridge,” Abby replied.    “Go get them.”    “No, you go get them.”    “I can’t move. Take pity.”    Layla and Alex were the chosen ones. They, not without complaint and protest, made their way around the garden, past the maid’s room. There was a smaller outhouse comprised of three rooms with different entrances located in Abby’s backyard: in the middle was where their housemaid, Mali, lived with her husband; the right housed a toilet, shower and bidet; the one on the left, which Layla and Alex approached, contained a kitchenette with a gas stove. It smelt like turmeric, cardamom and cumin. At the back of the room there was wavering towers of boxes, odd ends and stuffed plastic bags in storage. It was pitch black inside and the door swung shut behind them. “Shit,” Layla said with an exaggerated shriek. They fumbled around, blind, looking for the fridge door with their hands, slowly adjusting to the dark. Layla admired the shadow of Alex’s profile on the wall. He had a grand Roman nose, nobly protruding from his gaunt and boney structured face. She poked him in the stomach, just above his groin and said, “This reminds me of seven minutes in heaven.” He found her face and pulled her closer and kissed her. Her hand moved down and unbuckled his belt, pushing her hand underneath his boxers till she found his penis hard in her hand. She squeezed him tight, moving her hand back and forth, rubbing him up and down. He let out an animalistic grunt. She pulled away laughing, opened the fridge which shed light on the room and grabbed two bottles of champagne. She exited, down the marble stairs, onto the mildewed grass.    They climbed the ladder onto the rooftop. Abby and Nick sung on their precarious journey up. The sun had begun its journey into the day, pushing the night aside, illuminating its inky stains. They stood, leaning against the white wall that surrounded them, held them in safe, inhibiting them from tipping off the edge. The clouds looked like they had been shaped by an impression of the desert sands on the sky. They could see the ocean to their left and to their right, an array of buildings. The tallest building in the world emerged from fog, beyond the mistymorning, above the clouds. Nick, his big blue eyes blood shot, waved his hands in the air, floppy yet persistent. He looked at Abby, who looked very small and fragile, the back of her dress soiled with sooty grime. He put his arm around her shoulders gently and pointed at the colossal edifice 100

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erected along the highway, “You know why it’s called the Burj Khalifa now? Not Burj Dubai like it was supposed to? Khalifa is the Abu Dhabi sheik’s son. They ran out of money. Abu Dhabi gave Dubai money to finish it.” Olli handed everyone cigarettes and the group stood silent smoking.    “Do you guys want to go for brunch today?” Abby asked. She didn’t want to be left alone with her thoughts. Olli looked at his watch and said, “Yeah sounds good. We’ve got about six hours to rest up. Where should we go? What about Pergolas at the Murooj Rotana? It’s only 179 for all you can eat and drink with alcohol. Their buffet is pretty amazing.”    “They have an awesome one at the Fairmont,” Layla suggested, “It’s unlimited Moet included with the buffet for 500. The dessert section is magical. I love the chocolate fountain.”    “Those are really hard to get into if you haven’t made a reservation but we can try. Otherwise we could just find something else along Sheik Zayed,” Abby said.    “We could go to Long’s Bar.”    “Gross I hate that bar. It’s full of prostitutes.”    “I like Spice Island, personally. The food selection there is sweet. Mexican, sushi, like anything you want and they grill lobster for you fresh.”    “Okay let’s just decide when we get up. You guys can crash on my sofa if you want.”    Abby considered how she didn’t want the night to come to an end. She was so bad at ending things. She hated when things were over. The morning prayers began to blare out of the nearby mosques. Allah Akbar. God is great. Hayya ‘ala ‘l –falah. Come to salvation. As-salatu khayru min an-nawm. Prayer is better than sleep. Abby popped the cork out of their last bottle, which fizzed foam. She tried to catch the spilling contents in her mouth and then poured everyone a drink. They connected glasses in cheers, “Good morning Dubai!”

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Visual Art|Gireesh G V

Shortening shadows Digital print 2010

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Visual Art|Gireesh G V

Shortening shadows Digital print 2005

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Visual Art|Gireesh G V

Shortening shadows Digital print 2013

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Poetry|M端esser Yeniay I Move the Earth in My Eyes I wish I had toes to go from this world whose tongue were I when I lived every breath was a waste in my throat I came and learnt the wisdom of living -howhumanity piled up in poetry in the emptiness of words which shine like mirror whose tongue were I -with myself- I did live no mother has ever protected me from this world

Poetry|Neelam Saxena Chandra Perfect Picture Was it a perfect picture which I had perceived in my dreams? The picturefull of life, humming melodies, bursting with vibrancy, sprinkled with radiant hues, shimmering in happiness and exuberating bliss? As the eyes opened and reality spread its wings; 105

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melodies smothered, vibrancy fatigued, hues faded, happiness assuaged and the picture receded into oblivion‌

Poetry|Ketaki Datta Mixed Feelings Sometimes I feel Identity is a multicolored garb You can change one To don the other on.

Sometimes I feel Work is no less a solace Which you may have recourse to Instead of wine To ward off old memories.

Sometimes I feel Dreams are a must To live a life Meaningful, divine.

Sometimes I feel Pelf, success.. Are no less than opium To drug you Out of your senses.

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Visual Art|Gopakumar R

Aham

Mixed Media 18” X 24” 2013

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Visual Art|Gopakumar R

Kali Yuga

Mixed Media 18” X 24” 2013

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Visual Art|Gopakumar R

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Broken Sapphics

Mixed Media 18” X 24” 2013

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Visual Art|Gopakumar R

Manifest Destinies Mixed Media 18” X 24” 2013

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Short Fiction|Martin Bradley The Long Drop

I

t was March, it was raining – slightly, in Kent........ t was not a good day.    Andrew Goodchild was falling.    True to his luck, Mr Goodchild, whom we shall refer to as Andrew, was firmly embraced by the full force of Earth’s gravity and inescapably descending rather too rapidly towards an underlying lake. The lake seemed quite eager to welcome him into its watery bosom - if lakes were to have bosoms, watery or otherwise.    He was falling. That was preventing Andrew from drifting off into space. It was quite a small detail, but significant nevertheless, considering the circumstances. Andrew appeared quite thankful in his own small way. Coping with falling was bad enough without being oxygen deprived as well.    Andrew was falling. But not for him the airy fairy metaphysical, existential, or phenomenological falling, but rather an actual falling. There was no way that the falling of Andrew Goodchild could be mistaken for a metaphor of religious fallen angels - no. Andrew, through the interaction of his body and gravity was really, actually, bloody-well falling and praying to whichever God or gods who could hear him. It turned out that it was the gods Bank Holiday and even the telephonist was away.    A ridiculously cool March wind whisked past Andrew’s protruding ears. It gave chilling depth to the general cold of the depressive grey winter’s day. If Andrew hadn’t been so concerned about falling, he might have shared a thought or two about the cold but, as it was, his mind was otherwise occupied with his enforced decent, that and the drip at the end of his nose.    It was a psychological diversion, however real and inconvenient it was. The weather was cold and Andrew’s nose was running. It had begun on the ascent and now was a damned nuisance on the descent. Sniffing did no good whatsoever; another drip simply replaced the vanquished one. Andrew thought about itches and scratching, but there was just no way that he could stop the flow, or wipe the offending article away. His nose dripped. Being upside down, meant that the drips ran across Andrew’s mouth and shot upwards from his chin and into his jacket.    Sniffing, Andrew continued his plummet towards the obsidian-looking lake below. While falling, Andrew had time enough to consider only one thing worse than rapidly descending - and that was drowning. If he had a choice - Andrew would probably have opted to continue falling. At least there seemed some small measure of hope in the falling, as 111

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opposed to actually arriving at his destination. Drowning appeared to be a definite dead end.    Andrew trembled. He nearly lost the contents of his bladder. Maybe he did, it was so cold that he wouldn’t have noticed. Fear and Britain’s onerous weather conspired against Andrew in their own particular way, keeping him cold - mentally and physically, pirate shivering without timbers.    There was a noise - an eerie nerve splintering howl.    It sprang from nowhere.    Somewhere, in some bizarrely lucid part of Andrew’s brain, he thought that there might there be a fox falling at the same rate as him. On a parallel trajectory as it were, and dropping like a proverbial stone - just like Andrew.    Why a fox? It was not a question that a falling mind cared to grapple with. Andrew didn’t see any falling foxes. Why had his mind sprung to the conclusion that whatever was dropping and making the noise, was a fox? Of all the unlikely mammals, why a fox? But Andrew just could not shake that notion of falling, and calling foxes. It was most bizarre. As far as Andrew could literally see, and admittedly he could not see far there were only clouds rushing higher. They seemed quite desperate to get away from him, or the fox, or both. It was difficult to see anything - hanging, as he was, upside down like the proverbial Tarot hanged man - without the hallo, unless you count the hallo of fright which was beginning to surrounded Andrew and maybe a slight whiff of fear too.    Boffins, profs etc. - those who deem to know, say that animals can sense fear; so maybe that’s why the fox was howling - it sensed Andrew’s fear, that is if there was a fox - and if it were falling, and that was no means certain.    ‘I wish that bloody noise would stop’, Andrew said to himself as he fell, perhaps to emphasise the fact that he was a) still alive, and b) still conscious . No one replied – which only sought to emphasise his aloneness and desperation.    The long, and one could ascertain quite heartfelt, piercing scream sharply assailed Andrew’s conscious stream of thought. ‘Bloody foxes, who would drop a fox from this height’ he thought, ‘Actually, I might, I can’t stand bloody foxes especially those that howl’ – it seemed, to Andrew, quite reasonable given the circumstances.    And given the circumstances – fear of heights, fear of falling, fear of drowning and generalised fear of death it was not unreasonable for Andrew to take it all out on one of the animal species he cared least for, second only to snakes. He had detested foxes from young. Andrew suspected foxes to have killed a one of his cats, when he lived in rural Essex. ‘Besides’ he thought ‘they’re, well……foxy, aren’t they’.    Maybe projecting onto some poor and probably defenceless vulpes vulpes was Andrew’s way of coping with that fall. He was distracting his mind from his imminent demise, a mental sleight of hand as it were. 112

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‘Plunging to your death, na don’t worry about that, here have a fox to think about’ said Andrew’s brain - on the very edge of panic. And, for a moment, it worked. Andrew was mildly more interested in where the sound came from, and who allowed the fox to fall than he was in falling, and that was good, well, in a way it was.    It was a loud wailing. The sound was eerie. It was uncomfortably reverberating in Andrew’s befuddled head. It was strange, in a remarkably familiar sort of way. ‘Perhaps it’s not a fox then, a banshee, but we’re not in Ireland, do we have banshees in Kent.’ Andrew argued to himself, nicely keeping his mind from its and his body’s sudden death. Those agonising banshee/fox screams seemed to last an eternity. They threatened to become a permanent fixture in Andrew’s conscious reality. Maybe they had. Maybe this was hell, and for all eternity Andrew would hear the noisome screech of the fox, well vixen, for Andrew remembered that it was vixens, and not foxes, which screeched.    On an altogether different plane of reality (that is to say the consensus reality many of we humans share), barely a few moments had passed. And, as the cliché goes, Andrew found that the scream was issuing from his own mouth. ‘Bugger’ was all he could think in response to this news.    Andrew continued to fall, and he continued to scream.    The wind rushed past. It carried Andrew’s voice upwards and away into profoundly unpleasant skies. Andrew’s body continued to plunge at a constant rate downwards - thanks to good ole gravity which was entirely efficient but not exclusively Andrew’s best mate at the time. Andrew was never good at maths. If he were to reckon, he might have said that his descent was at the rate of bloody fast feet per second, per second and cold, bloody cold, maybe even colder than that.    He fell with his arms crossed, desperately clinging onto his black nylon, padded, winter jacket and barely clinging onto his sanity. Andrew was unsure if holding the jacket was to prevent it catching the wind, as he plummeted towards the winter wind ruffled lake, or out of a desperate need for comfort, any kind of comfort, in that most fraught of situations – quite probably the latter, for at moments like that you don’t reason - you panic.    The screaming stopped.    Curiosity got the better of Andrew.    His previously falling body seemed to linger, momentarily, in midair. He could sense his body start to relax.    Andrew had just enough time to see the darkened water of a lake inches from his face. He caught sight of himself, grimacing, in the black water’s mirrored surface, practically drowning.   Then...    Then Andrew was jerked upward, back into the sky.   More adrenalin.   More cold. 113

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More panic.    Andrew was being whipped about like some pathetic human weight on a giant’s fishing line. He was caste towards the unwelcoming lake and then, teasingly, pulled back towards the heavens and re-caste back towards the lake. Maybe he was not the weight after all, but the bait, a tasty morsel to lure some monstrous bloody fish, a lake bound kraken perhaps, lurking, hidden in the lake’s sinister depths.    There again, from an entirely practical point of view, Andrew had, in fact, reached the extent of his latex bungee rope’s stretch and, without any form of warning, no ringing of bells, no warning light, no excuse me but I think .... the tightly stretched elastic whipped him back up into the air again.    The bungee rope whisked Andrew by his strapped ankles, backwards towards the clouds, then down, then up, then down, then up, then down as Andrew danced and bounced at the mercy of gravity and the elastic. One moment his head was pointing directly towards the lake and his heels towards the heavens, the next it was vice versa. Andrew felt green - as in the need to vomit.    Andrew didn’t know whether to be thankful not to have drowned in the lake, or to be concerned that he was doing everything in reverse. He probably would have screamed again, but his mind became preoccupied with his feet - making sure they were not getting twisted in the thick elastic rope which was snaking around, threatening to either hang him or break off some vital limb or other.    Idly Andrew considered the newspaper headlines, as you do at such moments - ‘QUIRKY ACCIDENT: ELDERLY BUNGEE JUMPER HANGED BY BUNGEE ELASTIC AT CHARITY JUMP’.    Each yanking bounce was, thankfully, a little shorter than the last. But each bounce seemed to replace Andrew’s stomach back into his mouth. His face was turning even greener as the motion continued. At each disruptive bounce Andrew casually wondered if he would spray vomit over the wind-swept lake, and on the various gawping onlookers; and if this was, perhaps, expected and all part and parcel of their voyeuristic experience.    Andrew had been a victim, chiefly of his own charity. He was at the mercy of a very vicious gravity and, he hoped, securely attached to a strong elastic rope bound to his ankles. From his precarious upsidedown position and, craning his neck, Andrew could see a small lake getting slowly bigger. There was a sadistic crowd of gawkers gathered by the lakeshore. Briefly he pondered -‘is this what a hanging crowd might have looked like, ghoulish spectators waiting for the plunge!’ He turned his head away.    Looking up, past his feet and to one side of his bungee wrapped ankles, Andrew could just about see the great arm of the 300ft high crane and the, now small, metal cage from which he had, eventually, jumped.    It has to be said that Andrew was not the bravest of souls. 114

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Some three hundred feet above ground, in a small, shaky, metal cage his nerves, not strong at the best of times, had given way. Andrew had been asked to jump - perhaps a little too insistently by the young muscled male New Zealander. Andrew stood defiantly holding onto the sides of the cage - for safety, unable to move a tendon let alone enough muscles to jump. There were all sorts of doubts assailing Andrew’s mind. ‘Do these cords break’ ‘What happens if they got the weight measurement wrong - actually no, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know’.    The young bungee coach matter-of-factly repeated his request for Andrew to jump. There was something in his tone which added ‘or else return to the ground - others were waiting to jump’. With a faint heart, and a weak grin, Andrew considered his options.    Somewhere in an almost logical cul-de-sac of Andrew’s brain he weighed mocking shame against almost certain death, and perhaps martyrdom. Not an easy decision and certainly not one to be recommended, but, nevertheless, many fraught moments later Andrew insisted on going through with the jump, and martyrdom. He needed a few moments to persuade himself that there might, possibly, be a slim chance of his survival.    Finally, a stressed-out coach said ‘Look, just do as I say will ya. Stretch your bloody arms out to the sun there, now jump and try to catch it’ in a New Zealand accent, which somehow made it worse for Andrew. Andrew stretched, but not without a second thought, or three, and found himself falling. He felt completely un-heroic, stupid and more than a little terrified - hence the screams. Like Icarus, Andrew didn’t catch the sun either.    It was not an ideal way to spend a Sunday. Being naked and wrestling pigs in mud would have been a better choice, but a promise is a promise and there Andrew was falling headlong through the March chill. He was hoping that the bungee rope was as securely fixed to his ankles as he had been led to believe and praying, yes praying, that he would survive with all limbs, and hopefully everything else, intact.    Like the other lambs to the slaughter that day, Andrew had been weighed. A measured thickness of bungee cord had been fastened to his ankles. After being roped and bound in a non-erotic way, Andrew was not in a position to distrust the young New Zealanders who had trussed him up. To all intents and purposes, Andrew was at their mercy. The bungee minders herded a group of people into the small metal cage and started to hoist it up into the sky. Painfully slowly, Andrew and his selected elite inched towards the top of a 300 ft high crane arm. The words lambs and slaughter sprang instantly to Andrew’s mind. He subconsciously bleated.    Aside from my acute fear of heights - which had not manifesteduntil Andrew stood in that all-metal cage, Andrew would confess that he was just not an adrenalin junkie. He was, at forty-two years, getting far too old for such macho posturing. Andrew was feeling decidedly 115

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uncomfortable, buffeted by stray breezes on his journey towards the top of the crane, worse at the top, and decidedly in multiple minds as to whether to jump at all.    After it all - After the ignominy of the cage freeze, the screaming fall and the bungee bounces which left him with a sickly feeling, Andrew was barely able to restrain from vomiting over the on-looking crowd below. It didn’t help that his already over-active imagination was running on overtime, no doubt on account of the adrenaline running speed races through his veins and pumping into his stomach.    Andrew’s vivid imagination was running riot. He had been envisioning cubed carrots and sundry fluids spraying on the faces of bystanders, who always seemed to be waiting for him to break his neck.    No doubt, had it been a straightforward fall, curtailed at the very last minute by the bungee elastic, Andrew would not have minded quite so much. But the incessant bouncing and being tugged back and forth had severely upset both his stomach and his frame of mind. Andrew was not so much encountering an adrenalin high, as being really, really pissed off with the whole damnable business and looking for someone to blame.    In the brief time it had taken to climb to the clouds, deliberate about jumping and then plummet the 300 or so feet towards the lake, Andrew had plenty of time to regret his decision to bungee jump for charity, and ruing the day that his so-called mate - Tristram had talked him into doing it. With the idleness of his mind and its eagerness to distract itself, Andrew remembered that day so very clearly, as he fell...    Andrew had been sitting in Blicton-On-Sea sports centre, supposedly facilitating the Tuesday Club, playing board games with sundry mental health clients, but actually listening to Tristram elaborate on the wonders of bungee jumping.    Somewhere between half-hearted games of Trivial Pursuit which, depending upon the player, were either taken way too seriously, or not nearly seriously enough, Tristram had rambled on about kudos and being noticed in the local community for efforts. He was playing the old hero game, trying to persuade Andrew that they would be champions - the first in town to collect over a thousand pounds for Blicton-On-Sea (mental) Heath - the local mental health charity – and frequently called just BOSH.    Tristram wove a tale of grand heroics, status, derring-do while simultaneously peering through the large interior sports complex picture window, ogling the young college girls learning to swim in the heated swimming pool. Fit, blonde, trim Tristram seldom had problems with the ladies. Trist liked to show his interest in the fairer sex, as often as possible. Generally, they reciprocated. No ageism for Tristram, he took all comers – cute sixty year olds and even cuter sixteen year olds and that, sadly was, later, to be his downfall.    So why, after Trist’s sleek advertising campaign didn’t Andrew 116

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feel like a hero, why was he left feeling like a king-sized prat instead. The answer was easy. Andrew had always been far too easy to persuade. It had said so on numerous school report cards - and so many teachers couldn’t have been wrong, could they. The term they had used, back then, had been – easily led. This had brought a few school canings by a thin weasel of a headmaster who seemed to enjoy the process a little more than he should have and many, many tears - all of them mine.    All this was back in the bad old days, when corporal punishment was rampant in Britain’s secondary schools. Caning of boys was practically a pastime among certain headmasters. They could be heard practising in their wood lined offices - if you stood outside the door for long enough....one, two, three, whoosh - one, two, three, whoosh - one two, three, whoosh – some weird waltz. The caning aimed to punish repeat offenders, but it deterred us not one iota. The upshot was that students like Andrew left school with no qualifications, only bad memories of sadistic and quite possibly sexually deviant heads of school. That was one reason why Andrew found himself still being an assistant Mental Health Social Worker at the age of forty-two, and just one-step up from being a complete waste of space.    Yet, in the curious depths of Andrew’s quite often rambling mind, he still preferred to think of himself as being adventurous. Some selfdestructive impulse perhaps which frequently had him saying yes, when it should have been a resounding no. Andrew frequently regretted saying yes, especially when what he really meant was - well yes, but up to a point. That vital point had been quickly reached. In this case about five minutes after Andrew had agreed to Trist’s bungee jump - but there was to be no way out.    Almost immediately Tristram - being the unsuppressed showman that he was, began spreading the news of Andrew’s involvement. Andrew was doomed, no honourable way out. When you’re living just above the bread line you have very little else apart from your honour except, perhaps, a sense of humour, luckily Andrew still had both, though the latter was in severe danger after the jump.    The queasiness Andrew had felt then - with everything to look forward to/regret had nothing on the queasiness he felt on dangling from the bungee cord. Andrew could feel the bouncing slowly beginning to cease. He sensed the elastic, and therefore his body too, lowered slowly towards the lake. During those few seconds, Andrew allowed himself to look. What he saw was the cold depths of the black lake now rising slowing up to greet him. It didn’t help his mood any.    At the very last minute, just before Andrew’s head entered the water, the overhead crane’s long arm swept him over to the waitingground crew. They eased him down and began to unfasten his straps. It was a moment or two before Andrew was capable of scrambling to his feet and walking over to the recovery chair.    Involuntary nerves twitched all over Andrew’s legs, his muscles 117

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felt weak. He lay for a moment on the wet winter grass, feeling dejected, washed up and sick. Andrew didn’t care that he had just completed a bloody bungee jump for charity, he wasn’t bothered about the money they would be able to collect for Blicton’s mentally ill.    When he was able to, Andrew sat in the recovery chair watching other jumpers preparing for the forthcoming ordeal, or already in full flight - as he had been but moments beforehand.    ‘Fuck’, he said under his breath, as the full realisation of what had transpired hit him.    ‘That fucking bastard’, Andrew said to no one in particular, but aimed the insult squarely at Trist.    When his anger began to subside, he took off, staggering from the chair, merging back into the crowd. He was looking for the van he had come in. Andrew aimed to seek some sort of solace in familiarity - even if it was only the familiar faces of the clients he had come with.

Poetry|Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois Announcement My daughter-in-law comes in with a curly flapper hairdo announces she’s pregnant we all ooh and aah then settle down to eat lamb and watch Sharknado a film about freak weather systems and their ultimate outcome: tornadoes carrying thousands of ravenous sharks My mother says: You’re going to be a grandfather I say: You’re going to be a great-grandmother a shark flies through the air and swallows someone whole I’m astounded I can hardly believe this any of it

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Visual Art|Neeraj Patel

Sensitive Reflection

Digital & Mixed media 48” X 36” 2013

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Visual Art|Neeraj Patel

Routine of Life

Digital & Mixed media 48” X 36” 2013

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Poetry|Ellen Wright To a Green Ash Tree After a Storm

When you started scratching at the window I swore someone was creeping around the front

of the apartment -- until you began beating your branches against the glass like the fists of an outlaw lover begging for shelter. Because we have been neighbors for a decade you should know I write poems to assert a boundary between self and experience. So even after two days of tempest when your writhing trunk and grasping limbs tore at my heart there would be no way I could let a tree in here. I could only write a poem with a pleading tree outside the apartment. With me a timorous maiden cringing in sheltered anguish while you thrust and parried then charged and retreated as your brothers fell stripped and maimed around you until finally wracked by guilt I fell asleep only to wake warm and dry and mocked

by the victorious roistering of all these chainsaws whose snarling motors and tearing teeth fill the neighborhood with the gnashing of shade becoming firewood. Now that no thanks to me you remain upright at the curb and stoic in a yellow heap of shredded leaves the bones of the Brooklyn Bridge looming through branches that droop like the cowl of a bearded druid

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Poetry|Shyam Sunder Smoke Screen I should have known, after all it is basic tactics, the use of smoke is always a means of deception, smoke is always a ruse to confuse or a screen to conceal. I should have known, smoke drifts with the wind. I should have built walls instead. Certainly, I would have built walls. If I had the means of a foundation and concrete.

Poetry|Sunil Sharma A white river of light A white river of light Flows ahead and Always travels beside, On the tranquil mornings, In the grimy suburbs, Unleashed by a baby-faced wintry sun High above in a clean sky; The highway dips abruptly, And Rises up again, Like heated verbal attacks, Dying out and again revived, Among the sparring couples, And Often heard outside, Floating on putrid air, Snatches vicious, 122

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Delivered In shrill/low tones, By lovers turned warriors; The moving shadows of the trees Along the lean highway Nod and smile, And quickly Draw various intricate patterns On the rough rolled-out concrete, Like a child doing rangolis outside, The line-drawings moving about, A chiaroscuro different, Being trampled upon Mercilessly, By the manic cars and buses Speeding by; And a flight of happy cranes, Circling all of a sudden, Above the green Tree- tops, A startling sight For the crying child, Sitting on the road, Outside her hovel, Looking fixed at the Blue-white clear sky.

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

Re bar SF

Digital Media 4” x 6” 2011

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

Chicago Building

Digital Media 4” x 6” 2011

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

Out House

Digital Media 4” x 6” 2011

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

New York Wall

Digital Media 6” x 6” 2012

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

Rocks

Digital Media 4” x 6” 2012

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Visual Art|Steve Babbitt

Fog tree SF

Digital Media 4” x 6” 2011

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Short Fiction|James Wall Niagara Falls

I

t’s not yet dawn and I’m on the M62 heading for the airport. I’ve not been here since Ali. My eyes feel heavy but I’m not tired. There’s been nothing on the road for some time so I welcome the yellow streetlights when they come, wishing they could be here all the time. They bring a warm glow against the harsh September night. When they’re gone and I see a car’s lights in the distance, I smile, glad of some company, and feel empty when I can no longer see them in the rear view mirror. I can still sense her beside me, the shape of her at the edge of my vision. She’s the one who’s supposed to keep me awake on long journeys but, now, she’s the one who is sleeping.    It was a year ago that I ‘found’ her on Facebook, and twenty years since I’d last seen her. She must have only recently signed up; I had been looking for a long time. In her profile picture, her hair was longer than I remembered, and she was smiling at the camera. She still had that slight nervousness in her expression that I had always loved. I searched for her status but there was nothing completed. It doesn’t mean anything, I told myself.    I hesitated before adding her as a friend. What if she rejected my request, or just ignored it? I couldn’t settle while I waited for her reply. Stupid after all this time I know.    My post to her was short and casual, but it took me half an hour to get the words right, going back over what I’d written, changing it repeatedly: ‘Hi! Great to see you on here! What have you been up to over the last twenty years?’    I remembered her as slim with short brown hair. She often wore a red and white baseball jacket around uni. That makes her sound boyish but she was anything but. She had expressive eyes, accentuated by her long eyelashes. Her skin was smooth and clear. She caught me looking at her once in a lecture on the poetry of Wordsworth. She smiled and then turned back to the lecturer at the front. I learnt to become more adept at observing her after that and would quickly look down at my notes when I detected a slight move of her head in my direction.    I did have girlfriends during that time, none of whom I remember that clearly. One was semi-serious – but I could never lose the ‘semi’ part. Not with Ali around. And she was seldom without a boyfriend. None of our ‘in-between’ partner periods coincided, although I often wondered whether I should ask her out anyway. But something always intruded when I had built up the courage to do so.    We had the same friends, went to the Union bar, same pubs, same cafés. For years afterwards I remembered the night we all went out to celebrate our finals. I was the only one sober. I wanted to remember 130

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his time, to keep it in my mind, and replay it whenever I liked. Was I the only one who realised what that night meant, that I wouldn’t see her again? I had thought so at the time.    Ali wore jeans and a checked blouse. Her top button had come undone during the evening and exposed the top of her bra, the soft dip of her cleavage. I liked to think she’d done this for me. She was still seeing Sean then (they finished a few months later I subsequently discovered). A few went out for curry and chips after closing, but Ali and Sean said they were heading off. There were about ten of us, and I waited in line for a farewell hug from her. She felt so warm, her body slight and delicate against mine as we held each other. It crossed my mind to say how I felt, to tell her to forget about Sean and be with me. She whispered something just as the others were laughing loudly at a joke, and I couldn’t make out what she said.    ‘Come on,’ called Sean, and I felt her pull away.    ‘What did you say?’ I asked.    I don’t think she heard me. She just looked to the ground, her hands in front of her, and Sean put his arm around her waist and they left. He must have known how I felt. It must have been obvious to everyone.    Like a scattering of birds after gunshot, we all separated after uni. I kept in touch with Pete but only for about six months. Not deliberately; other things just got in the way. The last time we met up, he told me that Ali had broken up with Sean.    ‘Why don’t you go after her?’ he said.    I shook my head. I wasn’t going to make more of a fool of myself than I already had. She could tell how I felt and hadn’t responded. But by then, I’d started at Harrison’s and had just met Freya.    Even after she and I were married, I often had a few minutes alone with Ali in my mind. I would close my eyes, think of our hug and breathe in the smell of her skin – the scent of soap and lemons. With time it became harder to remember, the memory fading like an old photograph left out in the sun. I wondered what she was doing now, whether she was married, or had any children. Freya and I had two boys, Adam and George, eighteen months apart. Beautiful, lively boys. I see them most weekends now, and for longer during the school holidays. It was difficult for a time, but now I think they have forgiven me for leaving their mum.    I could have married again. I met Katherine at work soon before I left there to try teaching, and we lived together for five years. She wanted to, but I said I wasn’t sure. After Freya. A convenient excuse.    She held me in her arms as she said, ‘Don’t let one bad experience put you off. I’m not Freya.’    I smiled but was silent. You’re not Ali, I thought without wanting to.    She supported me while I trained, and again when I realised I hated teaching and left the school. She was lovely when she said that I would find something else, something I loved. But she couldn’t quite stop 131

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letting me know that she was not my ex-wife, a flush of red appearing on her chest whenever she did, a faint tremble in her hands. Even at the doorway, her belongings already moved into her new home, she said so again before slowly placing her door key in my palm.    In my small flat, I refreshed the page every few minutes after sending my message to Ali. Maybe she was just being polite in accepting my request. Never had any intention of actually communicating with me. But then, after a few days, she replied, saying she’d been away with work. She said it was great to hear from me. I read over the words again and again, looking for a latent message in them but finding nothing.    She’d moved to York a few years ago, she said. I sat back. She’d been so near for all this time and I didn’t know? Didn’t she remember I was from around here and said I would be coming back? I felt my shoulders sink. I told myself that it was a long time ago and not to overreact.    I responded quickly, suggesting that we meet up as I lived so near.    I didn’t hear anything back for days, and chastised myself for being so hasty. Did I appear too keen? Finally she replied and we arranged to meet at a café in York, near the Minster.    It was early autumn, and the remnants of summer lingered in the air. After tentative kisses in greeting, we sat outside with our coffees and cakes, although I felt too nervous to eat. She wore a blue dress and burgundy flat shoes. Her bare legs had a hint of colour but it didn’t look as if she’d been in the sun for long. No summer holiday then, I surmised. No boyfriend to go with? I surreptitiously checked her left hand and saw no wedding ring.    A toddler from the next table escaped from his mother as she was putting her coat on and ran over to us, giggling.    ‘Hello,’ said Ali, bending down to him, his big eyes staring back at her as he grabbed onto the edge of the table to steady himself. ‘What’s your name?’    ‘Come on, Isaac,’ his mother said, walking over and feeding the child’s arm into his coat sleeve. She lifted her head towards us. ‘Sorry about that.’    Ali and I caught each other waving away her concerns simultaneously, as a couple may do, as if we’d been together for years.    We reminisced because that is what we had. At first. She’d forgotten about Sean, when I reminded her of him. She laughed and shook her head. A mistake, she said.    She told me about her marriage to Philip, and how it had ended a few years ago. She worked for a while teaching English as a foreign language in Eastern Europe, primarily Lodz in Poland and Bruno in Czechoslovakia. She missed it or rather missed the idea of being there. There was a large department at York University and she was tasked 132

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with developing the foreign student intake, many from Japan, so she had visited there a few times.    The Minster clock struck one and she apologised, gathered her bag and stood up. It felt as if I’d only just sat down. In a way I had.    ‘I have to get back to work. Didn’t realise what time it was.’ There was a flatness to her voice.    Her cheek felt warm as I kissed her goodbye. I watched her climb onto her bicycle and ride back towards the university, her long dress flapping in the wind behind her as if waving goodbye.    Later that afternoon, I nervously suggested dinner. She accepted in the evening, and I couldn’t settle in the days leading up to it – our first meal together. I found myself pacing around my flat, or staring out of the window and reliving our brief meeting. I was unable to think of anything else. We met at a Japanese restaurant I’d never been to before. As the waiter showed us to our seat, I was sure Ali left behind a trail of turned heads marking our route.    The wine came; we clinked our glasses together and caught ourselves smiling foolishly.    ‘Feel like a teenager,’ she said, her eyes filled with light.    ‘I know,’ I said. ‘We were only just out of our teens the last time we saw each other.’    She shook her head. ‘Frightening.’    As I asked if she had any children, an image of Adam and George smiling at me entered my mind.    ‘No,’ she said, dipping her head, and dabbing her mouth with her napkin. She quickly asked about me, and what I’d been doing.    I hesitated for a second, caught a little by surprise at her reticence but didn’t pursue it, hoping there’d be other times to talk, before I told her about my jobs, the aborted careers. She said I was very brave not settling for just anything.    ‘Or stupid,’ I said. ‘There’s not settling for just anything or just not settling.’    She laid her hand on mine. So light and soft, I could feel the grubby, tired layers rising from me.    At the end of the evening, over coffee, after two bottles of wine, she said she wished I’d asked her out at uni, and that she’d whispered to me during that last night out about keeping in touch. She thought I hadn’t reacted, so had assumed I wasn’t interested.    My chest tightened into a fist, her hand in mine. ‘No, no, not at all.’    Please don’t say that, I thought to myself. If I’d known what she’d said that night, things would have been so different.    Afterwards, we saw each other several times a week, sometimes more; we spoke daily on the phone, and often texted. We even sent each other letters, which felt old fashioned among the millions of emails I could sense around me constantly. It was as if we were becoming fixed in our own, separate time when nobody else existed. 133

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I listened out for the post each day, and on hearing it flop onto the mat, raced to tear her letter open, reciting out loud from my favourite Wordsworth poem, ‘My heart leaps up when I behold’ as I did so.    It was a couple of months later that I mentioned a holiday. She didn’t answer at first, and I was worried that I’d been too rash.    ‘Where?’ she said at last. ‘I’m not keen on beach holidays.’    I smiled. ‘Nor me. How about Canada?’ She started laughing. ‘What? Why is Canada funny?’    ‘I’ve always wanted to go there,’ she said, and cupped my cheeks in her warm hands before kissing me softly on my lips.    The high wall is on my left. It always marks the approach to the airport for me, and I know there’s not long to go now. I open the window and welcome the cool air in, feeling it over my forehead and against my hot cheeks. A trickle of sweat runs down by my ear and drips from the side of my jaw.    We stayed at the Sheraton in Toronto and visited the usual tourist attractions: the CN Tower (she grabbed on to me when we gingerly stepped onto the glass floor in the observation platform and looked down), the harbour front where we sat out as the sun slowly started to descend, and took a ferry out to the islands.    It sounds silly now but I wasn’t that keen on seeing Niagara Falls.    ‘It’s just a big waterfall isn’t it?’ I said.    ‘We can’t come all this way and not go to Niagara Falls.’    She clung on to my arm and I turned and kissed the top of her head. I can still smell the tang of her shampoo in my nostrils now. Orange blossom and lemon balm.    The sun was shining the day we went to see the Falls, and as we looked down over them we saw the white spray rise up and create an ephemeral rainbow in the air. We bought tickets and both wore the blue plastic, semi-transparent ponchos we were given. We boarded the Maid of the Mist and held onto each other as the boat slowly approached from the side and moved along the length of the horseshoe. There was a constant roar from the millions of litres of water crashing down – the spray rising up before us, continually replenishing itself, over and over.    The guide said that some people had thrown themselves off in the past, and a few had even survived. One went down in a wooden barrel. And I looked up to the top, watching the water tipping over and falling, imagining the barrel plunging down to the wash below, breaking apart as it hit. She followed my gaze and held me tighter. We were so close then that it was as if our edges had become blurred, as if our bodies were no longer separate. I blinked and eventually had to close my eyes, the sun was so brightly reflected from the Falls. It felt as if the water in the air was enveloping us then, not like rain but a constant presence, a natural state of being, like a baptism. We kissed, her lips soft and 134

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damp with spray, and I listened to the constant rush around us, how it blocked everything and everyone else out.    It was a night flight back home. I thought we would find it easier to sleep. The only lights that were on were small and dim. The hum of the plane’s engines surrounded us, interrupted only by occasional hushed voices. There was a free seat on our row on which we put our bags, and we sat under the blue airline blankets as we watched a film.    I must have dozed off as I woke with a start. I looked over to Ali; she was still sleeping beside me. Her hand was on my forearm, and tensed just as the plane shuddered from turbulence. I rested my hand on hers. She’d said she hated flying and I wasn’t sure whether she’d remembered to take the pills to calm her. The turbulence continued and I sensed her body stiffening. An uneasy murmur passed through the plane like a strong breeze, and I thought of Niagara Falls, the spray rising up, its watery fingers reaching out. Ali jerked in her seat and I turned to see her body tense as she clutched at her arm. I thought at first that she was having a bad dream, brought on by the plane shuddering, and that she’d settle back to sleep in a minute. But she didn’t. She was awake; she couldn’t catch her breath. She grappled at her arm and her face lost its colour. Her eyes grew larger; there was fear magnified in them, as if they contained something both bright and terrible. I jumped up and cried out for a doctor. A stewardess ran over and put out a call on the intercom.    ‘Ali! Ali!’ I kept standing up and sitting down in quick succession, desperate for what I could do to stop this and make everything right again.    I was ushered out of the way by a slight, thin man who pushed in next to her. My view was partly obstructed by stewardesses but I could make out his movements becoming more and more frantic.    He was over her now, pumping at her chest. He stopped to give her mouth-to-mouth, and pumped again. Soon, his face was red and his brow was glistening. After a time he sat back and all was still. All I remember hearing was the sound of the engines, how the cold air outside battled to push through them.    I press lightly on the brakes, but there’s no hard shoulder for me to stop so that I can think about turning around. I’ve tried so many times to reverse our time together in my mind, to put it back to how it was before I sent her that message, but I can only get as far as mycoffee cup filling up from my mouth with each backward sip at our first meeting near the Minster. Or making the little boy stagger away from us instead of towards.

  Back

in my flat, after all the questions, the forms signed, I kept

the curtains closed, unplugged the phone, and left only for the funeral. 135

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I just wanted to sleep, but could only catch an odd hour, if that. Whenever I did, I woke with a start, and pushed my hand out in search of Ali next to me, all of it starting again as soon as I realised she wasn’t there, as soon as I realised I was alone.    A few weeks later, I went out to the local shop for some bread and milk, a vague inkling of hunger in my stomach for the first time I could remember in a long while. My heart sank when I bumped into Katherine. She said I looked awful.    ‘Thanks,’ I said.    I told her briefly what had happened. A weak heart, they’d said. Could have happened at any time. That must have been why she had no children. Would have been too much for her. Katherine placed her hand on my arm.    Afterwards, she kept coming round, bringing me food. It was her idea to go for walks now and again.    ‘I wish I’d left her alone,’ I told her. ‘She’d still be here if I had.’    ‘Don’t think like that.’    I tried, but it didn’t make much difference. The same thoughts kept revolving around my head. Oddly, it was Katherine who persuaded me to get away. I could think of nothing more I’d like to do than be away from home. She said it would do me good to be somewhere different. In the end I said I would and I told her I’d booked to go on a short break somewhere; she didn’t ask where and I didn’t tell her. She offered to drive me to the airport but I told her no.    I pause at the car park barrier. Last chance to turn back. My hands fall from the steering wheel onto my lap. In my mind’s eye, I see Ali laughing. We were in a café on Queen Street a few days before we left. I can’t remember what she said now, but the laughter grew inside us and we couldn’t stop. For that short period of time, when it had all clicked into place and I’d found her again, I’d never been so happy.    I find a space at the far end of the car park, amongst the rows and rows of other cars and sit remembering Ali next to me the last time we were here. I can see her teasing me about being so organised as to make a note of the row we were parked in. We kissed softly, slowly, before getting out and walking to the bus that would take us to the terminal for our flight, my fingers reaching for hers in the gap between us.    I’m startled by a knock on my window. A man is asking me if I’m alright.    ‘Couldn’t help noticing,’ he is saying. ‘We saw you as we was coming back to our car with our luggage.’ He gestures behind him but then stands upright.    ‘Thought you were staying in the car,’ he calls to someone I can’t see.    ‘I’m OK,’ a woman says. 136

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She comes into view. She is wearing a dark blue smock dress. There’s a bump, not big, but noticeable.    ‘Janice took a turn just before,’ he says. ‘We was sitting and doing the breathing the doctor had told her to do and then she said you hadn’t moved.’    They both bend down to my eye level, and she strokes her stomach.    ‘You alright?’ she asks.    ‘Yes, thank you,’ I say. ‘Very kind of you to ask. Both of you.’    I watch them through the window and imagine this must be how a child perceives adults. It makes me feel small and alone.    She cocks her head. There’s a redness that rises briefly about her throat and then dissipates.    She turns to leave but then stops and asks, ‘Where are you going?’    I glance to the passenger seat, at my messenger bag slumped there containing a book of Wordsworth poems and the plane tickets. ‘Canada,’ I say. ‘Niagara Falls.’    She looks at her husband. ‘We’ve always wanted to go there.’    I smile, and they return to their car.    I don’t remember much of the flight or the transfer to the hotel in Toronto. I don’t remember the row where I parked the car, and haven’t written it down.    I’m up early the next day for the trip, sleep having visited me only intermittently during the night. It’s not long before I’m wearing the blue poncho again and I’m standing alone at the back of the Maid of the Mist boat as everyone else gathers at the front. There’s the roar of the water, but it doesn’t seem as loud this time. As we reach the bottom of the Falls, I retrieve the letter I’d written to Ali from my bag and run my fingers over her name on the envelope. I hold it between my fingers for what seems an age, my hands over the railings, before I finally let go and watch it flutter in the breeze, and drop silently into the bright and churning water.

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Visual Art|Raj More

Call Me

Acrylic on Canvas 68” x 68” 2013

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Visual Art|Raj More

Desire

Acrylic on Canvas 60” x 84” 2013

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Visual Art|Raj More

Sarkar

Acrylic on Canvas 68” x 68” 2013

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Visual Art|Raj More

Question Mark

Acrylic on Canvas 68” x 68” 2013

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SPECIAL FEATURE Tanka

Edited by Kala Ramesh

LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts


Focus|Tanka Tanka is a five line lyrical poem that has been practiced in Japan for the last 1000 years. Originally known as waka, it was usually sung those days. Japan follows the 5/7/5/7/7 syllable count, but the contemporary tanka in English and other languages follow the s/l/s/l/l format. Tanka Prose – Tight haikai prose embedded with a tanka poem. It tells a story or a brief incident in the poet’s life or observation. Haiga – artwork with a poem is called haiga. Here we have artwork with tanka. Two art forms resonate together to give the reader a richer and a more satisfying experience.

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in cold rain a sparrow alights for a moment on my grocery cart— my urge to curtsy Jenny Ward Angyal - USA

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new year’s eve as the countdown begins an ambulance races will the patient see another dawn? Shernaz Wadia - India

the gallery only wants my paintings with blue skies a part of me wishes I could edit my life too Michele Harvey - USA

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Crickets and Dragonflies “One cannot say: ‘Here are our monsters,’ without immediately turning the monsters into pets.” —Jacques Derrida We don’t know what a goblin or a vampire or a troll is. Could be many things. You can’t throw them into categories with labels and say they’ll act one way or another. That’d be mad. They’re people. People who do things. crickets and dragonflies— the sage asks you to understand there’s a beast within you Sergio Ortiz - USA

grammar lesson: I see myself you see yourself yet in this lake of stars we glimpse each other Jenny Ward Angyal - USA

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car in the left lane plastic Jesus on the dash its arms stretched forth toward the driver Laura Maffei - USA

stillness in the garden--between two fragrant sage plants I bury wild anxieties Margarita Engle - USA

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returning barefoot through the meadow at the gate a kiss for each other . . . each step a kiss for the earth Claire Everett - UK

twenty one moves for mind-blowing sex hard enough to bend over and tie one shoe Ken Slaughter - USA

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ocean waves leave deep ridges across the sand a small crab climbing one more mountain Susan Constable - Canada

incense sticks spread their fragrance I pray for the tiny hands forced to roll them Shernaz Wadia - India

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I listen to you gaily make plan after plan it’s not yet dawned that microscopic spread doesn’t mean small Michele Harvey - USA

broken by another wave . . . I feel the tide shift, the ink on a line Sergio Ortiz - USA

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Susan Constable, Canada

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Resonance

– for David

Midwinter but my heart is as light as a sparrow’s . . . the roof of the nest box thick with blossoms Suddenly the world is a smaller place. So many shores that have not known my sole’s imprint. So many friends who know my words as ink but not the way they sound on my lips. Except this one: he who surprises me from time to time with an early morning telephone call; he who sent this package winging its way from his hemisphere to mine. He was making room for new books, he says. “One can never have too many books!” We are bound by a love of poetry. One by one, all held by him so recently. Each in its silk-smooth cover, weighs less than a small bird. And here, in another, a postcard serving as a bookmark. I take in the scene, then can’t help but flip it over, to read the message, not meant for me. In cursive, gratitude from another friend who has been touched by his kindness. In a soft spill of early evening light, I arrange the books on their new shelf. Until such time as I can place it directly in his hands, the card will keep his place. holding the note I found between the pages . . . a temple bell I’ve never heard and yet --

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a skylark curving over the sky in the grey mist I lose myself slowly at the edge of the horizon Paresh Tiwari - India

billions of habitable planets in the Milky Way— I stroke with one finger the velvet pelt of a vole Jenny Ward Angyal - USA

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some kind of pride some kind of pathology in leaving every rented space cleaner than I found it Laura Maffei - USA

recurring dream — lost in the mountains I scoop up armfuls of spent stars from the glacier lake Sonam Chhoki - Bhutan

the fineness of my friend’s face across the table and I am annoyed at men for not loving her more Laura Maffei - USA

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Susan Constable, Canada

the well-wishers said memories would be a comfort – each time I wear his favourite sweater the hole in it gets bigger Claire Everett - UK

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List of Contributors Abol Froushan

Abol Froushan is a poet, translator and critic, with two volumes of his poetry: A Language against Language, and I Need Your Desert for My Sneeze, and three volumes of translations. As the Iran Editor at Poetry International he introduces the works of contemporary Persian poets world wide. He was the Chair of EWI 2011-13.

Alan Britt Alan Britt read poetry and presented the “Modern Trends in U.S. Poetry” at the VII International Writers’ Festival in Val-David, Canada, May 2013 (http://www. flaviacosma.com/Val_David.html). His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem (http://www.loc.gov/poetry/media/avfiles/poet-poemalan-britt.mp3) aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His interviews with Published-to-be: The Forum of Aspiring Writers and Minnesota Review are up at http://publishedtobe.com/2013/08/31/interview-withwriting-coach-and-instructor-alan-britt/ and http://minnesotareview.wordpress. com/blog/page/5/. He read poems at the historic Maysles Cinema in Harlem/NYC, February 2013, and the World Trade Center/Tribute WTC Visitor Center in Manhattan/NYC, April 2012. His latest books are Alone with the Terrible Universe (2011), Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). He is Poetry Editor for the We Are You Project International (www.weareyouproject.org) and Book Review Editor for Ragazine (http://ragazine.cc/). He teaches Creative Writing at Towson University. Alan Halford Alan Halford was born in Dublin, Ireland. Has worked in Irish broadcasting. He is a contributor to “The Galway Review” and contributing poet to MadSwirl.com Award Winning Black & White photographer with many exhibitions in Ireland. A life time interest in short story writing, poetry and the arts. Currently working on a book that will include both his poetry and photographic works. Alegria Imperial Alegria Imperial has had haiku and other Japanese short poems as well as free verse published in international journals such as LYNX, Notes from the Gean, The Heron’s Nest, Bones, A Hundred Gourds, eucalypt, The Cortland Review, poetic diversity and qarrtsiluni. Her awards in poetry contests include honorable mentions from Passager and the Vancouver Cherry Blassoms Haiku Invitational, Commended, Traditional Category, in the Haiku Foundation’s 2012 Haiku Now Contest, and adjudged Excellent in the 7th International Tanka Festival Competition 2012. A few of her bilingual haiku and haibun appeared in LIJLA’s August 2013 Special Feature section edited by Alan Summers. She was 157

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a media person and journalist in Manila before she immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. Ali Abdolrezaei Ali Abdolrezaei was born on 10 April 1969 in Langerood in Northern Iran. He graduated in Mechanical Engineering from Khajeh Nasir Toosi University of Technology (KNTU) in Tehran. Ali published his first book of poems “Only Iron Men Rust in the Rain” at the age of 19, which had an undeniable impact on the poetry circles with his speeches and media interviews. Ali left Iran in September 2002 after his protest against censorship of his last books to be published in Iran, “So Sermon of Society” and “Shinema”, which led to being banned from teaching and public speaking. He now lives in London, UK. His 43 varied books of poetry include “In Riskdom Where I lived”, “This Dear Cat”, “Paris in Renault”, “More Obscene than Literature”, “Hermaphrodite”, “You Name this Book”, “Terror”, “La Elaha Ella Love” and “Wisdom of Sin”. Ali Abdolrezaei’s poems are translated into many languages such as English , French ,German , Spanish , Dutch ,Swedish ,Finnish ,Turkish, Portuguese ,Urdu , Croatian, Armenian , Arabic and … Bhupesh C. Little Born on July 03 1968, Dr. Bhupesh C. Little is first Indian Photography PhD holder. He is also the Topper of First MFA Photography Degree Batch in India in 1997. He did his BFA (5 year professional course) and MFA from the famous College of Arts & Crafts, Lucknow University and PhD from Kumaon University. He works with equal expertise in various specialized fields in Applied Arts; Graphic Design, & Photography. He works with equal expertise in Interior Photography, Fashion, Fine Art Photography, Documentation and Digital Manipulations to name a few. He also specializes in Black & White analogue photography and darkroom processes which is a rarity in the present day and has worked with Infrared films, Mackie-line Process, Partial Solarization, Reticulation, Tonings and Gum Bichromate Process. Photography of rocks and landscapes is one of his most preferred subjects in Photography. He is extensively traveled on assignments and creative photography excursions and likes to trek to heights of 15,000 feet or more. His recent interest is in the latest contemporary field - Digital Arts, which is a new concept in the field of Fine Arts and not many people in India are seriously doing it. In Digital Arts, too he likes to experiment; combining thoughts of old school with the new ones. His Digital Art works have been exhibited at various places. He is the first recipient of Raman UGC Post Doctoral Fellowship to do further research work in USA for 12 months in Digital Arts. He has a university level teaching experience of over 17 years and has taught in Lucknow University from 1995 to 2013, heading Photography section in Dept. of Applied Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, Lucknow University. The faculty has MFA course in Photography, the first Masters Degree in the subject in India, running successfully since 1996. It is noteworthy that in 2009 he was instrumental in starting a PhD Course in Still Photography at Lucknow University when only a few universities have the same course on offer in this subject. He is currently working with Fiji National University (FNU), in the beautiful Fiji Islands in South Pacific, on an offer to teach at FNU.

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Billy O’Callaghan Billy O’Callaghan is the author of three short story collections: ‘In Exile’ (2008) and ‘In Too Deep’ (2009), both published by Mercier Press, and ‘The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind’ (2013), published by New Island Press. Winner of the 2013 Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year, a 2010 Arts Council of Ireland Bursary for Literature and several Irish literary prizes, his fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Confrontation, the Fiddlehead, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Kyoto Journal, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, the Southeast Review, Southword, Versal and numerous other magazines and journals around the world. He also regularly reviews books for the Irish Examiner. Burritt E. Benson III Burritt E. Benson III, aka Bucky, is a leap year baby, 1968. Spanked, raised and still living in the small Southeastern town of Lumberton, North Carolina. Burritt received his B.A. in Marketing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1992. A year later he married his college princess, Sara Shatterly. He worked at his father’s successful construction company from 1992-2004, before attaining his father’s blessing to skedaddle off and pursue his art full time. Burritt has remained steadfast on progressing his art to new levels since stepping down as President of his father’s company. He’s definitely accomplishing what makes him happy, creating his art full time, putting his imagination to fantastic use each and everyday. Catherine McNamara Catherine McNamara grew up in Sydney and has lived in France, Italy, Belgium, Somalia and Ghana. Her collection Pelt and Other Stories, semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize, was published in September 2013. Her stories have been published in Wasafiri, Short Fiction, Wild Cards a Virago Anthology, A Tale of Three Cities, Tears in the Fence, The View from Here, Pretext and Ether Books. Her erotic comedy The Divorced Lady’s Companion to Living in Italy was published in April 2012. She lives in Italy. Claire Everett Claire Everett’s short form poetry has been published in journals worldwide. She served on the editorial team for Take Five, Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4, 2011. Her tanka placed second in the inaugural British Haiku Society Awards for tanka 2012. She has been Tanka Prose Editor for the online journal Haibun Today since December 2011 and in January 2013, Claire became the Founding Editor of Skylark, a UK based journal for English language tanka in all its forms. Claire and her second husband have seven children between them and live in North Yorkshire, England, where they are happiest walking the Moors and Dales. Deborah Emin Deborah Emin is a publisher and writer. She began the Scags Series in order to discover the difference between writing a coming of age story in the female model rather than as a work of one man overcoming one great difficulty. 159

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Scags, as a character is someone who discovers, awakens and learns at several stages in her life, just as a more female-based “coming of age” story warrants. Born in a small suburb of Chicago, Scags goes on to learn from the political, social and eventually religious obstacles she faces who she is and what to do. Told in four parts, each linked to a season, and to a different first-person voice, the intention is to use a compelling female voice to connect to many issues all women face in coming to terms with who they are and what they must do with their time on this planet. Ellen Wright Ellen Wright’s chapbook, In Transit, was published in 2007 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. Her poetry has recently appeared in new ohio review, RHINO, The Vermont Literary Review and Poemeleon Online. The recipient of a master’s degree in comparative literature from New York University, she makes her home in Brooklyn and her living as a musician.

Farah Ghuznavi Farah Ghuznavi is a writer, newspaper columnist and development worker, whose writing has been widely anthologized in the UK, US, France, Canada, Germany, Singapore, India, Nepal and her native Bangladesh. Her story Judgement Day was awarded in the Commonwealth Short Story Competition 2010, and Getting There placed second in the Oxford University GEF Competition. Farah was Writer in Residence with Commonwealth Writers in 2013. She edited the Lifelines anthology (Zubaan Books, 2012), and has subsequently published her first short story collection Fragments of Riversong (Daily Star Books, 2013), available on Amazon’s US and UK websites. Gabriel Don Gabriel Don received her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, where she worked as the chapbook and reading series coordinator.Her work has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Brooklyn Rail, Westerly 58:2, The Saudade Review, The Understanding Between Foxes and Light, Yes Poetry, A Minor and Statorec.com. She has appeared in visual poems such as Woman Without Umbrella (vimeo.com/55691171) and Unbound vimeo.com/54545554). She started several reading-soiree series including Pies and Scribes and Dias Y Flores in New York City and is editorial staff at LIT. Gabriel Don is not just a human, she is a #bookdress and can be found on Amazon @ tinyurl.com/aq9ll8c. Geoffrey Heptonstall Primarily a writer, I have combined writing with lecturing, mentoring and performing. Columnist, Open Democracy since 2013 Poetry Reviewer, The London Magazine since 2011 Contributing Writer, Contemporary Review 1992-2002 Other essays and reviews for Cerise Press, TLS etc. Publications include two plays: Providence (Lampeter Review for Lampeter 160

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University Writing Centre 2013) A Dream of Shangdu (Gold Dust 2014) Poetry published in a number of magazines ranging from Agenda to The Write Place at the Write Time by way of International Literary Quarterly and The London Magazine. A sequence, Of the City, published in Lakeview in 2013. Stories for Cerise Press, Sunk Island Review and Birkbeck’s Writers’ Hub etc. Scripts performed/ workshopped include Providence and War Whore for Duck Down Theatre Co; A Rabbit Replies for White Rabbit Co at Toynbee Studios; Prospects for Kilter Theatre Co, Bath and Audiobooksradio; At the Gates of the Unexpected City, a one man performance at The Emperor, Cambridge and Cambridge 105FM. George Szirtes (See Editorial) Gina Gibson Gina Gibson, MFA is Assistant Professor of Digital Media at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD where she teaches Graphic Design. An internationally exhibiting artist and lecturer, her work has been seen at the Cynthia Broan Gallery in New York City, the National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan and The Siena Art Institute in Siena, Italy. She received her BA in studio art at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and her MFA in studio art from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Gireesh GV Gireesh GV is a photographer artist who lives and works in New Delhi. Born in 1970 Gireesh studied fine arts from the College of Fine Arts in Thiruvananthapuram, his hometown. He further pursued a Masters in Fine Arts at the SN School of Fine Arts and Performing arts, Central University of Hyderabad. Though as a student of fine arts he specialized in painting, Gireesh chose to turn his attention to photography and began his career as a news and features photographer. After having moved to Delhi and then later to Bangalore, he worked with some of the leading publications like Outlook, India Today, Forbes and Life Positive in various capacities. After 2008 he also undertook several freelance assignments once he relocated himself in Bangalore that took away from photojournalism and perched him with some demanding work for a few coffee table books like Microsoft’s ‘10 years of MSIDC and another on the place where Gautama Buddha realized enlightenment titled “Awakenings in BodhGaya’. He has also participated in several group shows and is currently working on his first major solo show. As a photographer artist Gireesh has always been intrigued by the human condition, particularly in the urban detritus. His works captures images of remote no decrepit places and insignificant people. While capturing the uncertain state of their existence and their indomitable spirit, his works are notable for their evocative and often saturated use of colour. Some of his works are in the private collections in Switzerland, Tokyo, New York, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kerala including Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and Indira Gandhi Memorial Library in Hyderabad. His quest for the complexities of humanity is accompanied by his lenseye.

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Gopakumar. R Gopakumar. R works closely with the artistic literary movement Immagine & Poesia. The international artistic literary movement founded in Torino, Italy, in 2007, under the Patronage of the late Aeronwy Thomas, daughter of Dylan Thomas. Gopakumar. R is from Oachira, Kollam, Kerala, India. He has NDFA (Painting) from The Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts, Mavelikara. He is trained in Contemporary Art at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA. Henry Stindt Henry J Stindt is a freelance photographer and university professor working in the US and Latin America. He is the proprietor of Stindt Photographic.

Ishrat Bashir Ishrat Bashir is an assisstant professor in English at the Central University of Kashmir. Her principal interests are in contemporary Theory, Poetry and Translation Studies. Her poems have been published in Muse India and Open Road Review journals. James Wall James is a novelist and short story writer. His work has previously been published in the Best British Short Stories 2013 anthology, Tears in the Fence, The View from Here, and in Matter Magazine. He was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize in 2010, and has an MA in Creative Writing from Sheffield Hallam University.

Jenny Ward Angyal Jenny Ward Angyal lives with her husband and one Abyssinian cat on a small organic farm in Gibsonville, NC, USA. She has written poetry since the age of five and tanka since 2008. Her tanka and other poems have appeared in various print and online journals and may also be found at her blog, The Grass Minstrel.

John Antoine Labadie See Editorial John B. Lee John B. Lee was appointed Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford in perpetuity in 2005 and Honourary Poet Laureate of Norfolk County for life in 2015. His work has appeared internationally in over five hundred publications. The most recent of his seventy five published books are Burning My Father, (Black Moss Press, 2014); Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania, (Hidden Brook 162

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Press, 2014); and he co-edited a special issue of Windsor Review dedicated to work inspired by Nobel Laureate Alice Munro in 2015. He lives in a lake house overlooking Long Point Bay on the south coast of Lake Erie.

John MacKenna John MacKenna is a playwright, actor and the author of sixteen books – novels, short-stories, memoir and poetry. His novel Clare – on the life of the English poet John Clare – is republished in May 2014 by New Island Books, to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the poet’s death. His new novel Joseph will be published by New Island this autumn. He is a winner of the Hennessy; Irish Times; C Day Lewis and Jacob’s Awards. John Sibley Williams John Sibley Williams is the author of Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013) and six poetry chapbooks. He is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review, co-director of the Walt Whitman 150 project, and Marketing Director of Inkwater Press. A few previous publishing credits include: Third Coast, Nimrod International Journal, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Jyoti Modi A housewife residing in Kolkata Jyoti Modi, is a poet by passion. She is a graduate in English Literature and actively sharing her works with her likeminded poet friends on facebook. Her poems has been published in a renowned anthology. She with her extensive readers, intends to publish her book in near future.

Jyotsna Jha Jyotsna Jha grew up in Calcutta, India, and completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Calcutta University, before going on to complete her Masters and M.Phil in English Literature. She has worked variously as a teacher, copy writer, editor, and instructional designer. Her writing centres around themes of freedom, human relationships, and gender. She has had several short stories and poems published, and she is presently working on her first novel. She is a winner of the Random house-MSN writing contest held in India, in 2012. Kate Murray Kate Murray has been only writing since 2010 when her Aunt brought her a leather bound journal for Christmas. Nothing unusual about that, but she didn’t write, in fact she’d only tried to keep a diary for one year. 163

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She had done it but it had been a chore. So she started 2011 by enrolling on to a local writing course. It was free and she thought why not, after all she was always telling people stories. That’s where she differs, you see she is dyslexic and has been actively steered away from writing. Don’t get me wrong, her parents are really supportive and now she’s at university studying an MA in creative writing she has a mass of support. But that first step into the writing group was terrifying. She’s now studying at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David and thoroughly enjoying it. Ken Slaughter Ken grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and relocated to the Boston area some 25 years ago. He has six grandchildren, and is recently retired from a career in computer programming. He discovered tanka in the summer of 2011, and has been hooked ever since. His work has appeared in numerous print and online journals. In 2012 he won second prize for one entry and honorable mention for another in the American Tanka Society’s annual contest. Ketaki Datta Ketaki Datta is an Associate Professor of English, Bidhannagar College[Govt.], Kolkata. She is a novelist, critic and a translator. Her articles and translations have been published in various journals[including Indian Literature,Harvest, Pratibha India etc.] and newspapers[mainly The Statesman]. She has done her Ph.D. on Tennessee Williams.Her debut novel “ A Bird Alone” has won rave reviews in India and abroad. Her stories have been published in The Sunday Statesman, Literary Criterion and Indian Litearture[Sahitya Akademi]. Her translated novel “The Last Salute”[ “Shesh Namaskar”, a Sahitya Award winning Bengali novel, by Santosh Kumar Ghosh] is going to be published shortly by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. Her poems have been published in different anthologies published by Brian Wrixon, Canada. She had been to Lisbon on an invitation from IFTR [Ireland chapter] to read out a paper titled “ Human Values and Modern Bengali Drama”, which got published in the Fest issue of The Statesman.

Laura Maffei

Laura Maffei is the author of Drops from Her Umbrella (Inkling Press, Canada, 2006) and the founding editor of American Tanka (est. 1996). Her tanka, free verse, and sonnets have appeared in various journals and anthologies. She directs the writing center at an independent school and is a member of Human Rights Educators USA. Margarita Engle Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of The Surrender Tree, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino. Her young adult verse novels have also received multiple Pura Belpré Awards and Honors, as well as three Américas Awards and the Jane Addams Peace Award, among others. Her next verse novel is Silver People, Voices From the Panama Canal (March, 2014). Books for younger children include Mountain Dog, 164

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Summer Birds, When You Wander, and Tiny Rabbit’s Big Wish (March, 2014). Margarita lives in central California, where she enjoys hiding in the forest to help train her husband’s wilderness search and rescue dogs. www.margaritaengle.com. Martin Bradley Martin Bradley was born in London, England. He lived in Chennai, India (briefly) and Malaysia. He is a writer of articles concerning the Arts, poetry, short stories, and travelogues. His book (about his life in Malaysia), Buffalo & Breadfruit was published in 2012 by Monsoon Books, in Singapore. The book he wrote and designed for the charity - Colors of Cambodia, called A Story of Colors of Cambodia, was published in Malaysia the same year as was a book of his poetry called Remembering Whiteness and Other Poems. Martin currently owns and edits Dusun - a Malaysian Arts and Culture e-magazine, and had previously run Northern Writers – a venue for writers to read to appreciative audiences in northern Malaysia. Martin has been invited to read at universities in Malaysia, the Commonwealth Writers Festival – New Delhi (India), the Lit Up literary Festival (Singapore), the Yuchenko Museum and Ayala Museum in Manila (The Philippines). Martin Heavisides Martin Heavisides is a contributing editor to Linnet’s Wings; recently published his first novel, Undermind; one of his seven full length plays, Empty Bowl, was given a live reading by The Living Theatre in New York and published in Linnet’s Wings (Summer 2008). Mad Hatter’s Review, Gambara, CE11a’s Round Trip, Sein und Werden, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts and FRIGG are also among the sane and sensible journals that have accepted his work. His website can be found here: http://www.movingpicturewrites.com/ Michele L. Harvey Michele L. Harvey is a professional landscape painter living in New York. Her year is divided between rural Hamilton, New York, and New York City, providing a lively contrast. Her poetry has been widely accepted by most of the current short form and tanka poetry publications, and has been included in many contemporary tanka anthologies. She has won numerous domestic and international tanka contests. Her paintings and examples of her poetry may be found online and on her website at micheleharvey.com Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois Mitchell Krochmalnik Grabois was born in the Bronx and now splits his time between Denver and a one-hundred-and-twenty-year-old, one room schoolhouse in Riverton Township, Michigan. His short fiction, poetry and columns have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and internationally. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents. A print edition is 165

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available through Amazon. Müesser Yeniay Müesser Yeniay was born in İzmir, 1984; graduated from Ege University, with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has won several prizes in Turkey including Yunus Emre (2006), Homeros Attila İlhan (2007), Ali Riza Ertan (2009), Enver Gökçe (2013) poetry prizes. Her first book Dibine Düşüyor Karanlık da was published in 2009 and her second book Evimi Dağlara Kurdum is a collection of translation from world poetry. Her latest book Yeniden Çizdim Göğü was published in 2011. She has translated the poems of Persian poet Behruz Kia under the name of Lalelere Requiem. She has translated Selected Poems of Gerard Augustin together with Eray Canberk, Başak Aydınalp, Metin Cengiz (2011). She has also translated Personal Anthology of Michel Cassir together with Eray Canberk and Metin Cengiz (2011). Lately, she has published Contemporary Spanish Anthology with Metin Cengiz and Jaime B. Rosa. Her poems have been translated into English, French, Serbian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish and Romanian. She participated in the poetry festivals in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Serbia, United States, France and India. Müesser is the editor of the literature magazine Şiirden (of Poetry). She is currently pursuing a Phd in Turkish literature at Bilkent University, Ankara, and is also a member of PEN and the Writers Syndicate of Turkey. Nancy Brashear Nancy Brashear is a Professor at Azusa Pacific University where she serves as the department’s specialist for children’s and adolescent literature for students planning to enter teaching at the elementary and secondary level. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction. In addition, she has presented papers and workshops at conferences related to literature, reading, literacy, and teaching—and other topics. She also has taught courses in Zimbabwe and Kazakhstan. Neal Whitman Neal Whitman is a U.S. poet who writes both Western and Japanese forms; his published work has made its way into in many countries including Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia and the United Kingdom. In 2009, he won the McIntyre Poetry Contest; in 2010, 3rd prize in Common Ground Review and two honorable mentions in Yuki Teikei Haiku Society; in 2011, 3rd prize in Voices of Lincoln Contest and won the Brig Memorial Contest; in 2012, 3rd prize in Artists Embassy International Contest and won the White Buffalo Native American Poet Laureate; in 2013, won the Blaze Memorial and Best Winter Senryu in Diogen Magazine. Neelam Saxena Chandra Neelam Saxena Chandra, an author of twenty books, is a record holder in the Limca Book of Records for being the author with highest number of publications in a year. She has won award in a poetry contest by American Embassy, Premchand award by Ministry of Railways, Rabindranath Tagore international poetry 166

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award, Freedom award by Radio city for her lyrics. She was listed in the Forbes list as one of the most popular seventy eight authors in the country.

Neeraj Patel Neeraj Patel was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. He graduated from Mohan Lal Sukhadiya University, Udaipur with an M.A in Painting. He is presently working as a freelance visual artist. He has also received the Lalit Kala Academy award, Jaipur, 2008.

Oscar Windsor-Smith Oscar Windsor-Smith is presently living in rural Hertfordshire, UK. He has fiction, non-fiction and a smattering of poetry published in diverse places, in print and online. He was a finalist in the New York City Midnight Short Story Challenge 2012. uk.linkedin.com/in/ oscarwindsorsmith/

Paresh Tiwari An electrical engineer by profession, a creative writer and illustrator by choice, Paresh Tiwari is currently based in Hyderabad, India. Growing up with art and culture, he has indulged in various creative outbursts, from time to time. He took to haiku and its various associated forms in the winter of 2012 and is currently learning the nuances of the art of minimalism, which he expects to continue doing for a lifetime. His work, which includes comic strips, graphic stories, free form poetry, haiku and haibun, has been published in various reputed journals and magazines. Quinton Hallett Quinton Hallett writes and edits from Noti, Oregon USA. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, editor/publisher of Fern Rock Falls Press, and her work has appeared in numerous print and online journals and in anthologies including: Tiger’s Eye, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, Turn, New Verse News, La Fovea, The Medulla Review, Noctua Review, Ayris. Active in the Oregon Poetry Association, she has chaired the local Chapter, coordinated a reading series and poet visits to a rural high school. She is originally from Long Island, New York. For 18 years she organized national and international exhibitions for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and for the Armand Hammer Foundation in Los Angeles. Raj More Raj More is a contemporary artist from Mumbai. Born on 20th February, 1974, in Akola, Maharashtra, India. 167

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He graduated from Sir. J. J. School of Applied art Mumbai, Mumbai University 1999 and also has a Govt. Diploma in Art Education, Pune, Pune University 1994.

Reena Prasad Reena Prasad is a poet from India, now based in Sharjah. She has several poems published in English anthology collections (Change, Indus Valley, Love in Verses, Musings—a Mosaic, eight anthologies by Barry Mowles and Friends and 8 of Brian Wrixon’s anthologies, also in online jounals: Carty’s Poetry Journal, Indian Ruminations, Indian Review and in online magazines such as Youth Ki Awaaz. Angle Journal carries 2 of her poems in the Spring/ summer issue. Her poems have found place among the winning entries in contests by Writer’s Cafe, Ekphrasis India and Poets Corner. She writes at http://harivarasanam.wordpress.com/ at her poetry blog, Butterflies of Time. Renuka Mendis (Satchithananthan) Renuka Mendis (Satchithananthan) lives in Toronto, Canada where she lives and works. She is a family lawyer. She is a compulsive poet and is writing her first novel but the law gets in the way as does her passion for cooking, food and travel.

Satish Verma Pitted against the forces bigger than him Satish Verma has been fighting with life on his own terms. In this savage, violent and raging times, he has authored several collections of poetry in English and Hindi, in concrete and precise verses, analyzing the complex nature of man, history and ancient heritage of Homo sapiens. And standing at crossroads he is asking where do we go from here. His poetry communicates a beautiful, mystical mind exploring the images of nature, trying to find the meaning of the life and death, the ecstasy of talking to moon, flowers and wind in the kingdom of god. He wants to know cannot we live in peace? Satish Verma addresses the most complex questions of philosophy, religion and political culture in a very subtle but virtual shocking manner. As aptly said by Lao Tzu The one who speaks does not know The one who knows does not speak Sarah Dobbs

Sarah is a tutor in English and Creative Writing. Her first novel, Killing Daniel, was published in 2012 by Unthank Books and was nominated for the Guardian’s Not the Booker. She is the cofounder of Creative Writing the Artist’s Way and can be found @ sarahjanedobbs or http://sarahjanedobbs.wordpress.com

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Sergio Ortiz Sergio Ortiz is an educator. Flutter Press released his debut chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk (2009), and his second chapbook, Bedbugs in My Mattress (2010). He is a three-time nominee for the 2010, 2011 Sundress Best of the Web Anthology, and a 2010 Pushcart nominee. He received a Commendation in the 2012 International Polish Haiku Competition. His poems appear in, Shot Glass, Notes from the Gean, Atlas Poetica, Skylark, and Cattails; are forthcoming in Lynx, and other journals. Shanta Acharya Shanta Acharya was born and educated in India before studying at Oxford and Harvard. Her doctoral study, The Influence of Indian Thought on Ralph Waldo Emerson, was published in 2001. The author of nine books, her latest poetry collection is Dreams That Spell The Light (Arc Publications, UK; 2010). Her poems, articles and reviews have appeared in major publications including Poetry Review, London Magazine, The Spectator, The Guardian Poem of the Week, The French Literary Review, Edinburgh Review, Oxford Today, The Warwick Review, The Istanbul Review, Agenda, The Little Magazine, The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (2012), India International Centre Quarterly, Cimarron Review, Fulcrum, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (Norton, 2008). She is the founder director of Poetry in the House, Lauderdale House in London, where she has been hosting monthly poetry readings since 1996. She was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Poetry Society, UK, in 2011. www.shantaacharya.com Sheri L. Wright Pushcart Prize and Kentucky Poet Laureate nominee, Sheri L. Wright is the author of six books of poetry, including the most recent, The Feast of Erasure. Wright’s visual work has appeared in numerous journals, including Blood Orange Review, The Single Hound , THIS Literary Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, Blood Lotus Journal and Subliminal Interiors. In 2012, Ms. Wright was a contributer to the the Sister Cities Project Lvlds: Creatively Linking Leeds and Louisville. Her photography has been shown across the Ohio Valley region and abroad. Shernaz Wadia Shernaz Wadia is a retired primary school teacher, and lives in Pune, India. She was educated in St. Joseph’s High School Valsad and Wadia College, Pune. Her articles, short stories and poems have been widely published in web journals and anthologies. She has also published ‘Whispers of the Soul’, a collection of some of her poems and “Tapestry Poems” – a genre of poetry composition in partnership, developed by her and Israeli poet Avril Meallem. More about this form can be read at tapestrypoetry.webs.com Website: http://www.gopikanath.co.in/ Some articles: http://www.gopikanath.co.in/pblications.htm. html Blogs: http://gopikanathartviews.blogspot.com/ http://garammasalachai.blogspot,com

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Shirani Rajapakse Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears in The Linnet’s Wings, Spark, Berfrois, Poets Basement, Asian Cha, Earthen Lamp Journal, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence. She blogs rather infrequently at http://shiranirajapakse. wordpress.com. Shyam Sunder A poet at heart, Shyam took premature retirement after an illustrious career as an Infantry officer in the Indian Army. Widely traveled, Shyam is a recipient of Shaurya Chakra, awarded by the President of India for conspicuous gallantry. He holds a Master’s degree in English Literature, a MBA diploma in HRM and an Honours degree in English Literature. He has been writing poetry since childhood and prefers the blank verse with occasional experiments in Haiku. He has extensive audience on Scribd with over 1,90,000 reads and also on Facebook as Driftwood Ashore where he runs a Poetry & Arts Group - Poets, Artists, Unplugged and his own page as Shyam_adrift. Some of his poems have been published in various anthologies and magazines worldwide. He recently performed as a Guest Poet at Fermoy International Poetry Festival at Ireland in August 2013. He is also the Project coordinator for Delhi Poetry Festival Season- II to be held at New Delhi in January 2014. He is a single parent and resides in Delhi with his daughters and dog. His passions are poetry and literature. An avid birdwatcher, nature lover and dreamer, he intends to release his own poetry books in the near future. Sonam Chokki Born and raised in the kingdom of Bhutan I find the Japanese short form poetry resonates with my Tibetan Buddhist upbringing. I’m inspired by my father, Sonam Gyamtsho, the architect of Bhutan’s non-monastic modern education. My poetry has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, UK and US. Steve Babbitt Steve Babbitt was born in Oakland, California in 1954 and moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1992. He has been making photographs for the past 40 years. He received his BFA and MFA in photography from The San Francisco Art Institute. His photographs can be found in the collections of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France; the Getty Museum Library, Malibu, California; the Dahl Fine Art Center, Rapid City, SD; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the San Francisco Art Institute; the South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, SD and the permanent collection of the State of South Dakota. Steve has been teaching photography for 22 years and is currently a professor of photography at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. Steve lives 170

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in Rapid City, SD with his wife, Nancy and son, Stephen. Steve is represented by Herons Flight Gallery, Rapid City, SD; The Spearfish Art Center Gallery, Spearfish, SD and Getty Images. Sunil Sharma Sunil Sharma is India--born, Mumbai based, writer, poet, freelance journalist, reviewer, literary interviewer and editor. Currently he is a degree college principal in Mumbai Metropolitan Region. He is widely published.

Susan Constable Susan Constable’s haiku, tanka, and haiga have appeared in numerous international journals and anthologies. Her collection, The Eternity of Waves, is one of the winning entries in the 2012 eChapbook Awards, sponsored by Snapshot Press. Susan is currently the tanka editor for the international on-line journal, A Hundred Gourds. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, off the west coast of Canada, where the beauty of nature offers constant inspiration. Turlach O Broin Turlach O Broin is a 26 year old Irish photographer, poet and PhD student of history. He has not won any prizes for poetry. He has been published three times in poetry journals, but he can’t remember their names. He lives in Dublin. The sea moves him more than most. It pervades his lines. He spends his mornings reading, afternoons writing and evenings photographing. Uma Gowrishankar Uma Gowrishankar is a poet and artist from Chennai, South India. Her poems have been published in ‘Qarrtsiluni’, ‘Whale Sound’, ‘Buddhist Poetry Review’, ‘Carcinogenic Poetry’, ‘Catapult Magazine’, ‘Curio Poetry.’ She blogs at http://umagowrishankar.wordpress.com/

Umm-e-Aiman Umm-e-Aiman currently lives in Karachi, Pakistan and has been published in a few online and print magazines. She wishes to continue locating broader portals that will showcase her writing to give her the credibility of being an ocean swimmer. She also writes under the pseudonym Sheikha A. Valentina Cano Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time either writing or reading. Her works have appeared in Exercise Bowler, Blinking Cursor, Cartier Street Press, Berg Gasse 19, Precious Metals, A Handful of Dust, The Scarlet Sound, The Adroit Journal, Perceptions Literary Magazine, 171

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Welcome to Wherever, The Corner Club Press, Death Rattle, Danse Macabre, Subliminal Interiors, Generations Literary Journal, Super Poetry Highway, Stream Press, Stone Telling, Popshot, Golden Sparrow Literary Review, Rem Magazine, Structo, The 22 Magazine, The Black Fox Literary Magazine, Niteblade, Tuck Magazine, Ontologica, among many others. You can find her here: http://carabosseslibrary. blogspot.com

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Editorial Board Chief Editor Jose Varghese Jose Varghese is Assistant Professor of English at Sacred Heart College in Kochi, India. His collection of poems ‘Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ was listed in Grace Cavalieri’s Best Reading for Fall 2009, in Montserrat Review. His stories are accepted for publication in The Salt Anthology of New Writing 2013, UK and Unthology, UK, and a poem by him is accepted for the Red Squirrel Anthology 10RED, UK. He has done a Faber Writing Course in London under Marcel Theroux and Hanif Kureishi and writes for Thresholds: Home of the International Short Story Forum, Chichester University, UK. He is invited for the 13 th International Conference on the Short Story in English to be held at Vienna in July 2014. He was the winner in River Muse 2013 Spring Poetry Contest, USA, and a runner up in the Salt Prize (UK) 2012. His forthcoming book Silent Woman and Other Stories is slated for publication in 2013.

Associate Editor Aravind R Nair Aravind R Nair teaches graduate and postgraduate classes in English Literature at Sacred Heart College, Thevara. He did his masters at the University of Hyderabad and has an M.Phil from The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. An odd assortment; he counts himself an avid fan of sf, anime, alt rock and Egyptology. He steers clear of ‘serious’ literature. However, he feels that the occasional classic is an occupational hazard!

Visual Arts Editor John Antoine Labadie John Antoine Labadie earned a bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Dayton (1973), a Master’s, in perceptual psychology, from Wright State State University (1980) and an interdisciplinary Doctorate from the College of Design, Architecture Art & Planning at the University of Cincinnati (1993). Labadie was a 2005-2006 Fulbright Senior Scholar in digital art for the “Center for Creativity and Innovation Studies” at National Chengchi University in Taipei, Taiwan; an International artist-in-residence at the Beijing Film Academy in Beijing, China; a 2007 Visiting Artist/Scholar at the National Institute of Design in Ahmadabad India.

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Advisory Board Alan Summers Alan Summers, a Japan Times award-winning writer based in Bradford on Avon, England, runs With Words, which provides literature, education and literacy projects, as well as online courses often based around the Japanese genres. He is a co-editor for Bones Journal (new and gendai haiku), and his latest collection Does Fish-God Know contains gendai haiku and short verse published by Yet To Be Named Free Press: There is also a forthcoming book titled Writing Poetry: the haiku way. Alan is also currently working on a children’s novel, an adult crime thriller, and the Kigo Lab Project. He blogs at Area 17, and is a featured haiku poet at Cornell University, Mann Library, as well as the World Monuments Fund haiku contest judge. Website: www.withwords.org.uk Blog: http://area17.blogspot.com Bill Ashcroft Bill Ashcroft is a renowned critic and theorist, founding exponent of post-colonial theory, co-author of The Empire Writes Back, the first text to examine systematically the field of post-colonial studies. He is author and co-author of sixteen books and over 160 articles and chapters, variously translated into six languages, including Post-Colonial Transformation and On Post-Colonial Futures and Caliban’s Voice. He holds an Australian Professorial Fellowship at the University of New South Wales, Australia, working on the project “Future Thinking: Utopianism in Postcolonial Literatures.” George Szirtes George Szirtes, was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee with his parents and younger brother following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. He grew up in London and trained as a painter in Leeds and London. He is the author of some fifteen books of poetry, roughly the same of translation from Hungarian, and a few miscellaneous other books. His first, The Slant Door (1979) was joint winner of the Faber Memorial Prize. In 2004 he won the T S Eliot Prize for Reel, and was shortlisted for the prize again in 2009 for The Burning of the Books and for Bad Machine (2013). There were a number of other awards between. Bloodaxe published his New and Collected Poems in 2008. His translations from Hungarian have won international prizes, including the Best Translated Book Award in the USA for László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango (2013) and his latest book for children, In the Land of the Giants won the CLPE Prize for best collection of poetry for children, also in 2013. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the UK and of the Szécheny Academy of Arts and Letters in Hungary. He is married to painter, Clarissa Upchurch and recently retired from teaching at the University of East Anglia. For a fuller CV see his website at georgeszirtes.blogspot.co.uk Kala Ramesh Kala Ramesh has long had a fascination for Indian classical music and has worked extensively on Pandit Kumar Gandharava’s gayaki and nirguni bhajans along with the paramparic bandishes of the Gwalior gharana, under the guidance of 174

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Vidushi Smt Shubhada Chirmulay, Pune. Kala has performed in major cities in India. Kala discovered haiku in 2005 and feels she’s addicted to this art form from day one! She also writes in related genres like, tanka (five line poem), haibun (tight prose embedded with haiku), senryu, and renku (collaborative linked verse). Her poems have appeared in anthologies, print and online journals. Her book titled “Haiku” brought out by Katha in December 2010 was awarded the Honourable Mention for Best Book for Children: The Haiku Society of America’s Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards. “The Blue Jacaranda” won the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2012 (Japan). Her collection of tanka poems, “the unseen arc” won The Snapshot Press eChapbook Award 2012 (UK). Loree Westron Loree Westron is an American writer living in the UK. Her short stories and literary criticism have been published in journals and anthologies including London Magazine, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice and Western American Literature. In 2010, she helped set up the Thresholds International Short Story Forum, for which she served as Editor until 2013. She is currently finishing a PhD at the University of Chichester where she also teaches Creative Writing. Mel Ulm Mel Ulm is the editor and founder of The Reading Life, a premier Asian based literary book blog with over 100,000 visits a month. He is an internationally published philosopher. His posts on Indian literature have been recommended by The Economic Times of India and he will be a regular contributor to the Journal of the Katherine Mansfield Society. Patrick Connors Patrick Connors was Lead Artist in Making a Living; Making Art, a pilot project of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts at the University of Toronto. He recently published in Barrie and Belgium. His first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by LYRICALMYRICAL Press this Spring. He headlined an event of Sunday Poetry at Ellington’s called, Artists as Activists. He is a manager for the Toronto chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. Rana Nayar Rana Nayar is Professor and Former Chairperson, Department of English & Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. His main areas of interest are: World Drama/Theatre, Translation Studies, Literary Theory and Cultural Studies. A practicing translator of repute (Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow & Sahitya Akademi Prize winner), he has rendered around ten modern classics of Punjabi into English, ranging over novels, short stories and poetry. He was awarded First Prize, in an All India contest, organized by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi for his translation of Baba Farid’s Shlokas into English. Among other works, his translations include those of Gurdial Singh, Mohan Bhandari, Raghbir Dhand and 175

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Beeba Balwant, published by Macmillan, National Book Trust, Sahitya Akademi, Sterling, Fiction House, Katha and Unistar et al. Apart from this, he has one collection of poems Breathing Spaces (Unistar, Chandigarh) and three critical books, i.e., Edward Albee: Towards a Typology of Relationships (Prestige, New Delhi, 2003) and Inter-sections: Essays on Indian Literatures, Translations and Popular Consciousness (Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 2012), and Gurdial Singh: A Reader (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2012) to his credit. Moreover, he has directed over twenty major, full-length productions, and acted in almost as many. Sanjukta Dasgupta Dr.Sanjukta Dasgupta, Professor and Former Head, Dept of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University, teaches English, American literature and New Literatures in English. Recipient of the Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship and several other awards and grants, she was also the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize jury panel (2003-2005). Her published books are The Novels of Huxley and Hemingway: A Study in Two Planes of Reality, Responses : Selected Essays, Snapshots (poetry), Dilemma (poetry), First Language (poetry), More Light (poetry) Her Stories (translations), Manimahesh (translation), The Indian Family in Transition (co-edited SAGE), Media, Gender and Popular Culture in India: Tracking Change and Continuity (lead author, SAGE, 2011) Tagore: At Home in the World (co-edited 2012, SAGE). She is the Managing Editor of FAMILIES : A Journal of Representations Awaiting Publication in 2013: Radical Rabindranath: Nation, Family and Gender in Tagore’s Fiction and Fils.( lead author, Orient Blackswan) Editor:Golpo Sankalan (Contemporary translated Bengali Short Stories) ( Sahitya Akademi) Sudeep Sen Sudeep Sen [www.sudeepsen.net] is widely recognised as a major new generation voice in world literature and ‘one of the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene’ (BBC Radio). He is ‘fascinated not just by language but the possibilities of language’ (Scotland on Sunday). He read English Literature at the University of Delhi and as an Inlaks Scholar received an MS from the Journalism School at Columbia University (New York). His awards, fellowships & residencies include: Hawthornden Fellowship (UK), Pushcart Prize nomination (USA), BreadLoaf (USA), Pleiades (Macedonia), NLPVF Dutch Foundation for Literature (Amsterdam), Ledig House (New York), Sanskriti (New Delhi), Wolfsberg UBS Pro Helvetia (Switzerland), Tyrone Guthrie Centre (Ireland), and Shanghai Writers Programme (China). He was international writer-in-residence at the Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh) and visiting scholar at Harvard University. Sen’s critically-acclaimed books include The Lunar Visitations, New York Times, Dali’s Twisted Hands, Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Distracted Geographies, Prayer Flag, Rain, Aria (A K Ramanujan Translation Award), Ladakh and Letters of Glass. Blue Nude: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1979-2014 (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) is forthcoming. He has also edited several important anthologies, including The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, Poetry Foundation Indian Poetry Portfolio, Poetry Review Centrefold of Indian Poems, The Literary Review Indian Poetry, World Literature Today Writing from Modern India, The Yellow Nib Contemporary English Poetry by Indians, Midnight’s Grandchildren: 176

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Post-Independence English Poetry by Indians, Midnight’s Grandchildren: PostIndependence English Poetry from India, Wasafiri New Writing from India, South Asia & the Diaspora, and, Lines Review Twelve Modern Young Indian Poets. His poems, translated into twenty-five languages, have featured in international anthologies by Penguin, HarperCollins, Bloomsbury, Routledge, Norton, Knopf, Everyman, Random House, Macmillan, and Granta. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Telegraph, Financial Times, Herald, London Magazine, Poetry Review, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Hindu, Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDTV, AIR & Doordarshan. Sen’s newer work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta), Language for a New Century (Norton), Leela: An Erotic Play of Verse and Art (Collins), Indian Love Poems (Knopf/Random House/Everyman), Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe), and Initiate: Oxford New Writing (Blackwell). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS and the editor of Atlas. [www.atlasaarkarts.net]. In January 2013, Sudeep Sen was the first Asian to be honoured to deliver the Derek Walcott Lecture and read from his own work as part of the Nobel Laureate Week in Saint Lucia.

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Student Editors Abraham J Thayil Abraham J Thayil is a third year B.A English student at Sacred Heart College, Thevara. He writes short stories and essays. His favourite authors are Sidney Sheldon and Dan Brown. He is also a guitarist and loves watching movies. He is very much skilled in computer programs like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Pagemaker and CorelDraw. He is fine speaker and has good presentation skills. Abraham Varghese Abraham Varghese is currently doing his Bsc Maths at Sacred Heart College. His poems and short essays revolve around the social issues that call for immediate attention. He is an avid reader of literatures from around the world.

Mariam Henna Mariam Henna, born in Ernakulam, is a passionate reader and an ardent creative writer. Her work ‘The Two Sisters’ has got published in the Children’s Magazine. She has won various prizes for creative writing at the school and college level. She has completed her bachelors in English Language and Literature Copy Editing. She loves to write poetry and short stories. She is currently working on her debut novel. Apart from reading and writing, she spends her free time doing charitable activities and is currently working as the Operations head of the cochin branch of Drikshya (NGO).

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LIJLA Vol. 2 No. 1 February 2014  

Short Fiction/Poetry/Visual Arts/Tanka by James Wall, Shanta Acharya, Billy O'Callaghan, Henry Stindt, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Catheri...

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