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LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts

Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College, Thevara


Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Vol.5, No.1 February 2017 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. Š Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, 2017 Graphic Design - Mariam Henna Page Settings - Mariam Henna Cover Artwork - W. Jack Savage

Editorial Board Chief Editor - Jose Varghese Associate Editor - Aravind R Nair Design/Layout Editor - Mariam Henna Review Editor - Jude Gerald Lopez Translation Editors - Minu Varghese, Mohammed Zahid Visual Art Editor -Shijo Varghese Photography Editor - Collins Justine Peter Student Editors - Gowri Nair, Sanjay Sreenivas Advisory Board - Alan Summers, Bill Ashcroft, George Szirtes, Kala Ramesh, Loree Westron, Mel Ulm, Patrick Connors, Rana Nayar, Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sudeep Sen


Editorial Do we see the writing on the wall?    Are we able to respond to it on our own creative terms, even as we speak to power?    Quite a large number of submissions we received this time reflected the 21st Century zeitgeist. But that’s one thing, and our quest for artistic fulfilment a different affair altogether. I call it pure bliss when both these combine so naturally to produce a work of art that can be seen as an organic whole. I believe we can see a lot of that happening in the works that are featured here. It’s just that I couldn’t accommodate as many works as I wished, due to space constrictions.    While we took a break from reading short fiction submissions for the present issue, I had the good fortune to judge the first Strands International Short Story Competition. I was quite impressed by the way so many stories addressed the theme, ‘Fire’, in various realistic and metaphorical ways. The winning story, ‘The Fiery Angel’ by Helen de Búrca is featured in this issue. With its unique narrative craft that befits speculative fiction, the story presents an unforgettable dystopian vision. I hope it also meets the mood set by the powerful cover image by W. Jack Savage.    We had all the other short stories selected from our reading period for the previous issue. Quite a few poems were also selected from that period before we were open for submissions again. This has resulted in much more rejections than we would have liked. I hope it won’t dampen the spirit of those brilliant writers and artists who couldn’t find a place in this issue. We are open to all the categories for the August 2017 issue with all our space open, and that would obviously mean a higher acceptance rate next time. Please do keep submitting your new works to us.    Here is wishing you a great a reading/viewing experience! Jose Varghese February 2017


In This Issue Helen de Búrca (Short Fiction) The Fiery Angel

11-20

David Rose (Short Fiction) Looking At Florence With Mr. Bradley.

21-24

Nancy Freund (Poetry) When I Met Bobby artists at midnight

25 26

Richard Luftig (Poetry) Fossil Hunting in Kansas

27-28

Gaël de Kerguenec (Visual Art)

29-35

Christopher Walker (Short Fiction) Sara the Writer Conor O’Sullivan (Short Fiction) At Bat Sukrita Paul Kumar (Poetry) Generation Gap Of New Lives

36-47

48-53

54 55

Sabin Iqbal (Poetry) After A Decade Blue Stones Of Gilgal

56-57 57 58

Pablo Solari (Visual Art)

59-64

Kate Ennals (Short Fiction) In Hiding

65-68

Gordon Gibson (Short Fiction) An Old-fashioned Girl

69-74

Jonathan Taylor (Poetry) A Pyromancer’s Advice to Her Daughter, Shang Dynasty, c. 1200 BCE Carl Nielsen, Symphony No. 5 Tooth

75 76 77

Anniyil Tharakan (Poetry|Translation) The Yoga of the Vision of Cosmic Form (Chapter 11, extract from Gita translation)

78-84

Gary Frier (Visual Art)

85-90


Damini Kane (Short Fiction) Millennial City - Part I: Liquid Girl in a Pink House Paul GnanaSelvam (Short Fiction) River Surf Bashir Sakhawarz (Poetry) Love and war Courage After You Left Robert Beveridge (Poetry) The Mystery of the Disappearing Pillowcases Territory Jaydeep Sarangi (Book Review) Trainstorm Carola Colley and Usha Kishore (Ekphrasis) Threads Across Waters

91

92-94

95 95 96

97 98

99-100

101-116

Ted Morrissey (Short Fiction) The Glance of Orpheus

117-126

W. Jack Savage (Visual Art)

127-134

Nick Sweeney (Short Fiction) Dzemila

135-140

Jesse Falzoi (Short Fiction) Stains

141-150

Emma-Jane Hughes (Poetry) The Row Geography

151 152

Andrew C Brown (Poetry) The Table The Disabled Cistern

153 153

Satadru Sovan (Visual Art)

154-159

Martin Heavisides (Short Fiction) Living the Dream

160-161

Esther Jacoby (Short Fiction) Pest Control

162-165

Marc Woodward (Poetry) Whistle Fishing for Bankers

166 167

Michael Forester (Poetry) Orestes

168-169

Abhijit Kumar Pathak (Visual Art)

170-175


Andrew Lee-Hart (Short Fiction) Listen

176-180

Zev Torres (Poetry) These Lies

181

Prathap Kamath (Poetry) The witness Vroom

182 182

Reshma Ruia (Short Fiction) Bank Holiday Weekend

183-189

Ravi Shankar (Poetry) The Walker in a Wheelchair

190-191

Pia Ghosh Roy (Poetry) Pressure

192

List of Contributors

193-203

Editorial Board

204-211


Short Fiction|Helen de Búrca The Fiery Angel (Winner of Strands International Short Fiction Competition - 'Fire')

When she woke at last, it was as if for the first time.    Her eyelids, when she tried to peel them back, were oddly heavy, as if their lower rims had been lined with lead. When she tried to raise her arm, it was weak and tremulous, as were all of her muscles.    Fear swelled the beating of her heart.    After a long time, she found the strength to reach up and touch her eyes. The surfaces under her fingertips were unfamiliar, the flesh undulating in smooth, nerveless welts. When she touched her eyelids, she found that they were sealed shut with ice.    Uncomprehending, she covered them with her hands, and water ran down her cheeks.    Opening her eyes at last, she saw her breath plume whitely into the air, as it had done long ago, when winters had still been cold.    Yet she did not feel cold – quite the contrary. Heat marched like an army of ants through her blood vessels: a warlike heat, a constant jolting. She looked down at her body, stretched beneath a single sheet, and felt how it seethed.    As if flung into darkness, she slept again.    The next time she woke, she felt a little stronger, enough at least to look around.    She was in a vast white chamber. Her narrow white bed was one of many, dotted at intervals about the room, but set so far apart that she could not make out whether the other beds were occupied, or perhaps it was simply because her eyes seemed far weaker than before. Her breath still smoked into the humming air and her body still vibrated with that vicious heat. She realised that her arm was hooked up to an intravenous drip of a type she had never seen before. It seemed to be made of something like enamel, through which the liquid passing into her body was visible only because of its darkness against the opaque surface.    It came to her that she must have been very ill, but she had no memory of it, and this frightened her more than anything else.    Seeing no button to call a nurse, she tried to cry out. Her voice was harsh and dried-out, although she did not feel thirsty. She glanced around nevertheless for a glass of water, but there was not even a bedside table. Feebly, she pushed back the sheet and made to slip out of the bed. Only then did she feel the smooth shackles enclosing her ankles. She pulled the sheet entirely off her legs and saw that they had been cuffed to the bedframe.   11

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She tried to scream, but only hissing sounds emerged. Sobbing almost silently, her throat tearing with her efforts to cry out, she began to kick at the bedframe. It made a subdued clang, but her feet were too soft to make much noise. She reached out for the drip, hoping to pull it close to the bed and bang some part of it against the frame, but the entire apparatus seemed to be fixed in place.    Heat began to rush through her skin and the whiteness around her became blinding. Against it, she seemed to see her legs and hands darken to red, crimson, damson.    Then a large figure was beside her, gripping her bare arm hard, slipping into it the brief sting of a needle. A lessening of the burning sensation spread out from around the puncture. She found herself relaxing despite herself. The whiteness pressing upon her began to diminish.    The figure continued to hold her arm, but more gently, and the contact, anonymous though it was, felt reassuring. She allowed herself to fall back on her pillow and found that she was exhausted, emptied of energy as never before.    She looked up at the figure that had injected her and saw, with her newly veiled vision, a strange plastic helmet above a white coverall. At first, she could not make out anything behind the visor. The figure continued to hold her arm, slightly massaging the puncture with a thumb she realised was gloved. After a while, she began to make out a face: that of a man with alert, cautious eyes, but also with lines around his mouth that must have been graven by a lot of smiling.    “Why am I tied to the bed?” she managed to whisper.    The man did not answer, but considered her for a long moment. His thumb continued to soothe her arm, and she hoped that he would continue.    Finally, he said, “I’m Dr Sidney. Do you remember who you are?”    “Eva,” she murmured, but suddenly she felt unsure – not of her name, but of the other things she remembered about herself.    He did not seem to notice her uncertainty. A slight smile touched his mouth and, as she had expected, the grooves in his cheeks deepened.    “That’s right, Eva. I’m sorry this has been such a terrible time for you. You have been very ill. The terrorists developed a virus and released it into the population. I’m afraid you have been one of its victims.”    A wave of terror swept through her again. Her scalp, her fingertips prickled with searing heat. Without hesitating, Dr Sidney stepped closer and took her face gently in one gloved hand. She could see his face better now. His eyes were very intense and seemed to look deep inside her, despite the plastic surface between them.    “You are going to be absolutely fine. Do you hear me?” His voice was calm and emphatic. It reminded her of the President’s voice. She 12

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felt as if she could catch onto his words and use them to pull her back to a safe place.    He continued, “You have recovered extremely well. You just need to build up your strength now. We need you to be strong and healthy. Ok? Can you do that for me?”    Slowly, she nodded. There was something reassuring about him, the broadness of him, the imminent smile, the brightness of his gaze. She let out a long sigh, and he said, “Good. That’s it. Just relax. Try to sleep some more. It will do you good.” And even as he said it, she found her eyes closing.    He was often present after that when she woke, manipulating machines that had been attached to some part of her as she slept. However busy he looked, he always seemed to be aware of her waking. She felt that his bright eyes missed nothing.    She continued to sleep for long periods of time. When she woke, there was nothing to do. She would stare at her legs and arms, noting with indifference how skeletal they had become. She wondered what the effects of the virus had been, for her skin was bluish, mottled with dark stains. Although her breath still smoked into the air, she often felt feverish, and so, as she never felt cold, she came to believe that the visibility of her breath must be an effect of the virus. Because she was never hungry, it took her a while to realise that food was never served to her. Nor did she seem to need the toilet anymore. This puzzled her, but she supposed it was something to do with the drip. As these bodily functions continued not to bother her, she gradually forgot about them.    Sometimes she sat up straight and, with her blurred vision, tried to make out the other beds. They were placed far enough away that she could not see anything with clarity except that they seemed to contain figures; she supposed that they must be other victims of the virus. Beside the closer beds, she thought she could make out intravenous drips like her own. A couple of times, she thought about calling to the other patients, but her voice did not improve, and she could do little other than hiss.    One day, she woke to a sound she was no longer used to hearing. The voices were muffled, but the jabber of them was so familiar that, for the first time, nostalgia stabbed at her. She found herself thinking of Lydia.    She and Lydia had been best friends since their childhood, at least until a few months before what must have been the onset of the virus. Their friendship had altered because Lydia had altered, although it was unclear what the cause of that change had been.    Lydia had always been outspoken at home, but during that strange period, she had begun to make her ridiculous, dissenting claims in public too. The theme she returned to most frequently was that of the recent terrorist attacks, which she claimed had been engineered by 13

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the government in order to control the population. At first, Eva had not reacted, hoping that Lydia would realise by herself how senseless and disruptive and stupid her words were, and that she would stop. However, even faced with the violent reactions of other people to her words, Lydia had persisted, and had even raised her tone further. It had begun to irritate Eva, and to scare her too. She didn’t want it to be thought that she shared such opinions.    The last time she had seen Lydia, she remembered screaming at her that she was a traitor and no better than a terrorist herself for talking about such things. “Someone’s going to shut you up if you don’t stop talking,” she had shouted, and Lydia had shouted back, “Yes, I know, and doesn’t that prove what I’m trying to tell you?”    She couldn’t remember where they had been during this argument, nor how it had ended. The edges of the memory were fuzzy and incomplete. She wondered whether that had been the moment when she had fallen ill, and whether it had been Lydia who had called for help.    Sometimes she imagined seeing Lydia again, when she was better, and how she would demonstrate to Lydia that the virus proved how wrong she had been, and how contrite Lydia would be. However, try as she might, she could not quite recall what their friendship had been like before Lydia had become so outspoken.    The source of the voices became evident. It was a group of people dressed in one-piece suits with helmets, like Dr Sidney’s. They were approaching one of the beds. She could not hear what was being said, but there was a friendly buzz to the voices and she hoped that they would visit her afterwards. There was a good deal of movement, and then the people gathered at the end of the bed. She made out someone standing before them, and she assumed that it must be the patient, for the bed now seemed empty. They must have given the person clothes, for he or she seemed to be dressed in black rather than the white robe she herself wore. One of the white-suited figures came forward and held out a hand. They all moved awayin the opposite direction to her bed until she could see and hear them no more.    Then it was quiet again apart from the humming of unseen machinery. She found that she wanted to cry, but could not.    A figure approached from between the beds. She recognised Dr Sidney’s particular stride. She had taken to looking out for him, for she missed him when he was not with her. He had such an intense way of looking at her; surely he did not look at other patients like that. It made her feel exceptional. She had no way to check her appearance, but whenever he visited, she became conscious of her near nudity, the thinness of the gown that covered her from neck to knees. Sometimes, after his visits, she ran her hands over her body, her breasts that had become even smaller since her illness, her jutting hip bones, the slight 14

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mound between her legs, and imagined him removing his gloves and touching her in the same way.    She sat up straight to greet him. He seemed to like it when she did that; she supposed that it showed that his cure was working and that she was growing stronger, but she hoped that it was more than that. She hoped he was as happy to see her as she was to see him.    When he came closer, she saw that he was smiling fully, which he did only rarely. He sat beside her on the bed and took her hand in his gloved two. She could never quite make out how big his hands were because the gloves seemed very thick, but he was tall, so she imagined that his fingers must be long and graceful.    “How are you today Eva?” he asked.    “I feel good, much better!” she said.    “And the fever?”    She lowered her eyes. “Just a little… when I woke up… but I feel fine now!”    He looked at her thoughtfully, then got up and walked around to the end of the bed to examine the digital charts. Because of the manacles on her ankles, she would have had to lean precariously to see them; however, as they did not interest her, she did not try. He always asked whether she had been feverish, so she supposed that her temperature must be an important indicator of her progress.    He examined the charts for several moments, then came back and sat down again. His hip was against her knee. She did not dare to move, but felt a tremor of excitement in her belly. She wondered what it would feel like if he kissed her.    He looked at her seriously and said, “I think you’re really on the mend at last. You’re doing so well, Eva. In just a few weeks I think we’ll be able to let you go.”    “Oh,” she said carefully. Her old life did not seem real anymore. All that was real was his hip against her knee and his eyes looking into hers. She took a deep breath, saw how his gaze dropped to follow the movement of her chest. When he spoke, his voice was tender.    “It’s for quarantine as well, you know… because you’re really doing so well, Eva. Really wonderfully well. Far better than my other patients.” She felt that tremor again, like a tiny bird fluttering within her. He patted her hand, stood and walked away. She watched him until he had disappeared among the other beds.    After that, it seemed to happen with increasing frequency, the group of white-suited people coming in, talking and then leaving with an apparently recovered patient. Every time she saw Dr Sidney, he reassured her that soon she would be able to leave. She began to imagine that day, how he would come alone, carrying her clothes. He would slip the needle from her arm, bandage it with smooth, ungloved hands, and then he would move to the end of the bed and his palm 15

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would rest on her shin as the other hand worked the manacle loose. He would massage her ankles for a moment and his eyes would send her a secret message. She would slip from the bed and he would catch her as she stumbled on weakened legs and she would find herself pressed to him, and they would both be troubled and confused when he released her and turned to let her slip into the clothes he had touched a moment before. Finally, as he accompanied her between the beds to wherever the door was, he would tell her in a low voice that he had to see her again, and she would feel her heart bursting and she would say yes.    Before she left, one last group accompanying a recovered patient passed in front of her bed, close enough for her to make out the face of the patient. It was a girl her own age, her limbs wasted, her skin mottled, her hair ragged, as if it had been singed away.    Eva found herself whispering, “Lydia…”    Even though the word was not loud enough to carry, the girl’s head, on a neck that seemed too long and thin to support it,made a wobblinghalf-turn toward her. She stopped dead, so that one of the white-suited people bumped into her and she fell to her knees. She stretched out a hand toward Eva and her mouth formed a word that might have been Eva’s name.    As Eva watched, aghast, a strange dark flush crept over the girl’s skin. She grimaced and twisted in what looked like pain. As she did, her face turned fully toward Eva, and Eva saw that the far side of it was ruined, as if the flesh had melted away from the bones. The white-suited people surrounded her suddenly and there was a cacophony of barked, muffled instructions of which Eva could make no sense. There were abrupt movements and, through the forest of white baggy trousers, she saw the girl’s matchstick legs rise off the floor and dangle. Several of the helmets turned toward her during this time, but she could not make out their faces. They stopped speaking and moved off in the direction of the exit, and she watched them until they were out of sight.    She lay down and tried to make sense of what she had seen. She could not be certain that it had been Lydia; and she could not know whether the girl had really recognised her. She had not heard the girl speak her name.    In any case, if it had been Lydia, they would see each other when she was released, and then she would know. She realised that if it was Lydia, they would both be survivors of a terrorist virus. They would be special – heroines, even. The media would want to know about them. They might appear on television; there would be webcasts devoted to them. They would be the living proof thatthe war against terrorism was being won, that even viruses were being defeated. Then Lydia really would have to admit that she had been wrong, that the terrorists did exist, that her views of society were damaging and foolish and that 16

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she, Eva, had been right.    She fell asleep and dreamed for the first time that she could remember since she had woken up in the white chamber. Over and over again, she saw the red flush spread across the girl’s skin, except that it was also her own skin. The girl breathed out a cloud of white that was tipped with flames. Eva looked down and saw that the girl was walking on fire. The flames licked her legs, seemed to stick to her and then climbed higher.    When she woke, Dr Sidney was sitting on the bed, watching her, and something in his face made her tingle all over. In her entire life, she had never felt so special. He held something out to her: a pair of head-phones. She looked at him questioningly. He leaned a little closer and his voice caressed her so that she closed her eyes.    “We’ve done so well, haven’t we, Eva. So wonderfully well that you’ll be ready to leave tomorrow, for a whole new life.”    She nodded, captivated by the intensity of it. He had never seemed so marvellous. She waited for each word as if it were a drug.    “Tomorrow I’ll come to see you with some of my colleagues, so that we can check you one last time. Don’t be afraid: it won’t hurt and it won’t take long. We’ll give you some nice clothes – I’m afraid we had to destroy your old clothes, because of the risk of contagion. You’ll see, it’s a new fashion, very flattering. You’ve been here for quite a while. I’m not sure whether you realise how long. After that, we’ll take you out to a special ambulance and we’ll take you home. Your parents will be waiting there for you. You can’t imagine how excited they are that you’re coming home.”    A blankness came over her. She had not considered her parents. The idea of them seemed distant. He seemed to understand this somehow, as, she thought, he always did, and he said, “It will take a little time to adjust and that’s perfectly normal. You’ve been through a very serious, important experience. I know it’s been hard for you. But thanks to you, we’re closer than ever to victory over the terrorists. So much will change thanks to what we have accomplished with you.”    She gazed at him and the desire to weep rose in her, but she could not; her eyes remained dry. She longed to beg him to stay with her, and again, he seemed to read her mind. He leaned closer still and said, “You have been my very special project, my prototype case. I’ll stay with you until the end.” He squeezed her hand, and it felt like a promise.    Then he said, “Eva, because we have gotten on so well, you and I, I wanted to share some music with you. It’s something that’s been an inspiration to me in my work. I wanted to tell you that whenever I listen to it now, I think of you.” He held out the earphones and she laid her hands on his for a long moment before taking the earphones and fitting them over her ears.    “Lie back and relax. It’s not easy to listen to, but for me, it’s very 17

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special. It’s music by a man called Prokoviev. Have you ever heard of him?”    She shook her head and grimaced at the foreign taste of the name. He gave a little laugh.    “Yes, you’re right. Most of his music was destroyed quite a while ago. It didn’t function within our ethos – too noisy, too difficult to understand, and he wrote music about silly, blasphemous things, books and fairy stories, things that have been abolished because we know now what dangerous ideas they can propagate. That’s why we have a much safer society now, apart from the terrorists, and you’ll see, we’ll soon get rid of them, thanks in part to you.”    She had lain back as he spoke. She almost felt sleepy. She felt safe with him beside her. Her body buzzed with warmth.    He stood and stooped over her, and his eyes were so tender that she was certain, then, that he loved her too.    “So this will be our secret, my little Eva,” he said, and she felt she would die rather than reveal his secret. He continued, “It’s called ‘The Fiery Angel’,” and his voice was proud.    “Goodnight, my fiery angel. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He pushed a button on the side of the headphones, and as a noise such as she had never heard before filled her head, he walked away.    She did not like the music, as he had called it, but she did not want to stop it, wanting to find inspiration in the same source that he did. So she lay, and she thought that she would not be able to rest until they came to prepare her, with this terribly noise grinding through her head.    Yet almost instantly, she fell asleep.    In her sleep, the music followed her and transformed itself into the dream she had had before, but this time it lasted for longer, and as Lydia burned, her flesh began to melt. She began to scream. Eva could not distinguish the words, and yet she understood. Lydia was saying, “We are the terrorists! We are the terrorists! We are the terrorists!” Even when the flames spouted from her mouth and her eye sockets, she continued to scream.    With a jolt, she woke at last. The music had ceased; the headphones were gone. Surrounding her bed were innumerable columns of white. It took her a moment to realise that they were Dr Sidney’s assistants. She could see none of their faces until one approached and Dr Sidney’s familiar, beloved features took shape behind the smoky plastic of his visor.    “Are you ready, Eva?” he said gently, and she nodded and smiled at him as hopefully as she could, even though her ears still rang with the screams from her dream.    It was not as she had imagined, he and she, preparing for the outside world, and yet she felt the care and respect of his staff as they helped her. The clothes they had brought her were strange, made of 18

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what seemed a sort of plastic, studded with small pieces of a metallike material. As Dr Sidney had warned her, she must have been ill far longer than she had realised for fashions to change so completely.    They clustered closely about her as they walked to the exit, and she could not see the patients in the other beds, but she hardly cared. A new life awaited her, as Dr Sidney had told her. She suddenly realised that she did not know his first name.    A huge white door slid open silently before them, revealing a long dull white corridor that stretched, curving, toward a blank wall that slid open when they finally reached it. She had tired quickly upon beginning to walk and Dr Sidney had held her hand, and then supported her on his arm, all the way. Now he helped her up into the white interior of what she supposed was an ambulance on the other side of the wall. Exhausted, she leaned against its wall and felt a peculiar roughness against her back. When she had rested for a few moments, she turned to see why it felt so strange, and realised that the walls of the ambulance were coated in a thick layer of ice. For the first time in a long time, she noticed how her breath rose before her in a plume. When she touched the ice, it did not feel cold, but a trickle of water instantly began to run down from where she had placed her finger. She pulled her hand back and stared, and then her hand was being held, and Dr Sidney was leaning toward her.    “Don’t worry, Eva,” he said. “Soon, everything will be clear.”    They seemed to drive for a long time. The ambulance had no windows, just the same harsh fluorescent lights there had been in the white chamber.    When they screeched to a halt, she found herself catapulted out of her seat into the knees of the white-clad figure in front of her, who immediately shoved her backwards into another pair of hands, which gripped her under her armpits and lifted her up. Dr Sidney’s urgent voice was close to her ear, saying, “It’s an attack. The terrorists have attacked the ambulance. We need to escape. Eva, my Eva, when I open the door, you need to run as fast as you can and get into the thickest crowd you can find. It’s the only place you’ll be safe. Ok? Ok?”    She nodded blindly. Her heart rocketed in her chest. She could feel a flush of heat climbing her limbs and in a searing image her dream returned to her. In what seemed a split second, the door had opened, Dr Sidney had swung her out and she was on the ground, running as fast as her weak limbs could carry her. For an instant, she turned her head and saw a white van speeding away. She could see no whiteclad figures, but all around, horrified faces were turning toward her and people were beginning to scream. She was vaguely aware that she was in the main square of the city and that it must be a Saturday afternoon, for there were market stalls everywhere and shoppers were crowded in so thickly that she could hardly make her way through them, but then the space began to open up, and she continued to 19

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stumble forward, her heart thudding far too fast and a searing heat coring her limbs.There was a volcano in her stomach; lava began to flow from her ears, her nose, her eyes.    With her voiceless voice, she groaned in agony and collapsed, no longer able to see that the crowds were fleeing in a widening circle around her, shoving and punching at each other in their panic, trampling on those who fell to the ground and who might briefly have seen how flames erupted from the skin of the writhing silent figure on the ground, how the dark clothes she wore melted into an oily liquid conflagration that spread to the surrounding stalls and began to devour them, how the metal ornaments exploded outward like bullets, and how, when what had once been Eva opened its mouth to scream, a jet of flame exploded from deep within it and shot high into the air.

“Project Fiery Angel”: Conclusions based on Phase 1 • Trials suggest that dissenting members of society tend to react badly to the virus. From the first, their combustion is extremely difficult to bring under control. In contrast, socially compliant subjects show almost entirely satisfactory results. • At the present time, several months are necessary to stabilise the virus sufficiently in order that subjects can be used to maximum effect. Future efforts will aim at reducing this time, particularly given the energy required to maintain subjects within extremely low temperatures during the stabilisation period, in addition to the expense of the health and safety equipment required by project technicians. • Initial trials using clothing designed to maximise subjects’ “flash point” have yielded up to double the effect of the “fiery angels” alone. • Based on the results of Phase 1, funding has been approved to continue research and testing. New subjects have been identified and will shortly be engaged. Dr James Sidney Chief Medical Officer and Coordinator-in-Chief of “Project Fiery Angel” “Your sacrifices build our society”

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Short Fiction|David Rose Looking At Florence With Mr. Bradley. I brought her photo down just now. Silly really, after all these years.    I’ve just been to the Age Concern do. We have one every month a lecture or demonstration of some kind. This was a slide show, so it was later than usual, for the dark. But it was all right, they ran us all home in the minibus afterward.    “Looking at Florence with Mr. Bradley,” it was called. I enjoyed it. He does it every year - goes away, then gives a little talk about where he’s been. He’s a dab hand at it now. I always enjoy them. But this one was...    I enjoyed it. Seeing all the old haunts again. It felt odd, though, their being in colour. I kept thinking, during the slides, if his voice were to go, I could give his commentary for him. There’s not much I don’t know about Florence. The hours we spent poring over the sights.    Every time things seemed to be getting on top of her, I’d get out The Traveller’s Companion To Florence and take it round, and we’d spend the evening “planning the itinerary” as they called it. She always felt perkier, afterward.    I used to take out the guide book that many times, the librarian said they’d have a collection and send me there, just so’s others could borrow the book. Jokingly, of course. She was a nice lady. People are generally nice, I’ve always found.    It wasn’t only The Traveller’s Companion. We used to read other things. Classics. Henry James. She was very fond of Henry James. She used to say they were good value, you could lose yourself in a Henry James. Washington Square, The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove - those were her favourites. She read them all several times. I used to say, he wrote so many, why keep reading the same ones?    I had an ambition once: to have read all of Henry James. Just so’s I could use that joke about it being the sign of a mis-spent youth and middle-age. I thought it would be a good line for parties. Not that we went to many parties. Or any, that I recall. She didn’t like to leave her mother for more than an hour or so.    E.M.Forster - he was another one. A Room with a View. She liked that. Come to think of it, that’s set in Florence. I suppose that’s why she liked it. It was her name, you see. That’s how it all started - the “Florence plan.”    Of course, it’s not Florence, really. Not in Italy. It’s Firenze. He was saying that in his talk, Mr. Bradley. I could have told him that. I used to call her that, sometimes, teasing. My Firenze. She’d pretend 21

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to get annoyed, then we’d get the guide book out.    Other times, I’d call her Florence Nightingale. She’d really get annoyed at that, not pretending. We had a tiff once. She told me Florence Nightingale wasn’t called The Lady of the Lamp, the soldiers called her the Lady with the Hammer, on account of her disobeying her superiors and breaking open a medicine supply; she said people got it wrong about her being a saint. I said, “But she was acting for the best, wasn’t she?”    She seemed angry at something.    She used to call me Lorenzo. Lorenzo the Magnificent, after a wellknown Florence nobleman. Or Cosimo. She used to call me that, too, after another Medici chap. There’s a bronze bust of him in the Bargello, looking very stern and distinguished. I don’t think Mr. Bradley had a slide of it - it’s not very well-known.    Cosimo, Lorenzo. I have to smile, even now. That was at the beginning of the Florence plan, though. She didn’t call me them so often, later. Hardly at all, in fact.    I’ll give him his due - he takes some good photos. It’s not easy to photograph insider the galleries - you’re not allowed to use a tripod or flash, the guidebook tells you that.    He had one of Michelangelo’s The Holy Family that had come out well. I was pleased about that, it was one of her favourites. She’d look at it for hours in the guidebook. I’d turn on to the churches or the maps, but after a few minutes, she’d turn back to The Holy Family and just stare at it. I’d make some cocoa or pop out for a bottle of sherry and a milk stout for her mother, and when I’d come back, she’d still be looking at it.    Either that or a statue of St. George by Donatello. Mr. Bradley had a slide of that, the famous one in the Bargello, but there’s another one, a copy, somewhere else. Underneath that one there’s a little flat carving, a relief they call it, of St. George slaying the Dragon, with the princess standing by, cheering him on. She was fond of that. Funny really, she wasn’t usually so keen on statues.    He’d taken some nice slides of the city itself, the Duomo, the Campanile and so on. Quite a few of the River Arno and the bridges. Managed to get his car into most of them, but it’s a very nice car, he’s a right to be proud of it.    I was glad he had one of the Santa Trinita bridge - there’s an interesting story there, although he missed some of it out. It was blown up in l944. After the War, they wanted to rebuild it, but they couldn’t decide how. They’d got all the original stones back out of the river, but they couldn’t agree on how to build it. There was a lot of todo. Eventually they rebuilt it exactly as it was before. You’d never 22

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know anything had happened, except for the missing head of the Primavera.    They finished rebuilding it in l957. That was soon after the start of the Florence plan, so we took it for a sign. I said, “There, they’ve got it ready for us.”    A few years later, the missing head turned up. They’d been looking for it all that time, rewards had been offered, and all of a sudden, they dredged it up. We thought that another good omen. We said we’d make that the first day’s outing, to walk over the bridge and look for the join in the neck of the statue.    Mr. Bradley didn’t seem to know about the head of the Primavera. I should have interjected, but I didn’t like to. He gets huffy even if you cough.    There’s another bridge that was blown up at the same time. It’s called the Ponte Alle Grazie after the name of a chapel that’s supposed to give solace to forlorn lovers. I remember we had a tiff about it. She’d read that other buildings on the bridge were once used by nuns. They used to shut themselves away for life in solitary confinement. She said she was glad it had been blown up and shouldn’t be rebuilt. She got quite heated. I reminded her that the nuns had moved out centuries ago, and besides, what about the chapel for forlorn lovers? She didn’t answer.    I’m making it sound as if we were always having rows. We weren’t, not really. It’s just that the strain of her mother got a bit much for her at times. I reassured her. I told her, I understand. I admired her. I told her that. I think it helped.    I was disappointed he didn’t have more statues. It was nearly all buildings. I think he’d got himself one of those special lenses, gives you a wider view. I suppose that’s how he got his car in as well.    He had one of the Bargello, showing the marks on the wall where the flood waters came to - 9½ feet!    I remember the flood very well. Nineteen sixty-six. Terrible do. Headlines. Big spread in the Illustrated London News. Florence cried. I said, “Oh, they’ll put that right in time for us. You’ll see.”    We sent a postal order, to the fund. But she seemed... I don’t know, she seemed to lose heart, somehow.    I was right, though. According to Mr. Bradley, you’d hardly know, but for the wall-marks. He was saying what a grand experience it was, culturally. I suppose being there’s not like reading about it. Of course, you need the money. But he’s not short of a bob, and he’s IndexLinked. There was a bit of a scandal, I heard - seems he wangled himself a seat on the board by seducing the chairman’s daughter, then charming her mother round. But I don’t think you should believe things like that. It doesn’t do. Look for the best in people; you can 23

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usually find it. That’s been my experience.    He was talking of Hong Kong next year, on video film. I shall look forward to that.    Florence would have enjoyed that, too. We could have got out a guidebook beforehand.

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Poetry|Nancy Freund When I Met Bobby Slash that I am I slide in and sit fester buckle in and stay. I am okay. Shuffle through, shuffle through, People pause and lumber to my right. I just stay. The handsome guy with glasses I’d noticed in the terminal puts something in the overhead. He sits and shakes my hand like no one in a thousand flights. Tight smile’s all I have for him until some minutes pass the wound of me is weeping and there’s just no not showing now, my offering. I am platter -- person, tray, hostess with a petrie dish big enough to hold me plus all that grows within, backlit in its agar. My mother’s one request: I wish I had a tub big enough to fit me. Failed Activity of Daily Living, no, the patient cannot bathe herself. Yet now she wants this tub. It fills my chest and throat, and no yellow plastic cup over nose and mouth will bring me to. I’m opened. And in turn, it turns out, so is he. He tells of his attendance. His father’s screams for one full year. We play Fish and War, laying down what cut us, gathering each other’s wounds like queens and jacks. The joker tiptoes off, steals away some tiny rusted barbs of time. Smallest stitches sewn to seal our tender skin. We are tossed above sunlit choppy waters. At least if we go down, he says, we go down with a friend. 25

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artists at midnight I’m sure I dared him, I bought the spray paint, I lifted the bent chain-link fence, eager to crawl in, and scrawl my love for him. Between hot black breezes, with clouded moon bearing witness, he shook his clacking can, and quoted Dostoevsky on the clay while I was busy with my small cliches. My fingertip still tingling, we both stood back and saw what we each had written. Aching disappointment flamed bright at one another. We climbed back through the sharp and rusting fence, heavy with acceptance, the weight of that whole night. Lonely. Clinging only to our audacity and empty cans.

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Poetry|Richard Luftig Fossil Hunting in Kansas In these plains of great absence, trees are scattered among waist-high prairie grass. It is hard from here to see robins, warblers, choruses of sparrows throwing their voices, vying for attention, expressing their sorrows at the loss of summer. It is like the pond that herons find and try keep secret as they gossip among themselves, or the fast-running creek you stumble upon filled with corals when you least expect it, this place where sandstone, limestone, smooth shale, sleep just below the surface, covered with a pillow of moss, sleeping in plain sight. Rising, slight falling again,

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like the softest sob caught in your throat.

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Visual Art|GaĂŤl de Kerguenec

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Short Fiction|Christopher Walker Sara the Writer

A

t the age of six Sara wrote her first composition. Lying somewhere on the crossroads between post-modern short story and prose poem, ‘Train’ was inspired by the works of Julian Tuwim, whose books had been amongst Sara’s earliest experiences of literature. Many an hour had she spent fondly in the company of Tuwim and his ilk, either on her own sitting between her parents as they watched TV, or on her mother’s lap in the mornings after breakfast, books her reward for eating everything in her bowl.    The particular work that focused her attention like a well-crafter lens was the famous poem story by Tuwim, called ‘Lokomotywa’. In her version of the story, a train is travelling through the Silesian countryside between the cities of Żywiec and Bielsko-Biała. Nothing occurs in the story; instead, it is a litany, a list of the occupants of the various carriages on the train.    The story was two-thirds of a page long, the bottom of the page given over to a simple rendering of the titular train conveyed in pencil and crayon. Despite the obvious limitations of the form, her parents were exceedingly thrilled by this first creation, and to this day it occupies an important place both in their hearts and on the wall in the hallway, in a red wooden frame bought from Ikea.    One day Sara happened across her little sister sitting on the floor reading from the same Collected Works of Julian Tuwim that she had learnt to read from herself. Her sister’s lips were moving, her finger tracing a path along each line, and Sara realised with a start that her little sister, the baby of the family, might already be old enough to read for herself. To test if this was true, when she reached the end of the story she was reading, Sara carefully handed her one of her own manuscripts, warning her, however, to be gentle with it. And lo and behold, her sister was able to read and comprehend the words on the page.    The knowledge of her sister’s ability to read was, to Sara, like a door suddenly opening wide after years of being locked. Here, she thought, was a genuine audience for her creations, somebody who would read her stories with an honesty she could not attribute to her parents.    Sara asked her sister which out of all their books she loved the most.    “This one,” Marysia replied at last, pulling from the shelf a story about a little puppy who hides himself in the laundry hamper and whose mother searches for him frantically from page to page.    “Ok,” Sara said, “I’ll write you another one.” And so Sara began 36

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work on a sequel of sorts to ‘Where’s Spot?’ which she called ‘Where’s Spot Now?’ This time the eponymous puppy had hidden himself somewhere in their own apartment, and Spot’s mother’s desperate search took in such sights as the space behind the computer in the study that Sara’s sister was forbidden from crawling into; the washing machine, in the tale occupied by a snake, which so enthralled and scared Sara’s sister that she went every day to check the washing machine for intruders; and in the pages of Sara’s other stories, including ‘Train’, a deliciously meta concept that thrilled Marysia.    Marysia, as you might imagine, delighted in every word of this new book, swimming in its sentences much as she liked to in her evening bath.    The creation of the book itself expanded into a greater project one rainy weekend; with her parents’ help Sara corrected her spelling mistakes, added a few new scenes, and transcribed her work onto much bigger sheets of paper; Marysia was given the responsibility of illustrating the newly improved novel, with, it must be admitted, a copious amount of maternal help. The finished article, made bulkier by the glue and additional pages, came to resemble a real book, something that gave Sara pause for thought. After all, if, at such a tender age, she was already capable of producing something that looked and felt so much like the original, what would she be able to make next year, and the year after that?    In the months that followed like carriages in a freight train, Sara’s attention was carried away from her own two-shelved bookcase in the corner of the sitting room, and towards the much larger unit in the study that seemed to grow up from the floor as if it were a tree. Sara wanted now to write something that belonged with those titles her parents occasionally dipped into, or that were lent to visiting friends and never seen again.    But knowing where to start was a major hurdle. She could tell at a glance how difficult her children’s books were likely to be. The vivid colours, the enormous text, the illustrations that dominated the page: these were all symbols that comforted the juvenile reader, reassuring her that what she held would eventually present no challenge. Some even had holes cut through them to make them more entertaining for the very young, and whilst she felt nostalgic towards ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, it no longer seemed to satisfy. The same rules did not apply to the grown-up books in the study; she found one that had large type and generous white space on every page, but she could make no more sense of the words than in the next book along, where it seemed that the writer had tried his best to force his readers into glasses.    Clever though she was, Sara would have made a terrible spy or private detective. She thought that she had managed to sneak unseen into the study to investigate these strange books, that her parents 37

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had not noticed that many of the titles had been put back upside down or with the spines facing inwards; they chose, however, to keep their suspicions to themselves, and to help their daughter as subtly as possible.    One morning, far enough from her birthday, Christmas, her name day, children’s day, and all the other days on which children can reasonably expect to be given a present, Sara awoke to find a book on her nightstand, with a little hand-written note attached.    “My English teacher suggested you might like this one,” the note read, though it was not signed and Sara wondered who she knew that had their own teacher. It certainly wasn’t her sister.    The book was ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ by Jules Verne, and Sara started reading it immediately. Before she had even reached the end of the first page, she was smiling; and soon she was laughing at all the hilarious escapades of the marvellous Passepartout, of Phineas Fogg’s derring-do in the heart of Africa, of the train sailing in the air over the bridge that collapsed behind it...    Sara was so engrossed that when she finished after two days of continuous reading, she realised that she was still wearing her pyjamas. There had been no family members in urgent need of a visit that weekend, so Sara’s parents had let her read and read and never once nagged her to get dressed or take a bath. Watching her they were transported back to their own joyful childhoods of summers spent between the pages of a book.    The book was the true beginning of Sara’s great adventure. Like someone discovering green olives or pomegranate, she savoured every word Verne had penned, including the ones she didn’t understand. When she found an unfamiliar word she learnt quickly to try to guess its meaning from the story around it - she didn’t want the story to be interrupted by some lacuna on her part - but importantly she thought to return to the word later so that she could look it up in the dictionary.    When Sara finished her first Verne, her parents had expected her to come rushing into their room begging for another one. They had already bought ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ and ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ in anticipation of such an event, but it didn’t happen. Instead, a few days after she had turned the last page, Sara’s parents found her sitting at her miniature desk by the window in her room, her dolls bearing witness from the sill, a pencil grasped tightly in her hand, and pages and pages of note paper covered in scribble littering the floor.    “What’s this, darling?” her father asked when his presence in the room had finally been felt.    “Oh, it’s not finished yet Daddy,” Sara said, and she started to chew the end of her pencil. “I’d like to read it to everybody when it’s ready, but not a moment before,” she said in complete seriousness, 38

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and then she smiled and turned back to her writing.    It took Sara another week of diligence to reach what she felt was a satisfactory conclusion to her first major work: ‘Around Silesia in Two Weeks and Five Days’. As might be expected it was a story heavily indebted to Jules Verne, but it was not without its charms, and when she had finished reading it aloud to her family everyone agreed that it was, all in all, a very creative and original piece.    It concerned two adventurers: Sara Fogg and her trusty teddy bear sidekick, Paszport. Miss Fogg places a bet with a group of friends at her primary school: that she can make a circuit of all of Silesia in less than three weeks, using nothing more than public transport and her own bicycle, whose training wheels she had recently had removed. Her classmates were confident that, firstly, Miss Fogg would never receive the blessing of her parents for such an undertaking, and secondly, that she would never manage to traverse such a seemingly enormous space in anything less than a year, let alone three weeks. However, she persuaded them it was a bet worth making, the stakes standing at a month’s supply of chocolate bars from all involved.    How Miss Fogg received her parents’ permission for the outing is charmingly glossed over. Soon she is on her way, taking the number four bus from outside the school, waving fondly to all and sundry, before the bell for the end of the break is rung and the children have to return to their lessons. How Miss Fogg was further granted a scholastic leave of absence is not explained.    As they are leaving Bielsko-Biała, Paszport slaps his forehead in dismay and announces that he has neglected to switch off his bedroom lamp. Miss Fogg consoles him by telling him that her parents would surely think to turn it off to save on the electricity bill.    The first stop is the small town of Pszczyna, home to the extravagant palace that was once home to Daisy, Princess of Pless. In fact, in the story it is still home to the princess, and Miss Fogg’s first adventure is getting past the royal guards so that she can tell the esteemed lady how wonderful everyone thinks she is, and to ask how she manages to keep her stomach so small and yet look so hale.    After this it is off to Katowice, where Paszport has a misadventure involving a miner on his break, a lunchbox containing ham and honey sandwiches - an odd combination of ingredients that may have resulted from Sara wanting to write ‘jam’ but working too much in haste - and a bucket of ice cold water. Suffice it to say, Paszport escapes by the skin of his teddy bear teeth; Miss Fogg does no more than show her mild displeasure at having been delayed by forty-five minutes.    The story continues in this manner, and ends on a particularly humorous note. Miss Fogg and Paszport return to the school in BielskoBiała, armed with postcards from each of the places they have visited as proof of their journey; they are well ahead of time, but their arrival 39

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is rendered dramatic by way of the class lacking a deep appreciation of hours and days: they all think that it has been six months since Miss Fogg’s departure and are eagerly anticipating a ridiculous amount of chocolate. It takes the intervention of Miss Fogg’s form tutor to point out that, no, she had not been gone for six months, and no, the children were not going to get so much chocolate. The children’s disappointment is tempered, however, by Miss Fogg’s admission that both she and Paszport are lactose intolerant, and therefore the children do not need to forfeit their own chocolate, despite what the terms of the bet had stated. The ending is a resolutely happy one.    Sara’s pronouncement of ‘The End’ was greeted with a round of applause, and she left the room with happy tears in her eyes. The next day she did indeed ask her parents for more books to read.    And so proceeded one of the happiest summers of Sara’s life. ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ brought less pleasure than ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, partly because Sara could find nobody to properly explain to her what a ‘league’ actually was; but later she read ‘The Neverending Story’ by Michael Ende, and that more than made up for it. She began work on a sequel to this tale, but gave up, sensing that she hadn’t read widely enough by that stage to get any of the little in-jokes that existed in the novel. However, she did complete a short story about one of Atreyu’s adventures from his youth, and Marysia enjoyed this thoroughly, despite not having read the original.    Sara then read the first two volumes of ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe,’ and wrote a short story that she left untitled about a magical chest of drawers that, when climbed into, could transport little girls to wherever their grandparents lived. This story was less successful in entertaining Marysia, since their grandparents lived only downstairs, but for her friends in the community it was much better received, owing undoubtedly to the seeming remoteness of the outer suburbs. One boy in her class who read the story asked if the furniture could also whizz him off to visit his father, a builder working out of Liverpool who came home only twice a year. Sara said yes, intuiting that it was the right thing to do despite her misgivings, primarily her innate sense that she was losing narrative control.    The years passed with a swiftness that Sara didn’t notice, but which startled her parents. With every book Sara encountered, her compositions folder grew, and her personal dictionary expanded faster than her father’s waistline.    Before knowing how it could have happened, Sara found herself able to read her parents’ books with something approaching ease.    She read Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when she was twelve. It was difficult and took nearly a month to get to the end, but rather than being put off by the often archaic language, she found it fascinating to consider how much the words people used had changed over time, just like she and her sister had changed.   40

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The story Sara wrote after reading ‘Pride and Prejudice’ became her first literary disappointment, though this was hardly her fault. She didn’t like the story that she had come up with, about a young girl with no hope of a good marriage who meets a young man she immediately dislikes; try as she might, Sara could not find a good way to throw the two together, so the tale climaxes with the discovery of the failed love interest’s far more suitable twin brother.      Sara was thorough in her reading. She read all six of Jane Austen’s books, and considered for the first time her own mortality. Austen, she thought, was one of the best-known writers in the whole world, and yet she only produced six works before retiring into the great blankness that lay beyond. What, Sara wondered, will the world remember me by two hundred years after I’ve gone? Will I write something that will stand the test of time?    Rather than lead her to any kind of sadness or hopelessness, as they might many other young writers, these thoughts motivated Sara. She lay in bed at night dreaming of the time when she was no longer alive and yet her being survived in the hearts and imaginations of future generations of young girls as they in their turn lay in bed reading past their curfew.    Yet she felt when she considered all of the stories she had written that something was missing, some vital spark that would cause her stories to transcend the ink and paper that carried them, and become visions in the mind’s eye.    At the age of thirteen and a half she engaged in a project that consumed a whole year and one so ambitious that her parents worried would burn her out.    “That’s a big book, you know, darling,” her father said when she came home from the library with an unabridged copy of ‘Moby Dick’. “I tried to read it myself, many years ago, and I gave up after the first two chapters. I read it for a week and Ishmael still hadn’t even gotten onto the boat!”    Sara’s mother was more supportive, although she too had her concerns, not just because the book was a labyrinth that threatened to trap her daughter in its corridors, but also because she knew what the outcome would be: she realised in an instant that her daughter would set about writing her own ‘Moby Dick’.    “Let’s do this properly, sweetheart,” she said when Sara came to her, looking a touch downcast after her father’s dismissive remark. “Let’s read it together. I think we might even have our own copy somewhere. We’ll read it a few pages at a time, and we’ll use the Internet to get pictures of all the technical terms so we can understand them better. Your father said the book was full of the things.”    Sara thanked her mother for her kindness, and remarked later to Marysia how lucky they were to have somebody so understanding. But Sara’s mother didn’t know what she was letting herself in for. At 41

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first Sara sat patiently by her mother’s side on the sofa, contentedly reading the requisite four pages before turning to the computer for elucidation. By the end of the first week Sara had enlarged their commitment to eight pages, and then after another week they were reading nearly fifteen pages a day, a pace that Sara’s mother found exhausting, even though she was able to clear whole swathes of romance novels in the course of a summer holiday.    “Surely we can’t keep this up!” she said eventually.    “Come on, mum! Not too many pages left now, and then we just need to check this list of expressions, and we’re done for the day,” Sara said, beaming as she showed her mother the long list of recondite and archaic whaling and shipping terms she had found.    At last they had finished. Sara memorised the best passages, of Ahab roaring at the whale; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee; the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago; she was amazed at how much of what was otherwise such a esoteric book could be so memorable and so moving. When they reached the last sentence, which Sara read out loud, she realised with a start that she was gripping her mother’s hand, wedging the book open in her lap with the other; she could not remember how or when their hands had joined in the first place.    Sara’s mother was right about what followed, but the scale of it surprised her. Nothing that Sara had written previously came close to ‘The Grey Bear’. When finally she was finished at the end of four months, it was as long as every other piece Sara had written all combined.   ‘The Grey Bear’ hewed close to both the plot and structure of ‘Moby Dick’, with frequent encyclopaedic digressions such as a discussion of the Latinate etymology of the word bear, the variations within the species, and a study of their natural habitats; but it differed too in several important regards. For one thing, the hunt for the grey bear of the title, in the wilderness of Alaska and Northern Canada, ended on a softer note, with the rehabilitation of the protagonist’s character. At its heart, the story was about forgiveness, not revenge. As Sara said, it was impossible to hate the whale, and it was just as impossible to hate her bear; it was, she thought, far more important that we seek an understanding of ourselves, of who we are and who we become when we are overwhelmed with feelings of anger and hatred.   ‘The Grey Bear’ was one of the first long stories that Sara shared with a wider audience. She was at middle school now and had in her Polish teacher a supporter who only wished for two things: that Sara would continue writing, and that she would condescend to read more by the Polish writers whose tradition she felt Sara would one day be fit to continue. Sara agreed to both of these points, but after the enormous effort of ‘The Grey Bear’, she felt drained and wanted 42

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nothing more than to take a break from books, if only perhaps for a moment.    And a moment was all she took.    At a time when all the other girls at school were reading ‘Twilight’ and sighing over sparkly vampire lovers, and the boys were all reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ and dreaming of when every real man carried a sword and death was dealt with every new chapter, Sara was devoting herself more and more to the classics.    She taught herself English so that she had access to the really old books in the town library, books so old that the odds were good that Sara’s hands would be the last to grace their tattered, mouldy pages. She read Ben Jonson’s ‘Rasselas,’ and couldn’t believe how quickly the plot moved, never letting itself get dragged down by the weight of the morality Jonson wanted to espouse. To this book she owed two of the quotes that would drive her writing forward, although no story was born of her reading these timeworn texts.    In the front cover of her notebook she copied these two epigrams: “All skill ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness that he has received.” And: “Life must be seen before it is known.”    The first appealed to Sara because, when she had finished unpacking the sentence of its meaning, she came to agree with the principle wholeheartedly.    The second appealed to her because she was growing more interested about the style and effect of her words, and this line was a model of concision. She wondered if she would ever write so true a sentence, although she doubted if she understood it as well as she should. When she read this one to her parents, her mother simply smiled; her father’s expression suggested an awareness of how grown up his daughter was becoming.    The next day her mother announced that Sara was to begin having private English lessons. Sara was delighted to hear this; she felt she had progressed as far as she could with no more than a dictionary and some grammar guides. She didn’t yet have, she said, the delicacy of approach to the language that Polish gave her, but she wanted it; if she was to be remembered by future generations, she stood a better chance if she could get her work published in English as well as Polish, and she didn’t like the idea of having somebody else manhandle her writing in the way that a typical translator might. Far better, she said, to be like Conrad, whose command of English had been so far beyond question that most knew nothing of his Polish autochthony.    The first lessons proceeded sluggishly. Her English teacher, Peter, asked her about her week at school, her plans for the weekend, and what she wanted to do next summer. Then he asked her about the things she had and had not done in her life, and if she would have 43

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done things differently given the chance. Through it all he nodded and made a series of notes on a loose sheet of paper; Sara felt as if she was being interrogated. She didn’t know what teaching method Peter was using, but it was nothing like her usual diet at school of sitting, taking notes, and nodding when the teacher asked if all was understood.    However, after a fortnight Peter finally stopped taking notes. He put the cap on his pen, smiled, and leaned back in his chair with all the complacent satisfaction of a Latin master whose student had mastered the conjunctive mood.    “Very good, Sara, very good,” he said. “You know your grammar, that’s for sure.”    “My teacher at school would suggest otherwise,” Sara said, slowly shedding the diffidence that had hung over her in their first lessons together. “Is that why you asked so many questions? And took all those notes?”    “Yes, that’d be why. It’s a technique of mine, a way to probe for difficulties or weaknesses. I was planning to spend the first few months of our time together polishing the surface of your language abilities, if you’ll forgive the pun.”    Sara smiled carelessly, not recognising the pun Peter mentioned.    “Frankly, I’m delighted,” he then said, confident that his young charge shared his refined sense of humour.   “Why?”    “Because we don’t need to waste any time going over the basics, and we can get down to the business that your mother intended us to cover all along.”    “What business do you mean?”    “I’m going to help you to learn how to write,” Peter said.    “I already know how to write,” Sara said, feeling defensive for reasons she couldn’t fathom.    “That’s true, but I mean how to really write. For instance, how much time do you spend editing your stories?”    Sara waited a beat before replying to make it look like she was performing a mental calculation. She already knew the answer and instantly she realised that it would not be the answer Peter was hoping to hear. “I read the text through once or twice to make sure there aren’t any big mistakes,” she said hesitantly, as if even this was stretching the truth. “Sometimes I find a word that I spelled incorrectly, and sometimes I change some of the details. Occasionally I find that the characters have grown confused, and I have to go and change some of the things they said earlier in the story, but that’s about it.”    “I see,” he said. He reached down into the leather satchel that lay next to his chair, and pulled out a mass of papers. “It’s here somewhere,” he said under his breath. Finally he found the sheet he 44

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was looking for.    He set it before Sara. It was a typed document, an excerpt from a story, though who the writer was Sara couldn’t tell. Some sentences had been crossed out, some words had been scribbled over and new words inserted in their place, and in some instances these new words had also been struck through and substituted with yet others. The margins were densely packed with notes and observations, which Sara now read.   “What does constipated mean?” she asked when she found a word that didn’t seem to fit the context. Peter explained the word and how it could work metaphorically as well as literally. Sara blushed when she understood what he meant, and then nodded because it made sense, in a way, when applied to somebody’s writing.    “In that case, a lot of my writing is constipated too,” she said.    “It’s only natural. Everybody’s writing starts off that way, and it’s only in exceptional circumstances that we can move past that stage. This is a great example,” he said, pointing at the sheet. “This is Nabokov, a very famous writer, though one I doubt your parents would have wanted you to read just yet.” Sara nodded: she had heard of Nabokov, but her parents had managed to distract her from reading ‘Lolita’ with the promise of other, more ‘appropriate’ books.    “Nabokov will long be remembered for his literary panache. He could take something plain like the description of a name and transform it into the most beautifully eloquent prose poetry. But most importantly, he knew the value of hard work, and he expended an enormous amount of energy on editing his writing. That’s what you’re looking at. This is something I found many years ago that shows what Nabokov did on his, what was it, fifth or sixth revision. So he’d already written his story - that was the easy part, you might say - but then he went back to the beginning and revised it, and then again, and again, until he considered it as close to perfect as possible. One of the greatest challenges a true artist-writer faces is knowing when the text is ready to leave their hands and go out into the world. For some it becomes impossible to say that it is finished, that there cannot be anything else to improve.”    Peter assigned Sara the homework task of translating one of her short stories into English, so that they might give it a thorough editing in their next lesson. Sara threw herself into this task with as much passion as she had shown in its original writing, though she was disappointed with the result. It read poorly and lacked a clear voice, she thought. She had chosen the piece she had written during her Jane Austen period, and it felt now as though it had been written by a stranger who lacked refinement and whatever the word was Peter had used. Panache, thought Sara, that was it: panache.    When they met in the café a week later it was Sara who took the lead in editing the piece. Editing, though, is perhaps the wrong word. 45

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She attacked the story as a wild dog might a raw rib steak, and by the end of the lesson little remained besides the bones. There were tears in her eyes when Sara bade her teacher farewell. She hated her story, how incompetently it appeared to have been written, and how clichéd and melodramatic the plot and characterisations had been rendered.    She entered a blue period that evening that lasted for several days. She pulled out one story after another from the lever arch folder, and with an exasperated cry tossed each piece aside.    “There’s nothing here that’s any good at all,” she lamented. In her lugubrious state she did not notice Marysia sneak into the room.    “What’s up?” she asked nonchalantly, oblivious to Sara’s emotional trauma.    “It all sucks,” Sara said. “I feel like I could tear every piece of paper to shreds, or throw it all in the fire.”    Marysia nodded and came to sit down next to her sister. She picked up one of the stories, then another, looking through each one with an impassivity that infuriated Sara. Sara was then in the throes of such angst-ridden agony that she wanted everyone to agree with her that her work lacked merit.    “This one wasn’t bad,” Marysia said, offering her the Austen piece.    “That’s the worst one of the lot,” Sara said.    “I don’t know why,” Marysia said complacently. “I mean, I didn’t really understand it, but I liked reading it.”    Their mother was calling them down to dinner, so Marysia rose and wordlessly departed. Sara had no appetite. She stared with unseeing eyes at the scattered manuscripts, the tears stinging her. What had been the point of any of that useless effort? She could have spent more time with her friends shopping for clothes. She could have learnt how to apply make-up and hooked herself a boy. She could have done a hundred different things, her immature mind unable to see how each of these avenues would have led inevitably back to the same depressive state.    She left the papers where they had fallen, and for want of anything better to do she went down to dinner. She resolved to ask her mother to cancel any future lessons with Peter, though how she would have answered the worried questioning to have followed was something she could not imagine.    In silence she ate, and in silence she returned to her room. She sat at her desk, a sheet of paper before her, a pen in her hand. It was only out of habit that she had come back to this, and it was only out of habit that she allowed the sentences to form, black markings on white like scarecrows in a field of snow. She proceeded slowly now, reading each sentence again when she came to the end of the paragraph, scratching out words she didn’t like, replacing common nouns with figurative allusions. She did not use ‘very’ even once, and when she found herself reaching for a cliché like ‘desperately sad’ or ‘as good as 46

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gold’, she railed against her shortcomings and made herself copy out anew the whole page, avoiding the stale phrasing as if it were tainted with the black death.    Sara worked all night; in the morning her mother found her slumped snoring over the desk, the pen still in her hand, a pool of drool adding a final punctuation mark to her story. She was removed to her bed, and her mother called the school to excuse Sara for the day. Then she went back to the desk, sat, and read her daughter’s work.

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Short Fiction|Conor O’Sullivan At Bat

T

hey said David could play. He was scouted by the University of North Carolina after winning the state championship in his senior year of high school. He crushed a slider to right field over the fence in the final inning, his second home run of the night. After the game, a scout was waiting beside the team bus. He shook David’s hand firmly, grinning at him through tobacco stained teeth.    “You’re a serious talent, Son. We’d love to have you take a tour of the campus.”    David’s mind was made up in the car park, he’d have cleaned dorm rooms for four years if it got him out of New Jersey. On the journey home, he sat alone on the team bus watching the floodlights go off and smiled while his teammates sang victory songs. They had a party that night and David had sex with one of the cheerleaders in the back of his car. She moaned quietly, grasping the flesh above his broad shoulders, as he thrusted her back and forth against the front seat.    David’s parents saw him off on a warm, late-August morning before the long drive to the university. His green eyes were blurry and his plaid shirt smelled of beer.    “Take care, Son. Make sure to keep your head down there.” David clenched his jawbone, squinting at his father.    “I will, Pop,” burying his face into his father’s barreled chest.    His mother didn’t look him in the eyes, sobbing into her dressing gown sleeve.    “I’ll call when I arrive,” planting a kiss on her cheek. Her arms gripped around his neck, then relinquished.    They stood on the lawn with the sunlight angling off the roof, his mother leaning on his father’s shoulder. David closed the trunk and reversed out of the driveway while his parents stared blankly at their boy leaving home. The town was serene as he cruised through the streets and joined the freeway heading south.    David only stayed in Chapel Hill for two years, hitting college ball with strong form. At the end of his sophomore year, his coach told him there were pro teams interested if he wanted to declare. He was drafted in the 3rd round and left for Florida to join Spring Training.    A few days after he arrived in Naples, the General Manager called him into his office. A shuttered window overlooked the practice field. His chair faced the window with a half-finished cigar dangling over an ashtray on the desk, the smoke tapering below the fan. He had leathered skin and a receding hairline dotted with liver spots.    “You’ve got what it takes, but I’ve said that to a lot of kids who haven’t lasted beyond their first season. It takes more than talent”, 48

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picking up the cigar and taking a drag.    “Yes, Sir. I’m ready to give it everything.”    “You’re a top prospect, stay in form and your time will come,” not turning to face him.    They kept him in Florida for Triple A, signing him to a two-year contract for the Gulf Coast League. He was unveiled at the team complex along with the other new players a few days before his twenty-first birthday. They all posed in the team uniform and cap for the local paper, smiling with their arms around each other.    “These boys are a very talented crop. We have high hopes for them,” the coach said to the few journalists present.    He moved into a condo near the practice field beside a gas station and a diner. The team owned a complex for housing the minor league players. David shared the floor with five other boys, all from the south. Their skin was tanned and their hair tawny from years in the sun.    “This town’s full of spics, the real dirty ones from the islands,” a third baseman from Georgia said upon meeting David.    “You’re in the wrong sport,” David responded.    He was given a small room with yellow wallpaper containing a bathroom, a single bed and a desk. He thought of it as a cell.    David travelled to ballparks on the edge of small towns where the palm trees swayed in the thick air. His rakish blond hair barley squeezed into the batting helmet. The games were quiet, it was too hot to sit in the stands and watch a bunch of hopefuls scrambling for bases. It was usually just high school kids on dates sipping rum out of coke bottles. David hit homers as the sun melted into a turquoise sky, never falling below .300 and his defense was always solid.    The minors were lonely. Players didn’t really socialise outside of games. There was always a tension among the team, even when they were on a good run. David often disliked his teammates more than the opposition, viewing them all as a threat in his quest for the pros. He broke a catcher’s nose one night, a stocky Tennessee boy with milky skin. He dropped David’s throw to home in the seventh and they lost in extra innings. Afterwards, they had to be separated by the other players in the locker room.    “Stay out of my way, redneck,” David shouted, blood spewing from his mouth. His anger only quelled once he was back on the bus and was left with the numbing regret of defeat.    They drove for up to twelve hours some nights, north along the coast to Tallahassee and Jacksonville. He felt safe in the pursuit then, watching the highway lights flash by his eyes. His aching bones meant he was still special until the dawn. Driving past towns where the stench of the swamps permeated around the bus, he felt some notion of unity with his teammates. They talked about girls and played cards.    “I’ve got a girl waiting for me up in Orlando. She’s coming to the game tonight and her parents are out of town,” an outfielder told 49

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David during one of his first road trips.    That’s the only time they had for girls, empty houses and motel rooms before shafts of morning light breaking through the curtains told them to creep back for another game. He looked for girls just to take his mind off the pressure, their breath and touch on his chiseled face was the only tenderness he found in life.    Players came and went, told briefly after a game it wasn’t to be with a pat on the shoulder. They were playing in Sarasota on a humid August evening. The heavy air pressed the uniform against his skin. Manny, a skinny Venezuelan boy, gave up six runs as a reliever. It ended any playoff aspirations for the year. He cried on the bus afterwards, the players had taken bets on when he would get cut.    “That pussy’s going home to work the fields,” one said amid the chuckles. The sound of his tears placed a chill over David.    A lot of the players gave up towards the end of the season. The games melded into one endless summer day. But David caught form down the stretch, hitting eight homers in ten games. The pitchers underestimated him, thinking he was too scrawny to even swing at one of their fast balls. Then they panicked when they saw his power and tried a risky pitch.    David always waited, holding the bat completely still until the pitcher made his call and drew back his arm. It wasn’t the feeling of hearing the ball crack off the wood and watching it soar through the air that stayed with him. It was only after walking back into the dugout that he could see clearly again. Once he caught his breath and looked up for the next hitter, joking with a teammate about an opposing player, David realised that could’ve been the last homer he ever hit.    After the season ended, the coach called David into his office and told him to report for Spring Training with the pros.    “You did well for us, the right people will hear about it. Stay in shape and you’ll be fine.”    “Thanks for everything this season, Coach,” shaking his hand. A grin split David’s face as he walked out of the building.    David stayed in Florida for the off-season. The coach arranged for him to keep his room during the winter. He called his parents to tell them he wouldn’t be coming home for Thanksgiving.    “There just isn’t enough time, Pop. I’m so close now,” holding the phone away from his ear and staring at the empty parking lot.    “I understand, Son. Don’t worry about your mother, take care of yourself,” the dial tone going flat as banks of clouds drifted by outside his window.    David went to the gym during the day and ran on the beach in the evenings. He allowed himself a single beer after the runs, sipping it while the moon peered through the sky. On Christmas Day, he hit balls until his hands bled, pounding his numbing knuckles against the wall. The weeks, then days slowly dropped off and the first practice crept 50

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into view.    David barely slept the nights leading up to the first practice, hearing Manny’s tears in between heavy breaths. He shut his eyes and saw Manny, tears streaming down his cheeks, begging for another chance. He ran to the beach and dove beneath the waves to escape his wails. Afterwards, he sat in the darkness with sand stuck to his legs. He picked up loose shells and looked to the stars glittering above the black, rumbling sea.    David lay awake in bed the entire night before practice. He thought about his high school games and how the girls looked at him after hitting a homer. They probably had their own kids now.    David thought there was something sad about the uniforms, grown men wearing caps and cleats.    The sun rose, spreading an orange tint across the carpet. David’s bag was already packed as it had been for every game since he was a kid. He vomited in the toilet before leaving, rinsing his mouth in the bathroom sink a few times. His eyes were blurry from the retching. The drip of vomit hung at the back of his throat for the drive over to the pro’s practice field.    It was a pleasant morning with a light sea breeze cooling the air. He sat by his locker and squeezed his mit. The players started streaming in, greeting each other after the off-season. A few of David’s teammates from the minors were there, shaking his hand and smiling.    “Sure beats the hell out of that old shithole.”    “Yeah,” he replied, not looking up from the floor.    The portly coach walked into the locker room, prompting a hush among the players.    “On the field in five minutes,” he shouted.    David stood up and walked out to the field.    They warmed up with some running and throwing practice. There was a strong glare, they’d see the ball dropping late. The coaches gathered the minor leaguers together.    “Let’s see you all fielding first,” the assistant coach said.    David took up his position at shortstop.    A grounder came his way towards the end of the practice inning. He began a short dash, chasing the skidding ball along the foul line. David reached out with his glove while twisting his elbow and managed to retrieve the ball. He turned sharply and threw hard to first base, feeling his fingernails tremble as he released the ball. The ball flew into the baseman’s glove to end the inning. David blew out his cheeks and walked over to the dugout. The coach put him top of the order.    He felt the wood in his hands and walked over to the plate. The pitcher glanced at David, then nodded towards the catcher after a few calls. David thought he looked so gallant on the mound, his throwing arm resting behind his back. The ball was cradled in his palm. He threw two strikes that David couldn’t even swing at. He stood back 51

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from the plate and turned towards the stands. The General Manager was sitting in the bleachers, sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup with a cigar in his mouth, surveying the field behind his aviator sunglasses.    He turned and waited for the pitch. It was another fast ball but this time David caught the rhythm of his swing, rotating his shoulders in one fluid motion and met the ball directly over the plate. He knew once it left his bat. The ball hung in the air for so long, arcing over the fence and disappearing into the sun’s white beams.    “Nice hit, kid,” the second baseman said as he jogged around the bases. He hit another homer before the inning was over.    The other minor leaguers slowly dropped off as opening day approached. David was flawless in all of the Spring League games. He went to the beach after the night games to swim and watch the boats coming into port. The waves rose and rolled into the sand, then were slowly dragged back by the current.    David tucked his head between his knees and listened to the ocean. He closed his eyes and saw Cape May, eleven years old, his father tossing him soft balls.    “Don’t get sand onto your new mit, Son,” his freckles shimmering in the July heat.    A few days before the end of March, the General Manager called David into his office.    “How have you found Spring Training?”    “The pitchers are faster,” drawing a smile from him.    “You wouldn’t know it the way you’ve been hitting. I’ve never seen such a seamless transition from the minors. You won’t be going back, that’s for damn sure. You’re flying out with the team for opening day. We’re going to finalise a contract offer, it’ll be a standard rookie salary but you’ll get a signing on fee as well. Get yourself on an early flight.”    He shook David’s hand and wished him luck.    David drove back to the condo and packed a bag. He could leave this place now and buy one of those houses up the shore that had wide decks and views of the ocean. He could fly his parents down in the off-season and take his father fishing. Maybe he’d even marry a nice Cuban girl who’d come to his games and afterwards nurse his wounds.    There were noises from kids outside who were playing ball under a streetlight behind the complex. He lay down on the bed and listened to them running around imaginary bases until they were called in by their parents. Darkness pervaded the room and he lay there motionless, closing his eyes as he had in so many drab motel rooms, waiting to play.    The sun’s tip crept slowly over the sea as his taxi drifted between cars heading for the airport.    “Which airline, sir?”    “United,” he responded, giving him a generous tip outside the 52

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terminal.    He passed through the security in a daze. The team was assembled in the lounge, he flashed his ID and sat with some of the players who congratulated him.    “Welcome to the big time, rookie, I want to see that power against Minnesota on Thursday,” said the second baseman, shaking his hand.    “I’ll do my best,” David said smiling.    The lights of South Florida flickered as the plane ascended above the gulf. He closed his eyes and waited to wake-up in another city.    David had a decent career. There were no championships or awards but he survived. He was moved around a lot. The homers kept coming at first, he was touted as a rookie destined for stardom. But the pitchers figured him out. He fought for his place with bitter, fading pros and in later years arrogant upstarts. He still thought of Manny wandering through the world without the game in moments of contemplation on dark, empty planes.    David’s body gave up in the end. He held out a few seasons too long, telling himself it was for the money but really he just didn’t want life to begin. It ended back in Florida, in that same musty office where he began. A new General Manager called him in on the last day of September and said they wouldn’t be renewing his contract.    “Most players could only dream of lasting that many years. Enjoy your retirement, David,” stretching his hand across the desk. David held it limply, catching a sight of himself in the window looking out to the practice field, his uniform dusty and torn on his sagging muscles.    He retired a few weeks before his thirty-fifth birthday, crying in the locker room showers as steam rose from the tiles.    He slept in late today. She wanted him to pick up some things for dinner before collecting the kids. Her parents were coming at the weekend and they’d ask her in hushed voices whether he was planning to do anything with himself. The pool needed to be cleaned out and he promised her to stop drinking during the week.    The wind shook the palm trees and dark clouds approached the shore, bringing a stuffy air into the kitchen. It would rain hard before the afternoon ended. David could still see himself sitting on a bench as rain drops hammered on the steel roof of the dugout. He always kept his feet moving, feeling like an animal waiting to be set free from its cage.    There was blood in David’s piss this morning. But they said he could play.    He loved coming back out after the rain delays, the moisture hanging in the still air. The lights slowly came on and a soft hum gradually formed around the stands. The ball park was a glistening garden amid the darkness. He’d let out a few practice swings and look to the field, ready for another pitch.

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Poetry|Sukrita Paul Kumar Generation Gap (1) I cannot fathom This ocean between us The ocean filling up with Alligators, big fish, sharks and all, Corals and weeds Going in circles With elephantine waves Gushing over them Round and round over and over

(2) Fiery sunflowers Holy marigolds Roses smitten with love You, the droplets Of dew In the garden of My mind So many selves Yours and mine Each morning Dancing in the myriad Mirrors

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Of New Lives What is that, Yonder, out there? Not a shadow, not indeed, But definite contours of A body reflecting a tough mind A stubborn shadow of her own A fledgling come into a lingering adolescence With threatening wings large and awkward A warring life Marching in defiance Deadening the mother, her adventures, Leaving her cold and alone A corpse Inside the tomb Strangled by fear and caution It’s the daughter giving Birth to a new mother, A mother-fledgling fluttering for Fresh skies and new grounds For yet another journey

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Poetry|Sabin Iqbal After A Decade In these few days: your loneliness, pregnant sighs and, the ten years of oscillation between hopelessness, and hope have condensed into a thin line in the late watches of night, falling across my heart: an epic of a thin, single line. Ten years. A decade of survival; of etching back faces and names wiped out of memory; of funny, jumbled sentences; of sadly broken syntaxes; of wry, mixed expressions; of unsteady emotions; of coping with disobeying, stiff limbs and weird, uncontrolled shaking; of swinging moods, shivering rages and intolerable silence; of changing perspectives and of realising inabilities; of understanding predicaments; and of escaping in violent manifestations of strange meanings of familiar words. I know how hard it is for you, and you know that I haven’t attempted even a line all these years about your decade of solitude. But now, these few days, I know it’s falling into my heart like cold rain— cold, steely rain, slanting into my being. It’s poking at nights; it’s freezing into icicles, hanging from the awnings and cornices of my wakefulness. And, now, I can’t help 56

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picking up this stub of pencil and scribble some illegible lines. But, this is the line that has fallen into my heart like cold, steely rain: ‘Both helplessness and hopefulness begin with the same letter.’

Blue The shred of sky that fell into the water in a coconut shell; the mystery eyes of the tourist who came by a train running a day late; the pride in a preening peacock and its flirty, amorous fanning; the kingfisher’s plume, and bluebottle’s metallic sheen; the silence of the sea and its sudden frightening upheavals; Jonah’s escape, and the three-day disillusion in the belly of a fish; your cardigan, a shield to smart under ineffable pain, and the sigh of a stole; Gazing up, the cosmic infinity; gazing down, the oceanic abyss. The blue lies of cosmic lights, and the blue aberrations of life.

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Stones Of Gilgal In the season of floods they crossed the river on dry land, with memories of a parting Red Sea. We cross the Jordan every day, you and me, on dry land, on a riverbed of pebbles, shaped by the flow of life. We cross it, you and me, the new tribe, like Joshua and his men, every day, to the other side, of promise. But, we must remember to pick up our frozen tears like stones of Gilgal. The monuments of hope.

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Visual Art|Pablo Solari

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Short Fiction|Kate Ennals In Hiding

I

put my feet into the green wellies and then wrapped the coats on the stand around me. I was delighted with my hiding place. While I was waiting to be found, I saw, through the frosted glass beside the front door, Victoria drive up in her big black landrover. Damn, I thought.    Victoria, 42, is my older sister by five years. She belittles me, laughs at my silliness, makes fun of my taste, and, in contrast she shows the world how capable she is, how organised, how sophisticated and cool. Victoria always looks sleek. She is tall, shoulder length brown hair and wears jeans with perfect white shirts. She has pedantic manners and is insistent that people abide by her rules. She thinks this makes her more interesting as well as a little frightening. She is right. Victoria impresses. With a look, she can make you feel like a stick insect, unless, of course, she turns her favours on you. Then you glory in her admiring gaze, and feel amazing.    Victoria abhors physical violence. She pontificates about it. Wars, politics, justice. Her own anger is patient. She likes revenge served cold. Many people would be surprised to hear this for she is also a sensible, intelligent woman, a purveyor of justice. Victoria has a reassuring manner. You wouldn’t go to her for affection but she is often wise and practical, a woman of the world. Victoria does interesting things. She goes to art galleries, visits architectural sites, political rallies. She has erudite dinner conversations where she holds court. Victoria devises grandiose plans, manages projects, and can be awe inspiring. For a long time, I venerated her. Victoria got me my first job. She ensured I found a nice place to live using her connections. She found me boyfriends and took care of all the practical issues in the family.    This madness of me being in hiding began this afternoon with a simple game of hide and seek. The street gang had come over to play in ours. I had stopped cooking and joined in. We had been doing penguin impersonations, waddling walks which was hilarious. It was me who suggested hide and seek, I wanted to try out my coat stand idea. When I saw Victoria arrive, my heart sank. Victoria would call a halt to the game to discuss the reason for her visit, whatever it was. And she doesn’t like children. But, today, it was Saturday and it had that happy go lucky, all is well with the world, feel to it. I didn’t want Victoria to ruin it. So I decided to stay in hiding. If she couldn’t find me, she might go away. Victoria knocked at the front door three times. Sharp, officious raps. She was within two feet of me. I felt almost hysterical with boldness. Soon the children came dancing to see who 65

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was at the door. Simon who had been found (I saw him slip behind the couch) ran into the hall. Vicky The Younger, my daughter, came out of hiding (I wondered if she had hidden with her brother Felix under the bed. It was his favourite place). She opened the door, yelling for me. I tried to keep perfectly still and not laugh for I was so close.    “Hello! Where’s your mother?”   “Hiding.”   “Hiding where?”    “We haven’t found her yet.”    I inhaled a deep breath very quietly and tried not to shake. I could taste the must and damp of the coat and smell the salt air on Felix’s duffel bag hanging next to me.    “Maybe she is in the garden.”    The parameters of the hide and seek game were house and garden. While everyone was out back (and found little carrot topped Ruth behind the rabbit hutch) I sneaked up stairs, pulled down the attic steps, crept up and pulled them up behind me. Just in time, for soon I could hear thumping footsteps come running up the stairs, and shrieks of laughter as everyone but me was revealed. I felt quite excited.    “Maybe she hid in her car,” Victoria suggested with irritation.    There was a stampede to the car and I heard the doors click open and bang shut. The shrieks grew quiet.   “How annoying.”    “Is mammy lost?” I heard Felix ask.    My heart went out to him. I wished I had brought him into hiding with me.    “Maybe she went shopping,” said Victoria.    “Not without telling us. She wouldn’t break the parameters,” said Vicky The Younger.    My mum and Victoria had always been strict about ethics. What should be done and what shouldn’t. It was all framed within what was right and what wasn’t. I had always been scared of breaching them, not just because of being told off but because it was WRONG. As a result, I tried not to impose too many rules of my own but instead asserted guidelines and parameters.    “We’ll set up a search party,” said Victoria. “She can’t be far. Go next door and get your neighbours, they can help.”    This is ridiculous, I thought. Somehow this will end up all as my fault when it is not. It is hers. I watched out from the veloux window I had put in when planning to convert the attic into my office.    The attic was filled to the rafters with cardboard boxes full of my papers, poems, photograph albums from my youth. More recently, I tossed up the junk that the children and I had accumulated from markets, and boot sales. There was a heavy old fashioned, black flat iron I picked up in a junk shop (I had used it recently to hammer a nail 66

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into the joist to hang the children’s old coats). There were quite a few lampshades. The prettily patterned material one with tassels I was still very fond of but Victoria insisted I get something more practical in the kitchen as it would attract grease. Outside, neighbours began scurrying around, calling my name. Oh dear, this had gone too far. I sat down under the window, leaning against the old jackets. I could smell Felix. I heard Victoria outside co-ordinating the search. Tension had been notched up. She was saying the women were to search their homes and gardens. The children were to search the copse at the end of the estate. This was absurd! I poked my head up again and looked out the window. It was odd to watch them looking for me, for no reason. I had to find a reason. A reason to justify my actions.    Then Victoria called off the search. I heard her say she had received a text from me and that I had popped to the shops. I wondered what she was up to. Goosebumps came up on my arm. I stared at them. The attic darkened with the sky. Outside, it was turning black with streaks of green and yellow. Rain started to shoot down. Lines of it. It looked like transparent laser beams, as though enemy alien ships were lined up behind the clouds. For an instant the street was filled with people running, hither and thither. It looked chaotic, like third world madness. Soon everyone disappeared from view, into homes, kitchens, living rooms. Mothers chiding, towelling, children wriggling and soon I was forgotten. I watched Victoria send my two away to a neighbour. She was full of smiles and Vicky The Younger looked at her with absolute confidence. Felix didn’t understand. I had to find a reason for hiding. I slid down back against the coats.    Everything went dark and very quiet except for the rain pelting on the roof. I closed my eyes. Just for a minute, I thought, while I think. I must have fallen asleep because suddenly I was on an island and Victoria was across the water. She was amassing an army to attack from the mainland. I was sitting in the garden of a pub called The Puffin which was on the sea shore. I remember the pub sign clearly. It pictured a black and white puffin juggling balls. I could see Victoria’s army of people on the beach but suddenly she turned it into a party in order to take me by surprise or to confuse me. There were trestle tables of food, balloons, people were dancing and she was letting off fireworks but really they were cannon balls. I sit at the pub table in the garden hiding in full view, hoping she will not notice me. But I know she has. I also knew I was dreaming, I think, because the ‘me’ outside of my dream began to think that Victoria should have gone into the military. She would have made a very good Sargent Major. Back in my dream she stood on a trestle table and started to argue a point eloquently. I saw her gesticulating. I couldn’t hear her words but I recognised her air of self-righteousness. She looked directly at me in my dream and I stared back, saying or doing nothing. Then I 67

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started to recite poetry, The Owl and the Pussycat. The ‘me’ outside of the dream was pleasantly surprised for I am hopeless at remembering poems in real life.    “Elenie, what are you doing here?”    I open my eyes. Victoria’s head is dancing above the attic floor in a patch of electric light lit up from below. I pick up the black flat iron next to me where I had left it down when banging in the nail and throw. It hits her full in the face which crumples, as in a dream. I hear her body tumble down the attic steps, then a bang or thump as she hits the bottom. There is silence. I get up slowly and peer down. Victoria’s body is crumpled in a heap at the bottom of the wooden attic steps.    In a minute I will go and call someone. But I must confess one lie. In writing this story, I changed Victor, my brother, to Victoria. I turned my brother into my sister. Somehow, it seemed less treacherous.    Now I hear a stirring from the landing. Thank Christ, I haven’t killed him. Oh God, he is coming up and he is not Victoria. I think I could handle Victoria.

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Short Fiction|Gordon Gibson An Old-fashioned Girl

I

t was Mummy who suggested employing a girl. She said not to consider a nanny: they’re all fearfully middle-class, and because they’ve got a college certificate, they think they know everything; they always try to boss you about. She said I should advertise in the local newspaper for a nice girl, not too bright but prepared to do what she’s told. So that’s what I did.    I received masses of applications, far more than I expected. Sadly, most of them were barely legible, with terrible handwriting and not a clue about grammar or spelling. I couldn’t spare the time to interview them all, so I picked the best six, and invited them on the same day. Mummy minded Poppy, and Mrs Bryson came to make lunch, so I was able to give them my full attention.    The first five were impossible: ugly, inarticulate, ignorant; lacking in any idea of how to look after a baby; a cavalcade of ineptitude. Nancy was last on the list and by the time her turn came, I was in despair about what to do if she turned out as frightful as the others.    I interviewed them in the Blue Drawing Room. I thought it best to give applicants a sense of the kind of people we are, so I sat in an armchair by the window, facing into the room, and placed a dining room chair opposite for the applicant. I wanted to be formal, although none of the first five seemed to have any understanding of what that required.    As soon as Nancy entered, I could see that she was different. She wore a neat little suit, with her hair pinned up. She was almost pretty, and spoke properly, without saying ‘I seen’ or ‘I done’ every two minutes. She had an accent, but it wasn’t too coarse. She was polite, didn’t interrupt when I spoke, and was even able to sit on a chair with her feet and knees together.    Although she looked terribly young, her answers to my questions were surprisingly mature. She was nineteen – only a little younger than I was – and had stayed on at school until sixth form, studying A-levels or whatever it is they do in state schools these days. She had hoped to go to university, but that fell through, and she was working in the village nursery while she considered what to do next. She wanted to gain some kind of qualification, but didn’t want to have to move tothe city. Best of all, she was eldest of six children, so she had lots of experience with babies. It took me all my time not to throw my arms around her. I offered her the job there and then.    When Justin came home, I couldn’t wait to tell him, I was so pleased at having solved the problem all on my own. I expected him to be pleased too, but he became awkward. 69

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‘Is this girl going to live in?’ he asked. ‘Where is she going to takeher meals? How much is she to be paid?’    On and on he went until eventually I went upstairs, just to be out of his way. There’s no point in arguing; that’s what his first wife did, and he hates it. I stayed in the bedroom for a while, to give him time to have a whisky and soda, and realise how beastly he was being. I pondered, until I had an answer for every question he had raised, and I waited until he came to apologise. I knew he would.    When he heard my plans, he was placated. The top floor has a maid’s bedroom adjoining the nursery. I would get it done up, with a wash-hand basin, a television, a kettle and toaster. She would stay on the premises, and have Wednesday afternoons off. When Justin was at home, and Mrs Bryson came in to cook, Nancy could eat in the kitchen. When Justin was away, and I fended for myself, she and I could eat together. I would find out about the National Minimum Wage, and we’d pay her that, with room and board. She accepted right away and moved in two weeks later.    She seemed such a sweet girl, and we got on frightfully well. When I was small, I longed for a sister, and it was as if my childhood wish had come true. She was so sensible, so mature when looking after Poppy; and then we could suddenly be giggling together over something really juvenile. Not like the girls at school. That always felt like a competition – over clothes, over marks, over boys, over everything. With Nancy, it was different.    She was actually quite old-fashioned. At first she treated me like an elderly lady: calling me ‘Mrs Digby’, asking permission before she did anything, always starting her requests with ‘Excuse me.’ I found it quite embarrassing, so I told her to drop all that except when we had company, or when Justin was at home. When it was just we two, she should call me Roslyn. She hesitated at first, but soon got used to it.    It made such a difference having someone near to my own age. I quickly established that I could trust her with the baby. It was clear from the outset that she really loved Poppy,and Poppy loved her. Indeed I think I may even have felt a little jealous at first, but as we became chums and spent more and more time together, it was almost as if Poppy had two nannies.    Afternoons were especially lovely. Sometimes I cooked lunch, sometimes Nancy did. Then she would put the baby down for a nap, and we would have a jolly good natter. As we got to know each other, I found myself confiding in her. I told her how beastly I had felt after Poppy was born, what with the Caesarean, and how I didn’t really start to buck up until Mummy’s doctor prescribed anti-depressants. When I told her this, she put her arms around me and gave me a hug. I was so surprised that I started to cry, and so did she. We sniffled for ages, until Poppy woke up, then we looked sheepishly at each other, and never mentioned it again. 70

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Nancy got on with everyone. Mrs Bryson said she was super in the kitchen. Mummy thought her delightful, and said I didn’t know how lucky I was to find someone like that, when so many young people are only interested in pop music and mobile phones and drugs. Only Justin seemed unconvinced. He knew that she was a help to me, but he never actually saw how well she coped. When he was home, Poppy was usually asleep by the time he came in, and the opening of the company’s New York office meant he was away even more often that autumn. When he encountered Nancy about the house, he hardly spoke to her except to say ‘Good morning,’ or ‘How’s the baby today?’ I told him off for being so boorish, but he said that it felt odd having a teenage girl on the premises. I pointed out that she was almost the same age as me, but he only snorted and hid behind his Daily Telegraph.    When I discovered that her birthday was at the start of December, I decided it was time those two became better acquainted, so I established that Justin was going to be home, then told Nancy we would be holding a birthday dinner in her honour. At first she wouldn’t hear of it, but I insisted. I arranged for Mrs Bryson to prepare something special, and I warned Justin to treat it like a proper dinner party. He reacted in his most curmudgeonly manner, but I used all of my charms to extract a promise from him that he would be on his best behaviour.    Dinner was wonderful: lobster salad, loin of venison, and a birthday cake for dessert. We had champagne with the starter, and Justin opened a decent claret with the roast. He was at his absolute best: witty, making Nancy the centre of attention. It reminded me of how he was when we were ‘walking out’ as he called it.    She wore her best clothes: a close-fitting blouse in heavy blue silk, and a plain white cotton skirt. I gave her some make-up – things I thought would suit her colouring – and she looked quite beautiful, and very grown-up. At the end of the evening, Nancy went to check on Poppy, who’d slept like a darling right through the meal, and Justin rewarded himself with a brandy, for ‘being the life and soul of the party.’ I was tired, and went to bed, well pleased with myself for arranging everything so splendidly.    I must have dropped off, because I was awakened by the sound of feet on the stairs. It was a good bit later. The house was quiet, and it could only have been Justin. I couldn’t think what he was doing. It was surely too late for him to be looking in on Poppy, and if he had been at the brandy, I didn’t want him crashing into the nursery and disturbing her.    I put on a dressing gown and went upstairs. I was barefoot, and moved very quietly, so that when I reached the top landing, they had no idea I was there. They were outside the nursery. Kissing. I opened my mouth to cry out, but words would not come. I couldn’t believe 71

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what I was seeing. It felt like being trapped in a nightmare.    I ran back downstairs, jumped into my bed - our bed - and lay still, my mind racing. I was horrified: listening; not wanting to hear anything; wanting to hear him come down; not wanting him near me.    I don’t know when he returned. I pretended to be asleep. I could tell by his bumping into furniture and muttering, that he was drunk. I felt betrayed. He clambered into bed, and within a few minutes he was snoring. I lay in the dark trying not to sob, my mind racing and my heart thumping inside my chest. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what men can be like – Mummy had warned me that they treat that sort of thing differently – but Justin had always been such a gentleman, so caring, so kind, so undemanding. I just couldn’t understand what had brought on this change in him, this . . . beastliness.    All through the night my thoughts were in a whirl. I was absolutely clear what I must do. First thing in the morning I would pack a bag and go home to Mummy. But then I thought about poor Poppy, and how wrong it would be to take her away from our beautiful home. I remembered how happy we had been when I had first moved in, and Justin had allowed me to do whatever I wished about the furniture and fittings and decor. It was what I had always dreamed of. Everything had been perfect. I wanted for nothing. How could I tear myself away?    And how could I leave him alone with Nancy? She wouldn’t be safe. Goodness knows what he would try to get up to – what they would get up to. She had seemed so young and innocent. She might be swept off her feet by his advances; despite herself. I couldn’t abandon her in the face of such danger. So innocent but so pretty. Or was I being too naive? Surely she couldn’t have . . . No, it was not possible. It was all such a terrible muddle.    And slowly it began to dawn upon me: the danger to my marriage, here, under my own roof. My comfortable life. We had been so happy, but now . . . I was completely at a loss as to how I should act. I racked my brain but could decide upon nothing. Finally, I asked myself, ‘What would Mummy do?’ *    I did nothing. I kept my knowledge a secret, although there were moments when I was so angry inside that I had to bite my lip to prevent myself from exploding at one or other of them. I waited until the following Friday.    That morning, I let Nancy dress the baby and give her breakfast as usual, and about eleven, when they were in the nursery, I dropped in. I asked her how she liked her job. She said she loved it; the baby was a treasure, and the house was beautiful; her room was cosy, and we were awfully good about time off. I let her gush on for a while, then said: 72

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‘How do you get on with Justin?’    That stopped her. She muttered about not seeing him very often, so I said:    ‘It seems to me that you’ve seen a bit too much of him.’    She switched on the tears right away. She had a story that he had been pestering her, ever since she had started here. He was forever dropping into the nursery for a little chat, she claimed, or coming to her bedroom to ask silly questions about how the baby was getting on. She said that, on the evening of her birthday, he had crept up behind her, suddenly grabbed her and started kissing her. It sounded like something she had seen on television.    ‘I’m afraid I am no longer young enough to believe in fairy tales,’ I said. ‘As if my husband would throw himself at a little girl like you.’    I told her to pack and be gone before lunchtime. She pleaded to be allowed to stay, and even had the gall to suggest that I ask Justin to confirm her version of events. I had no truck with that. I wrote a cheque for wages, and saw her off the premises. I didn’t say anything to Justin. How could I blame him when I had been the one to bring trouble into our home? I simply told him that she had found another job.    ‘Pity,’ he said. ‘Seemed quite a capable young person.’    I told Mummy the same, the next time she phoned. She was really cross. She said I was foolish to let Nancy go, and should have tried harder to hold on to her; perhaps offered her more money, or more time off. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her the sordid truth, although I knew that if I did, she would understand my actions.    All I could say was, ‘I’m sorry Mummy, I’m just trying to do what’s best. There was no point in trying to keep her here if she wanted to be elsewhere.’    But Mummy was really angry with me.    ‘You’re a foolish child,’ she said. ‘It was only by taking my advice that you managed to find that girl in the first place. Now you’ve managed to drive her away. Goodness knows what you’ve been doing. The next thing will be that you’ll end up back on medication. And it will serve you right!’    And she hung up.    I was crying so loudly that I woke the baby, and we wept together. I realised how much I was going to miss Nancy, and I no longer knew what was right. I thought about when I was taking medication and I remembered that I still had a supply in my bedroom, a full bottle, tucked away in the dressing table, among my scarves and gloves. I remembered how they made me fall asleep, even a single tablet, and how I had had to cut out all alcohol while I was undergoing treatment. I couldn’t face going through all that again. * 73

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They crushed easily into a white grainy powder. I licked the tip of my finger and tasted just a tiny spot. It had almost no taste.    Justin’s flying back from New York; he’ll be home for dinner tonight. I have given Mrs Bryson the evening off. I shall cook for him tonight; something special. He likes strong flavours. I’ll do my chilli con carne. And a bottle of Rioja. I love the way the bottle is tied up in fine golden wire. Maybe some Port to follow. A good sleep. Just what he deserves.

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Poetry|Jonathan Taylor A Pyromancer’s Advice to Her Daughter, Shang Dynasty, c. 1200 BCE Daughter, first scrub the bone free of ox-meat and blood for any trace of these substances will seem to offend the ancestors who being royal have delicate constitutions. You can polish the bone if you so wish and want to impress. Next use the drill to make the requisite holes pretending the pattern is random. Carve the date and your name into the oracle bone. Inscribe the King’s name if you must followed by the charge He wants put to his ancestors: will the floods come tomorrow or not? Will He have a son or not? Is it likely there will be an earthquake or invasion? Are 1000 sacrifices sufficient for this year’s harvest? Is His toothache caused by an angry ancestor or aunt? Afterwards, apply the orange poker to the drilled holes as I have shown you and observe how the bone cracks. The cracks will point towards one or other of the answers depending on how you fixed the holes beforehand. Do not listen to the other diviners: the secret is not to flatter but rather to conjure in the King’s mind doubt and terror and hence bind Him to your dragon future with pessimism to the point that He won’t dare have a piss without asking.

Oracle bones, also known as dragon bones: pieces of bone (often turtle shell or ox scapulae) used for divination by fire (pyromancy) in ancient China, c.15001000 BCE. 75

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Carl Nielsen, Symphony No. 5 The snare drum is hurting us. The snare drum is calling us from the trenches, forcing us from dreams into marches, infecting us like mustard gas. We loved in C major once – do you remember? Do you recall how it was before the snare drum disfigured, dismembered, shellshock-scattered us? Perhaps we could bring those lyrical daydreams of drumless summers back if we sang hard enough, though the snare drum will try to stop us at all costs. Perhaps we could piece ourselves together again, withstand the artillery fire, disentangle barbed wire, if we were to sing loudly a long-ago hymn in G major.

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Tooth After the op in intensive care he bit right through his lower mouth so we could see the tooth through a hole as if, unable to speak, the pain was trying to find another way out so they brought in a dentist one day who extracted the offending tooth and sewed up the hole because pain unlike a soul cannot get out, must not hover over a sickbed, head towards the light, speak a comprehensible language, paint The Scream, beat a percussion instrument loudly, even just cry.

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Poetry (Translation)|Anniyil Tharakan The Yoga of the Vision of Cosmic Form Chapter 11, extract from Gita translation

Arjuna said: 1. Whatever the words you have spoken lighting up the Self, that are spiritually beneficial to me, Transcendent and mystery-ridden, has forfeited my illusion. 2.

O Lotus-eyed, I fain heard you expatiate on the beginning and end Of all beings, and your boundless majesty into the bargain. 3. O Lord Most High, as you have thus declared yourself, Would I fain see you in your effulgent form divine, O Supreme Person. 4. Should you think it, O Lord possible for me to bear your sight thusly, Then make your Unmanifest Self visible to me, O Lord of Yoga. The Lord Said: 5. O Partha, see my shapes a hundred-fold and a thousand-fold. They are variegated, celestial, multi-hued, if many-shaped. 6. Gaze how the Adityas, the Vasus, the Rudras and twin Aswins and the Maruts also loom large in this face before you. See splendours galore never unravelled before, O Bharata. 7. Behold now in this body the whole universe of the living and not living Roll into the One, O Guòakeça, and whatever else you thirst to see. 8.

Since you cannot see Me with own eyes, I shall gift you With the divine inward eye. See the majestic yoga of my form. 78

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Sanjaya Said: 9. Averred thus, O King, the great Lord of yoga. Hari gave Partha a vision of His transcendent cosmic form. 10. Having mouths countless and eyes numerous, giving out spectacles of splendours marvelous, Wearing divine ornaments galore, and holding aloft arms other-worldly. 11. Wearing garlands and capes celestial, anointed with fragrance divine, All wondrous and shining bright, eternal and many-faced, turning on all sides. 12. If the blaze of a thousand suns were to burst forth all at once in the sky into a dazzling light That would perhaps resemble the majesty of that great Lord. 13. The Pandava gazed in the body of the God of the gods the whole universe enfold into a unified design in the One And then unfold into multiple names and forms. 14. Then the Conqueror of Wealth, wonder-struck, his hair bristling on end, His head bowed down before the Lord, spoke with folded hands. Arjuna Said: 15. O God, I see all the gods and all the varied hosts of beings materialise in your body. I see therein the Lotus-reclined Brahma, all the Rñis and the heavenly serpents, too. 16. I I

see you open out with manifold arms and breasts, eyes and faces on all sides in endless semblances. see not the End, the Middle and the Beginning of yours, O Lord of the universe, O Cosmic Form.

17. I see you sport the diadem-hewed crown, mace and discus, a mass of luminosity effulgent everywhere, It’s hard to gaze at you, burning bright like a fire blazing and the sun flaming measureless. 18. You’re the imperishable the highest point of knowledge, you’re the ultimate foundation of this universe, 79

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you’re the guardian of the Eternal Dharma, you’re the primal Purusa, so do I think.

19. I See you Beginningless, Middleless and Endless, empowered with                                   infinite manliness and endowed with countless arms, Your eyes form Sun and Moon, and your visage the blazing hearth, transfusing this universe with your luminous glory. 20. This space lying betwixt heaven and earth and all its regions are extended by you alone. Your terrible and splendid form bared, all the triple worlds shudder with awe at your appearance, O Exalted Lord. 21. This host of Divines indeed goes into you, some, awe-struck, extolling you with folded palms. Hail to you O Lord, so say the order of seers great and recluses                                perfected, chanting you with paeans of praise. 22. They behold you, amazed: Rudras, Adityas, Vasus, Sadhyas, Viswas, Asvins, Maruts, Usmapas, the troupe of Gandharvas, Yaksas and Siddhas stand stupefied. 23. Seeing your stupendous form billing manifold mouths and eyes, O Strong Armed Lord, Countless arms, thighs and feet, myriad bellies, many fearful tusks, the whole worlds stand awe-stricken and so do I. 24. Having spotted you touch the skies, blazing with the spectrum of rainbow-hues, your mouths flung wide open And your eyes distended and burning bright, I stand with my heart                                   shaken, my peace and fortitude sliding, O Viñëu. 25. Having caught sight of your mouths baring dreaded jagged tusks and belching dissolution-like fires, I know not four quarters, And nor do I come by peace. Have mercy on me, O Lord of the gods and the abode of the world. 26. All the scions of Dhåtaräñtra and a slew of earth’s rulers, Bhisma, Drona And Sutaputra included, and not to speak of the frontline warrior chiefs of ours 27.

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and scary-sighted, Some sit mangled in the gorge between your teeth, their heads crushed to smithereens. 28. As countless torrents of water of rivers rush into the gulfing ocean, So are the heroes of the world of men drawn into your fiery mouths. 29. As moths into blazing taper hurtle to their sudden end, So do these multitudes hurry into your fiery jaws to their own perdition. 30. I see you lap up and suck into your fiery mouths all worlds on every side in a bid to devour them. O Viñëu, your fiery flames that make worlds aglow with blazing glory are burning bright everywhere. 31. Then apprise me of who you are, you who materialise in form fierce to gaze at, so I prostrate before you, O Mighty God. Have pity on me. Would I know you as you be in the beginning, for I fail to make out your doings. The Lord said: 32. I am All-Powerful World-Wrecking Time, now busy dissolving all the universes. Even without your giving them a battle, these warriors drawn up in the opposite ranks will not go alive. 33. Wherefore, awake and arise and seize fame. Vanquish your enemies, and enjoy the kingdom unswayed. These by me were ere dealt the death-blow so that you are only an instrument, O Left-Handed Hero. 34. Bump off Drona, Bhisma, Jayadratha, Karna and other valiant fighters that are by Me destined to fall already. Be not swayed with fear; fight and you shall vanquish your foes in the battle. Sanjaya Said: 35. Lending his ears to Kesava’s instructions, the crowned prince again spoke to Krsna with folded hands. He was shivering with fear and falling on all fours, his head bending                                    down, and his voice choking.

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36.

It is in order, O Hrñikeça that the world delights and rejoices in paeans of your praise. The demons run helter-skelter in fear in all directions while a throng of perfected men bow their heads in homage to you.

37. And why ought not they to salute you with their heads bowed down, O Great-Souled Lord, greater than all other beings, The origin even of Brahma, and the Infinite, the God of the gods, the Seat of the universe, the Imperishable, Being and Non-Being                                 and beyond? 38. You are the Primal Deity, you are the Person of old, and you are the Lasting Foundation of this universe, You are the Knower and the Knowable, the Highest Abode; this universe is by you spun, O Being of Infinite Form. 39.

You are Air, you are Death, you are Fire, you are Ocean, you are Moon and Creator of all living beings And Grandsire of all men. All Hail to you a thousand times and all hail again and again to you.

40. Hail to you before, hail to you behind, and hail to you on all sides. O All that is boundless in might and main And the more so in prowess. You who interpenetrate All are All. 41. Whatever I blustered in haughtiness or in love, addressing you, O Kåñëa, O Yadava, or O friend, For naught I knew of your glory, I beg of you for pardon. 42. Whatever I said in light vein and so in disrespect while at play, in bed or at table, when alone Or in the company of others, O Acuta, forgiveness I solicit from you, O Infinite One. 43. Father of the world of the moving and the unmoving, you are so                                 revered a teacher as you are to be paid obeisance by this world. None is equal to you in all the three wide worlds, O Lord of the Matchless Majesty. 44. Wherefore paying you homage with the body bent, I request you, O Worshipful Lord, To treat me graciously, as a father would his son or a friend his friend or a lover his beloved.

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45. That I have beholden, albeit dreadfully, things never seen before offers me solace. But my mind recoils with fear So show me only your earthly human visage. Have mercy on me, God of the gods, and the seat of the universe. 46. Fain do I long to see you as of yore, crowned, mace and discus in hand, That is your erstwhile four-armed figure, O Lord of the thousand-armed and universal form. The Lord Said: 47.

O Arjuna, I have shown you this transcendent form by virtue of my own yoga. I have bared you this cosmic glorious visage, shining bright, boundless and primeval, revealed to none but you before.

48. Neither by the Vedas nor by sacrifices nor by study nor alms, nor rituals not to speak of penances, Can I be sighted in such a form in the world of men by anyone else save you, O Hero of the Kurus. 49. Be not shaken and swayed at the sight of my terrifying form. Calm of mind and fear-free, glad at heart, see my visage as of yore. Sanjaya Said: 50. Said thusly to Arjuna, Vasudeva granted the Warrior Prince the vision of his own form, Thereby the Great-souled Lord, taking on his semblance as of yore, comforted him who was affrighted. Arjuna Said: 51. Your gentle human form seen, I am recollected in mind And restored to my own proper nature, O Destroyer of foes.

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52. It is hard to see this terrifying form of mine which you have beholden. Even the gods are eager to catch sight of such a form. 53. 54.

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known in this form And seen in truth and entered into, O Scorcher of foes. 55. Who does all his work for Me, who beholds Me his highest goal, who is ever devoted to Me, Who is attachment-free, who is free from loath to others makes it to Me, O Pandava.

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Reil meisie

76x90 cm

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Cozy in my mind solitude lines 100 x 100 cms

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Corn row blue

60 x 90 cms

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Purple Haze of Love Oil on canvas 76x60 cm

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Fig

101 x 76 cms

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Visual Art|Gary Frier

Wistful

100x100 cm

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Short Fiction|Damini Kane Millennial City - Part I: Liquid Girl in a Pink House

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unset pink house on the third floor, a grey garbage pile by the building where colour never reached, the street dripped outwards, halting, coughing past the traffic, in a city that never slept or moved and barely breathed.    Sunset pink house with a red door and plates that floated just a little when they were picked up, a couch that was melting into the floor with wear, where a discarded t-shirt curled into itself.    Sunset pink house and a blue-yellow flame on the stove, where a liquid-faced girl boiled water for tea, a white phone and a blue binder by the dining table, and the smell of old paper in the room.   And rain.    It always smelled of rain on evenings like this, when just a little bit of magic flit from the aging wallpaper and the six-inch high heels she never wore because they were impossible to walk in.    He forgot a little more than an old shirt here when he left, he seemed to have abandoned a fragment of his watch too, so she wore it around her throat and swallowed as its hands tried to choke her.    Twenty-one, nowhere to run, twenty-one, nowhere to run, whispered the cobwebs behind the fridge.    A green-eyed black cat walked between her bare ankles as the water boiled and boiled. A strand of hair on her cheek. Street lights outside and the noise of cars, the feeling of missing a night out. As though the tea was holding her back from an evening of online possibilities, and if only the stove set the house on fire could the time loop unravel.    It was so hard to be social when you were just not.    So it was a little lonely in here but it was quiet. Specks of dust turned into fireflies. The sofa dripped into the floor tiles and her face was liquid because it was full of change and motion.    It was a pink house and a liquid girl and the planet was mostly water anyway, and people were mostly water anyway, so when the hands of his watch strangled her she swallowed them like an ice-cold drink. She was twenty-one, nowhere to run, and there was so much to do and so much to have done. So maybe it wasn’t enough to stand by the stove and melt.    But in this pink house tonight there was nothing to fear, she had swallowed time and she had boiled the water and the cups floated down from cabinets, so she sat by the table and drank the tea.    The city was never solid anyway. 91

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Short Fiction|Paul GnanaSelvam River Surf

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he river widened into an estuary, almost a mile wide before emptying its contents into the Straits of Malacca. The moon had cascaded halfway down the cast sky. Suspended between the clouds and the narrow bay, its brightness paved a road, a crooked lane shimming out onto a beautiful horizon, calm and inviting.    “When suspicion entered the front door, happiness left through the back,” Clare heard David’s mumbling. Her stomach convulsed. “Who is he?”    She knew it won’t stop. Even after being stumped with a hundred cigarettes, left with a twisted wrist,and a broken collar- bone. No pleading would stop him. The harassments will come,day-in and dayout. And the tortures increase with dark, vile creativity. Her handphone confiscated, David would spend hours scrutinizing the phone log and message inbox. He would sit still, brooding. The beatings came without warning. Her mother refused to acknowledge the problem. “Once you are married, you belong to your husband.” She had proclaimed. “You live for him.” “You married this man against our wishes. It’s a choice you made.” There was no refuge for her. She could not bring herself to face David to demand for a divorce. He would kill her, she is sure.    Her only escape is by being away at work. She found solace in the piles of paperwork, corporate meetings and a few close colleagues. It took her mind off from home. It kept her away from David. There, she was free to mingle in the real world, with real people and felt safe. And she could use the office telephone to contact her closest ally, Alan Kwong. Being a divorcee and a father of two boys, he understood Clare’s predicament and empathized with her. Though he could not do much to help, he cared and comforted her, saw to her needs and opened his home. Determined to buy her freedom, he had promised to absorb all legal fees incurred if Clare decided to file for a divorce.    A fortnight ago, David had asked the same question. He went out of control. He made a lot of noise. He broke the dinner plates and smashed the glasses. He tried to choke her. He had held Clare up the kitchen wall by her throat, clenching it tightly with one hand.    She closed her mind shut. She could not look into his eyes. They were not his anymore. David’s animalistic grip tightened until loud banging on the front door interrupted him from his stupor. Clare’s eyes had rolled backwards by then. Alan Kwong intervened in time. The neighbours had called the police. David was arrested, but later released on bail.    David had behaved for the six longest weeks of Clare’s life. But 92

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it was short lived. He recovered and the nefarious question had not come, not until now, until the boat had passed through the illuminated lagoon of the firefly colony.    The sea breeze froze her wired mandible. It chilled the perforated plates that held her gums and teeth intact. The orthodontist had given her 2 years for full recovery after adjusting her gums to fit into her fractured jaw bone. Even then, he had said, she has to live with three misaligned teeth and a locked upper left jaw bone. She would have to use her consonants in sloshy utterances. She would continue depending on a diet of pureed and blended food.    The metal plates, screws and wires that were holding her face together began to hurt. Clare needed to escape. She caressed her stomach. She had watched Davidgulping down the clams and mantis prawns like a hungry wolf. After a few mugs of beer, the question triggered again like an allergy. She had no answers. He will wreck her again, she knew.    She looked back. The enclave of fireflies was a dimming bushel of graying tree branches. The music from a discotheque boomed down the river.    She heard a snore.    The jetty on the opposite bank was in sight now. The boatman stopped pedaling. He started the engine. Picking up momentum, the boat pushed ahead downstream. The horizon looked as if the heavens had opened. Very soon, there will be a crossing, Clare calculated. Lowering her hand out from the boat, she touched the water. It was icy cold. Deranged water hyacinths and rotting logs littered the river. David sat still with his shoulders slouched and was fast asleep; his head bowed almost prayer-like. He was leaning against the side of the boat, listing dangerously towards the water. Clare slipped her hand under his belly and subtly unlocked the safety belt of the life jacket. Then, she unzipped David’s oversized life jacket as stealthily as she could. The engine gurgled again, this time louder. She knew the undercurrents were swift in mid-river. The boatman stood behind them on the raised stern, watching out for debris on the river, maneuvering the sampan towards the jetty. The tourists sat subdued like obedient children. Perhaps they were transfixed, relishing on the wonders of the magical enclave. Or they were simply tired. The deck was low, its proximity mere inches from the water’s surface. There won’t be a loud splash, concurred Clare.   She waited…    The sampan turned a sharp corner, ready to make the crossing. It was dark. Only the headlight from the boatman’s helmet shone ahead on the murky river. The waters swirled in small pools and ran swift. Clare kept her gaze on the big round moon. Taking a deep breath, she nudged an unsuspecting David overboard.    The alcohol he consumed over dinner had hardly worn off. 93

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David wondered if he is in a dream... The water was cold, rigid and unforgiving. They numbed his ankles. They rendered him powerless. His lungs expanded. He needed to breathe. Sediment filled his nostrils, ears and burnt his skull cavity. He remembered Clare. He remembered the fireflies. How they floated gracefully. How their abdomens flickered. He gloated in the darkness. He screamed. He shouted. He struggled. He released his breath. The currents were swift.    Clare turned around as the boat began to push upstream towards the jetty. A large orange jacket drifted away with its sleeves stretched. Soon, it vanished. She felt lighter. Peace transcended into her senses. The ticketing counter did not register passenger details. The boatman did not take a headcount. Their families did not know they’ve gone to watch the fire-flies.    She turned the car keys. Alan Kwong will be waiting for her with the papers. Useless papers, Clare snorted. The same river would one day bring her ashes to this beautiful horizon. She knew David would wait there. With a little bit of moon dust, they could fly back and live with the fireflies.

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Poetry|Bashir Sakhawarz Love and war Why did your love touched my heart? people were dying of hunger or of wars and yet I saw you, only you in the field wearing flowers on your head. There was pain and there was sadness there was whispers about the end of the world people only believed in death and I, the only naive one believed in love. Was I selfish or you were too loveable which made me to forget my death or the death of others or the world around me?

Courage A lost bird sitting in a branch of a naked winter tree does not have the courage to take the long path alone towards the warm waters of the south.

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After You Left After you left I kept the door open thinking that you would return but you didn’t and since the door was open sadness, nostalgia and anger entered the house they sat on the carpet, on the sofa, on the mantelpiece and on our bed and now even if you come back no space is left.

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Poetry|Robert Beveridge The Mystery of the Disappearing Pillowcases If I had to choose someone to filch my laundry, it would be the overweight and pretty redhead from the first floor. I’d be flattered she obsessed over me enough to steal my pillowcases, wonder aloud, to her, why she prefers them clean, without my scent; offer, of course, to curl up with them, with her, exert myself. Imbue them with my scent again. But that’s not the way my luck runs. More like the guy from five with the beard and nervous voice, or the anorexic blonde I run into daily in the stairwell, from an indeterminate floor. Whoever, though, I hope my missing pillowcases are, in some way, used.

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Territory It has taken years, but you have at last cleared the homestead of trees; your little hut now sees sunlight. Deeper in the forest, you know the fence exists. Beyond the trees, you hear, is the shapeless grey wall surrounding this country. In all that time, they never said the fence was movable. You found out on your own, nudging it here and there, an inch farther to the south, another west. One morning you awoke to find the eastern posts breached, reaching out beyond the forest. What was this? And how? You pulled them in, close to you, your hut, the garden, fence. Pushing out again was gradual. Your fence stands against the trees, the clearing yours again, pieces of forest enclosed as well. In my wanderings I’ve come to this fence, found the gate, entered. You guide me as we walk the perimeter, as I explore what you already know so well. You have not forgotten the forest. Its memory lies dulled within you. And you never saw the wall. I could take you there, show you pieces, new terrain. Enter of your own free will. I could show you through new eyes the east, the way the sun touches your cheek as it rises. I could, if you will let me. Enter of your own free will.

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Book Review|Jaydeep Sarangi

Trainstorm

Trainstorm, Amitabh Mitra, The Poets Printery, East London (SA), 2016, Pp174.

Rabindranath Tagore in the poem ‘Rater Gari’ (‘Night Train’) writes, “এপ্রাণ, রাতেররেলগাড়ি,       দিলপাড়ি-    কামরায়গাড়িভরাঘুম,       রজনীনিঝুম.” “This life, night train Moves Sleep reigns the compartment Silent night.” (Translation mine) In the poem Tagore describes how these night trains enlighten and enchant the travellers. He poeticises this thrilling experience with fitting metaphors. These metaphors are powerful reflective tools that allow us to see common everyday train experiences in a new light. Trainstorm is a collection of fifty poets where the poets register their experiences and reflections on train journeys. It is an innovative and refreshing anthology of train poetry. Most of the poems in this anthology areprecise, intense and critically self-conscious which radiate fresh rays from a glowing mind. The value that these poems give us is colourful paint to life and sensations of men and women what Abha Iyengar in the poem ‘Turbulence’ (p.7) puts in words,“ A bit dangerous all this, but so is love.” Abha goes even deeper, “The station teemed with People, the smell of train in the air....” (p.9)

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Beautifully composed words leap effortlessly from Amitabh Mitra’s pen: “(I)t is not the train an eye perhaps moves (.)” (‘Poem 5’, p. 20) The trains keep on running like a reckless blur as Uma Trilok records, “Travel posts faces They are my companions(.)” (‘Faces’, p.157) Usha Kishore, a veteran poetess from the Isle of Man exalts, “Moments knitted in distant bird song, bearing me farther and farther away.” (‘Pettah’, p.158) Her poetic flight moves through emotional snapshots to reach her inner serenity. As we whisk from one poem to another in this collection, we enjoy a feast of fresh ideas. Zena John in the poem, ‘Train of Ages’ “Oblivion is a gentle lover Soothing the homeward stretch As the material falls away And the core drifts freely.” (p.166) Some shadows are larger than life; with long roots. Sunil Sharma philosophises train journeys with his masterly crafted poems: “Train journeys are philosophical. They are magical and transformative!” (‘Scent of Spring in Snow’, p.148) Words are his world, his people are like God. He wants our ideas to hover like a butterfly over a garden. For most of the poets in this anthology, train journeys are more than a visual delight; ‘a song’. They exploit the resources of the English language and moulds it into meaning. The fret that simmers on our brow is a veil. Poets from different soils show their relation with train in the contexts of faith, hope, dreams, and memories. Art works and photos of trains in different cultural milieu and in the imaginary space add flavour to this fascinating anthology.

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Ekphrasis|Carola Colley and Usha Kishore Threads Across Waters THREADS ACROSS WATERS is a collaboration between the British artist Carola Colley and the Indian born British poet Usha Kishore. This art project is Carola’s response to Usha’s poetry. The project is a vibrant mixture of painting in oil and watercolour, mixed media print, sculpture and poetry. This is the second collaborative project between Usha and Carola, both of whom share a fascination for myth, particularly in the exploration of female mythical figures and in the feminist interpretation of myth. Both are also pre-occupied with cross-cultural aspects of myth, involving mythical characters and their transcultural avatars, whether Indian, Celtic, Norse, Graeco-Roman or Chinese. The idea of weaving together aspects of the physical and metaphysical concepts run parallel in the works of both Usha and Carola. A joint exhibition was held at The Mill Gallery, Banbury, Oxfordshire (UK) from Tuesday 4th Oct to Tuesday 1st November 2016, with a poetry workshop and reading on the15th of October. Here are four of Carola’s paintings with the corresponding poems. They are semi-abstract watercolours and are on five mythical poems from Usha Kishore’s 2nd collection, Night Sky between the Stars (Cyberwit India, 2015). They are all unique in the fact that Carola has used the form of the Portuguese Moura stones. Mouras encantadas (enchanted mouras) are magical feminine deities living inside stones. The Mouras are considered the guardians of liminal portals. They are akin to mother goddess figures around the world. The mouras have Indo-European parallels like snake goddesses, shape shifters and stone deities.

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Twilight Prayer Oṃbhūrbhuvaḥ̣svaḥ tátsavitúrváreṇyaṃ bhárgodevásyadhīmahi dhíyoyónaḥprachodáyāt A dark woman, on a swan, alights at twilight time, with lotus, rosary, kamandalu and coy smile. I invoke Surya, Savitr – jewel of the sky, as he thunders past in his golden chariot, water-lilies in hand, his seven steeds neighing. Darkness enters day and the sky lights up in a drift of rising stars. Twilight time of prayer. I breathe in Gayatri Mother of Vedas. I invoke fire, air, water, earth and sky. In my twilight world, I push rhythms into the womb of time.

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Onomatopoeia rasa-dhvani Sound meets sense in the essence of being. These are not words, but wisdom that gives birth to words. Gayatri enfolds me. She is no myth, She is a living mantra, birthing dawn and dusk. Her body is earth, Her breath is air, Her womb, water, Her skin, the sky; Her soul is fire, Her hair, rays of darkness and light. She is the sound of life, spilling from Savitr. My eyes cloak the night and ignite light. I chant the womanhood incarnate. I am swara I am tala I am laya. My skin thaws, my breath dissolves, my body melts, my womb flows, my soul burns 103

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in eternal flames.

I am the earth seeking the sky, at twilight time. I am that woman Gayatri - lover of Brahma… The Gayatri mantra (Rig -Veda III.62.10) is personified in female form and can be translated as:    Let us invoke the radiant glory    of Savitr, who pervades the earth,    the skies and the heavens, so that    He may enlighten our minds.

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Ekphrasis|Carola Colley and Usha Kishore

Twilight Prayer

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Creation Creatio ex nihilo In the fabled time of all beginnings, you cast man into cosmogonical myth. There was no being, you say, nor non being; there was no air, no sky beyond. What covered the earth? Was there water unfathomed? What was above, what below? There was no death, you say, no immortality, there was no day, no night, no light; only darkness cloaked in darkness. Then something breathed windless in that void of all voids. In the beginning, there moved a desire within, the first seed of mind. Only poets, who churned their hearts, found the tenor of this primordial seed and its unseeded half; traversing the being in metaphor and metonymy, they enacted the chords of creation in syllabic verse. There were impregnators, you say, mighty forces with energy beyond, but where was the core? Where was the hidden womb that carried the germ, the pulsing rhythm of warmth, the sacred chasm wherein the flame of life was nurtured? Whence was this world created? Who was the primum movens? Who was the creator? Did he fashion it or did he not? Or was it a woman? Did she mould it or did she not? Whose eye controls the world from the highest heavens? Perhaps she knows it, perhaps he does not. The Gods came later, with their thunderbolt, discus and trident, demanding sacrifices on fire, earth, water and air. Sacrifices with threads drawn out on every side, woven into the warp and weft of chant and hymn, out-spinning the threads of Sama verses on to the vaults of heaven, conjoining Savitr with Usnih, Soma with Anushtup, Viraj with Varuna and Mitra. In my mind’s eye, I see them all; the gods who line the roaring sacrificial fires and those who perform sacraments in ritualistic metre, binding and unbinding. But what of the goddesses who birthed these gods? What of the earth woman who bore the primeval man? To which of these deities do I offer my verse sacrifice? {After reading the Rigvedic hymns on Creation: X.129 and X.130 and the English Translations of these hymns by Ralph T H Griffith} 106

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Usnih, Anushtup and Viraj: Vedic verse metres. The Vedic deities are invoked in verse, composed in ritualistic meter. As listed, the Vedic deities of Savitr, Soma and Varuna (and Mitra) are invoked in Usnih, Anushtup and Viraj meters respectively.

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Ekphrasis|Carola Colley and Usha Kishore

Creation

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Ode to the Monsoons Winds blow, lightning falls, plants rise forth, heaven swells, the world’s grain burgeons, when Parjanya rouses the earth with rain. {Rig Veda - V.83.4}

(i) I often dream of monsoons mausam, season - raining in streams of celestial splendour; birthing light from the darkest hour of night that breathes in ardent whispers of verse and perspires in fireflies water kindles fire in a rhapsody of rain. Peacocks, harbingers of monsoons, call in klaxon from temple walls, shedding sparks of refrain and jewelled ghazals from feathered eyes, lined in emerald, gemstones of the azured heavens. Black serpent-clouds coil in soft streaks around the neck of a feverish sky, riding on rain, quenching the thirst of parched birds, chakora, hornbill and papiha, who pine summer away cooing to some dark beloved in the skies. Fiery Gulmohar bursts into dying flames, as I seek the hallowed fragrance of sandalwood and cedar, dowsed in the amorous frenzy of storm song. Locking the moon away in my eyes, I immerse myself in the snows of a distant land to translate the cryptic code of monsoon psalms; my thoughts, frail creatures that fly between heaven and earth.

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(ii) When thoughts end and words begin, caravans of clouds carry me away to light earthen lamps on the twilight sky. Waxing and waning, my moonlit eyes gild the falling rain in silver threads. Let my words unlock the sacred shrine of the earth maiden and her lover, Parjanya, son of heaven. Jasmine flowers scent their ethereal bed, where he drizzles her with kisses of soft raindrops, enfolding her in his lightning arms; then with empyrean ardour, thunders into her, tearing her apart, ploughing through sand, trees, plains, deserts and mountains, guardians of time. Swimming in her swelling rivers that quiver at his touch, he floods into her in one great crescendo of monsoon fervour. He seeks her again and again in the sea; each time, muslin waves billow. For these lovers, drunk on winèd desire, colours dance in a swirling cadence: gold of the fire, silver of the air. Veiled in astral visions, I see their incensed, wind tossed bodies caught in the crewel-work of rain, wrapped in the waxen silk of crumpled storm-clouds; their love, a palimpsest for all life, drumming and pulsing - an eternity in waiting. Light swans trumpet their union, spinning white horizons on their beaks, their radiant notes whirling in arcs of rainbow song.

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(iii) O Birds, who turn into thunder clouds, your bodies bejewelled by raindrops, lend me your lightning quill, lend me the metaphor of rain to adorn my ode. Blindfolded by mist, let my soul rise like the moon on a night, as silent as prayer. Let my words gush forth in torrents, flood every dream, I ever dreamt and draw the universe into my verse. Seeking the hazy runes of a lost Veda in estuaries reflecting the sun in the mirrored wings of cormorants, I swim with the glistening fish, thronging the seas, where all the world floats on rain. Swaying to the last rhythms of fading thunder, in a language not my own, I translate the spells of monsoon magic; my words ebbing away in trickling rivulets that drift towards a swelling sea, courting the sky in rising cloud. What is the mantra that invokes Parjanya, clad in the bluish fog of silver shadowed heavens? What is the raga of rain, whistled by cuckoo birds that wing across my thoughts? (iv) An intervening Indra weaves lightning threads on the skies, as the lullaby of soft breeze pours in the last drops of divine elixir that impregnates vines of pepper, 111

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roots of ginger, buds of clove, cinnamon bark, cardamom pods, paddy flowers, tottering bamboo and drunken coconut palms. The musk of pregnant earth opens the mountains to an age of water. They are the earth and the sky, drawing from each, sweet infusions of the season. She is the desire of her beloved; hers is the womb the heavens chose to bear their progeny. Let me write this ode to the monsoons in exiled tears, painted storks and syllables of rain. To which God do I offer my refrain for the boon of a monsoon dream? (v) How many eons do I wait for Parjanya to tear open the earth, to be birthed again, to be drenched in monsoon glory? How many knots do I row on spectral boats, along dark whimpering rivers before I hear joyous thunder drums? How long do I sleep in chthonic wombs before the first flashes of vibrant lightning? How long do I wait for the dark eternity of gathering rainclouds? The verse at the beginning is my translation from the Sanskrit of the following Hymn to Parjanya, the Vedic rain god, {Rig Veda - V.83.4): Prá vâtā vânti patáyanti vidyúta úd óṣadhīr jíhate pínvate svàḥ írā víśvasmai bhúvanāya jāyate yát parjányaḥ pṛthivîṃ rétasâvati {Acknowledging the Rig-Vedic hymns to Parjanya: V.83, VII. 101 & VII.102} 112

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Ekphrasis|Carola Colley and Usha Kishore

Ode to the Monsoons

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Wishing on the Moon I fast all day; so when night alights, I can wish on the moon… I pour the silvered moon into my cosmic self; his essence, filtering into my soul. Elsewhere, the moon is a woman, like me; but here, he is a man. I call him Chandra shadow of the sun, celestial sphere, comrade of lovers, bestower of conjugal bliss… Monsoon magic swathes the air; heavenly nymphs descend on earth, as dusk falls gently on the land. Caparisoned clouds herald the moon with thunder drums and lightning flags. I am earth, primeval woman. You are sky, with crescent moon on your forehead. We make love, somewhere on the milky way. You initiate me into immortality… Henna paints my hands with longing. I line my eyes with kajal, I chew paan for inviting lips. I bathe in scented water, I adorn my hair with jasmine buds, I paint my breasts with sandal paste and wait for the moon. I am the mountain maid, wooing a sleeping God; an earth woman, serenading eternity. 114

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You throw away your leopard robes and snake garlands to court me with the sindoor of your love‌ All around me, monsoon winds flirt with girls on swings; singing twilight away, heralding the moon. All around me, women in red, chant into the darkness, drawing light dreams on their hearts. I am the woman, defying the Gods, chasing Yama to his kingdom in the netherworld. My chastity burns like fire, as I enter the kingdom of darkness, to seize my light‌ In the matrix of my femininity, the moon scatters his jewels. An enchantment rises and swells. Like a moth meditating on flame, I burn. I chant to the Gods and whisper your name. The moon rises to unite the earthmaiden and her dancing lover, as light hides in moonstones. The five chaste women twinkle down, their anklets shimmer in astral rhythms‌ A flame burns in my lunar self and the night becomes mute so that I can wish on the moon. I take the moon for a sieve, glimpse your face and promise eternal love. {"Wishing on the Moon" is based on the Hindu festival of Karva Chauth, when women pray to the moon for marital bliss. A number of myths are associated with the festival.} 115

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Ekphrasis|Carola Colley and Usha Kishore

Wishing on the Moon

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Short Fiction|Ted Morrissey The Glance of Orpheus Excerpt from The Isolation of Conspiracy

T

hey shared a cab back to the Blackstone; both were quiet. The snow had slowed but colder air was descending on the city with nightfall. The cabby was surprisingly cautious, respecting the treachery of the streets. For months he’d expected Revelation to be energizing and exhilarating. Now however he felt exhausted and not just physically: emotionally and spiritually too. It had taken another three hours for Revelation to conclude—photographing the words, one tattoo at a time, and implanting the chip. Rumors said that there were a few defectors among the Logos, people who declined being chipped, a combination of griefstrickenness and disappointment that very little was revealed at Revelation, and perhaps simple trepidation at the idea of carrying a microchip in their body designed to become radioactive. If it were true that some Logos defected, it was miraculous that more had not abandoned Elizabeth Winters’ grand plan.    He’d elected to have the chip inserted at his hip. He sensed the insertion point. It didn’t precisely sting but there was a heightened sensitivity, and a feeling of added weight—though that should be impossible. The chip itself weighed a breath of air more than nothing. It was as if he could feel the weight of Elizabeth Winters’ words, as if their meaning—unknown to him—carried a physical impact in the world, like the weight of money in one’s pocket: there was the coinage itself plus the weight of what the currency could buy. But also, too, it was like the weight of a secret on one’s heart: the secret of love and longing for someone from whom that secret must forever be kept. It was a weight like all those things beneath his skin.    He glanced at Beth, whose alabaster face was queerly lit by the passing citylights, the reflected and refracted snowlight, and the cab’s dashboard. She seemed almost a Warhol image, unmoving but always changing, not vivid hues, however, every color subdued and washed out, their energy ebbed nearing the end of a long day.    Are you hungry? Beth was looking at him looking at her.    Now that you mention it.    There’s the Italian place next to the hotel, Sicilian more specifically.    Sounds fine.    They had the cabby drop them in front of the restaurant. One sensed that Isola di Sicily would normally be packed, reservations only, but the storm had kept people in, and the restaurant was only 117

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half filled. The hostess seated them in a candlelit corner. Beth held her for a moment while she glanced at the wine list at the table, and ordered a bottle of the house merlot. Is that all right? She asked him as the hostess departed. It’s been one of those days and sometimes in these places it’s a half hour before they get around to taking your order. Thirty minutes of pomp and circumstance.    They sat for a moment, perusing their menus, adjusting to the low lighting.    I feel funny, Beth said touching her forearm where they’d implanted the chip.   Funny how?    I don’t know... strange. Like I can feel the words beneath my skin, moving or buzzing, like ants in a colony. I know ants don’t buzz, but... not just under my skin though. My head feels funny, a little dizzy or something, like my thoughts are scattered.    We’ve had a lot to process in the last eight hours or so.    Do you feel strange too?    I know what you mean. I can sense the words also, or the weight of their meaning or something. It’s hard to describe.    He thought then, again—for he had been thinking of it almost constantly since receiving it—of Katie’s message and what it may mean, in terms of their relationship. He believed they were through and was beginning to accept the idea, beginning to climb out of the funk, out of the fen he’d fallen into. He rationalized that he was better off without her. They didn’t embrace the same foundational beliefs, and to be truly happy, in the long term, he needed to find someone with whom he connected at the deepest level of his being. It wasn’t just the disagreement over Elizabeth Winters. He’d begun to accept that there were other issues too. Most profoundly perhaps, Katie expressed an agnostic position toward an all-powerful deity, a Christian deity, who created and ruled existence, and who provided for some sort of being beyond life; and Katie seemed to be leaning toward a more traditional way of thinking. He wouldn’t be surprised if Katie returned to the church eventually, some denomination and manifestation of it. He however had dealt with his agnosticism in his late teens and early twenties before plunging headlong into atheism, with no thin residue of belief that he could ever return to a god-based belief system.    The nearest he came was worshipping Elizabeth Winters.    But now, with that simple two-word question, materializing from the heavens—you ok?—he began to wonder if he-and-Katie was possible after all. Did she think so? Or at least wonder? Or was her text message pure human kindness, nothing more? A message sent to a friend, likely a grieving friend. Nothing more.    Their waiter brought the house merlot and a basket of bread. While he opened the wine and poured it into their glasses, he recited 118

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the special selections not on the menu. He went away to give them time to decide.    Beth set aside her menu. Are you planning on attending the memorial?    I think so. I’ll have to take a later train. I’ll check to make sure that’s possible. What about you?    I think so too. I wasn’t planning on heading back until later anyway. There are a couple of bookstores I like to visit when I’m in the city. I trust the snow will stop sometime.    Whom do you like to read besides Elizabeth Winters?    Beth smiled. I don’t know many people who use whom in conversation—not many more who use it at all.    A habit I suppose from talking to my students. Teach by example.    I like it. It’s like being in a Henry James story. To answer your question, I read all sorts of authors; in fact I’m all over the board, from Austen to Barth to Chandler. I like contemporary poetry too, especially haiku.   Interesting. What... whom are you reading at the moment?    A contemporary novelist, Peter Cameron, Andorra.    Do you write? I’m sorry. It feels like I’m interviewing you, or interrogating you.   It’s ok...    The waiter interrupted to take their order. Beth selected busiate with pesto Genovese; he ordered one of the specials, grilled sea bass tossed with pasta. They would both begin with the orange salad with fennel.    Yes, I write a little, she continued. I’ve been trying my hand at essay or memoir or something. I’m not quite sure what it is. She paused, sipped some merlot. I also write poetry, mainly haiku. In fact... Beth took her purse from the back of her chair and pulled from its seemingly jumbled contents a small paperback book. She handed it across the table.    He read the cover by candlelight, Frogpond—a journal of haiku.    Heard of it?    I think I have, but I haven’t read a copy. I tend to be a longerform guy.    Turn to page twenty-two.    He did, and scanned the haiku. There was one by Elizabeth Winterberry, from Madison, Wisconsin. Elizabeth Winterberry.    Freaky isn’t it. It’s like being named Ernest Hemingwayfare or something.    He read the haiku to himself: Barnwood drinks in the pain(t)— white—enflaming the maple forest. Nice. He handed her back Frogpond.    What about you? Do you write?    I have been. Poetry. I used to take it, and myself, pretty seriously. 119

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Then I stopped, but I’ve been back at it for a while. He took out his phone, went to Chrome and navigated his way to 3Elements Review, issue 9, and his poem “Parking Lot, 2 a.m.” This one is pretty recent, came out a month ago.    He handed Beth his phone, and after a moment she said, I like it. Especially the image of the yellow lines being chevrons pointing us one way then back the opposite. Don’t I know that feeling. She drank from her merlot glass. Do you have a collection?    He thought a moment (and fully realized there was a string quartet playing music ambiently over a sound system). Yes and no. I have or maybe had a collection. I tried for a while to get it published, unsuccessfully; then I got sidetracked into academic writing. Recently I began writing poetry again. So, yes, that manuscript still exists but I’m not sure if I want to send it out again or just concentrate on new work and build a new collection.    You should do both. Dust off that manuscript and send it back out into the world, and keep writing new poems. Absolutely that’s what you should do.    The waiter brought their orange salads.    After a minute or two Beth said, This is quite good, a little sweet but not overly so. The fennel keeps the sweetness in check I think.    He nodded in agreement.    I didn’t realize how hungry I was.    He nodded in agreement. Language-making seemed impeded. He had the sense that the food was nourishing Elizabeth Winters’ words planted inside of him, like seedlings, precisely like seedlings, and their need for nourishment consumed all of his word-making energy. Their hunger raged like a perishing parasite’s. The locus of his hunger was not his hip, however; rather Elizabeth Winters’ words seemed to comprise a fine mesh which had been grafted to his soul like new skin.    He finished his salad, using the tines of his fork to capture the last few sunflower seeds that clung to the interior of his bowl. The energy for language-making returned to him. So tell me about this essay or memoir thing you’ve been writing.    Beth was still working on her salad. She washed down a bite with a swallow of merlot. I think I’m struggling with it, with finding its form, because the subject is very personal—or it could be. When I try to distance myself from the subject, it becomes more of an essay. But invariably I slip back into a more private aspect, and the thing becomes more autobiographical.    It sounds like the thing wants to be more autobiography, more memoir—if it keeps tugging you in that direction.    I think you’re right. I know you’re right. But I’m afraid of that kind of exposure, of self-exposure, that kind of vulnerability. I’m afraid on several levels. At least, I guess, I’m not afraid to admit I’m afraid. 120

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That’s something.    I must say, you’ve piqued my curiosity—but I don’t want you to share anything that makes you uncomfortable.    I appreciate that. She moved her empty bowl aside and picked up a piece of bread to begin buttering it. It’s weird but I feel this compulsion to tell all. Like Elizabeth Winters’ words are taking up so much space inside of me they’re forcing my own words to the surface. I can barely contain them—it’s like having a full bladder or something. She smiled, a little embarrassed at her indelicate simile. Or maybe it’s just the wine that wants me to talk. Maybe the grapes have fermented beyond mere alcohol into sodium pentothal.    Sometimes we just need to share. You know, catharsis. He drank some wine, whose arid qualities complemented the sweetness of the oranges in the salad. Perhaps that’s what I like about poetry. Its elliptical nature means you don’t have to confront issues directly. Maybe I’m a little afraid of self-exposure too.    Beth seemed to consider what she felt compelled to say. Candlelight played upon her face and the lenses of her glasses, coruscating to and fro as if animation of her vacillating deliberations. The waiter brought their meals.    Saved by the busiate, she said.    As they ate there was no further discussion of her confessional urges. Instead the conversation turned to Elizabeth Winters and her work, how they each discovered her, and they recited or described their favorite passages. They both loved the Orphic fountain scene in Orion, a scene that manages to be both foreshadowing and redherring.    Meanwhile they finished the bottle of merlot. Beth considered ordering another.    That’s a bad idea, he said. We still have to walk to the hotel. Granted it’s just next door, but another bottle of wine could turn the trip into a Jack London story.    The voice of reason—not always a quality I like, but this time....    How about once we get home safe and sound we retire to the Blackstone’s bar for an Irish coffee? For some reason this Sicilian cuisine has given me a yen for Baileys—or perhaps it’s just the frigid weather.    That’s better—much less reasonable. Also, it has the feel of an Irish wake for Elizabeth Winters.    They paid their bills and retrieved their coats. He held Beth’s for her. Then they trudged out into the white, white city, weirdly quiet for the heart of a metropolis. Workers had been busy clearing snow from the sidewalks but there was still a dusting of the freshly fallen that sparkled in the streetlights.    At the Blackstone, they went to their rooms to drop off their coats; then they rendezvoused at the bar. The streets may have been desolate but the hotel lobby and bar were a refuge from the 121

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late-winter storm. People were everywhere. The space was noisy and bustling. They placed their order, two Jameson Irish coffees, with a passing (harried) waitress and looked for somewhere to sit. He was on the verge of suggesting they take their coffees to one of their rooms when a small booth in the corner, near the crimson billiard tables, opened up; and they quickly seized it, almost at a run. Another couple turned away in disappointment, visibly irritated that he and Beth had gotten the booth, probably considering their rushing unseemly.    To the victors go the spoils, Beth said after their competitors receded into the crowd.    This place is wild, like everyone is already a little stir crazy from the storm. Virulent cabin fever or something. In spite of the wine and the good meal he felt antsy too. He constantly felt the phantom alert of Katie texting him. He would resist checking until he couldn’t and glance at his phone to see time and again that there was no message. Then he had the thought that the vibrations he kept detecting had to do with Elizabeth Winters’ implanted words; they were trying to find their way out into the world. He imagined random scraps of words appearing as text messages from an unknown caller, but that caller would be his own body leaching out a phrase or two now and then, as if Elizabeth Winters’ passage was decomposing and decoupling from him. He should save the odd bits of language, he thought, and try to assemble them over time into coherent communication—    Beth was saying something: a lakeview but I think that’s mainly wishful thinking on the part of the management.    My room has the same issue, he inferred.    Nearby the crash of billiard balls as someone broke a new game caught their momentary attention.    Beth took a compact from her purse and checked herself in the small mirror. Oh my, she said. I look like a woman who’s traveled all day in a snowstorm. Excuse me, please. She took her purse and headed toward the lobby ladiesroom.    He picked up his cellphone, which had automatically latched onto the hotel’s wi-fi, but nothing had updated for a while. Either the snow was interfering with some connection somewhere, or, more likely, there were so many guests their wi-fi needs had overwhelmed the system. He switched to 4G and all manner of Twitter and Facebook updates appeared, as well as emails and other alerts. No text messages, however.    A waitress brought their coffees, topped with whipped cream. He began spooning the sweet topping into his drink when a man with a beard and wearing a Fair Isle turtleneck stopped at his table. You’re a Logos. I saw you there, right? The man had the hint of a Scandinavian accent, maybe Swedish.    Yes. The man was tall and looking at him was awkward, almost painful to his neck. 122

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Did you take the chip?    He was confused and didn’t respond right away.    Did you decline? Some Logos declined.    Oh. I’m chipped. He touched his hip.    Me too, but now I’m not too sure.    Too sure about what? His coffee was getting cold.    The Aussie at the bar, the fellow in the red sweater—he heard that this is all a CIA plot. Your government found out some of Elizabeth Winters’ devotees are radicals, and the Logos project is about getting them chipped. So CIA and Homeland can track their movements. The Aussie says Elizabeth Winters agreed to it because the IRS had her over a barrel—Isn’t that what you Americans say?—but then the CIA took her out so she couldn’t have a change of heart and, what, blow upon the whistle.    Beth returned to the table.    That’s quite a story, he said.    What’s that? asked Beth, getting settled.    I’ll enlighten you a little later.    Food for thought, said the Swede, or Finn, raising his glass of beer. Have a good evening. The Swede looked at him with a confederate’s eye, as if leaving them alone so he could continue his efforts at seduction. Was he trying to seduce Beth? Or at least leaving open an invitation for her to seduce him? And was the vibe so obvious?    What was that about? Beth had freshened her makeup and brushed her hair into order.    The conspiracy theories have begun.    I think they began the moment the plane went down. A woman in the bathroom said Elizabeth Winters was spotted at the college, that she was one of the auditorium ushers, in a wig and heavily made up.    That’s an amateur story compared to this guy’s—or more specifically, the Aussie who allegedly told it to him at the bar.    They stirred the whipped cream into their coffees and sipped at them. The whiskey warmed his throat and chest, like swallowing a thimbleful of sunlight. It even seemed to warm the spot where the chip was inserted. He imagined it glowing beneath his clothes. Tingling slightly. The rumor that it was a government transmitter flashed across his mind. Ridiculous. The vibration and the heat were the words teeming under his skin, like harried commuters on a subway platform, commuters confined to the station. He was certain of it as he drank down more of the Irish coffee.    I wonder how many of these people are Logos, said Beth. This is good by the way. I don’t think I’ve drunk one of these in years, which is weird considering it has most of my favorite ingredients.    Maybe you’ve been off-kilter for a while. Out of touch with yourself, something like that.    Ain’t that the truth. A lot of pretending. That’s what I’ve been 123

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writing about, or at least the root of what I’ve been writing about. Now that I think about it. Are you into Eastern philosophies, meditation, reiki, that sort of thing, yoga?    No, not really. I don’t know. I did a lot of soul searching, selfexploration, something like that, last summer. Now and then my reading or film-watching would intersect with some sort of Zen-based philosophy.    Interesting. How do you think Elizabeth Winters fits into that program?    I think her writing is about tearing down traditional ways of telling a story, of viewing the world—and one has to tear down the customary to see what it’s made of, to understand the agenda behind it—and hopefully see a different way. I just about said a new way, but I agree with Lichtenberg in Orion: There is nothing new under the sun—    Yet we must seek the new nevertheless, finished Beth. I’ve never articulated Elizabeth Winters like that but now that you’ve contextualized her in that way, I think that disruption of the customary is something that’s struck a chord with me. I know I probably don’t appear very avant-garde, a librarian from Madison, Wisconsin, but...    Appearances can be deceiving. He noticed Beth’s ring finger twitch, the gold band and engagement ring rolling askew from each other, the modest diamond becoming off-centered. Perhaps Elizabeth Winters’ death will act as a sort of catalyst to, I don’t know, vibrate you onto the path you’re meant to be on, likes strings needing a certain vibration to achieve a particular note, a particular frequency.    How do you mean?    I don’t know... I believe the world, or cosmos, whatever you want to call it, is a balance-seeking organism, and a cataclysmic event like the sudden and violent death of the author will send out shockwaves which will be felt especially profoundly by devotees of the author—and those shockwaves, those seismic shifts, will move the pieces around on the chessboard. They will change the game forever, every piece will suddenly be in a new position, will have an altered perspective—will suddenly be in an entirely new game. Or maybe it’s just the Jameson talking. He took another drink.    No... no, it’s not the Jameson talking. What you’re saying makes perfect sense.    Unless it’s just the Jameson listening too.    The Swede and the Aussie were next to their table. Elizabeth Winters has been seen at the City Athletic Club Hotel, said the Swede. A Logos staying there just texted me. A group of us are hiking over there—it’s less than a kilometer and a half. A brisk hike in the snow.    Just about a mile, said the Aussie.    He looked up and a group of three women and another man were pulling on their coats and hats near the bar. Other Logos apparently.    Just a hoax, or wishful thinking, whatever you want to call it, said 124

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Beth. Surely.    One way to find out, said the Aussie, grinning. He had coal black hair and a matching beard except for two spots of white hair, almost perfectly round, on either side of his chin.    What do you think? he said to Beth, almost privately.   I’m game.    We have to get our coats. Five minutes?    We’ll meet you at the door, or just outside if we get too warm. The Swede was excited about the adventure.    He knew it was ridiculous, to traverse the city’s frozen sidewalks, with a temperature in the teens, because of a rumor that couldn’t be true. But the whiskey, chasing the merlot, encouraged the ridiculous, as did the single brief text from Katie. He almost wished he hadn’t heard from her at all. Her contacting him as she did was enigmatic whereas there would’ve been no mystery to her silence. The message stirred up emotions and questions and hopes that had been suffocating to death beneath the ashes of their ended relationship. Now the brief breath of resurrection threatened to undo all that dying, to reawaken the hurt.    There was a round of introductions among the small troupe of Logos as they began their walk to the City Athletic Club. Names, hometowns, and the words they had tattooed on their persons. After only a couple of blocks he discovered his recollection of names and towns was already spotty but he remembered each of their Logos: Added to his and Beth’s pupils and radiant were seems, here, these, Germanness, too, deliberately, quite, and the.    The Swede, who was in fact Norwegian, but had already become Too in his mind, continued his leadership of the group and tried to keep a merry banter going, about people’s backgrounds and about Elizabeth Winters and Logos. However, the air was too cold and the footing too treacherous; and soon everyone was quietly concentrating on simply making it to the hotel. Deliberately, a middle-aged fellow, was wearing dress loafers, with little tassels and probably leather soles, and he especially was struggling with the icy sidewalks and streets. In fact each transition from one to the other was particularly harrowing. Eventually Beth took Deliberately’s arm to stabilize him. She pretended he was gallantly escorting her.    Even before they had grown silent, the group developed a quick camaraderie. At least he felt that they had, that it was a shared sense. The words on their skin, and even more so the words beneath it, linked them in a unique way. They were squares of the same quilt, pieces of a whole. Strangely, he felt that the mystery of the whole— the fact that the pattern of the quilt could never be known, at least not by them—actually strengthened their bond, deepened their feeling of fraternity.    A yellow pedestrian warning flashed on a traffic pole and 125

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was reflected in a boutique’s frosty window. Too, the Swede (the Norwegian), halted the group, not wanting to risk crossing the street (E. JACKSON, said the sign, partially covered in snow and frost), even though traffic was all but nonexistent. Standing still, leaning a bit into the bitter wind, he thought of Katie and her likely return to her faith. Perhaps it wasn’t a matter of believing in God and heaven and hell, but belief in the bond of a shared narrative, faith in the familiar: Adam, Eve, the apple, the flood, giants and lions and the raising of the dead, walking on water, the wine, the loaves and fishes, the crucifixion, apotheosis—a crazy tale, as disjointedly postmodern as Pynchon, as hallucinatory as Burroughs, as fantastical as Borges.    Life after death. And was Elizabeth Winters not promising a kind of immortality by being a bearer of her tale? By being forever associated with the book. Something that may survive the fall and rise and fall again of civilizations.    They had crossed Adams Street and were getting close to their destination. His nose was numb with cold, his eyes watery in the ceaseless wind off the lake, only a half mile somewhere to their right.    The woman he thought of as Germanness, ironically short and dark featured beneath a faux-fur hat, slipped and caught her balance against a traffic-light pole. It made him realize the group had an equally treacherous walk to return to the Blackstone eventually. Taking cabs back seemed in order. They had decided to walk in the first place due to the adrenaline of the adventure, almost an expeditionary feeling, and no doubt whatever alcohol they had each consumed. He fished his phone out of his coat pocket with his gloved hand. It had taken them more than thirty minutes to traverse the not-quite mile. His mellow Jameson buzz had evaporated and he wondered what the hell he was doing in the cold, responding to an obvious hoax. On some level he didn’t want Beth to see him as straitlaced, stitched-up. A party pooper. What is more, it would have triggered a jealous reaction if she’d gone off in the Swede’s group (the Norwegian’s) while he stayed behind, warm and levelheaded and alone.

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

Old Bad Blood

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

Autumn

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

A Western Town

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Visual Art|W. Jack Savage

Sumatran Sunset

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Short Fiction|Nick Sweeney Dzemila An extract from my work-in-progress Cleopatra’s Script, part of which focuses on a family of ex-Yugoslav Roma in Rome in the late 1990s.

S

he was a magic child, breathed sorcery and scattered it gently behind her. Dzemila Djemjanja knew the streets by the shops and the churches and the blocks, and by the way the cars were herded through them like sheep by the signs and the lights. She knew them by the characters who populated them and the fancy clothes they wore, out in the morning, home at night, all sweaty and crumpled, or there all day behind winter shades, then out strolling for shopping or the constitution, walking their scrawny dogs.    She spotted a newspaper at her feet, picked it up. “Your brother Niko likes to read the newspapers,” she had been told. “Bring them.” There was a sneer behind the words: likes to read the newspapers, when other people are out working. It was said, but not meant; sometimes it was meant but not said: people in families lived in storms of such contradictions.    Her sister Kara was at the other end of the road, rolls of fat escaping from the confines of her black top. They called her the whore, Dzemila didn’t know why, exactly. One man Kara brought back shot a pistol, drunk, fooling, and the police came, and the man and Kara had to leave, though Kara came back. Her brother Geni said he would get the man and, it was said, he did, though the man was of the people, like them, but Skopje scum, not like them.    Kara made a come-here gesture at her. Dzemila would go nowhere at the impatient finger of Kara the whore. Before Kara could totter her comic way on her heels, Dzemila bent her head and turned the corner.    Out of all of them, Dzemila thought, she alone knew that having Ari in the apartment would be trouble. “He’s our brother,” the men said, when they discussed it. Ari had other brothers though, and they all stayed, for a day, three days, a week, slept on the floor and belched, snored and farted their way through nights. “They’re not our brothers,” Dzemila pointed out, but they only looked at her and, when she said it once too often, Marika, her other sister, clipped her ear. Ari and his friends kept things in the apartment: two hundred pairs of training shoes – four hundred shoes, Dzemila worked out – and a hundred and fifty pairs of jeans, which made... loads of jeans, then thousands of cassette tapes, and bags she was told not to look in, though she did, saw boxes of perfume. Ari called it peedashat. Kara sloshed it all over herself before she went out. Disgusting. 135

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It wasn’t a big apartment. From that fact alone Dzemila knew that their days there were doomed, because you couldn’t fill such a small space with so many people, who brought so many things, not in a part of the Rome like the via della Scrofa. Dzemila liked it when she was first brought there. She lived with Marika, who did her job, and Dzemila helped her, and that was that.    Kara came first, with a man who said he was their uncle, Stefan Simanski. Kara would stay for a week, he told Marika, passing money. He bent and pinched Dzemila’s cheeks. On his red fingers he wore rings highlighting his dirty nails, sported shoes that were blue and white, a black suit and a white shirt open to his hairy chest crossed with gold.    At the table, he had wiped his chops and told about when the Chetniks came and tore down his photo of Tito. Other things had happened, but that was the worst. “Do you know why?” he quizzed Dzemila. Tito gone, he explained, that was the law, gone, and it was only then that the people, who scorned the law, saw why they sometimes had to have it.    “Who is Tito?” Dzemila had asked, and they all laughed.    Stefan claimed to have brought Geni from Banja Luka in his car, though later it seemed clear that Geni came lying under things in a lorry. In any case, it was Geni who brought Niko, and Niko who brought Ari, and Ari who brought the other guys, who all, first time in the house, sat at that table and shovelled food into their faces and sat there and expelled the gas of their appreciation.    Dzemila knew this gas would accumulate in pockets in the apartment and become explosive and, when the contessa woman’s agent asked Marika to leave, wasn’t surprised. Marika was reminded of proud Roma tradition, Niko telling her that they didn’t beg from these people. What is it I’m sent out to do each day, then, Dzemila wanted to ask. She sensed a boxed ear in their mood, didn’t dare.    Marika came in white-faced one afternoon and told Geni that it had been decided; they had to go, no reasoning with that bloody woman upstairs. Geni said he would sort it out. He went up bearing gifts in a carrier; food, a bottle of something, that fake perfume from Ari’s friends’ bags. Dzemila realised then that Geni was as stupid as the rest of them, because these people, they didn’t buy fake brandy, bought the stuff she saw in the shop windows at fifty thousand lire a bottle, used perfume that cost a month of what Ari made, ate their own food and were very particular about it, too. With wise Geni lost to stupidity, Dzemila knew they were all lost. She followed, kept one floor down, listened. There was a row, and Dzemila heard the tinkling of glass, which meant trouble. Marika went out a second later with the broom and pan, mop and bucket. Made it very plain she didn’t want Dzemila’s help when she shouted it into her face.    Dzemila knew that once trouble started, it drew in everybody, 136

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people inside, people outside, people on the periphery, and burned them up. Just like in Bosnia.    It was the people outside she was most worried about. The old scrag-bag on the fifth, now she obviously wasn’t going to come and shoo them out. Dzemila watched for outsiders. She discounted the parade of people the fool on the first brought in; he was almost worse than Ari and Kara, asked anybody into his apartment, with the difference of course that it was indeed his apartment.    Dzemila knew the man in leather with the big nose and the bald head and the long ponytail at the back was a bringer of trouble. She chased the lift up, heard the doors shaken open at the fifth, heard him let in. She watched him leave a half-hour later. He stopped outside her door, looked at her through the crack with soulful eyes, gave her an undertaker’s smile, said a child’s byebye that promised he would be back. She told Marika, who told Geni, who told Niko, who told Ari, who rolled over on his bed of bags and groaned. Geni said, “We’ll tell Stefan,” and went out.    What could their bluff uncle do, though? Back home he was a big man, Dzemila understood, but she understood too that just one platoon of Chetniks said otherwise. Saw one pause, grab the picture of whatsisname, Tito, tear it down the middle, add it to the petrol-soaked pile on the floor. Rome was full of Chetniks, when it came down to it, and even Arkan the babyfaced killer ate in its restaurants.    “We should have gone to Naples,” Ari lamented. “We had the chance, but what did we do?”    Dzemila asked, “Where is Naples?”    Marika said, “I wish you had gone to Naples. Things were good here till you arrived with your friends and your rubbish, with your whore sister and her bad habits.”    Ari said that if he were up he would let her feel the back of his hand, but he couldn’t be bothered.    “Did my job,” Marika said, “lived my life, fed the child. People smiled at me.”    “You count the smiles of these people more than family?” That had got Ari up. “These people you clean up after for the pennies they throw you? Is that what it comes to?”    “Yes.” Marika was shouting. “Yes it does.” Ari was coming at her slowly across the room.    Dzemila waved magic signs, said, “The man with the ponytail, he’s coming, he’s coming,” meaning, there will be enough trouble for us ahead. Her spell worked, and Ari calmed down, and Marika too.    “We have to leave,” Ari admitted, and his eyes were set and dark. Marika greeted that with a slow handclap. Ari went at once and did an inventory of the stuff in the other room. Spent a long time speaking urgently into his mobile phone. Men arrived in cars, banged noisily on the door, shouted greetings, making Marika screw her face up in pain. 137

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Came in, wanted Roma hospitality, couldn’t see the situation because they were optimists and fools. Marika stamped her foot, acted as though they weren’t there, told Ari to tell them to take their shit and take themselves out of her life. There was a tradition of strong Roma women, the visitors knew, had heard the legends of women of the past who had taken some severe taming. Awed, the men said nothing, didn’t even dare make the faces they wanted to at Ari.    Dzemila read the pattern, then. The old bat’s demand, then the visit of the ponytailed man. Two days later, the girls. She had seen the chubby one before, but the thinner, shabbier one, she was a different type. Not one of these vain, rich Romans; she was going to take Marika’s job, and that was what they were talking about up there. She went in, told Marika, who told her to shut her mouth.    She would have to live in the trailers on the outskirts of the city, where they stayed when they first came, where Stefan was like a king in his court. She would have to squeeze lumpily into a bed with other kids, would be driven with them each day into the city to find money. She would have to sing that song about life not being fair if you were of the people, but how your soul shone through it, would have to listen to it go through her dreams.    Dzemila read the thin girl’s face, sensed her danger at the hands of these dark-hearted Romans. She forgot her own troubles for a second, felt sorrow appear in her face.    Marika yelling for her: life going on, time to go to the restaurants with her lucky numbers, her flowers, and her card, on which was written in child’s Italian, I am nine years old and I have eaten nothing today, I am a refugee from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and my family are dead before my eyes, please help me if you can.    Ari on the mobile, pleading somebody for a car, had to move this stuff tonight. The beep of connections cut. “I’ll have to get a car,” he told Marika.    “No,” she said. “Don’t do that again, please.”    “I have to.” He pointed at the pile of bags. “You come with me, then, Marika, and bring the child, and we can all take two bags each on the bus, huh?”    “Get a taxi.”    “It’s too far, and... Listen, Marika. I think it’s a long time since you were out there on the streets, here with your nice little job. When’s the last time you tried to get a taxi, eh? These taxi drivers – mafia. They don’t take us, but if they do, they see me with all this stuff and they’re on the radio to their pals, and then we’re stopping in some place where it will disappear. And so will I,” he finished darkly.    “I wish you would. I wish you had disappeared before you came here, you thieving, scheming shit, then I would still have my nice little job. Go on then, out and steal your car, and I hope they catch you.”    “That isn’t Christian. Dzemila, don’t you listen to her, and don’t 138

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you grow up that way, do you hear me?”    “Okay,” Dzemila said equably. “What will happen?” she asked Marika once they were alone.    “Nothing.” Dzemila rarely got hope out of anything Marika said. The people didn’t lie to one another out of malice, she knew, rather embroidered real life with flowers of dreams, made it bright. “Nothing will happen.”    “The apartment is ours again.” Dzemila looked around: no bags, no suitcases, no boxes, no Ari, none of his friends. The knowledge that they were about to leave it went through her and flooded her eyes.    “Had a glimpse of it,” Marika was saying, meant life in the centre of the city among those well-heeled Romans; not of them, of course – who wanted to belong to them? Clearing up their shit for them, okay, but still among them. “The women always get a glimpse,” she told Dzemila, “aren’t afraid to climb to the high places and look out. And the men, what do they do? Always want to go that little bit higher but where there’s nowhere to stand, and mess it up. Mess it up, with their always wanting more.”    They jumped at the noise, the door, then voices, but it was just Geni. Had two men with him from the trailer site. They would stay in the apartment, Geni explained, and Niko, he was going about trying to cancel business he had for the next few days, and he too would be there, and where was Ari?    “But so?” Marika asked her question at last.    “Nobody is going to make us leave.”    Dzemila wasn’t cheered. She remembered Geni’s unnameable stupidity revealed with the incident of the food and the drink and the scent. She tried to catch Marika’s eye, and did so, only to be told to freshen her face and get her coat on, get herself to Stefan’s flower man in the Piazza Navona.    So passed Dzemila’s last evening as a resident of the city centre of Rome. Biting January night, on which she did her stuff with her eyes and her roses and her card, the suggestion of her lucky lottery numbers, in and out of the restaurants and bars and coffee houses. Dzemila went through it avoiding the trails of the other kids from the site, the same route she did each night from the Piazza Navona to the Campo di Fiori, from Saint John the Evangelist to the river. Forgot the imminent business of the apartment until she got back to Scrofa.    Things on the road spread her the tale. There was a red sock, hers, plates, broken, stamped into the ground, the tiny tablecloth made and offered in friendship by the women of Granic, near Mostar, and across the street the cardboard box, once held Turkish bananas and cockroaches, in which they had kept the oddments scattered at her feet, elastic bands, buttons, broken walkman earphones. Dzemila stood and wondered what to do.    She was neither surprised by events nor particularly fazed by the 139

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problem that faced her. One of them could have stayed behind, she was thinking, but then remembered the ponytailed man and the violence in his eyes and mouth and hands. Had money from the flowers, would have to get the metro out to the edge of the city, she supposed, walk from there to the site, two, three kilometres? The people’s destiny, she felt it hammered into her bones; the road, trudge it to somewhere else, start again. She skipped for a few paces, which ensured that she missed Geni limping along and looking for her out of bruised, swollen eyes, and then began to walk.

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Short Fiction|Jesse Falzoi Stains

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hree days after the summer holidays were over our father came home from work early, drove us downtown to the new ice-cream parlor, and told us that our mother had been taken to the hospital. We were allowed to have as many scoops as we wanted. My brother Milan threw up in the car when we were only a block away from home. Our father drove on and parked the car in front of our apartment house to let him out and I was sent to get Lysol and wipes. When I came back, my sister Andrea was sitting on the curb, counting her mosquito bites. Our father was leaning against the car. He said, “Where are your glasses?” They were hidden under the pile of sweaters in my closet. “I lost them,” I said, sinking down on the curb, too. I held up my leg and said, “Thirty-eight.”    Our father started cleaning up the mess on the passenger seat. Milan came out of the house, grinning. He had changed and put on our father’s new sunglasses. “Are you out of your mind?” I whispered but he just showed me the middle finger. Since he’d turned fifteen he was showing off. Within a couple of months he had become a head taller than me. Sometimes, I still tried to fight with him, just to touch his new muscles.    Our father closed the doors to the car and threw the dirty wipes into the trash, saying, “Do you want to sit here all night?”    “You’re going to fall,” I said, pointing at Milan’s loose shoelaces.    He kicked me. “Get lost.”    That night my sister crawled into my bed. We could hear soft music coming out of the living room. From time to time, I heard my brother and my father talking. Lately, they often sat in the living room before going to bed and our mother came into my room after singing my sister to sleep. Once, she asked me to put nail polish on her fingernails. She never wore nail polish. It looked strange on her hands, like blood. Or she would say things like, “I’d like to be thirteen again.” “Would you really?” I asked. And she shook her head, laughing. “Of course not. But it’s nice to see my girl growing up.”    Now, Andrea sat up and said, “When is mommy coming home?”    “You heard what dad said.” I yawned and turned to the wall. “Go to sleep.”    “He said after the operation,” she whispered.   “See?”    “But how long does it take?” 141

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I reached for her hand, held it tight. “Remember what they said in the book when the tiger had the operation?”    “Yes,” Andrea said. “First, he got a shot, then there was the blue dream. And when he woke up, he could go home again.”    “Mom is having her blue dream now,” I said. “Let’s sleep.”    I woke up at dawn. The lights in the living room were still on. I went to the toilet. On my way back, I looked into our parents’ bedroom. The bed was empty. I lay down on our mother’s side and pressed my nose to her pillow. When I looked up, our father was standing next to the closet. I watched him getting dressed. Our mother must have watched him getting dressed a thousand of times. He sat down on his side of the bed to put on his shoes. Then he turned around and touched my shoulder. “You’re going to be late for school.”    I pretended to be asleep. He stroked my hair and then he lay down next to me. I didn’t move. I felt his strong arms around me, and I heard the birds singing loudly next to the open window, and I wanted to say something that would make him laugh but I feared that he would get up and that I also would have to get up. “It’ll be all right,” he whispered time and again, but I knew it wasn’t me he was talking to.    Our mother had stopped working at the library when she got pregnant with my brother. She sometimes did odd jobs for a friend, like typing letters or filling in forms, but she always worked at home. It was the first time that we were alone in the morning. We were having breakfast when our father had to leave for work. He looked at my brother. “Can you manage?”    Still chewing, Milan nodded.    “See you later,” our father said.    I smiled at Andrea as I heard the door falling into the lock. “What do you want for lunch?” It was exciting to take care of ourselves for the first time. I imagined telling my friends at school later. I imagined telling them how I had prepared our lunchboxes.    “Nutella,” Andrea said.    I went to fetch it from the shelf. Nutella was for weekends only. On weekdays, it was müsli, and our lunchboxes would be filled with apples and vegetables and cheese sandwiches. I opened the glass and dipped the knife into the dark brown mass. I spread it generously on the bread and then I dipped the knife back in and licked it off.    “Mommy will be mad,” my sister said.    I shrugged. “She’ll never know.”    “Is she going to die?”    I looked at Milan.    He said, “She’ll be out in a couple of days.”    “How do you know?”    “Because dad told me.” 142

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“What did he say?” Cutting another slice of bread I said, “What’s wrong with mum?”    “Nothing.” He refilled his cereal bowl and reached for the milk. “I’m staying home today.”    “Are you crazy?”    He pointed at the clock. “We’d be late anyway.”    “I’m going to tell dad,” I said.    “Don’t you dare,” my brother said.    Andrea looked at me. I shrugged. “We’re all staying.” I turned on the radio and said, “Daddy’s going to take care of it.” I smiled. “He’ll talk to your teacher.” Andrea was in forth grade. Her last report hadn’t been as good as ours; it was not a hundred percent sure that she would be admitted to the Gymnasium.    “When something has happened in the family, teachers are always nice.” The mother of one of my classmate died in a car accident and he didn’t have to write tests. The teachers sat down with him after school, some even took him home for lunch, and whenever he began to cry, he could sit in the headmaster’s office eating sweets and reading comic books.    Andrea turned to our brother. “Why is she in hospital?”    He took a sharp knife out of the drawer and started punching it between his fingers. He’d become quite fast. I could often hear him practicing in his room.    “Why is she in hospital?” I asked.    Milan reached for the Nutella jar, closed it, put it onto the cupboard so that we couldn’t reach it. “Stop asking me stupid questions, will you?”    He took out a book from his schoolbag and started reading, while we were listening to the radio, watching the clock above the sink, saying, “Now math is over,” or, “I didn’t do my homework anyway.” At some point I took out my pencil case and Andrea made a drawing and I tried to write a letter to our mother but I didn’t get farther than, Hallo mum, how are you? We are all fine. At noon, our brother went to the cabinet, took out a pot, filled it with water. “How about some pasta?” He lit a match and turned on the stove. “Watch Maestro Milan.”    We watched him getting the olive oil from the sideboard. We watched him slice onions with the sharp knife and slide them into the pan. We watched him add a can of crushed tomatoes. We’d never seen our brother cook before, he must have practiced elsewhere. He rinsed the pasta through a sieve, and then he placed the pot on the table. Next to it, he put the pan with the tomato sauce. “Hand over your plates.”    It looked perfect. A red circle in the middle surrounded by green tagliatelle. Like the dish my mother had in the restaurant on Easter Monday. I carefully rolled up the pasta with my fork and led it to my mouth. I blew, tried, spit it out. 143

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“What?” My brother stopped filling his own plate and said, “Spoiled little brat.”    “It’s too salty,” I said.    Milan grabbed the salt and poured it into the sauce. He stirred it and then he held the spoon to my mouth. “Eat.”    I shook my head.    He pressed the spoon between my lips. “Open Sesame,” he said and I shook my head again. The sauce sprayed all over me.    “Look at you,” my brother said, laughing.    I got up and reached for the dish towel. “What’s wrong with you?”    “Can’t you take a joke?”    I took my spoon, dipped it into the sauce and flipped it at him. “Now you got me laughing.”    Andrea said, “I’m going to call dad.”    Milan got up and blocked the door. “You’re not.” He was standing there, bare-chested, in striped shorts. I dipped the spoon into the sauce again and flipped it at him. Milan didn’t move. He watched me, grinning. I flipped and flipped.    When the pot was empty, I smiled at my sister. “Look at him now.”    “I’m bleeding,” he said, sinking to the ground. “You bitches killed me.”    When our father returned from work, we were sitting in the living room, watching TV. We hadn’t cleaned up the kitchen but he didn’t call us. When the program was over, I got up, peeped through the door. I heard the radio playing softly and I heard the noise my mother usually made when she was doing the dishes. I went to the toilet, and when I came out again, my father was waiting for me. “How was your day?”    “Okay,” I said.    “Fine,” he said.    “When are we going to the hospital?”    My father handed me my unfinished letter. “Why don’t you write a bit more? It’ll make your mom very happy.” He took Andrea’s drawing from the table. “This too.”    “I want to give it to her myself,” I said.    He pulled me close, caressed my back, kissed me on the hair. “We’ll go there soon.”    The next morning, we woke up to the smell of scrambled eggs and bacon. There also was hot cocoa, in the jug we never used on ordinary days, because it was nearly eighty years old and already had a crack. “It feels like Sunday, doesn’t it?” our father said. “Why, let’s turn it into a Sunday.” He called at school to say that we were sick and when we were done eating, he sent us to our rooms to get dressed. We went to the leisure park in Hamburg and ate candy floss and French fries. We rode with the rollercoaster. Our father sat next to Andrea, and Milan 144

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and I followed right behind them. When we got to the highest point, Milan put his arm around me. “Don’t throw up on my new jeans.”    And I closed my eyes and put my head on his shoulder, waiting for my stomach to dance.    After a week, we were told that we couldn’t go on like this. Milan stood up from his chair. He had become as tall as our father. He raised an eyebrow and said, “Go on like what?”    Our father rolled up his sleeves and started to do the dishes. “I called Aunt Sol,” he said. “She’ll be here tonight.”   “Why?”    Our father reached for the kitchen towel and hung it over my brother’s shoulder. “Because you need somebody to look after you, that’s why.”    “We don’t,” my brother said.    “You said that mom would be back any day,” I said.    “She will,” our father said.    I piled up the plates and put them into the hot water. “When?”    “Soon,” father said.    Milan looked at him. “As if.”    In the evening our father went to the station to get Aunt Sol. We hadn’t seen her in years. She lived only two hours away from us and had often announced coming for a visit, but something had always come in her way. She kissed us all, even my brother. She had brought two big suitcases and her cat. Our mother was allergic to cats.    Our father said, “We’ll take everything to the dry-cleaners.” He looked around. “We can move, too. We’ve been here too long anyway.”    Andrea was already carrying the cat around the place. I said, “I’m not going to move.”    Milan said, “How was your trip?”    Aunt Sol smiled. “Awful. I was put on a wagon full of eighth graders.” She looked at me and smiled. “At least I’m up to date with the newest hair style.”    “I’m in eighth grade,” I said.    “I know you are, sweetie.” Aunt Sol took a six-pack out of her bag, turned to our father, said, “I’d die for a beer.”    He led her to the kitchen. I stayed in the hall. I could hear them talking softly, and I could hear my sister playing with the cat. I could hear the TV that Milan had turned on. I was leaning against the wall, looking at the clothes rack. After the Ice Saints our mother had put all the winter gear into blue plastic bags and stored them in the cellar, except for her navy-blue coat. “It might get cold again,” she’d said. I took the coat down, brought it into my room, stuffed it under my blanket. My sister looked at me, saying, “What are you doing?” She was still carrying that cat in her arms.    “Nothing,” I said. 145

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She held the cat up to my face. “Do you want to hold her?”    I backed off. “If I catch it in my bed, I’ll throw it out of the window.”    My sister smiled. “She has nine lives.”    I went to the window and opened it. “What if it’s the last one?”    In the morning, Aunt Sol was already in the kitchen when I came to eat my cereals. Our father was gone. There were hot pancakes on the table, and there were three lunchboxes. I took a dirty bowl out of the sink.    “There are clean ones in the cabinet,” Aunt Sol said.    I went to the kitchen cart to get the cereals. I went to the fridge to get the milk.    “There’s milk on the table, honey,” she said.    I looked at her feet. She was wearing mom’s clogs. “Why are you here?”    Aunt Sol smiled. “Your dad asked me to come,” she said.   “Why?”    “He had been asking for years and I didn’t want to put it off again.” She turned around and said, “Good morning, sleepyhead.”    My sister was pressing her doll to her chest. She hadn’t played with that doll in years. “She wants her milk,” she said, holding up the doll’s bottle.    “Don’t act like a baby,” I said.    Aunt Sol bent down and caressed the doll’s head. “She’ll get it.”    Andrea watched Aunt Sol while she heated up the milk and poured it into the doll’s bottle. Then she passed her the doll and said, “You feed her.”    Aunt Sol sat down and took the doll into her arms and pretended to feed her, but Andrea pushed the doll away, climbed onto Aunt Sol’s lap, and began to whimper like a baby. Aunt Sol laughed and then led the bottle to my sister’s mouth.    I grabbed my cereals to eat in my room. In the hall I ran into Milan who was standing in front of the mirror, combing his hair. I stopped short and spilled milk over his jacket. He slapped the bowl out of my hands. “You better watch it.”    Aunt Sol came out of the kitchen, still carrying my sister. “I’ll clean it,” she said. “You get ready for school, honey.”    I went to the bathroom to get toilet paper. Aunt Sol put Andrea down and fetched a bucket and a scrub. “Let me do it,” she said. “You’re going to be late.”    I continued unrolling the toilet paper until there was nothing to unroll anymore. Milan watched me shaking his head. “What’s your fucking problem?”    Aunt Sol touched his shoulder and said, “Go get your lunchbox.”    The whole floor was covered with toilet paper. I wrapped it around my head. When my eyes and my mouth were covered, I said, “I want 146

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mom.”    “I know, honey.”    “I want my mom,” I said. “Now.”    Andrea said, “You look like an Egyptian mummy.”    “Don’t touch me. Don’t anybody dare touch me.” I stood up and stretched out my arms to feel the way to my room where I tore off the toilet paper and got dressed.    That day I didn’t go to school. I didn’t get off the bus. I wanted to, I even got as far as the exit, and then I walked on to the last row and sat down next to an old woman who was holding a dog on her lap. She allowed me to caress him. “He’s getting old,” she said. “He can hardly walk anymore.”    “What’s his name?” I asked.    “Baldur.” She patted the dog’s head and said, “He was bold and brave once.” She smiled. “I was too.”    I felt the quick pounding of the dog’s heart. He didn’t seem to mind my touching him. He had thrown a quick glance at the old woman when I first laid my hand on his back, but now he’d accepted me.    “It’s the old age,” the woman said. “Makes you happy about the smallest sign of tenderness.” She looked up. “Don’t you have to go to school?”    “My mom’s in hospital,” I said. “I’m going to visit her.”    “Sorry to hear that.”    “It’s nothing,” I said. “She’ll be out next week.”    “She must be very happy to have such a beautiful daughter.” She put the dog down on the floor and got up. “It was nice talking to you,” she said. “Take care.”    “You too,” I said, caressing the dog for one last time. When she was gone, I realized that I didn’t even know to which hospital they’d taken her.    After the school secretary had called our father to tell him that I hadn’t shown up, he started taking us to school in his car. He waited until we all disappeared inside and I sat in class and nothing reached me, as if they were talking in a foreign language.    The teachers looked at me, and I looked at them, at their lips opening and closing, until the school bell rang.    When we went down the stairs, my friend Linda offered to work with me in the afternoon or on weekends. We stepped onto the schoolyard and sat down on the bench under the walnut tree. I looked up at the branches loaded with ripe walnuts, hoping for them to fall on my head, hoping for them to rain down on me, to bury me.    Linda touched the sleeve of my mother’s coat and said, “Aren’t you hot?” 147

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I shook my head.    She put her arm around me. “Nikki.”    I grabbed my bag. “I forgot my book.”    Aunt Sol stayed for another week. Then she had to go home to her boyfriend and her job. Andrea wouldn’t stop crying until our aunt offered to take her and our father let her go. I didn’t speak to him for days, until he said, “I’m taking you both to the hospital tomorrow.”    From now on, we visited our mother twice a week. She would say things like, “Does your father know how to turn on the washing machine?” and I would laugh and tell her that all our underwear was pink now and that Milan’s new suit was ruined and he would laugh too, even though he’d been so mad that he tossed a cup across the room.    She seemed so small, our mum, especially when Milan was holding her hand. I could hardly stand looking at them, he seemed like a giant next to her. Our father went to the bathroom and came back with our mother’s bathrobe. “I’ll take it home to wash it.”    Our mother said, “It’s not dirty.”    “I’m going to wash it anyway.” Our father stood there, pressing the robe to his chest, looking at the painting above her bed, as if we were in a museum instead of a hospital. “Let’s go,” he said. “Your mother’s tired.”    I got up from the chair, approached the bed, bent over to kiss her cheek. I did it quickly, holding my breath. She smelled bad.    Our father put a hand on her shoulder. “Elizabeth,” he said, “you need to rest.”    I’d never heard him calling her by her real name before.    When our mother came home, our father turned the living-room sofa into a bed. We ordered pizza or Chinese, or Milan went to the Indian restaurant to get us dinner. We lay on the floor in front of the sofa and watched TV or played board games. We were taking turns in lying next to our mother. Milan went out only once because our mother insisted. When he kissed her good bye, she said, “You have fun, young man.” Our father took out his wallet and counted five bills. He pressed them into Milan’s hand. “Listen to your mom, will you?”    Our father lifted Andrea and let her sit on his lap, feeding her the baby bottle that Aunt Sol had bought. I put on a record by Ella Fitzgerald, which was our mother’s favorite, and lay down next to her on the sofa, and she covered me with the warm blanket and held me until I fell asleep.    Then she was gone again. Andrea went back to Aunt Sol. Milan had a girlfriend now. I saw them in the park once. She sat with her back against a chestnut tree, and he was telling her something, 148

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making gestures with his hands. They didn’t stop laughing. I walked up to them and said, “How can you just sit here?”    The girl looked at Milan. “Do you know her?”    He raised an eyebrow. “Beat it.”    “Did you even tell her?”    “What happened to your hair?” He smirked. “You should have used a trimmer.”    His girlfriend said, “Who is she?”    “Why are you wearing that coat? It’s summer in case you didn’t get it.” Milan touched my shoulder and said, “You really look stupid.” I pushed him away. “Leave me alone.”    He took my hand and held it tight. “Stop that.”    I felt a wall of tears pushing against my eyes. “Mom is dying and you’re sitting here as if there was nothing.”    He tightened his grip. “She’s not.”    I sank down next to him and buried my face in his T-shirt and he put his arms around me and said, “Stop crying, will you?” He pressed his mouth to my hair and said, “Please.”    I couldn’t. But he couldn’t either.    I read that praying could help, so I closed my eyes and said, “Please, let her come home tomorrow.” I hid my folded hands under my coat and lowered my head. “If she comes home tomorrow I will do anything.” I should have offered something but there was nothing I could think of.    Milan started coming home late at night. In the beginning he was quiet, but after a while he didn’t seem to care anymore if he woke us up. I heard his loud steps as he went to the kitchen. I heard him opening the fridge. I heard him burp. I was waiting for our father to come out of the living room, but he never did. He was sleeping on the sofa now. Sometimes, I slept in our parent’s bed, on our mother’s side. Our father still drove us to school, but he didn’t wait for us to go in anymore. Milan sat down on one of the benches in the hall, saying, “See you later.” When I looked at him from the top of the stairs, he still sat there, eyes closed, as if asleep. Eventually one of the teachers would tell him to get going. Or they would not. It was difficult to talk to him these days.    When I showed up in class, the teachers always smiled at me. They never said that I was too late. Then there was a new teacher. She said, “Who are you?”    I went to my desk. I took out my book and my folder.    “Tell me your name,” the new teacher said.    I rummaged through my bag for a pen, and when I looked up again, she stood in front of my desk. She leaned toward me. “What’s the matter with you?” 149

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I stared at the map that was hanging on the wall. I read the names of the countries and memorized them. Even today, I can still see the map if I close my eyes, and the names of the countries: Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia. I can still see the stains on the wall, in all kinds of colors. “My mother died tonight,” I said.    The new teacher put a hand on my back. “I’m so sorry.”    I heard the others breathe in. I heard them sigh. I felt warm and comfortable, with the new teacher’s hand on my back. I lowered my head and said, “She had cancer.”    The headmaster called to give his condolences while I was watching TV. I heard our father talking on the telephone. Then he came into the living room and opened the sideboard. He took one of the bottles, filled a glass, sat down next to me on the carpet. “That was your headmaster. He wanted to know where to send flowers.”    I bit on my lip. Then I said, “What did you say?”    “I told him to make a donation to Greenpeace.”   “Really?”    “No,” he said. “I told him that we’re all out of our minds at the moment.” He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “She will make it.”    I continued watching TV, but he didn’t leave and he didn’t remove his hand from my shoulder, so I said, “I don’t know why I said that. I really don’t know.”    That night Milan pissed against the clothes rack. I ran into the hall because I heard our father shouting, “Stop it.” Milan was pressing a bottle of wine to his chest, and he was singing, “Where is my mind?” Our father stepped forward and took the bottle away. “Where is my mind? Where is my mind?” my brother went on. “It’s okay, son,” our father said and he put his arms around Milan and Milan started to cry like a baby and our father rocked him back and forth. I waited for a while, but they didn’t look up, so I returned to my room and tried to read, until my father sat down next to me. I put my arms around him and he sighed and I felt all the air streaming out of him and for a moment, I was afraid that he would deflate like a balloon, but then he straightened up again and hugged me back and turned out the light and held my hand until I fell asleep.  

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Poetry|Emma-Jane Hughes The Row The Russian practice of the toast, to speak, to drink, then throw the glass into the hearth. I think we got confused. We drank and spoke too much perhaps, and in the wrong order. The fire burned down, and some row about who bought the logs and who stacked them and who cooked and who washed up; something cruel crept into the game of let’s pretend we’re married. The urge to throw whatever comes to hand – something easy, something satisfying about the smash. Flames bounce off the glimmering crystal, cannot consume the glass, or make it melt. Intractable. We should have been Greek instead, eaten in Summer, on the patio, thrown our oldest plates together to vent in unison, with a fierce joy.

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Geography I can guess that he heard my office door close and chose now to come to the kitchen. My cheeks warm as we talk. He offers me coffee. I decline and when he tells me hold still, there’s a spider in your hair – you must either be a witch or lucky, I hold still – would he lie about a spider? I look straight ahead, will myself not to tilt my head up, not to look him in the eye. I brush my hot palms against the steel of the sink and return to my desk. I recall every meeting, from corridor to kitchen and back, him appearing in my path with invitation after invitation and then I see this is not biology. This is geography.  

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Poetry|Andrew C Brown The Table I I I I

had a table where mingled memories could rise mixed addiction, prison, broken relations piled new experience on old life created a new conundrum

I I I I

wrote new words struggled with acceptance looked at the overlapping mess poured out the petrol of procrastination

I seized and accepted pain of doubt into my stomach I placed haphazard paper into old shoeboxes I took everything off the table I unscrewed the legs I collated shoeboxes, legs and the table-top I carefully placed them into an under-stairs cupboard

The Disabled Cistern The disabled cistern filled up splutteringly slowly. I am certain plumbing was consistent throughout the educating building but I knew you were waiting outside. I know it is only fair that turns are taken one by one but sometimes if they are jerky or false where do you go from there? An orderly queue can instil impatience and then I do not know how to deal with the situation. Do I panic…press…panic… press…panic press the handle? No I cannot do that because then all I do is to instantly delay the inevitable and contribute to an even more slow completion of the cycle. And all that happens then is I have to continue to wait until my ears pick the slightest hint of silence, then and only then will I know that I am safe.

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

Almighty drench me in the colours of cosmos‌ receiving and seeing ...moving in motion Triptych round LED translit print 24 x 24 ,18 x 18 & 12 x 12 inches

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

my voyage 4 u has begun to blur the alley of mirage

Acrylic on Canvas 77 x 49 inches

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

Deep mystery there is song of desire

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

bod and heart with its voluptuous vehemence...

Acrylic on Paper 25.4 x 25.4 cm

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

unseen [occult] 2

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Visual Art|Satadru Sovan

Night passes by my heart Morning rings the bell last night in Net ​I lost my heart 159

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Short Fiction|Martin Heavisides Living the Dream

O

ne of the two children I’d invited to join me across the street was hanging out the back of a helicopter taxi giving grid coordinates to where they were meeting us—must have seemed strange to the driver, but the crosswalks are intricate up here by this last subway stop before open water and people lose their way easily. I was more nervous about the boy hanging out the back, but he scampered back in as the ‘copter began its sweep round a tower in the middle of the harbour to look back on the city beyond. What had surprised me was the country coordinate (which you always have to give a helicab driver, it’s a formal requirement even for intra-city travel: pilots have intricate guidelines and restrictions concerning flight to certain countries and better safe than sorry, also sometimes they can hook you up with a helicopter at another destination that is allowed into that country and perhaps has regulation armour and defensive weaponry as the situation might require, not that you’d need that in Wales but it did surprise me—knew the call I was taking was well outside my usual boundaries but Wales!? maybe unbeknownst to myself I was part of a courier exchange) now the helicopter rounds back on a slow circle to its near destination—first look I’ve had at the skyline though ‘I’ am not technically on board the helicopter—ever shifting multi-perspective view, don’t get a lot of that in real life. Distant skyline dominated by a row of smoke-belching industrial behemoths, don’t see that in a lot of cities anymore, suspect it’s not at all typical of Wales. Shaped a little like a sooty, flame-shooting pipe organ. When the helicopter arcs toward the dockside where my friends and I are waiting it’s completely changed from my first view of it when I walked over from the subway just moments before. Then the complex of buildings behind it were square-edged and mainly of pink brick, now they’re round-edged— interwoven half globes ten storeys high—and mainly of white marble. Not every city can house two completely different building complexes in the same space depending on what? time of day, fall of light, angle of approach from which they’re viewed? At least the floating dock the helicab touches down on hasn’t changed, except I half remember it was a fixed dock before.    A woman who’s held on in the street vending trade long after the rest of us abandoned it is here, having packed up a little while ago. I asked her how business was and she said not too bad. She could use an easily portable tent for the rough weather days, a friend was improvising something light and flexible until she could afford a proper one, maybe at the next economic turnaround she wasn’t holding her breath. I know it’s not a sustainable life anymore, what with the 160

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harassing regulations and the drying up of business, even at Christmas, to virtually nothing. Still when I see one of us pioneers at it yet, I feel a twinge of nostalgia. Maybe the regulations are more vendor-friendly this corner of Wales. Wonder what the distance charge on the envelope I just delivered is going to be?    A writer friend I’ve never met personally, just know through an online workshop is among the dozen or so of us assembled now the two children have landed. She’s in a wheelchair which I think is only temporary, and is asking directions to a stop I already know—it’s where I started from on my trip to make this delivery. She’s prepared to wheel the ten blocks I walked from the last connecting bus, but now I know there’s a subway so near I can direct her there—even accompany her, it’s on my way and the 100 interconnecting subway and lrt lines are confusing for a newcomer. We’ll soon discover that seven of them interconnect with the stop she wants to go to.    Meanwhile the whole group of us has a lottery ticket we bought by assembling every nickel, dime and occasional quarter we had in our pockets, and are trying to check it in a newspaper whose format’s a little baffling. Strange to see so many visitors to our fair city gathered on one dock, says the kiosk vendor, especially as it’s not at all the high tourist season. What’s kiosk business like? I ask, still pining for the old days in micro-scale street level retail.    What’ll we do when we win the lottery? someone asks and I notice there’s a high level of confidence that we will. It won’t do us much good, I say, as this is all happening in a dream. Hey! everyone shouts back in unison, don’t rain on our parade! Last time we had serious flooding, says the kiosk vendor, it washed away the entire city which had to be hastily reassembled for an international conference. Terrible sudden deficit expense, but a boon for the construction trade. That’s neither here nor there but thinking it over I decide to go with group consensus and look on the positive side. Stranger things have happened than that a lottery ticket in a dream . . . but what I’m really wishing is that I could have gotten a movie camera in for the duration of this and gotten it out after.

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Short Fiction|Esther Jacoby Pest Control

I

like to be on my own. I have chosen to live here simply because I can be on my own, undisturbed and solitary. I have no family, no friends, few business contacts: I lead a simple life these days, away from prying eyes and the gossip and nastiness a community of neighbours always brings. Since the death of my husband, I no longer feel the need to communicate.    If I had cats, I would be the old hag, the old witch. Fortunately, I have a cat allergy. Nevertheless, I am sure that the neighbours up and down the street know me by all sorts of names. I am younger than they all think me: I wear dark, widow’s clothes. My back is slightly bent from too much work at a desk and too little stretching. My hair is grey; it has been so since I was in my 20s. And yet, I am not even officially retirement age.    I do not mix. I sit in my small house, 2 up, 2 down, and listen to life outside. Sometimes, I play music on the radio. I loved to dance, o how I loved to dance! When I try now to recreate those intricate steps from the past, I fall over. My feet are no longer fast enough, and the experience makes me cry. So I rarely play music.    I no longer have a stomach for TV. Most of my days are spent in solitude, in pensive silence. I spend my days in my head. I like it that way.    So when last Tuesday morning around ten I am woken by the loud clatter of the metal dust bin in the yard, I sit up with a jolt. I hate noise! I hate that noise: a darn cat? A rat? I swear and scramble out of bed, stiffly try to stretch when there is more noise and I discern hushed voices. Children’s voices. I hate children. They made all that ruckus, they woke me, I am certain.    I rush downstairs.    They are still outside my kitchen door in the back yard. I can hear them, small feet scuttling, hands trying to press the lid back onto the rubbish bin, unsuccessfully as it falls again and the echo of the clattering bounces off the kitchen cabinets.    ‘Hush’, I hear a boy call out under his breath.    I am separated by the children only by the flimsy kitchen door. No glass, but only thin wood, boosted by layers and layers of colourful paint till I decided to decorate it in all black: the black stands out nicely against the whitewashed wall at the back of the house.    The space in the backyard is only small, just big enough for the said dust bin and the children. How many? The boy, I can still hear him whisper without making out the words he speaks. What are they doing there? 162

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With shaking hands, I unlatch the bolt. I don’t want to warn them of my presence. I need to scare them. Once and for all: I want this to be the one and only time they busy themselves in my backyard. I need my sleep, but more so, I need my peace and quiet.    I tear the door open wide, I holler with a sonorous voice.    O what a sight I must have been, long hair in a wild mess, a wide fluffy pajama, bare feet! A grey, wrinkled face, shouting and screaming.    The kids, there are four or five of them, respond immediately: they scream and then they run away, before with my half-blind morning eyes I can make out anything more than their basic shapes. Four or five of them, boys or girls I cannot say. Their ages? Ten, twelve, how would I know? Not as tall as me, and I am not all that tall: just kids.    They disappear around the corner of the house, and I stand and wait till their footsteps die into the routine mid-morning sound of the neighbourhood: cars, people on the sidewalks on the way to the shops. No kids! Why are they not at school? I shall call the police and complain. And what, really, were they doing at my trash can?    I hobble out, check what I have in the metal container.    The usual garbage of an old woman. Empty tin cans and food containers. Bits of bread that grow a fuzzy blue-green beard. But there also is a stash of old comic books I decided to get rid of. Is this what they wanted? How would they have known? I fish them out and decide to burn them in the fireplace: the evenings are cold enough to warrant a small fire. Darn kids, nothing but vermin, out of control. Kids. Nothing but pests. And the parents? Could not control them, not even if they tried!    I forget the incident once I make a cup of tea and rest a little before I begin my day. The sun shines all hours, so in the evening I do not need that fire in the lounge. The comic books rest near the fireplace. There always is tomorrow or the next week.    On Wednesday morning, I hear giggling under my bedroom window which faces the backyard: the pests are back.   I rush downstairs, but by the time I fumble the door open, they are gone.    What do they want?    I call the police and report that a bunch of school age children is hanging around my backyard in the mornings, disturbing my quiet and scrambling through my rubbish. The nice police woman takes notes, thanks me and tells me to keep an eye out for them. She would tell the local bobby to keep a look out for them, too. I hold little hope that he will, but put the phone down somewhat relieved. Kids should be at school at this time, and not disturb someone like me. Bloody pests!    Thursday, I put my alarm for 8am. I get up, get dressed slowly. In the kitchen I make tea and sit behind the backdoor to wait. Why am I sure that they are going to be back? I don’t know. I don’t have 163

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anything else to do, so I can spare the time.    It is around 9:30 and I hear them. There is nervous laughter, there is the boy’s voice. How I wish I could hear what he says! Then there is the sound of running feet and silence behind the house.    Stealthily, I pry open the door. The sight of a small boy squatting with his pants down scares me as much as my appearance frightens him. Bloody pain! He is taking a crap on my back doorstep and it takes all my wits for me to grab for his collar. I yank him up, he screams and struggles. I try to drag him inside, but he wrangles out of my hands and scampers off as if the hounds of hell are on his heels.    I call that nice lady at the local police station again after I collect the evidence. This time, she sends someone round to collect. She promises for her colleagues to be more vigilant.    Children are pests. I always thought so: this is one of the reasons I never had any. Never had good experience with the blighters. Pests, pests, pests!    After the police man leaves with the piece of shit wrapped in kitchen foil, I make more tea.    I wish there was a pest control service I could call. Pest control, that is what is needed. Pest control. I remember times past and other pests that needed to be controlled. How did I do it in the past?    All day long I ponder this specific pest problem. I sit in my spare bedroom, look at the wall of photographs of smiling, happy faces of my past, waiting for inspiration. Why are these children picking on me? Why are they not at school? What got them to search through my bin, and why, o why, did that boy use my backdoorstep as a crapper?    Questions. I have no answers.    At night, I cannot sleep. I get up at 2am, and I prepare the backyard. It is worth a try, and I am an intelligent woman. I have controlled pests before! I pray that it won’t rain between now and when the children will be back: I am certain they will be back. In my heart of hearts, I hope they will. And if they won’t be back, I have lost nothing but a few tags and a night’s sleep: I can always sleep tomorrow or later in the day.    It is almost 11 before I hear movements outside.    There is whispering, there is some kind of conference going on.    Then there is a knock on the door.    When I open, I see five small faces, all somewhat similar so I think I am looking at brothers and sisters. They are dirty, they are peaky like the faces of small mice, big ears standing wide. Their clothes are torn and not warm enough for the autumn.    ‘So you are the pests that keep annoying me?’    I look at them without smiling, and they stare up at me earnestly.    The tallest, presumably the boy that leads this gang of pests, nods.    ‘Are you sorry?’ 164

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They look straight ahead.    I point at one of them.    ‘And you, don’t you know how to use the toilet?’    At this, they giggle.    ‘I should beat you with a stick!’    They shrink back.    ‘Can we have the end of the story, please?’ He holds up the pages of the comic book I decorated my back wall with during the night.    This is the first time they speak to me.    ‘You can read?’    ‘We like the pictures.’    ‘So you cannot read?’    Their eyes embarrassedly find their shoes of great interest.    ‘If I give you the other pages of that story, will you promise to leave me alone?’    ‘There were more comic books …’    ‘Will you leave me alone if I give them to you?’    ‘Are they yours?’    ‘I am asking the questions!’    I try to remain stern, but somehow, their wide open eyes communicate their hunger. I raise an eyebrow.    I close the door. I don’t trust them. From the lounge, I fetch the remainder of the comic books. Most of the pages are now stuck together, so the children will have to be careful to separate the pages. In the hallway I grab my trusted old polaroid.    Their eyes shine as I hand them the stack of colourful comic books.    They are filled with bright and shiny heroes, doing heroic things. Even without the words, the pictures speak and tell the story. There is enough there to occupy the minds of these children.    Before they leave, I take their photo: smiling faces, eyes shiny.    When they leave, I feel somewhat sorry for them.    I climb up the stairs and pin their photo next to the others, before I huddle with a hot water bottle under a downy blanket to meditate upon the importance of being able to read. I remember a book from a long time ago, The Name of the Rose. I remember what it said on the can of cockroach spray. I hope that their stomach aches will be enough to keep them out of my trash can for good.   I smile.

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Poetry|Marc Woodward Whistle Whistling loudly in the inky emptiness, my melody floats over lily pools to swirl around the deaf trees. I make the frogs croak and the pine martens spy shyly from high cabins afloat in the night, tall ships at anchor, stars swaying over their masts. You can’t count those lights or all the clustered needles littering the floor of the lazy wood. But it would be wrong for me to claim you can’t count the ways I love you. For sure they’re far less than the number of needles, stars and swaying trees but they’ll have to do. And when you hear my whistle you can be certain I’m whistling it for you.

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Fishing for Bankers They may be barbelling in the basement submarining through the archived files. Or you’ll catch them on the penthouse floor showing off their worth with golden scales. Perhaps planning a lunch at the Fat Duck? Slippery though they are, some will be hooked by a well placed line or enticing bait. Haul them from their mahogany puddles; You’re no dealer: you’re there to regulate. Maybe you could eat them? But they’re full of muck. Instead you weigh them up, record the pounds, then slide them wriggling back to glide and feed. For you can always hook them out again: ah, the reliability of greed.

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Poetry|Michael Forester Orestes Epilogue Amalgam of coincidental ramblings or testament to tested truths declared? Incubated to maturity by the flesh-streaked soot rising from the crem chimneys of indifference, an acceptable sacrifice to the deities of approbation. Calvary She Yelps! Yelps at this infestation rearing in outrageous sentience and slips the sullen blade of derision into the open sores of agitation, impaled upon the forked tongued duplicity of ‘love.’ Gethsemane Sires the coming night a deepening predilection within the bowels of this revealed inconsequence? Or does it rather yield in feral deference to the unspoke alphaship of matricidal yearnings, long since honed upon a covenanted ark of mediocrity? Requiem Cease! Let his voice fall silent, echoing on the howling winter winds. Fly! He will fly to the deafening wing beats of the locusts down down down into the sun-scorched twilight.

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March! He must march to the thunder-steps of the soldier ants strutting across the desert dunes, singing the adulation of fallen demagogues. Emancipation of the incarcerate Later, much later, supine upon the funeral pyre heart beating, beating, beating time, for its sheer impermanence; emasculated by the midnight strokes of synthesised hedonism. Campfire embers glowing, Passion softly moans, shudders, pulses, exhausted, into the warm wet night.

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Symphony - 11

Mix media on paper 60 x 96 inches 2015 170

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Untitled - yellow

Mix media on tarpaulin 48 x 60 inches 2015 171

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Mix media on paper (Drawing) 180 x 60 inches

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Camouflage love - 2

Mix media on tarpaulin 108 x 38 inches 2013 173

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Symphony

Mix media on paper 40 x 22 inches 2016 174

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Visual Art|Abhijit Kumar Pathak

Symphony - 5 Mix media on tarpaulin 216 x 96 inches

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Short Fiction|Andrew Lee-Hart Listen

I

t was weeks until I heard him speak more than a couple of words, and by then I had probably told him my whole life story, which he had swallowed whole like a whale eating plankton, with only the occasional “yes” or “hmm” to encourage me in.       Perhaps we all need a listener; someone we can tell all our problems and thoughts to. Someone who does not intrude with their own personality but just seems interested in us; our own private Samaritan. And when that person is our lover then that is all the better. Often Brian and I would stay up until the early hours as I chatted to him between bouts of sex which just emphasised the intimacy we were sharing. But even with sex he was taking all I had to offer and was holding himself back.       I met Brian through work; we were both librarians at the University of Reading; whilst I was Theology he was Anthropology. I noticed how many library users; staff and students alike, would take Brian aside and chat to him and I was impressed that people trusted him so much. Often you would see him stood in a distant corner of the library whilst a tearful student whispered to him frantically. She (or occasionally he) would stop when aware of somebody else’s presence, and then would carry on at a slightly lower volume.       He was always well-dressed; a suit with neat shirt and tie, although nothing obtrusively fashionable. As I discovered later, even outside work he looked smart never wearing jeans or trainers but always proper trousers and shoes, and I never saw him in a t-shirt. He did not smell of anything either; even when he was hot or we had had vigorous sex there was no odour coming from him.       We were introduced by my friend Sally whilst she and I were sat together in the student union cafeteria. Brian sat down at our table and Sally who was on her way to attend a meeting told us each other’s names and then fled.    “You work in anthropology” I told him, although I guess he already knew that. He smiled sweetly and took a mouthful of some disgusting looking pasta dish which smelt of fish, but he maintained eye contact.    “I am Karen” I told him, forgetting Sally had already mentioned this, and then Itold him about how I worked in Theology and that I liked it, but felt the other staff rather looked down on me, because I was new to the department and did not have a degree in the subject. 176

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Soon I was telling him everything about me. And the thing is I do not normally talk; I am more the listener, and anyway I do not have that many problems, not really. After all I have a good job and friends, and nobody I am close to has died; even my grandparents are all alive. Yet I could not help myself; rattling on as he sat and listened with just the occasional noise of encouragement. Eventually I looked at the time and realised that I should have been back at work twenty minutes ago and fled with barely a goodbye.    We met again and again; first by chance and then by arrangement; often sitting in coffee shops for hours as I poured out my soul to him, or on warm days (it was late spring when we met) we would wander round the ruined abbey together, eating ice cream and watching the townspeople and students; being university librarians we were not quite either. He would be slightly bent over me so that none of the words I spoke would escape him.    Sally was in a production of “The Caretaker” and so we went to see it. Halfway through the second act he reached out and held my hand albeit loosely but it was good to know that he was there next to me and was aware of the fact. And when we ended up in bed a couple of nights later he held my hand as he went down on me, his tongue deep inside, questing for my hidden self.    We were now a couple; holding hands in public, spending days off together. I was slightly jealous that he still seemed to be the library’s agony aunt, and even in the evenings he occasionally got a phone call from somebody obviously in distress. All I would hear was the odd monosyllable from Brian as the person on the other end of the telephone talked and talked.    But he always had time for me; and he seemed to enjoy nothing more than being next to me on the sofa; often with my head in his lap as I told him more about myself. I could not believe that I had so much to tell; but he was an expert at probing, and the more he probed the more I found to tell him.    We went to a talk by a Conservative Minister at the Student Union. I have always been interested in politics, and had recently become a member of the Labour Party to help elect Jeremy Corbyn as leader. I dragged Brian along with me and we sat near the front. Clearly the University Conservative party had come out with all the force at their command, but unfortunately for them and their guest,all the force they had were a dozen rather diffident looking students who sat at the back looking rather embarrassed, and thus the minister was given a torrid time by what was a largely hostile audience. I asked a rather 177

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pointed question and whilst the minister dealt with it with practised skill he did seem to be sweating and I got a cheer from those around me.    “So what did you think?” I asked Brian as we sat together on his sofa later that evening.    “Yes, you did well asking that question. Were you nervous?”    “But what did you think of the question? Do you think I was right? Do you even vote?”    I had never asked him so many questions, and he appeared flummoxed and at a loss for words. We were drinking wine, and I was a little drunk although Brian being more abstemious seemed sober and in control.    “Come on” I said “don’t you have any political views? What about the present government and all their cuts, you must see the damage that they are doing?”    He shrugged, “I see what you mean, and it obviously bothers you, I know.”    And suddenly I realised that I did not know what he thought about anything. Even his music tastes were conventional; a bit of Mozart, U2 and Beatles but he did not seem particularly bothered about them. I had never heard him enthuse about Mozart’s Operas or Bono’s voice, whereas I love The Band of Holy Joy and will bore anybody anytime with how good they are. In fact when did he ever seem passionate about anything?    I leant over him rather drunkenly and rapped him on his head, hard.    “What is going on in there? What do you think about? What do you care about? Why don’t you ever fucking talk?”    I was angry with him, but we still ended up having drunken sex in his bed; partly so I could see if he was passionate when inside me. But as always he was outside it; analytical but not engaged, even his sperm smelt of nothing. I woke early the next morning with a bit of a headache but knowing that it was the end. I dressed swiftly and left him sleeping noiselessly.

   Of course I bumped into him on occasion and I would smile and he would ask how I was. He did not beg or even ask me to come back which was rather disappointing. I doubt I would have gone back to him, but it would have been good to be asked.    Brian’s imperturbability bothered me; I felt awful even though the 178

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relationship has only lasted about three months; I do not have affairs easily and had hoped that it wouldlast. And the fact that he did not seem to care…. A job came up in the theological college the other side of the town, and I went for it. The money was about the same but I would be in charge of the library and I would be away from Brian without having to uproot and move house.    I enjoyed my new job; I had an assistant called Wendy who was friendly and helpful, and even better was not trying to take my position or undermine me. And the trainee clergymen and women tended to be kind and patient. My atheism did not seem to be an issue and although I did not socialise with any of them I had a few interesting chats at lunchtime. It was true that I had taken the job for the wrong reasons but I soon realised it was a good decision and that I was happier than I ever had been.    Most of my friends in Reading were not connected to the university, and even Sally who I had been close to rather lost touch with me. She had already embarked on a rather angst-ridden affair with a married, female sociology lecturer when I left the university and to my surprise the affair had not ended but on the contrary they were now living together, leaving Sally little time to maintain our friendship.    One evening Sally rang me out of the blue. I was lying half asleep on my settee with The Smiths playing on my stereo and a lavender joss stick burning fragrantly.    “Have you heard about Brian?” she asked.    “Er no. Why what about him, as he managed to get a personality?”    “He seems to have gone to pieces. You know how smart and neat he used to be?”   “Oh yes”    “Well he has started coming to work with stains on his shirts, odd socks and he hardly every shaves. He looks a mess, pongs a bit too.”    I was shocked, just could not imagine him looking scruffy. Perhaps he had just had a late night but even that would have been odd. I suspected it was a one-off after all Sally was prone to exaggerate, and he could not have changed that much in the eight months or so since I had left him.    “And now he talks to himself” she added; “when he is in the library, stacking books you hear him murmuring to himself. It is really weird.”    “Has anyone said anything to him?” I asked her.    “They have tried, but he just denies anything is wrong. You know how self-contained he was.”    The conversation petered out after that. She suggested we meet up soon, but did not actually say a day. 179

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That Saturday I was in Reading town centre buying a few necessities, when I saw him sat on a bench. In fact I heard him first; he was talking with an old man and it was soon evident that the man was tryingto leave without appearing to be rude. Eventually he made his apologies and hastily left Brian on his own. Sally was right, Brian was looking unkempt; not quite like a tramp but he was clearly not looking after himself.    Brian was still talking and clearly had not registered that he was now on his own; he was not loud just his normal conversational voice. I had never heard him talk so much. I was behind him and so walked a pace or two closer so I could hear him better, and then I heard my name.    “And Karen, she was a lovely girl, with her left wing opinions, but in the end I had to let her go. I do miss her sometimes, she was so lovely in bed but she never stopped talking, never listened.”    And he talked on and on, telling all our intimate secrets. I wanted to shake him and shout “Just shut up, can’t you. What has happened to you? What has gone wrong?”    I blushed, even though I do not suppose that anybody there would have known that the Karen who Brian was describing so lewdly, was me. Fortunately he eventually started talking about somebody else; one of the students from the library, who had confided in him frequently. I was very glad that the poor girl was not there to witness her personal life spoken about for the entertainment of any passing shoppers and those who spend their daylight hours in the hell of a modern town centre.    Eventually I managed to walkaway, get on with my shopping and buy myself a tuna sandwich for lunch. But throughout that day, and the weeks that followed, always in the background I could hear his voice, talking endlessly into the desert of the world’s and my vast indifference.

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Poetry|Zev Torres These Lies Threadbare excuses Worn rationalizations Tightly bound with ragged fabrications More artifice than artistry Accomplishing nothing barely Thwarting intentions Stoking suspicions Are neither deceiving nor misleading Despite their fine-spun insinuations. Such concepts without heft Suppositions without merit Illusory revelations Silver-plated prevarications Prefabricated breakthroughs Convoluted points of view Are worthless Not unlike a bottomless teacup A spray of helium filled teardrops A late night joyride without headlights Borrowed time repaid a moment late -An invitation to spend a blustery afternoon Watching houseboats bob in the marina.

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Poetry|Prathap Kamath The witness And there the man lay dead on a cliff among higher cliffs, head hanging like a broken branch, mangled limbs stretched out on four directions. He lay there under the sun and the night sky, in rain, snow and hailstorm. He lay dead for days and weeks, months, years and forever. His clothes faded as time passed, tore, tattered and disappeared. His flesh thinned, desiccated and sank to the bones. He became a white skeleton, turned yellow and grey as time passed. Only I have been watching him from his fall to his present stillness, never knowing from where and since when . . .

Vroom The truck vrooms its last breaths one wheel in air over the sea the other wheel caught on the broken balustrade of the bridge. Vrooms the animal, stuck in mid air, coughing black smoke paws dripping blood of the kids it killed before it tripped to the side. Kids whose still open eyes say it all about their last breakfast and mother’s kiss. Vrooms like history, when dictator's brains go haywire with pride and roar before they trip and fall on its side as flesh laid out to dry.

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Short Fiction|Reshma Ruia Bank Holiday Weekend

I

t is a May bank holiday and I am home with the family. I watch my wife move about the kitchen. She wants me to put up some shelves in the garage. To store her pickle jars, she says.    ‘Why don’t you keep them in the fridge like normal people?’    She stops slicing the onions and gives me a look. Her eyes are red-rimmed and watery from chopping the onions. Her arm goes up as she roughly tries to wipe away the onion sting with the sleeve of her fleece top.    ‘Can’t you see they won’t fit in the fridge? They’re the jumbo sized ones I bought from Costco last week. They were on offer. I just had to get them.’ She announces this proudly.    Everything about my wife is jumbo-sized these days: the food she piles on to her plate; the tracksuits she wears; the grocery bags she brings home, crammed with two-for- one offers.    ‘I’ll fix the shelves tomorrow,’ I say and go back to reading the Daily Mail.    Sammy, our son sits at the kitchen table listening to us. He is pretending to do his math homework, tongue sticking out in concentration, eyes heavy-hooded with sleep, chewing the end of his pencil. His cheeks round and smooth like a girl’s, gently puff out.    ‘Sammy’s starting to look a lot like you, Geeta,’ I say to my wife. It’s not a compliment.    ‘You think so?’ Geeta stares at him, her knife hovering over the chopping board. She smiles, as though I’ve reminded her of something pleasant.    ‘The double chin and the tummy’s yours for sure,’ I almost add, but don’t. *    I remember the day Sammy was born. A Sunday afternoon. I was setting off for the pub to watch the Manchester United match. It was the final game of the season. I was almost out the door when Geeta’s waters burst. She slumped to the floor, holding her stomach, a stream of pink-yellow fluid trickling down her leg. ‘Please God, please, don’t let me lose this one!’ she shouted, her fingers entwined like a protective net shielding her belly.    ‘We don’t need god; we need a bloody doctor, Geeta.’ I threw a bath towel on the back seat of the car and somehow bundled her in. She sat clumsily, knees pushed against her belly, moaning softly as I tore through the red lights all the way to St. Mary’s hospital. 183

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The locum, a Nigerian, who smiled a lot but didn’t say much took charge of the delivery.    ‘Now mamma, now stay calm,’ he said as he spread Geeta’s legs open with his small, feminine hands. He wore a turquoise ring on his little finger and I was quite taken by this small, absurd detail.    ‘Can’t we get an English doctor? Or at least a lady doctor,’ Geeta had pleaded with the nurses, her face scrunched up into a small and frightened ball.    The labour lasted eight hours, and I didn’t let go of her hand even once.    ‘A baby boy!’ Dr Obedjayo announced, tugging at the stethoscope that drooped around his neck like a sleeping snake. His forehead was hot and shiny under the glare of the hospital lights.    ‘Only five pounds, but he’ll live. He’ll live,’ Dr. Obedjayo repeated, patting Geeta’s cheek. His blue ring, a bolt of colour against her sucked in, washed-out face.    ‘He’s breathing? Make sure he’s breathing,’ Geeta said, tugging at my arm, her eyes fixed on the tiny towel wrapped bundle the nurse was holding. The doctor grinned and gave her a wink.    ‘Don’t worry mamma, he’ll live to be a hundred.’    ‘He’s a gift from God,’ she said, closing her eyes, hands folded and pointing towards the hospital ceiling, as though god had set up home there and would shake her hand and say,    ‘Well-done you, you’ve produced a child at last.’    We’d been married nearly twenty years and it was the first pregnancy she’d carried full term and not lost.    As for me? Faint with thirst and relief, I rushed out, found the nearest off -license and bought the fattest bottle of Johnny Walker whiskey to celebrate. I’d swigged it empty by the time I got back to the ward. *    A wave of love leaps up inside me as I remember this. Sammy is a gift.    ‘Let’s have a party for your birthday this year, Sammy.’ I lean forward to ruffle his thick head of hair.    Sammy stops his pencil-chewing and looks at me, eyes shining.    ‘Fifteen’s a big age,’ I say. ‘And we’ve never really had a proper party for you.’    ‘Can we go to Alton Towers? Can we take the whole class?’ When Sammy is excited, his voice rises high like a girl’s.    ‘Why the whole class?’    ‘Because then they’ll all want to be my friends,’ he says. ‘I hate sitting in the classroom at lunch time and will you tell Mum to pack me something nice for lunch.’ 184

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‘She always packs you something nice,’ I say. I wake up every morning to the smell of frying onions and roasted cumin.    Sammy shakes his head.    ‘I mean can she give me cheese sandwiches. I don’t want to eat her chappatis and egg bhujia. They stink up the classroom.’    I change the topic and ask him what he wants for his birthday.    ‘I told you,’ Sammy scowls and starts doodling in his notebook. ‘Let’s go to Alton Towers.’    I look at Geeta, who is stirring the ground almonds into his milk. The almonds are supposed to make his brain cleverer, turn the Ds in his report card into As.    ‘That’s going to cost a lot of money, Sammy,’ she says, helping me out. She hands him the milk. The rides are expensive, and we’ll have to hire a mini bus. It’ll easily come to 500 pounds.’    I knew she wants me to overrule her, to say what-the-hell, it didn’t matter, we’d take the whole class, and money wasn’t an issue when it was your only child who’d arrived after three miscarriages. But I stay quiet. I’d sacked four girls from the factory just the previous week. It wasn’t easy. One of them had worked there nearly six years. I gave them the news at lunch, telling them why the business needed to restructure. I used the right words, but they still cried as they picked up their kettle and rolled up their David Beckham posters. They left without saying goodbye. It wasn’t a good feeling to live with.    ‘Maybe we’ll just go as a family, just the three of us. Make a special day trip of it,’ I say.    ‘I’ll make potato cutlets, and we’ll get a roast chicken from Asda and some Coke.’ Geeta is smiling. The frown that cut her forehead like a knife disappears for a moment.    These are happy times, family times, I tell myself as I sit with my family on this bank holiday, planning Sammy’s birthday. But my eyes keep going to Geeta with her untidy ponytail and her tracksuit, to where the bleach has turned the pocket a funny white.    Have I done this to her? The whippet-thin girl who once wore chiffon saris and kohl in her eyes and hummed Cliff Richards’ Summer Holiday in the shower. *    ‘Shall we go for a spin? Go up to Windermere, Geeta? We can’t waste the bank holiday just cooped up at home.’ I want a glimpse of that old Geeta again.    ‘I’ve got work.’ She raises her chin towards the pile of shirts on the ironing board.    ‘We used to go all the time when Sammy was young. What was the name of that ice cream place he loved?’ I can’t remember it.    ‘Marcello’s,’ Geeta says straight away. ‘It was just across the road 185

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from the lake, next to the chip shop.’ She has an elephant’s memory.    A soft, faraway expression enters her eyes and she asks me if I remember the ducks.    In the old days Geeta would feed the ducks, throwing them fistfuls of Bombay Mix as they strolled boldly between our legs, until one time when a warden marched up to us and said that in England ducks were fed bread, not curry.    ‘Why don’t you go out Mum? Go for a spin with Dad?’ Sammy jumps in. He’ll stay behind and catch up on his school work, he says.    ‘It’ll be a good outing Mum. You’ve not been out all week.’ He likes it when we go out together, leaving him alone with the television and the packets of crisps.    ‘All right, you win, we’ll go,’ Geeta says, putting the shirts back in the laundry basket.    ‘But we’ll come back by dinnertime. I don’t like you driving in the dark.’    ‘Of course we’ll be back,’ I say. ‘Why do you have to make a drama out of everything?’    I put the Daily Mail down on the table. The news isn’t good. Cedric Solomon, my competitor at work has just bought out a knitting factory in Leicester. I read the article twice and check the photograph. It is a picture of Cedric with his wife at some charity gala. She is beautiful with a full mouth and heavy glossy hair that falls past her shoulders.    Lucky bastard, I think, running my finger around their picture. Was life that good?    Through the kitchen window I see Mr Peters, our next door neighbour, out in his garden, bending low over his rose bushes, gardening shears in hand. I light a cigarette and go outside to check on my mango tree. There are brown blotches on the branches. The wet weather isn’t doing it much good. Mr Peters spots me over the low hedge and waves. I wave back, hoping he’d come nearer and we could have a chat about his wife. I’d heard she’d been diagnosed with cancer. But he lowers his head and carries on with his gardening.    Geeta comes over to stand by my side. I tell her about the brown fungus on the mango tree.    ‘What do you expect? Trying to grow a mango tree in Manchester.’ She snorts. ‘You should have stuck to apples.’    I’d smuggled in the mango sapling from Bombay, determined to make it grow under the grey Manchester skies and I wasn’t giving up. I tell her I will get some fertilizer.    We stand watching Mr Peters.    ‘Poor man,’ Geeta says. ‘I sent Sammy over with some chicken soup for his wife.’    She’d done that before, sent over tupperwares of food. The boxes came back, rinsed clean, along with a single Mars bar for Sammy.    ‘I feel so sad for them,’ she adds. ‘It’s no fun being old in England. 186

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Their kids don’t drop in. I bet they’ve not had a hot meal in years’.    There is a low rumble overhead.    ‘Let’s get going, otherwise there will be no drive,’ I say looking at the sky.    Geeta says she’ll pack some chutney sandwiches for our trip. We could eat them by the lake, if we get there in time.    ‘Let’s just go, Geeta. Why do we have to drag food into everything? There’re plenty of restaurants there.’    ‘Okay, calm down. I’ll wear something warm, but you’ll be the first to complain if there are no snacks in the car.’    The rain starts. The gutter over the garage spits out large mouthfuls of grey water.    Mr Peters appears again, buttoned up and warm in his green Barbour jacket and tweed flat cap. He is taking his dog for a walk.    The dog, an ugly black thing with a stubby tail, begins barking as it passes our house. Geeta is convinced he is allergic to Indians.    I look at the rain. ‘Shall we bother going, Geeta? It’ll be dark soon and the sun’s not coming out. Not today.’    What would we talk about anyway during the two-hour car journey? Sammy? The trip to India she keeps hankering after?    ‘Why don’t we go somewhere near? What about Dunham Park? That’s nearby. The coffee shop there does good carrot cakes.’ Her voice is hopeful.    ‘All right then. I’ll get the car out. But hurry.’    She is right, it will only take twenty minutes to get there, and we’d be back in an hour. And I would have done my good deed for the day. *    The car park is empty when we arrive, except for a red Ford Fiesta that is parked right at the other end near a large bush.    ‘The rain’s kept the crowds away,’ I say, reversing the car into the empty slot next to the Fiesta.    Geeta shakes her head. ‘Why don’t you park nearer the entrance? We’ll only get wet now.’    I turn off the ignition and tell her it is safer to park next to another car. Hooligans from Wythenshawe were always looking to break in to steal a radio.    ‘Besides, it’ll do you good to walk.’ She flinches as I slap her thigh. Loud music booms from the parked Ford. A couple is sitting inside. They are young, maybe in their twenties. They are kissing, and the girl has her eyes shut. Her hands stroke the man’s back.    I glance at Geeta, who gives a little giggle. She leans forward to get a better look, her head almost banging against the dashboard. We keep watching without saying a word. The girl suddenly raises her arms, and the man pulls off her white t-shirt. She is wearing a red bra. 187

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He eases off the straps, and I see his mouth go down on her breast.    I hear a moan. It is Geeta. Her forehead is shining with sweat. I am about to say that we should get out of the car and carry on when the man raises his head and sees us.    He turns off his car radio, rolls down the window and leans over the girl, his mouth twisted with anger.    A small, shiny stud glints in his right ear.    ‘What are you staring at? Bloody Pakis. Get the fuck out.’ He has a thick Liverpudlian accent.    There is no other noise, but for the rain and the occasional distant sound of car tyres hitting a puddle. I look at my fingers gripping the steering wheel.    ‘Don’t call us Pakis. We’re Indians. Is that understood?’ Geeta shouts back, her face alive with anger.    The man says something else and curls his fingers in the shape of a gun, takes an aim at our heads and shouts, ‘Bang, bang! Get lost scumbags.’    I hear a click. Geeta is locking the car doors, winding up the windows.    ‘Come on. Let’s go back home. This country’s going to the dogs.’ She grabs my arm. But I stay still, unable to start the car. The girl in the red car stares straight ahead. Her bra is still pulled up, like a frilly collar around her neck. She makes no effort to cover herself. My eyes keep going back to her breasts.    ‘Come on, let’s go.’ Geeta shakes my arm again. ‘What’s wrong with you? Do you want him to beat us up?’    I start the car, the steering wheel slippery beneath my hand. My foot pressing down on the accelerator is heavy like a stone.    ‘What’s the West coming to? We should never have left Bombay,’ Geeta says as we drive away. I don’t say a word.    She wipes her forehead with an old Kleenex tissue she’s found stuffed inside the pocket of her tracksuit bottoms.    We stop at a Pizza Hut on the way home. Geeta orders her usual Margherita with extra cheese, extra red onions and extra jalapeños. She gets a medium ham and pineapple for Sammy. I tell her I’m not hungry and order a coffee.    We come back and Geeta walks into the TV room, holding the two pizza boxes in her hand.    ‘Why are you home so early?’ Sammy asks his eyes fixed on the television screen.    ‘We decided to head back. The rain was too heavy,’ I say, flipping through Sammy’s notebook. He’s not finished a single sum. I don’t look at Geeta.    Geeta kicks off her trainers and sits on the sofa, her legs folded under her, the pizza ready on her lap. She pulls the remote from Sammy and switches the channel to her favourite Indian soap. I tell 188

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them I’m going to bed.    She is concerned. ‘You must’ve caught a chill. Shall I make you a ginger tea?’    Her eyes are untroubled. She’s already forgotten the incident in the car park.    ‘I’ll take some paracetamol and lie down for a bit,’ I say, staring at her, hoping to find somewhere inside her, a hunger for something bigger and brighter in life.    But she’s gone back to her channel hopping. *    I want to be alone. But Sammy follows me up to my bedroom, asking if I am angry with him about his unfinished school work. I slam the door on his face and go into the bathroom, flick down the toilet seat, light up a cigarette and sit staring at myself in the mirror above the washbasin.    Soon, I’ll be old and everything will start shutting down, like a house where the lights go out, one room at a time. Mr Peters, Geeta, me, all busy shuffling towards nothingness. But I am not ready yet. I think of the couple in the car, wonder if they are married. I wonder how sex in a car would feel. I unzip my trousers, slip my hand in, and imagine how sex in a car with a woman who is not my wife would feel. ***

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Poetry|Ravi Shankar The Walker in a Wheelchair It’s the very thickest tendon in the human body, named for the one vulnerable spot on the greatest fighter in the Trojan War, and doing a simple step-over in soccer, my own Achilles’ tendon snapped, like a veined curtain shade rolling up according to the orthopedic surgeon who pinched my calf to diagnosis me, before putting me under to operate on me. Days after, in a cast, I’m being wheeled through the Walker Arts Center where there’s an International Pop art exhibition and to see the bursts of saturated color from waistlevel is to experience the museum from a new vantage point. Looking up at Warhol’s sixteen Jackies, thinking of his maxim that “the more you look at same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away and the better and emptier you feel.” I don’t feel better, but emptier perhaps, puzzling over the way celebrity interfaces with tragedy, the repetition of moments plucked from Life magazine, then Roy Lichtenstein’s Look Mickey, with its Ben-Day dots from newspaper printing like a measles outbreak along Mickey Mouse’s face, giving the illusion of a wider pallet of color, and Donald Duck’s speech bubble floating off the edge of the canvas as the big one he’s hooked is himself. I’m hooked for a second before being pushed away—and I who am I to protest, unable to amble—to go to the disabled elevator the size of a cattle pen if I were a steer and I lurch up, then back down, to be steered towards Tokyo Pop— Ushio Shinohara appropriating Jasper Johns and Coca Cola—and Evelyne Axel’s Ice Cream, a psychedelic self-portrait with monochromatically closed eyes, lips and tongue rapturously engaged with dripping colors, waves of pleasure which beg 190

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the question of whether hedonistic consumption is being critiqued or celebrated in these bold works. All I know is that to traverse the gallery disabled— no, not differently-abled which euphemistically shuts down the way otherness discomforts us, even while explicitly pointing it out—creates new empathies in me that no mechanically produced, mass mediasourced allegory of commodification, no matter how brightly hued or innovatively arrayed, can take the place of as I labor to go to the next floor.

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Poetry|Pia Ghosh Roy Pressure They don’t want to pose, pause for another photo. They want to have their ice-cream, dig the beach for dinosaur bones. But she needs the right smile, the right light, the right life, frozen at the right angle. Look up, don’t fidget, she says, let the ice-cream be for a second. Hold your brother’s hand now. Smile, don’t squint. The sun’s in my eyes, Mummy! Don’t be such a baby. Hold still. Say cheeeeese? Good boy! Okay now, take a lick. Ow, the ice-cream hurts my teeth, Mummy, no want more. No whining, thank you. One more lick won’t hurt. She smiles the smile she wants them to smile. Lick not slurp! You’re getting ice-cream on the blanket! God. Just go. Go play. She taps on the screen, swipes the boys free. She feels guilt biting gently, again, like tiny silvery fish in shallow, clear water. Crop, recrop, brighten. Filter, filter, filter. #feelingblessed with my beautiful babies at the #beach #blueskies #lifeisperfect #lovemylife 192

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List of Contributors Abhijit Kumar Pathak Abhijit Kumar Pathak is a visual artist, trained by Banaras Hindu University & Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi. He won a national award (2010) when he was only a post graduation student of Jamia Milia University. Pathak is an abstractionist with passion and deep conviction. His works are colour fields of infinitude in which we do not see a definite sense of process. But there is a deep understanding of the mystic rules of the beginning, the middle and end; there are deeper truths of the variation of the principle of fragmentation and fragility in a world which begins with the gravity of the earth. As if he is an archaeologist who lives in the summation of his excavations, this young artist who hails from Varanasi is a practitioner of the deeper tunes of resonance that build and breathe within the windows of his inner reservoir. Earth colours, pigments, Acrylic colours, fabric, charcoal, and colour pencils - it is free association from the start to the finished state; kept alive by an intersection of physical experience, individual feeling and ideas of the deeper truths of living and reality. But there is also great lyricism and you won’t be surprised to know he is a trained tabla player. He lives and works in Delhi. Andrew C Brown Andrew C Brown is an ex-prisoner, recovering addict, winner of a Koerstler Award and a community regeneration award. He has been published in USA and UK and feels it cathartic to share his life journey.

Andrew Lee-Hart Andrew Lee-Hart was born many years ago in Yorkshire, England, but now lives in Birkenhead across the River Mersey from Liverpool. Andrew has been writing stories for most of his life; several have appeared on websites and in print magazines.

Anniyil Tharakan Dr. Anniyil Tharakan devoted himself to teaching at Mar Ivanios College and St. John’s College, both affiliated with the University of Kerala, India. He retired from the latter as its Principal (President) in 1998. He was a visiting resource person to the UGC Academic Staff College, Trivandrum, and to the University of Kerala to teach M. Phil classes, and has currently been doctoral research guide of the university. He has written for India’s national dailies, and international journals published from the United States of America, Ceylon, Chile, France, Italy and Germany. In 1997, Cross Cultural Publications at Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, brought out a 193

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collection of his poems under the title Quester by the River and Other Poems. The book carries a foreword by Dom Moraes. In 2006, Carmel International Publishing House, Trivandrum, published Matthew Arnold and the Bhagavad Gita, a study in the light of nineteenth century British interest in the East. In October 2008, a second collection of his poems appeared under the title The Canticle of the Beloved, which was brought out by Deepika Book House, Kottayam, Kerala, India. The Canticle of the Beloved, prefaced by Professor Edward Vasta of Notre Dame University, won Atma Vidya Award in 2009. In 2008, D.C. Books Private Limited, Kottayam, Kerala, published Dr. Tharakan’s another well-researched study in Malayalam on Indian Thought in English Poetry (Bharatheeyadarsanam English kavithayil). The book won the muchcoveted literary award of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi (the Kerala State Literary Academy) in literary criticism for the year 2011. On 7 June 2015, the author was conferred the 2014-Guru Puja Award by the KCBC for his overall contribution to the academic field. A 450-plus page study on The Sacred Feminine in Indian Thought was published in 2016 by Cosmo Publishers, New Delhi. Born in the village of Kattanam in the State of Kerala, India, on 20 January 1943, Anniyil Tharakan was educated in the University of Kerala, and the University of Notre Dame in the United States of America. As a student at school, he studied Aramaic, or West Syriac, and later learnt Latin and Greek. He did a baccalaureate and a licentiate in Philosophy (B.Ph and Ph.L) in 1962-5, and undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theology (B.D and L.D) in 1965-9 at Papal Athenaeum, Poona. At Notre Dame, he was a research scholar, who studied Eastern thought’s influence upon nineteenth century literature. The University conferred on him doctorate in English in April 1987. Having retired as Principal (President) of St. John’s College in 1998, he took to the study of Sanskrit and rendered into the English verse Saundaryalahari and the Bhagavad Gita.

Bashir Sakhawarz Bashir Sakhawarz is an award-winning poet and novelist. In 1978 his first poetry collection was awarded first prize for New Poetry by the Afghan Writers' Association. Sakhawarz has published seven books in Persian and English. His latest novel Maargir The Snake Charmer was entered for the Man Asian Literary Prize by the publisher and was long-listed for India's 2013 Economist Crossword Book Award. His other works have been published in: Proceedings of the Ninth Conference of the European Society for Central Asia, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (Nov 2010), Images of Afghanistan, Oxford University Press (2010), Language for a New Century, WW Norton & Company; 1st edition (April 2008), English Pen, Asian Literary Review, Cha Literary Journal. In June 2015 he won the first prize for fiction from Geneva Writers Group. Bashir Sakhawarz is originally from Afghanistan and has lived in Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America. He has worked for a number of international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, the International Red Cross and various NGOs. Carola Colley Carola Colley was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She completed a degree in 194

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sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, and from there spent several years living and working in Portugal and Hungary before settling on the Isle of Man in 1993. Carola ran a continuous program of workshops for children, adults and SEBD children from the studio while exhibiting widely. She currently divides her time between studios in Banbury and Portugal, working in a variety of media. Her work is inspired both by direct observation and the history of landscape, and by weaving in elements of myth, memory and poetry. Christopher Walker Christopher Walker is a writer and English teacher based in the south of Poland. He is the author of the illustrated book for children, ‘The Man in the Mango Tree’, and his essays and travel writing have been published by The Daily Telegraph and Hektoen International. He is married and has two daughters.

Conor O’Sullivan Conor O’Sullivan was born in Dublin and attended University College Dublin where he studied History and Politics. After graduating, he moved to New York to complete an MA in International Relations at NYU. He now works for a media company in Manhattan and lives in Brooklyn.

Damini Kane Damini Kane is a twenty-year-old writer from Mumbai, India. A history buff and an aspiring novelist, she is one of the winners of the nationwide talent hunt, Campus Diaries 25 Under 25, in the writing category. She was also editor-in-chief of the college history department magazine, Umloca, and has contributed several articles to multiple publications. Aside from writing, she also enjoys wildlife safaris, and scouring the internet for hipster music. David Rose David Rose was born in 1949 and spent his working life in the Post Office. He made his fiction debut in the Literary Review in 1989, and has since published a story collection, Posthumous Stories (Salt), and two novels: Vault (Salt) and Meridian (Unthank Books). He was co-publisher and fiction editor of Main Street Journal. Photo copyright – Nicholas Royle Emma Hughes Emma Hughes was brought up between the sublime of a barge on the River Thames, and the ridiculous of an all-girls boarding school. She spent her childhood tucked in the cabins of a variety of small boats, reading, impervious to the scenery. Emma currently lives in Chichester where she teaches English 195

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and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and she is working on her PhD in Contemporary Poetry. Her previous publishing credits include The Bridport Prize anthologies 2012 and 2014, and the MSlexia online magazine. Her first full collection will be published by Cinnamon Press in Spring 2017. Esther Jacoby Esther is an international person, a Safety Engineer during the day and a writer at heart. Originally from Germany, she has spent the last 30 years in the English-speaking world. She writes in English under the nom de plume of Esther Jacoby. Her writing career started the moment she learnt how to read and she is happiest when she can string words together to tell a good story. Gaël de Kerguenec (柯恺乐 kē kâilè) Painter, poet and linguist, has traveled and worked around the world for many years inspired by local cultures and languages enrich his art. Living in China for 10 years, he joined the Chinese techniques of ink painting and watercolor to its original and abstract art to push the Chinese traditional techniques to ongoing experimentation. Poet, he initially sought to recreate the feelings generated by his poems to move towards its present credo: "Painting ideas." The force crept into the brush stroke, diluting of inks and colors and how to distribute them on rice paper are specific to each work generating a constant renewal of sensations and feelings. His painting has gone through five periods: Purity, Complexity, Colors, Mists, Calligraphism. Gary Frier Qualified as a Graphic Designer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2004. Currently working as a freelance artist and teaching art at Zonnebloem children's art centre and Valkenburg Psychiatric hospital. As well as a local N.G.O. the Observatory Neighbourhood Afterschool programme which provides educational and cultural programmes for youth at risk. His work can be found in these corporate collections, private and government collections: Old Mutual art collection, Bertha Foundation, Peuple et Culture – Brest (France) BP South Africa (Cape Town) Joop van den Ende Theater productions – Holland Embassy of USA, Nairobi, Western Cape Department of Economic development. As well as private collections worldwide. Gordon Gibson After a 20 year career teaching English and Media Studies in Higher Education, Gordon Gibson has been writing full-time since 2010. His work, prose and poetry, has appeared in a number of on-line and print publications.

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Helen de Búrca Helen de Búrca was born in Ireland and lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Her work has been recognized by the Cúirt New Writing Prize, the Sunday Business Post/ Penguin Ireland Short Story Prize, the 2016 Nivalis Short Story Competition, the “Dalkey Creates” Short Story Competition, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. She writes in English and French.

Jaydeep Sarangi Jaydeep Sarangi is an editor, reviewer and poet-academic anchored in Kolkata, India. Widely anthologised as a poet and critic, Sarangi has read his poems and delivered lectures in more than thirty universities / institutes/centres in different continents. Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi is with the Dept. of English at Jogesh Chandra Chaudhuri College (Calcutta University), 30, Prince Anwar Shah Road, Kolkata-700033,WB, India. Jesse Falzoi Jesse Falzoi was born in 1969 in Hamburg and raised in Lübeck, Germany. After stays in the US and France, she moved to Berlin in the beginning of the nineties, where she still lives with her three children. Her stories, as well as her translation of Donald Barthelme’s “Sentence,” have appeared in American, Russian, German, Swiss, Irish, British and Canadian magazines and anthologies. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada College. Jonathan Taylor Jonathan Taylor is an author, lecturer, editor and critic. His books include the novels Melissa (Salt, 2015) and Entertaining Strangers (Salt, 2012), the memoir Take Me Home (Granta, 2007), and the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013). He is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk. Kate Ennals Kate Ennals is a poet and short story writer. Her first poetry collection, AT The Edge, came out in September 2015, published by Lapwing. She has been published in various literary publications such as Crannog, Skylight 47, Burning Bush 2, The Galway Review, Ropes, Boyne Berries, North West Words, and featured in The Spark. Her work was shortlisted (and performed) in the Claremorris Fringe festival, the Swift Festival, in the Doolin Short Story competition in 2014 and the Stephen King short story competition, 2015. She has published a novella, Slainté, on Amazon. A Londoner by origin, Kate has lived in Ireland for 22 years. In 2012, after working in community development at national and local level for 30 years (London and Ireland), Kate did the MA in Writing at NUI Galway (1:1). She now runs poetry and writing workshops in and around Cavan. Kate also facilitates a 197

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regular literary reading evening and open mic (AT The Edge), funded by Cavan Arts Office. Her blog can be found at kateennals.com. She is currently writing a novel. Marc Woodward Although born in New York, poet and musician Marc Woodward has spent most of his life in the rural English West Country. His work reflects those surroundings and often has a bleakness tempered by dark humour and musicality. Widely published, he has appeared in the Poetry Society and Guardian web pages, Ink Sweat & Tears, Prole, Page & Spine, Avis, The Broadsheet, The Clearing - and in anthologies from Forward, Sentinel and OWF presses. His chapbook 'A Fright Of Jays' is available from Maquette Press. A collection co-written with well known poet Andy Brown is due for publication in 2017. Martin Heavisides Martin Heavisides is the author of eight full length plays, one, Empty Bowl, published in The Linnet's Wings and given a live reading by Living Theatre in New York), two one acts and a good number of ten minute plays; short stories, flash fiction, poetry, which has been published in Sein Und Werden, The Linnet's Wings, FRiGG, Mad Hatter's Review, Pure Slush, Journal of Compressed Creativity among others. He has published one novella length collection of interlinked flash fiction and poetry, Undermind. Michael Forester Michael Forester is a deaf writer living in the UK’s New Forest. He commenced writing in the 1980s. Since the turn of the millennium Michael has written poetry, fiction and mind body spirit works. His first creative book If It Wasn’t For That Dog, about his first year with his hearing dog, Matt, was published in 2009. This was followed in 2016 by Dragonsong, an Arthurian epic fantasy poem in rhyming 16th century English. His short Story collection The Goblin Child was published in the same year. His first international tour took place in February 2017 to the Philippines. His books are available at his website, michaelforester.co.uk Nancy Freund Nancy Freund wrote Foreword Reviews finalist for Fiction Book of the Year 'Rapeseed,' (2013) 'Global Home Cooking'' which earned the Eric Hoffer Prize Honorable Mention (2014), and 'Mailbox: A Scattershot Novel of Racing, Dares and Danger, Occasional Nakedness, and Faith' (2015), INDIEFAB finalist for YA Book of the Year. Her writing has appeared in The Istanbul Review, Blood Lotus Journal, Necessary Fiction, Offshoots, The Daily Mail, Female First, and The Sirenuse Journal. Her radio interviews have aired on BBC London, World Radio Switzerland, and Talk Radio Europe. She holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing and an M.Ed. from UCLA.

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Nick Sweeney Nick Sweeney’s short stories have appeared regularly in Ambit and other magazines. His novel Laikonik Express was published by Unthank Books in 2011. Much of his work reflects his fascination with Eastern Europe and its people and history. His other obsessions are Balkan music, bike racing and Byzantium, all of which creep into his work from time-to-time. He is a freelance writer, and guitarist with Balkan troubadours the Trans-Siberian March Band. His story Traffic was second-placed in the 2015 V S Pritchett Memorial Prize. Pablo Solari Pablo Solari was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1953. Since childhood, from the age of 4 years, he began to draw and paint, then attended a children's art school. At the age of 12, he decided to continue his studies on his own. He studied the Italian classics, the great masters Giotto, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, and then incorporated them an American air. He calls his personal style "Interior Realism". His works portray the interior of the characters and objects, not the outside. Everything comes out of his imagination and memory, without copying anything absolutely. He sees the work in his mind, and turns directly on the blank canvas without preliminary drawing. It has its own color and compositional rules. He does not make preliminary sketches, but attempts to bring drawing to perfection. His preferred medium is oil painting on canvas, but tries out other mediums and techniques too. Paul GnanaSelvam Ipoh-born Paul GnanaSelvam is the author of Latha’s Christmas & Other Stories (2013), n collection of short stories published by MPH Malaysia. To date, he has published short stories and poems in e-magazines Dusun, Anaksastra and CQLit. His works can also be found in the anthologies Write Out Loud, Urban Odysseys, Body 2 Body, FIXI’s Lost in Putrajaya, KL NOIR: YELLOW and the biannual literary journals - ASIATIC and the Lakeview Journal of Arts and Literature. He currently lectures at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kampar, Perak. Pia Ghosh Roy Pia Ghosh-Roy grew up in India and now lives in Cambridge (UK). She’s the winner of the 2017 Hamlin Garland Award, and has been placed in, and shortlisted and longlisted for, several other awards including the AestasFabula Press Competition, Fish Short Story Prize, the Brighton Prize, and the Bath Short Story Award. Pia is currently working on her first novel and a collection of short stories. Twitter @piaghoshroy Prathap Kamath Prathap Kamath is Associate Professor of English at Sree Narayana College, Kollam affiliated to University of Kerala. He has published two books in English: Ekalavya: a book of poems (2012, Rochak Publishing) and Blood Rain and 199

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Other Stories (2014, LiFi, Delhi). He writes in Malayalam too, and has published in it two short story collections.

Ravi Shankar Ravi Shankar is founding editor of Drunken Boat, and teaches for the New York Writers Workshop. He has published or edited 10 books and chapbooks of poetry. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited W.W. Norton’s Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in The New York Times and The Paris Review, appeared as a commentator on the BBC, the PBS Newshour and NPR, received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Corporation of Yaddo, and has performed his work around the world.

Reshma Ruia Reshma Ruia is a founder member of the ‘Whole Kahani’, a collective of British South Asian writers. She is the author of ‘Something Black in the Lentil Soup’. Her second novel, ‘A Mouthful of Silence,’ was shortlisted for the 2014 SI Leeds Literary Prize. Her short stories and poems have appeared in various International anthologies and magazines and also commissioned and broadcast on the BBC. She has a PhD and Masters with Distinction in Creative Writing and post graduate and undergraduate degrees from the London School of Economics. Born in India, but brought up in Italy, her narrative portrays the inherent tensions and preoccupations of those who possess multiple senses of belonging. Richard Luftig Richard Luftig is a past professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio who now resides in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi- finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India. One of his poems was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Poetry Prize. Robert Beveridge Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. He went through a messy divorce with Facebook some months ago, and as a result his relationship with time is much improved. Recent/upcoming appearances in Ghost City Review, Minor Literature[s], and Barking Sycamores, among others.

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Sabin Iqbal Sabin Iqbal is an Indian journalist and writer. He has worked in newspapers and magazines in India and the UAE. He was Editorial Director of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Senior Editor, Tehelka; Sr Assistant Editor, Business India and Editor, Sports Today. When he was a postgraduate student in University of Kerala in early 90s, his poems were published in a collection published by the British Council and Poetry Society India, and in Anand Bazar Patrika. He stopped writing poems for nearly two decades but decades but has now begun working on a collection. He is an aspiring novelist. Satadru Sovan In terms of technique, Satadru is a multi-disciplinary artist – equally at home painting large canvases, creating his own performance art, or creating his light installations. Having gained his degree and masters in painting from the renowned Santiniketan in 2000, he received the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship at the University of California. It was here, while majoring in Digital and New Media, that he also developed his obsession and understanding of light across creative forms – from painting, to animation and movies and theatre. This understanding is evident in his work shown here. In his striking circular LED installations from his experimentations with the South Asian gender narrative, Satadru combines materials, imagery and light and shape in bringing to life his post cyber movement perceptions. Different works incorporate glass etching, digital imagery and painting, and light refracting glass beads. Satadru is the recipient of several awards and residencies and his work has also been bought by famous contemporary collectors as well Schema Art Museum, Korea. He has a strong international exhibition history having shown his work many times in the USA (including the Lincoln Centre in New York, and The Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz as well Schema Art Museum, Korea), Malaysia, Korea, Iran, Hong Kong, South Africa, Vietnam, Iran and Germany. He has also participated in the Biennales in Iran, Cheongju International craft Biennale, Pune and Athens. His work also showcase international art fair THAT ART FAIR, Cape Town, South Africa, Cheongju International Art Fair South Korea, Joburg Art Fair at South Africa, United Art Fair Delhi, Art Fair Cologne Paper Art, Cologne Germany, Art Expo MALAYSIA and Indian Art Summit, India. He did many performance as well workshop at Vietnam, Korea, South Africa, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Cultural program on cheongju Korea published his performance CD. Sukrita Paul Kumar Sukrita Paul Kumar, born in Kenya, lives currently in Delhi, writing poetry and teaching literature. She has held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at University of Delhi till recently. An Honorary Fellow of the prestigious International Writing Programme, University of Iowa (USA), Cambridge Seminars and a former Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she was also an invited poet in residence at Hong Kong Baptist University, China. Honorary faculty at the Durrell Centre at Corfu (Greece) and a recipient of many international fellowships and residencies, she has published several collections 201

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of poems in English that include Dream Catcher, Without Margins, Apurna, Folds of Silence and Oscillations. Her two bilingual collections are Poems Come Home (with Hindustani translation by Gulzar) and Rowing Together (with Hindi translation by Savita Singh). She was the Guest Editor of Crossing Over, a special issue of “Manoa” (University of Hawaii, USA). A number of Sukrita’s poems have emerged from her experience of working with homeless people, Tsunami victims and street children. Sukrita’s major critical works include Narrating Partition, Conversations on Modernism, The New Story and Man, Woman and Androgyny. Some of her edited/co-edited books include Speaking for Myself: Asian Women’s Writings (Penguin), Ismat, Her Life, Her Times (Katha), Interpreting Homes in South Asian Literature (Pearson). As Director of a UNESCO project on “The Culture of Peace”, she edited Mapping Memories, a volume of Urdu short stories from India and Pakistan. A known translator, she is also the chief editor of the book Cultural Diversity in India (OUP). Deeply interested in oral traditions her co-edited book is Chamba Achamba: Women’s Oral Culture from Chamba and Bharmour (Sahitya Akademi). Blind (a novel by Joginder Paul translated from Urdu) is her latest translation published recently by HarperCollins in their Harper Perennial series. A solo exhibition of her paintings was held at AIFACS, Delhi. Ink and Line, is a book of poems written on her paintings. Ted Morrissey Ted Morrissey is the author of five books of fiction, including the novella Weeping with an Ancient God, which was listed as a Best Book of 2015 by Chicago Book Review. He's published over thirty short stories, and has new work forthcoming in Everest and Southern Humanities Review, and his novel in progress Mrs Saville is being published serially at Strands Lit Sphere. Usha Kishore Indian born Usha Kishore is a poet, editor and translator from the Sanskrit, resident on the Isle of Man, where she teaches English at Queen Elizabeth II High School. Kishore has been anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press and Harper Collins among others. Her work has appeared in international journals like Asia Literary Review, Index on Censorship, Indian Literature, Pirene’s Fountain, Poetry Salzburg Review, South Asian Ensemble, South Asian Review, The Stinging Fly and The Warwick Review. Kishore’s recent prizes include the winner of the Exiled Writers Ink Poetry Competition, UK (2014), the Pre-Raphaelite Poetry Prize, UK (2013) and highly commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Competition, Ireland (2015, 2014 & 2013). Her poetry has been part of international projects and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School syllabi. Winner of an Arts Council Award and a Culture Vannin Award, Kishore is the author of two poetry collections, On Manannan’s Isle and Night Sky between the Stars and a book of translation from the Sanskrit, Translations of the Divine Woman. Currently Kishore is co-editing Home Thoughts, a British Indian diasporic poetry anthology with the Calcutta academic, Jaydeep Sarangi. www.ushakishore.co.uk 202

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W. Jack Savage W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com). To date, more than fifty of Jack’s short stories and over four-hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California. Zev Torres Zev Torres’ is a writer and spoken word performer whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line publications, including Suisun Valley Review (2016), Palabras Luminosas, Great Weather for MEDIA’s anthology I Let Go of the Stars in My Hand, Nerve Lantern Issue 8, the summer, 2014 edition of The Linnet’s Wings and the 2010-2016 Brownstone Poets’ Anthologies. His poetry has also appeared in the May, 2016 Poetry Leaves exhibition in Waterford, Michigan. Since 2008 Zev has hosted Make Music New York’s annual Spoken Word Extravaganza, and in 2010 he founded the Skewered Syntax Poetry Crawls.

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Editorial Board Chief Editor Jose Varghese Jose Varghese is a bilingual writer/editor/translator from India. He is the founder and chief editor of Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts and Strands Publishers. He is the author of the books “Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems” and “Silent Woman and Other Stories”. His poems and short stories have appeared in journals/anthologies like The Salt Anthology of New Writing 2013 (UK), Unthology (UK), 10RED (UK), The River Muse (USA), Chandrabhaga (India), Kavya Bharati (India), Postcolonial Text (Canada), Muse India (India), Re-Markings (India), Dusun (Malaysia) and The Four Quarters Magazine (India). He was the winner of The River Muse 2013 Spring Poetry Contest, USA, a runner up in the Salt Flash Fiction Prize 2013, UK, a second prize winner in the Wordweavers Flash Fiction Prize 2012 and his poem was commended in Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize 2014. He has done research in Post-Colonial Fiction and is currently working on his first novel. He writes for Thresholds: The International Short Story Forum, Chichester University, UK and was a participating writer at Hyderabad Literary Festival 2012 and the 2014 Vienna International Conference on the Short Story in English.

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!

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Design/Layout Editor Mariam Henna Mariam Henna is currently pursuing her Masters in English at Manipal Centre of Philosophy and Humanities and is the chief editor of Chaicopy, an MCPH Literary Journal. Her works of fiction and travel have been published in Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Children’s Magazine and Trip Designers. The Brown Eyed Tales is her travel blog dedicated to penning down the random encounters that she has had while on the road. She hopes to become a teacher someday and inspire a curiosity for learning.

Review Editor Jude Gerald Lopez Jude Gerald Lopez is an aspiring writer who has finished working on his novel When Lines Blur (unpublished). He also writes short stories and poems and has been published in Efiction India magazine, Decades Review and previous editions of Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts. He maintains a blog and also contributes to publications on Medium.

Translation Editors Minu Varghese Minu Varghese is a bilingual writer and translator from India. Her MPhil dissertation was on the history plays of John Osborne and Bertolt Brecht. She has taught English Language and Literature in India from 1995 under various institutions of IHRD and is currently working as English Language Instructor in Jazan University, Saudi Arabia. She is the Malaylam translator of the Finnish children’s book (based on its English translation) ‘Simo and Sonia’ by Tiina and Sinikka Nopola, illustrated by Linda Bondestam (Sampark: Kolkata, 2014). She writes poems and short stories in English and Malayalam. Mohammad Zahid Mohammed Zahid’s first collection of poems is The Pheromone Trail, (Cyberwit, 2013). He has read his poems at Guntur International Poetry Festival 2012, and Hyderabad Literary Festivals (2010, 2013). He is featured in TIMESCAPES, a poetry collection of 22 Indian poets, by Unisun Publications and Reliance Timeout. His poetry has appeared in peer reviewed journals like The Four Quarters Magazine, Maulana Azad Journal of English Language & Literature of MANUU Hyderabad, and Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts. He won the Unisun Publications Reliance Timeout Poetry award in 2010 for his poem Amante Egare. 205

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His own poems in English language and poetry translations from Kashmiri and Urdu feature in Sheeraza, a journal from Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar, Kashmir. A major translation work by him on the criticism of Kashmiri poetry is being published shortly by the academy.

Visual Art Editor Shijo Varghese Shijo Varghese is a faculty member in the Department of English, Sacred Heart College, Thevara. He holds an M Phil Degree from Sree Sankara University, Kalady. He has his Master’s degree from University of Hyderabad and his Bachelor’s from Christ College, Bangalore. He is an aspiring writer and is interested in fine art and music too.

Photography Editor Collins Justine Peter Collins Justine Peter, a former BA Copy Editing student of SH College, is an aspiring writer with stories published in eFiction India and CLRI. He has won prizes in various photography and short-film competitions and has also contributed the cover image for the first issue of Lakeview. He is currently pursuing a postgraduate diploma course in Advertising and Marketing Communications in Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ontario.

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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 postcolonial 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

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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 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 208

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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 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 Englishlanguage 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 wasinternational writer-in-residence at the Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh) and visiting scholar at Harvard University. Sen’s criticallyacclaimed 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 209

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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: Post-Independence English Poetry by Indians, Midnight’s Grandchildren: Post-Independence 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 Gowri Nair Gowri Nair is a B.A English Copy Editor student at Sacred Heart College. She is familiar with the techniques of copy editing and proofreading and has good command over the English language. She is an also an active member of the Literary, Arts and Film club. She has sound knowledge of grammatical techniques and different forms of literature; fiction as well as non-fiction. She is also a member of the student-editor panel of the college newsletter- Heartbeats. She has participated in several essay and story writing competitions and has secured prizes. As the student-editor of the Lakeview magazine, she hopes to gain an educating work experience. Sanjay Sreenivas Sanjay Sreenivas is a college student, who is currently pursuing his degree in BA English Copy Editing, from Sacred Heart College, Kochi. He completed his high school education from Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ernakulam. At school, he was elected as the publication captain, responsible for the compilation of works for the library newsletter. He was also an active member of the readers club during his schooldays. At college, Sanjay manages the class blog and he is also a student editor of the college publication- ‘Heart Beats’. Being an ardent admirer of movies in general, he has attended several film festivals and has also directed three short films so far. Sanjay is also an intern for an online website (nettv4u.com) that builds a database on films and film professionals.

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Lijlafeb2017upload  

Chief Editor: Jose Varghese. Design/Layout Editor: Mariam Henna Noushad. This issue features works by Helen de Búrca, David Rose, Sukrita Pa...

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