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Vol.4, No.1 February 2016

LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts

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

Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College, Thevara


LAKEVIEW International Journal of Literature and Arts

Writers’ Forum Sacred Heart College, Thevara


Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts, Vol.4, No.1 February 2016 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, 2016 Graphic Design - Mariam Henna Page Settings - Mariam Henna Cover Artwork -John Antoine Labadie

Editorial Board Chief Editor - Jose Varghese Associate Editors - Aravind R Nair, Shijo Varghese Design/Layout Editor - Mariam Henna Review Editor - Jude Gerald Lopez Translation Editors - Minu Varghese, Mohammed Zahid Visual Art Editor - John Antoine Labadie 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

H

ere is one more Lakeview issue packed with well-chosen works that we believe are strong voices and statements in contemporary literature and arts. We would like to thank all our contributors and readers for being on our side through thick and thin.    When we started this journal, we had absolutely no idea that it would become a much sought after space for aspiring writers and artists. Though our small team struggles to keep up with the volume of work this brings in, we are ever grateful to all those who submit their high quality works to us. We have no choice but to expand now, and have added a few more young people to our editorial board. We now have Jude Gerald Lopez as the editor for the book/art/film review section, Mohammed Zahid and Minu Varghese as editors for the translation section and Collins Justine Peter as the editor for the photography section. Mariam Henna continues to be in charge of the design and layout section, and she will be available as a trainer for the new student editors as well. We hope the youthful energy we are filled with now will give us a wider range of choices. Since these editors are in close association with Lakeview from the beginning, I am sure that they can curate the kind of work we believe in.    A word of special thanks to two dear writers - Hanif Kureishi and George Szirtes, for allowing us to publish from their recent works. Both of them have been great sources of inspiration for us since the days we started working on the Lakeview project. We are overwhelmed by their support through these years and all we could say now is that they mean the world to us.    We hope to have a special feature on flash fiction in the August 2016 issue. A call for submissions for it and more information regarding the guest editor and what we expect from you will be updated on our website and social media space.    Dear readers, we hope you enjoy this issue. We will wait for your feedback, and keep working hard to bring out better crafted Lakeview issues in the coming years. Jose Varghese February 2016


In This Issue Hanif Kureishi (Short Fiction) The Woman Who Fainted

11-20

George Szirtes (Poetry) Ghostlight

21

Cyril Dabydeen (Poetry) Where Stones Have Eyes Welcoming Ravichandra P Chittampalli (Poetry) Fulcrum The Year of the Dragon Alexsandr Grigoriev (Visual Art) Matt Duggan (Poetry) When Winter Brings Me My Sickness Rehan Qayoom (Poetry) Upon Clifton Bridge… Advice I Should Have Known Michael Crossan (Short Fiction) Junkyard Jackets

22 23

24 24

25-29

30

31 32 32

33-36

Birgit Bunzel Linder (Poetry) Two Friends winter shoes

37 38

Martin Heavisides (Poetry) Variations on a Theme by Coldplay

39

Naina Dey (Poetry) The House

40

Francis Shepherd (Visual Art)

41-44

Michelle Cahill (Short Fiction) Letter to John Coetzee

45-48

Brian Johnstone (Poetry) An Execution

49

Ajise Vincent (Poetry) The Encounter

50

Ananya S Guha (Poetry) Dust

51

Sabine Meier (Short Fiction) Ingeborg’s Schloss

52-58


Amy Barry (Poetry) Silence In The Breeze

59

Mohammad Zahid (Poetry) Virtue of Sin Words

60 61

Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero (Visual Art)

62-66

AN Block (Short Fiction) The Same Mistake Twice

67-75

Wayne Hislop (Poetry) Holding back

76

Kev Milsom (Poetry) The Message

77

Kalathara Gopan Tr: Minu Varghese (Poetry) Laundry Roots

78-79 79

Wendy Shreve (Short Fiction) As the Wind Blows

80-85

Simon Williams (Poetry) Of Chairs Changming Yuan (Poetry) The Bird in the English Bay, Vancouver

86

87

Pradiptaa Chakraborty (Visual Art) Bini B.S. Lakshmi (Book Review) Architexture Of Flesh (Architecture of Flesh: poetry collection by Ra Sh)

88-91

92-95

Alan Halford (Poetry) The Elders are Dying.

96

Art Heifetz (Poetry) blue ice

97-98

Christopher S. Bell (Short Fiction) Family Dinner

99-106

María C. Domínguez (Poetry) Ode to nothings rehab

107 107

Meera Nair (Poetry) Love

108-109

Antonio Casella (Short Fiction) A Misfit in Heaven

110-114

Shirani Rajapakse (Poetry) Earth Song

115


Junaith Aboobaker Tr: Jose Varghese (Poetry) Ramani B.A. Little Guy

116 117

Poonam Chandrika Tyagi (Visual Art)

118-120

Mona Dash (Short Fiction) Inside the City Jude Gerald Lopez (Poetry) A Day or Two

121-127

128

Andrew J Keir (Short Fiction) Grand Prix

129-134

Sarah Sally Spear (Visual Art)

135-139

Bhanusree S Kumar (Poetry) The Flood and its Aftermath Lissy Jose (Short Fiction) A Wedding Memoir

140

141-143

Krishnapriya A.S (Poetry) Eternal Clarity Jude Gerald Lopez (Book Review) A Conversation between Images and Words (The End, Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings story collection ed. By Ashley Stokes)

144

145-151

Aswin Prasanth (Short Fiction) The Writer Who Lost His Pen

152-154

Rosemary Tom (Poetry) Snakes in my kitchen

155

Scott Ziegler (Visual Art)

156-160

List of Contributors

162-173

Editorial Board

174-181


Short Fiction|Hanif Kureishi The Woman Who Fainted

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uca said goodbye to the party host; he left the alcohol and his friends, took a last look back, almost waved, as if he were going into permanent exile, and went to find his coat with relief, but not without regret. Many of the most important people in his life – some he had known since he was eighteen and worked for a small theatre magazine – were laughing and drinking on comfortable sofas in that large room hung with modern paintings. Others were talking and smoking outside, on the balmy balcony overlooking the city. As it was a seventieth birthday party, a few of his friends had their grown-up children and even their grandchildren with them. Most of the people there, he thought, he would never see again.    But what more was there to say to such a group of successful actors, writers, directors, producers, designers, other critics? A number of acquaintances, knowing he had left regular employment more than five years ago, had asked what he was doing now. Earlier that evening, as he’d strolled to the party, Luca had worked out his story, replying to enquiries, ‘working, writing, thinking . . .’ It was easy to say, and soon his interlocutors were talking about themselves. What had disturbed him was that at least three people had failed to recognise him, not out of cruelty or even short-sightedness. It was worse than that: they had no idea who he was. He had made a simple mistake, one he swore he would never make again – he had aged.    The small cloakroom near the front door was almost dark except for a side light, and the pile of coats was considerable. Naturally, most of the coats were black. How would he find his own worn jacket? He began on the procedure of picking up each one, putting it to his eyes to examine the label, before dropping it to one side. It took a lot of time, but what was his time for, now?    He wasn’t keen to go home. He was a little drunk and the sight of his friends that evening had made him aware that he could do with some time to think about his future, such as it was. He would walk for a while; he loved to see the city at night in silence and semi-darkness, when the people didn’t obscure the buildings.    Outside the apartment, when the door to the small lift opened, he was surprised to see that it already contained a red-haired woman in her late thirties. Since they were on the top floor and she was bundled shivering into the corner holding her coat tightly around her, he assumed she’d been unable to get out at the ground floor. Perhaps she had been going up and down for some time.    ‘Are you okay?’ he said, stepping in and pressing the button. ‘Are you frightened?’ She nodded. ‘Did you drink too much?’ 11

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She said, ‘I might have.’    ‘Do you have any water?’ She shook her head. ‘I do – here. I’m Luca Frascati.’ She mumbled something. He cupped his ear and said, ‘Frida Scolari did you say?’    ‘Yes.’ He looked at her face more closely. She shielded her face. ‘Stop! Why are you staring at me like that?’    ‘Is your mother Cristina?’ She nodded. He asked, ‘Is she alive?’    ‘I hope so. Did you hear otherwise?’    ‘No. I’m just so relieved and glad to hear it,’ he said.    ‘Thank God, and thank you.’    ‘She lives in Paris.’    ‘She is fortunate, and a dear woman. She and I were close before you were born. And then . . . She was very – Well, I can’t say now . . . Frida!’    He saw that Frida was leaning her head back, her cheek on the mirrored glass of the wall. She had fainted; her knees were buckling, there was nothing for her to hold on to: she would fall.    Fortunately the lift bumped and stopped. He could now take her around the waist and, by one arm, pull her out, depositing her on a chair in the hall. He stood beside her as she sat there, lowering her head between her knees. When she sat up he passed her his bottle of water.    ‘I agree with your faint. It was traumatic in there,’ he said. ‘Colleagues, lovers, friends, enemies – they were all present, ageing, stumbling about, showing off, gasping for breath. I had to get out when I felt I was attending my own wake.’ She was flapping at her face with her hands. ‘Frida,’ he said, ‘I knew both your parents. You are the best thing to come out of that untidy commotion – of the party, I mean to say. Can I get you a taxi?’    She nodded and he hurried out into the street. The cab he found waited outside while he helped Frida out of the apartment block. In the taxi he sat close to her, to stop her swaying. She smelled of perfume and marijuana, and he was afraid she might be sick. When the cab stopped, fifteen minutes’ drive away, she continued to sit there, slumped. He paid the driver, went round and opened her door, and helped her into her building. He knew it would be difficult work getting her up the stairs, and he went behind her, in case she fell backwards. He did that, and she gave him her keys. While he fumbled with them, she thought it would be a good idea to sit on the ground. As he was in his late sixties it was quite an experience to get her to stand up. At last he opened the door and helped her in.    Her bed was wide; it was in the centre of the room, under a skylight which, he guessed, lying there, she liked to look through. But the room was small, and its shelves were packed with books and CDs. To one side there was a stove, a separate bathroom and, he thought, another small room, perhaps a study.    She lay down on the bed and seemed comfortable when he pulled 12

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a blanket over her. Though she was twitching a little, her eyes were closed; he thought she’d soon be asleep. It was disappointing, but he’d leave her his phone number and walk home.    He had turned away when she said, ‘I won’t be able to sleep. And I’m afraid I’ll disappear. There’s a bottle of vodka over there. Pour me some, please.’ She reached out to him, ‘Do you have something else to do now?’    ‘Me? No. Nothing. It’s late. All I look forward to, before sleeping, is a book.’    ‘The room is revolving, rather. If you left too soon, I’d be worried.’ She was now clutching at her mattress with outstretched arms. ‘I might go mad. I’m so grateful. You’re sweet. Are you as kind to everyone?’    ‘If they need me. But it’s you – you, Frida! I’m totally surprised and delighted.’    She said, ‘Luca, if you’re so nice, will you please say something – to help keep me grounded?’    ‘Yes, of course. You might find it hard to believe,’ he said, pulling up a chair and sitting down not far from her, ‘but there was a time when people were afraid of me. A couple of my sentences could knock you almost dead.’    ‘But why? What did you do?’    ‘I was a critic, you know. For ten years I was feared and powerful – until I was replaced by a younger man. The usual story. For the last twelve years I have taught a little, written a bit, and lived on more or less nothing. I wrote two books, one about the British writer Edward Bond, which no one read, and a lovely monograph on darkness in Visconti, which no one published. I will bring it to you tomorrow, if you want. As for my book on Beckett . . . You know I met him several times?’    There was a pause while Luca found two glasses and put the vodka on the table next to her. He poured for them both before sitting down again. He sipped the neat vodka and said, ‘An out-of-work critic is regarded rather like a myopic sniper: he can finally be hated for his necessary work. I noticed that people are still afraid to approach me. Or they won’t forget some longago grudge.’ There was a silence and he watched her move about restlessly, as if she were trying to refocus everything. He said, ‘Would it be okay if you told me a little about your mother?’   ‘What for?’    ‘I’d be most grateful for any news.’    ‘I’ll only tell you this.’ She sat up, looked about wildly, lay down again, and said, ‘Her husband the diplomat died two years ago.’    ‘I heard. I’m sure she is still quite a catch. She was beautiful. If only I could see her. Before I go to sleep I think of her often. What does she do?’    ‘She loves to eat and think about clothes, and read. And she—’    ‘I like that. You make it sound as if she has no worries at all. You must give me her email address.’ 13

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‘One day – when I feel better.’    ‘Does she ever mention me – Luca, Luca Frascati?’    Frida said, ‘I was taken to the party by a friend of my mother’s. I recognised people, but I don’t know them. Stupidly, I smoked something on the balcony, thinking it might make me laugh and approach people and join in more. It was too strong. My legs dissolved and my mind started turning over and over, and flashing like a shutter. It still is.’ She giggled. ‘But I can see pretty things.’ She sat up suddenly and said, ‘Anyway, why are you thinking of my mother? Tell me, what is your situation tonight? What would your wife say if she knew you were here with me?’    ‘What wife? Oh, Frida, I am living in the apartment of a ramshackle mad-haired woman I was together with for a month, years ago. She makes my flesh crawl and we never speak except to abuse one another. But I have a tiny pension, and sometimes I help a friend sell cheese in the market. The woman likes me to help with the bills, go shopping, and walk her dogs. She has had cancer of the liver for some time. Most of it has been removed, but it returns, as these things do. When she dies, her children will reclaim the house and I will have to leave. But where? I have nothing of my own. I could die alone. If you can believe it, we were a generation who didn’t believe in money, and, to be honest, I didn’t think I’d get to be this age.’    ‘You thought you’d just die?’    ‘Or be excused, somehow. Yes, you’re laughing. I should have laughed then, when I thought I had integrity. Beneath most people, you know – and this I’ve noticed recently – there is always an abyss, covered over with leaves and branches. But one day your foot goes through it, and you see you are one fatal step from eternity, a blink away from destitution . . .’    She shouted suddenly, ‘What the fuck is that?’    He stood up and looked around. ‘What? My eyesight is poor – is it an animal?’    ‘Is that yours?’    ‘Frida, what is it?’    ‘Look – there, there! You’ve put a hat on a bed! Are you kamikaze – that could kill us instantly.’    He snatched up his hat, put it on a table and smoothed it down. ‘Sorry, so sorry,’ he said.    She relaxed. ‘Don’t you know me either, Luca? I’m sure you saw me. I was an actress for years. I appeared in this and that for no money and didn’t get anywhere. But you look at me blankly. Oh dear. My mother also thought I was ridiculous and she gave me advice.’    ‘What did the dear woman say? She was always promiscuous, if you don’t mind me saying, with her advice.’    Frida said, ‘Even now, she said, women are defined by their men. She said I should marry a rich one while I still had the breasts for it.’ 14

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‘Did she like your breasts?’    ‘She complimented them, and was jealous.’ She giggled. ‘I think it was because I said I’d inherited them from my father.’    He said, ‘Did she take her own advice?’ There was a pause. ‘Frida?’ he said again.    She seemed to have fallen into a stupor. He sat there quietly for a bit, before getting up and taking a few steps into the other little room. He saw a couch, covered in clothes, and a little desk, piled with books and clothes. He caught a sudden movement in the room and was startled. It was himself in a mirror, a harried, almost haunted and probably mad old man in need of a haircut. When had he grown so plump? Looking away, he noticed there were some photographs in a pile; he picked them up, and was beginning to look through them when he heard her voice.    ‘Naturally, she didn’t think for a moment of taking her own advice,’ she was saying. ‘Who does? I remember she was completely preoccupied and mad for the grand diplomat. She batted his wife right out of the way until the poor woman went crazy. Mother wanted to travel and live here and there, and look at this and that, and photograph people in mud huts. And she did – at his expense.’    He came in and sat down again. ‘What was your rich man like?’    She laughed. ‘He had an accountancy firm, can you imagine. He was dull and he didn’t like to part with money. I wasn’t even sure he was a breast man, after all. To my credit, Luca, I scared the shit out of him. Often, at night, I wake up around three, you know. I hate that hour but am usually around to see it. And I’d be screaming, terrified that I was being chased by an axeman. He’d jump right out of bed and leave the room. Then he left the country. He wanted a woman to admire him, he wasn’t interested in being a saint or a psychiatrist. Soon he’d had enough. I was back on my own.’    Luca leaned forward in his chair. ‘But why would you wake up screaming like that, dear girl? What has happened to you?’    She was sitting up now, and fumbling in a side drawer. She began to roll a joint.    He went on, ‘Your father I remember well. I was just finishing with your mother when he came on the scene. He was big then with huge black hair and manic energy, drinking, smoking, sweating, spitting everywhere, addressing massive student meetings, making speeches, running his paper. I must have some copies at home.    ‘Frida, look at me, please. Don’t you remember me at all?’ Luca said. ‘Your parents eventually lived together in a big communal house, and I was upstairs. We sat around night after night discussing society, revolution and the family, and your dad said we should share the children around. Of course, this was a way for him to do nothing himself. You were supposed to be communal property, and we would bring you up together – all of us, friends, comrades, sisters. That’s what we 15

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believed then. We dismiss the fundamentalists of today, but it makes me laugh even more to think I was once a Maoist – one who always had to confess he loved the highest art!’ He leaned towards her and said confidentially, ‘As I get older, my contempt for all that increases. Don’t be offended – I only mean contempt for what we were. Your father wanted us to support the Cultural Revolution.’    ‘And did you?’    ‘Yes, kill the bourgeoisie – the bourgeoisie who were our own parents! We were authoritarian in the name of liberty! Before the anarchy of paradise there would be discipline! The sheer stupidity was absurd. Shelley calls it “serious folly”.    ‘Cristina preferred your father to me. He had certainty and strong desire. He was a rabble-rouser and, as you know, the rabble are easily aroused. Look at me, I lack confidence, I’m terrified of the slightest thing. I was only a liberal critic, and so I let her go. You can only catch the other by the libido. And for reasons I forget, I didn’t believe you could make claims on people.’    ‘So – what happened? Where did you go?’    ‘The commune broke up and we dispersed to different places in the neighbourhood. Did you know that for two years, because I worked in the evenings, I looked after you as a child, while your mother worked as a journalist and your dad was doing more important things? I took you to school on my shoulders, we went to the park, we played together for hours, and I fed and bathed you at my place. There must be photographs of us together somewhere.’ He sat quietly for a moment. ‘I remember when you wanted a watch. I couldn’t say no to you. We went to a shop and spent all my money on it. Then you went back to your parents. You wanted them.    ‘But your dad had a lot of women around, as radical political figures tend to, you probably know that. Then they both moved away. I was dumped, as if my relationship with you had been nothing. I believed in it; I’d helped bring you up. I was ready to be a parent.    ‘You’ve forgotten me. It’s all gone. There’s no reason why you would remember.’ He got up and fetched her an ashtray. She offered him the joint but he shook his head. He poured himself another drink. ‘Perhaps I should go.’    ‘Will you go back to the party? There’ll be alcohol there.’    ‘Some of those people I absolutely loathe.’    She laughed. ‘But you said they’re your friends.’    ‘They are my only friends, though I never see them now.’    ‘You must envy them.’    ‘Dear girl, at times tonight I was almost levitating with envy as I contemplated their houses, their furniture, their country places. Some of them made millions from the theatre and cinema – they had taken such good care of themselves.’ He was silent, before saying, ‘Do you have that address?’ 16

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She drew on her joint. ‘Sorry, what are you talking about?’    ‘Your mother. I am available to go to Paris to visit her. Perhaps this weekend—’    Frida said, ‘You’re not in touch with her, yet you still like her that much?’    ‘I knew her for a long time – and I was with her for two years, on and off. I took her to the theatre and movies when I received tickets. She began to love the opera. She had always been political, of course, and she had a lot of nerve. One night, I was watching TV, and suddenly she blazed onto some show or other, arguing with a revered church father, giving him a roasting which must have reminded him of a premature hell.’    ‘She’s quieter now.’    ‘Naturally. I made her cultured when she became bored by the vapid political struggle and the hippy Marxism. She wanted to grow up, read women writers and think for herself. I gave her books – I made her subtle.’    ‘Subtle! If she actually came into the room now, you’d be terrified.’    ‘Why do you say that?’    ‘She would swing about grandly, looking at everything, and ask, “What do you actually have to offer now, Luca?”’    Frida poured herself another drink. He shook his head. ‘I remember her as more humble. Cristina said to me, “I’ll never know anything, Luca.” But I watched her grow, Frida.’    ‘With or without you, she was certainly intending to grow, Luca,’ said Frida. ‘My father died and my sister and I had to settle down and adore her, always telling her how magnificent and competent she was. From her side, she thought we should just get up and get on with things. Why would we not become successful people? She was capable of great love – with a man. She believes she deserves everything. I dream she is a tower, or sometimes a giraffe, looking down on ugly us. She crushed us without knowing it. By the time I was fourteen I wasn’t living at home . . .’ She went on, ‘After the diplomat died Mother grew sick of galleries and lunches with the other less-than-merry widows. She began to go to Africa or Asia or Eastern Europe to write reports on raped women. She is even more irreproachable now.’ ‘But I can still talk a little,’ he said.    ‘The last thing she wants to hear about are the old days.’    He poured himself the rest of the vodka, dropped the bottle in the bin and said, ‘She knows how much I know. She respected my ideas.’   ‘What ideas?’   ‘About theatre.’    ‘They’ll be out of date.’    He said, ‘My humour will get through to her.’    There was a silence. He noticed Frida was looking at him. ‘What is it?’ 17

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‘I’ve been observing you.’    ‘You must be feeling better, my dear.’    ‘But are you?’    ‘What do you mean?’    ‘You’re biting your nails and making faces. Your body won’t keep still. Try now – try and be static.’    ‘Surely I am tranquil. I’m almost a dead man.’    ‘Now, look – your knee’s jiggling.’    ‘To hell with my knee, I’m bored,’ he said. He stood up abruptly and sat down again. ‘I wake up bored. It’s unbearable to have no place or point anywhere. Boredom is my cancer; it’s killing me. “He died of boredom” – scrawl it on my gravestone.’    ‘Let me tell you something, Luca,’ she said. ‘Your anger is preventing you thinking what to do. You should meditate.’    ‘I must? Do not mock me,’ he said. ‘Haven’t I tried to be kind tonight?’    ‘You must meet me on Friday morning at nine. I will give you a free lesson. When you realise you enjoy it, you can sign on with me. Meditation helps with difficult things like anxiety and fear. Believe me, you will feel calm.’    ‘How can it be a solution to sit and do nothing? I already do that! Your mother would never recommend anything so ridiculous. She was full of ideas.’    ‘Remember, I am not a telephone to her. I was always a bigger fan of my father’s suicidal extremity.’   ‘You were?’    ‘Mother rightly called Father “insurrectionary”. Don’t we need trouble-makers and tribunes of the proletariat? It shows greatness to protect the poor and exploited! You rant and choose to be offended rather than hear me.’    ‘Hear your nonsense?’ He got up and gestured at the room. ‘Look at this place—’    ‘What’s wrong with it?’    ‘It’s untidy, it’s even dirty. There is ash and candle wax here. Your clothes are on the floor, the glasses are dirty and the bins are unemptied. You, from your decent family, can barely care for yourself. And don’t you think I’m sick of fatuous ideas? Do you not have the ability to do anything to alleviate your condition?’    ‘Like give you my mother’s email address?’    ‘I understand now that it is an enviable talent, almost a kind of genius, to find a good partner. You and I – we haven’t achieved good marriages. Or even children, and certainly not financial stability. We are just clinging on. This is the new Europe: democracy, religion, culture – it could easily be knocked out again. All of us are on the razor’s edge. The country has collapsed. Soon it will be the Muslims or the Chinese who will rule us – 18

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anyone who really believes, anyone with a passionate intensity. Your father – he fought, he believed.’    ‘You look anguished.’    ‘He had an authoritarian state of mind. He was unshakeable. It’s commendable and mad. It—’    ‘Shut up,’ she said. ‘Just don’t bother to say anything about my father . . .’    He opened his mouth. She got up, wobbled a little on her feet, gathered herself together, took a step forward – and slapped him.    After a time he said, ‘Will you tell your mother that you struck me?’    ‘I don’t speak to her.’ She sat down again. ‘I haven’t spoken to her for months and won’t again until she gets in touch, and who knows when that will be. When the time comes I will ask her about you, yes.’ She went on, ‘I failed. I failed at my chosen thing. I failed for a long time. Failure was good for me. I found something else. I have begun to teach acting and Shakespeare to schoolchildren.’    ‘Do they understand it?’    ‘I’m a pessimistic optimist,’ she said. ‘I try to give people a vocabulary, a language, to express what they need to say. I love it. I enjoy it more than anything. What do you love? What do you love to do? Really, it’s the only question.’ She shook her fist. ‘My thirties have been a bit shaky. But my forties will be a riot.’    He was still rubbing his face. ‘I’ll come to the meditation on Friday. I’m sure it will help,’ he said. ‘Do you use your spare room for the class?’    She opened her drawer and handed him a card. ‘No, why do you ask? Here’s the address.’    He put it in his pocket. ‘Thank you. But tell me, are you renting that spare room?’    ‘It’s hardly a room,’ she said. ‘You had a good look in there.’    ‘I could help you with the rent. I’ve served culture, in my way – I could put your books in alphabetical order. I’ll look after you again, Frida,’ he said.    ‘It would be nice to have company. But I think I might get a cat.’ She sighed and said, ‘Don’t worry, Luca, there will be other paradises.’    ‘Don’t be ridiculous, why would there be?’    She stood up and opened the curtains. The light was coming up. He got up and stood beside her. Together they looked into the park opposite.    ‘They’ll be opening the park soon,’ she said. ‘Will you walk across it? I’ll wave to you.’    ‘Okay,’ he said, putting on his hat and coat. ‘I’ll do that. Goodbye.’    As he walked across the park, he was determined not to turn and look back because she wouldn’t be there to wave. No one was sincere; and, anyway, he couldn’t possibly have anything she wanted. But, at the exit, he did stop and turn. He thought he should; it would soon be time to face important things. And she was there because she knew he 19

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would turn. She was standing, doing her breathing exercises, he guessed. And before he went away, he waved back. (The story first appeared in a collection of stories and essays by Hanif Kureishi titled Love+Hate, London: Faber, 2015. Published here with the author’s permission).

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Poetry|George Szirtes Ghostlight Early morning. Light hesitant. Under the door a thin strip of it waiting to enter the room like a ghost, stealthy, dressed in its faint grey shift, drifting between times of day, as if morning remained unsettled. Where are we going with ourselves? What are the hours to be completed before we can wake into ourselves? Something comes between the morning and its conclusions. Our eyes are half closed, awake but unreceptive. Are the ghosts prepared for revelations? Will they tell us everything? Is any day new to itself, unhaunted, clear about its future? Are the ghosts angry? Are they settled to their fate of mere hovering? Something welcomes day and all its ghosts, opens doors and lets light stroll in.

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Poetry|Cyril Dabydeen Where Stones Have Eyes It’s the way of a river coming down a mountain I’ve come to discover Water hyacinth with foliage that curls, but it’s something else Eyes looking back up, being more than a refraction of light From the stars, what the senses must cope with, I say The sun’s shadow I will think about again, beng at a tangent And seeing fish on dry land elevating themselves, aiming For the horizon: what I come to grips with at the water’s edge Dipping my finger in, what’s way down-eyes looking back up

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Welcoming We’ve left them behind, the stark wind, trees with arms that sprawl In a dreamer’s maze as I call out to the owl, and a hoot echoes back Taking the lake by surprise; a loon quickly goes under, and what else do I know? Water mirroring worlds, spruce and pine, shadows being everywhere What I never really knew much about before, being in a canoe And moving quickly. Cold, cold, underwater, looking down, then up In darkness, it seems, what’s congealed-in one place only Laughter in the eyebrows; a halo I will come to grips with next What really lights up: the rainbow being all I will care about In the North-a song of wind and welcoming

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Poetry|Ravichandra P Chittampalli Fulcrum Unyielding, obstinate The crow pecked away At the carcass Till wheels rushed over. The fish pouts As the worm wiggles Beyond reach Then the darter dove. A little drizzle Scared the monkey Up the palm tree Lightening set ablaze. He dreamt Of dawn’s break Upon the flamingo’s wing The eye forgot to see.

The Year of the Dragon Birth: Then I saw the streets festooned End to end in blobs of blood. A visceral ushering of the great beast Could not be otherwise than what mocked The tide of mandarins flooding the streets. Plucked innocence, incubated for weeks In all its verdurant youth, as the twitch Grew in impatience, snorting, waiting For the skin to turn true and the meat Mature to a full sweetness, fails. The hour is at hand when the need To inject what infects the living And festers from within grows strong. Beyond the whistling thrush’s complaint Waits the birth, the mocking dragon Or is it a mangy lion? 24

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Visual Art|Alexsandr Grigoriev

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Oil Painting

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Visual Art|Alexsandr Grigoriev

Fisherman Oil Painting

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Visual Art|Alexsandr Grigoriev

Code Systems Oil Painting

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Visual Art|Alexsandr Grigoriev

Five

Pencil on Paper

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Visual Art|Alexsandr Grigoriev

Five

Pencil on Paper

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Poetry|Matt Duggan When Winter Brings Me My Sickness When the smell of lavender no longer drifts in the garden pavements are amber matted carpets of dead leaves, sky loses its vibrant colours as Winter begins to breathe. Moored in dystopian skylines I feel that winter will bring me my sickness; On days where moods like to hide in the spaces of silver breaths, waiting like an expectant bride beneath ashes of unnecessary confetti. When winter brings me my sickness, I will sleep with the bones of isolation naked under flickering candlestick, a muted and self-exiled alienation; When winter brings me my sickness.

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Poetry|Rehan Qayoom Poems Adapted After Parveen Shakir Upon Clifton Bridge … I have said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. William Wordsworth. Preface to Lyrical Ballads. 1801, 1802.

Clifton Bridge Well-travelled by the city Elite Upon which the high and mighty Traffic Policemen Are seen to perform their duties Around the clock Including, 6 or 7 undercover Not even an unconcerned bird may flit its wings around them! I saw her! In a deep ochre Gold sequined dress Every fold aligned! Her Lipstick so dark That my eyes were drenched in it Her Foundation dripping in the mid-May sun Seemed to say No amount of money can buy this* Her face caked by the smoke of a cigarette Stuck between her fingers drowned in clear blue Nail Polish-drowned fingers With those captivating glances and such gesticulations She could easily have been arrested by the Police under Clause 294 Parked at the Traffic Signal I thought Any time now, this PC will hand over an arrest warrant To this heroine of one of Minto’s novels But before he could Book her A car with a navy-blue Number Plate Parked up And she disappeared into it Along with her Clause 294 persona While the plain-clothed P. C. Stood aghast! *Literally ‘Wealth and beauty do not see eye to eye’. 31

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Advice Our love has died its clinical death! How much longer can this fake respirator Of excuses and diversions Keep it alive It is better To switch off the plugs of our hypocrisy And let a beautiful emotion die in dignity!

I Should Have Known We met When the snows were melting from the mountain-tops When the cherry-tree’s first buds were in bloom The entire park heralded the coming of spring with its sweet fragrance The nightingale had just begun to sing We strolled Arm in arm In cherry blossom-strewn streets Catching at butterflies and glow-worms until The rain came to join us Like a dear friend The day the first leaf fell from the trees I bent down to pick it up Turned around Saw you were gone! Now I collect my tears in broken leaf-images I should have known our time together Was to last As long as spring did!

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Short Fiction|Michael Crossan Junkyard Jackets

R

uth breathed on her bedroom window. Scratched boo with a fingertip. She watched the Good Shepherd Centre’s gardens. Mist silvered the willow trees. Old scrub sat thin on black banks. Fog rug paths spiralled and narrowed and led to the gateway. She liked a fog fall. Hideplace air. Far eastward, streetlamps haze twinkled. A fairy migration, Ruth thought.    To the north, amber lights on Erskine Bridge’s cables blinked in a dull sky.    Grace entered the room. She walked to the window and stood beside Ruth and fidgeted with her zipper collar. ‘I had a bad dream,’ she said.    ‘Tell me.’ Ruth watched the bridge, a slim steel mantis over the river.    ‘It was spooky.’ Arms folded, Grace rested her cheek on Ruth’s shoulder. ‘You were in hospital. I wanted to visit. A stairway led up to the building. I was stuck on the steps. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t move. People stared from the windows. They looked scared. Like they knew I could never reach them. Then I saw it was you and me. Every window. I woke crying.’   ‘Dreams suck.’    ‘It shat me.’    ‘Poor babes.’ Ruth cuddled her friend. ‘Let’s go. While it’s quiet.’    A portal cabin at the gate, a bald watchman opened the door. ‘Jackets, ladies.’    ‘Hat, mister,’ Grace said.    ‘My skull’s immune to the cold.’    ‘Doubt it. It’s red as a prick,’ Ruth said.    ‘Cheeky witch. Hope it pours.’    ‘Wicked man.’ Grace wagged a finger. ‘You’ll fry in hell.’    The watchman swiped and caught a moth. He crushed it and dropped it powdery. ‘Vermin,’ he said, and slapped his thigh and loped into the cabin and shut the door.    Saturday nights, boy racers parked near the gate revving souped Fords. Funland cabs. Prize seats for hug-famished girls. Today was Sunday. The road was empty and crumbly and damp. Ruth and Grace linked arms and walked toward the town.    ‘How was Millport?’ Grace asked.    ‘Good. We hired bikes. Stayed overnight at the hotel. Aunt Flo was quiet.’    ‘She’s a worrier.’    ‘I’m her worry.’ 33

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‘Might be planning a party for your sixteenth.’    ‘Do you know something I don’t?’   ‘Guessing.’    ‘I had a party once,’ Ruth said, sniffing. ‘I was four or five. Cousins were there. I had balloons.’    ‘Nutter doesn’t remember my birthdays. Not one.’    ‘She’s sick, Grace. Schizophrenia is a disease. I think.’    ‘She’s the disease.’    ‘At least you met her.’    ‘She didn’t know me. Her own daughter. I don’t belong to anyone.’    Town centre, a tarmac piazza, four teenage boys played footie with a cola can. The girls passed and play stalled. A lank hoodie sat on a graffiti carved bench. ‘They’re from the home,’ he said, pointing at the girls.    His beak face pal yelled, ‘Taking your fleas for a walk?’    Ruth squeezed Grace and moved quickstep. ‘Ignore him, babes.’ Hoodie prowled behind them. ‘Brollies, crawlies. It might rain. You’ll get a wash.’    Beak high-fived hoodie. ‘Muck necks. Remember soap.’    Grace yanked Ruth and jogged and shouted, ‘Inbreeds,’ and her shiny hair flew wild.    Up a cobbled lane they rested outside a kebab shop. Pungent aromas flung their bellies. Ruth foraged a cigarette from her zipper pocket. Flicked a Bic lighter. She inhaled and her face wore orange and smoke poured from her nose.    ‘Last one?’ Grace asked.    Ruth nodded. ‘Share it.’    They smoked in turns, keen drags, passing the cig. Grace took a last take and tossed the butt. ‘Wish we had money for a kebab,’ she said.   ‘Mushroom pakora.’   ‘Chicken wings.’    ‘Stop it, Grace.’    A man exited the shop carrying a family meal box. He dragged his eyes and farted and jolly-trot into a four by four. The fat wheeled guzzler pulled away, the man eyeballing Ruth, bloat with revulsion.    Grace kicked the curb. ‘He’s a stink.’    ‘Pigs arse shite.’    ‘Wonder if he has a daughter.’   ‘Daddy’s girl.’    ‘I was a baby once.’ Grace spat on the gutter. ‘Funny that.’    On the main road a church service had ended. The congregation mobbed the square. The girls fused into the flock, red and lime zippers loud in a beige spill.    ‘Excuse me, darling.’ The elder lady poked Ruth’s arm, her face flush and dry. ‘Have you seen my Malcolm?’    ‘I don’t know him.’    Pencilled eyebrows danced. ‘He’s an inspector.’ 34

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‘Sorry.’ Ruth shrugged. ‘Maybe he’s in the church.’    ‘Don’t be a plum. Malcolm hates church.’    ‘Are you all right, Mrs?’ Grace asked. ‘Shall I get the priest?’    ‘Mother.’ A neat man cut between the girls. ‘Can’t leave you for a second.’    ‘She’s looking for Malcolm,’ Ruth said.   ‘Hmm.’    ‘They’re angels, Malcolm.’    The man led his mother to a car and turned and saluted the girls. Stiff middle finger.    Elbows looped, they weaved out of the crowd.    ‘She was sweet,’ Ruth said.   ‘Ditty.’   ‘Ditty sweet.’    ‘Oldies are nice.’   ‘He stunk.’   ‘Turd.’    ‘Pigs arse shite.’    Deeper along the road the wind lifted and Grace hard-snug against Ruth. A sign read half a mile to the dual carriageway. Traffic picked up. Cars and vans and trucks moaned past. Exhausts spewed smoke and the girls sour tasted it and rush walked. On the grass embankment, Ruth folded and retched.    Grace spanked her spine. ‘You should have eaten something.’    On her knees, Ruth puked a fizz pool. Another vomit, slime strings swung from her mouth. ‘I’m done,’ she said, and sleeved her chin.    Grace touched her hair. ‘Feel better?’    ‘Much. That was grotty. I nearly fainted.’    ‘Maybe we should wait.’    ‘It’s nothing to do with that. You were right. We should have had lunch.’    ‘I couldn’t. I felt weird all day. Hungry now though.’    ‘Me too. I’d kiss a shit for a fish supper.’    ‘Freak. You grog your guts, now you could eat a whale.’    ‘Mental, isn’t it.’    Zippers shut to the throat, they strolled on, teary cold. Rain tapped and died. A crow squealed. They glanced at each other and shied away, silent fixed on the path. Near the bridge a van slowed and parked on a moss bank. The girls saw a man adjust his side mirror.    ‘Here we go.’ Ruth nudged and tugged. ‘Paedo patrol.’    The door window rolled down. ‘You lassies hitching?’    ‘No thanks,’ Grace said.    ‘Anywhere you want.’    Ruth crunched her face. ‘We’re out for a walk on the bridge.’    ‘I can run you.’    ‘It’s right there.’ 35

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‘I can run you.’    Arms locked, they ran up the embankment. Ruth looked back. ‘Wonder if it has a daughter.’    Stairs led to the bridge’s slabbed walkway. ‘Last one up’s a fart.’ Grace took the steps nimble as a foal. ‘I can taste the sea.’    A truck grumped past. Ruth flagged a hand at her ear. ‘What?’    ‘The sea. Taste it.’    ‘I love that.’    They dallied along the footpath. Midway over they leaned on the chest-high railing. Below, black waters rose and clapped and fell. ‘Choppy, isn’t it.’ Ruth spat and watched the spit fall. ‘It’s not the sea. It’s a river.’    ‘Smells like shells.’    ‘Maybe it is the sea.’ On a brown horizon, Ruth saw the Campsies. Ancient earthrise. Bales of cloud on hilltops. Peaks dark lost in sky. Her watch kept there. ‘Grace,’ she said.   ‘What.’    ‘Do you believe aunt Flo is planning a party?’    ‘Swear I do. Probably sorted it weeks ago.’    ‘Thanks, babes.’ Ruth climbed the rail.    Grace scrambled over and stood beside her tiptoed on a girder. Vehicle’s slowed and horns blared. The girls held hands and bowed to the big water.    ‘Do you think God is real?’ Grace asked.    ‘There’s a Devil.’ Ruth squeezed her friend’s hand. ‘We know that.’   ‘Mr Stink.’   ‘Old shitster.’    ‘Pigs arse shite.’    They stepped into slappy air and Ruth shouted, ‘So there must be a God.’

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Poetry|Birgit Bunzel Linder Two Friends Two friends accustomed to solitude encounter each other for the first time. Unyielding looks eased from the ground, meeting with the incisiveness of the Other, One with the feverish glow of the hunted animal, the other with the arduous intensity of deepest anchoring. Under the early morning moon panic and meekness feel for each other, born of mother and of earth in the haunt of tears, sweat, and blood. One still beholds morning stars at the transfigured horizon of time. The other harkens the voices at the threshold of world and netherworld. Pale, tired, they ease into high grass. Deep and wide, breathing in and out. The more profound perception grows, the more reticent their Being becomes. Now and then, however, crow and oriole hear the unencumbered laughter of one become the other’s agonizing lament. And when the early morning moon quietly bows to the sun’s greedy glow, what to some is reason for grace to others becomes guilt alone.

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winter shoes a fresh white snow shrouds pale and fallow fields where long ago there lay a no-man’s-land. still here and there, the wind whisks latent leaves off frozen branches, and frozen berries sink deep into the future that awaits. the snow has bleached the old and faded blood of wars that unfurled borders and gave in to lands of boundlessness that sprawl right here. and when the swelling mist in sudden haste uplifts, we see the tracks of worn out shoes that sought our refuge, freezing tears of those who long have known how soon these tracks that mark a fear… a hope… a fear… will melt away. an egret stands white and still in the snow: let us, too, not be hunted anymore.

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Poetry|Martin Heavisides Variations on a Theme by Coldplay I sweep the streets I used to own I used to own in dreams at least In dreams at least as real as life As real as life I used to own I used to own a bar of gold A bar of gold plate over steel Plate over steel the city web The city web of streets I sweep Of streets I sweep there are no end There are no end of sites to build Of sites to build in shape of tombs In shape of tombs a half mile high A half mile high the vines creep up The vines creep up athirst for sun Athirst for sun wreathe garden tombs Wreathe garden tombs where creatures graze Where creatures graze that are not us That are not us who used to own

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Poetry|Naina Dey The House The house might have stood there For years, ages Their garden of Eden She prayed before the shrine Wet-haired, fasting And made banana pats. He sat before the T.V. Watched cricket, and giggled at comedy shows. Till it was time to go The husband after the wife A year between each other. The place where they stood, prayed, ate and slept Flattened to the ground Only the wall of a privy standing Rubble underfoot Three dusty cars in a corner conspiring A narrow strip of endless void cribbed by concrete blocks A house and inmates flushed down the dark hole of Time Save the plantains and the guava tree.

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Visual Art|Francis Shepherd

Bulb Mazes Digital

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Visual Art|Francis Shepherd

Fin Lake Lillies Digital

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Visual Art|Francis Shepherd

Museum Mirror Reflection Digital

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Visual Art|Francis Shepherd

Intersecting Waves Digital

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Short Fiction|Michelle Cahill Letter to John Coetzee Dear John, Thank you for your letter. I read it rapaciously, relieved to know that you consider me real, quite beyond the figure of another man’s fantasies, and not merely a lascivious incident in your novel.    I scarcely know where to begin if not in Blake’s ‘Garden of Love’ that was once a patch of hollyhocks, larkspur with honeysuckle and a grassy knoll to lie down upon with my innamorato, or else to dig a hole. But now there is a church and a graveyard; the doors to heaven’s stairways are bolted for those of us who transgress. I have been confined to lingering in the shrubbery for so long, furtive as any outcast that I barely know what is left in my heart and what was drowned long ago in the sea of memory.    Nothing has brought more comfort to me than reading your books, though I should venture to say they perplex me in equal measure. For they speak a strange, premeditated language, carried by swirling fluxes and undercurrents in which narration and character drift beyond precincts of decorum and are driven into each other’s arms. You predicted this complicity as inevitable, signified in language in your tender panegyric to Mr Daniel Defoe, “He and his Man.” (I was spellbound by this allegory of pronouns!) It inspired me to take the pen in my hand and address you as subject, as author of my own desires, anxieties and caprices. Admittedly, there have been times when I felt captive, akin to the foreign ducks lured into fens and caught by the decoy men of Lincolnshire. I have felt like one of those whom you describe as ‘guests’, and whom Defoe described as ‘hostage’ ducks, snatched from the sweep of narrowing nets, battered then plucked and sold by the hundred.    Forgive my complaints, the quivering intimacy of my tone. I expect you are surprised at receiving my reply so soon—within the week, I admit, is embarrassingly keen. It is a flaw of mine to over-personalise my correspondence with men, regardless of their age, their station in life or the colour of their skin. I can’t account with certainty for the cause of this blemish; this seductive hubris, except to speculate that an insecurity of belonging to a sex governed by natural laws, by social institutions, and a history that has been oppressed for generations, leaves me at risk of overshooting the mark. Women who flirt with authority are stigmatised for being unbalanced. This marginality, I feel, you overlooked, having put up for distinction the power of my youth, the brazen talent of my sex as a woman of colour in your portrayal of David’s ultimate disgrace, and of his daughter, Lucy’s, humiliating slavery. But you, more than any 45

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other man, must know that I am well-intentioned, and if the coverings of my soul were removed to reveal me naked, that I shiver for whom I love.    None of which answers your concerns. It is kind of you to inquire about my welfare. Be assured that I carry on, fearlessly. I am no longer as you found me, but not far from where you left me after dallying with my story seven or eight years ago in Cape Town. Do you remember our rendezvous in that guest house in Rosebank, where you asked me to detail extensively the particulars of the affair? We had met fleetingly at a conference, as I recall, some days prior. You hardly spoke a word, quite absorbed, whereas foolishly, I raved for hours, selfishly, obsessively. I knew you as the brilliant, eminent author, no less, but I was madly in love. That was my folly. I fell for David Lurie as you imply, with transient observations which read like glimmers of light in certain paragraphs. How well you observed my arm floating in bliss, my unexpected tears, my post-coital questions, my hankering to live after him. But dare I say, the amorous prose, the erotic chapters and individual sentences are precisely suited to your own fictional procedures. (And even possibly your erotic intent— for is it not more exciting for the unattainable Other to be enervated? Does it not pose a greater challenge, while assembling for the protagonist a spectacular demise?)    What is the charm of misogyny? Why does a woman tremble and allow herself to be ruined by a man? What causes the misogynist to be revered as if he were a god? (Like the God described by Mr Foe, who writes the world into existence with one unfinished word!) These are my questions—the ones I wished you had answered for me. The David Lurie I knew was not as you invented. He was not a martyr to unshakeable personal truths, yet you render vividly his innermost thoughts, his doubts and insecurities, persuading readers to sympathise with his downfall. By your account I am nothing but his object. But what of my feelings, my loss? After my boyfriend, Matt officially complained, the University summoned David for inquiry. But they retained him because he denied the allegations I had been forced to sign. Matt and I broke up because I couldn’t enjoy being intimate with him any longer. Though I worried sick about losing him, it became too much of a strain. It may surprise you to learn that David and I were lovers for another two years. A slow burning flame coupled us as casual strangers but never once did I avert my eyes, surrender or turn from him without delight. The body speaks of ecstasy with its own tongue which cannot be edited by authors or narrators, nor cut from the mouths of slaves.    Even to this day David’s work prospers. As far as I know he still lives in Torrance Road in view of Table Mountain. It is true that the shanty settlements have spread across rivers, railways, scrubland and the highway into Cape Town. It is true that the violence Lucy suffered was horrendous, but she pressed charges. With media support, the public sympathised with her, a white victim subjected to a brutal farm attack. 46

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The black men who raped her attracted pejorative stereotypes of racial criminality. They were arrested, trailed and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment. Two of them committed suicide in custody. Lucy didn’t need to surrender her property or marry Petrus for protection. What you chose to elaborate in David and what you altered in his life became a kind of atonement for me because the very heart of our story was extinguished. It vanished into exile. Like Cruso’s island, perhaps it lacked the contrast of sufficient light and darkness to serve as more than a subplot for your design. But what justice can a coloured girl expect in Cape Town, that last bastion of apartheid? What a curse it is to be seeded into oblivion by mixed ancestry, to be forever banished, eternally damned, dispossessed by history, driven from the pure lineages of white and black!    I gave up drama, having at best secured for myself minor parts, though I like to dress with style. I have the soul of a poet, if not the craft, which is why I had enrolled in Romantic Poetry. These days I am renting a flat in George and waitressing part-time to support my writing. It would please you to know that I have not succumbed to drugs or alcohol, though I keep a journal most evenings. I would very much like to see you should you happen to pass through Cape Town. My confidence has been frayed by disappointment; the glimpse of paradise, of what was lost. Meaning Eros, of course—that god who may never return to my arms. (Such emptiness cannot be filled even with double narratives!) Mostly, I make do with mediocre lovers to satisfy the body’s needs. Sometimes pornography does the job. I don’t wish to sound like an ingénue or a victim for the bitter truth I’ve learned to swallow is that a young woman’s sexual power is ephemeral. Men slay their Muses, in order to survive, sealing the betrayal with a kiss.    But this is no secret or special knowledge. My guess is that you discerned the inner workings of my psyche, preferring concealment. We are strangers in the flesh after all—having scarcely met twice. I wonder do you notice a change in my voice? Physically, I am much the same, then as now: petite, pretty: Melanie, Mélani, my sartorial preferences unswerving. As I write, I am dressed in a white bustier and a blue crushed velvet mini skirt accessorised by yellow hoop earrings. Perhaps I have reached a measure of sophistication after reading, having studied the masters. (Why did you mask my desire? Of course I was cautious, wary of cheating on my boyfriend, afraid of falling for a greying white academic. But despite my age, between us a true passion overcame the instinct to hunt or procreate. As for internal monologues: have you any idea how much it hurt when you recast David into the fictional mould of Humbert Humbert, musing upon the ‘meretricious rhyme’ of my name as Nabokov flirts with designations for Lolita such as ‘Dolores’, ‘Lo’, ‘Dolly’ and who knows what other melodious sobriquet! Yet surely it is with naming and labelling that language colonises its marginal characters?) Consider how it feels when a woman’s happiness depends on a man — 47

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the very centre of her universe, its gravity so extreme that the shape of her destiny and all its meteoric collisions thereafter are determined for what might be eternity. That is love’s charge. Does love not sit with the claims of history or politics; does it not bear a considerable weight upon the themes of literature?    I have envied Susan Barton. Her ghost writer, Mr Foe, was her lover and her master; her wave after wave. Like me, she has lived with silence, with erasures—how could she be released from the memory of the island without her story? And yet it pains me to admit that you gave her the benefit of a first person discourse, whereas in the matter that concerns us, an indirect point of view licensed your privilege. Forgive the crudeness of these wretched technicalities! It is just that I wish to right the story; that is my heart’s desire because ultimately the memory is mine. After the wreckage of our lives, words are all we have—they speak to us and we echo back, involuntarily. Susan Barton has inspired me over the years. I think she has altered me, shaping a model for my own self-definition. Time after time, she reasons with Foe for her independent account, and for Friday, who is speechless. Love endures and must persist against the farthest obstacles. It seems she loved Friday not paternalistically, but as a mother dutifully cares for her child. Consider what it may mean to nurture such a love!    Isn’t it true that you are confluent in both of us? We are tributaries, broken and bursting, unmapped, the trickle straining, is traceable to you. You are a shadow of us, an eidolon, a part of who Susan Barton is, and who I am. Your language has flowed into the receptacle of my mouth like an invisible stream. Who is imitating whom? Whose body is cast adrift? This is how we prey upon each other, though we are strangers, young and old. That these words have tethered us, drawing us into intimacy on this page, brightens my soul. Yours, Melanie Isaacs

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Poetry|Brian Johnstone An Execution

When Elizabeth I was informed of the death of Essex she was playing the virginals.

She lifts one hand and then the other. The blade has done its work, they come to say; he will trouble her no more. Her hands alone deny this fact as, pausing at the virginals, her stare is fixed on nothing. Straight ahead she sees him kneel, the rise and fall of no more than an hour ago, that makes the measure bitter to her thoughts, its music pointless exercise that she, from her position, must resume. Her hands rest on the keys. Black and white is how she sees it, this curse attached to rank. Her ladies watch as no word passes from her lips. She lifts one hand and then the other. One note in precedence begins it all again, a harmony restored.

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Poetry|Ajise Vincent The Encounter we dwell in the furnace of sound, apollo’s baronial temple, where cherubs wearing dreads forge notes into elements of music. there, beats are smoothened with chisels of cohesion. bellows belch forth whiffs of cacophonies. we are now an audience nodding in pendulous recklessness like a troubled chandelier; A drunk clique yet still drinking songs of toxic timbres for the sentry of our being have been smelted & our hearts are now magmas being reshaped by testaments of mimes & sweet songs

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Poetry|Ananya S Guha Dust dust does not settle it unsettles roving it has movements it wanders aimlessly in houses, corners, books and roads the mind is dusty when the rot sets in the same questions, the same answers the same love and hate, the same games and the same same killings. here in India it is the gathering dust over centuries, and history takes a new turn hermetically sealed. dust is soporific dust is hermetic dust gathers in oblivion then strikes, impinges on ways of living, thinking in this mad swirling we rotate with it till it sickens with a thud around the corner. dust is haughty religion megalomania and a lassitude kill them you morons in India Syria, Iraq or Egypt. dust has gathered over centuries in benighted countries so wipe it off your feet, give it a dash of blood. bloody dust!

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Short Fiction|Sabine Meier Ingeborg’s Schloss               

Im Herzen ein Kind, Ein Mann in bitterer Not, So stürmtet ihr wie’s Vaterland gebot Aus dem schönsten Leben In den schönsten Tod.*

Inscription on Hermann Wolf’s tombstone in Salzgitter-Thiede Germany

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he had always been a little weird. When she was born as the only child of a middle-aged couple, her parents could not have been more grateful. On July 27, 2100, Christoph Nadler gave birth to his first child. His wife preferred to stay away from the hospital, having heard about the unpleasant experience of labour pains. That was what men were for.    Little Ingeborg moved into her parents’ cottage, which she would call her home for ninety-three years. She was a thin, premature baby, who cried a lot. At an early age she learned how to use her assertive voice to manipulate her father. Unaware of his daughter’s superior intelligence, Christoph Nadler withdrew from most of his friends, eager to cater to all of Ingeborg’s needs. His wife was content to leave the girl’s education to her husband. Her job as a business consultant in Berlin left no room for household chores anyway. Gudrun Wagner commuted from Brunswick to Berlin, an air-ride of about twelve minutes.    The cottage the Nadlers inhabited was situated on the outskirts of Brunswick. Inherited from an elderly widower, who, like his ancestors, had refused to adapt his home to required standards, the Landhaus developed into a monument to long-forgotten times and became a tourist attraction.    Separated from the neighbouring building complex by a fenced-in, straw green space put under conservation by the State, the cottage stood apart, exuding tradition and persistence. Neighbours, who lived in automated uniformity, whispered about the half-timbered walls, 52

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whose wooden beams could be heard singing a croaking, cracking song at night. Others admired the daisies Christoph Nadler had taken pains to cultivate in the listless soil behind the house. Visitors parked their air-gliders in front of the light-blue gate and knocked at the door, asking politely whether the historic beauty of a house was for sale. No sooner had Christoph Nadler’s refusals chased away one insistent couple, he caught another would-be buyer inspecting the back yard, in awe of dozens and dozens of Gänseblümchen springing up white among tufts of green.    Christoph tried hard to make the cottage Prinzessin Ingeborg’s castle. As long as she was a baby, the air-conditioned crib stood on her father’s side of the double bed. As time went by, his little darling started growing out of her protective cocoon. Dear Ingeborg needed a refuge of her own, a wish the child herself expressed with vigour. At first, the old-fashioned layout of the rooms seemed to present an unsolvable problem. There were four rooms, all of them accessible from a narrow entrance hall: a tiny bathroom, a kitchen that Christoph kept meticulously clean, the parents’ cramped bedroom, and a comfortable living room.    The solution Ingeborg finally insisted on made her father lose one his oldest friends, who had still hoped Christoph might overcome his paternal obsession. After two hours of one-sided, child-praising conversation, he fled from the Nadlers’ former bedroom, now an improvised bed-sitter. He was reported to have sworn never to return to ‘Ingeborg’s Schloss’ again.    The name stuck. Ingeborg’s Schloss. The child took possession of the living room of her castle, treating as her own what former generations had left behind. Having developed into a moody, uncommunicative teenager, she used to come home from school and entered her room, withdrawing more and more from her family. After catching her father inspecting her belongings, she fell into the habit of locking the door to her room and taking the key with her. *    ‘I don’t wanna Essen,’ she said, slamming the front door on purpose.    Vati opened his mouth, shut it again, and pursed his wrinkle-free lips. A baby’s face. Unnatural somehow. Compared to other fathers Ingeborg knew, he was ancient. Mother was old, too, though equally baby-faced. Too old to be a parent.    Ingeborg sprinted over to the bathroom and entered, trying not to look too closely at the battalion of anti-aging fighters. Disposable hypodermic needles, each filled with a different kind of neurotoxin. A wrinkle file, to be used for minor unevenness – no bleeding. Yuk. Dozens of lotion dispensers, all of them in frequent use. And still Ingeborg 53

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felt it. Her parents were growing old. It must be their brains.    On her way to her room, she tried to read Vati’s face out of the corner of her eyes. He looked as if he’d start bawling – but at least he left her alone. She hated the food he put on the table. The thought of the pickled Insekten she’d seen in the fridge this morning made her feel queasy. She imagined them in her mouth, tiny legs and feelers clinging to her tongue crawling into her stomach. My Goddess, of course she knew they weren’t alive – but still. People in Deutschland ate everything these days, all kinds of stuff they had frowned upon before – as long as it was nutritiously balanced.    ‘Ingeborg, you’re coming?’    She didn’t answer, entered her room, and closed the door behind her, pausing. She knew Vati was there, behind the door, listening, hoping she would join her for lunch after all. She did not move, did not breathe. The moment she heard his elderly footsteps, shuffling and hesitant, there was a feeling of relief she had never experienced before. As his daughter, she was supposed to love him. Forever? Okay, forever. Perhaps not… always? She did love him – if only he stopped fathering her. With Mutter at work, he was getting bored. Ingeborg was fifteen after all. Old enough to think about a career. And she would find herself a man who could cook.    She crept to the door and turned the key. Twice. Phew. Alone.    How much she loved the grating sound of metal, unique like the room, so unlike the part of the house her parents lived in – infected with the germ of flawlessness. Their drawers slid open, hers coughed with age, resisting her efforts to open them before they admitted her willingly. Equipped with a detector, their doors sprang open automatically, deprived of a will of their own. Slaves. Her doors let out groans when she pushed them open, groans that revealed the effort it cost them to move. Friends.    Ingeborg loved the room. Her room. Hers. Hers. Hers alone.    Mutter had made sure the other parts of the house were modernised, changed into colour-coordinated nobodies clad in synthetics. Ingeborg’s room, however, had strength of character. It was full of life. There were shelves made of wood and books made of paper. Walls made of stone and a carpet made of wool.    Books had always attracted her. They spoke of history, her favourite subject at school, they spoke of lives, of the past. Their covers looked worn, snuggling against each other for solace after years of neglect, a greenish-brown wall from the past, battered and faded. Ingeborg would read them all. In her room, she felt as if parts of herself lived in the past, or even among all kinds of different people? One book, one life, several lives in one book, multiplied by the number of books - that made… She gave up.    Stepping in front of the shelves, she closed her eyes and made her fingers retrace the backs of the books. Linen coarse and dusty to the 54

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touch, cool leather embossed with letters, a frayed back with string and glue sticking to the binding. Her fingers climbed across a horizontal staircase, each step different from one another, exactly like the volumes she touched, some of them slim and modest, others thick and imposing. She knew the staircase by heart, each sensual moment, and yet she treasured it as if it was the first time.    Time to share another life. Time to read. She opened her eyes and chose a volume whose colour stood out. Black, with a white skull on the front cover. Die Braunschweiger Husaren im Weltkriege 1914-1918. Published in - she lifted the brittle second page - 1922. How exciting a war must have been, a war that was fought nearly two hundred years ago. Soldiers on horseback. Dashing.    Taking the book with her, she coiled up in her armchair, sneezing. A welcoming puff of dust. Ingeborg had saved her broad-shouldered friend from demolition. Old and bug-infested, her father had called it. Its bottom sagged and its skin was scratchy but there was a feel about it she loved.    She must have dozed off.    ‘The war wasn’t exciting,’ a voice said.    Ingeborg sat up straight, grabbing the book. Her only weapon. Someone in her room. How had they got in?    ‘Come out, whoever you are,’ she said, trying to make her voice appear womanly steady.    It had sounded like a man’s voice. Where the speeding pilot was he hiding? Behind the shelves?    ‘I’m armed,’ she added. She wished she’d listened to Vati. ‘Buy yourself a stunning-beamer,’ he’d repeated again and again. ‘When Mutter’s in the air, there’s no one to protect you.’    There, the voice again.    ‘Please, don’t panic, I just want to talk,’ it said.    The voice sounded hollow… or was it her imagination?    ‘The war was not exciting,’ the voice repeated, more insistent than before.    Definitely a man. Ingeborg had no idea where he could be hiding – and she knew exactly she hadn’t talked to herself. She had thought of the exciting book she was going to read... She’d feel better if she could see what he looked like.    ‘Show yourself,’ she said.   ‘I can’t.’   ‘Pulease.’    ‘Believe me, Ingeborg, I can’t.’    This was getting ridiculous. Was he one of those freaked-out IT nerds, transmitting his voice to her room? Glad about the protective arms of the chair, she leaned forward and addressed the shelves.    ‘If you don’t come up with an explanation, I’m calling the police,’ she said, her eyes on her phone-watch. 55

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The voice again.    ‘It feels good talking to you.’    ‘Explanation, remember?’    ‘My name is Hermann Wolf,’ he said.    ‘When I was a very young man, my body died in the war. My mind survived.’    ‘And you’re a ghost, right? Piss off,’ she said, unlocking her watch with Touch ID.    One more touch and- Her finger slipped off the alert-eye on her watch, one hand seeking the other until she held her fright in a grasp. Phew. Never show your fear. Whoever this Hermann was, she needed to hear more. The voice fell silent. Ingeborg waited. *    At least she hadn’t left his room. Her room. Well, their room. He studied her posture, her face. With her hair fastened in a no-nonsense ponytail and a resolute face – Hermann was sure she’d lifted her chin on purpose and had drawn her brows together in a disdainful frown she looked reasonable, resilient, unlike the young ladies he had once met, fragile and giggly.    Used to studying people closely, Hermann was not discouraged. Perhaps, just perhaps, she would take him seriously. There was a sparkle in her eyes, a hint of a smile peering through a tiny slit in her carapace of disbelief and disapproval. However unperturbed she tried to appear, his voice must have scared her. Got you, Ingeborg. He was glad she couldn’t see him grin. The rosy tip of her tongue kept reappearing, moistening the lower lip before the upper teeth maltreated the humid skin. The moment a drop of blood seeped into the spit, he did not grin any more.    He averted his eyes. Blood. War. Fear. Injury. Blood. War. Blood. Pain. Pus. Pain. Agony. Death. Hermann felt another wave rolling towards him. A wave of memories, eradicable, inescapable, debilitating. Like a puppet on a string, he would dance to tunes composed by the past, the strings held by something deep down in his mind.    Memories kept him from talking, breaking up any other thought. Again the past had crept up on him, making him relive Kaiser-made hell. Please. Please let Ingeborg be patient. The screaming pictures were painful, blinding and deafening. Hermann’s body reappeared, if only in his fantasies. It always did. His senses were forced back to the battlefield. He trembled as he had trembled 200 years ago. He could not eat, smell or walk, just about breathe. In a world of rationed bread so stale he could barely swallow, with hunger that made his brain go to mush and his stomach clench with acid. Reeking wounds reappeared, making him gag, mud-encrusted boots felt as heavy as before, the air saturated with gunpowder. He vomited in the face of death, 56

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heaps of lifeless flesh surrounding him. Cowering in the trenches, he bowed his head, praying. Murder in the name of the Kaiser, committed by boys, many of them younger than himself, forced to grow into adults before their time. Death had come as a relief.   Over.    Could he, should he share all this with Ingeborg, the girl sitting in his beloved father’s chair. How much could he tell her? The truth, she deserved to be told the truth. Parts of it. For now. He hadn’t prayed for centuries. Today he did. ‘God Almighty, let her believe me’. *    ‘Herrmann, if that’s your real name, I’ve been waiting,’ Ingeborg said.    There must be a reasonable explanation. And still… Had she really heard a whimper? Or was she hallucinating?    ‘I can see and hear, speak, smell, feel, and touch. Leaving my useless body behind, I travelled back to my parents’ home, this house.’    There was a pause.    ‘I have lived in here, in this room, among these books, for two hundred years.’    A moan escaped from Ingeborg’s mouth. And if it was true? She listened closely. Hermann had stopped talking but she heard him clearly; sharp, quick breaths sucked in by a long-distance runner who had covered 200 years. With this intake of breath, so basic, so human, her fear was gone. There was only he.    ‘Allow me to spare you a description of the atrocities of war, committed against Man over and over again. But Ingeborg, please never say again that war is exciting. It is inhumane beyond imagination.’    Was it pain she sensed? Her glance glued to the shelves, she saw the young soldier, saw him fight. He was no longer a romantic hero on horseback. What a fool she’d been. She mourned for his body, which must long have disintegrated. His voice was alive.   ‘Ingeborg?’    ‘I’m sorry’, she finally said.    What else could she say? She was a woman, not one of the men who’d wanted such stupid wars. Didn’t women fight in a different manner? Wasn’t ‘an eye for an eye’ a man’s battle? According to her teacher, wars were rare in matriarchal societies. Ingeborg would find out. Perhaps she could help. Perhaps she could join a group, to make sure there would never be a war again.    ‘Ingeborg, would you talk to me, please?’    His voice smiled.    ‘Gladly,’ she answered, feeling the corners of her mouth go up.    ‘I’m so relieved,’ he said. 57

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‘I have tried to speak to people before. You are the first to hear me.’    A hand touched hers and held it tight. *    Seventy-eight years later, on a winter’s morning, a house-hunting couple passed by ‘Ingeborg’s Schloss’. The woman’s glance barely paused to look at the sombre, run-down building, which had once been Christoph Nadler’s’s pride. Had the visitors stayed, or even approached the house, they would have been deterred by an inexplicable, spooky atmosphere emanating from the cottage sitting in a mud brown desert. The windows were blind, their curtains closed tight. The couple would have needed a magnifying glass to find traces of the light-blue paint that had welcomed guests so long ago.    ‘Ingeborg’s Schloss’ - the name resounded throughout the suburban grapevine. Nobody had seen the old woman for years. Rumours said she had always lived in her cottage and had never left her home again. Some said the house was haunted; others were convinced her parents had not died of natural causes. A child pretended food was delivered regularly. But nobody knew. Nobody knew for sure.    And then, all of a sudden, the rumours stopped. Snow covered ‘Ingeborg’s Schloss’, a charitable gesture of nature, wiping out years of neglect. When the police broke into the house, called by a vigilant citizen after a fortnight of silence, they found her. Her body was slumped against an armchair, her wrinkles smiling. She had said goodbye to this world with a Bible in her hand, printed in 1908, the faded signature barely legible. Hermann Wolf. *Loose translation of the inscription (S.M.) A child at heart, A man in bitter hardship, You stormed into the sweetest death. Left your life behind, At the Kaiser’s behest.

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Poetry|Amy Barry Silence In The Breeze The twists and turns of an unplanned journey, where fate rides a different rhythm. We say goodbye. Words float like frayed clouds, fall heavy from the sky. We shrink in pained silence. The puzzle half finished, our untold story stifled in cobwebs.

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Poetry|Mohammad Zahid Virtue of Sin A teardrop trickles down the face and disappears before falling off, drying into a thin saline crust; likewise, the upward curve of lips wear off, droop down; smiles fade and transform slowly to frowns, laughter to sighs, clamor to silence, and pride to melancholy‌ And then, in the far depths of the ailing heart, nearest to the fringes of conscience, Light glimmers, pierces pitch dark, throws long shadows of crests across the depths, the plains, that life has journeyed so far. New paths unfold, as Light unfurls across the canvas of the universe, and rise as much as the heart sinks in humility, gradually giving in to dust. The soul merges with Light.

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Words Conceived when souls slowly descend from the skies to enter unborn bodies, they drift past callous ears and kiss the lips that would speak them. The aftertaste of the kiss slowly melts, finding its way to the heart that skips a beat for it meets a bygone promise, arousing it with illusory impressions of a simulation named life. Words, they leave those lips later on, and vaporize into thin air, leaving behind some unsaid words in that heart.

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Visual Art|Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero

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Mixed Media on Canvas

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Visual Art|Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero

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Mixed Media on Canvas

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Visual Art|Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero

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Mixed Media on Canvas

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Visual Art|Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero

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Mixed Media on Canvas

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Visual Art|Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero

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Mixed Media on Canvas

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Short Fiction|AN Block The Same Mistake Twice

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inding my business, sipping lukewarm coffee at Alice’s before work, I can’t help notice this new girl giving me the eye. She takes her sweet time refilling my mug, then says, “You know, you remind me of my cousin, Jacques. A lot.”    “Me? No one ever said I look like a Jacques before. Jake maybe.” When I glance Gordo’s way, he’s drumming his fingers.    “I mean, I know you’re not him,” she says, “because he came to a bad end.”    “I’m really sorry,” I tell her, checking my watch, “but all we want is some hot coffee. Okay? And that’s not my name. Not even close.”    “You’re bigger than him,” she says, she winks, “and heavier set, but it is remarkable.”    I’m like, “We’ll take a check, Miss.” But I can’t look away. Something about her eyes. Crazed, magnetic.    “What do you make of that?” I ask Gordo on the way out. “She must’ve took me for a complete idiot.”    “Boss,” he says, “you don’t think she slipped something in our coffee, do you?”    Anything’s possible. All I know, in a matter of days, it’s on me, whatever she’s got. First, I imagine it’s because the sun hasn’t shone on this gray pile of garbage excuse for a city all week, so it’s a little blurry out, I don’t make the connection.    Each morning though we keep coming back to the coffee shop, crossing our fingers.    “I admit, I’m no Albert Einstein,” I tell Gordo, “but something is going on here. Everyone’s starting to resemble somebody else.”    “Big surprise,” he says. “You notice how the one who put the hex on you’s done the old vanishing act?”    “Who knew this kind of thing is contagious?”    “She did, who else? You could tell by her all-knowing look.”    We come back at night time, we describe her in detail, again and again (bleach blonde, at least we believe so, impish, a little cockeyed, with a crooked front tooth, orthopedic shoes, this phony French accent, smudged turquoise eye make-up and support hose) but no one cares to identify her or professes any knowledge of who she is.    “They come and they go,” the manager tells me.    “Guy’s the spitting image of Eduardo Ciannelli,” Gordo whispers.    “The one from downtown Belgium,” I inform the manager, “if that helps jog your memory. With the eyes? You know what I mean. Not a member of our tribe,” but he just waves me off. 67

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Soon every door I open, the faces reflect some prior incarnation.    “Behind some, it’s famous celebrities,” I tell Gordo. “Others we’re talking generic types you can’t place but are sure you’ve seen somewhere. Out of central casting.”    “I got you,” he says.    “Some waitress or, for instance, a typical nurse. But she don’t let on, or you decide to pursue it, in the friendliest least threatening way possible and it turns out you’ve never been formally introduced.”    “According to her, you mean?”    “Exactly. Either way, most of them end up whispering behind your back. By instinct or maybe there’s some specialized training they take.”    “Could be. Anything goes nowadays.”    “Some pass you by in an empty hallway and it’s clear from the bored expression they’re thinking, Yup, he’s the one. This total goof I once knew. The problem being, suppose said goof you’re confused with just committed a serious infraction of the rules and you’re caught in the dragnet?”    So we keep putting ads in the personals, searching around town, but no way am I able to shake this, how everyone new’s got their double and you can’t tell which witch is which, so to speak. Meanwhile, each day the situation turns more and more ominous.    Heading in one morning, all hootzed up because the other drivers are Jack Nicholson look-alikes, I’m singing Baby I’m only society’s child, expecting the worst when the sun actually peeks out and then, like a bolt of light, it hits my thick skull: the one, the only, Bambi Plotkin, half woman, half girl, those wild staring eyes, and bang, I jam on the brakes. In all my years, there’s never been no one like her!    “Whoa!” Gordo goes. “What up, Boss?”    “So what is this,” I ask him, “life or existence? Rubbing scratch tickets, working flat out, then crashing in front of the box, watching quiz shows? Is that it? The game’s too short, my friend. If I ever find her though…Yeah!”    “That Bambi? Go for it,” he says.    So we high five, I hang an immediate U-ie across Elmwood and, simple as that, we are gone.    Didn’t call in because, why? The schmucks’ll get over it and besides, won’t we need every penny going forward? Loaded the trunk, takes like fifteen minutes. That’s what we do, we’re movers. Professionals, see? We haul stuff around for money, but personally, we’ve got nothing to move. Free and easy, that’s right, just me and my bud.    On the long ride home, hunched over the wheel, screaming down the Thruway right into the white glare of the rising sun, me and Gordo get into a heated conversation.    “So what’s she like, Boss? This wonder woman of yours.”    “Well, it all goes back a million years, to Brookline High, where me and her used to hang with this crowd.” 68

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“The cool kids?”    “Not exactly. Hard to imagine, but I wasn’t that popular. This group I’m in wasn’t the brains, we weren’t troublemakers or jocks or the artsy types. We just comprised what one of the faculty referred to as “the alienated element.” Which translates to being the ones whose minds were free of the official rah-rah Establishment type propaganda machine. We were this small contingent prematurely against The War (which strikes me as ironic because we all used to skulk around wearing second hand green Army fatigue jackets) and then, two years later, everyone else climbed on the bandwagon.”    “Wow! So you were some kind of rebel?”    “That’s one way to put it. Truth is, until Bambi came along, I was not functioning properly. Nyquil. Everything was slowed down and simple.”    “So she was your girlfriend?”   “My girlfriend? Halevai! She’s a fluttery little bird, you could sense how awkward and fragile she is, how super sweet. The truth being, the one cool aspect to me about high school, it’s this knack she has to make the time fly.”    And on and on, the more we talk the details start coming back and before you know it, we’re whizzing past Syracuse.    “So one day after seventh period me and her are walking down Cypress arm in arm, finishing each other’s sentences, how school totally blows, and right in front of us this condescending stooge who’d gotten everyone to start calling me Cheesey and our little group the Wasted Sperm Club, he overhears some remark, turns around and goes, ‘You know, your negativity sucks, Avery.’ Then he elbows one of his nudnik compatriots. ‘I am so sick of hearing this schlub here shit all over everything: the President, our English teacher, Rabbi Fishkin.’ ”    “ ‘Don’t get him mad,’ the other yutz warns him, ‘cause if big Cheesey here decides to sit on you, it’s all over.’ ”    “ ‘Just don’t let him breathe anywhere near me,’ another one chimes in, this one’s a real brain child. ‘He smells like dog puke. Ooh, look, Cheesey got himself some kind of girlfriend.’ At this, all the rest of their crowd half wet their pants.”    “ ‘Never mind,’ Bambi whispers, squeezing my shoulder, ‘they’re just jealous.’ Cause that’s what she’s like, sweet, innocent, good as gold.”    “Only problem being, she’s so bugged about her unruly hair all the time, she can’t stop smoothing it down, stringing it around her finger. Some days she talks about nothing but Alberto VO-5, ironing boards, Dippity-Do, bangs, curlers, all the different styling options, and this being a time of cultural transition, I never know what to advise her.”    “That’s the fairer sex for you,” Gordo says.    “Yeah, but this is so constant, it’s clearly some mental thing. ‘It’s too long,’ she’d say, ‘isn’t it? What do you think, flatter on top, or more poofy? Shouldn’t it frame my face a little? That’s what they’re all saying. How about a shag? Or a babushka?’ ” 69

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“I mean, what am I, a hairdresser? To this day, it’s not like I even own a comb. So I ask Mom, always a huge help, right? And she tells me, ‘Stay out of it! If you know what’s good for you, sonny boy. People will judge you by the company you keep.’ ”    “But Bambi keeps pressing the issue every day. Split ends, cream rinse, hairspray, perms, pomade, styling mousse, spit curls, who even knows what else?”    “ ‘Okay,’ I finally tell her, ‘Dorothy Hamill. Go in for that look, why don’t you?’ ”    “She snaps her fingers, gets on tiptoes, then gives me the most delightful hug. ‘Cool!’ she whispers. ‘The wedge cut!’ ”    “So that’s what she gets, or at least her insane mother’s home made version, but no good comes of it. In fact, the next day two things converge: Mr. Plotkin packs her off to work at the Doughnut Emporium, a job the old bird’s arranged so their extended family could all get the half off employee discount, and the preppy snobs in her grade start ragging on her hair.”    “ ‘There’s eight of us altogether,’ she explains, drying tears on my shoulder. ‘Me, Mom, Patty, Lynn, Elise, the twins, plus my step Dad’s morning coffee, so it mounts up.’ ”    “ ‘Genius!’ my mother says, when I explain the ins and the outs. ‘You assume everything’s a coincidence with this maidel? I assure you, it’s not.’ ”    “ ‘Yeah, well, the situation’s complicated,’ I tell her. “There’s more to it than meets the eye.’ ”    “ ‘What is?’ she says. ‘This is a young girl, she wants to have fun. Period.’ ”    “Two quick points, if I may: me and Bambi mostly partake in this alienated group scene the two of us together, which sounds like a contradiction, (Anarchists Unite!, right?) and second, we do pair off separately a few times, but a point arises, she doesn’t think it’s good for her image, being too obvious, so we have to meet up out of town. Like hanging together is some military type secret.”    By this point, approaching Albany, we’re making amazing time. I look over though and Gordo’s asleep. His attention span isn’t the best any more.    He wakes up sometime after we cross the state line and have started cruising down the Pike.    “As you were saying?”    “Well, you know, high school was no box of chocolates for me. Let’s say I didn’t make it to all my classes and didn’t exactly shine on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.” “ ‘Fuchs,’ I remember one of our enlightened educators saying, ‘we are so honored you could grace us with your esteemed presence once again. Hope you’re getting those puny muscles in shape, you’re going to love the armed services.’ Of course, the whole gym class would erupt 70

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in gales of laughter. Yes, it’s fun to laugh at someone else’s expense, Mr. Messer. To make them do extra squat thrusts while everyone’s chanting their name. If you’re a retrograde moron. But those few, I guess you could call them ‘dates’ with Bambi, to me they’ll go down in history. Catching my all-time favorite flick at the Orson Welles, A Thousand Clowns and not boiling over with frustration when she says, ‘I don’t get it’ at the end.”    “ ‘Well, it’s not a comedy,’ ” I explain, ‘it’s a kind of tragedy, see?’ ”    “Riding the T into Boston and trekking barefoot up Beacon Hill, those green cat eyes of hers widening when I reveal some of the secret projects I’ve been keeping under wraps, the way she laughs at my alienated type innuendos and inside jokes, how she races down Charles Street to find band aids when I step on some broken glass.”    “So,” Gordo asks, “why didn’t this go anywhere? Why didn’t she become your official quote unquote girlfriend?”    “That continues to haunt me. All I can say is she informed me traipsing through the Gardner on our third so-called date that she was too young and still needed to find herself.”    “ ‘Find yourself?’” I said. I hustled her by the arm towards the ladies room. “ ‘Fine, go in there and look in the mirror. Go ahead! Whatever you see, that’s you.’ ”    “Smooth move, Boss!”    “Not really. She must’ve believed I was running some head trip, because she got all worked up, burst out crying and once she came out that was it. After checking the mirror (which I meant, by the way, in complete sincerity, trying to be helpful), Bambi bee-lined it home and didn’t ever want us to be alone or go anywhere together again. She hinted once how it may have been this habit I had of talking a bit louder than average to emphasize a point, but she insisted all of a sudden there had to be this entourage of noodges between us at all times, disrupting communication.    “Then, when I finally cornered her it was the typical routine, you know, where she backed up into a corner, covered her ears, and explained, ‘It’s me, okay? I’m just not into being serious.’ ”    “I said, ‘What? Come again?’ ”    “Because Bambi’s always been the very definition of serious. Almost maudlin. (How’s that for a prime SAT word?) And, I mean, on the two point five so called dates we had, we yukked it up pretty good for hours and hours and hours, but in a serious vein. I don’t know, I still kick myself in the rear about it because she’s the super sensitive type and that must’ve led her to misinterpret my remarks. Or maybe it was on the T when I kept asking, ‘Why do you think we were put in this world? Why?’ and the subject seemed so pressing to me at the time it might’ve sounded a little rude but I could not let it drop.    “All I managed to get out of her then was, ‘It’s all these questions, okay?’ ” 71

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The point arises we finally reach Route 9 and I don’t want to hurt Gordo’s feelings, but I have to tell him, ‘Keep a low profile when we get there, okay? We’re going to have to part ways for a while. Work independently.”    Phoning Mom slipped my mind completely, so she’s a touch put out, pacing back and forth in her ratty housedress once I show up around sundown, after our eight hour drive.    “Is that really you?”    “Happy to see me, huh Ma?”    “I’m happy and I’m sad.”    After the first million questions, we rearrange the sewing nook and she gives me my old quarters back. On a temporary basis, of course.    “Such a shame,” she says, grabbing onto a fistful of hair, just like old times, giving it a good yank. She shuts her eyes while I stand around, breathing in the old familiar combination of Bengay, Pall Mall fumes and Vick’s Vapo Rub, trying to shrug it off. “Mmm-mmm-mm.” Swaying side to side, mumbling the usual nonsense prayers, then letting go and hanging her head.    “Didn’t we always tell you,” she goes, “you attract more bees with honey than vinegar? Remember?”    “Mom,” I’m like, “come on already. Enough.”    “So apparently I can’t talk any sense into you?”    “Guess not,” I tell her. “Not your kind. And please, stop calling me your ‘Little Sheba.’ That was a dog, wasn’t it?”    “Maybe we were too lenient. Your father, of blessed memory, would always tell me, ‘Let the boy play, Ethel, it’s more important than homework.’”    After I apologize for not wearing a heavy enough coat, for letting myself get swallowed up in the middle of nowhere for the last six years, for not answering each letter promptly, for disobeying the Fifth Commandment, not for her sake but for mine, and then absolving myself of all such future transgressions, after I promise I’ll consider going on a diet, she lets go, I slip into undercover garb, zip to the town library and get right down to business.    And that’s how it goes for days on end. Doing research on little Ms Plotkin’s current whereabouts. At some point I ask Gordo, “Isn’t it preferable to run into one another all jaunty and nonchalant instead of making a whole involved production of it? Phones tend to be a shade melodramatic and, if you remember, I didn’t have the most glowing reputation anyway the last time me and Bambi kicked it.”    “A hundred per cent,” he says.    Finished with our library research, we start combing the streets of Brookline because, hard as it is to fathom, given the messed up dynamics of the family Plotkin, but guess whose name is listed in the current town directory? Which, I deduce, means she’s not married either! Hoho! Although her last street address listed is no longer valid. So in 72

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the ensuing weeks we spend hours occupying coffee shop counters, rambling from Coolidge Corner to Washington Square and back, slipping unnoticed in and out of boutiques, pouring over street maps, keeping our eyes peeled, waiting around the Holiday Inn lobby on Beacon until being escorted off the premises, and then, once spring approaches, searching the public parks and byways around the perimeter of her last officially known whereabouts. In anticipation of the grand reunion. You know: Oh! What a shock! My goodness! You look great!    The fact is though, all this exploration starts taking its toll. Weeks stretch into months, folks keep looking more like other folks, which I’ve already told you, but in this case, because of growing up nearby, how do we know they’re reminding us of someone else, instead of just older versions of themselves? If you follow my logic. So a strange vibe to begin with takes a doubly weird turn.    We maintain a low profile, trying to fade in the woodwork, that’s how you play this game, Gordo agrees, striking up strategic conversations under assumed names wherever it seems propitious, impersonating private eyes in pursuit of some missing person.    “Must you overdo everything?” Mom asks me.    “Don’t worry,” I reassure her, “I’m very well read, I know all the moves.”    “Still chasing that Plotkin girl? The one with the hair?”   “Mom!”    “It’s not a good family.”    Long story short, after several dead ends, blind alleys, and a prolonged bout of nervous chaleria, (during which I send Gordo out to do reconnaissance on his own, not the smartest idea) with my savings dwindled to single digits, disparate clues begin to coalesce, one promising strand does start connecting to another and, let it be recorded, on this fateful day in mid-April, having picked up the scent, with electricity in the air, we succeed in tracking her down. First point being, perched on a third floor roof top squinting down, my fondest memories are confirmed: the chipped red nail polish, drawn waif-like face, piercing green eyes and pigeon toes, even through my binocular lens, this could be no one else so, touch wood, once we’re face to face this spell I’m suffering will finally be broken.    “Get a load of this,” I say, passing the spyglasses over.    “Looks a little worse for wear, Boss, but who are we to talk?”    “Exactly.”    What gets me most is that plaintive vibrato answering the phone later, almost a high pitched animal’s squeal, how it melts my heart once again after all these years. So scratchy and furtive I’m compelled to hang up.    At that moment I put my hand on Gordo’s shoulder. “Don’t take it the wrong way, partner, but there are certain things a man has got to do solo.” 73

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“Look, Avery,” she tells me the next day over coffee, “you’re very nice too and I’m really glad we’ve re-connected, I am. But I think it’s best if we just remain friends, thank you.”    “Oh, absolutely, I agree with you, Bambi. But I think where we might slightly differ is in our definition of certain key words and concepts. Because I just want to be friends too. So we agree there. But what I have in mind is more like very special friends. Um, if it happens to work out that way in the end, of course. God willing. Do you know what I mean?”    “Look,” she goes, “that’s not the kind of friends I want to be.”    “Uh-huh. Well, so you’d like to set up all kinds of artificial barriers to communication then before we even start? Or am I misunderstanding?”    “I actually have to go now,” she says, rising. “It was nice to see you.”    “We did not meet by accident,” I tell her. “Not by a longshot.”    When I hold out my hand to shake hers, she glances at it and I guess it isn’t immaculate or something, maybe I didn’t clean that well under each fingernail, because her response is just to hurry out to the street.    “Bye, doll face,” I say, about two minutes later. “Have a wonderful life.” Oh, by the way, guess who springs for both coffees. Right. Even though she’s the one who’s gainfully employed. At McLean Hospital. Or, at least, that’s how it reads on her little uniform, okay?    “It could’ve been your attire,” Gordo suggests later. “You discarded the camouflage, true, but didn’t exactly dress up for the occasion.”    “Right, because that’s not me, I’m a working guy, remember? I swing with the workers a hundred percent.”    “Or maybe it’s obvious that you kind of like her a little ‘too much’ still.”    “Whatever that’s supposed to mean.”    People are such experts when things don’t work out. They’re so quick to say, ‘I told you so,’ in that really obnoxious sing-song way. To be clear, Gordo doesn’t actually say this but I do kind of hear it, in a manner of speaking. (Maybe it’s what they call “interior monologue” which, to my knowledge, happens to be a very common artistic device lately.)    Of course, we’re somewhat let down. You wouldn’t be, right? You pick up and move four hundred and fifty-two miles due east, you can’t land a job despite your extensive experience (because, no matter what they say, you need some kind of an “in” around here), and then, to cap it off, this little anti-climax? But we’re not the type, we don’t give up easy. Not that we want to bother her, because she obviously doesn’t comprehend everything we stand for in all its depth and sincerity. Bambi may be somewhat naïve still, perhaps a bit flighty, but, after some coaxing from Gordo, I decide it’s okay to write her a letter explaining the obvious. I mean, that’s civilized, isn’t it?    So the material I cover in the letter is how I certainly did not mean 74

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what she thought I did in high school, telling her to look in the mirror, and how in the meantime I grew up and changed for the better, how I’m not so vehement any more, and no longer expect concrete answers. Gordo helps with some of the wording and punctuation, but the ideas are my own, I take full responsibility.    Big surprise, she neglects to write back. Thanks anyway.    I guess using the voice of reason approach can only take you so far.    The hard truth, I just don’t “do it” for her. No chemistry, or perhaps my technique leaves a bit to be desired. Even if I do have a realistic shot of getting us back on track and throwing this curse, or whatever it is, off I imagine I’ve blown it sending that letter.    “I tried to tell you, Boss, it ran on a few pages too long. Asked a couple questions too many. Short and sweet, that’s where it’s at nowadays.”    “Well, shame on me then, making the same mistake twice. But she’s different now. Less wired about her hair, give her credit for that, but more screwed up in the rest of her thinking. Jumping to conclusions, getting all worked up over nothing. I have to say her mental condition’s gotten worse.”    “And who does she remind you of?” my trusty sidekick asks.    “Oh, my God, you’re right! She’s a dead ringer. The Bambi Plotkin of today looks just like that sicko waitress who cast the original spell on me at Alice’s!”

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Poetry|Wayne Hislop Holding back The aroma in Roma Is like stationed Centurion To my virgin nostrils That pleads to be A rioting hoar, Captivating silhouettes Pass on by With the Same restraint that They just couldn’t keep. Settled people wear Invisible Hoarfrost smells so Abundant, an art to its self. My mouth bleeds For this satisfaction And the ears Investigate The commotion That pins me To a spot Where smells Leads me Astray, In growling chimes!

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Poetry|Kev Milsom The Message The dove flies my message from high mountains to the north, over winding crystal streams and down to forests, softening the edge of towered, granite faces. Across the plains, where elk and reindeer gorge sumptuously on moss-green grasses, and watch my feathered messenger swing freely within the space of deep, azurite skies; To find you… To caress the heart of one I hold so dear. With every second passed, within earnest mind I wonder at the route my message takes to seek you out, Perhaps not quite at edge of chirping meadows? Nor yet swooping o’er barren ground, long forsaken, muddy puddles reflect my stealthy courier’s course. Inching my soul’s words closer to your view so you might sense the pulsing of my light; To remind you… To release from bounded heartache and awaken. Swift, snowy wings now pass last boundary river, crossed fields of cattle, edged by dancing evening primrose amongst joyous bleats and mews that fill the air. Announcing the arrival of words wrote from loving heart, a swathe of dappled sunlight joins the winter chorus as fleet-feathered feet land softly by you, Your loving eyes reached down to blend with his; To surprise you… To say that we shall never truly be apart. I sense you reaching down to pet the dove’s head, smiles on my lips as you spy my attached note, holding breath as you release the scented paper, wiped tears at digested words, planned to keep you brave. Our hands locked tight in timeless wonder. A walk through leaf-bare arches close to home. Our thoughts merged as one in priceless rhythm; To caress you… In mind, spirit and body, as you stand over my grave.

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Poetry|Kalathara Gopan Translator: Minu Varghese

Laundry Hey washer-man, would you wash my mind clean? It’s soiled with a lot of stains; won’t suit my body anymore. It won’t get cleaned these days despite numerous washes. In the past it was whiter than white with a sparkling shine. When you try to wash it, it may cry out in stubborn resistance from soapy water, “don’t wash me, please!” Never mind. And hey, listen if you find in the pockets of memory pangs of a forlorn love lying hardened like ice, ashes of desire secured in a tight bundle, failures huddled together heaving sighs, and hopes whining, pretend ignorance. When you beat it hard on the rock, take care not to tear even a single thread of love. Then dry it 78

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in shade without dipping it in blue, smooth out the creases, press it well, and bring it back soon. Only then can I introduce myself the next morning as a human being and walk into the midst of animals fearlessly.

Roots Ask about roots and the tree will say, “Leaves know nothing but to spread shade; enduring the scorching sun, boughs never mind spilling sap, their enthusiasm is in keeping swings for birds; the bark is love solidified many times over.” Then a long silence. “Struggling with rocks, roots hug soil, venturing dark trips into the hideouts of moisture, though not counted a tree, it senses the gentle landing of a tiny bird, honey filling up flowers, moonlight falling on leaves, winter breeze caressing, eggs peeping out from nests. Perhaps that’s why it sits in the dark recesses of oblivion and rationalizes, “sunlight might help feel what is overlooked in the rain.” 79

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Short Fiction|Wendy Shreve As the Wind Blows

A

wakened, the morning dew had settled on her Down sleeping bag. Still reveling in the blanket of sleep, she fought removing her body from the soft, cozy cocoon.   Flip, whirl. Flip, whirl. Quiet. Outside she heard the leaps. How many she couldn’t count, but they persisted. Again. Flip, whirl. Flip, whirl. Must be early. Seconds later, Karen’s curiosity had won the temperature battle. She braved the cold to peer out the porthole. With her natural time clock, she guessed the time but still looked at her cheap, waterproof watch, it was 6:00 AM. No Smartphones on this boat.    He, the boat’s captain, must’ve heard the repetitive leaping and grabbed his tackle. Beneath the morning mist, swarms of insects barely skimmed the surface, only to be slurped like a small child drinking her milk through a straw. Then, Karen noticed John resting against the starboard side, his line snaking its way back toward him as he spun the reel.    “Any luck, honey?” She yelled.    “Nah, they’re jumping but not biting. Too much competition.”    “I’ll make breakfast.” She’d gotten used to his ignoring pleasantries. When focused on his beloved pastime, even without a bite, getting John to respond at all was progress.    They had anchored the night before; Karen had been too tired to eat and went down below to sleep after securing the lines. Still groggy—after all, they were on vacation—she changed her mind. He can wait. She returned to her bunk and threw a blanket around her shoulders. Allowing her mind to wander, as he did when fishing, reminiscences of their early days together prompted Karen to pull out her journal. Funny how this morning, the highs and lows of their first year together were never clearer. The fish leaping became more frantic, like raindrops jumping on the water’s surface. *    The pilot announced their flight would be landing at Logan within the hour and the temperature in Boston was 33 degrees. Rain showers would greet them. The passengers groaned, but John Stevens didn’t. Not a flinch or a lifting of his eyelids. Karen Barnes had been mesmerized. She watched him as if she were examining a patient for signs of trauma, though she had no experience in medicine. And suddenly, he sprang around; quick, like an owl’s head and stared back at her. Karen’s face turned red.    “I’m sorry. I’m a writer. You know. It’s a habit.” Where did that come from? No one could ever say Karen Barnes didn’t have a voice. 80

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She put out her hand and introduced herself.    His eyes shifted then closed slightly. Karen had hoped her friendly gesture would redeem her rude behavior.    “John.” He returned the favor; his strong right hand almost as big as a baseball mitt.    She waited for him to give his last name. No luck. Karen had been raised among a family of mules and had moved away to find peace. Her instincts had told her to let him be, so she felt grateful when the flight attendant brought the beverages they’d ordered. Karen adjusted her pillow and sipped on her ginger ale.    “I’ve seen you. On a jacket cover.”    “Huh?” He had done it again. Damn him. “Yes, I’m an author. Sort of.”    “You write or not?” His challenge emboldened Karen.    “And you’re a fisherman. Pleasure or work?”    “Ah, yes, you’re definitely a writer. Let me guess how you deduced my pastime. The faint aroma of fish bait?”    Though she found his attitude patronizing, she couldn’t help smiling, and nodded as she choked on her ginger ale. Karen could have sworn she heard him smirk, but as she turned he regained his composure.    “Trade hazard. I crewed on a sloop and the captain, owner let me join him. Caught a nice sized Blue Fin.” With each word, his demeanor relaxed and his lips began to twitch, as if he were fighting a smile.    “Boston? Or nearby?” Karen recognized the accent. A deep, smooth baritone laugh met her guess.    “I’ve got to be careful around you. Yes, born there. Went to school. But settled on Cape Cod,” he said.    She’d guessed, correctly, Cape Cod, but Cape Ann would have been her other choice. After they discovered they each lived on the peninsula, that had been the beginning. Like a Wellfleet oyster which battled being opened, John would carefully share bits and pieces.    He could be affectionate, privately. And when he laughed, the joy would fill a room. Karen enjoyed fishing, a refuge he would rarely share with anyone unless working a boat, she had hoped he would have other interests they could share. He did: history, science and movies.    Within a month, they’d become lovers and soon after took a weekend holiday. That should have been a sign. He had wanted, on a whim, to go to Vermont, stay at an inn and go cross country skiing, but before leaving Karen had sprained her ankle and picked up a sinus infection. Frugal Yankees, they agreed to travel anyway, with the proviso they’d minimize their recreational activities. From the innkeeper’s perspective, the couple appeared to have fun, but John had been a fish out of water, uncomfortable in the cozy surroundings and with the city folk who came for the weekend. Karen had sensed it, but had kept her mouth shut until they went to breakfast that Sunday morning. 81

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Karen asked the hostess if they could get their favorite table, but the Garden Room was full. They were seated in a formal dining room with equally formal city visitors whom he thought had made a remark about his jeans and ratty sweater. When he had turned red, she’d offered encouragement to say something and, tried to show her allegiance. Neither effort had worked. Karen had lost her patience. Karen and John, had argued through breakfast; she’d made an excuse to leave early as another sinus headache had hit her the night before—not her happiest memory or his.    Of course they would have conflicts. Karen learned she could handle them. She’d admit her faults, when warranted, and keep her voice calm. He’d grumble, spit out some choice words and storm away, only to come back later sheepishly. Karen loved his tentative gestures. She hadn’t needed a white flag when a kiss on the cheek would do. *    Today, months later, they had set sail and he couldn’t stop smiling. He’d become restless and asked Karen to come along as a mate. “I’d love to,” she said, like a teenager who had been invited to the prom. Luckily, she’d had some experience on her father’s sloop, but he’d assigned her mess duty and the bilge pump. After a couple of days, she’d displayed her sea legs and earned a promotion and been trusted with the lines. A vacation for him. Welcome work for her.    Back in her bunk, Karen recalled her thoughts before he’d decided to go, entering her worries in her journal. He’d discovered more of her vulnerabilities: one being her sensitivity. At first, she’d laughed with him, but lately he’d become wearisome. She’d seen signals, but not the unwelcome remarks.    “You should write a column about your funny walk. You know, the way your hips swing back and forth, almost like Monroe, you know in that movie where she’s walking to the train. I love those hips. Great for child bearing.”    “You’d last for one minute at Smith,” she joked. He didn’t see the humor.    That movie with Monroe, they’d both enjoyed for different reasons was Some Like It Hot. She’d love the entire cast, he Monroe. Not that she’d been offended. Men of all persuasions loved the icon. However, John’s obsession with Karen’s hips, her body had become worse after they had seen the movie, annoyed her. From the depth to the surface, he’d become a different person since she’d met him. The man he’d protected which he had decided to reveal when the coast was clear, Karen believed.    And with time, as they discussed various topics it became clear he felt intimidated by her education. “You don’t know everything.” “Where’d you hear that?” 82

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Karen had heard it all before. Déjà vu, remembering her father, who’d never attended college had encouraged Karen to keep learning. Once she had, her dad began to resent her knowledge, so she’d tiptoe around topics for fear of another blow up. John, self-taught after high school, a sometime reader and NPR listener, had initially made a point to flatter Karen about her writing, support her success and relish their debates—it didn’t last.    Challenges also occurred everyday for a writer. Karen’s jumbled brain kept her from writing a word this morning, so she wrapped herself in a quilt, to read recent passages to herself, at a whisper, as John’s hearing was keen. Karen learned years earlier that reading aloud helped her, as with many authors, to hear her prose, to catch errors:   We set sail in his 32-foot sloop that he called The Sea Turtle. He spent his life savings on the boat, keeping a tiny bachelor cottage near Sesuit Harbor, barely big enough for one person, let alone two. Usually down south during the winter months, in his house John used a wood stove for the rare days when he was on the Cape during the off-season. However, John hinted he was tired of the commute and the “snow birds.”    Wants to settle on the Cape and share his life with someone. John admitted the other day that his ex-wife and grown children lived far enough away, in Connecticut, to suit each ex, and he could save for a better home. He and his wife didn’t exactly like another but tried for the sake of their children to keep a détente.    I want to ask why they split. I get the feeling he wouldn’t tell me. I’m beginning to have theories.   John, flummoxes me. So many contradictions.   She had written this entry two weeks ago. Suddenly a rush of cold,

the March wind, made her shiver. When they had left Harwich Port, the sun had been shining and it had been an unusually balmy 75 degrees. Luckily, a hearty camper in her grad school days, Karen packed for all kinds of weather. John had been impressed by her preparedness. “I went to Girl Scout camp,” she laughed, “and actually learned some skills.” He didn’t respond.    This morning, she heard him thump into the cabin.    “Hey! Where’s my breakfast? Guess I have to cook again, huh?” He also taunted her about her cooking, though very good he once admitted, he had problems with how she made breakfast. They had a portable microwave but he refused to use it. John insisted on using a griddle for the bacon, after which cooking the pancakes in the bacon grease. “To hell with reducing fat! Either you do it right or don’t do it at all.”    They’d known each other long enough for Karen to remind him about his heart condition, but he blew off her advice. No, John Stevens exemplified an ornery Yankee. His being older than she didn’t help either. And it felt, sometimes, as if they were living in parallel universes, crossing over when they wanted to make love or make decisions, or share a mutual interest: movies or walking the beach.    The maple wood smoky bacon enticed her into the mess from the bulkhead. She sat at the square table which she had already set, as 83

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he would always forget something. He delivered her flapjacks. The couple had debated once for what seemed like an hour, on whether to use the terms pancakes or flapjacks and had come to a stalemate.   “Good, huh?”    Karen said, “As usual, honey.”    As they wolfed down their food—he adored her healthy appetite and had said as their relationship grew he knew they’d be a great fit because she loved to eat. “No skin and bones for me,” he had said.    This morning more silence, like a becalmed ocean. From port to port, they spoke less and less, for he had recoiled into his shell. She joked, “John you’re a periwinkle. I need to buy a snail fork to pry you out.”    He’d smiled and chuckled saying, “You’ve got me pegged, K.”    His nickname she never liked. An epiphany, she’d forgotten to ask the most important question of the morning as he had cooked breakfast: “Did you catch anything, finally?” He preferred catch and release.    “Nah. Didn’t expect to. Wanted some alone time. You know how that is, K.”    “Yeah, a writer needs her or his privacy,” she said.    “That’s why we’re a good couple. You’re not needy. Respect my independence.”    She had saved her one piece of bacon for last. It had become coated with real Vermont amber maple syrup when she bit into the smokysweet piece. Yes, fattening, but oh so delicious. Only one problem: Karen realized her breakfast had been the center of her attention and his. They had reached another impasse.    So she said it: “John, I know you love me. . .” He rarely said the words now without encouragement from her.    “. . .What’s your point? You’re not going to spoil this. I’m turning about soon anyway.” They were to go south, back to Harwich Port from Castine, Maine.    “Like you did when we were in Vermont?!” She couldn’t hold back any longer.    John stood up abruptly and went above as he yelled, “I’ll pull up anchor. We’ll set off in an hour. The wind is behind us. We should make good time.”    Karen sighed and threw the dishes in the sink. John had been a welcome challenge: his love for the sea which called him regularly; his nonchalance about time unless it involved his own, self-imposed deadlines; his dread of confrontation, and his black and white way of looking at life. Always a right and wrong. She had respected or tried to tolerate these choices. He had little time for hers. No, she couldn’t blame John for being himself or even choosing not to compromise for her. She had been a curiosity, a person to appease his unwitting loneliness, and an exotic flower that once he possessed and admired it, became bored. His life had to be refreshed to continue. Karen had no doubt they would 84

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separate. He would travel Down East for the summer.    Ignoring the dirty dishes, knowing that it would really piss him off, she returned to her bunk, lay on her stomach, grabbed her pen and journal, then wrote the following entry before crying into her pillow: Captain John Stevens lives as the wind blows.

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Poetry|Simon Williams Of Chairs He was a fine uncle, dry jokes, a firm handshake, big Buckinghamshire garden. On the board at Parker-Knoll, he had soft, high-backed chairs, but over the decades I didn’t see enough of him to know him well. The last time we met, at a funeral (they come in batches now) he was in a wheelchair, solid and well upholstered. Still upbeat, wanting to know how the South West lot were doing, he effortlessly played the uncle in avuncular. Now my aunt says he died on Sunday, I’m not sure how to take it, can’t define a level of grief. Do I need to sit down?

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Poetry|Changming Yuan The Bird in the English Bay, Vancouver Sometimes, you prefer to swim alone In the blue, where You have the whole ocean Beneath your wings Other times, you enjoy gliding On the blue, where you Have all the sky Above you head; Occasionally, you dive Long and deep, As if into your own thought Where you seem to be trying To catch a fish, or a wave foam More as a game than for a meal You never care about my loneliness As I struggled To share your joy of solitude

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Visual Art|Pradiptaa Chakraborty

Sacred Welcome Acrylic Painting

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Visual Art|Pradiptaa Chakraborty

Yes - All is Well

Acrylic Painting

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Visual Art|Pradiptaa Chakraborty

Charismatic Synchronization of Love Acrylic Painting

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Visual Art|Pradiptaa Chakraborty

Pulsation of Inner Weapons Acrylic Painting

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Book Review|Bini B.S. Lakshmi Architexture Of Flesh Architecture of Flesh (2015) a collection of poems by Ra Sh published by Poetrywala. (An imprint of Paperwall Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, pp 79. Cover art by Bara Bhaskaran, Foreword by Meena Kandasamy.)

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sually poems that explore intimate corporeal experiences revolve around the personal, often reluctant to set out into the terrain of the social. We rarely find works that do not treat the personal and socio-political as separate concerns. Reading the collection, Architecture of Flesh by Ravi Shankar (Ra Sh), takes one right into the body of the world. At the same time, the flesh in these poems, in its pleasures and pains has a subversive politics which unsettles the norms of the embodied self prescribed by the world. The poems in this collection unabashedly attack the notions of shame and purity surrounding the flesh and also raise pestering questions about power, violence and annihilation targeting the body/ self.    The personae in Ra Sh’s poems participate in a variety of corporeal experiences and their selfhood is fleshed out in the realms of nature and culture. The selves experience love in its tenderness and wildness; they journey through pain, illness, violation and termination. There is an anguished laughter in the wisdom that comes from such a richness of experience. The uniqueness of Ra Sh’s poems is that the ruminations around the flesh do not lead to a grim view of the self or the world. An ironical laughter rings in his poems that offer a glimpse of the unpredictability and limitlessness of experiences through the body in this world. Such corporeal experiences cannot be contained in the clichés of cultural definitions and preconceived notions. There is always an overwhelming abundance and diversity in what we experience in and through the flesh that neither the lessons of culture nor language can capture or explain. The flesh constructs a language of its own in the poems of Ra Sh to make sense of itself and the world. The flesh talks: Be it of love, eroticism, ailments, torture, or death; be it of blending with rain, fire, 92

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forest, soil or sea; be it of its confrontations and conformity with the world. It is not a self-obsessed monologue of the poet. The reading of this collection is entering into conversations spanning across time and spaces where one meets and parts with multitudes, tangible, as if they are there in the verse in flesh and blood, too close for comfort; yet sometimes abstract and distant like those enigmatic personae we meet in dreams and nightmares.    What and who are the architects of flesh? What goes into the making of the corporeal consciousness? The insight that elements, seasons and natural phenomena are architects of flesh comes across; at the same time, how certain cultural practices demonize, distort and destroy the bodily self through their rigid morality and stigmatizing is pivotal to the anxieties of the poet. But he is optimistically assured that culturalprocesses are not limited to the undoing of the body. Ra Sh’s poems exemplify how cultural memories are burnt into every cell of the self as myths, legends and folk tales. The narratives and lore of our timeless pasts shape and disseminate our corporeal consciousness. Here is the paradox that enchants and puzzles poet: how the selves embedded in nature and culture experience simultaneously the rupture and inseparability of these domains in their everyday existence.    Thriving in the paradox of simultaneously meeting and parting domains of nature and culture, Ra Sh is aware of the strengths and limitations of language in facilitating the fleshing out of experiences and sensations. Language is a conduit for the self to permeate the world and to take in the world. Sometimes language with its shortcomings dilutes the force of experiences and sensory perceptions. When one overcomes the prescribed limits of words, poetry and madness await. Perhaps, elevating experiences and sensory perceptions to a plane beyond the framework of words and syntax is an act replete with dangers and adventure; the precarious adventure of creative frenzy. This venturing out into that which defies description is beautifully captured in the poem, “Words and their Cure.” The narrator says: “I did my own research on Words to conclude/ That all words are memories that grow senile.” In a desperate attempt to discover order in chaos, the narrator even divides words into categories. The unanswered questions in this poem on creativity and normalcy are intriguing. The poet is alive to the rich language of the senses. The sights, scents, sounds, tastes and touches while being expressed in words aspire to such a level of intensity unachievable by languages. In “Scents of Love” that celebrates the olfactory heights of intimacy, Ra Sh crosses the boundaries of the senses and language like this: Yet After each night in the star-lit hammock i only smell the moon in your heart. Similarly, in the poem, “Seizure,” there is a moment in which experience 93

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transcends the confines of language: one melting bubble popping from womb to womb in silent love.    While he is enthralled by the awe-inspiring possibilities of experiences, Ra Sh is also awake to the everydayness of experiencing. There are junctures where everything including tragedy looks banal and the banality of evil does not shock or disgust. The suggestion, in many of the poems in this collection, how banal is the tragic in our existence is the most powerful social critique that the poet offers. This awareness is ironically the predominant tone of his poems dealing with excruciating violence, illness and death. In the last stanza of the poem, “War Trophies,” we read: Death is a wheelbarrow You hitch a ride on Going block to block Rubble to rubble Till you are tipped over Into an abyss Where your heart hibernates.    Ra Sh surmounts the limits of languaging through alternatives modes of poetic expressions, especially the visual. That’s the reason why the marvels of moving images, cinema, has become a subtext to many of his poems. The narrative in his poetry often moves like a film strip. The poem, “Stilled Life” written in protest of felling some ancient trees uses the possibilities of the visual to create a shocking image: Installation - ground splattered with blood, twigs, leaves, nests, fragments of flesh, heads, eggs and certain fragrant memories. PACK UP!    The poet’s interventions in the world around are marked with deep engagement and detachment verging to indifference. The first poem of the collection is an indictment on the rape culture; the poem investigates the interfaces of desire and power. It is as if the violated, murdered bodies are talking through a poet who is an empathetic witness. The internalization of the other’s experiences by the poet’s self contrasts with the indifference of the authorities and the safe and privileged for whom the body of the raped one is a mere ‘exhibit’: You run the country from the city. You have nothing to fear. You have brains. You have malls. 94

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You have the Metro and Parliament.    The poet may internalize the experiences of others and empathize. But there is another side to a poet’s involvement. The concluding lines of Ra Sh’s short poem, “Law and Justice” talk volumes about how cleverly escaping one’s answerability and responsibility has become the order of the day. Auden’s horrifying conviction “poetry makes nothing happen” and Yeats’ lament that “The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity” are becoming more and more relevant in our times. “Law and Justice” is a black laughter at the verbal gimmicks that we are so familiar with in this world where ‘noble’ concepts are reduced to mere terminology or mistaken for power games comprising violent tactics. The biblical allusion of a crucifixion of justice without resurrection exposes the brutality of our times in unequivocal terms. But what is most disturbing is the choice of the narrator in such a scenario: “I buried her under the Tree of Redemption/ And washed the blood off my hands.” The poet of this collection is not a sanctimonious judge of the world who critiques the evil ‘other’, but someone who is marveled and horrified by the zenith and nadir of human thoughts, deeds, virtues and vices. He has his quill dripping with the blood and tears of the world and his words flesh out with sensitivity and a sense of his own accountability.

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Poetry|Alan Halford The Elders are Dying. Winter coughs end in silence They sit and wait for more to pass Sitting on hands Wait for bad air to find them out! Voices that rocked our world Fade year on year until no longer heard. Those that leave before their time Lay frozen in the fragile mind. Wheelchairs rest against a wall Nurses make their curtain call Diverting eyes might tell it all Surrender or crawl to morning. Plaques upon the wall or grave Say little of any progress made While praying to god for death delayed Denied! All lost and nothing saved.

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Poetry|Art Heifetz blue ice the fog crept in like a stealthy cat balanced on the mountain tops and swallowed up the view the evergreens and snowy peaks vanished like illusions and he felt he was the last man on earth stranded on a swinging bridge above a raging river he could only hear slowly methodically he set off from each cairn tapping the ground with his staff like an old blind beggar in a tale by Grimm once he slipped his fall arrested only by his boot lodged in a crevice between two rocks and it was then he saw it a field of blue ice as pure and clear as heaven curled around the mountain like a dog’s tail he reached the cabin just before the night closed in and sipped his brandy by the fire trading stories with an English couple who’d been lost for hours

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when he finally nodded off he dreamt of a beautiful Swede with ice blue eyes who held him captive in her ice blue heart

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Short Fiction|Christopher S. Bell Family Dinner

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ad luck occasionally had its benefits. That’s how Janine felt about Harold. Her car broke down on the way home from work; a few concerned citizens stopping to check. He wasn’t one of them. It was almost six by the time Triple A towed her to Plusky’s garage; the owner already enjoying his grease-stained dinner. He didn’t have time to find the defect that particular evening which left Janine at quite the disadvantage. The tow truck driver left without a word, off to another stranded damsel.    Harold remained while she stressed by a few junkers, dialing randomly for support. Dinner was at seven, and Ellie was her rock, but Janine could already hear the somber groan ringing in her ear before it happened. “Ya know, I would just like one night in my life with no stress from anyone. Not my mother, not my siblings, and especially not my best friend.” There had to be another solution.    “Excuse me miss; do you need a ride somewhere?” Harold asked. He was maybe thirty, dressed in wrinkled brown business attire.    “Um… Ya know, that’d be great, except I don’t know you.”    Introductions quickly followed. He worked a few blocks away at The Harlin Bank and Trust, dealing predominately in loans. Janine spoke little of her daily grind at the office, each copy and fax making her head hurt. He opened the car door and awkwardly asked for directions. Each obstacle drifted to the back of her mind matching those passed along the way. “So are you married or anything?” She asked.    “Nope,” he answered simply.    “Yeah, me neither,” Janine sighed. “Not much luck in that department, especially in this town.”    “Yeah, I hear ya.”    “No place to really go either. I think I just about exhausted the bar scene when I turned twenty-one.”    “Not much of a task.”   “Nope.”    “How old are you now? If you don’t mind me asking. I mean, I know you’re not supposed to ask a woman her age, but I figured since I’m doing you a solid here you might enlighten me.”    Janine smiled. “I’m twenty-four,” she said. “What about you?”   “Thirty-two.”   “Really?”   “Uh huh.”    “You don’t look it.”    “Thank you,” Harold knew better than to blush.    “Sure,” Janine pointed out the window. “It’s this one right here on 99

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the left.”    “Gotcha.” Her driver pulled into the sliver of a lot. Four front doors led to individual units like storage lockers.    “So thank you so much. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t come to my rescue.”    “No problem,” he paused. “Of course, don’t you have family around here?”    “I’m originally from Saginaw, but now my parents live in South Carolina.”    “Oh, okay. That makes sense.”    “Yeah…” Janine took a deep breath. “So can I ask you something?”   “Sure.”    “I feel kind of weird about it, because we just met and everything, but you were nice enough to give me a ride, so I guess I mine as well just ask.” Sweeping a few loose strands of hair from her eyes, she leaned in. “So I’ve got this dinner for my friend Ellie. She’s leaving for this journalism internship tomorrow in Chicago. Anyway, it’s at her house in about twenty minutes, and I kind of need a ride there, but I gotta change first, and I know this puts you at quite the disadvantage, waiting around for somebody you just met and all. And I wouldn’t…”    “No problem,” Harold interrupted.    “Really?” Janine perked up.    “Yeah, it’s fine. I can wait for you.”    “Alright, awesome. I just have to run in and change real quick.” She paused, a bit befuddled. “You can come in if you want or…”    “No, that’s okay. I’ll be alright out here.”    “Okay.” Relieved, Janine rushed into her messy apartment. She wasn’t afraid of Harold, although each adolescent warning played on repeat. Don’t trust anyone, especially men you’ve just met. Carry pepper spray or a rape whistle. No one’s allowed inside without permission.    Darting from one room to another, her sweaty work clothes joined a pile on the bedroom floor. Uneven layers of speed stick and perfume followed; the lemon checkered skirt blending well with her black top and matching sweater. She went easy on the eye shadow and lipstick, ignoring a tiny pattern of blemishes on her forehead. That particular day had taken its toll although Janine felt slightly better finally exiting. 6:55 meant time enough to arrive without complications.    There was something gratifying about stepping back into Harold’s car, almost new. He listened to and turned down the distortion without her having to ask. “You all set?” The driver inquired.    “Yeah, I am. Thank you so much for doing this.”    “Don’t worry about it. I really don’t have anything going on tonight anyway.”    “Well uh…” Janine stopped mid-sentence and reconsidered her speculative proposition. She wasn’t leaving enough space between them. He was a good samaritan, but there had to be some common 100

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separation. Harold couldn’t be the answer she was looking for, could he? “Do you wanna come to dinner with me?”    “Oh no, I don’t wanna impose or anything,” he fluttered.    “It won’t be a big deal. I can promise you that.”    “Yeah, but we just met each other, and I was only doing you a favor really.”    “I mean, it’s cool if you don’t want to. I just figured I’d invite you, since like you said, you did me a solid.” She pursed her lips and looked out the window a moment.    “And I appreciate that, but I’m not exactly prepared for whatever this is.”    “It’s only dinner, at my best friend’s house. You’ll fit in just fine, believe me.”    “Yeah, but I’ve been wearing these clothes all day and…”    “You look great to me,” she interrupted.    “Thank you, he sighed, soon agreeing to accompany her.    They weren’t far from Ellie’s house, just a few turns and street lights. Janine talked for the duration, Harold nodding when necessary. She had a unique of saying very little, the dress making their walk up the driveway almost unbearable. Ellie’s mother, Melanie, answered the call after a few seconds of doorbell echo. She froze at the sight of Janine with a man, especially one dressed so well. “Well hello there,” Melanie said. “Glad you could make it.”    “Sorry we’re a little late, Mel,” Janine hugged her surrogate caregiver.    “Oh don’t worry about it. Dinner is just about ready.” The mother loosened the ties on her strawberry apron and gave Harold another glance. “So who am I looking at here?”    “Hello, I’m Harold,” he ungracefully shook her hand.    “He’s my chauffeur,” Janine joked. “Hopefully, we’ll have some scraps left over for him.”    “Sure, I think so. Come on in.” Melanie pulled her guests through the threshold and shut the front door. Her house was sensible, scattered with nods to past vacations and forced excursions. Janine led Harold into the living room; the three Crandle children sitting in a row on the sectional sofa watching the local news report with waning grins. They were Mia, Joel and finally Ellie. Harold respectfully greeted each, letting his recent associate fill in the blanks. Janine didn’t explain much of their encounter, but rather introduced him as a new friend.    They sat with Melanie’s offspring; Harold scanning each new acquaintance in-between vacant stares at the television. Mia was maybe thirty; her long legs carelessly stretched underneath the coffee table. Both girls had brown hair, but Mia’s was a shade lighter and also considerably shorter. They barely looked alike. The eldest was plain, while Ellie’s face stood distinctive from dimples to the tiny dot just above her lip. It made her look like a French film star despite her sunken chin 101

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and wide blue eyes. Joel wasn’t overweight so much as lazy. His large stomach hobbled out of a thin cotton T-shirt with skulls on the sleeves; torn blue jeans and the aftermath of a Mohawk tying the ensemble together.    Nobody spoke much at first; Janine and Ellie catching up on the day with the occasional comment from Mia or Joel. When they finally shifted to Harold, he took each question in stride. There was the job he hated paired with an unruly social life. The fact that he’d spontaneously fallen into dinner that evening was a transaction still open to interpretation. Harold could foresee himself waking at any given moment with little recollection of who these people were.    The mother beckoned them forth; the dining room table set elegantly. Janine and Harold took the left side while Joel and Mia sat opposite them. Melanie and her youngest situated at the heads, arching their necks in a corresponding fashion while passing the dishes. There was pasta, meatballs, green beans, and rolls with banana cream pie for dessert. Harold checked Janine’s portions before scooping onto his plate. There was no prayer, which only prompted the guest to compliment the cook after a few bites.    “Why thank you Harold,” Melanie nearly blushed. “This used to be Ellie’s favorite.”    “I still like it. My tastes have just changed a little since I was six,” Ellie replied.    “That’s for sure,” Joel said.    “Oh like you’re one to talk, poster child,” his little sister scoffed. “Tell me Joel, when did you start caring so little about music and so much about fashion?”    “Ya see, that’s where you’re wrong. I don’t care about anything at all,” he replied.    “How very punk of you,” Mia sighed with a forkful of sauce.    “Okay, that’s plenty from all of you,” their mother intervened. “It’d be nice to have one solitary dinner where we don’t all cut each other down like weeds.”   “But mom, this is Ellie’s last one at home for a while,” Mia argued. “Why should we pretend to be any different?”    “She’s got a point,” Ellie added.    “So are you excited?” Harold asked.    “You have no idea,” Melanie’s youngest swooned. “Just to get away for a while will be great.”     “Because you have it so bad here, what with me cooking your dinner every day and finishing your laundry when you fall asleep on the sofa.” The mother desired recognition.    “I appreciate what you do, Mel,” Janine said.    “Yeah, well that’s all fine and good except you’re not my kid.”    “We all love you mom,” Mia intervened. “Now, let’s change gears a little here. How did Harold and you meet, Janine?” 102

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“Well ya see, that’s a funny story,” Harold jumped in. “I was at a matinee maybe two weeks ago, taking in some culture, if you will, when Janine here walks by me, almost trips and nearly spills her entire big gulp on my trousers.”   “You’re kidding? That’s ridiculous,” Ellie grinned. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”    “Oh ya know, I didn’t think it was a story worth retelling,” Janine attempted to save face.    “Anyway, we hit it off after that, and here I am, meeting all of you fine folks,” Harold said.    “Well, it’s a real pleasure.” Joel smirked across the table.    Dinner continued in an array of misinformation from all parties. Melanie discussed her new love interest from the gym, Ollie. Mia talked about her current case; three strikes coming faster than anticipated. Joel continually checked his cellphone for messages, but rarely sent any back. Ellie appeared joyful for everything she was about to leave behind, while her best friend regretted the advent of such bad luck.    Pie was a blessing. Everyone relaxed in the living room, forking their pieces, occasionally laughing with the syndicated sitcom audience. Janine was marginally on edge after Harold lied to everyone. The situation wasn’t unbecoming for any party, and yet an underlying sense of misconception lingered from one plate to the next. Ellie excused herself to the bathroom around nine, prompting Janine to follow. The friend knocked gently on the wooden knots and waited for a response.    “Yeah, so what’s up?” Ellie asked after Janine shut the door behind her.    “Something weird is going on here.”    “Oh yeah, what’s that?” The loud flush cut the tension.    “Harold lied about how we met each other.”    “What the hell are you talking about?”    “We just met today at Plusky’s garage, not at the movies.”    “Yeah, I was wondering about that,” Ellie washed her hands. “I can’t remember the last time we haven’t seen a movie together.”    “Exactly.”    “So you picked up this guy at the garage, huh?”    “Well, sort of. My car broke down, and he offered to give me a ride, and then I needed to get here, so I asked if he could take me, but then I felt bad, so I invited him.”    “Wow, that’s quite the convenience, huh?” Ellie joked.    “This isn’t funny. I’m kind of worried right now.”    “Why, because he lied about something stupid? Who cares? I know men who have done worse things.”    “That’s not the point. I don’t want him to give me a ride home. I need a way out.”    “Okay, calm down spazoid. There has to be a way out of this one, although I’d like to say something before that.” 103

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“What?” Janine scoffed.    “Just that this Harold seems like a decent enough person. I mean, he took you home, took you here. What’s your major problem other than the fact that he lied to a bunch of strangers anyway?”    “Something is off about this. I can’t explain it.”    “You’re always eager to throw out the good ones.”    “I don’t even know this person, and I made a mistake. I should have called you when my car broke down.”    “Yeah, why didn’t you?”    “I don’t know. It’s your last night in town. I didn’t wanna ruin anything.”    “Well, I think you may have anyway, inviting a potential psycho into our home of homes.”    “He’s likely harmless.”    “So you say.”    “Listen, you’ll give me a ride home, right?”    “Yes, of course. Now what are you gonna do about Mr. Wonderful in there?”    “Don’t worry I’ll handle it.”    “Okay, if you say so.” Ellie followed her friend back into the living room. Melanie had collected all of their plates, rigorously rinsing while loading the dishwasher. Janine stopped dead in front of Harold, sunken into the sectional. “So don’t you have to be getting a move on here soon?” She asked him.    “Do I?” He replied.    “Well, yeah, you’ve got work earlier than I do, but it’s okay. Ellie said she can give me a ride home.”   “She did?”    “Yep, no problem here,” Ellie beamed.    “Plus, we’re gonna need some time to talk one-on-one before she leaves, and you don’t want to be waiting around for all of that.” Janine felt confident in her lapsed explanation.    “No definitely, I get we’re you’re coming from here.” Harold rose from the sofa and reached out to the family. Mia and Joel were genuine with their good-byes, but didn’t move much from the cushions. Melanie gave the man a sheltering hug as he thanked her again for the glorious meal.    Ellie followed Janine and Harold to the door, moving things along. “Well, I’ll let you two have some time alone real quick.”    Janine glared at her friend. “Certainly, thanks for that Ellie.” She turned to Harold. “C’mon, I’ll walk you to your car.”    “Okay.” His steps were a bit reluctant down the driveway, the man hanging his head just low enough to make his date feel some slight shades of remorse.    “So, listen I’m sorry if things were a bit weird tonight,” Janine said.    “No, you don’t have to apologize. I should be apologizing. I don’t know why I told that story in there.” 104

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“Yeah, why did you?”    “I can’t really explain. How we met each other today didn’t seem like something worth telling. I mean, I helped you out of a clutch. There wasn’t much more to it than that.”    “I appreciate what you did Harold, but you could’ve told them the truth. I was going to before you interrupted.”    “Really? The full truth, no gloss?”    “I suppose,” Janine said reluctantly. “I don’t know. I kind of see what you mean by not wanting to get into all the details. I should have never put you in this situation to begin with.”    “I didn’t mind. It was fun.”    “You can’t be serious?”    “Do you have any idea how boring my life gets sometimes?” Harold asked.    “Well, I just met you today, so I can’t really speculate at this point.”    “Somewhere after thirty I lost my motivation to meet new people, but meeting you tonight was a good thing, and I really hope I didn’t screw it up completely at dinner.”    “You didn’t,” Janine reassured him. “It just kind of put me in a weird place. I guess I’ve been going through a few things lately, what with Ellie’s move looming over my head and all.”    “It’s hard when friends leave.”    “Yeah, it really is. I mean, I’ll go visit her, and she’ll come home to visit me, but that whole distance thing will eventually take its toll.”    “Most of my friends are gone now. It’s depressing, like I always thought I’d be the one to get away before they did, but they either got married or found a better job, and now here I am, like the last of the Navajo or something.”    “You’re ridiculous,” Janine smiled.    “According to you,” Harold paused. “So what did you tell Ellie, that I was full of shit?”    “Something like that. Of course, she told me that most guys are way worse.”   “That’s reassuring.”   “I bet.”    “So listen, I know I may have completely blown it, but I can’t help but feel like we connected on some basic level tonight.”    “Oh yeah, you think so?”    “I do, and I liked pretending with you, even if it was only for tonight.”    “No one asked you to pretend, Harold.”    “Oh no? Then why did you invite me to dinner in the first place?”    “I felt bad. I just wanted to be nice, maybe do you a solid like you did me.”    “I don’t need any favors,” Harold said sternly.    “Oh, how very typical.” 105

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“What?”    “Ya know, I think the two of us are past the point where we have to act like every guy and every girl has ever acted before.”    “I’m not trying to act like anybody. This is how I feel. I like you, and I’d like to see you again, and I’m sorry if things have been severely misconstrued.”    “So am I.”    “But understand that you put me in this situation, and I only acted the way I did to kind of balance out the crazy a little bit.”    “You don’t need to come up with an excuse. It’s okay. I think we both made our fair share of mistakes tonight.”    “So you understand?”    “As much as that’s possible.” Janine shifted back to the house, half expecting the whole Crandle family at the living room window, eyes inbetween the cracks of the curtains. Their absence made her take a step closer. “In any case, despite what’s happened, I had a nice time.”    “Me too,” Harold replied.    “So I’m going to give you my number, and let you figure it out from there, okay?”   “Sure, okay.”    “So give me your phone.” Janine snatched the cellular out of his hand the second he pulled it from his pocket. Her fingers were fast, typing in the individual digits before returning it to him. “There ya go.”   “Thank you.”    “No, thank you. You made tonight considerably more memorable, Harold.” Without thinking, she kissed him softly on the left cheek. He blushed slightly before getting in his car and driving home. Janine felt considerably better after their talk. The air was clear and only remotely stifled when she returned to the Crandle house. Ellie asked what took her friend so long to which Janine could only reply with a half-truth. She and Harold still had a few matters worth sorting. Ellie let the issue remain unsolved as the girls hid upstairs and waited for a later hour.    Harold thought about Janine the whole way home, getting turned around a few times before finally making sense of where she and Ellie lived in relation to him. It was a run-down house on the edge of town; vacant lot on one side with several for-sale signs on the other. Folks were running away in search of happier trails and looser inhibitions. The banker didn’t exactly mind, although felt some remorse given the circumstances of that particular evening. He had only fed Andrea breakfast that morning. She was probably hungry, solemn, irritable, skinnier than before. Andrea hated the basement, which is why Harold made sure to get home by at least five most days. Here was somebody who didn’t take well to loneliness. No matter, though. She’d have company soon enough.

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Poetry|MarĂ­a C. DomĂ­nguez Ode to nothings Behold lonely traveller King of everythings that never belong monuments of molecules rolling over black and white centuries dust subjects who whine hollow below whilst they hold onto no things

rehab have been there before to the place of pain needed recovery needed to forge gravity and thus overcome mistrust no longer dwells here there the roar of silence alluring nothing within nothing I made it to my centre looked into pale languid eyes two moons reflected my sole existence so I clung beyond inexistence

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Poetry|Meera Nair Love Some days I paint you Blue Not the blue of the blue sky But the black of the blue ocean Blue Black The colour of the playboy Some days I dip my brush in white And paint you on a white canvas I place my hands on my hips And laugh loud For the power I hold to make you invisible Some days It is brown Raw and earthy Brown like the mud Rusty like the earth I add a little sparkle to your eyes Sometimes I mix a pinch of the dream lotion And pour it into your eyes Ah! If only you could see You would fall in love with your eyes There are days when I pull your lips into a pout Days when I paint them black The nose is a stubborn creature So I let it be I hang the pictures on my bedroom wall I gaze at my art I revel in my liberty To paint you as I wish

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Then comes night And my hubris My illusion of freedom Everything dissolves in the silver glow For every picture I paint Is you You alone

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Short Fiction|Antonio Casella A Misfit in Heaven

A

fter just a few days in heaven Norris Brown began to fret. He knew it was wrong and the fact that everyone else looked blissful didn’t help either.    After a while he stood out like a green monster. You can’t hide that sort of aggravation in heaven for long. So the word was out: Norris Brown, the new guy, was weird. Norris Brown was depressed. Depressed! cried several of the souls when they heard it whispered through the grapevine, how can you get depressed in heaven, for gods sake? They were mystified, outraged, hurt. It was unheard of, an embarrassing scandal. Something had to be done about it.    He needs therapy, they said. So they sent him to see one of the great sages of antiquity. Could have been Socrates, or Cato the Younger, Confucius, wise Solomon, who knows? But there seemed to be no doubt, by the reverence they accorded him, that he was one of the great pillars of ancient wisdom.    “So, young man, tell me what is on your mind,” began the Sage in gentle tones rolling up the sleeve of his sweet-smelling cream tunic. Norris looked at the blue sky through the leaves, listened to the birds, took in the cool scents of the flowers and felt very stupid and very ungrateful. They’d gone to a great deal of trouble to accommodate him, given him the honour of a session with a great man, nothing but absolute honesty would suffice.    “Oh great and wise one,” he began, “why am I so unhappy when I should be the happiest man in Heaven?”    You could tell, by the tautness of the lines around his deep ancient eyes, that the Sage was taken aback. He gave his long white beard several strokes.    “Come with me,” said he.    He took him for a long walk along the most beautiful, the most suggestive cobblestone avenue, shaded by newly leaved elms of tender, lime green; flanked on either side by paddocks of sweet scented violets, and pink and magenta primroses. The sound of gurgling water led them to a pond and there they sat under a willow on a limestone bench encrusted with delicate moss. Canaries, finches and nightingales were staging a melodious concert such as the great Mozart or Chopin at their inspired best might try to emulate.    “It’s so beautiful here,” said Norris, “please let me remain, this is one place where I know I will be happy.”    That’s precisely the reaction the wise man wanted, and of course he granted Norris his wish. The great thing about heaven is that it’s for all 110

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souls. There are no exclusive suburbs or millionnaires’ condominiums.    For a while Norris was indeed the happiest soul in heaven. He drank of the wonderful smells, listened to the glorious music, let the silver light warm him all over and infuse him with the joy of eternal life. This lasted a few days, perhaps a week (it’s difficult to keep track of time in the afterlife, since not many are interested in it) then, in what must have been the second week, Norris started to experience a resurgence of ennui.    The Sage spent most of his time doing precisely what wise souls are meant to do: sitting under a huge chestnut tree contemplating the glory of creation. Consequently he did not notice the sudden change in Norris’ mood, until during one of his walks he nearly tripped on him, lying on the grass in tears.    “It’s all very beautiful I know... and so peaceful too... it’s just that... there is nothing to do,” he cried pitifully as he pulled at wild oats, put it in his mouth and chewed on it.    The sage drew a sigh of exasperation. His expression became even more kindly.    “You see, my son, here in heaven we don’t have to do things, you can if you wish it, but heaven, particularly the higher heaven up there and he waved his large hand up towards the upper reaches where the mountain was enveloped in a puff of silver cloud is for living the contemplative life.”    And he explained all about the contemplative life, seeking the infinite, searching for beauty eternal and everything. Norris had to admit that he made it sound beautiful, but he soon lost concentration. The fact is that Norris wasn’t endowed with the best of brains. At school he had trouble understanding such concepts as osmosis; as for semiotics it left him utterly fazed. So he had to concede that he wasn’t a brilliant scholar.    However nobody likes to be judged an ignoramus and Norris was no exception, so he pretended he understood, thanked the Sage for his advice and departed leaving him to cogitate under his chestnut tree. Everyone naturally assumed that he was cured, so they gave him a big party. They came smiling beatifically, present in hand: chocolates, a book on how to grow the best camellias, another called ‘Aromatic Delights’ ... that sort of thing. Quite a few brought wine, wine the likes of which can only be produced by heavenly vineyards and whose magical taste therefore cannot be described, as there is nothing on earth to compare.    Needless to say that Norris clean forgot about his ennui. They all forgave him, in fact there was a general sigh of relief that things had worked out. The last thing they wanted was a disgruntled soul in heaven. You never know, these things have a way of snowballing and soon they’d be having a general mood of discontent on their hands. So perhaps they overdid things a little and Norris drank and drank of the 111

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beatific elixir, more than was good for him. That is to say, it was great at the time, but the next day... well one really would have to be a super saint to think of the aftermath in moments of supreme joy like that.    In all that wine-imbued euphoria Norris was overwhelmed by gratitude and Joy, wondered why in heaven he had been unhappy. He felt so overwhelmed that he cried copious tears, apologised for being so ungrateful and kissed just about each one of the guests, some with rather more fervour and persistence than was appropriate.    The next day Norris woke up and found that the place just didn’t seem the same. Of course things look different the day after, but it’s an indication of how miserable he felt that he thought someone must have laced his drink the night before. An absurd idea, nobody in heaven would do that, if they were capable of such a thing they would not be there. But Norris was too despondent to see the logic of such reasoning.    When the souls found that Norris had reverted, they could not hide their dismay. Alarums of discontent pounded the tranquil walls. Nothing nasty of course, this was heaven after all, but really their patience was wearing thin. It’s alright to feel low occasionally, even the good are not immune to it, but Norris’ attitude was unacceptable. It was becoming quite disturbing actually. There were private rumblings and public remonstrance.    A mob gathered in the streets. We know that individually all souls in heaven are good, the best... but even the best intentioned can lose it in a crowd. Their comment, I’m afraid, were not very edifying.    ‘The man’s a nuisance.’    ‘A spoilt little brat’    ‘An arrogant so and so, just who does he think he is?’    ‘Frankly I believe it’s quite, quite serious. Norris Brown is dangerous. He must be stopped.’    ‘The problem with him is... he doesn’t know how well off he is. Send him down to hell, then he’ll know all about it.’    The more elderly souls, who had the good sense not to join the march, looked on aghast from the sidelines. They hadn’t witnessed such commotion since that time a woman had outraged everyone by suggesting that God should retire and make way for a female to be elected to the position.    Of course their frustrations were understandable. Undoubtedly Norris was being difficult, they could understand some souls losing patience, but to call him names was just not helpful, apart from the fact that it ran counter to everything that heaven stood for.    As for the threat of hell... the last time it was tried, all hell broke loose, literally. The truth is that hell felt greatly threatened by anyone who had tasted the bliss of heaven and then, for whatever reason, was sent down. It just caused so much bother. No, that option was out.    “Wait a minute,” said a lady with shaven head and unshaven underarms, “let’s not get carried away, what we need to do is find a solution, 112

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not condemn him. I mean if that’s how he feels who are we to judge? Are we in heaven or what? We need to start from where he is at. Some flexibility is required here. After all, things are changing fast out there and this Norris Brown may well be the shape of things to come. “    “That’s right,’ said a man with weedy strands down to his shoulders growing from around the edge of a shiny pate, warming up to this line of discussion, “this is a great challenge for us. We need to adjust to the new reality. We have been a bit complacent, let’s be frank about it.”    At this point a lady with golden hair piled up on her broad forehead, cathedral style, rose grandly and spoke.    “I cannot believe I have heard correctly. Is it suggested that we compromise our standards and pander up to apathy? Why, this soul isn’t just a fool, he is positively subversive. Don’t you realize that if an exception were made of him we would have millions of worthless souls knocking at the door of heaven? Never, Never. I will not let this institution, the highest and most prestigious in the whole of creation, be demeaned,” her rouged cheeks hid the full intensity of her anger, “and if any more like him present themselves at our door they will gain admission only over my dead soul”.    Which straight away put paid to that possibility, for as we know souls live forever.    An impasse had been reached. They stared at each other despondent. Meanwhile Norris was waiting outside in trepidation, conscious of the fact that his eternal destiny was being decided. Finally the HeadCommittee person came up with a suggestion.    “It’s clear, fellow souls, that a mistake has been made. This soul is just not one of us. He doesn’t belong. Heaven is a great privilege, the reward for a life well lived. This man is unhappy and dissatisfied. Something is badly wrong. Send him back to the Heavenly Registrar, let him sort it out”.    The Registrar was a comfortable, well groomed man in his late fifties, wearing casual soft white shoes, gabardine trousers and white cotton shirt with permanently pressed open collar. He looked like the sort who enjoyed his earthly life and in heaven continued on the same vein. As a matter of fact the Registrar was about to leave, bag over shoulder, for the golf course.    Needless to say Norris’ arrival didn’t please him much.    “I can only spare a few moments,” he said glancing at his watch, “what can I do for you?”    Norris began to explain. The Registrar lost patience.    “Well look, you’ll have to come back after lunch. I just haven’t got the time to sort you out,” and he brushed past him. At the door he stopped, “wait a minute” said he squinting, “Aren’t you the guy we had so much trouble placing... Morris something...”   “Norris’    “Right, Norris Brown. Twenty six. Pretty inconclusive sort of life. 113

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Unemployed, unattached, apathetic. Spent most of your time trying to figure out what to do with yourself. Not enough sins for hell, not enough good deeds to qualify for heaven. It was touch and go there for a while. In the end we gave you the benefit of the doubt and sent you up; by default, as it were. Didn’t work out, eh?”    ‘”Well ... “    “I thought so. Now what? No point sending you down to that other lot at this stage, they’re getting choosy these days. They can afford to, just about everyone’s heading their way lately. What a mess!” He looked at his watch again, made a reluctant decision, “ah what the hell, I’m gonna be late anyway. Tell you what, I just remembered...”    He put down his bag and went back to the desk, turned on the screen, pressed a few keys.    “Ah, ah! I thought so. You’re in luck. Guy just died... playing a few holes. Wow, what away to go!” he laughed, greatly amused “yeah, looks like the type that could serve our purpose. It’s the only way out...”    The Registrar then went on to explain the procedure for a soul transplant.    “This is very unusual, might start a precedent which I’ll probably regret… Never mind, I’ll have to cross that bridge when I get to it. Anyway, it’s your only chance to have another go. For godssake do something with yourself though. Live. I mean to say, nobody expects you to raise hell, or get yourself crucified, but you need to justify your life some way. Now, get going, and don’t let me see you here again until you’ve lived a bit.”    He picked up his bag and before dashing out he added, “for starters you can learn to play golf and engage with another being.”    That morning a couple of tourists trying out the Resting Meadows golf course, discovered a man slumped by the sandpit at the seventh hole.    In the hospital, when he came to, a dark haired nurse with watch pinned on her ample breast was measuring his pulse. Norris, who now answered to the name of Derek Jeggo, gave her a sleepy smile and asked: “Do you play golf by any chance?”

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Poetry|Shirani Rajapakse Earth Song I am the weeping earth cringing in pain when you dig me up, pulling out limbs, entrails leaving me to hemorrhage. Shocked, in excruciating pain, no one hears my silent cries. Children orphaned, lives torn apart, fracking my veins drinking me dry. Parched I crumble into pieces. I am the silent sky watching anger whizz by to explode in places you don’t like. Not yours to care while I listen to the cries of the weak trying to make sense of it all amidst terror raining down from above. I am the roaring waves, the deep darkness under heaving waters, flowing rivers gurgling streams and silent lakes that stand still as mirrors for clouds to comb their hairs. You damn me everywhere but I lift my head straining to rise, course through the way I want and not how you think I should. I am the raging fire that burns, taking the trees with me chasing the birds away, the deer, rabbits and wild beasts that hide within my voluminous cloaks. Trees, how I love to sway to birds tunes, the beat of squirrels feet, weave my magic through the land, burrowing in deep, standing up tall reaching high to the skies waving my many arms in the breeze holding onto life. I am woman I am life I am earth and I bleed. 115

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Poetry|Junaith Aboobaker Translator: Jose Varghese

Ramani B.A. Ramani was love gone wrong, a passion-insanity crossover. Her lips made red with betel mix, she would talk in English with schoolkids near the bus stops and schools. “I studied B.A. Literature I am Ramani B.A. I will talk to you in English Cummon children, let’s talk...” Days would end, her mates would come in the night to steal her love. She’d disappear for some days. And then she’d come back. Her saree in disarray, her hair cropped by the police, she’d be back for the kids. As Ramani B.A. loitered around as English Ramani and Crazy Ramani and finally finished off her life, she had with her a note written in Malayalam: “I could never ever hate you, Varghese.” When her body was moved to the public cemetery in the municipality cart, someone crumpled and threw away the note. It lay on the road, all wet in the rain. “I could never ever hate you, Varghese.”

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Little Guy Little Guy has a problem. He steals. He doesn’t steal anything that comes by, like what the regular thieves do. He steals only pets pigeons, lovebirds, ornamental chickens, rabbits, parrots and mynahs, that people own so lovingly. Whether it costs hundreds or thousands, Little Guy has only one price for it all - fifty rupees. And he gets drunk for that full fifty. If any pets are missing, even if they have just flown away, or were caught by the cat, the village folks would catch Little Guy. Even if it’s something he hasn’t stolen Little Guy would say that he did it. “No cash to return, beat me if you like”, he’d say. They’d beat him black and blue, and he’d just yield to them, all submissive. Little Guy steals everyday, sells the booty for fifty bucks everyday, drinks for that fifty bucks everyday, gets beaten up by the village folks everyday.

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Visual Art|Poonam Chandrika Tyagi

Inside Outside Acrylic Painting

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Visual Art|Poonam Chandrika Tyagi

Missing You

Acrylic Painting

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Visual Art|Poonam Chandrika Tyagi

Those Moments Acrylic Painting

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Short Fiction|Mona Dash Inside the City    Here in Vegas, I feel like myself, glittering, shiny, beautiful, the way I am meant to be.    Outside, the heat of the desert is all-encompassing but as we enter the Venetian, there’s a sweet cool smell, as if the air is sprayed with Chanel No 5, no less. I am already in love. He smiles when I tell him this. Men are proud when their actions make their women happy. I know how to delight them. I do it without having to think anymore.    I know he is proud to walk in with me into the lounge. I feel his hands on my behind – ‘Nice,’ he says. I am wearing my Prada white skirt. On the flight, he’s been saying he can’t wait to get to the room. And I can’t either, though for a different reason. If the outside is this good, then what would the suites be like? Karan stays at the most luxurious hotels, but here, in this land of luxury, it will be well over the top.    We walk onto deep grey soft pile carpets. The walls are as if spun gold. The bed is vast and even though trademark hotel white, the sheets have a soft sheen. Silk. I lie back on the pile of pillows and cushions, sink into the softness, sigh, and as he watches, I spread my legs. He immediately drops his iPhone – he is always emailing or talking on the phone – and jumps into bed. It is so easy, I think again, as he lies on top of me. It is easy to keep them wound round my fingers. Karan likes it when I keep my shoes on. I am wearing the red Jimmy Choos, a gift from him. Again that’s something they like.    Karan is one of my best customers, one of the steadiest. I have been his escort for two years now. He has never used anyone else, at least he says that. And I believe him. I have never let him down.    ‘Did you enjoy it?’ he asks, legs and arms, a heap on me.    ‘I did, you were amazing.’    That’s my usual answer. Sometimes he spends time on me, but I know when he wants to and when he doesn’t and it’s easier this way. I would rather just concentrate on giving him pleasure, and leaving mine out of it. He is so fit, so trim.    We unpack, change into dinner clothes, and go downstairs. I wear a gold strapless dress, just skimming the top of my thighs.    ‘So Vegas,’ he says.    He drops the room key. I bend to pick it. I know he’s done this on purpose.    ‘Nice,’ he smiles.    Long slim legs, spray tanned to perfection. I look at myself in the panelled mirrors. He does as well.    There was that time, when I would walk down Knightsbridge, past the Gucci, Chanel, Jimmy Choos, Prada and want to go in and become 121

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a part of the shop. Have a handsome attendant wait on me, flash my card without a worry. The wealth so palpable, so unseen in my little village in Ukraine. I would stand there in the London rain just looking in. As an au pair in Knightsbridge, my monthly salary wasn’t enough to buy even a belt in one of these shops. I longed for it, I longed to feel safe with money in my bank. Why else would I leave home and come here to this city? Then a chance advertisement, an impulsive application at Carmen’s Secrets and within a few hours, I was up on their website.    You either provide your own photos, or pay them for the clothes and a photo shoot. There was no one to ask to photograph me and selfies with an iPhone were not the answer. So I said I would get my own outfits and pay them for the photos. The outfits were easy to put together. A diaphanous sarong worn like a dress, tied at the waist with the Gucci belt, and the red and beige stilettoes I sort of borrowed from my employer. She wouldn’t miss it, considering she had a cupboard full of shoes, and these were the ones she never used. We could choose our options– whether we would show our faces or not, full frontal or clothed, topless, a side back, a full back and so on. I went for the complete sans the face. I sat coyly on a chair, legs almost crossed, only wearing my shoes. In another, I wore my scarf dress, and asked the staff to arrange a fan blowing from the front. My curves showed through the falling away fabric. I wore a £10 bikini I had bought from New Look, but with the heels, and a large vintage necklace hanging on my chest, the cost of the white bikini was impossible to guess.    I asked for the highest rate, but they don’t allow that when you start. They put me on the medium range, two weeks trial they said. If I didn’t hook, I would be put on the lowest band of £ 500/hour. But Karan called up almost within an hour of my photo going live.    Later he told me why. It was the hair and the almost crazy dress sense. He felt the face behind the veil had to be beautiful. The veil had an Indian touch. I hadn’t agreed to my face being photographed, as I worried that my employer or one of their friends who had met me, might use the site.    After a few months of being a business escort, I left my au pair position. The jobs demanded similar talents, pacify children or pacify men. The hours were more demanding of course, but I could earn sky-high money. I could shop in on Knightsbridge and build up a collection of clothes faster than my employer.    Karan has ordered some Cristal.   ‘May I?’   ‘Of course’    He pours some into the heavy cut glass flute. I never say no to champagne and certainly, I never said no to anything he asks. He had sensed that from my poses. A strategically shown backside picture, enrolled in the duo section. I had given out messages that I was out there, ready to put out, in, out, anywhere. 122

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Initially he used to send me out if a special customer requested my services. When he wanted to close a deal, there was I, trussed in low necklines, a single ruby or diamond nestling on my chest, my skirt or dress so short that I couldn’t sit down without showing my jewelled knickers. From dinner dates to theatres to night sex. The old Indian man who awarded him the largest deal of the company. Dressed only in jewellery and shoes, I had to stand in various poses that he instructed. Later I told Karan, I’d felt sick. My hard work paid off. As a gift he had taken me shopping, and later, much later that night, he said he wouldn’t send me out anymore with the others. He was so much nicer than the strangers I had to please.    ‘Would you come with me to India?’ he asked once.   ‘Why not?’    ‘In Indian clothes…indeed, you could even look Indian. Like a mixed Indian. I could introduce you as the British Indian friend. You speak such good English as well. Yes, why not?’ he was saying.    But why would he not say I was Ukrainian? I didn’t ask that. My English was certainly good. I had worked hard in Ukraine, and then the extra lessons as an au pair had helped. I had travelled with him all over Europe and sometimes to the US, like now. Sometimes he used Daisy, who was from Czech Republic. But I always felt his background, his past from India, would always teach him that beauty was about being dark skinned, dark haired. His fascination with blondes would always be momentary. I was a natural brunette. Some mixed strains of blood in my ancestors, and I was darker than most women in my country. I would always be his natural choice, I was sure.    After dinner, we walk back to the Venetian. From tomorrow onwards, Karan will be busy all day. I will spend my time relaxing in the spa, going to the shops. He’s supplied me with a credit card to use when travelling with him. The dinners will be high powered and I will have to be at my best.    We watch the fountains flash and dance in Bellini, then we hear the strains of the volcano show from the Mirage.    ‘A.R. Rehman,’ he says with a look of absolute delight.    I know that composer. I have studied all aspects of popular Indian and British culture to keep up with his dual identities. We walk back through crowds waiting for a pirate show, children sitting on their fathers’ shoulders. It is strange to see Vegas busy with families. We sleep early that night, still a bit jet lagged.    Two months ago, in the roof gardens in London he’d told me about the girl from India. A faint fragrance of roses and lilies merged with the grilled sea bream I was eating. The girl, just like him, from one of the premier business families of India. His parents were arranging the 123

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match. Marrying her meant a further increase in his dominion– offices in Singapore, China even. He could expand his business without acquisition or organic growth.    ‘You don’t have to justify your decision – least of all to me,’ I’d said. Even I could hear the agitation in my own voice. I had thought I might lose him to a girlfriend, I hadn’t expected a marriage so quickly.    ‘Are you upset?’ He was always calm. He meditated every morning to control his mind. The Indian wisdom layered with the English sangfroid. It was a winning combination. No one could faze him. And at that moment, I had wanted just for once to see his power drop, just for a minute, his inscrutable expression to change.    ‘No, not me. I am not upset.’    ‘You sound it.’    ‘Why would I be? I am a professional – just like you.’    ‘Bella, Bella, Bella,’ he said theatrically. He always called me Bella, instead of my full name Isabella.    ‘Can I get some more of the Chardonnay?’ I wanted to change the topic.    Sometimes when our customers got married, there was an increase in business. Bored with the wife at home, they went out on longer business trips, they had more important dinners. In-call services increased. I wasn’t entirely worried about losing his business. There were others. I could be popular.    When we returned in his Porsche, he held my hand. ‘Really, are you not upset that I may get married? The proposal has come to my parents. It is tempting…all those companies…Yet, I..I’    I caught a whiff of the garlic on his breath. He often smelt of it.    ‘No, not at all,’ l laughed.    He looked puzzled, then suddenly he said,’ Marry me!’    ‘The Indian girl?’    ‘No, you. I am asking you.’    How could he propose, without a ring, without being on one knee? I had dreamt several times of my first proposal but it couldn’t be this. Racing though the drizzling, hazy streets of London, the thought of another girl on his mind, garlic on his breath.    ‘Is that your proposal?’ Perhaps my voice sounded more sarcastic than I intended. The moment changed. Like a glass shattering. Like seeing a rainbow one minute and then nothing in the bland sky. He turned his head to look at me. There was silence, for a long while it seemed. I looked away.    ‘No, of course. You would want it all, the trappings, the diamond… of course.’    Katy Perry sang ‘Roar.’ I preferred it to the jazz and other music he liked.    That night we hardly spoke, but I know the pleasure he received was one of his best. He had been rough. But was it me or was it him? 124

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If he meant to give me a serious proposal, surely he should have planned it, not blurted it whilst driving and expected me to take it seriously.    I didn’t meet him for a week after that. When I didn’t have Karan’s business, Carmen would send me out with others. This time it was someone who paid double, some Arab businessmen who were visiting London from Dubai. They chose a few of us in a group. They enjoyed seeing us dance together, our hips intertwined. We had to take the initiative with them. Initially shy but after a while, very lecherous.    Then Karan called me about Vegas. Nothing to refuse. Except that when he kept making those calls to India, I found myself getting annoyed. Once I answered his mobile and heard her voice.    ‘Jaanu,’ she said.    It’s me, the girl he’s with now – the girl who’s been at his side for two years and more – I wanted to say something but didn’t. I handed it to him wordlessly.    All morning I am in the shops. I choose a Vera Wang dark purple dress, cut to my navel. The woman comes back all flustered saying there is a limit on the card.    ‘There never was before,’ I snarl at her.    ‘I am sorry, there is now,’ her smile is frozen. She is used to this perhaps.   I understand.    ‘Never mind,’ I say and swing out of the shop.    Does he want to buy something like this for the girl from India? The thought of that girl squeezing herself into a dress like this makes me laugh. I had seen her photos. Her chest was large. The love handles would drop out of this dress’s low back.    I am angry. That couldn’t have been it. That small half-meant proposal which I had ignored. This girl who hardly knew him would get it all. A slow panic rises in my throat. Without Karan, I will have to go back to adhoc jobs again. I will take years to find someone like him. He is a busy man, but so thoughtful, so generous. I remember my last birthday. He invited me to dinner, but not as an escort. It was a date, just him and me as friends. He presented me with a beautiful pearl necklace.    I don’t bring it up at dinner. Delicate scallops as starters, duck confit, a Shiraz. My dessert is orange cream in dark chocolate.    We walk back into the heaving night. The sprayers are still on, even at midnight, heat radiates from the desert air. The lights shine pink, blue, orange. Colours. Smells. Sights. I love this city, I tell him.    ‘We can come here again,’ he smiles holding my hand.    I want to ask how. After he is married, will he still meet me?    ‘Can we, maybe at Christmas?’ I ask.    He doesn’t take the bait.    ‘If you like it so much, why not.’ 125

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His phone rings. It is her. She calls him so often.    I walk ahead, lose myself in the crowd watching the fountains in Bellini.    It is only when the show ends that I start looking for him. Where is he? Has he gone back to the hotel without me? What if he just leaves me and goes back to London?    I spin around, in the crowd, looking at every face. Where is he?! I hear his whisper, ‘Bella.’    And there he is. Standing against the wall, looking at me all the while. We hold hands and walk back.    The slot machines are alive, shining, in the lounge. He pulls me to one.   ‘Let’s gamble.’    He wins. He gives me the $ 500 to buy something from the shops in the Venetian. I choose a jade ring. Will this be the last gift for me, I wonder.    In the lift, I stand close to him and say, ‘I will miss you.’    ‘Are you leaving me now?’ I feel he is mocking me.    ‘I mean, when you do. I wouldn’t leave you. It’s not like me.’    ‘Would you not? he laughs.    That night we make love. I am not thinking like an escort anymore. I want to feel him. Taste him and know him. Is it too late for me? I whisper once – ‘If only I could bring that moment back.’    ‘Which one?’ he manages to say between shudders.    ‘You know… that night, in the car, after the roof garden. When you asked me?’    He looks surprised. As if he doesn’t remember.    ‘On an impulse. I didn’t know then,’ he says later.    ‘What didn’t you know?’    ‘This isn’t real. You aren’t real.’    He sleeps in a minute. He looks so young, like a child, his hair falling over his forehead. I sit on the gold sofa and look out of the windows. The fake city shines in the desert. They make cities like this, they make people like me. People who are perfect on the outside but only because they have been constructed, cell by cell, hair by hair. Like Vegas, every brick constructed, not a stamp of history, not evolved, not experienced.    I see his phone on the bedside table flash. A message. I type in his passcode. Of course, I know what it is, having been on his side, just a quick peek when he would unlock his phone. She has sent him a picture. An ample cleavage showing through a red halter dress – ‘How do I look? Thinking of you!’ – Many smileys follow the text. Her face! Garish red lipstick and not even applied well. She looks so cheap. Her bust line doesn’t work in the halter. Wobbly things. She needs to tone down.    Karan is sleeping on his side, his face away from me. I write quickly – ‘Red doesn’t seem your colour. I have seen better. Why don’t you try 126

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some workouts?’    Even as I am thinking if I should edit that, I have pressed send. I delete her picture and my message from the sent messages. I don’t know the time in India, perhaps it’s evening. Hopefully she won’t call him straight back. The phone remains silent and I fall asleep wondering what she will tell him tomorrow.    In the morning, our cab arrives for the airport. The driver is from Ethiopia. When people see Karan’s colour, they immediately ask where he is from. They feel a kinship perhaps. Within minutes, we know his life story. How the US government asked for people sometimes, how they processed his papers, how he bought his cab and how his children are being educated so that they will never starve ever like he had. How Vegas is his lifeline. How he is grateful to this city.    Karan is alternately fiddling with his phone and frowning. He makes a call. But the person on the other end keeps hanging up.    ‘Never mind...women,’ he mutters and looks out at the still sleeping city.    ‘Any problem,’ I ask?    ‘Nothing which can’t be sorted out, am sure,’ he says in his usual calm voice.    The driver continues. People come to Vegas for amusement, but not him, he came here and found Life itself.    ‘This city has so much to give,’ he declares.    ‘Even Vegas has a heart, eh?’ Karan laughs. He looks into his wallet and pulls out a wad of notes, signalling me to give it the cab driver.    ‘He expects a tip,’ he mouths to me. ‘Will help him a bit.’ It’s $ 200. Four times more than the fare.    Even Karan has a heart.    He will find out of course, someday or the other. I think of the Indian woman. When they would eventually get round to communicating, and Karan would deny sending a rude text, would she send it back to him as proof? Would he deduce that it was me, or think his Janoo was playing some strange game? Would it annoy him so greatly that forgetting the companies he could potentially own, he would end this liaison? Or would she complain and have her family break off the marriage without explanation? Then Karan would come to me, wanting comfort, anger in his eyes. ‘What a bitch’ he would say. Would I be able to confess the reason I sent that text?    Will he want to know the real me? Our taxi speeds on. I think of the various things which could happen. Here in Vegas, I am a different person. Here in all this glorious fakeness I see myself, shivering, lonely but true. Here I sense our hearts. I sidle closer to Karan and hold his hand.

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Poetry|Jude Gerald Lopez A Day or Two Don’t be a fool for the city nights I know it’s cool but it’s only light - Headlights, Robin Schulz I have been part of conversations both good and bad, with time being fought over, and there is much to look forward to in the dying day that limps across the face of the sky, to break all of a sudden, shudder, and cry and leave you stranded for nothing at the dead of the night to be cradled and coaxed by cabbies – khaki clad, you are of interest to them and not much passes as you travel through deserted time, under droopy sodium lamps, through shit-stained streets, both holy and vile, and you ride the fare that costs twice your soul, shadows shift shape and mock you, and you are jolted awake to find your hair spread against your temple, moist with rain, and earlobes frozen in time under the ac vent that spits cold words and haunts you in bed as you step out of the toilet with guilt in your heart, tits in your eyes and cum in your hands, and you cry and cry against the deafening dawn, and hope against odds that your mind disappears and vanishes into the steam you inhale and inject deep into your veins, the rush that disguises the pale beast that fogs up the pain and sings you Georgie Porgie twice at dawn, and you cum over and over until you wish rest and no longer care for the game time plays, rolled like dice on a chequered bed and you roll, and roll till night comes once again and the rope brushes its knots against your chin and you’re unsure of what is and what is to be and what you will look like once you are hoisted, and as the clock stiffens it’s arms to strike six, your body mimics, turns limp at the thought of the smell that will lead them to you, if the deed’s done, if the war is lost and won, and you step off the stool and slip into uncertainty, untie the noose and crawl back into bed with that familiar thought of wishing you were dead. 128

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Short Fiction|Andrew J Keir Grand Prix

G

atsby’s is full of smoke and people. On various big screens pundits are giving their preamble to the Brazilian Grand Prix. The whine of super-charged F1 cars blends with bar-room laughter and chatter. The crowd is mainly a mix of motor-sport fans and regulars; but some Germans in white soccer shirts are scattered around the room, starting early on their beers, ready for the friendly against Cameroon later this evening.    I find Neil tottering on a stool in the snug, his bulky frame hunched over a bottle of Johnny Walker Black, pondering a newly filled glass. He’s the only guy I know who goes out for drinks and insists on buying a bottle of whisky for the table.    ‘Neil ... How’s life?’ I clap him on the back, before sliding on to a stool.    His demeanour brightens, but only a little. ‘Leo ma boy! Life is good, life is good.’ He forces a grin. ‘As Jackie Stooart would say, “It’s a fine day for a for a motor car race.”’ The impersonation is terrible. ‘Fancy a dram?’ he asks, lifting the bottle.    ‘Cheers, won’t say no.’    ‘Thought so, thought so.’ He sloshes some spirit into a glass and pushes it towards me. ‘For an Englishman, you certainly like your whisky. You must have inherited your taste for it from your father.’ Neil is a third generation Scots-Canadian.    The scotch is smooth on the tongue, but burns on the way down, and I can’t help wishing I was starting with a beer. ‘Lovely,’ I say, smacking my lips.    Neil straightens his back, his face serious. ‘So Leo, how are things with you?’    ‘Oh you know ...’ I think of the villa’s empty rooms and the sad line of prostitutes. ‘Now I don’t have the family to worry about, I work most of the time. I was glad when you suggested coming down here tonight.’    ‘Mmmm ... Mmm ...’ he nods, giving nothing back.    I shrug off his indifference. ‘What about you? How are Hala and the baby?’ In my mind I conjure up an image of his young Ethiopian wife, and experience a guilty stab of jealousy.    ‘Oh Hala’s fine – she’s pregnant again.’ He smiles, but his eyes betray an underlying melancholy, which I attempt to ignore.    ‘You’re kidding – Congratulations Neil, that’s Great news – Cheers!’    ‘Cheers.’ We knock back our drinks, which Neil quickly replenishes.    ‘I’ll bet Hala is over the moon.’    Neil stares at his glass and swishes the liquid around. ‘Actually, I’m afraid Hala isn’t happy about it at all.’ He pauses and gazes up at me. 129

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‘But I, of course, am delighted.’   ‘Really?’    He smirks. ‘Yeah, really!’    ‘So what’s the matter with Hala? I thought she wanted more kids.’ ‘Hala’s ... Hala is just a little worried about my financial situation, she’ll get over it.’    ‘Your financial situation?’   He nods.    For a moment I don’t know what to say. ‘Em ... Neil, I didn’t realise ... if there’s ...’    Neil waves his hands to cut me off. ‘No Leo. Thanks, but it’s my problem.’    I frown. ‘How much are we talking?’    Neil goes quiet. He coughs.    ‘How much Neil?’    His eyes fix on mine. ‘A million dirhams.’    I stare at him. I realise the man has expensive tastes, but a million dirhams? No wonder Hala’s concerned. If I’d run up a debt like that, Diana would have killed me.    ‘It’s Natalie’s medical expenses – for the kidney operations,’ he says. Vaguely, from a drunken memory of our last outing, I recall Neil being touchy; telling me his baby girl needed surgery to correct a birth defect. That night I bought an Armagnac from the bar to soothe him.    ‘Operations?’ I ask, cheeks reddening, embarrassed by my own ignorance.    ‘Yeah, she had two in the end ... last one was a month back.’    I shake my head. ‘Is she ok?’    Neil nods. ‘She’s fine. The surgery was successful ... But now we have to pay.’    ‘Why? You’ve got medical with your company, haven’t you?’    ‘Insurance company says it’s congenital ... and, apparently, congenital defects aren’t covered.’    Both of us fall silent. In the background engines are screaming, and the TV announcer reminds us “there are just ten minutes to go before the beginning of the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix”.    ‘What are you going to do?’ I say at last.    Neil squares his shoulders; raises his chin. ‘I’m gonna take a loan and pay it back.’    His naivety shocks me; I can’t believe what I’m hearing. ‘How Neil?’ I say in a low voice. ‘If you do that you’ll be stuck here – you won’t have anything left over for Hala and the kids.’ And Hala won’t put up with that, I think to myself, scanning my eyes over his pudgy fifty year old face.    ‘It’s my debt, I have to pay it,’ he says. ‘We’ll manage.’    ‘But you won’t be able to go back home.’ My voice is louder, exasperated. 130

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‘Sure I will, when it’s time to leave I’ll transfer the loan to Canada and pay it back from there.’    I shake my head. ‘That’s not how it works Neil – not here.’    ‘What do you mean?’    ‘When you finish your contract the UAE government will expect all debts to be paid, if they’re not ... you won’t be allowed to leave the country.’ I lean across the table and whisper, ‘They’ll put you in gaol.’    He stares at me, silent.    ‘I think you need to run Neil. Go on holiday with Hala and the kids and don’t come back.’    ‘But that’s dishonest. What about the debt.’    ‘If you must pay, set up a loan when you get home – at least there you won’t be sent to prison.’ I sit back and glance around the snug. All eyes are trained on the TV.    ‘But Hala doesn’t have a Canadian visa.’    ‘Get her one then ... and go.’    I let Neil take this in for a moment, before clapping my hands to announce a change of subject. ‘Anyway, this isn’t what we’re here for.’ I nod at the screen. ‘Look, the parade lap is about to begin.’ He gives a sour smile, but doesn’t say anything.    I clamber to my feet. ‘I need a beer to help wash down the Johnny Walker. Want one?’    I push my way through the crush of bodies lining the bar. A pretty Filipina is serving. ‘Two bottles of Fosters please Joy.’ Her eyes search mine, wondering how I know her. ‘Your badge,’ I say, pointing to her breast.    She looks down and laughs. ‘Usually the customers only notice my name when things are quiet,’ she says.    ‘Well, I noticed,’ I reply softly. ‘... and it’s busy.’    Joy blushes, and goes to fetch the drinks. When she returns, I hand her a hundred dirham note. ‘Keep the change,’ I say.    She looks unsure. ‘But sir, it’s too much.’    ‘It’s ok,’ I say. ‘Thanks Joy.’    Back at the table, Neil is staring at the big flat screen TV: staggered cars yowl on the starting grid.    ‘Who do you fancy for the race?’ I ask. ‘Jensen Button?’    ‘Na, he’s too near the back of the grid – same with Lewis Hamilton.’ Neil tears his eyes from the screen. ‘Sorry, but I don’t think your English boys will do it today.’    ‘But the papers say Button might take the title tonight.’    He shrugs. ‘Maybe, but he’ll have to go some to finish in the points.’    I don’t argue, Neil is an F1 fanatic, and I’ve not followed motor racing since I was a kid, not since the days of Senna and Prost. ‘Who do you think will take it then?’ 131

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The Canadian rubs his chin and glances back to the TV.‘It’s hard to see past Barrichello or Webber.’    ‘Where are they on the grid?’    Neil’s eyes widen, stunned by my elementary question. ‘Barrichello is on Pole, Webber second.’    ‘Are there any Canadians in the race?’ I ask, knowing the answer.    ‘No,’ he says, turning back to the screen, just as the lights change to green. *    The first few laps of the race are filled with collisions and exhilarating driving as the drivers scramble to find their place in the pecking order. There is even a fireball in the pit lane when Kovalainen attempts to drive off whilst still attached to a fuel line.    Mark Webber quickly secures the lead, taking advantage of other drivers’ early pit stops, and looks unlikely to surrender it. Against Neil’s predictions Button also performs well. Having started in fourteenth position, his sleek white car is placed sixth by the halfway point.    ‘I thought you said it wasn’t to be Button’s night? If he holds his position he’ll be world champion.’    ‘Yeah, but it’s a shame though isn’t it?’    ‘Why?’ I ask. ‘You think Vettel deserves it?’    Neil shakes his head and wobbles on top of his stool. The booze is taking effect. ‘Na, it’s not that, but it’ll take the excitement out the new Abu Dhabi race in a couple of weeks.’    I think of all the hype that’s been building in the city over the past few months, about how the F1 season will be decided at the Emirate’s new state of the art racing circuit at Yas, and how the government has been throwing money at the project in a desperate attempt to get it ready on time. ‘Hadn’t thought of that,’ I shrug. ‘But, I’m sure the authorities will think of some new spin to sell the punters.’    Neil grins. ‘Yeah, it’ll be the race to second place, or Jensen’s victory lap, or some such crap.’    ‘Are you going?’    ‘Yeah, but ...’ he pauses, suddenly maudlin, and stares at his drink. ‘I’m kind of pissed at the whole thing actually.’    ‘Why?’ I ask, not following.    Neil bounces the question back to me. ‘Why?’ His eyes scan my face, looking for some sign of conspiracy. ‘Don’t you know?’    ‘Sorry Neil, I don’t.’    ‘Well ...’ He slurps at his whisky before continuing. ‘Because these local Sheikhs have made it their business to buy a race, the FIA have gone and cancelled the fucking Canadian Grand Prix!’ His cheeks flush.    ‘I didn’t realise.’ My voice is soft.    ‘Did you know it’s the first time in thirty nine years that Canada 132

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hasn’t hosted a Grand Prix?’    ‘I didn’t ... is it permanently cancelled?’    ‘It’s under review,’ Neil says quietly, before continuing more loudly, ‘... but that’s not the point! Canada has a history in F1: we’ve always had the drivers. As kids we were all brought up on it.’ He pauses for breath. ‘Christ I was at Notre Dame when Gilles Villeneuve won it in 1978.’    Not sure what to say, I just keep nodding.    ‘... And what history do these guys here have in the sport?’ he asks.m‘I’ll tell ya – sweet fuck all!’ Neil raises himself up to survey the small room, but his shoulders slump when he realises that I’m the only member of his audience; everyone else is either intent on the continuing race or their own conversations.    Our eyes return to the screen, where the action has now settled down into hypnotic routine. Barring some unexpected event, I have the sense that this race is already over.    Some German soccer supporters appear momentarily in the entranceway to the snug, only to return two minutes later with the South African bar manager, who is toting a TV remote.    ‘Excuse me please ladies and gentlemen,’ he announces to the room. ‘Excuse me!’ All heads turn to face him. ‘The Germany soccer match is about to begin, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to move through to the main section of the bar where the Grand Prix will continue to be shown.’    There is a collective groan followed by much muttering and tutting as the motor racing fans grab their drinks and begin to file out. Still in his seat, Neil raises his voice so he can be heard over the hubbub. ‘No, this is unacceptable. I booked this table yesterday and was assured I would be able to watch the race.’    The manager ignores him and raises the remote control. Neil lurches to his feet and plants his bulky frame between the man and the TV. ‘Didn’t you hear me?’ he says. ‘I was told I would be able to watch the race.’    ‘Sir ...’ The manager’s mouth tightens. ‘You can watch the race, but it will have to be from the main bar.’ The football fans are uncharacteristically quiet as they edge into the room.    Leaving the table, I position myself next to my friend to show solidarity.    ‘Look buddy, I don’t think you understand me.’ Neil jabs his finger inches from the man’s nose. ‘There are no tables through there, the place is packed, and I booked a table in here so my friend and I could relax and watch the race.’ He folds his arms. ‘I’m not movin’!’    The manager’s eyes are fixed on Neil’s. No-one is backing down.    I place my hand on Neil’s arm. ‘Come on man, let’s just go through to the bar, drink our whisky and watch the end of the race.’    Neil pushes my hand away. ‘No Leo ...’ His voice is shrill. ‘It’s 133

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the principle – I booked a table where they assured me I could watch the race.’    ‘Ok, ok.’ I pat Neil gently on the back and turn my attention to the manager, raising my palms and cracking a conciliatory smile. ‘Look, my friend has a valid point ... but there may be a solution.’ I pause for a second, making sure I’ve got the man’s attention. ‘Is there any way we can move our table to the main bar?’    ‘We wouldn’t usually ...’    ‘No, listen,’ I say, cutting him off. ‘Set up a table next door, or otherwise my friend here isn’t going to move.’ The manager glances at Neil’s crimson face, before turning back to me. ‘Do you want a scene?’ I ask. The man shakes his head and signals to a waiter lurking by the entrance to move our table. ‘Thank you,’ I say as the manager steps to the side and changes the channel.    The German national anthem fills the room.    ‘I could have handled it,’ says Neil.    ‘I know. Come on, get your bottle and we’ll watch the rest of the race.’    As we take our seats at the repositioned table, I see Joy serving drinks on the other side of the lounge. I catch her eye and smile; she grins and turns away to wipe a table and scribble down an order. My eyes linger on her backside for a while, before moving their focus back to the buzzing cars.    Not much has changed, except that Lewis Hamilton has managed to negotiate his way into third place. Neil doesn’t comment, he grips his glass and stares at the screen, still angry at being forced to move. Neither of us speaks until Webber finally takes the flag and Button finishes as the new World Champion. ‘Good race,’ I say.    ‘Yeah, good for you British boys,’ says Neil, lurching from his stool and swaying towards the door.    ‘Where are you going?’    ‘Home,’ he says. ‘I don’t feel very well.’ *    Outside, I help Neil into a taxi. ‘Remember,’ I tell him, leaning in through the open door. ‘Go on holiday and don’t come back.’ The big man nods, his bloodshot eyes welling up as I slam the door. I don’t think I’ll see him again.    The cab pulls away and I scan the street for a ride of my own, but no more of the silver cars are around. I check my watch; it’s only just gone nine. When Diana and the kids were here I would’ve headed straight home.    Taking a deep breath, I head back towards Gatsby’s to find Joy.

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Visual Art|Sarah Sally Spear

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Number 9

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Decay

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Our Shower Photography

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Poetry|Bhanusree S Kumar The Flood and its Aftermath Those brutish cries for help Enraged the Pantheon At the Grand Assembly. Issued from collective wrath, A divine decree, set forth thus: “This eon’s deluge Shall do without an ark. Noah and Manu were greats”, They observed, grudgingly, “But their progeny have besmirched A grand legacy. Henceforth, No man shall pray and taint The Names of Gods and Our infinite glory. Only celestial minstrels, soulless though they be, Shall sing us paeans, ethereal and profound.” The spate of violent decrees Roused Infinite Love from eternal sleep Who tossed them away like Obsolete gadgets, Audacious enough To overstep limits.

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Short Fiction|Lissy Jose A Wedding Memoir

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t’s my sister’s wedding day. Standing near the altar, I took a last look around. Flowers? Check. Candles? Check. Choir? Check. I didn’t realize when dad came and stood next to me.    “Impressive.. dear”, he said referring to the floral arrangement.    “Thanks dad”, I replied smiling. “Orchids... Emma’s favorite! Where’s mom?”    “She’s at the entrance with everyone else. Come, I came to call you. It’s time!”    Mom looked relieved seeing me. “We were looking for you!” she said. Everyone had arranged themselves near the portal. Emma and her fiancé Paul stood at the front. She is the second among my three younger sisters. Roy came and took my hand. “Cathy is with Emma” he said reading my anxious eyes. Still I tried to fight the feeling of someone’s absence. An absence so great that it threatened to engulf me. Before I could turn around, the choir started playing the entrance hymn and like a leaf caught up in a gust of wind I was led inside. Composing myself I took a deep breath. Geez, I love weddings! Duh, why else would I become a wedding planner? The first happy wedding in my memory is that of mom and dad’s.    The priest began the service. Little Cathy still stood clutching Emma’s gown. I had chided her earlier saying that she would crumble Emma’s dress. But Emma smiled, “It’s okay, let her be”. She was Cathy’s favorite aunt. Whenever I was away or busy, it was Emma who looked after Cathy. My job demanded that I travel a lot. But Cathy hardly missed me, for she had Emma’s songs and stories. Unwarranted, my mind tiptoed to a sunny winter noon twenty two years back. *    I was six. It was the last day of the Christmas exams. I was impatient to finish writing and run home. I had a good reason too. Mama who was full term pregnant had been taken to the hospital the previous night owing to a pain. And in the morning grandma had promised me that she would take me to meet mama and the baby when I am back from school. Emily, my younger sister was only three at that time and had not been admitted to kindergarten yet.    I always walked back home. That day, right from a distance, I caught a glimpse of a growing crowd near the narrow lane that led to our house. But of course, I did not suspect a thing. I waded through the crowd, puzzled at all the murmuring. A forbidding sight received me as I 141

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crossed the gate. There it was, leant against the side wall of our house, a coffin-lid. “Grandma..!!!!” I gasped and rushed inside. I stood frozen at the door. A burning pain crept up my foot. I stared at Mama’s body, shrouded in white, laid on a table. Her nostrils were stuffed with cotton. Next to the where mama was laid, sat grandma and Emily, hugging each other and wailing. Suddenly, I noticed an ugly little creature stirring in grandma’s arm. Tears were gushing down my eyes. In the far corner of the room was a broken man, ripped apart in flesh and soul, lost in the bargain for life. I didn’t know whom to run to. Grandma saw me and beckoned me to her side. “Here’s your sister…” she said between the sobs. Without any provocation the creature started screaming. Somebody brought it a bottle of milk. That disgusting little rodent sucked it gluttonously. I gritted my teeth. *    Presently, the priest was reading the Gospel. I looked up. The roof above the altar had a panoramic painting of heaven. The Holy Trinity at the center, surrounded by merry bunches of cherubim and every saint imaginable – from Virgin Mary to John Vianney. The heaven also accommodated some laymen. As a young girl, whenever I came to this church I used to search Mama in the painting.    Three little girls without their mother are as good as orphans. Dad knew it better than anyone. Hence, after a year and four months, he decided to remarry. It meant an end to our shuttling between the houses of aunts and uncles. I was elated! Slowly, happy days found their way to our home. The nightmare repeated when mom became pregnant. When she was taken to hospital, I pleaded with dad to take me along. But Emily and I were left with an aunt. At noon, aunt received a call informing that mom, dad and the baby were coming home. I spotted the car from a distance and ran towards it. As soon as mom stepped out, I hugged her tight fighting sobs. She bent down and kissed my forehead - “Poor thing, she was scared!”    Lily was adorable. Emily and I enjoyed looking after her. However, certain things never changed between Emma and me. Consciously or unconsciously, I was eager to pick up fights with her. Somehow I could not forgive her for the crime she (never) committed. *    “In sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in sadness andin happiness…” They make a lovely couple, I thought. In fact, Emma was a lot like me - sassy, outgoing and adventurous. We even looked similar while Emily and Lily were so different as if they were bought from the market for a sack of rice flakes.    It was time to tie the knot. Being her eldest sister, it was my 142

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privilege to lift her veil. Emma knelt down. On my own wedding Emma had sobbed like a child as our wedding album gives evidence. Did she think she would miss me? I wondered what would be going on through her mind at the moment. Would she too be thinking of mama like I did on my wedding day? Would people miss those whom they have no memory of?    The wedding was over. Photographers wrestled with each other for the best shot of the couple. I saw Emma walking towards me smiling. “Look at you! You clean up real nice.” I said.    “I saw you crying...” she replied, giving me a ‘you-can’t-fool-me’ look. I could not speak for some time. My eyes blurred and Emma became just a beaming spot. Before I knew it, the words which were stuck for so long finally escaped my throat, “You know? You were always my special sister.. Love you..”.

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Poetry|Krishnapriya A.S. Eternal Clarity So shy, I wander around lonely, Looking for those eyes, I met in a dream. Drifting, Like a cloud on a summer’s day, Ending up on a blue bay, Eternal clarity. I’ve tasted salty seas, sour cream sincerity. Dressed in blue, butterfly, Forgetting what the moon tastes like. I wear my heart around my black hair. Drifting, On a heavenly fire, Time mends, amends, all fragments Of a divine light. So, I Wander around peacefully. My mind flowing through the galaxy. Looking for dew drops filled with memories, That I once lost in a dream, Eternal clarity.

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Book Review|Jude Gerald Lopez A Conversation between Images and Words

The End, Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings is a collection of fifteen stories inspired by fifteen paintings depicting ‘the end’ by Nicolas Ruston. It is commissioned and curated by Ashley Stokes and will be published by Unthanks Books, London and Norwich, in August 2016.

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efore the science, the experiments, observatories and the hordes of data we swim in today, before the noise and talk of celestial explosions, infinite time, finite experience, when everything began, we figured it would someday, slowly yet surely fade away and end or may be even start something or lead to something, an event, a realm, an experience much better or even far greater. The idea of the end has always loomed large, haunted our memory, shaped our purpose and stopped us many a time from mucking around. For the infinity of the skies and the constant expansion of our galaxies have always reminded us of the finite nature of our existence.    ‘The End, Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings’ inspired by The End Paintings by Nicolas Ruston, can be considered to be many things. They are unique narratives that have resulted from varied experiences and realities. They are narratives in dialogue with the reader, with one another, and with the paintings that prompted their existence. What ultimately results is an experience which does not limit itself to the purely linguistic or visual. The compilation of text and image, of narratives infused in time, visuals that depict space, narratives that create space and visuals that depict text, rightly creates a reality. ‘The End, Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings’ thus becomes an organic space of interaction where elements talk and complement each other and succeed in producing texts from images. They derive the temporal from the spatial.    All the fifteen stories that are part of the book try to understand the many aspects of what the end is, or can do. These narratives become sub texts in this context and showcase instances in experience and time that let you travel through the nuances of various elements in the shortstory form. Ruston’s cinemascope paintings that resemble end scenes from movies from an era gone by, followed by stories that each lead to 145

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Book Review|Jude Gerald Lopez

Coup-de-Grace by Nicolas Ruston Gloss and masonry paint on canvas 51” x 66” 2015

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an end, once again force you to question the linearity of time and experience. The form of each text (combination of the painting and narrative unique to it) forces you to think whether one is being taken through the text backwards, by showing the end credits and then exploring the events that led to the credits by moving backwards in time.    Tania Hershman’s ‘Loose Ends’ initiates the reader into this conversation between fifteen paintings and fifteen stories. The narrative is unique and meditated and employs different styles of delivery that indicate an implicit understanding of the inevitability of an end. ‘Loose Ends’ to me was a dialogue on closure, by a narrative that exhibits reflexivity and ponders over the various possible dimensions of an end. The form reiterates a disjointed experience of time as the narrative unfolds yet holds it together with the exceptional ease that juxtaposes the mundane with the overwhelming nature of the end.    The final story in the collection, ‘Nowhere Nothing Fuck-UP’ by UV Ray, also uses the form to emphasize the content presented in the narrative. The story speaks of the overwhelming presence of the mundane, shrouded in routine, which hangs over our daily lives. “Everything is transitory and in the end we all succumb to the final meaningless ultimatum of our own personal armageddon”, as concluded by the protagonist who shares glimpses into his life’s occurrences and interactions with others. The absence of full stops in the story once again exemplifies the dialogue between form and content and the nature of how meaning is created.    Angela Readman’s ‘The Slyest of Foxes’ sheds light on the events that take place in the life of Alice. The narrative starts off from a point of conflict. The gun shot in the story becomes a marker of time as the narrative moves backward, recounting events that led to the present and then forward. This element of foregrounding makes you question, which instance in the narrative was the end. Was it the fate sealing gun shot that occurs in multiple temporal instances, or was it the end of the story in itself? The significance of memory and the process of recollection as a significant element in the narrative was also remarkably captured by AJ Ashworth in ‘Harbour Lights’. Didier dreams of the past, and the narrative progresses in a manner elusive of time. Moments of recollection are interrupted by the dissonant realities of the present. The end in ‘Harbour Lights’ is an interesting take on its nature, as it explores the possibilities of a new beginning within the grim corridors of time’s finale.    When the vet finally puts Fred to sleep, easing the pain he has been going through, we are once again made aware of the grim choices life many a time presents to us. In ‘Coup De Grace’ by Ailsa Cox, death is something that is implicitly present right from the start yet the characters as well as the reader, to a large extent, tend to maintain a state of denial because of the emotional strings that the tale pulls by the dialogue between the family. The inevitability of death is once again the focal point in ‘Perturbation’ by Gordon Collins. An overpowering anxiety 147

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Perturbation by Nicolas Ruston

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that looms large in daily life haunts this tale. The accident scene that kills Jude’s mother becomes a defining movement in the narrative and a turning point in each characters life. The events that occur to both Jude and her father reiterate the idea of inevitability beautifully through a persuasive and engaging tale.    The stunning white motorcycle Ariel in David Rose’s ‘Ariel’ is a paradoxical symbol, reflecting the protagonist’s aspirations that starts getting compromised as the narrative progresses. “Keith is always a world ahead” becomes a reference that resonates in the mind of the protagonist throughout the narrative. ‘Ariel’ makes you reflect on who really cheated and defied death. On the one hand we see Keith living life to the fullest and on the other (at the end of the story) we see the protagonist who realizes he has more years of ‘frantic pedaling’ ahead.    ‘Chaconne in G Minor’ by Zoe Lambert is a highly meditated narrative that merges intricacies of music and philosophizes the nature of grief. The instances in which the protagonist fails to play the Chaconne at her mother’s funeral becomes a marker that signifies the overwhelming nature of death and the grief it results. “Music is the story of harmony being pulled apart and rebuilt then end is implicit in the beginning” summarizes the progress of events and sheds light on the expressive nature of music.    ‘But What Happens After’ by Jonathan Taylor tells the tale of a war veteran trying to bring back normalcy to his life only to be haunted by the memories of his past. The story also ponders over the unending nature of things. Events and lives end yet their ends serve the role of a new beginning. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony becomes a focal point of this philosophical debate with the protagonist’s fiancée stating that the symphony’s abrupt and hurried end makes her feel that something lies ahead while he is being adamant that a finite end exists in all matters. This becomes the most striking dialogue on the nature of existence and the idea of an ‘end’.    Sarah Dobbs’ “Burning the Ants’ uses stylistic elements and creates a narrative that pans out like a motion picture. The story revolves around a pair of twins, Emma and Joanie. With an unfortunate twist of events Emma is paralyzed and Joanie tries to become more and more like her sister, and as the narrative unravels identities are blurred. The act of burning ants when they were children becomes a symbol of conflict in each character. Another story which strongly relies on a central image is Aiden O’Reilly’s ‘Crow’. The story discusses various converging realities. The crow being a key motif in the tale acts as a distant overseer of events. It portrays the relationship between Josephine and her mother as mutually conflicting yet comforting for both.    ‘Souls’ by Michael Crossan is a distinct tale that portrays the past catching up to the present and employs a style that becomes rather surreal at multiple instances in the narrative. Kazimiers Kapka is a man with a new name and identity. A former military officer, he assumes a 149

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Book Review|Jude Gerald Lopez

Souls by Nicolas Ruston

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new identity in order to survive. The hotel that they arrive in by chance plays out to be a nightmare come alive as the story unfolds. One of the most interesting aspects of this tale is that it shows how death catches up with you and becomes an ‘effect’ of ‘causes’ previously instigated. Tim Sykes’ ‘The Sense of an Ending’ portrays a series of events in the life of Vanya, the revolutionary atmosphere striving for change, the May Day festivities and the chance meeting of Grushova. As the events progress, it is interesting to see how subtle sub-plots arise. The log book for me remains one such symbol that is literally is dialogue with the story and the overall theme of an ending. In a way, the abrupt end of the story subverts and challenges the notion of the end.    The end has meant a lot of different things to different people. Ashely Stokes’ ‘Decompression Chamber’ is an interesting take on how one understands the end. The protagonist and his friend Marysia are on a round, knocking on urban doors seeking help for a relief effort for a flood in Bangladesh. As they continue on their quest they are met with a wide array of responses, from the dismal sceptics to the outright nasty. In the end they reach a house of people who have abandoned their materialistic possessions and await the arrival of a messiah-like figure whom they call the Exarch. The juxtaposition of the go-goers and the cult that has accepted the end creates a powerful image in the story.    Dan Powell’s ‘All the TVs in Town’ takes the dialogue between Ruston’s work and his own to a new level. The narrative employs a dark dystopic setting that is humorous, surreal and haunting. The story foregrounds the painting as it becomes a key marker that directs the plot of the narrative. The central character in the story is haunted by TV screens that tell her that something has ended. Ruston’s painting in this story does not become a reference point or a prompt but a main character in it. .    The process of reading this collection was exhilarating to say the least. The narratives are in dialogue with one another and this interaction creates a further layer of meaning to excavate. Another interesting aspect of this project which lets the visual and the textual merge is the way form and craft are treated in each of the stories. After reading the collection cover to cover, neither the paintings nor the stories remain individual texts to me. ‘The End, Fifteen Endings to Fifteen Paintings’ is rather a space for dialogue and artistic expression, which blurs the subtle line we have imagined for ages to distinguish one medium from the other.

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Short Fiction|Aswin Prasanth The Writer Who Lost His Pen Prologue

J

ohn woke up in a room surrounded by his friend Martin and his girlfriend Emma. There were flowers on a table beside his bed. The room was clean and tidy. He tried to get up but a sharp pain in the head stopped him. Suddenly a nurse got into the room with a medical kit. He turned to Martin and Emma and wondered what he was doing in a hospital.    “How are you feeling?” asked Martin.    “All fine except for the pain in the head,” said John, “And what am I doing in a hospital?”    “You don’t remember the accident?” asked Emma.    “You are a lucky person Mr. John. You have only a minor head injury,” said the nurse.

Chapter 1    Earlier that day John was sitting in the balcony of his house. There were blank papers in front of him waiting to be filled with his ideas. He was struggling hard, but nothing came to his mind. The balcony was his favourite spot. As always, he was suffering from the usual writer’s block. He hadn’t written anything for weeks. Every day he sat in front of blank papers for hours hoping to write something. He had to submit the manuscript to the publishing house within a few weeks but it was incomplete. He didn’t know how to end his story in the way he liked it. Suddenly, the telephone in his bedroom rang. He went there and picked up the telephone.    “Hello?” said John    “Hello John. It’s me, Walter Finch,” said the person at the other end of the telephone. Walter Finch was John’s literary agent. He would often call John to enquire about the manuscript.    “How’s the work going on?” asked Walter.    “It’s going well. I just need to write a few chapters and the epilogue,” said John.    “Good. I just called to remind you that you have only a few weeks left. So you better hasten it up a little,” said Walter.    “Don’t worry about that. You just leave that work to me,” said John.    “Ok then. Catch you later,” said Walter and he hung up.    He looked outside the window for a moment, wondering what he would do. Suddenly, like a virus attacking the cells in the body, an 152

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idea struck his mind. He went to the balcony, sat on the chair and took the paper. He then realized that there was no pen on the table. He went back to the bedroom and started to search for a pen. He looked in shelves and cupboards but couldn’t find a pen.    “Weeks searching for an idea and now this,” he said to himself.    This never happened before. He got a good idea to conclude his work and now he couldn’t write it down.

Chapter 2    While he was searching for the pen in the entire house, the telephone in the bedroom rang again. He picked up the telephone again. This time it was his girlfriend Emma.    “Hi. How are you doing? You haven’t called in ages,” said Emma.    “Well I was busy writing,” said John.    “Got any ideas on how to complete your work?” asked Emma.    “Actually I got one right now but cannot find a pen to write it down,” said John.    “You have got to be kidding me. A writer without a pen!” said Emma.    “Well that is the situation here. I searched the entire house and couldn’t find one pen,” said John.    “Then stop wasting more time and go to the store and buy a couple of pens,” said Emma.    “Okay,” said John and he hung up.    He then put on his jacket and started walking to the store which was half a kilometer away.

Chapter 3    He reached the store within 15 minutes. He went through the stationary items and found a box full of pens. He took the box and reached the bill counter. Bob was at the counter as usual.    “Good afternoon sir. How are you?” asked Bob.    “Fine,” said John.    “How’s your writing going?” asked Bob.    “It’s going well and I got an idea how to continue with my work and end it in a proper manner,” said John. “Good. So did the pens at home run out of ink?” asked Bob.    “Not really. I seem to have lost the pens at home,” said John.    “Then you came to the right place,” said Bob.    When John reached the pocket of his jacket to take his wallet he realized that he had forgotten it at the table in his bedroom. He told Bob to wait and keep the pen with him until he came back and ran out  of the store. Within 10 minutes he reached his house. He entered the house, went to the bedroom, got the wallet and left the house in 5 minutes. 153

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He began to feel his precious time slipping away. This time he ran to the store even faster. He reached the store all out of breath and bought the box of pens. Happy that he finally got what he wanted, he was walking slowly to his house. On his way he was thinking about the particular idea that struck his mind at home. With a wandering mind he carelessly crossed the road.

Epilogue    John thought of all the incidents that occurred while the nurse was administering glucose. After that, she left the room. It was good news that he didn’t have memory problems after the accident. The bad news was that his hand got sprained and couldn’t write for a week.    “John don’t you worry about the work. I will come to your place every day and help you,” said Emma.    “And I’ll drop by occasionally,” said Martin.    “Thank you guys,” said John.    “By the way you lost the box containing pens during the accident,” said Emma.    Just then the nurse came into the room again with a file containing some stuff.    “Mr. John these were the contents we found on your body while examining you,” said the nurse.    She handed the file to John. He opened it to find a wallet, a watch and a pen. He then turned to the nurse and asked “Where did you get this pen from?”    “It was found inside your shirt pocket,” said the nurse.    He then remembered keeping the pen there so that he could use it easily if he got an idea about how to continue his work. He forgot that.    “Well at last you found your pen,” said Martin smilingly.    John, Emma and Martin broke out in laughter.

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Poetry|Rosemary Tom Snakes in my kitchen Snakes in my kitchen, I hear them uncoiling in the darkness of my soul. The heaviness blows up into tiny shreds of light beaming, revealing. An undesired revelation scatters them back into their shallow holes, only to lurk back as the shadows become longer intimidating, fearsome. Maquarades of maturity reign over desire untapped. The world is trivial and I belong.

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Visual Art|Scott Ziegler

Analysis Paralysis Porcelain 15” x 6” x 8” 2014

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Visual Art|Scott Ziegler

Analysis Paralysis

Porcelain 15” x 6” x 8” 2014

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Visual Art|Scott Ziegler

Optimist

Porcelain 12” x 12” x 8” 2010 158

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Visual Art|Scott Ziegler

Optimist

Porcelain 12” x 12” x 8” 2010 159

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Visual Art|Scott Ziegler

Debauched Morals Porcelain 10” x 6” x 6” 2013

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List of Contributors Ajise Vincent Ajise Vincent is a Nigerian Poet. His poem “Song of a Progeny” was a shortlisted poem at the Korea-Nigeria Poetry feast, 2015. His works have been published in London-grip magazine, Eureka, Kalahari Review, Sakonfa literary Magazine, Synchronized chaos, AfricanWriter, Indian periodical, Jalada Africa, Black boy review, Tuck Magazine, Harbinger Asylum and various literary outlets. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. Alan Halford Alan Halford is from Dublin Ireland. Worked in Irish national radio. He is an Award Winning photographer with several exhibitions to his credit. His poetry has been published in several anthologies. Is a member of the Blackwater Poetry Group. Has a life time interest in short story writing, poetry and the arts. Currently working on a new collection of his poetry. Alexsandr Grigoriev Alexsandr Grigoriev is a Belarusian artist. Alexsandr was born in the village of Mazurkee, Belarus in 1955. He has exhibited internationally for more than 30 years. His creaitve works include paintings, book plates, drawings, printmaking, book illustration, sculpture as well as scenery and costume design. Grigoriev is also an art curator, exhibition jurist, exhibition organizer and author. Grigoriev’s works are held in Brest region museum of local lore, in gallery and library collections in Belgrade, Serbia; Ankara, Turkey; Lamaze, Milan, Asuka and Terme, Italy; Arad, Romania; Ostrow Wielikopolski, Gliwice, Sanok, Nice and Malbork, Poland; Lefkada, Greece; Havirov, The Czech Republic; Sofia, Bulgaria; Cadaques and Herron, Spain; Winkfield, England; Bages, Spain; Guadalupe, Mexico; Sichuan, China; New York City, USA; and Ufa and Vologda, Russia. Amy Barry Amy Barry writes poems and short stories. She has worked in the Media, Hotel and Oil & Gas industries. Her work has been published in anthologies, journals and e-zines, in Ireland and abroad including in Southword Journal, First Cut, Poetry 24, Misty Mountain, Mad Swirl, A New Ulster. Her poems have been shared over the radio in Australia, Canada and Ireland. She loves traveling and trips to India, Nepal, Beijing, Bali, Paris, Berlin, Falkenberg- have all inspired her work. When she is not writing, she plays Table Tennis. She also loves Sushi and Trampoline Jumping. AN Block AN Block is a relatively new fiction writer who has just had a story accepted for publication in the Blue Bonnet Review and has one being published this fall in 162

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The Binnacle which won Honorable Mention in its Twelfth Annual International Ultra-Short Competition. He has an MA in History and is a Master of Wine, certified by the Institute of Masters of Wine in London, who teaches at Boston University. He has published dozens of non-fiction pieces on wine and food. Ananya S Guha Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has has been writing and publishing poetry for the last thirty years. He has seven volumes of poetry to his credit and his poetry has been widely anthologized. He has been published in Gloom Cupboard, Art Arena, Other Voices Poetry, Glasgow Review, Osprey Journal, New Welsh Review, Dead Snakes, Dissident Voice, Poetry Life & Times, WritingRaw among many others on line journals and print magazines/ journals in India & abroad. He holds a doctoral degree on the novels of William Golding.. Andrew J Keir Andrew J Keir is a Scottish writer who has published a number of short stories, including two that were shortlisted for the Kitab/M Magazine short story prize, the largest English language prize in the Middle East. In 2012 Andrew published the novel Bloody Flies. He hopes that his second novel, Mac Aílpin’s Treason, will see the light of day soon. Andrew divides his time between Scotland and Abu Dhabi. www.andrewjkeir.net Antonio Casella Antonio Casella was born in Italy and migrated to Australia when he was 15 years old. His first novel was, Southfalia. His body of work includes the novels: The Sensualist, Men and Fathers, An Olive Branch for Sante. The plays: The Ghost of Rino Tassone, and To Catch a Bride. A recurrent theme in his work is identity. Other themes include the effect of past events on present behaviour and the changing roles of men and women in contemporary society. Art Heifetz Art Heifetz teaches ESL to refugees in Richmond, Va. He has had 200 poems published in 13 countries, winning second place in an international competition in Israel. See polishedbrasspoems.com for more of his work.

Ashley Stokes

Ashley Stokes is the author of Touching the Starfish and The Syllabus of Errors (both Unthank Books). He is also the editor of Unthology.

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Aswin Prasanth Aswin Prasanth is a M.A English student at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. He did his B.A in English Copy Editing at Sacred Heart College, Thevara. As of now he has presented four seminar papers at national and international seminars. He has published articles in two journals. He has won prizes for film review competitions held at Sacred Heart College and has taken part in the M.G. University Youth Festival in 2015. He is a movie buff and has written articles on movies for The New Indian Express. He has attended two film festivals in 2015: ALIIFF, Kochi and IFFI, Goa. He is also interested in drama and avant-garde art and literature. Bhanusree S Kumar Currently pursuing 3rd year BA English Copyediting, my interests are music and literature. I enjoy reading and writing, especially poetry, and have presented papers at two UGC sponsored national seminars. Though I have several favourite writers, I would love to meet Margaret Atwood one day and perhaps, have a fireside chat with her! Bini B.S. Lakshmi Bini B.S. Lakshmi is currently an Academic Fellow at Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and other Human Sciences, Baroda, India. Her Ph.D was a Foucaultian analysis of alternative history and historicity of fictional narratives. She was part of an Oxford University Press Translation Project, An Anthology of Malayalam Literature. Her research articles, poems and translations have appeared in Journals and anthologies including Poetry Chain, Kritya, Samyukta, Kavyabharati, DUJES, ETC: A Journal of General Semantics, JWS: A Journal of Women’s Studies, South Asian Ensemble, and The Virtual Transformation of the Public Sphere (An Anthology published by Routledge). Bini B.S is currently an Academic Fellow at Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and one of the editors of Anekaant: A Journal of Polysemic Thought and the managing editor of JCT (Journal of Contemporary Thought) Birgit Bunzel Linder Birgit Bunzel Linder was educated in Germany, the United States, and China. She received degrees in Sinology, Dutch Literature, and Political Science from the University of Cologne, Germany, and a Ph.D. in Chinese and German Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since then, she has taught in the areas of Chinese literature, Gothic literature, madness and literature, comparative literature and translation studies. She has published on pre-modern and modern poetry and fiction, literary madness, Chinese medical humanities, and German literature. She presently is assistant professor for Comparative Literary Studies at the City University of Hong Kong. She has published poetry and photography in Asian Cha, the International Literature Quarterly, Cerebration, Kavya Bharati, Clockwise Cat, and Mad Poets Review. In 2012, she won the International Proverse Prize for Unpublished Poetry for her collection Shadows in Deferment.

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Brian Johnstone Brian Johnstone is a poet whose work has appeared throughout Scotland, in the UK, America and internationally. He has published six collections, most recently Dry Stone Work (2014) and The Book of Belongings (2009), both Arc Publications. His poems have been translated into over ten languages; in 2009 Terra Incognita, a chapbook in Italian translation, was published by L’Officina (Vicenza). In 2015 his work will appear on The Poetry Archive website. A founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he has appeared at numerous international poetry festivals, from Macedonia to Nicaragua, and venues across the UK. http://brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk/ Changming Yuan Changming Yuan, 4-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (Leaf Garden, 2009) and Landscaping (Flutter Press, 2014), holds a PhD in English, tutors, and co-edits Poetry Pacific with his teenager poet son Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver (Poetry submissions welcome at editors.pp@gmail. com). Recently interviewed by PANK, Yuan’s poetry appears in 709 literary publications across 27 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, LiNQ, London Magazine, Paris/Atlantic, Poetry Kanto, Salzburg Review, SAND, Taj Mahal Review, Threepenny Review and Two Thirds North. Christopher S. Bell Christopher S. Bell has been writing and releasing literary and musical works through My Idea of Fun since 2008. His sound projects include Emmett and Mary, Technological Epidemic, C. Scott and the Beltones and Fine Wives. My Idea of Fun is an art and music collective based out of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. (www.myideaoffun.org) . Christopher’s work has recently been published in the Madison Review, Red Rock Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Commonline Journal, Mobius, Gesture, Crack the Spine and Eclectica among others. He was also a contributor to Impression of Sound. Cyril Dabydeen Cyril Dabydeen was born in Guyana, South America; he is included in the Heinemann, Oxford and Penguin Books of Caribbean Verse. A former Poet Laureate of Ottawa, he adjudicated for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (USA) and for Canada’s Governor General Award for poetry. Among his many books are God’s Spider (Peepal Tree Press, UK) Imaginary Origins: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree), My Multi-Ethnic Friends and Other Stories (Guernica, Toronto), and the novel Drums of My Flesh (TSAR), which won the top Guyana Prize and was nominated for the 2007 IMPAC/Dublin Literary Prize. He also edited Beyond Sangre: Caribbean Writing Today (TSAR, Toronto). For years he was a book reviewer for World Literature Today (University of Oklahoma). He has taught writing at the University of Ottawa for over fifteen years. He has read widely from his books across Canada, the USA, Europe, India, and the Caribbean. His recent work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Canadian Literature , the Warwick Review, and the Caribbean Writer.

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Francis Shepherd Francis Shepherd works for a 1970s startup company as a creative technologies consultant. His 40 year career in the arts has been transformed by traditional photography, printmaking, interactive media design, digital visualization, and immersive art experiences. A childhood appreciation for all things natural, expressed through the organic evolution of creative consciousness, inspired by the intersection of technology and aesthetics, craft the foundation of his work. George Szirtes See Editorial Board. Hanif Kureishi Hanif Kureishi was born in Kent and read philosophy at King’s College, London. In 1981 he won the George Devine Award for his plays Outskirts and Borderline and the following year became writer in residence at the Royal Court Theatre, London. His 1984 screenplay for the film My Beautiful Laundrette was nominated for an Oscar. He also wrote the screenplays of Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987) and London Kills Me (1991). His short story ‘My Son the Fanatic’ was adapted as a film in 1998. Kureishi’s screenplays for The Mother in 2003 and Venus (2006) were both directed by Roger Michell. A screenplay adapted from Kureishi’s novel The Black Album was published in 2009. The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) won the Whitbread Prize for Best First Novel and was produced as a four-part drama for the BBC in 1993. His second novel was The Black Album (1995). The next, Intimacy (1998), was adapted as a film in 2001, winning the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film festival. Gabriel’s Gift was published in 2001, Something to Tell You in 2008 and The Last Word in 2014. His first collection of short stories, Love in a Blue Time, appeared in 1997, followed by Midnight All Day (1999) and The Body (2002). These all appear in his Collected Stories (2010), together with eight new stories. His collection of stories and essays Love + Hate was published by Faber & Faber in 2015. He has also written non-fiction, including the essay collections Dreaming and Scheming: Reflections on Writing and Politics (2002) and The Word and the Bomb (2005). The memoir My Ear at his Heart: Reading my Father appeared in 2004. Hanif Kureishi was awarded the C.B.E. for his services to literature, and the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres in France. His works have been translated into 36 languages. Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero, Isabel Ruiz Perdiguero, a spanish artist born in 1961 in Madrid City, Spain. I work in different areas, mainly paints, etching, drawing, photography and lately creations based in recycled woods. As an artist I don´t think that a criticism of reality is a necessity. Through an introspective process I try to give back an artistic summa of my feelings and emotions. I look for color in my work and is in this search where I find the inspiration of my creativity and my leit motif.

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Jose Varghese See Editorial Board. Jude Gerald Lopez See Editorial Board. Junaith Aboobaker Junaith Aboobaker has worked for four years in Oman and is now in Ireland. He is a pharmacist by profession and has recently published his first collection of poems ‘Pinbench’ (The Back Bench). A number of his poems and short stories have appeared in Malayalam periodicals. He is now working on his first novel. Kalathara Gopan Born in 1972 at Kalathara, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Kalathara Gopan started writing poems in the nineties. He has two poetry collections to his credit `Athu ningalanu’ and ` Chirakilolippicha pena’. Some of his poems are already translated to English. Kev Milsom Kev Milsom is in the early stages of his fifth decade. Along with music, writing is his passion and he spends a great deal of time trying to put different ideas together and hope that they make some kind of sense, or even better – magic. Golden days happen when even a few words of written magic can be produced. Non-golden days occur mostly and involve staring at a blank monitor and wondering why writing is so impossible. Despite a wealth of non-golden days, Kev has had several poems and stories published in anthologies since 2012. He is currently working on his first novel and hopes for many future golden days. Krishnapriya A.S I am 19, from Kochi and a second year student of the life sciences, at Sacred Heart College, Thevara. My favourite poets are Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Lang Leav, Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye. I enjoy reading Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte as well. Lissy Jose Lissy Jose is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, St. Teresa’s College, Ernakulam, Kerala. She graduated in B.A English from the same college in 2012. She pursued her post graduation at Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi. Her involvement in The Writer’s Forum at college inspired her to attempt creative writing and she debuted on the college blog in November 2012 with a flash fiction titled ‘Mary Magdalene’. She is a JRF holder in UGC/NET June 2014 and is currently a research scholar at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam. Her area of interest is Cultural Studies. 167

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María C. Domínguez María C. Domínguezs´ first book of poetry “Four Hands” (A Cuatro Manos) was written together with poet Jacobo Valcárcel. Her poems have been published in literary magazines such as “The Argotist” ,”Message in a Bottle”, “Blaze Vox” and “Bareknuckle Poet”. With a degree in English philology she writes both creatively and commercially. She was born in London and is currently living in another isle, Las Palmas. Her passion of poetry derives from her love of language and her desire to bring a voice to those who have been negated a space in the world. Martin Heavisides Martin Heavisides is a contributing editor to Linnet’s Wings (most recent publication a selection he’s handpicked from the poetry of Blake with his introduction): author of a novel, Underrmind; his seven full length plays, one of which, Empty Bowl, was given a live reading by The Living Theatre in New York (and published in Linnet’s Wings (Summer 2008). Mad Hatter’s Review, Gambara, Cella’s Round Trip, Journal of Compressed Creativity and FRIGG are also among the sane and sensible journals that have accepted his work. http://theevitable. blogspot.com and http://www.thelinnetswings.org/ Matt Duggan Born 1971 Bristol; Winner of the erbacce prize for poetry 2015. Poems have been published in many journals and magazines such as The Journal, Ink, Sweat, and Tears, Apogee Magazine, Dwang, A New Ulster, Yellow Chair Review, Roundyhouse, The Seventh Quarry, Graffiti, The Dawntreader, and many more. My prize winning collection Dystopia 38.10 (erbacce-press) will be available this December. Meera Nair Meera Nair is currently Manager, Corporate Affairs with Jaihind TV. She has been exploring various paths, working in the corporate sector after her post graduation in management. All the while she has been freelancing for both the print and visual media. Her first anthology of poems ‘Grey: Born when black invaded white’ has won her the Runner Up at the Muse India Young Writers Award. Meera is married and hails from Trivandrum. She is the proud mother of two sons. Michael Crossan Michael is editing his novel EDEN DUST. He plans to submit the script to agents in 2016. He lives in a town in Scotland. Short story SOULS published in The End Anthology 2016; Short story GOMORRAH SHADE published in Fish Anthology 2014; Novel extract EDEN DUST published in Unthology 4; Short story BONE DIRT top 25 finalist in Glimmer Train Open Fiction Prize 2012; Short story MORNINGPLACE shortlisted for the Bridport Prize 2011; Interview in The Atlantic.

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Michelle Cahill Michelle Cahill lives in Sydney and writes poetry and fiction. She was shortlisted in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize and received the KWS Hilary Mantel International Short Story Prize and the Arts Queensland Val Vallis Award. Her collection of stories, Letter to Pessoa, is forthcoming with Giramondo. She was a fellow at Kingston University and is a Visiting Scholar at UNC, Charlotte. Photo courtesy: Nicola Bailey Minu Varghese See Editorial Board. Mohammad Zahid See Editorial Board. Mona Dash Mona Dash was born and educated in India, and came to London to work, in 2001. With a background in Engineering and Management, she works in Telecoms Solution Sales. She writes fiction and poetry and her work has been published in various magazines internationally and anthologised widely. She has recently gained a Masters in Creative Writing, with distinction, from the London Metropolitan University. Dawn-drops is her first collection of poetry published by Writer’s Workshop, India. Her first book of fiction is represented by Red Ink Literary agency. www.monadash.net Naina Dey Naina Dey teaches at Maharaja Manindra Chandra College (University of Calcutta). She is a critic, translator and creative writer. Her books include Macbeth: Critical Essays, Edward the Second: Critical Studies, Real and Imagined Women: The Feminist Fiction of Virginia Woolf and Fay Weldon, Representations of Women in George Eliot’s Fiction and a book of poems Snapshots from Space and Other Poems. She was awarded the “Excellence in World Poetry Award, 2009” by the International Poets Academy, Chennai in 2009. Presently she is also a guest lecturer in the P.G. Dept. of English, University of Calcutta. Nicolas Ruston Nicolas Ruston is an artist and founder of the advertising agency Robot Mascot. He is most recognised for his silicone and mixed media works that explore the notion of artificial manipulation. Born in Epping, Essex in 1975, he works in London and Norwich. He graduated from De Montfort University following a three-year apprenticeship under sculptor John Warren. Ruston’s silicone work was nominated for the 2009-10 European Art Prize and in 2011 he launched “Propensity Modelling”, a solo exhibition at the Hay Hill Gallery in Cork Street. Described by Galleries magazine as “powerful explorations in painting and video of mass media and modern myth”. He has exhibited internationally and his works are represented in numerous private and corporate collections. 169

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Poonam Chandrika Tyagi The award winning artist Poonam Chandrika Tyagi was born in Muzafarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. Tyagi is currently settled in Delhi, India. Poonam Chandrika Tyagi has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in various locations in India and also in Russia, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, Egypt, Norway and the USA. She has received a number of artistic awards and honors both in India and internationally. Tyagi’s paintings are also held in nearly two dozen private, government and corporate collections. Pradiptaa Chakraborty The Indian artist Pradiptaa Chakraborty was formally educated in the visual arts in West Bengla, India. Chakraborty holds a B.F.A degree in Graphics from Kala Bhavana, Vishva Bharati University, Shantiniketan, West Bengal, and a Five Year Diploma in Painting from Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata West Bengal. Pradiptaa Chakraborty’s artworks have been included in national level exhibitions in India, and in a number of other countries including: Dubia, England, Australia and Japan. Ravi Shanker Ravi Shanker (writing as Ra Sh) lives in and works from the small township of Chittur in Palakkad, Kerala, South India. His poems in English have been published in Kindle Magazine, Bhashaposhini, Gulmohurmagazine, Journal of Arts and Aesthetics, Baroda Pamphlet, poetry 24blog Magazine , Criterion Journal , Art in Society International Web Mag, DuanesPoetree web mag, Glomag and High On Poems. An Anthology titled `A Strange Place Other Than Earlobes’ (containing 15 of his poems) was published in March, 2015. His poems have been translated to German, French and Norwegian. Apart from writing original poems in English, he is also involved in translating poems/articles/scripts from Malayalam and Tamil to English and vice versa. The first collection of his poems `Architecture of Flesh’ was published in December, 2015. Ravichandra P. Chittampalli Dr. Ravichandra P. Chittampalli is at present Professor and Chair at the Department of Studies in English, University of Mysore, Mysore. His Ph.D was on the Poetry of A.D.Hope. He won the K.Tirumalachar award from Dhvanyaloka, Mysore for research in 1983. Saga Magazine, Kent honoured him with a travel fellowship to visit U.K and Ireland in 1990. He was nominated the Northrop Frye Fellow in 1992 from Victoria University in the University of Toronto, Canada . He was twice the Shastri Fellow, in 1994 and in 2004, carrying out research at various universities in Canada. His major disciplines are Poetry, Literary Theory, Feminism and Cultural Studies. He was formerly the President of the Indian Association for Canadian Studies, and was one of the Directors of International Council for Canadian Studies, Ottawa , Canada . His translations have been published by Kendra Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

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Rehan Qayoom Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally. He has published 2 books of poetry and several works of prose. Rosemary Tom

Rosemary Tom is a post graduate in English literature and is a lover of the written word. Poetry fascinates her like nothing else; John Donne to random scribblings on the web

Sabine Meier Sabine Meier studied English and French at Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany. After finishing her teacher’s training, she spent 20 years as a language teacher at grammar schools before she was infected with the ‘Creative Writing Bug’. She is an active member of Writers Ink. e.V., an association that encourages and teaches second-language speakers to write in English (http:// www.writers-ink.de). In 2015, Sabine did an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her first novel Young, is ready for publication, her second (working title: Borderline Souls) in progress. She currently works as an ESL Creative Writing tutor at Große Schule Wolfenbüttel. Sarah Sally Spear Sarah Sally Spear is a photographer based in London for about 18 years, having grown up in Sydney. Photography kind of discovered her, only a couple of years ago. Since that time she has enjoyed a learning curve which she expects will continue as long as it can. Through her photographic work she is keen to explore the infinite nature of things, the importance of this moment, and the relationship between fear and love. She is inspired by science, philosophy, literature and poetry, and stuff that’s around her each day. She also loves Abstract art, amongst much more. She is greatly inspired by the thought that nothing is finite – it’s a thought to be treasured and pondered. It leads her to the thought that we are limited by our perceptions, and that the size and scale of things around us is not as relevant as it might seem. It’s just the way we view things. We may be limited by these perceptions, but we are not trapped by them – the way we think and view things is constantly changing. There is great potential in thinking deeply about this. She likes to think that the way things initially look is not actually how they are. And how they are is not static. The relationship between fear and love is of importance to her and her creative drive.

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Scott Ziegler Scott Ziegler graduated with an MFA degree in Ceramics from Northern Illinois University in 2008, currently teaches classes at University of North Carolina at Pembroke. His work has been juried into many competitive international exhibitions in recent years, and this past year was no exception. To highlight a few exhibitions, Scott’s work was selected for inclusion in the “DownEast National Sculpture Exhibition,” at the PCAC at Emerge in Greenville, North Carolina, featured in “Looking at Ourselves” at Baltimore Clayworks in Baltimore, Maryland, and selected for the “Cedar Creek National Teapot Show IX” invitational at Cedar Creek Gallery in Creedmoor, North Carolina. In addition, he had just finished a solo exhibition at Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona. Scott was selected as an Emerging Artist by Ceramics Monthly magazine in 2006, and was a featured artist for the magazine in 2009 when his article “The Pursuit of Perfection” was published. Besides having been selected for publication in Ceramics Monthly and Clay Times magazines, his work was featured overseas in a Chinese book, The Appreciations and Collections of Modern and Contemporary Ceramic Art and included in 500 Figures in Clay Volume 2 published by Lark Books in 2014. This year, Scott has been featured in Glazing Techniques, a book published by The American Ceramic Society. His professional experiences also include serving as a clay mentor for the Potter’s Council, receiving the Kiln God Residency Award at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, and being featured as an artist for the PBS television show “Broadstrokes.” Shirani Rajapakse Shirani Rajapakse is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013 and was a finalist in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears or is forthcoming in, Café Dissensus, International Times, Silver Birch, Writers for Calais Refugees, The Write-In, Asian Signature, Moving Worlds, Citiesplus, Deep Water Literary Journal, Mascara Literary Review, Kitaab, Lakeview Journal, Cyclamens & Swords, Channels, Linnet’s Wings, Spark, Berfrois, Counterpunch, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies, Flash Fiction International (Norton 2015), Ballads (Dagda 2014), Short & Sweet (Perera Hussein 2014), Poems for Freedom (River Books 2013), Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel (Plum Tree 2012), Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace (Inner City Press 2012 & 2014) and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence (Plum Tree 2012). Simon Williams Simon Williams has written poetry for 35 years. It ranges widely, from quirky pieces often derived from news items or science and technology, to biographical themes, to the occasional Clerihew. He has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and Wastrels (Paper Dart Press, 2015). Simon has a website at simonwilliamspoet.moonfruit.com, was The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded The Broadsheet (www.thebroadsheet.moonfruit.com). He makes a living as a journalist.

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Wayne Hislop Wayne has had his poetry accepted by a project by UC Davis in April of 2015 and in the same month three other poems where taken by Community Arts Ink. Wayne also got published in a book call (27 Signs) by Lady On A Wire. He has been published in other books of poetry and has a poem been used in a Irish university and his life with dyslexia might be put into a doctorate study in September 2016 at UCD Ireland. Wendy Shreve Wendy Shreve received her undergraduate degree at Smith College and graduate degree in English at the University of Montana. She has also lived overseas, teaching English at language schools in Europe and via a Princeton University fellowship at the National University of Singapore. As a freelance writer, Wendy has written pieces for the professional theatre, including the Cape Playhouse, in Dennis, MA, and Payomet Performing Arts Center in Truro. Cape Cod has also inspired Wendy to write published e-zine articles, blogs, short stories, and her books Shadowwater and Dark Sea (Shadowwater II). Contact information: author@shadowwater.net

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Editorial Board Chief Editor Jose Varghese Jose Varghese is a bilingual writer/editor/translator from India who teaches English at Jazan University, KSA. He worked previously at Sacred Heart College, Kochi, and has founded Lakeview Journal of Literature and Arts. 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 Editors 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!

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.

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Design/Layout Editor Mariam Henna Mariam Henna, a freelance travel writer, learned the art of editing and designing during her work as the Student Editor of Lakeview Journal. Dreamer, TroubleMaker, Teacher’s Pet and Aspiring Writer – she is currently working on her first novel Another Sunny Day. She has published her poetry and fiction in journals/ anthologies, Children’s Magazine and Trip Designers (a travel website). She has co-founded SIA – Smile, Inspire, Aspire, an NGO that works towards the empowerment of children and aged, and also wishes to become a teacher someday. Her love towards the world of arts led her to complete her Bachelors in English Language and Literature from SH College, Thevara.

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. 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 175

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translation work by him on the criticism of Kashmiri poetry is being published shortly by the academy.

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

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 post-colonial theory, co-author of The Empire Writes Back, the first text to examine systematically the field of post-colonial studies. He is author and co-author of sixteen books and over 160 articles and chapters, variously translated into six languages, including Post-Colonial Transformation and On Post-Colonial Futures and Caliban’s Voice. He holds an Australian Professorial Fellowship at the University of New South Wales, Australia, working on the project “Future Thinking: Utopianism in Postcolonial Literatures.” George Szirtes George Szirtes, was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee with his parents and younger brother following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. He grew up in London and trained as a painter in Leeds and London. He is the author of some fifteen books of poetry, roughly the same of translation from Hungarian, and a few miscellaneous other books. His first, The Slant Door (1979) was joint winner of the Faber Memorial Prize. In 2004 he won the T S Eliot Prize for Reel, and was shortlisted for the prize again in 2009 for The Burning of the Books and for Bad Machine (2013). There were a number of other awards between. Bloodaxe published his New and Collected Poems in 2008. His translations from Hungarian have won international prizes, including the Best Translated Book Award in the USA for László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango (2013) and his latest book for children, In the Land of the Giants won the CLPE Prize for best collection of poetry for children, also in 2013. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in the UK and of the Szécheny Academy of Arts and Letters in Hungary. He is married to painter, Clarissa Upchurch and recently retired from teaching at the University of East Anglia. For a fuller CV see his website at georgeszirtes.blogspot.co.uk Kala Ramesh Kala Ramesh has long had a fascination for Indian classical music and has worked extensively on Pandit Kumar Gandharava’s gayaki and nirguni bhajans along with the paramparic bandishes of the Gwalior gharana, under the guidance of 177

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Vidushi Smt Shubhada Chirmulay, Pune. Kala has performed in major cities in India. Kala discovered haiku in 2005 and feels she’s addicted to this art form from day one! She also writes in related genres like, tanka (five line poem), haibun (tight prose embedded with haiku), senryu, and renku (collaborative linked verse). Her poems have appeared in anthologies, print and online journals. Her book titled “Haiku” brought out by Katha in December 2010 was awarded the Honourable Mention for Best Book for Children: The Haiku Society of America’s Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards. “The Blue Jacaranda” won the Genjuan International Haibun Contest 2012 (Japan). Her collection of tanka poems, “the unseen arc” won The Snapshot Press eChapbook Award 2012 (UK). Loree Westron Loree Westron is an American writer living in the UK. Her short stories and literary criticism have been published in journals and anthologies including London Magazine, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice and Western American Literature. In 2010, she helped set up the Thresholds International Short Story Forum, for which she served as Editor until 2013. She is currently finishing a PhD at the University of Chichester where she also teaches Creative Writing. Mel Ulm Mel Ulm is the editor and founder of The Reading Life, a premier Asian based literary book blog with over 100,000 visits a month. He is an internationally published philosopher. His posts on Indian literature have been recommended by The Economic Times of India and he will be a regular contributor to the Journal of the Katherine Mansfield Society. Patrick Connors Patrick Connors was Lead Artist in Making a Living; Making Art, a pilot project of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts at the University of Toronto. He recently published in Barrie and Belgium. His first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by LYRICALMYRICAL Press this Spring. He headlined an event of Sunday Poetry at Ellington’s called, Artists as Activists. He is a manager for the Toronto chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. Rana Nayar Rana Nayar is Professor and Former Chairperson, Department of English & Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh. His main areas of interest are: World Drama/Theatre, Translation Studies, Literary Theory and Cultural Studies. A practicing translator of repute (Charles Wallace India Trust Fellow & Sahitya Akademi Prize winner), he has rendered around ten modern classics of Punjabi into English, ranging over novels, short stories and poetry. He was awarded First Prize, in an All India contest, organized by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi for his translation of Baba Farid’s Shlokas into English. Among other works, his translations include those of Gurdial Singh, Mohan Bhandari, Raghbir Dhand and 178

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Beeba Balwant, published by Macmillan, National Book Trust, Sahitya Akademi, Sterling, Fiction House, Katha and Unistar et al. Apart from this, he has one collection of poems Breathing Spaces (Unistar, Chandigarh) and three critical books, i.e., Edward Albee: Towards a Typology of Relationships (Prestige, New Delhi, 2003) and Inter-sections: Essays on Indian Literatures, Translations and Popular Consciousness (Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 2012), and Gurdial Singh: A Reader (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2012) to his credit. Moreover, he has directed over twenty major, full-length productions, and acted in almost as many. Sanjukta Dasgupta Dr.Sanjukta Dasgupta, Professor and Former Head, Dept of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University, teaches English, American literature and New Literatures in English. Recipient of the Fulbright postdoctoral fellowship and several other awards and grants, she was also the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize jury panel (2003-2005). Her published books are The Novels of Huxley and Hemingway: A Study in Two Planes of Reality, Responses : Selected Essays, Snapshots (poetry), Dilemma (poetry), First Language (poetry), More Light (poetry) Her Stories (translations), Manimahesh (translation), The Indian Family in Transition (co-edited SAGE), Media, Gender and Popular Culture in India: Tracking Change and Continuity (lead author, SAGE, 2011) Tagore: At Home in the World (co-edited 2012, SAGE). She is the Managing Editor of FAMILIES : A Journal of Representations Awaiting Publication in 2013: Radical Rabindranath: Nation, Family and Gender in Tagore’s Fiction and Fils.( lead author, Orient Blackswan) Editor:Golpo Sankalan (Contemporary translated Bengali Short Stories) ( Sahitya Akademi) Sudeep Sen Sudeep Sen [www.sudeepsen.net] is widely recognised as a major new generation voice in world literature and ‘one of the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene’ (BBC Radio). He is ‘fascinated not just by language but the possibilities of language’ (Scotland on Sunday). He read English Literature at the University of Delhi and as an Inlaks Scholar received an MS from the Journalism School at Columbia University (New York). His awards, fellowships & residencies include: Hawthornden Fellowship (UK), Pushcart Prize nomination (USA), BreadLoaf (USA), Pleiades (Macedonia), NLPVF Dutch Foundation for Literature (Amsterdam), Ledig House (New York), Sanskriti (New Delhi), Wolfsberg UBS Pro Helvetia (Switzerland), Tyrone Guthrie Centre (Ireland), and Shanghai Writers Programme (China). He was international writer-in-residence at the Scottish Poetry Library (Edinburgh) and visiting scholar at Harvard University. Sen’s critically-acclaimed books include The Lunar Visitations, New York Times, Dali’s Twisted Hands, Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Distracted Geographies, Prayer Flag, Rain, Aria (A K Ramanujan Translation Award), Ladakh and Letters of Glass. Blue Nude: New & Selected Poems | Translations 1979-2014 (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Prize) is forthcoming. He has also edited several important anthologies, including The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry, Poetry Foundation Indian Poetry Portfolio, Poetry Review Centrefold of Indian Poems, The Literary Review Indian Poetry, World Literature Today Writing from Modern India, The Yellow Nib Contemporary English Poetry by Indians, Midnight’s Grandchildren: 179

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

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Student Editors 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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LIJLA Vol.4 No.1  

Lakeview International Journals of Literature and Arts February 2016 issue featuring works by writers/artists like Hanif Kureishi, George S...

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