Frozen in Time

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Frozen in time

Frozen in time


2020, Knara Agasaryan; Elin Babcock; Elyse Black; Magdalena Brzezinska; Renske Carbone; Ruchi Chopra; Patricia Emilien; Dmitriy Finozhenok; Jim Fleckenstein; Charlene Gibb; Judith Gutlerner; Aki Halme; Rob Howard; Yulia Ivanova; Joel Kahn; Anthony Kolasny; Agneta M Lindh; Jima Ngei; Gudny Sigridur Olafsdottir; Renske Oort; Vicky Papageorgiou; Ola Porebska; Deisy Rey; Marjorie Rosenberg; Sonia Roychowdhury; Olfa Saadaoui; Peter Sansom; Maria Laura Scasso; Jean Sciberras; Arevhat Simonyants; Heather Skinner; William Strnad III; Michal Teague; Samar Tulba; Dąbrówka Ujec; Natasha Vanderlinden; Mieke van Os; Simona Vasilache; Cynthia Willett 
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Cover Art and Illustrations (unless otherwise specified):

Magdalena Brzezinska

Poznan, Poland

8. 11. 2020


Just as we were gathering ideas for this year’s project, busy with our everyday activities and carrying out our large and small plans, the world froze: the unexpected, surreal and scary COVID-19 pandemic happened. Each one of us had to redefine their life and learn to live it anew. Yet, here we are, once again: still hopeful, diverse, unprejudiced and artistic — and united more than ever before.

Magdalena Brzezinska

Prison Banging to be freed. Screaming for attention In an overcrowded space Missing joy, love and pleasure. Silent tears witness The struggle to escape My thoughts. I'm not locked. I'm down.

Poetry and art: DÄ…brĂłwka Ujec, Poland/ The Netherlands

Renske Carbone, The Netherlands/Australia

The blue bag Every now and then, her doctor asked her how she would rate her life on a scale of 1 to 10. She would usually rate it a 7. Not bad, considering that her husband passed away a few years ago. With him she had had the best years. Their love for each other was complemented by their shared love for reading and for following all political and other global news. They immensely enjoyed being with their grandchildren. He was their step-grandfather and had no children himself, but he was the sweetest and funniest grandfather any child could wish for. Just like he was the sweetest husband. She moved to an apartment close to her son, who visited her every Saturday afternoon for a coffee. Her daughter and grandchildren

lived further away, they sometimes visited or spent a holiday together. She had never been a people’s person, books were her best friends. She wasn't as mobile anymore, but she could get her groceries nearby. Her eyes were getting old, with a strong light she could knit or read for a while, until it was too strenuous. She listened to audio books and the radio. The word happy was too big and overrated, she believed, but being content was good enough. A couple of weeks ago, she was told that she should not leave the house anymore, it was too risky. And it was safer if her son would not come inside, so she talked with him from the balustrade, while he stood down on the street. Her groceries could be delivered. Whenever anyone called, she always said she was fine. It is better to say you are fine, also to yourself. Her granddaughter, far away, worried about her grandmother in forced isolation, came up with an idea. She and her family members collected poems, photos, self-made crossword puzzles, cartoons. They folded them all, put them in a blue, linen bag and sent it by mail. The grandmother was delighted by the unexpected parcel and hung the blue bag next to her seat. Every day she blindly picked one of the papers out of the bag. She called them her little daily sparkles. And each day she had contact with her family far away about the sparkle of the day. Sometimes she needed help with a puzzle or wanted to know more about a photo. Other papers brought up precious memories that they talked about on the phone. One morning she found a little note on the door mat from her Japanese neighbours, whom she had never really met. They asked her whether there was anything they could do for her. She wrote a little note back, saying that she would be very pleased if they could buy her some fresh fruit and bring her the mail from her mailbox downstairs. So they did, and they continued exchanging little notes, getting to know each other better. On Mother’s Day, they slid some origami flowers, each with a little crane, under the wall screen between their balconies. Origami flowers and the blue bag, her warming sparkles in a world that was frozen in time.

Renske Oort, the Netherlands/ Germany

Life goal What's the purpose of life? Why does it always matter? It is a great surprise, But any life has always mattered! To live or not to live, We shouldn't make the decision. Who are you going with Without a clear vision?! They might be mutual friends Or even false, it happens. Don't tie your soul's bands, Connections are weapons... Sometimes you fluctuate To choose unstable feelings. They never immigrate, Remind the heartless stealings. When a sweetheart can betray Despite all words and fiction. Don't dare to lose the way! In times which are full of friction. If the world around goes mad, So lonely after trauma. Ask Lord to save and help, Don't put the dot, it's a comma!

Poetry and art: Arevhat Simonyants, Uzbekistan 

Frozen in Time The year had started off with a great deal of promise. I had trips lined up to Bosnia, Poland, Israel, Greece, the UK and was about to start planning for my annual US trip when we began hearing about a virus that was ravaging Wuhan in China. It still seemed quite far away until suddenly it was on our doorstep in Italy and moving closer every day. People who had travelled to Northern Italy during the Austrian semester break in February were told to quarantine for two weeks before coming back to work. Austria still had few cases but I began bringing disinfectant to class to wipe down tables. And then all of a sudden, in the middle of March, I got an email from a group I teach with the subject line ‘English vs. Corona’ and the information that my upcoming classes were cancelled. On the following Monday, the ‘lockdown’ was announced in Austria. It was not as strict as some countries but I stayed home and my partner did the shopping for us. Every day at 6 pm we went up to our roof terrace to applaud the essential workers who were keeping everything going. We got to wave at neighbors we had never seen. On Saturdays, I offered a song for those who were out on their balconies. All of my trips were, of course, cancelled and we became very used to staying at home. We are lucky in that we have outdoor space with two balconies and a large roof terrace. The summer seemed to fly by and by that time regulations had become less strict so I was going along on the shopping expeditions. We met friends once in their garden and went out with friends once to eat at the outdoor part of a restaurant but all in all, we found that we enjoyed searching for recipes, cooking, sitting over a meal with just the two of us, reading, growing vegetables on the balconies, going for walks and bike rides and simply enjoying life and being grateful for what we had.

I learned to use Zoom (like everyone else), touched base with family and friends I normally wouldn’t have seen in Germany, Poland, the US, Peru and so on. There was also the chance to do a number of online presentations and these kept me very busy as well. It was interesting giving a talk to teachers in Nepal, India, Poland, Russia and the US to name a few. During this time I also began a Facebook group called ‘Staying Positive’ which seemed really necessary with the first shock of the virus and the ‘new normal’. This brought me into contact with some new people as well as connected me again with those I hadn’t seen in a while. We worked at building each other up and helping each other as much as possible. When this is all over I hope to continue with groups like this, find the time for my daily walks, take the time I need for myself, continue our search for new recipes, and remember every day how lucky we are.

Story and art: Marjorie Rosenberg, USA

Frozen in Thyme As I listen to colleagues, students, and friends I hear despair, depression ne’er ends I feel their pain, their crying for solace Frozen in time, their mind almost thawless

We are facing times, new and unnerving But we must stay the course, forever unswerving The challenge today, keep a stiff upper lip Steady and true, we must keep our grip

This life may be full of dolor and pain Yet we must look ahead, lest we all go insane Find a diversion, try something new This will all pass, be compelled to get through

These arduous days, are destined to cease We will find our way back, retract to our peace Stop all the wallowing, wanting, and waiting Do something good, something motivating

Instead of wasting away, frozen in time Take the bull by the horns and just change your mind Only you can control how you let it affect you Be happy and smile, it may just protect you Poetry and art: Rob Howard, USA/Poland 

Photo by Bicanski on Pixnio (CC0)

An Apology Letter I am so sorry that I haven’t visited you. Six months ago, when your door opened, you made me smile and brought me such happiness. There were times we would disagree, but we always worked it out. I always felt so good after a visit. We had many discussions over the years as to what would be best for me. I wasn’t always nice to you. I would rip you apart and think you useless. But at other times, you were most understanding, kind and helpful. I appreciated you so much. It never mattered what color or shape, you were always accepting and open to all. You could make me feel so special and beautiful. We shared many incredible experiences last year. At my last visit, I remember talking to you about feeling comfortable and looking confident for my concert. I also remember talking about my nephew’s wedding which was coming up, how I hoped you’d help me look and feel elegant. I never returned after that visit. Because of the pandemic, all my concerts as well as my nephew’s wedding were canceled. I don’t need any more advice from you. There can be no more discussions or disagreements now. But I will always treasure the memories and times we spent together. Dear Closet, I am so sorry but I don’t know when I’ll ever see you again. Love, Judy Judy Gutlerner, USA

Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland 

My 2020 Calendar My March Calendar literally burst with its morning /lunch/evening/ slots double-booked like a popular girl's dance card. My March Calendar Screeched to a full stop, stayed home, in her pajamas and fuzzy slippers No No No No

job social distance spring trip

The clock both kept her company and annoyed her with the constant ticking. She apologized it wasn't its fault. In April My Calendar saw a tiny plant pushing up through a crack in the cement. She introduced herself. It seemed to sway a hi Or so she felt. She transplanted her. The operation was successful. She entered the event in April The first entry since March 

Simona Vasilache, Romania/ Japan

My Calendar asked her name. With no discernible answer she christened her, Miracle. In May, Miracle had grown a foot. My calendar opened her last bottle of wine and with tiny drops they celebrated. Tears running down her face My Calendar sniffled a thank you. June followed with the birth Of an immense hefty hibiscus Five inches two. It dwarfed its Mom. Then two. Then three. Each birth celebrated. July followed June With more offsprings And celebrations. My Calendar was happy to enter so much joy on each day. She had something to celebrate. And thanked Miracle again and again. August My Calendar went outside masked walking her plant. They looked at trees And Miracle laughed from a joke one of the wild roses told. It was too risquÊ to enter. September came Children were off to college Nights were cold She didn't say it But both knew it was time for her to sleep.  

Gudny Sigridur Olafsdottir, Iceland

October My Calendar reread the dates of Miracle's arrival and each of her children And how far they walked each day. November. My Calendar reflected on the change she experienced and made a promise. She would not be so full She would have time for Miracle for all gifts of nature. December, My Calendar Dressed up for the first time Wore make-up and perfume the scent of Hawaii. She poured two thimble's full, the last of the bottle, and shared with the clock. She went back turned each month and wrote "Gratitude" in every empty slot.

Elin Babcock, USA

Marjorie Rosenberg, USA 

It happens in my mind received a visa to emigrate a dream come true mid-March flight scheduled for early April new news every day, all bad Virus spreading checked flight booking Suddenly there were openings A month ago, there had been none Quick, moved flight up at the airport on time last open airport refused boarding looked at the gates So close yet so far dreams fading calls, emails and pleadings finally, a boarding pass There was an exemption 33 hours including layovers couldn’t sleep, so tense arrived to find no queues What had happened to the world? 33 hours, frozen in time, world changed forever 33 hours continents changed in flight world changing below me period forever frozen in my mind but not still full of what-ifs, alternate scenarios, imaginings wake from the dream, not a dream Real Replaying…

Jima Ngei, Nigeria/ Canada

Frozen in time – a short reflection on the zeitgeist and more… I stare for a minute or two or three – for time has lost its meaning- at the phrase above. I wonder if this particular phrase has a tragi-comic meaning at this particular time. Comic only in that the imagination and creativity of many have come out in funny memes and pictures to alleviate our existential dread.

No more need for a quick snapshot view to capture the instagrammable moment. Today the 9th of April is practically the same as the 7th and 8th of April and very likely like the 10th and the 11th. Get up late, walk the walk from bed to sofa, switch on pc, only getting up for the occasional snack and shower. Living out these strange times in a zen state is what frozen in time means to me today. Aptly enough it incorporates eating as many of the frozen products stored in the freezer for that rainy day and warming up my frozen feet with a hot water bottle…I draw the line at watching Frozen, especially since thankfully no children around. " % $ # This is mainly what everyone is going through. And very probably ten years from now this trying period will be wondered at, analysed, studied and referred to as the millennium frozen time for those in isolation at home, for airlines, for economy, tourism and many other sectors. Who knows if by October, the deadline for this project, this zombie like time would have been over or not?

For me however, I will allow this phrase to apply to more than just frozen routines. In my case I see my feelings consistently in a time warp. For me there is no past or future… everything seems to be in the present. Can’t believe my father passed away twenty-four years ago. It seems like yesterday. I still get the urge to call my sister, to share my news with her, to ask her advice although she too has left us. I remember clearly what I was wearing on my first date, my first proper kiss, the clothes I wore for a particular New Year’s Eve. If ever a book could appropriately belong to my understanding of time it would definitely have to be Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past for really my memories are frozen in time overlapping with the present. I recently discovered that clear memories I have, go back to when I was 2 or 3 years old. Kundera’s Slowness is another of those books written with me in mind. Although my actions were not necessarily slow, the moment was/ is/will be prolonged nonetheless. My thoughts and feelings forever frozen in time. Thursday 9th April 2020.

Jean Sciberras, Malta

Enjoy The sun is rising, a new day begins.. This is tomorrow, the beginning of today. Happy for nothing, happy for everything, because you are healthy, are free, can do whatever you want, have a laugh, run around, go crazy and dance, jump on your bike, run through the forest. Nothing to hide, no thunder, no virus, no war. That is special! It goes without saying, therefore: ENJOY!

Whisper in time

Brave like a lion king over my own freedom running like a red deer across the grassland tender-hearted with tearful eyes I admire the smell of wild lilies ask the future for a favor

In the twilight where birds coo when light and dark are virtually distinguishable visit rain angels my sleep walking along the mountain path like ghosts seeing each other in a different light to bring back what belongs to children

The bones speak lingeringly where the soul rises a story with many sides some things remain even if they are gone beautiful and calm like a motionless lake everyone gets something different out of it

I bask in wisdom and grace

Poetry and art: Mieke van Os, The Netherlands

Linings of Silver Unexpectedly, life has lost familiarity. Things we used to do and take on so casually, Have grown in their size and in their complexity, While isolation highlights this sudden absurdity. Warm friendships, like stunning artwork, seems so unreal More precious and flawless than a single, perfect, black pearl. Separation from them makes time come to a standstill. We are missing the joy that brings out life’s most treasured thrills. So it seems so easy to focus more on the casualties, Drawn like an addict to feel deep melancholy. Hard to sense the freedoms we have individually, And remember the power that comes through as empathy. By looking inward, dissecting ones own soul, Can we understand this solitude and re-gain full control? And in a startling moment of intuition extol, Our desire to no longer be alone; to regain back our whole! A moment gone by is a lifetime lost in fantasy, Let us recognize the gift of time given by this malady, And focus our love on ourselves and humanity. Who could be more intimate than our very own family? We’re never alone, we just need be familiar, To look no further than the spirit looking back in the mirror. Reflecting the passions we have in our quivers Recognizing its lining are oft made out of silver.

Poetry and art:

Jim Fleckenstein Johns Creek, Georgia, USA

“What is the first thing that you will do once the pandemic is over?� The question was both cheesy and tough. When the Coronavirus thing started, I found it difficult to understand people's complaints. I used to show understanding whenever they said "Life sucks", but I was faking sympathy, for I am an introvert. Give me a book and an internet connection and let me be. But my friend was waiting for an answer. She knew me well. She is my best friend. I, too, knew her well. She is an extrovert, a sworn enemy of books and reverie. She was not asking about MY plans. She just craved an answer that would help her lighten up a bit. She was bored because of the lifestyle that the pandemic has engendered. She is the person who'd climb mountains for fun and book trips on a whim; and she was so desperate as to ask me (me!) about my post-Covid plans. I decided to play her game, the way our mothers gave our childhood dreams and fears a voice. In my childhood, I hated to admit that I don't like being around people. My mom picked up a doll and put the problem on its tongue, with a lisp, without

judgments or snobbish advice. Then she said: "Now that I thaid it, I am no longer ashamed of being shy ". Though I was partly aware that it was mom speaking, I could not help admiring the doll that could wear her bashfulness like a badge of honor. The one-armed doll became my role model. “I'll go somewhere. Greece, perhaps.” “Hmmm.” She knew me too well to buy that. She knows about my Greece fascination, but she believes it is an introvert fascination that can be satisfied through books and daydreaming. “And we can go out more. We'll eat out more, and go shopping, and watch movies in the cinema. How about that?“ I heard her voice light up as she said: "Great!" She was grateful that I was willing to lie blatantly for her sake. “What about you?” “I'll sleep.” “Are you kidding me?” “I know everyone sleeps a lot nowadays, but this is not the kind of sleep I'm after. What I'm talking about is the tranquil sleep that absorbs consciousness: no dreams, no worries, no fearful expectations. Do you understand?” I think I did. Actually, this was the kind of thing I would typically say. It never occurred to me that she could be really afraid of anything. The discovery was embarrassingly surprising. We were silent for a moment, then she said: “Now that I admitted it, I am no longer ashamed of being afraid.” I felt an urge to tell her about my doll, but I hated to play the teacher, so I said: “I'll send you a postcard from Greece.” This was the best joke I could come up with. She, a good friend, laughed hard.

Samar Tulba, Egypt


In a dream you came back to me bare naked against the cold defiant arms extended. Â I turn to the dream repeatedly searching for life inside your winter, forcing your presence.

Poetry and art:


Cynthia Willett, USA

Heather Skinner, USA/Germany

The sparkling lights of joy have dimmed Their font of memories gone; Bitterness, aimless, takes their place As time careless marches on.

You were the poet, artist, dreamer Who once inspired a young girl´s awe. You could say so much with so few words It seemed you could do it all.

Now your life has faded and your body frozen my face to you unknown, But I will remember you as you were My best friend, my grandmother, my own.

Elyse Black, USA

Poland. The Eighties. First Communion back then was a massive undertaking, in both meanings of the word. Imagine a country with 99% Catholic population. It meant that out of the 100 children in my class level there was just one boy who was not receiving religious education, because his grandmother, who he lived with, was a journalist in a communist newspaper. The preparations for the big day were intensive and comprehensive. Sheer numbers of the nine-year-olds made it a logistic exercise. We were lining up and being sorted according to the size. Shortest angels first in line, to joyously walk into the church and face the altar, singing hymns and awaiting the culminant point of receiving the Holy Host for the first time. I was standing towards the end, observing the returning children, elated and filled with the taste of the holiness in their mouths.

(The precept was to allow the wafer to dissolve, but my friend stuck her finger in her mouth trying to dislodge the wafer stuck to her palate. This is how I discovered I have no ability to keep the laugh in, in solemn circumstances. Also applies to funerals unfortunately.) Aunties, uncles and cousins were present, bearing gifts and flowers, ready to embrace, peck on the cheeks and head to the after parties to feast and dance. I was not overly fond of the greetings, knowing that I could not immediately wipe the kisses away without appearing rude. And why do aunties have mustaches? That should be reserved for uncles, who should not speak like courting doves. For nine year olds, the gifts from family were equally important, if not more, than the meaning of the event. Children could expect to get religious jewelry, money, a bike or a watch. My aunties and uncles gave me money and flowers, totally useless in my mind. From my elegant Grandmother I received a little silver cross. The best gift though I received from my Dad: a small camera! Dad demonstrated how to used it, taking the first picture. My destructive cousin Miro watched from the sidelines and when no one was looking, he took the camera and started pulling and pushing the intricate levers – in the wrong direction‌ irreversibly breaking the delicate device. I saw that too late to save it. I hoped my Dad would be able to fix it, but it was permanently damaged. I could not even get mad, because of the holy event that took place earlier that day. I was trying to stay saintly; the sacrament of confession was terrifying, especially for little sinners like me. Dad took out the film capsule to have it developed and see if the one picture he took was any good. Here it is, a moment frozen in time. Ola Porebska, Poland/ Australia  

Hanging from my knees Tree is high hair is wisping Let fear go swing on Awakening Evergreen Landing on my feet like cat

Art & poetry: Agneta M Lindh, Sweden

Yulia Ivanova, Russia

The cradle I have a few of my early childhood photos. But I found the best one fifteen years ago. It’s made by the American spacecraft Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968. The blue globe of the Earth is rising above the gray, cratered Moon. It is obscured by clouds, but if we could, as in Google Maps, zoom in, we would see that it is snowing over Western Europe, “Carol of the Bells” sounds everywhere, and lights are shinning on the Christmas trees. And somewhere there, on the other side of the Iron Curtain, sixty kilometers south of the confluence of the Neva into the Gulf of Finland, holding on to my mother's hand, I, wrapped in a hundred clothes, goes out on my first walk in my life. There are a small step and a giant leap for humanity in one photo.

Dmitriy Finozhenok, Russia

Yulia Ivanova, Russia

On the edge The young pioneer camp of the local branch of "Tesla" was located in a small village on the banks of the Chrudimka river. Almost beyond the camp a nature reserve began. It’s the last island of virgin forest, not cut down on the support of numerous mines in the nearby Iron Mountains, twenty hectares of spreading beeches, whose huge trunks have been overgrown with moss for hundreds of years, slender spruces and impassable windbreak. This is how Europe looked before the arrival of man. Near the camp itself, the forest was younger and thinner, but it also gave the impression of a deserted and inhospitable place. Its border was the border of an inhabited safe world which no one dared to violate. But one day everything changed. Our scout leader woke us up in the middle of the night. “Today,” he said, “is your main test. The Road of Courage”. We were taken to the edge of the forest. - This is a single mission. Walk through the thicket. Follow the lights. A reward awaits you at the end. And now it was my turn. I stood at the very edge of the forest. The light from my flashlight caught only a small spot under my feet. The trunks of the trees went into the dark and were lost there. My heart sank with fear, and my head rushed about the wandering lights, luring travelers to death in the thick of the forest. And at the same time, I was ecstatic. I didn't need to sleep. I was going to go to the forest alone, at night, and no one stopped me! I felt completely free, and the magical land of the old forest was glad to receive me. I don't remember how I got there. I don't remember what the award was. But this mixture of horror and delight from standing on the edge of my world I remember perfectly. More than once they, the same delight and horror, rolled over me before a step beyond the usual life, before a step towards a new me.

Dmitriy Finozhenok, Russia

Sonia Roychowdhury, India

Anthony Kolasny, USA

Ruchi Chopra, India/ USA

Unite the night On April 2nd, 2020, the Prime Minister Marendara Modi addressed his nation of India to turn off their lights for 9 minutes at 9pm on April 5th and light a candle, flashlight or one's mobile phone to mark solidarity in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. I was unaware of this announcement but noticed a flurry of beautiful images of candle lightings from various locations in India on April 5th in my news feed. I learned of the event and shared some photos with friends. One responded that a similar event called Unite the Night was being held each Sunday in April from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. My friend suggested that we participate with the lighting of candles and exchange photos in solidarity. We chose the evening of April 12th, 2020. The evening of Easter for the Roman Rite. The year when all churches were closed from the people. What is it about lighting a candle? What is in the motion of the flame, the light, the warmth? Is it that countless generations have used a flame as a sign for hope? Here it is. Once again, it is brought out in a time of need. We lit our candles, exchanged photos, and posted the event in solidarity with countless other people around the globe. It was a beautiful event and is a precious memory. Our global unity and our burning flames as a hope to unfreeze this moment in time.

Anthony Kolasny, USA 

Unique art created with the use of different areas of mathematics put into a context of computer programming logic. In Joel’s mental background lie the geometries of textile arts, from Persian rugs to Navajo blankets; sacred designs from Asian mandalas to Gothic cathedrals.

Joel Kahn, USA

A moon pie On the roof of the world, And even higher, I am waiting for you To eat the moon pie. I'll light the stars Instead of candles, And instead of dancing We'll decide to fly. But the night will smile, As a jealous woman, With its bitter chocolate And a slice of lime. Still it's our harbour, Making my dreams real. To stay with you longer I'll freeze us in time. But the sun will break through, Melting my illusions, And the stars will look like The crumbs of the pie. Our flight is over, Time to step on the ground. And it's hard, you know, To say to you goodbye.

Knara Agasaryan, Uzbekistan

Pendulum, 2020 30 x 30 cm Linoprint collage on paper

Peter Sansom, The Netherlands

Janus galore Pends, depends, deep ends Deeper, deeper, deeper Life is, life is not, life ends Away, near and it pends, depends, ends… Cold, colder, coldest, frozen… Death Breathing away, whispering, seducing, stealing away… Yet Renewing, growing, changing, giving… Rebirthing Hot, hotter, hottest, melting Breathing life, breathing hope a whisper, the breath of a god, and it pends, depends…deep ends Finishing, beginning, the end, the beginning Janus galore.

Buenos Aires, 2020

María Laura Scasso, Argentina

A sudden pause How long does it take for life to freeze ? How long does this freeze last?

What does life in sudden isolation look like? How does it feel living with an invisible enemy ? Pause and think. Freeze!!

The vulnerable call for more humanism Never before has the embrace been more missed. A prolonged and painful distance is now an unexpected longing for a touch .

The transparent ice between us a new barrier to overcome. A new life of which we know nothing about ahead of us. Who says we need to go back to normal?

Poetry and art: Vicky Papageorgiou, Greece

This Moment  This moment, it flutters Through time and through space. Settling softly like white antique lace. I hold it quite gently In the palm of my hand. Memorizing its features The best that I can. I smell its aroma, I outline its face, I stand mesmerized By the strength of its grace. My heart wrenches tightly As I feel it slip free, This moment that is So important to me. It lifts on a breath; Gone without trace, And I smile For this moment Was heaven to taste.

Poetry and art: Natasha Vanderlinden, USA

Gudny Sigridur Olafsdottir, Iceland


For the moments I should be there but I wasn´t Now, the time keeps going in circles it seems to never stop The clock sounds, and I look around Frozen in time The memories are melting And I… I remember you Enjoying the sun during my winter. So, frozen in time, my dear, I´ve let living stories. The clock’s sound again, and the winter warms the fire. Easy to keep me inside the cage, While my thinking runs away. Frozen in time, it comes and goes, I live and love, But your memories heal and hurt. Frozen in time, my dear. For the moments I should be there and I wasn´t. DEISY REY VENEZUELA 2020

Poetry and art: Michal Teague, Australia/ Vietnam 

The Forgotten Flower I thought about you again last night, as I have so many times before, wishing you were here, near me now, and hoping I am in your thoughts as well. You will never understand the actions of fate, for fate has no reasons ~ just cause and effect. How has fate affected you? Are you happy with your new surroundings? New family? New life? Do you ever wonder who you are, or where you saw your first breath of light? Has rejection been the core of your personality? Have you ever felt like a flower, forgotten in a garden, unwatered, left to wilt? So much time has passed between our separate worlds, and yet, I feel so close to you, as if I'm on the bridge of something. I don't know for sure. Perhaps it is the bridge to nowhere. Is the truth hidden in plain sight? Remember my little flower... forgotten roses are not loved as you are. You will continue to grow in the garden of my soul. Poetry and art: Char Gibb, Canada 

Maory the Sparrow Is nature cruel or is cruelty anchored in nature ? Summer was reigning with a clear blue sky Drought was on the way with high temperature Not a cloud disturbing the sunny sky There it was alone, naked gasping Under the midday high sun rays Lost in the uncomfortable uncovered area Lying on the ground a tiny little creature A hearted human hand Picked it up inside to a fresh nest Fed it attentive to its a demand Like a real bird’s mother Three months caring and love Feathers covered its small body Feeding itself was still a hard exercise The wings and tail grew uneven The poor little thing grew up handicapped Jumping like a kangaroo unable to fly The mother bird knew what the future would be It threw it far away from the nest in a vast dry land Tiredness was not the bird’s mother’s business Compassion is in the human heart What is good sense or nonsense ? What is the true sense of cruelty ?

Poetry and art: Patricia Emilien, France

Why keep going back to a frozen city? I don’t know why I went back the last time I did. Why I chose to spend the few days my doctor prescribed for me to process my PTSD in the very city that caused it. The city of lingering rubble and broken-hearted streets, haunted by the traumatizing images of 4th of August. The echoes of that day reverberated for the full month in all our conversations. We spoke only of the collective trauma, the loss, the bleakness and revenge. That day, our time froze and the city that once resembled our intimacies, whose nooks and streets used to enfold our innocent emotions is now as foreign and indiscernible as it has never been. Her once familiar corners are maddeningly alienating, gripping us in its obliterating sense of loss and persistent fatigue: an irremediable heartbreak. I don’t know why I came back last time. Or why I keep coming back. To close this chapter of my life, or to pack what remains of my belongings that were left under the rubble of broken glass and a blasted bathtub. The landlord must’ve gathered them and saved them for me. But if you ask me; these things don’t matter to me anymore. So, I really don’t know why I came back. Or why I keep coming back to the turned-unwelcoming city with its terrible temporality that defines our days by how many times we cry. How can one August 4 last for so much longer than 24 hours, how many nightmares do we have in one week, how many hours do we

sleep, or not sleep during a day, or how many friends do you say goodbye to at the airport gates? Where were you at the time of the blast? Do you have anywhere to stay? How many hours did the port fires take to smother? Beirut is a funny city; and time a funny illusion. It took a span of a year to witness time violently speed up then suddenly cease. The temporal metamorphosis tied me firmly to the city and it was easier to synch to its crazy revolutionary tempo than to its prior misleading calmness. October 17th marked the beginning of a new era, not only politically, as voices of rebellion rose loud and condemnation of the political elite took over popular discourse, but also socially and culturally when these voices manifested in new connections and new ways of expression. A new temporality was being formed, and collective synchronized experiences came to define our days outside in the streets. I often almost forget how my life used to be before the revolution. Who were the friends I made before? And what did I use to talk about? When I pretended to be politically savvy: what meaning of politics did I attach to the time before the revolution? What previous understanding did I have of the clientelism, sectarian ruling and corruption? I am not Lebanese - but I now belong to the city more than ever before, more than I do to any other place. Its streets bulging with life, art and angry freedom-seeking chants were the only space I could exist in. Then the 4th of August came. Time froze. And I still don’t know why I went back last time. Olfa Saadaoui, Tunisia/ Lebanon

Frozen in Time

Lost is my dawn in time’s stream
 I was old when I witnessed the age of stone
 Lord froze me in time, beyond hourglass sand
 I was witness when mankind’s path was lost
 The hunters’ tools turned red on fellow souls
 Hatred tainting common purpose and dreams

Brave are those who dare dream
 A dream made worthless by blood spilled as streams
 Sweat of many, but glory of one soul 
 Tainted the vain, their pyramids of stone
 Eternal life in trade for lives lost 
 Those scorned in a land of camels and sand

Sorrowful fate on Troy’s sands
 Awful the curse that spoiled prophetic dreams
 None harkened, my warnings in wind were lost 
 Death by ruse, murdered people thrown in streams
 Ruthless men not stopped by mere walls of stone
 Ancient tale of triumph for one cruel soul
 Blessed be, my sisters’ souls
 Raging fires, your bodies now blackened sand
 Infamous end, not to sleep under stones
 Graves denied by priests and hypocrite dreams
 I mourn, but our faith won’t fade in the stream 
 Do as ye will yet hurt none. Creed’s not lost
 Victory be gained or lost 
 It takes one blade and one deserving soul
 Virtue facing down the barbaric streams
 It ends at valiant lines in the sand
 Excalibur preserved Camelot’s dream
 Noble king, knights, and my sword in the stone
 The hungry child can’t eat stones 
 Excess for some while others starve, both lost
 Rich men hoard all but poor ones’ futile dreams 
 Evil gloats in new clothes, while an old soul
 Sees how wealth’s mere fistfuls of flying sand
 As kindness prevails, gold’s lost in the stream
 Years grind down stone. Frozen in time, my soul
 It’s chafed by loss as friends fade into sand
 But dreams persist as love withstands the stream

Aki Halme, Finland

My Father’s Skull In the Western Polish city I move among others In the crowded night market on the edge of summer. The gesturing hands of clouds block the light of the moon. I become aware of the round skulls attached to bodies, Balanced atop the bones of slow-moving old men. From behind I remember the aesthetic of my father’s skull, From the brachycephalic men in my father’s family. There, in that tribe, the Slavic blood was strong. My father’s skull multiplies in the air before me. In those moments I am transported to Louisiana summer evenings In the disquiet of my youth when I entered our house before the rain. Sitting quietly on the back porch was my father, His legs curled into his chest, locked by his arms. The cinder of a cigarette turned his face a dull orange. His silhouette angled toward the Western skies. There, in that place, he dutifully watched the black clouds, Perhaps remembering his unrecoverable youth on a Wisconsin farm When he waited for lightning and wind in the loft of the barn. My father remained motionless and always said nothing. Then, and only then, was my father a tender presence, An unguarded and delicate soldier, a lonely soul standing guard. Those were the only moments when I could imagine Embracing him in a fearless hold without the need for light. Years later, before he died, I wanted to hold his head in my hands And cradle him and comfort both boy and man in his dying body. But neither summer evenings, nor dramatic thunderstorms Will resurrect the skull of the father to the hands of the son. I too am a sentinel of lightning, summer wind and Biblical rains. I am obedient to the dark on stormy nights in summer, Sitting quietly with my children and grandchildren Who cannot understand why I, without the offer of a word, Stroke the back of their heads with a hand across unspoken space.

William Strnad, Poland

The Kiss of Death

Since the day you were born I’ve known you

When you tripped - A toddler, there, by the sea And got a bump on your head, I stroked you

In fourth grade, when a peer shoved you Under the teacher’s desk, And you felt thick, sticky blood Weeping down your cheek, I caressed it

When they came running As you were giving birth, I took you in my arms

Now Let me kiss you

Poetry and art: Magdalena Brzezinska, Poland

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