Editor * Matthew Antonio www.littlemachines.net
ÂŠ 2014 All rights to the work herein are retained by the individual contributers. Word Machine is a twice-yearly online journal dedicated to promoting new authors writing in the surreal and absurd traditions and providing a forum for their work. All images by Matthew Antonio www.wordmachine.weebly.com ISSN: 2331-0448
Ventriloquism * Joel Page.....................................6 Partial Eclipse of Flash Point
REM Patterns * Kenneth Gurney.........................11 Section Forty-Seven * Kenneth Gurney.............13 Pressing a Curved Shape * Kenneth Gurney........14 Red * Malcolm Cooper.........................................16 Mine in Red * Neila Mezynski..............................19 Married \ Not Married * Neila Mezynski...............20 nature is (n)ot your friend * Kyle Hemmings......22 sour girl * Kyle Hemmings....................................23 lonely farm girls * Kyle Hemmings......................24 My Dead * Corey Mesler.......................................26 I Wake from a Dream * Corey Mesler..................27 Trust Me * Corey Mesler.......................................28 Dogtooth * William Doreski.................................30 Two-Tone Frogs * William Doreski......................31 A Luscious Red Popsicle is Sucked Upon by
a Luscious Model, But I am a Good Person and Will Not Be Moved * Rich Boucher..............34 The Private Dances of
Tegillclut, New Hampshire * Rich Boucher........36 3
Crossed Out * Adam Gianforcaro.......................38 Blueprint * Adam Gianforcaro.............................39 Thirsty, SupĂŠrieur, and
Bitter * Winston H. Plowes..................................41 Encounter * Masud Khan......................................44 A Journey into the
Phase * Masud Khan........................46 (o r i g i n a l )
A Journey into the Unknown: Terra-incognita Phase * Masud Khan........................50 (o r i g i n a l )
53 (translation) Practical Solutions * Fred Longworth................57 Outside the Department
of Energy * Fred Longworth................................59 Losing It * Fred Longworth..................................60 Wash Day * Kathryn Lipari...................................63 The Guest in the Attic * Phillip Donnelly............69 Contributors..........................................................75
am an unprecocious child, illiterate, slow, scarcely verbal. Having attained the age of four, to which I cannot count, I nonetheless possess a vocabulary of just 50 words. It is generous, moreover, to describe these utterances as “words.” My parents are merely guessing at the content of my speech, and those guesses are correct, at best, half the time. Today, I can hear my parents quarreling in the living room while I smash my truck into the walls of the hallway. Joyce, my mother, believes my language deficit to be neurological in origin, and imagines that it could be diagnosed by an imaging of the prefrontal cortex. She wants me to visit a neurologist, or, at a minimum, a developmental psychologist. My father, Desmond, his instincts are populist and anti-intellectual; he is accordingly distrustful of medical specialists. He does not grasp the distinction between neurologists and psycho-therapists, and he is contemptuous of psycho-therapists, whom he regards as charlatans. I hear their voices rise in conflict while I examine the truck-markings on the hallway molding. Desmond is in the living room telling Joyce that he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with me, that if I am behind schedule, it is because she is exerting so much pressure on me to begin speaking. Joyce answers 6
that it is as if he doesn’t care about my well-being, that I am done no favors by ignoring my deficits, and am, in fact, crying out for help. I look at the molding. I’m certain that a real truck could have annihilated the molding, so I’m frustrated that I don’t have a real truck. I pull the truck back further in the hallway, and I move the rug so it can offer no friction. Then I hurl the truck back against the wall. The noise of the impact is substantial, and the truck, a red plastic dump-truck, rolls backwards into the opposite wall. I grab the truck and look at it – the plastic headlight has been dislodged, affording the truck a distorted monocular quality. I am disturbed, and consequently enter the living room to get help from Desmond or Joyce in repairing the truck. My appearance slices through the conversation. I look up at Desmond and say “tuckle,” by which I mean to call his attention to the truck’s head-light. Desmond and Joyce exchange looks a moment, Joyce seizing on this latest instance of incoherence as evidence that I need professional assistance. Desmond rolls his eyes: “Sounds like my buddy here wants a tickle fight.” He grabs me, “tickle tuckle tookle tickle.” Then I am over his knee, then on the ground, writhing with epileptic laughter, screaming and miserable. *** Evidently, Joyce has prevailed in the argument, since I am taken the following day to a speech therapist. The therapist’s 7
carpeting is unreasonably thin and scratchy, and the toys in the waiting room are unworthy. There is a series of picture books, a few stuffed animals, and a system of wires and colored wooden blocks meant to build fine motor skills. I can’t read, have little imagination, and no fine motor skills, so these toys do not impress me. Rather than play with them, I sit in front of Desmond, and attack his knees with my fist. An office functionary calls my name to summon us to the office – I do not react to the sound of my name, so my parents pick me up and take me back behind the counter. The speech pathologist is a homely blonde man with a protruding belly. “Well, little buddy,” he begins, “we’re going to screen you for linguistic deficits.” He does so, but his questions about me are all directed to Desmond and Joyce. A treatment phase of the visit ensues. The pathologist wants to determine my capacity to imitate adult directed sounds. To demonstrate the concept of imitation, and perhaps to spark some sense of delight in the possibility of speech, he removes a dummy from his desk. He identifies the dummy as “Irving” and shows him to me a moment before seating him on top of his desk calendar. Irving is bug-eyed, and dressed in ill-fitting Vaudeville clothing. The pathologist invites the dummy to greet me: “say hello to Leroy, Irving.” Irving does so, then tells me that he’s glad I’ve come to learn to talk. The dummy’s mouth moves with the pathologist’s speech; the pathologist, however, makes no effort to conceal that the words originate with himself. 8
I stand on the chair and grab the dummy off the desk. Then I hug him to me closely, nuzzling him in the crook of my neck. The pathologist is taken aback, and I ignore him. Irving, wooden and lifeless, Irving, liberated in my arms from the burden of anotherâ€™s words, Irving alone understands me. I stand on the chair and grab the dummy off the desk. Then I hug him to me closely, nuzzling him in the crook of my neck. The pathologist is taken aback, and I ignore him. Irving, wooden and lifeless, Irving, liberated in my arms from the burden of anotherâ€™s words, Irving alone understands me.
Partial Eclipse of Flash Point REM Patterns by
Kenneth Gurney For reasons you do not understand this fight is to the death and the weapon chosen by your opponent is chocolate cake. This must be theatre something metaphorical or absurd with a ghost-like narrator voice explaining issues to the audience. But the duelâ€™s judge is in front of you offering you a choice of a devils food or something with red dots that looks like Black Forest Cake in the dimmed lighting of the boisterous hall. That smattering of the German language you retain from your college days bends your decision: SchwartzwĂ¤lder Kirschtorte.
There seems to be an abundant variation of spectators in the grand stands and bleachers, but the usual white-rich are only mildly interested, softly ignoring the event from their the box seats while offering tea to gentlewomen in immaculate dresses fringed in lace who hold parasols protectively above their heads even in doors. As the carillon bangs Stairway to Heaven, Bobby Fischerâ€™s voice echoes in your head: 1.e4. as the best opening that may exist in competition, even with its downside of an undefended pawn heartily exposed to the ravishing of Hungarian masters. But there are no squares on this field of honor nor any field either, only a red carpet about three feet wide with golden fringe on the sides with some tapestry motif of Normans defeating Saxons with the blunt ends of blueberry muffins.
Section Forty-Seven by
Kenneth Gurney You sought a prime, grade-A meridian, something to circumscribe Adamâ€™s rib, but your empty cupboard mentality left you stranded in the supermarket with an insufficient melancholy to propel you toward the ice cream or the isle with the red-tag-sale on post climax satisfaction and you ended up listening to some recumbent music that rippled the very air before your eyes which caused a doubt in you so severe as to liquify the concrete floor beneath your restless sneakers and only your furtive brow and a sidelong glance allowed you to bow yourself in arrow fashion out the automatic door in just your stocking feet.
Pressing A Curved Shape by
Kenneth Gurney A tooth-full of loud screams cuts the petite happinesses out of sleep and accidentally scares all the old ghosts out of the woodwork of the play house turned art house and transmutes all the black hair gray on the wigs stored in a cedar chest that wait for employment upon judges, barristers and witnesses in a spiteful trial of remorselessly dirty feet and the shadow cast by an extremely sad girl upon a motherless doll house.
inah picked red for the party, although she doesn’t remember ever liking it before. The boy came in with a purple ring already but that’s no bother. She didn’t expect any more from him or anyone at something like this. Maybe he knew she still had her boyparts underneath the dress, but nobody ever said anything before. She goes into the bathroom to think and listen to the party from somewhere where nobody can bother her. But all she sees is the red there, the red on the boy only one of many colors tonight. Also, there was the red house, her first, now dark for want of any other name besides red house and memory trapped inside like a nervous lamb where his body laid in pieces scattered over the floor. Back then that boy’s name was David, a name he often cursed while filing nail while broken eyelashes read the cold where secrets were hid but never remembered. When he was twelve he took some scissors to cut off his pecker and say cock gone bad for want of any other name besides cock. He wanted the name lady without want of any other name besides lady. But momma wouldn’t have it that way and she knew what happened because her tools were 16
like her puppies, and she caught him in the act before he even broke the skin. Then momma put on her face in front of mirror home to bugs many sizes, wiping them clean with muslin cloth, whispering croak song banjo twang. Now back on toilet Dinah remembers momma there, like the toilet brought back the memory at age nine she wiped his ass, bowels too fragile she says my boy with heart of angels with voice of jaysus heavens my boy who cries most days, not ready for this world nor ever will be. And then the same memory except different, age fourteen a man wipes his ass with tongue, legs behind his head this hole a secret, opened again once for momma but now for a man who could be momma in disguise.
Mine In Red by
Neila Mezynski Her head with lovely thrown over shoulder, blonde, Cloud 9, never to pay taxes only to be looked at her lovely in red with fake skin snow white feet, yes.
Married/Not Married by
Neila Mezynski Married Arm at side by side separate but together be think apart. One. Until.
Not Married Arm busy hand to hand, looking holding stroking. No time for spare thought. Until.
nature is (n)ot your friend by
Kyle Hemmings lock her in a sad tree where all sad trees connect to barb wire only () i mean absence makes the enclosure incandescent stingy bones & fake moths what to do with lullabies the reflection off air-filled soup cans.
sour girl by
Kyle Hemmings youâ€™re just a melencholy fox worse worse than a wet whisker. taconite breaks my heart september is a doll-hair fracture() go against the green husk & failed lust will rubble you
lonely farm girls by
Kyle Hemmings nails limned with clod ants w/ grass stained-thoughts what saves you from flushing is hemlock & risk the heart a haze the drop & dew
My Dead by
Corey Mesler They make a rotten procession. Numerous dogs, including, recently, like a Sabbath, my beloved Fly, a rabbit, Sandra, Ted and my father. I watch their trudge as if it were mine alone. They are made of slate. I want to write on them the story of the living, those they left behind. They left us behind to sing. Instead I watch dumbly, a cloud myself, as useless as another hymn.
I Wake from a Dream by
Corey Mesler I wake from a dream about you and find myself more alone than ever. But waitâ€”I am not alone. There on the end of the pier a ghostly fisherman sits, contemplating a life he never had, while he feeds the water bread.
Trust Me by Corey Mesler
I woke the monkey because I had a question about the night. Can we break it like porcelain? I walked to the sycamore and spoke its riddled name. The dogs came from miles around. They wanted to ask questions, too. They asked if I really knew the monkey. I lied my first lie and lead them into the open.
William Doreski The tide comes in forever here, raging up the slope of bedrock, almost to Main Street where the spray cakes on the cafe umbrellas. A famous singer died while racing the tide across the beach. Tourists daily fall to their knees over there by that fang of basalt we call Dogtooth. The singer was an obscene teenage idol. I don’t remember his name. His band left in a bus painted electric psychedelic colors. They didn’t even claim his corpse, so we gave it to the medical school sixty miles down the coast. Every evening our brass band plays loudly enough to hear above the crush of the sea. Often at that hour someone, usually a small child, wanders to the moonlit beach and drowns. A voluntary sacrifice. Those drownings keep the sea from overwhelming the whole town. It would funnel right up Main, busting down School and Pine streets, then, choked with our bodies, withdraw past Dogtooth into the mud flats. There it’d lie sullen and digestive--maybe a bit rueful, but so abstract no one could rebuke it for exercising qualities we love.
Two-Tone Frogs by
William Doreski Two-tone poisonous frogs hop around the basement offices. They’re scouting for mice to kill with a thrust of a venomous tongue and swallow in a single gulp. Toxic enough to kill a cat or possibly a toddler, these frogs evolved behind the boiler where damp spawns wooly clumps of mold. I usually avoid consulting my colleagues in the basement, but today I need some blueprints so descend with timid steps. A frog as big as a hedgehog challenges for a moment, then leaps with defiant grace, disappears into a yawning storage room, which I would never, regardless of threat or incentive, enter. My colleague’s office features wicker frog traps scattered about. They don’t catch but may deter 31
the green and white frogs bustling room to room in search of prey. My colleague doesn’t worry. They’ve never attacked a human, and shy away when he slings a book or even stamps a foot. I resolve to tread as heavily as I can. When I’m upstairs again I glance out the window where storms bustle in the west. Each looming cloud, prickly with lightning, suggests a giant frog darting many tongues, venomous in several languages, not all of which I can speak.
A Luscious Red Popsicle is Sucked Upon by a Luscious Model, But I am a Good Person and Will Not Be Moved by
Rich Boucher The young model sucks on the cherry orange popsicle, pulling on it with her lips suggestively, as if to suggest that she is truly blonde, and made perhaps of libertine, European stock, open to the idea of a playful afternoon, and sexually creative. Her dark blue eyes think dark blue notions in my direction, staring into the camera while fellating the frozen treat almost whole while I am the one standing here, leafing through this magazine, passing the time until I must go to see my dentist. Suddenly, I realize what the model is trying to do to me, and I roar in lion-like defiance, right there by the pharmacist’s window, startling the baby in the shopping cart that happens to be passing by; I cannot let myself be taken in by this supermodel’s mouth. You’re not going to do this to me, I scream up to the heavens, and I start to tear apart the magazine, even though I have not 34
paid for it. Thatâ€™s about enough of that; you better knock it off or Iâ€™ll knock you out, snarls the baby, pounding his fist into his hand and giving me the death glare. You heard me, continues the baby, menacing me from his perch on top of the shopping cart, go ahead and keep it up if you want to die. I back away out of the store slowly, never taking my eyes off the baby, our guns still trained on each other, neither one of us wanting to blink.
The Private Dances of Tegillclut, New Hampshire by
Rich Boucher Everyone in Tegillclut went to school together and all at once as children and as high school children. Ringed by sturdy, recalcitrant pines, this town remains balanced between Autumn and Winter, plus there is a hardware store and pavilion in the middle. When a freckled baseball cap child catches a cold here, the entire town reaches for a handkerchief all at once in slow, black-and-white synchronized motion. You have to be very careful if you are living here. This small town has that disease where fire grows naturally. You must exercise caution and you must never be the reason for a shameful secret to exist, because secrets live almost as long as mosquitoes here. A lot of nights here have almost dozens of stars in them. Some nights here have only that one star by the half-moon. Walk in the front door of Aphroditeâ€™s, on the edge of town, under a night with no Moon to take you to your favorite seat. How many singles, like ladder rungs slipping, do you have? You fold your bills vertically and prop them up near your beer. Vanessa is coming your way now, and her bikini is so pink you canâ€™t even see her top under the thrumming neon. It costs so, so much to be danced upon in this town. 36
We’ve Obliterate, Crossed Exclude, Out the Expunge, Things Cross out, On the Snip, Done, List that Reverse, We’ve Revoke, Finished, X-out. And maybe xxxxxx The errands xxxxxx We’ll never xxxxx Get to. I xxxx Ended xxx The opening x Line with a xx Preposition. xxxx I should xxxxxx Probably xxxxxx Cross that Scratch it, Out too. Delete, A revision Erase and Would do Destroy. Just fine, Kill, cut But I’ll Cancel, omit Put an X Null and Where an Void. X is due.
Adam Gianforcaro I n math class Six (six≠six) Years prior To my fingers typi ng, we mapped ///
s pe. w i equations h (I drew a sta humans///earth////// r I th /////thewholefuckinguniverse ink) can be sketched out ` lik +≠≠≠ e a blue.print .____. Ev ery/////thing//// is a line seg|ment som – ehow or a nother. 39
Thirsty, Supérieur, and Bitter by
Winston H. Plowes 1. Thirsty Don’t know how this night will fade. When a woman’s in trouble and the fat always sinks to the bottom the man that I love struggling to burn stones. ~~~ 2. Supérieur I think bottle as I say glass. Is the square later a circle which seems wet In terms of wax? ~~~ 41
3. Bitter Instead an actual cat at the end of the tapering leather strap going under the duvet. I see beige circles eclipse the stagnant back five that England has not exhumed. blah blah blah blah blahâ€Ś ~~~
This series of three short poems was constructed using the following method: Radio Mashups 1) Turn on a radio (any station) and at a chosen time count to ten. 2) Upon reaching ten, write down the word(s) heard. 3) Repeat this as many times as you like. Each time starting on a new line. 4) These words form the beginnings of lines completed by words drawn from what your immediate environment suggests. 5) Chose a drink. The name of your poem should be inspired by your chosen drink.
woman stealthily threw away her newly born baby girl to the roadside garbage. Another woman, incidentally hearing the baby’s cry, picked her.
The girl has been growing up at the woman’s house.After many years, one day it chances that the unknown mother and the daughter meet in a party. The party has assumed a festive air. With glasses of drinks in hands and gleams of smiles in faces, they are chatting cheerfully. The girl has somehow got to know her real mother is nobody but the lady she is talking to. The lady, however, doesn’t know this is the girl she deserted pitilessly throwing her to the garbage just after her birth. Not driven by any anger or perturbation or anything, just out of curiosity, the girl touches the lady and tries to feel the smoothness and warmth of her skin. Suddenly, the lady, the girl’s real mother, becomes unmindful for a second and asks her indifferently, “How old are you, dear?” In response, the girl presents the ambiance with a silence of infinite degree. There flows a continuum of silence and darkness outside. It heavily thunders nearby - suddenly, and from the blue. It seems 44
the sky, the huge canopy made of an utterly black tar-smeared old tarpaulin stretched out above the earth, will suddenly rip apart at any moment.
উড্ডয়নপর্ব মাসুদ খান
কটি পাখি। উজ্জ্বলন্ত বহুবর্ণিল পালকবিন্যাস। রং। রঙের জান্তব উল্লাস যেন ছলকে পড়ছে সার্বভৌম ডানা থেকে, পুচ্ছপ্লাবন থেকে।
পাখি কি নশ্বর? দিগিদিক-স্মার্ট এই পাখিটিও মাঝে মাঝে বাস্তবের চাহিদাবায়ুর অনুকূলে পাখা মেলে বটে, কিংবা কোথাও সুস্থির হয়ে বসতে যায় বটে, কিন্তু কি-জানি-কি ঘটে যায়, কিসের যেন অভিঘাত এসে লাগে! তখন যতবারই তাকে বস্ত্র ও বাঁধন দেওয়া যায়, যতবারই পাসপোর্ট দেওয়া যায়, দেওয়ামাত্র কুটিকুটি ছিঁড়ে ফেলে তূরীয় গতিতে উড্ডয়মান। তখন বগুড়া বাঁকুড়া ব্রেমেন বাস্তিল একাকার হয়। সমগ্র বিশ্বটাই হয়ে যায় এক দুগ্ধকুয়াশালিপ্ত পৌষবিকাল।
এইমাত্র পাখিকে দেখা যায় গুল্মবিজড়িত মরিচাপড়া দুঃখিত এক দূরপাল্লার ক্ষেপণযন্ত্রের নলের শীর্ষে। কিংবা প্রাগৈতিহাসিক কালের এক অতিকায় জন্তুর শৃঙ্গচূড়ায়। জন্তুটি ধীর ছন্দে হাঁটছে আর পাখিও শিঙে বসে সেই ছন্দে দুলতে দুলতে এগুচ্ছে আর কণ্ঠ ও পালক থেকে অবিরল ঝরিয়ে যাচ্ছে সর্বপ্লাবী গলমান স্টেরিও নিকেল। 46
পরক্ষণেই সাঁই-সাঁই...নেপচুনের স্বপ্নময় জলাভূমির ওপর দিয়ে...। এই তাকে দেখা যায় দূর-অতীতের ভূমধ্যসাগরীয় ঝকঝকে রৌদ্রে, বাণিজ্যবাতাসতাড়িত ফিনিশীয় বর্ণাঢ্য জাহাজশ্রেণির সমান্তরালে। সদ্য-বাতাস-আক্রান্ত অসংখ্য পালের পতপত শব্দ আর পাখির পক্ষসঞ্চালন-শব্দের তীব্র ঐকতান হয়। অভূতপূর্ব! শুনেছি, ঐকতান হলে নাকি উদ্ভব হয় অমিত শক্তিরাশির। তাতে এমনকি ভেঙে পড়ে লৌহ-কংক্রিট-ঘটিত কোনো আধুনিক ব্রিজও। লন্ডন ব্রিজ ভেঙে পড়ে যায়, ভেঙে পড়ে যায়, ভেঙে....
পরক্ষণেই পাখি সহসাই ঢুকে পড়ে দূর ভবিষ্যৎকালের এক জমজমাট হলোরামার হলের অভ্যন্তরে।
পাখি অকস্মাৎ পেয়ে যায় রাজহাঁসে রূপান্তর। আপনমনে সাঁতার কেটে চলে বুধের অবারিত মিথেন-সাম্রাজ্যে। সারাদিন ধরে উড়ে উড়ে অনেক আলোকবর্ষ পথ ও সময় পাড়ি দিয়ে অবশেষে সন্ধ্যায় অবসন্ন পাখি অরুন্ধতীর কোলকে সরাইখানা ভাবে। ঘুমিয়েও যায়। খুব ভোরে তাকে উঠতে হবে। আবারও উড্ডয়ন। অন্তহীন। দিকচিহ্নবিহীন।
A Journey into the Unknown: Avigation Phase by
bird. A bright, polychrome arrangement of quills. Colours... it is as though the bestial ecstasy of colours is overflowing the sovereign wings – the downy cataracts.
Is that bird subject to death? Out and out smart, this bird does also sometimes intend spreading of its wings windward on the soft breeze of advantages. It does, too, want to sit on a convenient branch at times. But some oddity is sure to come to pass right then, some misadventure to strike…. And after that, proffer it as much as you will civvies and chains and passports, it will rip them all into tiny pieces and – fly. Then Bogra, Bankura, Bremen, Bastille… all become one and the same place, and the universe – a milkyfog smeared November dusk. On this very instant you can see the bird on the tip of a mossy, rusty, mournful barrel of a long-range missile launcher. Or it may actually be the peak of a horn of a huge prehistoric creature, one which is walking in a slow cadence, making the bird sway on its horn and ceaselessly shed an inundating flow of molten stereo nickel. 48
The very next moment… wheeeeeeze… over the watery places brimming with Neptunian dreams…. This moment you find it swathed in the Mediterranean sun of yore, flying in parallel to the vivid Phoenician fleet driven endlessly away by the trade winds; and the music that is made by the flutter of countless freshly-aerated sails and the bird’s flapping of wings… oh! how wonderful is that! We have heard that fusion can generate enormous energy– energy that can knock down even a modern, steel-and-concrete made bridge… London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…. And then the bird flits into a bustling holorama-theatre from faroff future. And it suddenly changes into a swan, wading carelessly across the infinite methane realms of Mercury. Flying all day long, passing light-years over light-years, eons over eons, at the twilight hour the worn-out bird takes Arundhati star’s lap for a caravansary. And it sleeps there too… for it will need to rise early the next morning, and fly, sans an end, sans direction.
Translated from the Bengali by Subrata Augustine Gomes
নিরুদ্দেশপর্ব মাসুদ খান
বিড় বনপথে হেঁটে বেড়াচ্ছি। সীমানাহীন এই বনাঞ্চল। অজ্ঞাত, অনাবিষ্কৃত। পায়ের চিহ্ন পড়েনি কোনোদিন কোনো মানুষের। উঁচুনিচু প্রান্তর। অকস্মাৎ স্রোতস্বিনী-এত স্বচ্ছ, মনে হয় বহুস্তর এক কাচের প্রবাহ। বৃক্ষগুলি ইস্পাতপ্রভ। পাতা থেকে হালকা বেনজিনের গন্ধ ভেসে আসে। আমার ভালো লাগে। শাখা-প্রশাখার চূড়ায় চূড়ায় গুচ্ছ-গুচ্ছ রামধনুর বিচ্ছুরণ। ওগুলি বোধ হয় ফল-ক্রিস্টালের। ডালে ডালে অ্যালুমিনিয়াম রঙের পাখি উড়ে এসে বসে। রতপ্রভ তাদের পুরীষ। গাছের অত্যন্ত মসৃণ সব ডালে আর বাকলে বিচিত্র রঙের ছোটছোট পুরীষপিণ্ড জ্বলজ্বল করতে দেখা যায়। আমার আবারও ভালো লাগতে থাকে। একটা ঝাউগাছের ওপর অসম্ভব সুরভিত এক স্বর্ণলতার ঝাড়। লতাগুলি যেন আলোকতন্তু দিয়ে গড়া-স্বচ্ছ; আর তাদের মধ্য দিয়ে চালনা করা হয়েছে আলোকরশ্মি। শীর্ষবিন্দুগুলি একএকটি ধ্রুবকের মতো জ্বলতে থাকে আর অদ্ভুত সুন্দর এক জালিকাবিন্যাসে লতাগুলি ছড়িয়ে আছে ঝাউগাছে। থাকে। যেদিকে তাকাই শুধু ইস্পাতরং আর অ্যালুমিনিয়াম-রং আর হালকা সোনারঙের চূড়ান্ত মসৃণতা। সেইসব মসৃণতার ওপর দিয়ে নানা বর্ণ ও ঘ্রাণময় আলোকের শুধু পিছলে যাওয়া আর ছলকে ওঠা। আমার 50
ভালো লাগে। সেদিন একঝাঁক শজারুর সঙ্গে দেখা। কী সুন্দর তাদের দিগিদিক ছুটমান শরীরভঙ্গিমা! উচ্ছ্রিত সব কাঁটাচূড়া থেকে বিকীর্ণ হতে থাকে চুয়ান্নতল হীরকের রেশমরশ্মি প্রভা। প্রান্তরে লতানো গুল্মরাশি। ফলপ্রসূ এবং মাটি-আঁকড়ে-থাকা। দেখলে মনে হয় সমগ্র বনব্যাপী ইতস্তত সঞ্চরমান। ক্ষুধা পেলে ফল ছিঁড়ে খাই। কোনো-কোনোটি অত্যন্ত সুস্বাদু, অনাস্বাদিতপূর্ব। আবার কোনোটি নীরস, বেলেমাটির মতো। আজ এক নতুন জলজ ফল আবিষ্কার করেছি। ইতিপূর্বে, এই বনবাসজীবনেই, জলাশয়ে এই উদ্ভিদ অনেকবার দেখেছি। ফলটির খোসার নিচে এক চিলতে বালিরং হালকা আস্তরণ। ভেতরে সাদা শাঁস। ওই আস্তরণটি খেয়ো না কিন্তু। স্বাদহীন। কাকে বলছি! হাঁটতে হাঁটতে নিজের সঙ্গেই কথা বলি। দৈববাণী শুনব বলে বহুদিন প্রাচীন বৃক্ষের নিচে ধ্যানস্থ থেকেছি। এখানকার পাখি ও পতঙ্গদের গানই আলাদা, অন্যরকম। খুব উঁচু-উঁচু অনেকগুলি কম্পাঙ্কের শব্দ দিয়ে তারা মৃদু ও মসৃণ সিম্ফনি তৈরি করতে পারে। প্রত্যেকটি কম্পাঙ্ক পরিষ্কার এবং স্পষ্ট। কেউ সামনে এলে, অবশ্যই এই বনজীবী কেউ, চ্যালেঞ্জ করলে, বামহাতের উল্কি দেখাই। মাংসে খোদাই করে আঁকা। সৃজনপূর্বকালের সেই আদি স্বয়ম্ভূ ভুবনচিল আমাকে এই উল্কি দিয়েছিল। একবার এক মনোজ্ঞ লাল ফল ছিঁড়ে খেয়েছিলাম। অসম্ভব ঝাঁঝ। জিহ্বা পুড়ে যাচ্ছিল প্রায়। পৃথিবীতে তখন কি আদালত প্রাঙ্গণে 51
তুমুল হট্টরোল? যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচার? জাদুঘরে সংরক্ষণ? পৃথিবীর কথা উঠতেই মনটা খুব বিষণ হয়ে গেল। শীতগ্রীষ্ম সব ধীরে-ধীরে সহনীয় হয়ে উঠছে। অসুখবিসুখ আর হয় না বললেই চলে। প্রাকৃতিকভাবেই শরীরে পর্যাপ্ত ইমিউন তৈরি হয়ে গেছে ইতিমধ্যেই। কিন্তু পৃথিবী ছেড়ে, পৃথিবীর কাল ছেড়ে, মহাস্পেস ও মহাকালের এ কোথায় আমি পড়ে আছি! এখন পৃথিবীতে কত সাল? এখানে কেবলই স্মরণ ও বিস্মরণের চাঁদমেঘ লুকোচুরি! কবে ও কীভাবে এখানে ছিটকে এসে পড়েছি, খুব চেষ্টা করেও স্মরণে আনতে পারছি না। তবে খুব বেশিদিন হয়নি মনে হয়। পরনের লাল শার্টটি ধীরে ধীরে জীর্ণ হয়ে পড়েছে। আহা! আকাশে আজ কী সুন্দর আগুনরঙা পৃথিবী উঠেছে! কত কাছে মনে হয়! যেন ঝাঁপ দিয়ে যাওয়া যাবে (ওটা কি সত্যিই পৃথিবী!)। জ্যোৎস্না ঠিকরে পড়ছে চীনের প্রাচীর থেকে, বলিভিয়ার অরণ্যশীর্ষ থেকে তরলিত সোনা। মর্মর সাগরের তরঙ্গ থেকে বহুতল স্ফটিকের বর্ণালি বিচ্ছুরণ। দূর থেকে পৃথিবীকে আজ একপিণ্ড মিথ্যার মতো মনে হলো।
A Journey into the Unknown: Terraincognita Phase by
’m walking around aimlessly in the forest. The forest has spread out endlessly. Unknown, undiscovered. The paths are all untrodden – no trace of a human footprint.
An uneven landscape; suddenly a river – so transparent it seems to bea multi-layered flow of glass. Arrays of steel-glinting trees. The soft aroma of benzene exuding from the foliage flits around. It makes me feel good. On the branches of the trees, bunches of gleaming rainbows. And, could they in fact be fruits – made of crystal? Birds, aluminum-coloured, come flying to perch on the branches; their droppings glowing like gems. Countless minute, multicoloured lumps of shit glimmering on the glassy barks and branches of the trees. And once again I feel good. Suddenly I come across a pine tree whose fronds are illuminated with a herbal network of brilliantly scented golden vines. The vines, as if, were made of optical fibres – translucent, with alpha rays driven through them. Each and every vine-tip glowing like the Polaris and the whole tree embroidered with an intricate filigree of light-wires stupefies my vision. 53
Whichever way I look, there is the glossy smoothness of steel and aluminium and gold. And over that smoothness there is the incessant sliding and splashing of multicoloured, fragrant lightwaves. And again I feel good. One day I meet a pack of porcupines. Oh, how delicate their mien, their motion! The silky rays of fifty-four-faced diamonds radiating from their vacillating, beauty-emanating spikes…. Lichens sprawl all over the land. Lushly fruited, they clasp firmly on to the ground. At times they seem to amble around the whole forest. When hungry, I pluck fruits to eat. Some fruits taste exotically delicious; others are bland, tasting like sandy soil. Today I have discovered an unknown species of aquatic fruit. Previously, on several occasions in my jungle-life, I had seen the herb in swamps. The fruit has a thin, sand-coloured membrane under its coarse outer skin. The flesh inside is white. Don’t eat the skin or the membrane though – they are tasteless. Who am I talking to by the way!? Meandering aimlessly through the forest, I talk to my own self. With a keen ear for an oracle, to experience an epiphany, so many times have I sat in meditation under an ancient bow tree. Oh, how unworldly is the chirping of birds and hum of insects on the tree! Here birds and bugs can convert so many a high-frequency note into soft, calming symphonies. Every harmonic – clear and distinct. When encountered and challenged by some hominid, I show him the tattoo on my left arm. Burned deep into the flesh, this great tattoo was proffered me by the supreme and the self-existent Bhuvanchil, the eternal Cosmic Eagle. 54
One day I picked and ate a luscious red fruit. It was bitingly pungent. My tongue literally burned. Did a hullabaloo break loose that very moment at the foreground of the international court of justice? Was the trial of war-criminals in full swing? Or maybe the war-criminals were being preserved in a museum? And I am sad as soon as that earthly topic sneaks into my mind. I am slowly getting seasoned in the winters and summers of this land. I hardly ever fall sick these days. My body has gathered enough immunity through natural sources. But, away from the earth, away from the earth’s time-reference, what is this ever-expanding, eternal space-time continuum am I now?! Which year, which century or millennium is it now on earth? Here there is the eternal hide-and-seek between moon and cloud, remembrance and oblivion. How and when I was thrust into this place I can’t remember at all. Not a very long time ago, I’d gather. Bit by bit my red shirt is wearing out. Ah! How beautiful a crimson earth has risen today in the sky! How so close it seems! One little hop, and you are therebut is it really the earth! Moon-beam spilling from the Chinese Wall, molten gold from Bolivian uplands, and from the multifaceted crystals of the Murmur Sea, spectral waves. This day the earth seems like a lump of a brazen lie. Translated from the Bengali by Subrata Augustine Gomes
Practical Solutions by
t was obvious from the start that the children didn’t want to hang on the clothesline. Letty thought it was the way the clothespins pinched their little bottoms. Carter pointed to the brutal August sun, and warned of burns. But the children were wet to the bones, and the dryer was broken. What else could Jessica and I do? Though Phyllis and Greg calmed down after an hour or two, Richie kept whining and thrashing. When he began to voice obscenities, Jessica shouted “Ungrateful child!” She went over and stuffed a rag in his mouth. “He has a cold, dear,” I said. “He won’t be able to breathe.” “I don’t care! I’m done with him!” She stormed into the house. Richie was beginning to turn blue, so I decided to pull out the rag and tie it around his face. That wouldn’t shut him up, but it would back off on the volume. Just as my hands touched the cloth, Jessica reappeared. “What the fuck’re you doing?” 57
“Letting air in his lungs. Admit it: his death would be a big inconvenience. Where would we bury him? Every spot in the yard is taken. Besides, it would spoil my poker night. And didn’t you rent a movie?’ ‘How’re we going to get the little asshole dry?” “Just like you squeeze out a washrag. You grab his shoulders, and I’ll grab his feet. Then we’ll twist him until the last drop of water is out. To top it off, if we twist him over the lawn, it’ll save us the trouble of watering the grass tonight.”
Outside the Department of Energy by
rotesters chanted slogans and brandished signs.
“What is your group against?” I asked a tall man with a militant jaw. “A major source of nuclear radiation. It’s putting the entire fucking planet at risk.” “Coming from what?” He adjusted his hoodie to better shade his forehead, and pulled the wristbands all the way to his knuckles. He pointed toward the sky. “The sun! It causes skin cancer worldwide. It creates an epidemic of thirst.” “And you propose . . . ?” “Get rid of that reactor. Operate the sun on steam.”
Losing It by
arol, the elder-care lady, phones me. Says Mother refuses to take her pills—only Mother’s ten years dead—and Carol herself, just more dust on shelves she’ll never clean again. I take this as a prompt to buckle down (as Mother used to say) and sort through the teetering boxes of her things stacked along the west wall of my garage. I pick up a carton labeled “memorabilia, etc. #7.” There was a lot of et cetera in managing her things. Shall I confess?— what stood out, among the multitude of et ceteras strewn across the cutting floor of space and time, was the money and the house. The box is dusty with procrastination. Inside, there are letters unopened, and other letters torn in half, yet saved. Strange—there are items in the box I didn’t put in there a decade ago. Here’s a camera, a post-WWII relic, with a shattered lens. And here, on the first page of a bulging book with a pink cover, a birth certificate for a baby girl, paper crisp as if this very moment she were lying nearby in a basinet. My parents’ names are listed. But I don’t have a sister named Karen. Here’s a notebook. Wait, it’s a baby book, the cover blue. Only the first few pages are filled, like a painting begun and 60
never finished, with only sketch lines on the canvas. I find a few photos, half a century yellowed, their edges and the paper theyâ€™re pasted to scalloped by silverfish. Hereâ€™s a birth certificate. Something in the paper kept the bugs away. And on the next page, this one folded, a death certificate. I adjust my glasses and scan the words. That is the last I remember.
Wash Day by
he morning coffee loosened Margaret’s stomach as she dropped the kids at school then went to the store; now she left the grocery bags on the kitchen floor and walked upstairs to the master bathroom, anticipating a few quiet minutes in the emptied house. When she opened the door there was a woman leaning over the toilet. She was dunking something sodden in the bowl– dunking it up and down. Margaret saw her bottle of shampoo on the back of the toilet. The woman was washing a bulky knit sock. The woman looked up. Her face was broad, the color of the polished wood floor in Margaret’s living room. She reminded Margaret of a Christmas tree–her full skirts were ornamented with shiny bits that jingled slightly as she briskly pumped the sock. “Wait!” Margaret cried, stepping closer. “You can’t do that there.” The woman paused. “Why not?” Her teeth were strong, white and even. 63
“Because that’s the toilet.” Margaret said. The woman continued to look at her. “It’s where we, you know, go to the bathroom. It’s not clean.” The woman shrugged. “Like the river,” she said, and began to wring the sock out with a well-practiced grip. “But wait,” Margaret continued, “Look at this.” She went to the sink and turned the brushed brass handle. “This is clean, and see,” she turned the other handle, “there’s hot water too.” The woman took a step towards the sink, a surprised frown on her face. “Hot?” “Yes,” Margaret said. “Feel it.” She waved her fingers under the flow, her red nails winking. The woman watched Margaret, then imitated her. The woman’s nails were short and blunt, her thumb nail blackened from blood trapped beneath it. She laughed. “This is much better,” she said. She looked down at the cupboard beneath the sink. “You must keep your fire in there.” “Silly woman, there’s no fire. It’s dark magic, can you smell smoke?” Margaret had been half aware that there was someone else in the room, a figure squatting in the corner. When he spoke 64
she turned to look. He had the same cheekbones and skin tone as the woman, yet there was something deeply familiar about him. He sat impassively while Margaret studied him. His scowl seemed carved deep into his face, the lines ran down hard from the corners of his mouth. That was it, the scowl. “He looks like my husband. He looks just like Robert,” Margaret said to the woman. The woman paused and looked at him too, then shrugged again. “He can’t find work. He’s…” she paused for a moment to pick up the shampoo and squeeze some into the sink, “unmanned,” she continued, then asked, “This is soap, yes? It smells like flowers.” “Unmanned, that’s it!” Margaret said, and both woman considered the figure in the corner. He looked back at them. “You expect me to walk around in clothes that smell like that?” His nostrils flared. Margaret realized that her stomach was roiling–the coffee, the shock–and she looked around the room. She couldn’t use the toilet while they were here, she would have to go use the kids’. “I’ll be right back,” she said. “Are you hungry?” Margaret 65
thought of the Trader Joe’s bags full in the kitchen, maybe she could pack them something to take. “Can you eat peanut butter?” She turned to leave the room and that’s when she saw the baby lying in the bathtub. It was swaddled tight in layers of printed fabrics, so it could not move, but it must not have made a sound either. She looked closer. Its face could have been carved out of pure ivory, not a hint of flush. Margaret had born and nursed four children. She had watched them through spiking fevers with her heart racing and a cool hand on their hot brows. She could tell immediately that this baby was beyond mere fever. The skin was clammy looking, belonging to something that lurked at the bottom of a pond, not an infant. “But this baby is so sick!” She said, turning back to the man and the woman. “We must get it to a hospital now, right now.” The woman just looked straight back, her expression not tipping even slightly. Margaret tried the man. “You need to take this baby to a doctor immediately. It’s very sick.” The man nodded slowly. “Yes,” he said. “Babies get sick.” “Not this sick,” Margaret spoke fast. “Is it even breathing?” 66
The woman held one wet hand to her chest as if probing something buried within the layers of cloth. “She’s still breathing, a little.” Margaret looked back and forth between the two, then spun back to the baby. “I’ll take her then. I’ll take her now.” She leaned over the tub and reached down, anticipating the plump bundle. “The doctors will know what to do.” But her hands just swept through the baby as if it were vapor. She saw a small stirring like droplets of fog, felt something cool, but encountered nothing solid. “Oh!” She tried again, her hands re-crossing, and again she could see the baby but could not feel it, as if she had swept her fingers through the light from a film projector. She looked back to the woman. “You do it,” she said. “You can do it. You’re her mother. You can pick her up.” The woman looked at Margaret. “I can do nothing for her. And besides, I need to do the washing.” She reached down to a pile on the floor and hooked up another sock. Margaret looked at the baby–now she could see it pulsing just slightly with hard-fought breath–then up to the man. She felt tears on her cheeks. “It’s true, what she says,” he nodded to the woman. “How can I find work when my clothes are dirty?” 67
The Guest in the Attic by
speck of dust. Or less. That’s all any of you are.” “So, do you want this tea or not?” I asked him.
I’ll admit my tone was a bit harsh, but after a month of a guest like that, you’d be a tad on the curt side too. “Why must you turn away from this truth, as if you were turning your nose up at rancid milk?” Truth is rancid, alright. Take my word for it. I’ve been living with him for months. What can you do with truth? It don’t feed or clothe you. Truth won’t pay the rent either, or contribute in any other way to the household budget. Quite a scrounger, Mr Truth, truth be told. That’s why I decided to get rid of him, my guest. He appeared one night in my attic. Uninvited, unannounced and unnatural. It gave me quite a shock, as you might imagine. I thought it was just rats scurrying around up there. So, armed with some poison and a few rat traps, I climbed up there one morning, with murder on my mind. Rodenticide. But Rat-o-Kill has no power at all over Mr Truth. 69
“I am Truth,” he said, in that droning booming voice of his, with all that pompous echo and reverb. It would be a lie to say I wasn’t shaking in my slippers. I mean, it’s not the kind of thing you expect to find in your attic, is it? This white shrouded blurry thing. But if there’s one thing I learned in school, it’s to never show you’re scared. Bullies sense fear and teachers feed on it. “I’m Fred,” I said, calm as you like. “And without meaning to be rude or anything, would you mind telling me what it is you’re doing, sitting there on me dead granny’s rocking chair?” “I am Truth,” he said again. “So why don’t you answer my question, then?” It was fierce hard to get anything sensible out of the ole emanation, but from what I could make out, he had come to reveal the mysteries of the universe to me. “Are you sure you haven’t got the wrong house, Mr Truth?” I asked him. “I’m a catholic, you see. I’ve no need of truth. Wouldn’t you rather be bedding down in the Holy See, with His Holiness. Or if that’s a bit far, you could try Father McGinty’s up the road. He’s got a lovely parish house, and there’s plenty of room. “I am Truth,” he said again. 70
“Be that as it may, you’re certainly no conversationalist!” It was a long old evening, stuck up there in the attic with Mr Truth. He kept going and an about philosophy and all that claptrap. I nodded and tried to look interested, but after a couple of hours, I couldn’t take any more and I told him I had to turn in for the night. Not that I could get much sleep, what with the noise of him and that creaky old rocking chair. The next morning, when I tried to go to work, didn’t he go and materialise in front of the door. Gave the cat an almighty scare, I can tell you. He informed me, calm as you like, that I had to stay and have the truth revealed to me. “Cataracts of ignorance cloud your vision. I will wash away these scales of ignorance from your eyes,” he said. “Well at least I have eyes, you… piece of light!” I said to him, and stormed back into my kitchen. A fortnight passed like this. The boss called me and gave me some old guff about cutbacks and the recession and all, but I knew he’d given me the chop because I kept calling in sick. Mr Truth had no problems at all about me telling lies. Bloody hypocrite! After another week of this malarkey, with not a scrap of food for days and the bank threatening to repossess, I made up my mind to tell the old git to get out. After polishing off the whis71
key for Dutch courage, I clambered up the stairs to the attic. I staggered towards his chair, where he rocked back and forth like some old sea hag. “Look here, Mr Truth, you shapeless blackguard. I want you out. Sling you’re hook!” I said and hiccupped. “I have come to tell you the truth. I cannot leave until you hear it.” “Just say it and go,” I yelled, a bit dizzy. “You need to listen,” he said. “I am listening,” I said. I was feeling more than a bit woozy now, what with the whiskey and the fighting, and this cantankerous guest of mine. “Listen harder,” he shouted. He stood up and moved toward me. He kept going in and out of focus. He didn’t look white now. He was turning black. Blacker than shadow. He bent down and whispered in my ear. “You are dead, and I am Truth,” he said. He lifted up his cloak and took out this massive scythe. And 72
then he whips me head off. Is that how you should repay hospitality?! And thatâ€™s why Iâ€™ve decided to lodge this formal complaint against Mr Truth with the Department of Mortality. Yours faithfully, P.
Joel Page is a lawyer down in Texas. He doesnâ€™t put his pants on one leg at a time like everybody else; he jumps simultaneously into both pant-legs. His fiction has appeared in the Red Dirt Review on-line, an anthology published by the British outfit Indigo Mosaic, and is forthcoming in the on-line journal of Mixer Publishing. Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. He emcees the Adobe Walls open mic at Page One Books and is the founding editor of the Adobe Walls anthology of NM poets. His latest collection of poems is Curvature of a Fluid Spine. To learn more visit http://www.kpgurney.me/Poet/Welcome.html Neila Mezynski is author of Glimpses and A Story (2013) from Scrambler Books; pamphlets from Greying Ghost Press; echapbooks from Radioactive Moat Press and Patasola Press; chapbooks from Folded Word Press, Men Who Understand Girls, (2012), Nap Chapbook, Floaters , (2012); Deadly Chaps Press, Dancers On Rock, (2011), Warriors , 2013), Mondo Bummer , Meticulous Man (2012), Mud Luscious Press, At The Beach (2011). Kyle Hemmngs lives and works in New Jersey. His work has been published in Elimae, Matchbook, Corium, Smokelong Quarterly, and elsewhere. He loves dogs, cats, and 60s garage bands. Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Esquire/Narrative4 Project and Good Poems, American Places (Viking Press, 2011). He has published six novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue 75
(2002), We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006), The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores (2010), Following Richard Brautigan (2010), Gardner Remembers (2011), and Frank Comma and the Time-Slip (2012), 3 full length poetry collections, Some Identity Problems (2008), Before the Great Troubling (2011), and Our Locust Years (2013), and 3 books of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009), Notes toward the Story and Other Stories (2011) and I’ll Give You Something to Cry About (2011). He has also published over a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems have been chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. His fiction has received praise from John Grisham, Robert Olen Butler, Lee Smith, Frederick Barthelme, Greil Marcus, among others. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. He can be found at www.coreymesler.wordpress.com. William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His latest book is City of Palms (AA Press, 2012). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, Worcester Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge. He won the 2010 Aesthetica poetry award. Rich Boucher lives, works, writes and performs steadily in Albuquerque, and is the occasional Guest Editor of 76
the weekly poetry column “The DitchRider” at DukeCityFix.com. Rich’s poems have appeared in The Bicycle Review, Visceral Uterus, The Mas Tequila Review, The Camel Saloon, Apeiron Review, Brawler, The Subterranean Quarterly and The Nervous Breakdown, among others, and he has work forthcoming in The Lake, Menacing Hedge, The Broadkill Review and Gargoyle. Hear his poems at richboucher.bandcamp.com. Malcolm Cooper is from the University of Arizona’s undergraduate Fiction program. He worked for Sonora Review for two years. Currently he makes books and interns with Spork Press. Adam Gianforcaro is a poet and freelance writer, professionally working with not-for-profit associations in New Jersey. He has had several poems and prose published in print and online magazines, and has published a poetry collection titled ‘Morning Time in the Household, Looking Out’ via Aldrich Press. Masud Khan is a poet and writer from Bangladesh. He did his bachelor degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, and Masters from Royal Roads University, Canada. Over past two decades, his writings have been featured in newspapers and magazines in Bangladesh, India, USA, UK, Belgium, Romania, Malaysia and Canada. His poems and fictions have appeared in journals and webzines including Asiatic, Contemporary Literary Horizon, Kaurab, 3c World Fiction, Ragazine.cc, Last Bench, Litrasfalsas, Urhalpul and anthologies including Language for a New Century: Con77
temporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W.W. Norton, New York/London), Contemporary Literary Horizon Anthology, Bucharest and Padma Meghna Jamuna: Modern Poetry from Bangladesh (Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, New Delhi). He has, till date, authored four volumes of poetry. Presently resident of Toronto, Canada, Masud Khan works as an electrical engineer. Winston H.Plowes writes his words with two cats on a narrowboat on Englandâ€™s inland waterways. His compositions have been widely published, hopefully making people pause and ponder the magical details of life. www. winstonplowes.co.uk Fred Longworth restores vintage audio components for a living. His work has appeared in numerous journals including Able Muse, California Quarterly, Comstock Review, Pearl, Rattapallax, Spillway, and Stirring. When Kathryn Lipari is not writing at the table, she is running in the woods, so as not to be drinking in the dark. Phillip Donnelly has written three novels and travel writing on India, China, Vietnam and the Lebanon. Letters from the Ministry, an Orwellian satire on office life, has been published by Rebel ePublishers. A new novel, Kev the Vampire, will be released in 2014. About 25 pieces of writing have appeared online, mainly travel writing and short stories; and one of them, The Interactive Classroom, won a Bewildering Stories Mariner Award in 2010. More information at www.ministryfox.com 78
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Word Machine is an independent, twice-yearly online journal dedicated to promoting authors writing in the surreal and absurd traditions and...