Poetry from Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata

GRIEF

Life is so precious, and death is a thief.
Your absence has gone through me,
Like a thread through needle.
How much more can my weary heart bear?
When you decided to leave me without a words.
You have stung me with your departure.
When you knew my soul depends upon your nurture.
I have been lost in a fog,
Too much burdened with sorrow,
My life without you will never be the same,
But you have chosen the path without wavering,
How do I grieve with empty arms and a head filled with echoing memory?
Memory that will never be erased,
I cannot see you with outward eyes again
But you are out of my sight, never out of my mind.


Abdulquadir Ibrahim Worubata
 

Poetry from Aloysius S Harmon

Threnody

i have felt my heart weighing down in me
the other day it held the  silence of a cemetery.

some wounds will crack your bones & escort you in the mock for cremation,
but boys were taught not to fall when they are heavy.

i held mine in my chest
the water faucet in my kitchen leaks water the same way my eyes do.

i witnessed tears leaving holes in my cheek bones & each day there were
 maps that broke through me.

all i have ever felt was learning to die with my eyes wide open.

Aloysius S Harmon Jr is an emerging Grebo Liberian writer and poet. Many of his poems have appeared on Eboquills, Eve Poetry Magazine, We Write Liberia, Synchronized Chaos, and elsewhere. He is one of the co-authors to the 'Breaking the Silence Anthology', Thoughts In Words, and 'Weep No More Liberia'. He is the winner of the Thort’s poetry competition.

Poetry from Sidnei Silva

Mother rain

Rain, unveil for us the veil of the night,
the hidden face of the deepest mysteries.
In every drop the thirst of the earth thrives,
divine surge to bear fruit.

In muttering these words,
I dare not touch its diaphanous fountain;
I just feel compelled, so to speak,
during the duration of her maternal donation,
to distort the light on your serene face.

Gaze of the gods under full moon,
where do sunflowers orbit
cultivated in the temple of the night?

The chlorophyll of our loves is
the sap alive in the vigor of the fruit,
a sweet kiss of gentle poison.

The moon pregnant with so much love,
ecstatic by the sun,
sheds copious tears
that rain on our childish souls:
and we fear for serpents and sins,
but where is there to sin?

A liquid sky of viscous blue
sighs for the eternal spirit,
creating around itself a
innocent and tearful aura.

The leaves strayed from the trees,
the damp sea breeze,
the bright song of the birds
herald the spring of our lives.

Soon your flow leads us
to a rush of emotions,
virgin forests where I wash with blood
my wild heart;
and, to the sound of rhythmic beats,
I hear the pulse of a simple light
plunged into a telluric silence.

Short story from Pathik Mitra

GOD VS FEMINIST

Pathik Mitra


Neera opened her eyes slowly. The buzz in her head had ceased. There was a strange sense of peace and tranquillity around her that she had never sensed before. The sense of pain and the deafening sound of blasts, and ambulance sirens all were surprisingly stopped. She blinked her eyes twice and looked around the empty room. A warm white light seemed to gently pacify her nerves. A piece of soothing music was comforting her tensed mind. She could not guess the source of this soothing light or music though. The room was empty other than a table and two chairs placed at the centre. What is this place? Where has Neera landed? Is she kidnapped? As she got back on her feet and started walking toward the table she started remembering her day.

She was on an assignment to cover the riots at Marufganj village in Uttar Pradesh. Two days back communal riots broke out at Marufganj as a Muslim girl was stripped of her burkha in the village school. Soon communal tensions soared high and by the evening there were 5 deaths and an imposed curfew. People were in a panic, antisocial elements ruled the roads, shops were burning and supreme hara-kiri reigned. Working for her independent news portal Neera visited ground zero. In the course of her investigations, she discovered too many dirty secrets of the local political leaders and how they had meticulously planned for the riots. But then they also found out about Neera and her findings. She was chased by a gang of thugs before she took refuge in a deserted building. The last thing she could remember was one of the thugs hurling a hand grenade at her. There was a deafening noise. But after that it was calm. Supreme calm. Trying to arrange the random chain of thoughts in her mind, Neera pulled her hair behind her head and tied it with the band.

Then a sudden realization dawned upon her. There was no escape. Her leg was injured and she could barely move when the grenade was hurled at her. So where was she? Is she dead?

Before Neera could further streamline her thoughts, she saw a lady approaching her. She was dressed in a very formal black suit and knee-length skirt. She wore black high heels and dark lipstick. The top two buttons of her shirt were open. She had a silver metallic briefcase in her hands. Just like her she had done her hair and also wore black frame glasses. With beaming confidence, she trotted towards her in her high heels. Neera could not help but admire her dressing sense and demeanour.

“Welcome, Neera! Welcome to Judgement stop” announced the lady formally.
Neera seemed to be least bothered by her presence. Being her usual self she casually asked, “So I am dead?”

“Yes Madam! Technically yes. But it will be confirmed after you get the tickets for your next destination?” She replied pertinently.

“That means I am neither dead nor alive? Kind of in-between?” Neera enquired again.

“You are in transit. Just like if you have done the check-in but not boarded the flight yet” The lady explained patiently with a smile.

“Ok Ok. Let it be. But who are you? God?” Neera asked.

“I wish I could be someday. But for now, I just keep accounts for Him. I am Chitra Gupta.” She replied.

“What you Chitragupta? But I read he was a guy, but you seem to be a woman” Neera looked confused.

“He is Chitragupta. I am Chitra Gupta. There is a space character. You see it's all about perception.” Replied Chitra.

“Wait wait. What did you say you're being a man or a woman depends on my perception? This seems to be pretty confusing. Care to explain?” Neera was excited now.

Chitra had her modest plastic smile pasted on her small lips.

“You are a true feminist Neera. You presume the world would have been a lot better if women were in charge. So how can a man be in charge of your accounts? Perceptions and notions are very powerful you see, at least over here.” 

“Ok fine. So you are just the accountant! Where is the Big boss? Where is God? I have a few questions for him?” Neera replied curtly.

“Generally it’s the other way round madam. But I presume your case is unique. God had warned me earlier. Plus you are a journalist, that too an honest, unbiased one. You represent a very rare endangered species on earth. My data says you are more endangered than the Emu or the platypus in the present day. Probably that’s why God is taking so long.” 

Soon there was a squeak in the door and they could see a silhouette stealthily walk toward them.

Chitra cleared her throat and pulled the chair. As the silhouette materialised into a human shape, Neera could not help but laugh. The man who had approached them was barely 4 feet at least 1.5feet shorter than her and had a bald head with surprisingly just two streaks of hair standing tall on his head. He wore a yellow Bermuda with red socks and pink oversize jogging shoes. He had nothing but just a floral printed violet tie on top which was resting on his paunch. He had a disgusting Hitleresque butterfly moustache hanging on his lips just below his flat nose. Even Neera felt bad for his catastrophic fashion sense.

“Welcome, Neera! Sorry to keep you waiting. I hope Chitra madam has already briefed you.” Spoke the man in a heavy voice.

“Don’t tell me you are God?” Neera asked trying her best not to laugh.

“I am afraid that’s what most people call me. But please don’t laugh at me. The way I look is nothing but a perception. Your perception.” 

“I am sorry I am an atheist. I don’t have any perception of God. I always thought it was a convenient hoax” replied Neera defiantly.

“That’s precisely the point. The cumulative summation of your ideas of me, your curses, and allegations overall culminate into this poor fashion sense of mine. This is how you perceive God. I am sorry I never thought you were so mean.” God was almost weeping.

“Wait wait so you don’t look like how they show in our serials?” 

“I know you underestimate me and my capability. But trust me I don’t have such wretched fashion sense that I will put tonnes of old fashioned gold jewellery on my bare body for nothing. Again it's their perception. A perception that I quite hate.” God replied.

“I am sorry. But still, the confusion exists. If your clothes or lack of them is proportional to my faith then you should have been naked. Not that I want it though”

At this Chitra giggled which earned her a stern gaze from God. Then He forced a smile and said, “That's not funny madam. We have some decorum and minimalist dressing guidelines here. It’s not a nudist colony you see.”

This jib kind of aroused the feminist in Neera. She had not subscribed to the idea of God from an early age and God himself was in front of her, she was in no mood to spare him. 

“You are sure this is no nudist colony? Then what about the concept of 72 virgins waiting for a pure soul, the concept of dancing Menkas & Apsaras, and the concept of seducing sorceress. The very concept of heaven objectifies and belittles women. If the idea is to reward a pure soul with virgins then it should be gender-neutral at least. You are a torchbearer of patriarchy.” Neera was excited.

“You just called God Male Chauvinist” Chitra blurted.

God opened his specs and adjusted them. He looked sad. He took up the glass of water from the table and took two sips.

“You are a feminist madam. I get it & I don’t have any objections to that. But the grave accusations that you thrust on me are unjust and unfair. Have you seen any of the so-called virgins or dancers around here? Chitra my respectable assistant is dressed modestly and I offer her my utmost respect despite her ridiculing gestures. So can you kindly reconsider your allegations against me?” God seemed to be hurt.

“It’s true I can’t see any around. But you only told me whatever I see is my perception. So how do I become sure that it's real?” 

“Precisely madam. There is no reality here. Reality is all down there. Here it’s all your perception. So if lust is what all your men perceive, then their heaven indeed needs virgins, fairies and nymphs. You can’t blame me for that. I am in no capacity responsible for that.” God replied.

“Even if I buy your argument that all ideas of heaven, swarg, Jannat, religion as a whole is man-made and all reality is on earth, still that does not help your case much,” Neera argued.

“You just said man-made and not woman made?” God asked.

“Ahh, that’s just a general figure of speech. Come on” Neera looked irritated.

“But I did not generalize it. You did. You people generalized everything. What a woman should not wear, how she should talk, what part of the body she should cover, when she should fast, which temple or mosque she should not enter, whom she should not marry! I have no role in it. All this generalisation is done by Mankind rather than humankind.” For the first time, God looked satisfied to have pushed Neera on the back foot. He looked up at Chitra expecting a smile in His support. But sadly Chitra did not oblige.

“So just like our elected government, you take no blame for the bloodshed going around in your name. You put all the blame on the poor public. You can’t just sit and watch the mad circus. Then you are not fit for the role of God.” Neera said sharply.

“Did she just question the competency of God?” Chitra could not resist. Again God exchanged a fiery glance.

“Do you believe that you all are just puppets in hands of God? All is pre-destined”.

“Surely not I take my own decisions. My life, my rules. When I am not sure what my life will be like in the next hour why will You be in charge? I want to be free. Free will, free spirit” 

“I too want the same. That’s why I have given you all the control. Then when you mess up on your own you blame me. Yet to assist you I have given you the power of thinking, sense of good, empathy, joy, happiness, poetry, music and whatnot. Yet ignoring all that you resolve to bloodshed. You blame me for that?” God was almost in tears.

For the first time, Neera felt bad for God. She was a bit too harsh on the poor fellow. He must be under a tremendous workload. It is not bad to break down at times. Even men do cry and women can console them.

“Just a moment, so you say the raging lust leading to rapes and brutality among men is also developed by them? But if lust is a basic instinct then indeed you are responsible.” Neera was not giving up.

God blinked twice & replied slowly, “Now again this is my problem. When I created man and Woman I never gave them any guidelines for not eating any apple. I wanted my creation to self-create and take civilization forward. The conjugal instincts were given to all creatures for the same reason. But for humans, I decided to spice it up a bit. Rather than being a mundane repetitive process, I added lust and love to it. I wanted the process to be an experience to be enjoyed. It's just like a pizza bread with tasty toppings. But how would I know that the humans will eat the toppings out of turn without caring for the base.”

Neera was impressed by the Pizza analogy. But she was here to combat fire with a fire extinguisher.

“But in your great process, women to suffer menstrual cramps, women to go through unbearable labour, while men will just enjoy the pizza? And you say you are not partial?”

“Did you just call God...” Chitra could not complete this time.

God snarled at her, “Yes she called me Partial. We all can hear that without you repeating it.”

Chitra bit her lip in apology and put her head down.

“See Neera I had entrusted the superior species with the greater responsibility. Naturally, women deserve to have it. The Period thing is just a part of the process. Period. Just as ATV vehicles are designed with superior suspension mechanisms I designed the woman bodies meticulously so that they can sustain the pain. Women are way stronger than men you see” replied God.

“I caught your bluff sir! Women are stronger than men. Are you in your senses or on marijuana?” Neera retorted relentlessly.

Chitra was ready to repeat if Neera called God an addict. But realising the gravity of the situation she ate her words.

“Neera I did not expect this from you. Do you think physical strength is the greatest power? I am afraid in that case Dinosaurs, gorillas, crocodiles, and elephants would have ruled the earth. Strength is in the mind and Women are designed with greater mental strength. I can bet on my creation. It’s your empathy that makes you powerful” God replied with diction.

God is Smart. Not as dumb as she thought. Neera was searching for her next question.

“So if you put all blame for violence and worldly disturbances on humans, what about natural catastrophes like Tsunamis, earthquakes and cyclones? You like it shaken, not stirred?”

“I am no James Bond, Neera. But first, you tell me what happened to your scooter last week?” 

“The air pressure was not accurate in the back wheel and the brakes were not serviced. It skidded.” 

“So can you blame the makers for the same?” God paused.

Neera realized she was stumped.

God had just delivered his glory lines with panache.

“You humans ticker and disturb the wonderful nature designed by me with pollution, global warming, hazardous chemicals and your overall Greed. In place of doing the regular maintenance of nature, you relentlessly exploit my system. Now you blame me?”

Neera could not reply. Chitra clapped in appreciation. God was happy. Finally, he made sense.

“Just a small clarification if you don’t mind?” Neera asked sheepishly.

“Again? Shoot” God thought he had nailed it but still some action was left.

“Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Jains all perceive you differently and shade blood for the sake of their difference in perceptions. Yet you don’t clarify them? Does the devil play his cards?” Neera asked.

God pulled out a box from under the table & put on a pair of black aviators & a pair of cheap lighting horns on his head. “Talking of the Devil, the Devil is here”. He grinned. Then he looked seriously into Neera’s eyes and replied.

“I told you I am not their controller just their creator. The diversity in thoughts is what makes them so beautiful and colourful. Just imagine Cakes for Christmas, Laddoos for Ganapathy, Biryani for Eid- it's all their creativity. If there was no diversity or difference in perception world would have been a boring place. I know they are stupid. They treat me often as a traffic constable whom they bribe every time they break the signal. But I ignore them. They can love and that’s the secret ingredient that helps them to fight the hardest of challenges.” 

“Huh, love is too overrated for me” Neera shrugged off.

God smiled and exchanged a glance with Chitra.

“Ok, I guess your questions are done with. I so wish your prime time TV news anchors borrow a page from your guide to fearless journalism. Time to get back to work. So Chitra Madam what do we have for Neera?” 

“She has an impeccable spotless sheet, Sir. It's confirmed Heaven” Chitra replied with excitement.

“Then Heaven it is” declared God.

Neera was silent. Her head was bent down and all of a sudden the excitement to have defeated the God in an argument seemed to die down. All the euphoria in her seemed to mould into a lump that had settled in her throat. Her nose felt heavy & her weather forecast was cloudy skies and rains. Before she could realize the first teardrop left her eyelids and landed on the ground.

“I miss mama, papa and that idiot too! I don’t want Heaven. I want to go home” Neera spoke trying her best to hold back her tears.

“And you say love is overrated my child,” God spoke softly.

There was awkward silence & God broke it.

“Chitra send her back! Convert the grenade hurled at her into a rotten egg. Delete the timeline.” God announced.

“But that is not as per protocol” Chitra reverted.

“Then understand that she has just forced God to break the rules” God smiled.

Neera was very happy after a long. But even at this moment, she was a lady after all.
“Thanks, Sir! But cant you change the rotten egg. It stinks & is bad for hair and skin” requested Neera.

God and Chitra just kept staring at each other.

Meantime the poor thug who had hurled the hand grenade could hardly believe his luck as the rotten egg crashed beside the journalist & police sirens approached them. 

Short story from Jim Meirose

Frankie of the Hot Harbors

Come tin. Tin in the basement. Need tin. It’s in the basement.
I mean, I mean to tell you, there’s plenty of tin in the basement, if that’s what you need. In the basement, if that’s what you need, is more tin. But, we fail to see, senor, we fail—fail to see why you need so much tin. Why do you need so much tin? Can you tell us, can you tell you—tell us ell u ll’? Pasta, la Frankie?

Frankie of the hot harbors is here. Hear him coming? He is in town, and he’s in town, and, he’s coming. He’s coming here, right here; here he is—Frankie, hot harbors? Hot harbors, Frankie? Need tin? Need more tin? Right here. Right here, and there, and there here and there, do you see it? I see it Frankie, you have come to the right place. Has it been that often you’ve come to the very right place, the right the very right place, Frankie, in your life? Up ‘til life up ‘til now ‘p ‘il now, Frankie?

Frankie! Frankie! Why you not answer me, Frankie? Why? Why you not answer me?
Victor slammed the cell door over. Turning to his partner, he said, Come on, it’s break time. Let’s go.
Hard all day listening to this, you think?
Yeah, hard is right. Right time, very hard. But, Frankie—why you do this to me, Frankie? Why why why—why? 
Why you make fun of me, Frankie? Why you make fun?

Go with the black and blue


The coffee poured. It’s been made fresh five priors, by the prior breakers, using the break room. As they poured their coffees, they saw scratched all ‘cross and over the tabular-toppe, Frankie; as Frankie does, you want ta’ go walking out, Frankie? You do want? I do want, too, but—must first make this coffee. You know when the pot goes empty the right things to do’s is’s to set up new brew. For the next guy. You get?

Yes, I get; buht not verry-y-one’s decent in the break room. Be thankful, Frankie, the pot’s not boiled empty full of cracklin’ black ash! Remember that time I scrubbed one down and out that and it bursted my hand out that bloody shatter? Remember that, Frankie? Mem-meber that blood showering shatter? Does it please you, Frankie, to mem-ember that? Trala? How’s about a new pot, Frankie? See the shards all re-essemble back-ards, like they did after that time I scrubbed one down, and out that, and it bursted my hand out that bloody shatter? 

Remember that, Frankie? And you were funny, really, so funny, you said, That’s the way it goes sometime, you know, you just red got to green go with the black and blue got to go with it go with the way it wants to go. Blue. ‘cause it will any way, Buckie? That s’wy that s’wy? Love your dog, so, y’know? Love your dog doggie do’ d’ get my drift got ut 5 4 3 2 1 got my—drift? 1 2 3 4 5? Frankie? Love your dog.

Hammer ‘em home 

They rolled with laughter at that one, just as the bulkerheaded fat square door of their muse opened, and in strode their Frankie, again.
Eh, Frankie!

Yahm, Frankie!
Get gone dad needs me under that car; he needed this wrench, and that socket, and it was amazing! He’d say five eighths open end, Frankie—half inch socket quarter inch box moon like when way, way back ‘member, Frankie—when we were helping the creator get up the light? Under that seventh Studebaker ye Pop-pop scrapped out? Eh ‘member that Frankie, mem-ember that dat?

Frankie at Eiknarf mem-member that? Let there be light, he said? Eh? Eh? 
Let there be light, eh let there be light, eh, eh let there be light eh, e’ ‘h, Frankie?
Eh ‘member that Frankie, mem-ember that, dat? Eh, Frankie?
Hammer ‘em home.
Frankie you there?
Yes! I do member that. Dos way dat way, we member. Dis dat. Dis and dat.

Hammer ‘em home Frankie! But, look Luke the bible’s closed over the ratatangle’s locked shut, and the celebrant himselve’s gone to chambers. Atchoo! Two to break’s end. Drink fast.
But it’s too hot. 
Hammer ‘em home.
That did not stop those who’s job’s to run in when everybody’s else’s ran out. 

Break’s over, Frankie!

I can’t help that them, Frankie!
I cannot help that them, u’ the coffee needs cooling, uh’, there’s got to be more break time for that, Frankie. Can we extend it out, Frankie? Can we, oh can we oh, yes for can we extend, it, for sure; we extend it can extend it more, out.?
Yes! And, no-wise. Those are the only three answers this rig can support right now.

Quite ballsy of you, Frankie, but tell me oh, tell me—you have done a very good job of distracting us from your real self, that’s the one needs tin, needs oh so much, tin why, are you asking, blip, for so damned much tin, Frankie? Why, oh why, o why, Frankie? Some big war up ‘hind your horizon, Ben Frankie?
Beezelium-goop. 
Goot, sliver—Trolli time! Time to get back, the bell’s coming. Some big war up ‘hind you then, eh? Hurry het up ready to dash back the bell’s coming oh, no.
Bell!
Bell! 
Bell!
Break’s over, Frankie!



In this Hot Harbors

They got back all legal, and reopened the cell door—and tin more tin, God, we need more tin eh, enjoy your coffees? Bell. More tin. God, yes! We enjoyed our coffees. Bell. Very very much good of you, tin tin, b tin e, to l ask l that, Frankie. But—Frankie, oh bell Frankie, hope you enjoyed, but, why do you need so much tin, Frankie bell. Too much tin gets quite fishy! Come with me sir, and bring your bags with you. Bell. Bell. We are the customs police, sir, its our job to get to the bottom of things, sir, but I will miss my flight and my sister will worry bell bell sir you got no problem but all must be examined. All bell tin tin bell, bell, Frankie, ah, Cell-Door, Frankie! Cell door! 

Ah, but all must be heck-sammined. Especially here. In this Hot Harbors, all must always be examined for the per-tection of the public. Plus you may call your sister tell her of the delay. Want to call your sister to tell her of the delay, Frankie? While we search your luggage for the delay? The tin for tin bell o’ the delay, your delay Frankie, our Frankie, by Frankie; do you wish to call your sister ‘n inform her of your delay bell bell bell lleb lleb lleb eh eh Frankie? You cool daddy-o, snappy dresser, you ‘dere ‘dat you be come on, come on, whistle us up, want to do ‘dat phone call now, Frankie?
Whistle us up, whistleus-up, whistle us up, into tin-land, rat Frankie?
Frankie, Frankie, Frankie wot, rat? Terrier terrier terrier—Frankie wot, Rat?
Whistle us up into tin-land, rat Frankie. No! No-not rip! Not bend, not rip, not roar, bend, not roar, cry r-r-r-rip cry, not bend, no not—twinnering! 
Swee’ mem-seur! 


By my graciously sorrowful Panda

We have now become two! 
Blessed be, blessed be—wait, no—we have been two all along. What did ya’ thinque?
Wak wok yesz-bam-boo. By my graciously sorrowful Panda companion, see this watch mime mine—break time again—whistle, yip! Soon henda-day hansie’s big tinnery & global petunians meeting hall—truckers welcome! 
Oops. Dropped our beads. One moot please-us.
Okay. Big bags in this diner, eh? Frankie?

Yes, dad. And ‘specially since we’re now gone downhill head’d top out the boothole of the back of yet another day, but—anyhow—now ‘at you’ve got our ‘ttention—and are done mastering that big trombone—what’s all this tin crush snap rip tear yelling out loud? This tinny din what’swat called it now—heck, ah, tin cry! What, the tinning tin cry, wot! The tin-cry-nin-whot-g the tinning tin cry of the lambs silent lower that there’s  a question for you, my sweet dolly-faced Mercury; can there be a sound lower than none, a negative sound, which-wha’ din, ‘stead tin cry of twinning pushing your drums in as your body’s designed for, does s’ su-u-u-uck your drums back out to pop off their framesets, and when the negative sound being so tremendously lower than silent as to suck your tin ears out from your face; nyah nyah nyah rip-snap out their frameworks? 

Something! And, I don’t know what something’s going to happen scientifically which someday more advanced minds from yours will be able to understand, what? Only I know of this, right now, and explain and charge big money to—make the tin cry, no no, the drum cry, s’ ‘at this will be; and, as two drums are normally issued to ‘cept’n those few odd loners found at the bottom of some Florida sinkholes, otherside known as the Bismarcks f’ Hoodlian-boys of the develing archangel’s hop frogging whipmen—uuuuuuuuuuuu much too hard to catch, see, touch, or believe in at all. Imagine the touch of your chosen God’s hand; imagine the touch of the hand of the Buddha; Jesus; Mohammed; Arjuna von Krishna; or or ‘tis all the names we know, and we’re lazy, so I know you’re following the pointer tip a’ rubberized ending off that big woody whipping stick all grade school big black white holy nuns wield, to, hit you, and hit you, and hit you hit you hit you to gasp, to knuckle you down; pansies, whoop; what style rings would your God purchase, Frankie? 

What rings? What watches? What rings, or what watches? What God is yours, Frankie? What will they purchase from you? Rings? Or watches? Is the savior tempted by gold more than silver? What cologne qua what deoderenizzerian spray ball or rub; and, in the company of Gods, do shoes make the man? If not, then the shoes of this-that savior have little or no bearing. 

Down a Hot Fluming Log-Ride

Necroadymancia; ‘fter wise the powers informed us, hot Frankie, hot maybe might (‘r might not jus’ also) benefit from a d-day at the local Theame Parke (adjacent to that big controversial tannery building wha’ smells to hot heavenly, eight miles wider than high) but that being downwind of us the time-date we’d get there, it was a good idea we thought also as who cares, really, how it benefits this patient and wh—who cares, really, ‘f it takes his mind away from his dead spothole bored into his deep that he’s here to get healed over and who cares, uh, who—cares rub dub dub—but; when we both cleared our showers, and compared equal notes, acc’ding to the two-man control of all wizardry rule which, State prison, I have never experienced. I wonder what it is like, the Dad said to her as she sat reading up on that rule. She looked up to answer, ignoring the small boy highchaired ‘n ‘tween them, saying, Huh? State prison? Why specifically state prison? Have you experienced other kinds of prisons and never told us? Whoop?

No, knotsie, me never been to prison, bo-noonos hove any kind to, at the waterside shipdock at all dock the ship hove to it hove to—this passed through the small boy, sat still in ‘tween, thinking into the sailing ship painting back the wall behind them—the beautiful, What? I just said something little like that, and you jump ri’ ‘top me to pluck it all apart! Je-johnsola, suss! 

Buggo; within the boy they saw her arm thrust o’er the far shipbow, obscuring its blue ‘hind the swift blur of her tension. 
Pluck it apart? It seemed a good question, no scabyank required, oush, don’t you hate it when you’rer watching a good show, and you do that without thinking, my God—my God, why did you not just say prison—as in any prison, just slid from her out from under the slowly digesting text of the two-man-control rule white paper she’d been reading she did not reach it in time so let herself say, Why state? Why specifically state? Why did God not make us to get rigid and immobile when distracted way past into and through the action on our TV sets? You could have said federal! Where’d the phrase hove to come from? 

So we do not pick our scabs off prematurely, ouch, TV was not invented yet when God created the universe, huh? What about when God created man? Somebody probably meant to say something Dionysian else and it got corrupted out ouch and they thought hey, hove to’s got a snap to it! Plus God’s supposed to know everything that will happen and has happened so for sure he’d know all about the TV. And so county jail, city holding cell, overnight New York city drunk tank, stretch, and hey, parabola; parabola’s a great word; look it up, what’s it mean? What a beautiful ship on the wall a hundred bottles of beer also men, take one down and pass it around, and uh-oh where’d the ship go, sob, sob. The squall had passed quickly. So, they ate the rest of the meal in silence, God, and silver—silver and God and, there round the corner ‘cross from a fat-red big tilty-whirl, more whiplike actually, but—great restaurant-quality presentation if you ask me—there, said Frankie! Log flume! Said Frankie, said, Frankie log, Frankie flume! Log Frankie flume! Frankie flume! I want to go on the log flume, so there, there it is, wheezed Frankie. 
Hot!

The Pacificist Nord-west loomerjanck’s flume ride looked quite dangerous, if not too scary, really, so; we got in, the like, we two—because, only one of us two, who each are not Frankie, who brought Frankie here, paid his way, used our own money, which we were hash-sewered ’d be reuniversed ‘ack to us, and, so. Him or me, take your pick, got in the ride with Frankie, and; the bombs away’s not scary if your in the way high up bomberplane; after all, why should it be after all all, why the hot, hello la-l’ hell, should it? We are not below, but up here, so bombs away and below are all just one target, so equally apprehensively, we all got in. 

Simultaneous bomb and target target and bomb wrapped into one, we thus became, so, what could possibly go wrong? Plus, two beings, just one bang—swoop! Bullets are expensive; the clickery slicked highschool part-timer running the show pushed a steel something forward; but, these are not; and so, that caused the—fast, fall, slip, slide, rush, and lunge, chain saw waterfall baby-boo styled mincemeated down big-Nixon stew prexy-ex-candidate, nope, no—sss’ superhuman buzz too loud, no brakes o’ gravity so flail your arms, Frankie, the-the logs smash down, Frankie, ha hey why you flail your arms huh? No gas, Frankie? just gravity the flume’s first big soaker Nehi Orange no tin up there Frankie taking you down to his like a bomb-splash slam-nee nii noo no tin rin-rin down there n-neither soaked all cold icy hoo Cliquot Club s’ go go go cold down and around pulled rattlin’ roll pull faster grav’ faster yell scream go go no one can help you hah ah ‘h ‘til down at the end through great waves o’ drownin’ mist stopped up, we—slam! 
Jesus Christ!
Frankie; no tin, no tin, no tin.
Yes? Drifts off the clouds.
No tin no tin no, tin—tin.
Shut up, Frankie! Very funny. 


Wall

 Roundy ‘bout dripped tin, in the basement; stone, coarse, fine stone, laid down in, no mortar nee’, ‘fter all they could build this whole correctisseum with not one inch of portable, or, in the case of the stationary version of these types of machines, not one to three centispheres wrong of only and just the slight touch of glu’ needed to keep all safely in place. I mean, we don’t ‘ppreciate the unseens below the boards th’ push up our soles and keep us all safely up here, there, and maybe nearly everywhere indoors, where we may choose, or be told, or just by chance stumble into, be, that we don’t just sluice down disappeared into the floor like the last push of a wave sinks down in the sand when everything about the wave is over as we’ll be over as we’ll over be gone dead and dumb and worse yet here in this worse yet job. 

By all that’s currently Basilio’s, hair-tonicala’d slap! Tin! cries out Frankie-cat; tin tin, tin and, more tin, it he, hic! Who cries out jess’ nasty; roundy-witch’s call up out and over, o’ the hot trouble light hung over, that with the currently fashionable orange caged plasticuloed boned-over style, they never installed sufficient lamplights o’er this gate, to that other side, where—tin and more tin and tin and more Frankie! Hey, Frankie! As they began laying the stones, heaven beamed down past them ‘oth, but; ess-cause of flowers the false yes of the log flume the small squirrely disneyized pout faces watching ahead, for the entire span of the log flume ride’s moveable existence, and oh, yah, it may sound glamorous, sure eck; yah slap give that here to ride me all day ‘round down slushlian-splashey followed by mass upon mass of noisy delight-squeals cast out ‘head from behind, so! 

But there, Max, listen up; we do know you’re there—but ‘t ‘verynienneday’s end comes the shutdown; the park; the cut of the juice; the throw of the switch and the twist of the lock, so wise making it so that everybody’s gone until tomorrow. And then, so falls ‘ver rollery-dicelike sentences, thus; the lucky flume log out in the open, when the ride cut down, may enjoy some few additional moments of light until the sun falls to the hay, but, tin the unluckies m’mediately plugged in the dark when the power plug pulled back leaving them—there. No sunlight no starlight no moon light, no chance. Tin. 

Maybe the same, ‘cause the switch’s the thing, Frankie; not the tin man, the ghost’s servant, or the mere presence of beasts—and, to wit; the juice’s all useless when continuity’s broken not to mention if the man just  happens to be of bronze and the only ‘vail-labled up weapon’s the now useless juice, itself—spesh’ when they drop the bagged apples in the steamy can—underseat under, but—nope much too sombre, sombrero, ‘brer’, Sir Hip Hot Hooone the man said abruptly, archy-stretching with the aid of a palm’s out swift slappyback soooooo, that, These damned stones, I could swear, you know, each of these stones is a hairybout heeviar than it's very last one’s last self’s before, which, in the Einstinian sense, can and seems to have, happened here—although, it really happened over there.  At least that’s what I see. Are you also noticing this, eh?

I don’t think about the stones, or whatever else may be, when doing a job like this.
Really?
Oh, yah, since the war was lost, yes—but—for me, anyway, after the first few stone courses ‘re laid down in this push to a wall, the motions are the same. So? Here’s so—given there are no subtly shifting interconnected changes la’ stone over stone over ad infinitum as the wall grows higher, I can just shut the gas down the autoplitineelio and cruise my way upt’a duh last course way high so high which, in most thirty-thousand foot cruise of most walls being of this particular nature, having a definite top-ceiling to flow smoothly into, might need this chip, that cut, these adjustments, or those thereabouts, by my very last Jiminy Cricket of a ragged bone wipering bladeset, see—ten stones got set by my hands alone, while I was just pontificating your way, out just now—so. You see it?

I do see, but keep at the job will you please. Thanks.
Oh, y’; it does get somewhat shady by the ends of the days lately. Do you feel, after all? No, wait—eh, Frankie! You tired up of your yearn, Frankie, hip-hoppo Frankieutanian—you tire yet of ur constantantial yearn? Hey I’m talking to you ba’ there ‘y! No happy, no happy—tin, more tin, please, Frankie! Good God please, more tin, and more tin, and; do you ever tire off from overhearing yourself this tedious too loud everlasting yearn? Ah ah! Rice briars! 1234567 The stones though bup bop so heavy eck cune—7654321 hey in there, Frankie; you feeling it too?

Stone atop stone atop courses run higher an’—heavier too. Do you think we can make it? Do think boy-b uhhh, this one day’s grown unearthly long.   
Frankie, are you? 
From his back; come tin. Tin in the basement. Need tin. It’s in the basement.
Still? God, go; an’ see, ess—there’s just an empty plane wall, of bone that way—and this way—and all the possible six ways’ sidenesses up down’n gone. Terrible. So terrible, we mean, Dennie O’Day said it best; There you see it? Then, there’s the uh, oh. Hey. Know what?

No, what? But after this no more, pausing for jokery. This job needs doing. Know, what?
Watch any treetop hard enough, and you’ll see the forever breeze.
But get goan’, pop! Get get, eh, warts, but—now look at this crap! Why I do why I do, said the other, letting his trowel hang loose at his side—why, when the end is; this?
What? This?
Look around. See? We can never build this wall high enough.
Huh.

Look down there. See?
Uh—wow. I, uh—why—why the Hell didn’t we see this sooner?
Uh. Stupid I guess.
Aw, shucks. Silly me.
Snap fingers.
Snap fingers.
Snap fingers.
Stop. Go.
Head home.
Makes no difference to Frankie.




Jim Meirose’s work has appeared in numerous venues. His novels include “Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer”(Optional Books), “Understanding Franklin Thompson”(JEF), “Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection”(Mannequin Haus), and “No and Maybe – Maybe and No”(Pski’s Porch). Info: www.jimmeirose.com @jwmeirose

Poetry from George Economou

a Night long gone, forgotten, erased 

with the substance-abuse of years gone, 
it’s a wonder I’m still breathing; a miracle I
still recall precious little moments from imperfect
nights of snow and glacial gusts penetrating the room
through windowless frames on crumbling walls. 

dozing off next to strangers of the night, fallen angels 
dissipating with the first ray of sunlight; spending
months hidden in attics and shooting galleries, 

struggling to maintain the few traces of soul left alive
by putting it in airplane bottles of booze. 

acid-eating time-travelers visit dreams and hallucinations,
spaceships land atop tall buildings dwarfing skyscrapers and human shells. 

early morning hours never were, lost in the crepuscular mist of yesteryears,
hollow moments vanishing inside drained (and broken)
bourbon bottles—forevermore, the eternal broken promise of hundreds of lying lips,
falsifying experiments in the grand scheme of today’s societal degradation;


erased, forgotten, completely and utterly
dead. dead
like the night, like the morning, like the
sun and the galaxy, like the dream-
less nights.
 
Emily

we effortlessly drained a fifth of bourbon while
watching old movies on the television;
we could barely follow Citizen Cane, and laughed with Casablanca,
then had a blast with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. 
in our high, we discussed future travels, how we’d
become, too, treasure hunters and adventurers.
then, we cracked the second bottle and the moment the glasses were filled,
we forgot about exploring Bolivian jungles. 
it was alright, we told ourselves during hangover mornings
and cruel early evenings; we were still young (merely 20) 
and had the whole world sitting at the palm of our hands. 
every night the moans of pleasure kept the neighbors awake
and I’d use a kitchen knife and my crazy look to drive them away
whenever someone bold enough knocked on the door to whine. 
we’d never step outside the door before 7 in the afternoon, and when
we did, it was only because we had run out of booze.
I can’t even remember how long it lasted; I remember her name all too well:
Emily. both foreigners, both belonging exclusively in the most lugubrious voids 
of permanent midnight. bottles emptied, broken, and we fucked amidst the glass. 
how long ago? when did it all happen? 
here I am, swilling bourbon nightly and, sometimes, I see
her smile painted in the stars and a tear runs down
my thick beard. I lost her,
lost it all; she liked my stories when I read them half-drunk, now, I can’t
find solace in the yellow pages residing under the worn-out
mattresses of the cheapest brothels. 
it’s alright, I keep lying; I was too drunk at her funeral and cannot even
remember the spot she rests. I wish to go and leave a rose
on the ground, all I have is this lowly poem, insufficient as it may be to do justice
to what she could have been. took me a week of
constant drinking to come back to life after her premature demise, 
I’m still drinking and recalling her radiant smile; she’s the only one I wish I had taken
a picture of when I could. I didn’t, my memory deteriorates one glass at a time. 
she, I, the world, ashes waiting to be tapped in a dirty ashtray.
nothing remains; only the smile painted in the stars. 
the empty bottles on the floor remind me of former nights, when history
no one will know of was made;  the first poems written only for her,
masterpieces hurled over the coffin; true words no one needs to hear.
I can’t remember them, too drunk, but I know, one day we’ll reunite, even in the absolute nothingness, and she’ll forgive me for all the others that lay on the couch
she once used to call bed; I watched Casablanca recently and laughed.
for one magnificent second she was there, laughing with me; I had to
drink for two weeks without a pause just to forget the soft
sound of her giggling, the kisses she planted on my cheek whenever 
I was too hungover to breathe.
 
down by the creek

we swilled fortified wine and stared at the putrid moon; 
we had nothing else to do but

hold each other, assassinate the 
sickness with strong wine, annihilate the
hangover with powerful junk. 

you used to say we’ll make it, you claimed 

the future held grand things. 

wonder if you ever glimpsed at the bleak reality;
if you saw the
monsters lurking 
right around the corner. 

we failed to evade them; succumbed to 
everything. you left 
early, no chance for your
future to withhold great things. 

as for me, I still sink well liquor, using rotgut to destroy

whatever’s left of my soul and hopes. dreams already dead, 

the pallid moonlight’s forever gone, even the creek
’s all dried up and dead

like you and the 
future you once envisioned during the drug haze. 

I’m at other creeks, with new bottles and the same old cigarettes. 
chasing down the blue dragon all around its flaming meadow 

with nothing but my trusted butterfly net.
 
Sea of Empty Bottles

harrowing nights of a hollow past
I can’t forget, nor wish to erase;
every sin is repeated as
I try to maintain sanity 
by crawling through
the empty broken bottles scattered on the floor
searching for a place to vomit. 

the wails of former ghosts reach my ears
every night, turning me into a somnambulist;
I don’t care when I wake up 
holding the kitchen knife. 

one day, I’ll do what I so many times thought of
during cold turkey nights of suicidal desires.

the mornings are always the harshest, until the first two
lowballs are poured and drained, when
the beer is still warm and tastes like a sick fox’s piss. 

it gets better, for a while;
darkness returns,
encapsulates the world like an impenetrable veil, 
the garter belt of a virgin princess and the
moments I remember are scarce and vague, nothing 
substantial except for that rainy afternoon at
the graveyard where I saw the love of my life
lowered into the ground, therein to remain 
forever. 

in acid hallucinations I encountered colors
and during a junk OD I was in the Bar. 

I hunkered down on the barstool, almost had a sip; brought back to
this world by the second, and
last, woman ever to drill a hole in the
stony exterior of my heart. 

the keyboard always dances, 
it barely works, it’s
alright, the dance is loud and wild and meth-fueled.
21st century junkie and alcoholic, 
the new millennium did not make me extinct.

for now, I’m on coffee, cigarettes, and novocaine
(sometimes, I go vintage, searching for dead spirits of the damned).

the night falls, gin is poured.
someone’s making margaritas
wearing nothing but a tiny sheer dress. 

she smiles, we drink, 
we smoke pot and pop some uppers. 

we’re here, there, everywhere,
nowhere; no more dragons for tonight,
I’ve put them to sleep.

she kisses me, I refuse to obey,
still a couple of lines to finish; 

I won’t polish the cruel words,
won’t edit the mistakes. 

let them be, 
remind you some
hone their skills by endlessly typing,
drinking rejection slips away,
fucking the nights and injecting the mornings to oblivion,
before returning to the keyboard so the dance can
commence all over again until one
lambent sunny day

darkness engulfs them and they
gain admittance to the Bar.

Poetry from Ahmad Al-Khatat

Stop Slaughtering the World

Ahmad Al-Khatat

When I saw the orphan was mute
the widow hesitated to run
the instant she stopped hearing his moaning.
Turns out that the entire world weeps 
-continuously at the headless corpses.

We struggle with influential words, 
We die by the death penalty with no empathy, 
We fight with ineffective missiles & weapons,
We die like a tree that falls in the woods alone.
We die proudly for preferring to stand up in peace.

O enemy, why do I perceive my blood rusting your dagger?
I donated my spirit to procure you back to your family
This world taught me to treat you like a welcoming guest 
I want to hug you with your horrible knife stabbing my flesh
just listen to my last words, will you stop slaughtering the world?

Shake my blind father's hands without sharing sorrow 
He bleeds with tears and dreams of a country that doesn’t 
-terrify children, my imagination clarifies to me that I 
will hear more laughter from my grandfather in the paradise 
like the times when I heard birds singing & not the noise of fallen missiles.



Brightness 

When the moon misses its brightness 
I feel lonely as a forgotten painting in the gallery at dusk

Do you remember the moments we sipped the sun wine?
I absorb the biological colours of the rainbow

Then splash them above the grey clouds of autumn.
More birds would rise into the blue of her eyes, 

They attacked my birthplace and crushed my heart in their infirmary.
I lost my hand and since then I became an alcoholic 

Who prays after drinking whiskey from a homesick teacup?
Sad! 
Why so!! 
Don't be!!! 
My neighbour doesn't seem 
informed of the coffin I'm carrying since I accepted your friendship...




If You Waited 

If you have waited for me at this hour
I'd take your hands and educate you on the new alphabet
With unique phrases of encouragement
Your lips will never be dry but mostly moist.

You may portray me as a dusty typewriter
Since you see tears on the windows of my eyes
Flying dead leaves of optimism in my spirit
Sad & love poems are hung in my brain to death. 

You say I’ve seen you here many times.
You asked, who am I to untie your knotted heart? 
I am a boat of long silence and gathered grief
my writings could never bloom more lovers.

This earth or this planet is not a familiar door
The stream hasn't revealed the face of my beloved
O farmer, keep your seeds asleep and fantasy 
of the rain ‘till you pour your tears above your farm.


Aggressive Insomnia 

The night appears beautifully decorated 
with a moon surrounding the glowing stars 
My mind expects to jump into another battle 
With thoughts beneath the dust of a blade.

I rest my body and forcefully close my eyes, 
Endless nightmares hold my throat and breathe
The muscles numb from all empty-handed
My mouth refuses to yell at the dark cloud.

Aggressive insomnia doesn't understand the 
meaning of morning rain or gleaming snow.
Today's world could not reach out to my love
If I wrongly survive then I'd force myself to drink.

What should I hold to sleep in consensus?
The sun has died in my world of difference
I chose to smoke over unnecessary friendship
I successfully hid your corpse but failed to find my own.


Ahmad Al-Khatat was born in Baghdad, Iraq. His work has appeared in print and online journals globally. He has poems translated into several languages such as Farsi, Mandarin, Spanish, Albanian, and Romanian. He has published some poetry chapbooks, and a collection of short stories. He has been nominated for Best of the Net 2019 and was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize for 2020.