Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Picking Pieces by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

 
Hiding in the Stacks by Angie Garrett from Flickr.com

They teach me to clean. Wash the dishes, dry them, stack them in order. Be a good boy.
But what do you do when dishes are hurled with words?
You’re always working too hard, Herman. What does that mean, working hard?
You have all the time in the world, Betty.
I’m running on a hamster wheel. Be a good mother. Comfort, comfort. Why don’t you be the parent, Herman?
What do you do when you have to pick up the pieces?
What do you do when your attempts to glue them together look grotesque and out of place?
Everything breaks again.
*****
 
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others. He lives in Garden Valley, Idaho.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Blurred by Meghana Karanjkar

Blinding by Elias Quezada from flickr.com


As Ethan opened his eyes, he looked at the black ceiling fan moving slowly on the pale white ceiling. The sun had hit his back while he was sleeping and now his shirt stuck to his body, drenched in sweat. The humidity was thick, and it made him even more cranky. He turned to the left and clutched the night table for support as the room became blurry again. A sheet of haze appeared in front of his eyes. The doctor had warned him that this would happen. The half empty bottles of meds lay disrespectfully on his dresser as he looked at them with disgust. Everything tired him now. Heaving himself off the bed, he searched for his slippers in vain. Groping with his feet, he finally found them and squeezed his feet in tightly. With a deep sigh, he got up and moved towards the kitchen. The coffee machine was waiting patiently for him as he poured the water and dropped the filter in. It kicked off with a splutter eager to please its master. Drumming his fingers on the countertop, Ethan waited impatiently. The smell of the coffee beans wafted through the thick morning air. His jagged nerves began waking up.

Walking slowly towards the small dining table, he placed his thin frame in the chair. This time he had not tripped and fallen.  Curling his fingers around the hot coffee mug, his hands began to gather sweat. The sip of that first morning cup of coffee warmed his throat and hit the walls of his stomach. As the caffeine coursed through his veins, he began waking up, easing a little. Kiara would come in crashing through the door any moment, he thought. He quickly patted his disheveled hair down and tried to look cheerful.

She breezed in with a casserole of warm apple pie that had just come off her oven. Looking crisp and fresh in a white cotton dress, hair tied neatly in a pony tail, she gently placed the pie in the centre of the table. It was like clockwork. For the last four months, she would come in every morning at the same time and they would have coffee together. This was paired with fresh croissants, warm pie, a cup of chopped fruit or baked zucchini bread. Over time, breakfast spilled over to lunches and an occasional glass of wine on the small patio overlooking the crowded Manhattan streets. Kiara lived two floors down and they had initially bumped into each other on the elevator. Neighbors became friends and now they meant more than that to each other. His dry wit and incisive analytical mind bought interesting discussions to the table. Her read on a wide range of topics offered contradictions to his theories which made their conversations rich and diverse. Often, this lead to bitter arguments and loud voices which kept getting louder till the neighbors would bang on their common walls demanding quiet. She was well aware of his disability and growing threat of partial blindness. She was even more aware that he did not want her pity. Nevertheless, she found herself opening doors for him or holding his arm while walking on the busy sidewalks.

‘Good Morning’ she said, pulling back the dining chair hastily as it scraped against the musty beige carpet.
‘Good Morning’ Ethan replied. He grabbed a paper towel and wiped down the dining table full of coffee stains and food crumbs.
‘ Coffee?’ He asked.
She nodded while he poured her a hot cup of coffee as the microwave warmed two big pieces of apple pie.
‘You don’t need to bring a snack or dessert every time’ Ethan said.
She looked down at her coffee.
‘It’s not a big deal. You know I love cooking’.
She noticed his red and swollen eyes and remembered that he had the follow up appointment today. She wanted to be with him. Not wanting to bring attention to his eyes, she looked outside the window.

The bright sun rays touched their faces with a glow as the caffeine gave their brains a kickstart. Ethan took a big spoonful of the pie and swallowed the warm, sweet and juicy treat. He closed his eyes for a few seconds to let the sweetness trickle down his body. For a brief moment he forgot about the restless night, surgery and his eyes. He did not want this perfect moment in the  bubble of comfort and peace to end.
He knew it was time. Shuffling his feet uneasily he said ‘ I have to leave now , the appointment is in an hour’
‘I can come with you, if you like’. She knew the doctor’s visit would be hard on him. Plus it would give her a chance to spend some more time with him.
‘Thank You so much! I think I should be OK.’ He said, wanting her by his side more than ever.

The Ophthalmologist's office had pale green walls and a dark grey carpet. Magazines were piled neatly in a rack next to the navy blue comfy chairs. A large plant took a corner of the room, and looked like it had grown roots there for years. The front desk lady looked at him suspiciously above her pointy glasses. He was the only patient in that office and felt very alone. A cold shiver ran up his spine as he imagined the doctor giving him the worst news of his life. He wished he had taken up Kiara’s offer and asked her to come along. Digging in deeper into the chair, he wanted to be invisible.

‘Ethan Miller’ the receptionist called loudly and a startled Ethan jumped from his chair.
‘How are you doing?’ the doctor asked softly.
‘It was hard waking up. Everything was blurry’
‘It will take time. You had a major eye surgery 2 days ago.’
Ethan fidgeted with his fingers and looked expectedly at the doctor.
‘Your results are in’ the doctor said ‘ the nerves in your eyes are progressively deteriorating’
‘ Over time, you might lose partial or full vision’ the doctor tried to soften the blow
‘How much time do I have?’ Ethan asked slowly.
‘Till the age of 50 – 55’. The words crashed on him like a wave and he felt that he was being pulled under. The room went blurry and the hazy sheet appeared before his eyes. This meant that he had only another 15 years left before he plunged into darkness.

He stumbled out of the doctor’s office and managed to reach his building. With the click of his key he shoved himself into his apartment and fell on his knees on the beige carpet. He could not hold it together any longer as his body shook and trembled in loud sobs. As he slowly stood up, he reached for the chair and flung it with rage against the wall. Reaching for the vase on the dining table, he smashed it on the floor as it broke in pieces. Stuffing his face in the pillow, he cried deep sobs of anger and despair. A myriad thoughts flashed. Darkness. Kiara. Loneliness. Blindness. Kiara.

She entered the apartment and stepped right into one of the pieces of the vase. Her eyes grew wide and she knew immediately what had happened. Instinctively she ran towards him and held him in her arms in an embrace. Ethan let go and crumpled in her touch. There was no safer place for him in the entire world.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Deadlock by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad


Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an artist and poet from Sydney. Her recent artworks were published in Dwell Time, Otoliths, and 3 AM Magazine, and are forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, Club Plum Journal, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Going Home by Fabrice Poussin

Forgotten Road by Scott Blackwell


He found his way on the forgotten road
through the utter darkness of dawns
caught in unlikely chaos.

Terror assailed him from all sides
fields of golden grasses turned to ash
clouds of tar rolled on like a shroud.

On the edge of a certain death
he pushed on with one last breath
to return home to his home among giants.

Life lay beyond the threatening gate anew
awaiting the return of the most beloved son
cautious of unwelcome intruders.

A brief moment was his only reprieve
the massive citadel shut as he entered
blinded by the warm light of pure rains.

To the infinite depth above he saw
walls of pastels alive with thick nectars
and closed his eyes to rest in the eternal dream.

*****

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

Sunday, 17 May 2020

All She Can by John Grey

The Sick Man
The Quiver: An Illustrated Magazine for Sunday and General Reading
(London: Cassell & Company, 1891) 372


All she can imagine
is a city street,
late at night.
The only sign of life
is a man she knows
stumbling from a barroom.

All she can attend to
is the man in the bed.
A granite bulkhead posing as flesh.
Face known only to
a pillow.

All she can hear are moans.
The bed is in pain.
The man won’t die.
His complaints are too theatrical.
He never once says her name.
Just, “Get me a bucket will you.”

All she can do
is plop a bucket down by
his side of the bed.
His cheeks are pale as tombstones.
His guts are on the move.

All she can see are walls.
Direction stops when the room does.
It’s almost a coffin.
The only sign of life
sprays the plastic bottom.

All she can feel is pity.
But feeling has to start somewhere.

*****

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Plainsongs, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River Review.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

The Process of Becoming by Shannon Cuthbert



Lita in the city
Surrounds herself with sound.
She grows tall as skyscrapers
Ascending always
Towards the unattainable.
Her eyes turn glass
Absorbing all.
The benches and grates and stone faced men.
The colors that pull themselves out from the mind.
The way the street sounds underfoot,
Its knowledge of her body, her careful steps.
Adaze,
She weaves it as one long dream.
Asleep,
The spell unbreakable.

*****

Shannon Cuthbert is a Brooklyn based writer and artist. Recently published in Gingerbread House, Chronogram, and Poetry Super Highway, with work forthcoming in The Writers Cafe Magazine.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Two Art Pieces by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

   
Comfort by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Tea for One by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad


*****

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney poet, artist, and improv pianist. She has been painting and exhibiting for the past twenty years, and has published her art and poetry in several literary journals in Canada, Singapore, the US, and Australia. Her paintings can be found in many private collections. Oormila was a finalist in the Waverley Woollahra 9X5 Landscape Prize 2018.