beneath the burnt out sky

a black-clad harridan sits in the parvis
gazes into the dark sky with watery eyes
knobby yellow fingers stick out from mittens
like tilted candles on the requiem stone

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2019

GUEST POST // Brokenness by Madhuri Katti

Brokenness

Sometimes I wonder,
Is it the brokenness
which holds the world together?
a crack that still holds parts?

Is it the brokenness that
unveils the Whole?
The imagined whole –
That never will be or
Maybe never was…

Even if the cracks give away –
Can broken pieces be
whole parts in themselves?
Or maybe broken parts
Will create a kaleidoscope

Sometimes I wonder
Is it the brokenness
that holds the world together?

What purpose does the Whole serve?
The Whole which excludes,
smugly nestled in itself
Till a crack breaks the egoistic shell
The Whole will never be a whole

Sometimes I wonder,
Is it the brokenness that
holds the world together?

Borders divide land and humans
But yet, when challenged
The humanity that rises,
Is often more than the sum
Of the broken souls

Sometimes I wonder,
Is it the brokenness that
that holds the world together?

 

by MADHURI KATTI
© All rights reserved 2018

DARWINIAN // Circle of Life

Look, I get it. A bus timetable isn’t a binding contract or anything but I’d dearly appreciate it if the sodding drivers would stop fart-arsing me around. I’m convinced they’ve all conspired against me. How else would you explain what’s happening here?

Seriously, whenever I’m early, they’re late. Whenever I’m on time, they’re early. Whenever I’m late, they’re on time. Is this some kind of joke? Are their contrary little minds jacked into one central hive mentality decreeing that this Darwin chap mustn’t be allowed to get anywhere stress-free ever? How do they even know when I’m at the damn stop? CCTV? No, there isn’t any CCTV. Well, as far as I can see anyway…

I feel like a right goose as I stand here trying to type on my mobile phone, the cars whizzing past my self-conscious self. This godawful touch keyboard! Was it made for human beings or fucking pixies? Wouldn’t you think the manufacturer could have included a stylus or something? Of course you would. So would I. But they’re not us. They don’t consider the needs of us mere mortals. That’s not what they do. We pay for what we get and nothing more. Frankly, it’s a First World privilege to be using our giant, stubby forefingers to thwack clumsy smears of not-quite-predictive text all over our tiny screens, and they know it. We all know it. My white middle-class guilt is quite adept at making me shut up and put up with all kinds of shit.

How the hell is ‘contrary’ anything like ‘dairy’?

And suddenly I’m off thinking about American highways. The other day, Calix was telling me that they’re paved with an odd mix of stuff: asphalt, recycled tyres, and hospital waste. Why is that factoid popping into my head unbidden? Is it because I’m standing on the side of a busy road, watching a Vespa narrowly miss a Bond lookalike? She loves bringing up weird shit like this. I usually do my best bobblehead impression, nodding along to whatever Calix says, and wondering if these alleged factoids are even halfway true.

I should text her. Let her know I’m going to be late. Ah, sod it. She’ll find out I’m late when I get there. Tumours, severed limbs, other bodily organs… bus. I guess a lot of Americans splat on highways at any given opportunity, eager to donate their good selves to the advancement of the automobile. It’s the circle of life, baby. All terribly pointless and wasteful. Thank god for America. Thank god I don’t live there.

Oh, shit! Was that the bus? Fuck! Shit!

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

DARWINIAN // Woke at the Coalface

‘Eat. Sleep. Sprint. Repeat.’

At no other time in history could I wear this summation of existence on an article of clothing and not be thought of as odd. But nearly everyone’s doing it nowadays, so I guess that makes me somewhat normal — or at least someone somewhere’s definition of ‘normal’. It’s funny how society bolted from the t-shirt as an undergarment in the nineteenth century to being worn as outerwear in the mid-twentieth century. Quite the transition, no? We shrugged from ‘shock of the new’ territory into the realm of blind acceptance in one quick, easy, costume change.

So, what does this actually mean? It means that t-shirts are in. It means that catchy sayings in bold typeface beneath cartoon pics of hollow, burnt up earths with factory stacks belching out poison are in. And it means that the combination of all these things is in. I guess the t-shirt is what society now deems ‘social convention’. Yup. And the only constant is change.

Frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of t-shirts. To me they’re just walking billboards littered with guache advertising for untruths mixed with half-truths dressed up as ‘The Truth’ that you absolutely cannot live without… so buy today. And I happen to live at the fraying edge of all of that. Oh, damn, I don’t know what to do! Should I wear this shirt and risk exposing my unmanly physique for all to snort in derision at? I’m barely hanging on here, trying not to be the wonky thread that makes my carefully insulated life come undone. My face is already unacceptable by society’s standards. Now my body too?

Is this irony? The fact that I can be shamed for my pear-shaped body rather than the trite maxim on my overstretched top doesn’t seem right to me. Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe I shouldn’t be perturbed that not only is this the uniform that must be worn if I want to be part of society’s cabal of acceptance but that I can also be rejected if I fail to squeeze into it in the prescribed manner. No, I should just push these thoughts out of my mind…

The earth coughs up flowers for no one to notice.  The mighty dig past said flowers for coal to burn to make loot. Said mighty diligently practice their brand of self care, amassing said loot to the neglect of everyone else. And here I am, trying to decide whether what I’m feeling is mere vanity or the emergence of some awful realisation.

God. What possessed me to buy this stupid shirt anyway?

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

GUEST POST // Within by Niharika Jaiswal

I see people scowling and screaming
Raging and waging war on others,
Angry at each other or something else
But most of all angry at themselves.
They need to win a fight, any fight.
With whom, for what, it doesn’t matter,
It’s not about wrong or right,
It’s about the fight,
A way to take the anger out,
The anger that’s burning them inside,
The anger at nothing and everything.
I have been there myself at times,
And after you win the fight,
For a moment it feels like you can breathe again
It’s a good moment, you feel light
But in a little while, the anger returns
Deeper and spreading like a fire.
And the thing about fire,
You can’t throw it out the window
And on to the streets and get rid of it,
That only increases its reach.
To extinguish a fire one must remove
One of the three things that create it,
Heat, fuel, and air. The way I see it,
Pain is the match that creates the heat,
Our insecurities are fuel it feeds on
And our ego is the air that fans it.
I see people burning themselves,
And those they love, those around them,
Burning their houses and their cities,
While fighting fire with fire
And looking at the skies for a rain
Never realizing that the fire that starts within
Can only be extinguished from within.

 

by NIHARIKA JAISWAL
© All rights reserved 2017