Broken Poem (Fragment #16)

I knocked at the door.

“Come in!”

The professor was sitting on the window sill without his shoes. It looked a bit strange, but I had gotten used to his little quirks. Generally speaking, our entire magistral staff is a strange sort of panopticon—a freak show if you will—and so sitting barefoot on a window sill looks like kid’s stuff in comparison with the other teachers’ habits.

“What are you staring at? Give me your scribbles!”

I had gotten used to his bad manners too. With impassiveness I offered my worn down notebook to him. The professor opened it, read some lines and screwed up his face.

“What the crap?”

“It’s my homework.”

“Are you sure?”

“It seems so…”

“Quite so. It only seems like homework.”

He tossed the notebook against the wall. It bumped into a shelf of softbound texts, opened and came apart. Lines that I had written with diligence and care crumbled. Words and punctuation marks were scattered higgledy-piggledy in every corner like pieces of a shattered cup. I sniffled and bit my bottom lip.

Gather up this trash. And don’t spoil such precious words with your glamorous bullshit.”

I stood and looked at his bare feet, at those claws clutching over the floor. They were long and crooked with an unpleasant yellow hue…

“Look sharp! I’m not going to hang around for another aeon!”

I started to gather my unhappy poem from the dirty floor. Resentment was slowly turning into fury. Plucked peacock! I will sort you! I will show you anti-glamour!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

CRACKED FABLES // The Ass and the Brain

The Ass and the Brain went to the Family Psychologist. They were having relationship issues and wanted to see if this was something that could be resolved together.

The Brain was often quite arrogant. He’d constantly remind the Ass that, in the grand scheme of things, he was more important than she could ever hope to be. And so the Ass would say, “Come down here and say that. I’ll sit on you!”

The Family Psychologist said, “Well, the Brain, let’s unpack that, shall we? What makes you feel as though you’re more important? And what do you make of the Ass wanting to dominate you by using you as her seat?”

“I have a perfect spherical shape that’s to die for!” blustered the Brain.

The Ass snickered. “Is your ‘perfect’ sphere soft and smooth like mine?”

“It has two halves!”

“That’s not what I asked,” muttered The Ass with raised brow.

Ignoring her snarky comment, the Brain puffed himself up and said, “Having two halves affords me a higher degree of processing power. I can solve complex, mathematical equations!”

“You do realise that halves come only in twos, right? Yup, my ‘two halves’ can process things as well—usually on a porcelain throne. It’s called intuition.”

The Brain frowned mightily. It was time to cite one last piece of incontrovertible evidence to support his case. “I have deep, sexy furrows! No intellect can resist me!”

The Ass sighed. She was young and springy, with no furrows, yet all the science nerds still checked her out at the library. Was it worth the bother to mention this?

The Brain visibly deflated a little as the Ass humphed and left the room. The Family Psychologist looked at him and asked the obvious: “How does that make you feel?”

Twenty years later, The elderly Ass came to the elderly Brain. She said, “Look, I have wrinkles now! Are we finally equals?” But the Brain didn’t answer. He had dementia.

MORAL: Time puts everything in its place.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // ‘O’ Zone by Sudeep Sen

Well… I should admit I’m a pretty adventurous and curious person. But, hell, how can I miss another cool opportunity to get my feet wet?

That’s why I often lure Tony into different ventures like associated editing of a magazine or illustrating a collection of bizarre poems. And Tony, like a real noble knight, puts a shining armour on, and bravely fights for the honour of his restless, beautiful lady. He’s sweating over crazy drawings and going through the nine circles of hell of proofreading. Poor, poor Tony! But this time I let Tony take a short rest. I went into another crusade solo.

I met Sudeep Sen during Tony’s and my collaboration with The Wagon Magazine’, thanks to Krishna Prasad, the chief editor. A review of Sudeep’s book, ‘Erotext’, was featured in the current issue. I should admit, I’ve never heard of Sudeep before, but I was completely blown away by his writings. And, when I received an (unexpected) proposal to try translating this book… well, I think you know my answer. Of course, I said ‘yes’ and ran with drawn sword to conquer a new peak.

Dear Readers, today I take the courage to present myself in a new role: that of translator. Sudeep has kindly allowed me to show my first translations along with parts of his book on Unbolt Me. Thank you, Sudeep! I don’t know what this will result in, but I sincerely enjoyed the process and did my best. Word of honour!

TATI: Tony! Hey, Tony! Wake up! Stop drooling over your comic books…

TONY: What? Again? I’ve only just started to relax… and what about your translation?

TATI: That’s enough translation for now! I have another excellent idea! Let’s go!

The spray of scented chill pierces my lungs first, then comes the slow desperate heaving, the grinding spasm splaying, trying to centrifuge stubborn coves of mucous — whose greenish-yellow viscosity remains more deceptive than quicksand’s subtle death trap.

My face — confined in the transparency of plastic, frosted glass and thin air — regains for a moment the normalcy of breathing. It is a brief magical world. The oxygen in my blood is in short supply. I feel each and every electron’s charge, spurring my senses.

Dizzy in aerosol hope, I try to free myself of the medicated mask, but the frozen rain that batters my face reminds me of the tentativeness of living. As I survive on borrowed air, I’m grateful to the equation of science, its man-made safety, its curious balance that adds that precious molecule to create the sanctity of ‘O3’ — the holy Brahmanical triad — and the triumph of its peculiar numeric subscript.

My breathing is temporarily back now — electrolysed, perfectly pitched and nebulized — as narrow transparent tubes feed dreams into my wide opaque palate.

The sun’s edges are dark, so are my heart’s. No amount of air will light them up.

Сначала мои легкие пронзает ароматная ледяная струйка. Потом начинается медленная, тяжелая качка. Ритмичные волны судорог поднимаются, пытаясь затопить непокорную склизкую бухту, хрупкий зелено-желтый берег которой таит в себе большую опасность, чем смертельная ловушка зыбучих песков.

Я начинаю погружение. Мое лицо заковано в маску из прозрачного пластика, матового стекла и разреженного воздуха. На мгновение мое дыхание возвращается, и я вижу мир вокруг себя. Мир, волшебный и мимолетный, как картинка в калейдоскопе. В моей крови дефицит кислорода. Я ощущаю движение каждого электрона внутри, их микроскопические разряды бьют по моим органам чувств, словно молнии.

Опьяненный кислородом и надеждой, я пытаюсь освободиться от маски, но ледяные иглы дождя, жалящие лицо, напоминают мне о хрупкости бытия. Я – жалкий банкрот, мой воздух взят взаймы у научного уравнения. Мертвая формула, дарящая жизнь, странный баланс которой уравновешен лишней молекулой. Драгоценной молекулой, венчающей священный союз «О3», небесную триаду браминов, триумф этого особенного числового индекса.

Мое дыхание постепенно возвращается ко мне. Наэлектризованное, идеально ровное, глубокое, оно течет по узким прозрачным трубкам прямо в бескрайнее черное небо.

Солнце медленно погружается во тьму, и мое сердце тоже. Я знаю, что рассвет не наступит никогда.

 

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

Testing, Part #1 (Fragment #30)

The desk was a scuffed, sordid blue. I love such things, you know. They’re better at telling you the story of an institution than all those dull, fat conduct books, and they’re more entertaining. For example, right here someone had ably depicted the birth process of star-nosed moles. I sniggered. Considering their knowledge of such ‘niceties’, perhaps it was a future Darwin Medalist. Although… yuck! I reached for a pen.

Twenty two, dolt! Twenty two, not nineteen! I hate giving a lick and a promise! It’s better not to do at all than to do something sloppily.

I was nearly finished coloring the corrected snout when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Yipes! I raised my eyes slowly, and saw the sheen of a badge: ‘Mr. Turdman’. I snickered.

“Follow me, young lady.”

I got up from the desk and dragged myself after the badge wearer’s podge.

Some lanky guy stood near the door and droned like a jammed record: “Please put your cellphones, tablets, and other gadgets into the basket. Please don’t use any electronic devices during the test.”

I shrugged my shoulders and fished my old celly in its scratched maroon sheath out of my pocket. I put it into the plastic basket, right on top of the shiny, posh smartphones. It looked pretty funny, as if a behemoth had decided to join the dance of the little swans.

“Hey, are you dozing off, bimbo? Stop holding up the line!”

His derisive tone brought me back to reality. “I may suck, but you swallow,” I thought reflexively. I stepped into the study amphitheater.

Question 1a. Compose a limerick using the following rhymes: town, nightgown, lock, o’clock.

I scratched my nape and looked helplessly about. Some dweeb with huge glasses to my left seemed like a promising prospect. This dork obviously knows what the hell a limerick is. I whispered, “Psst! You! Hey, you!”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

GUEST POST // Interlude by Gordon Flanders

I didn’t smoke weed, and I didn’t drink, but under the fluorescent lights of Canal Street Station I feel like a thing that slithers. Somehow my fingernails got dirty. I was walking with the girl who I was formerly obsessed with, and I was telling her what I thought was a very interesting story. What I know was an interesting story, in fact, from her gasps every time we hit a pivotal point. And then, in the middle, we ran into some old friends of hers she hadn’t seen in a while. She’s from here and she’s popular, so this happens a lot. There were eight of them. Normally I would just smile and shake everyone’s hand and all that, but I just couldn’t give a fuck about these people and how they knew each other and anything like that, so I stood off to the side and waited for her to ask for her bag so she could go with them. I enjoyed the breeze and I checked my phone. Finally she called me over and her friends were like wtf why are you just standing over there! Meanwhile she had just asked minutes ago why I never do what I want. So that was the thing I wanted, to not talk to these people. I was really fine with her leaving with them, very convenient escape for me, but I did not want to meet them all for no reason. But I did anyway because what kind of asshole would I have to be to hand her her bag and say goodbye and nothing else. So I shook hands with every single one of them. There were people she didn’t even know and I shook hands with them, too. One guy said now repeat our names back to us. I said, I value you guys as people but I don’t have a memory like that. Everyone thought that was funny. You had to be there. So now I look awesome. From weirdo to awesome in sixty seconds. After five excruciating minutes where everyone tried to pretend that we could have an inclusive conversation, they ask what’s up next. I hand my friend her bag and say goodbye, shaking hands with enthusiasm and warmth and real kindness in my eyes. Eight people I will never see again, now they all have a piece of my soul. The train just won’t seem to arrive.

by GORDON FLANDERS
© All rights reserved 2017