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

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // Desire by Sudeep Sen

Under the soft translucent linen, the ridges around your nipples harden at the thought of my tongue.

You — lying inverted like the letter ‘c’ — arch yourself deliberately, wanting the warm press of my lips, their wet to coat the skin that is bristling, burning, breaking into sweats of desire — sweet juices of imagination.

But in fact, I haven’t even touched you. At least, not yet.

Твой пеньюар стекает мягкими полупрозрачными волнами, и рябь вокруг сосков дрожит при мысли о моем языке.

Ты выгибаешься упругой тетивой, предвкушая прохладное прикосновение моих губ. Их влажность успокоит твою пылающую, пьянящую, пряную кожу, истекающую липкими соками желания.

Хотя я еще даже не коснулся тебя. Пока не коснулся.

 

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

How Ghosts are Made

Death is supposed to be the last, great refuge for troubled minds. From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and into the big black. It’s the blessed relief of personal extinction. The hidden regret and all-too-public shamings that cluttered up your fretful, spluttering half-life finally get snuffed forever.

But can those things ever truly be extinguished? Perhaps not really. Perhaps they simply lay with your rotting corpse, waiting to be unearthed all over again. It’s probably some gravedigger that does it — a sick sadist with a muckrake and an agenda who drecks through your spell of days like it’s a top priority WikiLeaks scandal that the entire universe must know every last gasp about.

So why does it feel like the universe already knows? Why the nagging guilt no matter how bone free your closet might actually be?

Your social media accounts don’t magically self-destruct within five seconds of you stiffing it. Those secret dick and clunge pics don’t clean up after themselves either. And those passive aggressive status updates you so artfully tailored for maximum jabbiness aren’t fooling anyone — least of all that one person who must never be named for fear of mutual friends finding out you’re just a bitter, judgemental prick.

The internet is the new universe, and it’s watching your every move like the silent, voyeuristic, omnipresent predator it is. Instead of looking out, we look in, and so does it — right inside to our collective core. And while it may have begun life as just another straw god we’ve fashioned for ourselves, this is one straw god that’s grown legitimately and malevolently all-powerful. The internet has the genuine capacity to not only destroy lives but also to completely unmake them.

That isn’t a boon for the cause of social justice by the way — not when you have pernicious shame-baiting disguised as entreaties for ‘correct’ ethics and behaviour. It makes me so mad. I hate the Twitter bullies, the Facebook assassins, and the faux progressives who are just as petty as the next person. An individual’s life can be cherry picked then ripped apart in the kangaroo court of misinformed opinion. Rest in peace? More like rest in pieces! And meanwhile, the self-righteous wolverines of ‘integrity’ continue to parade their brand of alleged egalitarianism within their echo chambers of uncritical acclaim.

“They never knew me.” That’s the nub of it. It’s the one thing we can all truthfully say. No one ever bothered to try to understand. They took a little snippet here, they took a little snippet there, and then decided these snippets were all there was to know about us. Never mind the rich, inner animateness we had going on. Egoists never care for bosh like that. They have no regard for any of the hopes, fears and innate humanity we may actually possess. All they need do is to poke their noses into our private affairs, sans context, and usher in complete ruin — all to declare another someone a moral failure.

So, yeah, this is why I’m still here. I cannot dissolve in mindless repose while this shit is going on. I cannot lie because they cannot let it lie. And what they say hurts me. It hurts those closest to me. The mutual backslapping sanctimony of those serial dogpilers keeps me tethered to this wretched mortal cliché. Yeah, I’m so fired up about it that I even left my cosy grave to go and buy myself a bible today. Me, a ghost, buying a ‘holy’ book! I shouldn’t even be here. I’ve got better things to do than to exist. I’ve had my time.

The internet is just the universe of our modernity, and god is… well, he/she/it hasn’t fully been discounted yet, as much as the human race might wish otherwise. God is the eternal poltergeist that haunts the darkest corners of our minds, a narcissistic tyrant who won’t let go, who displays a rapey kind of ‘love’ that keeps on taking until all that’s left is the detritus of hollowed out ghosts.

I’m going to burn this bible, god. That’ll show you, you spectral thug! I’ll rewrite your Wikipedia page, exposing who you really are, then lock it down so that the evidence cannot be removed or tampered with, and remains viewable for all time. I’ll shame you yet, though I no longer believe in your existence!

No, really, I don’t.

Now, please, just let me lie.

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

Privilegee (based on a true story)

I jumped into a marshrutka and climbed onto my favorite corner seat in the back row. It’s a bit higher than the other seats and you feel like you’re sitting on the upper circle at the theater. You can see and hear everything without attracting a lot of attention. Today, though, I wasn’t about to watch passengers.

I untangled the headphones that always managed to tie themselves into mysterious reef knots. It never mattered how carefully you packed them before. Then I found the next MP3 file on my phone and delved into an audio book in English. It required a hell of a lot of effort to recognize formerly familiar words now disguised in quirky pronunciations. I don’t know who invented the rules of English but this person definitely must have had an upset stomach. I had no another logical explanation as to why they mocked the human race so cruelly.

While still in a state of shock over how the word ‘cautiously’ sounded in actual fact, I hadn’t noticed that the marshrutka had not moved in a while. And I eventually realized that the leaflet advertising lessons promising guitar playing virtuosity in record time had been hovering near my nose for a suspiciously long time. I turned my head from the window that the leaflet was stuck to and looked towards the passenger compartment. Something was happening near the driver and it wasn’t a pleasant scene, that’s for sure.

An old man was standing there, waving a pensioner’s card in front of the driver’s nose. He was insisting on a free ride but the driver would not comply. There were only two priority seats, and unfortunately both were occupied. The driver suggested that the old man get off the bus and wait for the next one. This suggestion obviously wasn’t to the old man’s taste.

The old man looked highly strung, while in contrast the driver was the very image of calm. The old man threatened to write complaints to all known authorities, from the boss of the driver to the president of Ukraine. The driver, wordless, offered him a pen.

And the bus still didn’t move. Passions were rising.

The passengers quickly divided themselves into sides. The first side eagerly supported the old man, cursing the driver and government for being so heartless and humiliating poor, defenseless pensioners. The other side wisely reasoned that the bus wasn’t made of rubber and that the driver was duty bound to fulfill the daily revenue target. There was no place on Earth where a retired person could be late on a Saturday morning.

I sat on my VIP loge in the back row of this bus theater. I was not enjoying this stage play at all. The perfect voice with posh English pronunciation was still whispering something in my ear but I was no longer listening to it. The ugly La Comédie humaine had grabbed all of my attention.

The crowd started to demand that the bus continue on its route. Someone yelled at the driver while someone else threatened to help the old man to leave the bus if he couldn’t do this on his own… and suddenly I felt unbearable shame for everything that was happening here. No. I refused to be a part of this crappy play!

I left my seat and approached the driver, holding forth a five-hryvnia note. He took it without a word, tossed it into the money box, and shut the door. The bus moved ahead.

I was back at my seat. No one said a word. The other passengers went back to their private affairs. Someone poked a nose into their phone. Someone looked out the window. Someone else continued their conversation. I tried to concentrate on my audio book again.

“Stop here!”

The bus stopped at literally two hundred meters. The old man disembarked. Only he. No one else. And when he was passing me, our eyes met. I was ready to see any emotion in his stare… gratitude, embarrassment, surprise. But hatred? What the fuck?!

A bit later, I understood the reason. At the time, however, I was dumbfounded at the unpredictability of human nature and just went back to the book. Moominmamma had called everyone to the dinner and I didn’t want to be late.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017