WordCity Literary Journal. 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Table of Contents

Letter From the Editor. Darcie Friesen Hossack

darcie friesen hossack

Welcome to WordCity Literary Journal’s September 2021 issue.

For this month’s theme, we joined the 100 Thousand Poets for Change movement, and sought works to shine light into dark places.

As ever, more brilliant writers and poets than we ever expect, came together with their poems and stories that, as a collection, make up an astonishing depth of insight. Even beyond the individual themes and accomplishments of these works, together they have become more than the sum of each individual, wonderfully crafted part.

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Fiction. Edited by Sylvia Petter

Our September fiction has stories from Canada, USA, UK, Uzbekistan, Japan and Egypt.

“Yours,” a short story by Bruce Meyer reflects on writing letters, postcards, and what their signoffs might reveal

“Yellow Fly”, a story by Niles Reddick where a yellow fly is a portent for social issues.

“The Woman Who Vanished into Thin Air” by Raine Geoghegan, an atmospheric story.

“Chin Chin Chan” an extract from Severance by Robert Olen Butler, last decapitation thoughts.

“High Tea” by Elliot Hudson, a satire on so-called civilisers?

“Father’s Pigeons” by Sherzod Artikov (Translated from Uzbek into English by Nigora Dedamirzayeva) – a gentle story about revisiting a father´s homeland.

“A Letter to My Readers” by Connie Woodring, but which letter and who is it from?

“The Beautiful One Has Come” by Suzanne Kamata is from a collection of the same name published by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing (July 11, 2011). It is a “twin towers” story with a difference which takes us from Japan to Egypt.

And finally, a scoop – an English-language excerpt from the recently released Arabic-language novel, The Scorpion’s Whisper by Mohamed Tawfik ~ Sylvia Petter

Bruce Meyer

Author Photo Bruce Meyer

Yours

A salutation is gesture of sincere utterance that either says hello or offers a goodbye. The sign off defines a relationship. ‘Yours sincerely,’ is business-like, professional, cold, and objective. It offers no warmth. It leaves one with the feeling that what has come before was merely a transaction, a letter to the electric company stating payment is enclosed.

‘Yours truly,’ is even trickier. It suggests there is some faithful bond between the writer and the recipient, a lasting attachment of devotion that cannot be broken by goodbye, a kind à bientôt, until next time. The word truly carries the subtle suggestion that everything else that passed between two people was a lie, and that may have been the case. Relationships are deceptive.

People get hurt because they read meanings into things rather than from things. Jane’s Dear John letter to me was signed with a curt ‘Yours sincerely.’

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Niles M. Reddick

Niles M Reddick

Yellow Fly

We weren’t out of the car five minutes at our rented condo at Grayton Beach, Florida, just off highway 30A, when my teen daughter screamed she’d been bitten by a yellow fly, an annoying species that defied bug spray and had its habitat in inland water where it can’t be eradicated due to environmental restrictions.

“Damn, that hurt,” she said.

“You watch your mouth, young lady,” I said.

“Wonder where she gets it,” my wife said.

“Okay, that’s enough,” I said and told my son, “Get one of those luggage carts, so we don’t have to make but one trip.”

My son pulled the cart toward us with one hand, swatting with the other. I knew about yellow flies having grown up on a lake in Southern Georgia, where I’d learned the females sucked blood from a cross-like incision. It had to be one of the few representations of a cross that was evil.

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Raine Geoghegan

Raine Geoghegan

The Woman Who Vanished into Thin Air

Her red velvet dressing gown hanging on the back gate, the navy slippers abandoned on the wet grass and the blue tinted morning light, this is what I remember, will always remember about that day.

It’s been three years since Izzy disappeared. She simply vanished and I am left with a mind full of questions. Where did she go? Why did she take her dressing gown and slippers off?

In 2006 I found myself on a Tantric Sex seminar. I was asked to write an article for a new magazine called ‘Love Yourself, Love the World’. I was skint at the time and needed the money, anyway I met her there. She came up to me, introduced herself and said: ‘You’re new to this aren’t you?’

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Robert Olen Butler

Butler author photo

Chin Chin Chan 

student, beheaded by Chinese authorities for maintaining a romantic correspondence with an American girl he met while studying in the U.S.A., 1882

moon no longer a blossom a pearl a lantern in a lover’s door but a bodiless face, mine, in a train window, she on the platform trying not to look at me directly, as if she were there for someone else, and the train hurtles in the dark and I stare into the stars and not even a poet could find the moon in this sky not even Li Po in a boat with quill and ink in hand he searches this night sky and then looks at me from across the water and shrugs and I am the cicada, seventeen at last, my skin splits open

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Eliot Hudson

Eliot Hudson

High Tea

“I don’t see what all the fuss is about, Archibald. This truly is the best of all possible worlds; Africa is butter upon bacon!” Reginald inspected the feast by straining his frail arm to hoist pince-nez before his cloudy eye. The monocle shook as he mustered the strength to hold it atop his nose—though he could well enough discern the cornucopia of cream horns, canelés, and croquembouches before him; diverse game they’d slaughtered in the Savanna; various fruits which scientists in London were {at that very moment} bickering over to bestow a correct {Latin} name. Splendiferous puff-confections presented ever-so-elegantly upon porcelain plates carefully lugged across the ocean. Shining, glimmering glints of sterling basking in the African sun.

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Sherzod Artikov

Sherzod Artikov

Father’s pigeons

Translated from Uzbek into English by Nigora Dedamirzayeva

“This is the place that you told,” the driver said.

The taxi came to a halt near the edge of the road. I looked around from inside the car. The view – the edifice with two green cupolas and myriad pigeons around them appeared in front of me. Coming closer I found the yard full of pigeons which were eating birdseed scattered by people.

“Back in the day, it’s called « Pigeon cemetery»”, indicated the driver. “It’s become the shrine of a renowned holy man who lived in the city. The building at the corner used to be his praying room in the dim and distant past.

Plenty of people in front of that building were coming in and out turn by turn.

“Hundreds of people go on a pilgrimage every day,” he continued. “Here, people pray for the dead, patients for healing, childless couples for babies. They make imam* give the blessing and recite the Koran** asking for invocation. Walking in the yard they strew seeds and make a pilgrimage to the holy men’s grave.”

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Connie Woodring

Constance Woodring

A Letter to My Readers

I am a writer of short stories, novels, and poetry. No thanks to my husband, Frank, who hates the fact that I write. He made me quit college to marry him so I would never land my dream job of art critic at the New York Times. He put me in this mental asylum after I repeatedly tried to kill him with my grandmother’s silver cake knife that was always commanding, “Kill him now. Forget what I said yesterday.” I had every right to try to kill him for being abusive and for having an affair with Fern, his boss’ wife.

I have been writing a novel, Visiting Hours, ever since I got here 15 years ago. Frank is getting tired of me sending him notes on the book which I do because he only visits on holidays and special occasions like when he bought a new turquoise Studebaker. This is his most recent response to my note I sent last week:

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Suzanne Kamata

The Beautiful One Has Come

All night long I watch the planes crash into the twin towers.  And crash again.  The balls of fire, the plummeting bodies, the sudden sag of skyscrapers.  All night I watch the broadcasts from America on television and think of Nefertiti.

This is what I know of that Egyptian queen:  It is said that she was a princess from another land.  She was the wife of Akhenaten, and the mother of six daughters.  She and her husband started a new religion.  But then she suddenly disappeared from public record. 

Some scholars believe that she was banished, perhaps for defying Akhenaten in matters of religion.  She might have died.  All agree, however, that she was beautiful.  Drawings and statues attest to this.  And then there is her name.  Nefertiti: “the beautiful one has come.”

I know these things because of my sister, Reina.  She loved to talk about Nefertiti.  One might even say that she was obsessed.  In her room, there were piles of books: Sun Queen, Monarchs of Ancient Egypt, The Great Royal Wife.  And on and on.

Once, for a Halloween party, she copied Nefertiti’s distinctive headdress and lined her eyes with kohl.  She had large, double-lidded eyes, unlike my tiny narrow ones, and with her salon tan, I swear she belonged on a barge floating down the Nile.

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M.M. Tawfik

scorpion's cover 1

Novel excerpt from The Scorpion’s Whisper

The two girls sit cross legged on their small hassira, just before the azan calls the faithful to the sunset prayers. It’s their favorite hideout at the edge of the sandy cliff. Their isolated knoll, unnoticed from either plateau or valley, provides an imagined sanctuary for both girls and scorpions.

The sun’s glare has mellowed and the wide flat wadi is a mirage of paradise, lying there, just below their bare knees.

“Let us listen to the scorpions,” she says. For the first time, it is Gamila who begs Sondos to perform her trick. They’ve never found a suitable name for their secret game.

It is Sondos who has taught Gamila the wisdom inherent in all scorpions. Her wild cousin has of course, accumulated a wealth of knowledge and expertise reserved for the chosen few. After all, who else confers with the likes of cross-eyed Khadra who lies on her belly for hours conversing with the ants, or the old woman from Tolab who speaks in different voices and throws stones at the sneering boys, or Zakia whose back, it is whispered, is covered in reptilian scales? After some hesitation, Sondos acquiesces to Gamila’s request.

Sondos stands up and takes a few steps closer to the edge. Deliberately, she overturns a loose stone, uncovering a scorpion’s lair. With a practiced eye, she contemplates the three or four scorpions as, alarmed, they scatter in different directions with their tails menacingly high above their heads.

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Non-Fiction. Edited by Olga Stein

Paul Germano

Paul Germano WordCity pix

ALL SHOOK UP

Ring, ring, ring, ring. Roughly 44 years ago (August 16, 1977, to be exact), my landline rang and Nancy was on the other end. Nancy didn’t even bother to say hello. Instead she blurted out, “Elvis is dead.” I was, and still am, a big fan of Elvis Costello, so I immediately thought she meant my Elvis. When she clarified that it was Presley, not Costello, I felt slightly relieved, but still quite stunned and saddened. My brother Tony and sister Kathy, both roughly a decade older than me, were true-blue Elvis Presley fans, especially my brother who was a super fan. So growing up in the 1960s, I was exposed to Elvis Presley’s music as well as a plethora of singers and bands making names for themselves in Rock and Pop, as well as California Beach music. I had even earned the trust of my big brother and big sister, who willingly let me, their little kid brother, listen to their albums and 45s on my own, including Presley’s music, with the caveat that I handled the vinyl with care, which of course I did. By the time I was eight years old (in 1966—please, don’t do the math), I was already a diehard music fan and discovering a slew of my own rock stars to idolize. These are the blessings of having an older brother and older sister to show one the way.

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Books and Reviews. Edited by Geraldine Sinyuy

Gordon Phinn

GordonPhinnPhoto

Books Reviewed:

Glorious Birds, Heidi Greco (Anvil Press)
Freedom, Sebastian Junger (Harper Collins)
Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, Liz Howard (McClelland&Stewart)
Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press)
Conjure, Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, Anne Carson (New Directions)

*

I am always pleased to see small presses venture out of their established playground and Vancouver’s Anvil Press’s Glorious Birds by Heidi Greco is just such a case, propelled by an appealing concision and unfussy conviviality. Subtitled A Celebratory Homage to Harold and Maude, it explores territories CanLit rarely reaches. Its author, Heidi Greco, turns out to be as fine a film critic as she is a poet and editor, and her dedication to the second golden age of American film, exemplified in Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude, a surreal metaphysical romance if there ever was one, is to be itself celebrated.  One hopes she and Anvil will make time and space for more of the same.  And having attended many showings of the innovative works of that era in various repertory cinemas around Toronto back in the day, I can be described as one of the already converted.  Although the era and its output has been covered in a number of anthologies, documentaries and deep dive volumes (such as Richard LaGravanese and Ted Demme’s A Decade Under The Influence and Christopher Beaches’ The Films of Hal Ashby)), there is definitely room for a Canadian slant on what was basically a US phenomenon.  We see things differently here.

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The Other Life, by Patrick Connors. Reviewed by Darcie Friesen Hossack

Connors has a view not only into the human condition, but a self-awareness grounded in empathy and hope, allowing us to “feel an occasional surge of faith” along with him.

Connors’ faith is also evident as a thread woven through these selections. A quiet, enduring faith that guides both love and hope. Love for others, and a growing and hard-won love for himself, and a hope that the past, both his own and the one we carry collectively, is not binding. That a time will come “when love is the purpose of the rule of law.”

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Literary Spotlight with Sue Burge

Richard Lambert

Richard Lambert 2019

Do you think it’s easier for poets to move to prose, or vice versa?  What advice would you give those hoping to cross over?  What do you find most difficult, and most pleasurable, about writing in such a wide range of forms?

I’m not sure – for me, there are aspects of craft in both poetry and prose that take time to learn. My advice to people who want to cross over to a different form is simply give it a try. There are plenty of people who work in both poetry and prose. Why not? The most difficult thing for me about working in both forms is the time it takes to learn the craft that I need to write the piece I want to write – and the time it takes to immerse myself in that form. It’s time-consuming. The most pleasurable thing for me is that writing prose allows me to stay in an imagined world for longer; if I was just writing poetry, because I write lyric poetry, I don’t spend that long actually writing and being in that imagined space, and that creative act is something I enjoy immensely. So I like being able to move between both. 

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Writing Advice with Sue Burge

Sue Burge author photo

Spoken Word

LITERARY ADVICE – JOIN THE OPEN MIC/SPOKEN WORD SCENE AND IMPROVE YOUR WORDPOWER

I’ve been reading my poems at open mic events for around seven years.  It didn’t come easily at all.  I was somewhat taken aback as in my day job I could get up and lecture over two-hundred students on the first day of the semester with no qualms, but faced with a room full of twenty or so friendly poets my knees would literally knock together.  Poetry is so personal, it feels as if you are baring your soul, and you need a good organiser and a supportive open mic community to bolster you through the experience.  In the UK open mic slots are generally very short, one poem or two minutes, compared to longer slots at US events.  Many spoken word events welcome prose too.  Flash fiction works well in the time slots available and some events feature writers who read excerpts from their novels/short story collections.

So why do we put ourselves through this literary torture?  What are the advantages of these events?

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Poetry. Edited by Clara Burghelea
with Nancy Ndeke and Lori Roadhouse

Olga Stein

OLGA STEIN89

The Disappeared Poet 
(For all those courageous enough to stand up to tyranny, and for Mbizo Chirasha ) 


He is believed to have been killed by nationalist forces
in the midst of the civil war in _______.
She was last seen being removed from her home,
accused of incitement against ________,
a regime without tolerance for truth

So you know, I have become an obsessive collector
of scraps of news, grim signs and omens,
as well as voluble declarations of support, and
Internet links that lead me to volatile places,
and murky politics where dissidents sink out of sight.

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Marc di Saverio

MarkdiSaverio

ODE TO SERENA BUFALINO

O ether-breathing patron saint of those
whom Christ once called the least of all of us.
O master of turn-arounds in ones who face
the starless, moonless night of destinies
they'd salamander-hide like deformities --
O you who stand for those who fall as nameless
as the leaves -- you raise their integrities like suns
and make them monikered as certain stars,
your love conditionless as perfect stillness,
you sanctified with oil of olive trees

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Debra Black

Debra Black2

The Autumnal Series

 #1 
ten thousand joys and sorrows,
a single silver leaf
under the paperly sky.
beloved, befriended,
then gone, gone, gone.

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Mansour Noorbakhsh

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is canada-persia.jpg

The Torch That We Never Saw

(A prayer for Afghans and Afghanistan after brutal Taliban advance while American soldiers and diplomats are leaving Afghanistan.)

The water hit us like the hard rocks. The darkness engulfed us by the violent waves when we heard the boat breaking and we saw the light of the bullets towards our boat. The waves that we had never seen before and had not known how powerful they are to smash our weak body and the boards of our boat, had hit us. We had been taught the water is for liveliness. We were not familiar with the deadly waves,

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Dr. Rubeena Anjum

image.png

Histograms

histograms show city mounted on a graph 
stormy grey clouds perched on skyscrapers
pillars of isolation stand at 90 degrees
friendless patios braving bipolar weather 
elevators pass through the curtained glass 
 
penthouses to down below are inmates
barely talking, not even to themselves
towering flat-chest avenues, yawning
at night, quadrilateral lights watch
looming shadows befriending ghosts    
 
brown bags binned; tv screened black

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Raine Geoghegan

Raine

Kali Ma

Goddess of Transformation
Kali follows me home from Ireland
after an encounter on a Drama therapy course.
She sits in the middle of the wooden floor
with her many arms outstretched.
At times she is quiet,
sleeping with her three eyes open.
Red bangles and jewels fall around her waist;

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Connie T. Braun

Connie Braun

Every Heart

The maps have been redrawn and the roads
are filled again with refugees.

Have you not heard? 
Even the stones listen,

hold each footstep.
Heartbeats 

return to the earth, engraved

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Rhonda Melanson

Rhonda

How Do Rainbows Fall, exactly?

(In Memory of the Afzaal Family in London, Ontario)

When we contemplate 
the felling of rainbows

how they balloon
above boulevards

collapse in tragic layers

we fade 
to Kristellnacht by the traffic lights

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Chad Norman

Chad Norman

                          GRAND PRE

                           for Jack Sears


                           Standing beside
                           the statue
                           of Evangeline
                           I get
                           the meaning
                           of Expulsion,

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Elizabeth Poliner

Liz Poliner 2479 Color - Copy

The Right to Privacy
“We have had many controversies over these penumbral rights of ‘privacy and repose.’” 
Justice Douglas, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965)

Winter, years ago, at a Washington D.C. gala—
  a celebration for a friend—and who else is there
    but Sandra Day O’Connor, swinging

with her husband on the dance floor.
  Her dress, black and belted, is knee-length,
    her hair, that bob we’ve come to know,

vestige of the fifties, when she was new to the law,
  among the first women graduates of Stanford.
    No one would hire her then. So forbidding

was her sex, so mysterious, we might liken her
  to Eve, 

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Monica Manolachi

On Reading Travel Documents

My full name means I am still alive.
This photograph means I’ve crossed a desert and a sea to get here. 
This date of birth means beginnings are usually scary.
This place of birth means fear is always looking for a nest.
This number is someone forced to abandon their home 
and wander from country to country in search of peace. 
My occupation as a software engineer 
means I wanted a modern job, to forget about the past.
This little box means my past is not a source of inspiration.
This dot means someone was killed by a bomb.

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Michał Choiński

Michal

Standing Like That

The stone is small and irregular.
It feels like a growth 
on the inside of the palm. 
The muscles flex as you clutch it.
Glimpsing sideways, you realize
that you probably don’t have the aim 
like the others. 
So, standing like that,
you just want to eject 
that thing you’re holding

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Ranjith Sivaraman

ranjith sivaraman

I have you only 

When my quaver meets
a premature death in my throat
When I curl up like a Chartreux
I have you only 

When my eyes meet
a deep sea of darkness in my nights
When I see no face with warmth
I have you only 

When my heart hangs
 like a beehive on an abandoned mesquite tree
 When I sink like an over ripe coffee cherry
 I have you only

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Bhuwan Thapaliya

bhuwanthapaliya

Sloshing sound of a flowing river

Through my window, 
filthy clouds of dust reel in 
from the graveled lanes
of an offended city.
It distorts my sights,
soaks my shirt with filth, 
churns my stomach 
and infuriates me all the time.
It is not just 
the denseness of the air 
or the stench of
the corporate garbage 
strewn over the streets
or the lethal chemical fertilizers
that have run off
into rivers and lakes
causing horrible, 
creepy blooms of algae.
It is in knowing the part
that I too have played 
in destroying the beautiful nature;

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Hillol Ray

Hillol Ray Photo 5142015

100 TPC* in “H-Ray Vision
	

 	Dawn of civilization opened up human vision
To portray their own intrinsic mind-
And an "internal sense" of aesthetics was born
That's still prevailing on present mankind.
Biogenetic influence in our culture 
Relates to the seed of beauty in our  brain-
Followed by ethical values, disappearing fast,
Like passengers in a locomotive train.

For our primitive forefathers, beauty of art
Started as a secured but hidden joy-
And kept it alive for the millenniums
To come, like a treasured toy.
They painted and carved their own bodies 
With the brushes, scalpels or blunt knives-
To extricate the beautiful form,
In the shapes of mountains or beehives.
Connection between realities and imaginations
Was established with a powerful mission-
And I as a part of 100 TPC visualize as I dwell
On next millennium with "H-Ray Vision".

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© This journal and its contents are subject to copyright

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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Table of Contents

Main Journal

Letter from the Editor.
Darcie Friesen Hossack

 

Fiction.
Edited by Sylvia Petter

Yours. by Bruce Meyer

Yellow Fly. by Niles M. Reddick

The Woman Who Vanished into Thin Air. by Raine Geoghegan

Chin Chin Chan. by Robert Olen Butler

High Tea. by Eliot Hudson

Father’s pigeons. by Sherzod Artikov

A Letter to My Readers. by Connie Woodring

The Beautiful One Has Come. by Suzanne Kamata

Novel excerpt from The Scorpion’s Whisper. by M.M. Tawfik

 

Non-Fiction.
Edited by Olga Stein

All Shook Up. by Paul Germano

 

Books and Reviews. Edited by Geraldine Sinyuy

Gordon Phinn. Books Reviewed:

Glorious Birds, Heidi Greco (Anvil Press)
Freedom, Sebastian Junger (Harper Collins)
Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, Liz Howard (McClelland&Stewart)
Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz (Graywolf Press)
Conjure, Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press)
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, Anne Carson (New Directions)

 

The Other Life, by Patrick Connors. Review by Darcie Friesen Hossack

 

Literary Spotlight with Sue Burge

Richard Lambert

 

Writing Advice with Sue Burge

Spoken Word with David Leo Sirois

 

Poetry. Edited by Clara Burghelea
with Nancy Ndeke and Lori Roadhouse

The Disappeared Poet. by Olga Stein

ODE TO SERENA BUFALINO. by Marc di Saverio

The Autumnal Series. by Debra Black

The Torch That We Never Saw. by Mansour Noorbakhsh

Histograms. by Dr. Rubeena Anjum

Kali Ma. by Raine Geoghegan

Every Heart. by Connie T. Braun

How Do Rainbows Fall, exactly? by Rhonda Melanson

Grand Pre. by Chad Norman

The Right to Privacy. by Elizabeth Poliner

On Reading Travel Documents. by Monica Manolachi

Standing Like That. by Michał Choiński

I have you only. by Ranjith Sivaraman

Sloshing sound of a flowing river. by Bhuwan Thapaliya

100 TPC* in “H-Ray Vision by Hillol Ray

 

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

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Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

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$100.00
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Letter from the editor. Darcie Friesen Hossack

darcie friesen hossack

Welcome to WordCity Literary Journal’s September 2021 issue.

For this month’s theme, we joined the 100 Thousand Poets for Change movement, and sought works to shine light into dark places.

As ever, more brilliant writers and poets than we ever expect, came together with their poems and stories that, as a collection, make up an astonishing depth of insight. Even beyond the individual themes and accomplishments of these works, together they have become more than the sum of each individual, wonderfully crafted part.

What follows in these various offerings, brought to us from around the world by artists of both gift and grit, is a collection that plumbs the depth of human experience. It draws attention to our place in a world brought to various brinks: environmentally, as in Bhuwan Thapoliya’s poem, Sloshing sound of a flowing river, or in the poetic prayer for Afghans and Afghanistan in Mansour Noorbakhsh’s The Torch That We Never Saw.

There is also raw and transformational beauty, as in Sherzod Artikov’s Father’s pigeons, where a lost father is found again in what he had once so dearly loved and lovingly recorded.

All together, the editors of WordCity Literary Journal cannot thank both our writers and our readers enough, for the work of creating, and the work of reading and understanding, of letting words lead to a change in understanding, in heart or in mind.

This month, we have undergone a change of our own, and said goodbye to Jane Spokenword, our brilliant podcaster. Jane, who has brought us interviews with luminaries and activists each issue until now, is already dearly missed. Having gone on to focus on other work, we wish her every good thing with love, knowing that her voice is one that is needed in the world as we continue to work, to hope, for change.

I have you only. A poem by Ranjith Sivaraman

ranjith sivaraman

I have you only 

When my quaver meets
a premature death in my throat
When I curl up like a Chartreux
I have you only 

When my eyes meet
a deep sea of darkness in my nights
When I see no face with warmth
I have you only 

When my heart hangs
 like a beehive on an abandoned mesquite tree
 When I sink like an over ripe coffee cherry
 I have you only

 When my soul evaporates
 into a fragrant cloud
 When I rain like mystified drops
 I have you only....

Ranjith Sivaraman is an upcoming Poet from Kerala, a beautiful state in India. His poems merge nature imagery, human emotions, and human psychology into a gorgeous tapestry. Sivaraman’s English Poems are published in International Literature Magazines and Journals from various locations like Budapest, Essex,London,New York, Indiana, Lisbon, Colorado, California, New Jersey etc. Mr.Sivaraman, was a finalist in the The Voice of Peace anthology competition 2021, organized by the ‘League of Poets’.

Return to Journal

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
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Ode to Serena Bufalino. A poem by Marc di Saverio

Serena Bufalino
ODE TO SERENA BUFALINO

O ether-breathing patron saint of those
whom Christ once called the least of all of us.
O master of turn-arounds in ones who face
the starless, moonless night of destinies
they'd salamander-hide like deformities --
O you who stand for those who fall as nameless
as the leaves -- you raise their integrities like suns
and make them monikered as certain stars,
your love conditionless as perfect stillness,
you sanctified with oil of olive trees
fostered by the Seraphim who bless
these eternal groves so steadfastly, and press 
the sacred extract for those foreheads of
the few diamonding souls the Almighty chose
for unfathomable missions, like yours.
And when all those you thoroughly do tend --
tend as Magdalene did the Saviour's feet,
which she wet with her tears and cleansed
with her hair -- lie on their surrounded death-
beds, they'll smile widely with memories of you --
they blinking the supernovae of their eyes,
eyes you made see through the monocles of their souls,
souls you dignified into beaming constellations
warming those your essential essence never 
denies, but toward whom beams back: 'yes! yes! yes!'

‘Marc di Saverio hails from Hamilton, Canada. His poems and translations have appeared internationally. In Issue 92 of Canadian Notes and Queries Magazine, di Saverio’s Sanatorium Songs (2013) was hailed as “the greatest poetry debut from the past 25 years.” In 2016 he received the City of Hamilton Arts Award for Best Emerging Writer. In 2017, his work was broadcasted on BBC Radio 3, his debut became a bestseller in both Canada and the United States, and he published his first book of translations: Ship of Gold: The Essential Poems of Emile Nelligan (Vehicule Press). On May 1st, 2020, Guernica Editions published Crito Di Volta. Di Saverio studied English and History at McMaster University, but never took a degree, due to illness. He is the son of Carlo Di Saverio, the scholar and teacher who studied Linguistics and Languages at University of Toronto (M.A.,1981). Di Saverio’s poem, “Weekend Pass”, was adapted into the movie, CANDY — directed by Cassandra Cronenberg, and starring the author himself — which was selected to the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013.

MarkdiSaverio

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100 TPC* in “H-Ray Vision”. A poem by Hillol Ray

Hillol Ray Photo 5142015

100 TPC* in “H-Ray Vision"
	

 	Dawn of civilization opened up human vision
To portray their own intrinsic mind-
And an "internal sense" of aesthetics was born
That's still prevailing on present mankind.
Biogenetic influence in our culture 
Relates to the seed of beauty in our  brain-
Followed by ethical values, disappearing fast,
Like passengers in a locomotive train.

For our primitive forefathers, beauty of art
Started as a secured but hidden joy-
And kept it alive for the millenniums
To come, like a treasured toy.
They painted and carved their own bodies 
With the brushes, scalpels or blunt knives-
To extricate the beautiful form,
In the shapes of mountains or beehives.
Connection between realities and imaginations
Was established with a powerful mission-
And I as a part of 100 TPC visualize as I dwell
On next millennium with "H-Ray Vision".

During "Stone-age Civilization",
We practiced solo dancing and song-
Irrespective of the month or season, 
These rituals went on too long!
Music became an inherent part of life,
Evidenced by poets’ and historians' tales-
And 'Art' was engraved in our brains
To ring the knowledge doorbells.
Aesthetic emotions led us in vast waves
Of creation to hop on a velvet joy ride-
And provoked the feelings of enjoyments
Without any scorn or life's ebb tide.

Primitive poets emphasized the aesthetics
And ethical values quietly in men-
And exemplified the manhood as a demigod
Drenched with beauty in the heroes den.
But modern religions have obscured
These thoughts to disguise them well-
And converted men from self-assertion
To where our minds now dwell.

Material things have prompted God
To depart from the spirit of man-
While evil spirits keep on provoking 
To commit sins whenever we can.
Aesthetic values left temples and churches
With the exception of an only few-
And kept the Gods alone, decaying,
Preserved for a historical view.
Center of life changed from inner spirit
Of modern man to the world outside-
While I watch the growing cities,
Full of tunnels, designed for us to hide.

Obviously, there's beauty in world today
That man constructs to appease the eye-
But in 'H-Ray Vision', that's a beauty 
Of genuine art and causes me to sigh!
Modern beauty of replicating forms 
Seem to sink in nothingness at best-
And to me, this feeling is pathological,
As it draws mankind to a perilous test.
The idea of being beautiful or heroic
Ties with modern hectic pace-
While rooms for perversions and pandemic
Are being made to glorify our sanely face.

Modern poet is an addict to all excesses,
From chemical stuffs to junk food-
And abandoned himself into gluttony
To be an obese, may be for good.
Obesity is not only a relinquishment
Of self-aesthetics covered under shirt-
But it's also the forsaking of the idea
For man has to be an object d'art.
Poets have ceased to be performers
To become observers on the Earth-
Whose aesthetics have left us behind,
And taken away the life's mirth!


Today, “H-Ray Vision” reveals, modern changes
Are recreating the lost beauty sense-
And have chosen the way of mass-beauty
Of rigid men in uniform marching in tense.

Certainly this has some beauty 
Of mass destruction and senseless killing-
Immersed in slaughtering and cleansing,
While leading our bones to chilling!
Questions flocking my poetic voice
Now whisper in the stormy air-
And ask: how should we reclaim our rights
To aesthetic emotion that's genuine and fair?
How do we regain our innocence on Earth 
To a spirit of wonder towards beauty and art?
And reclaim our ethical rights to an answer
While we mend the broken heart!

I am sure, as a poet, these are trivial questions
For the modern intelligent poets to talk about-
As life is now being built like a machine
That grinds and squeaks without a doubt.
So far, no one has yet claimed somnolently
The "aesthetic" rights we all are entitled to-
Nor to preach "ethical" human rights
The way the poets deal with or love to do!
In Brazil, the poets have chosen music
With slow dance as an artistic goal-
And they adore their active bodies 
With costumes to cherish the soul!
To an outsider, this seems to be a futility,
Or not a beautiful attractive sight-
Rather it's the way, the Brazilian poets 
Assert their own aesthetic right.

Modern poets think that aesthetic emotions
Are a by-product of civilizations for sure-
Instead, they come from pre-historic poets;
Similar to ethical feelings they had to endure.
Many poets quietly forsaken the tribal life
To replace it with a grim boredom now-
And destroyed their emotional incentives
To promote lust, and technical know-how.
Our aesthetic values are sadly mixed up,
And emotions grow on watching a television-

So we love to view the gory scenes
Of crimes, followed by nuclear fission.

We would be better off if 100 TPC starts to write
About their "inner sense" of beauty-
And claim their aesthetic rights to nourish
The ethical values as a moral duty.
There's no beauty in the squalor and poverty 
Of population in poor nations on Earth-
Likewise the beauty lacks in "shallow lives"
Of richer countries since their birth.

As a revolutionary poet and thinker, today I advocate
The continuous reconstruction for change of mind-
By sharing science, arts, technical know-how globally,
And putting aesthetics with emotions in a bind.
Science has the essential tools, and poets have the pen,
For making a better world, and there's no doubt-
But uncanny human mind is curtailing the cultural
And political means to create the game of shout.
So for betterment of mankind, as a poet, may I urge
To strongly build our brains and culture until it's right?
Via the homogenous blending of efforts of 100 TPC*
In "H-Ray Vision" with precision and foresight!!


*100 TPC = 100 thousand Poets for Change


Hillol Ray, Poet and Author, is an Environmental Engineer with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Dallas, Texas. His accolades include: Bronze Medal and Customer Service Award from EPA; Literary Achievement Award from BECAA (Bengal Engineering College Alumni Association of North America and Canada); Distinguished Service Award  (“Literary Accomplishments and Human Rights Activist”) from the Cultural Association of Bengal in New York.  He is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, and Who’s Who in the World.  In 2018, he was presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from Marquis in New Jersey, USA.

For additional information, you may visit:  http://bwesner.wixsite.com/hillolrayawards      

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Every Heart. A poem by Connie T. Braun

Connie Braun

Every Heart

The maps have been redrawn and the roads
are filled again with refugees.

Have you not heard? 
Even the stones listen,

hold each footstep.
Heartbeats 

return to the earth, engraved
on stone, touched with fingertips

of memory. Cobbled roads
are lined with linden trees, yellow

with blossoms in summer. Their lingering 
scent draws the bees, flavors the honey. 

August breeze through withered grass,
the river’s pull. Each is a longing. 

Do you not know? 
The body is at once matter and light,

the firmament 
without border. Separation

displaces the earth, and every heart 
is drawn to love, but like a refugee.

Even the dust
of stars makes its way home to the body, 

and the planets gather in their house
when a woman gives birth.

Connie T. Braun (MA Humanities; MFA) instructs creative writing and mentors undergraduate writers and editors and has published two books of non-fiction and two poetry chapbooks. Grounded in the war-refugee and immigrant experience of World War II, her explorations of memory and witness of trauma, silences and language, and the sites of geographical and spiritual displacement and belonging are resonant in the present. Her academic and personal essays, poetry and reviews, appear in various journals and anthologies, and her poetry has been set to musical compositions. She is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets, among other writing associations, and lives in Vancouver.

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The Other Life, by Patrick Connors. A Review by Darcie Friesen Hossack

To the Point
The best poems are written to be read by anyone.
Meticulously crafted over a period of time
To seem written
                quickly and simply

The best moments in life
are the result of years of preparation
passing by in a burst
causing change
                even if you are not ready

Before you realize
they have happened
                they have happened

and stay with you forever.

Whether Patrick Connors is referring to himself or not (I suspect, in fact, he means to address the many, many poets he has helped lift up over his career), this first stanza describes his own work and poetic sensibilities. In the two stanzas that follow, the poet seeds the earth for what is to come: a collection that reads something like a fractured memoir. Stained glass that pulls apart various wavelengths of lived experience, before spilling them on the floor into a prism of living colour.

In the beginning, with some of his closest-to-current-day selections, we find the poet, waking up to a Wednesday that felt deceptively, even disorientingly ordinary.

Hangover

The morning after the election
which changed the whole world
the sun rose faintly.
I got out of bed
pulled the cord to open the blinds.

I slowly made my way to the washroom
checked my dry tongue in the mirror
wobbled my way towards the kitchen
stopped to pick up the paper.
Ignoring the news, I opened the sports page.

Read about the Leafs latest loss - boy did they lose
put together the contents of my lunch
laid out my clothes - better wear a sweater
had peameal bacon and pancakes
for breakfast - just like every Wednesday.

A direct line might be draw from there to when Connors writes:

Don't blame the children.
The way of the world is not their fault-
it is my generation that has caused this mess.

In this way, Connors has a view not only into the human condition, but a self-awareness grounded in empathy and hope, allowing us to “feel an occasional surge of faith” along with him.

Connors’ faith is also evident as a thread woven through these selections. A quiet, enduring faith that guides both love and hope. Love for others, and a growing and hard-won love for himself, and a hope that the past, both his own and the one we carry collectively, is not binding. That a time will come “when love is the purpose of the rule of law.”

I have several favourite poems from this collection, that connect across time and generations and pages. The one that will remain with me most stubbornly, however, is My Father the Poet, which in these excerpts, captures a 13 year old poet, becoming:

...

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote.
...

I finished the poem
but wasn't done
so I wrote another one.

When I was finished
I cried tears of healing
of self-discovery and accomplishment -
I felt less alone.

I couldn't figure out
which poem to hand in
I liked them both so much
and so differently.

So I gave them to my Dad to decide.
After all, he was the one I looked up to
not as a hero, or role model, or mentor
mostly as a demagogue with veto powers.

After about twenty minutes, he cursed them both
denounced them as crap, worse than crap;
he made me burn them in the fireplace.

...

When I was 39, I submitted two poems
in honour of my first headline reading
to a website celebrating my family's ancestry.

Venerable Jack, the keep of the domain
said in reply, "Ah, young cousin from Upalong,
you are indeed a poet, just like your old Dad!"

At last, although I had never known
I finally understood.

...

Throughout all of the poems in Connors’ The Other Life, we see, almost visually, certainly emotionally, the poet accepting and embracing his nature as a sensitive, caring, progressive and deeply empathetic person. We see a man who has embraced both his masculine and feminine sides, and as such, has overcome the kind of damage that is so often passed down by a society that insists that a man must be a certain way, and must, certainly, not be a poet.

These poems are a testament to human and individual change. And by the end, we know how very possible it is to become more than anyone else may have intended us to be.

The Wonder

The years which have led me
into middle age
unwittingly, unwillingly
have yet been kind

I have lost 20 pounds
I have gained strength, patience.
My eyes may not work as well
but I see much more clearly.

What I used to hate I now love
what I used to love I now adore
what I cannot change I accept-
what I can't accept I try to change.

I am not what I will be
I am not what I once was-
and yet I appreciate everything which has brought me here.

The Other Life @ Amazon.ca
The Other Life @ Goodreads
The Other Life @ MosaicPress
The Other Life @ Chapters.Indigo.ca

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance (Thistledown Press), was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LA Crete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightning), Darcie is now completing her first novel where, for a family with a Seventh-day Adventist father and a Mennonite mother, the End Times are just around the corner. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, an international award winning chef.

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The Autumnal Series. Poems by Debra Black

Debra Black2

The Autumnal Series

 #1 
ten thousand joys and sorrows,
a single silver leaf
under the paperly sky.
beloved, befriended,
then gone, gone, gone.

#2
 ten thousand sorrows and joys,
the slatish grey moon,
the silvery dusk settles in,
my heart leaps into
emptiness, beingness,
the suchness of such. 
beloved, befriended,
then gone, gone, gone.

#3 
the thrumming of my heart,
the bird sings; wings its way
under the autumnal sky.
ten thousand joys and sorrows.

Debra Black is a former feature writer and news reporter with the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper. Over her 28 plus year career there she won a number of national awards for her journalism, including the National Newspaper Award. She also has won a number of awards for magazine writing prior to her working at the Star. Her poems were first published in University of Toronto literary magazines in the mid-1970s when she was a student. The magazines have long gone, but her love of the written word and poetry has not disappeared. Her most recent work appears on the prestigious literary websites the Queen’s Mob Teahouse and WordCity Literary Journal.  She also has just published a limited edition book of poetry and art in collaboration with a Toronto artist Janne Reuss entitled A Call and Response Images and Words, inspired by the pandemic.

Throughout her career as a journalist, she covered public policy issues such as education and immigration and diversity and has interviewed some of Canada’s leading politicians, writers and thinkers. She has travelled extensively and taught journalism in Rwanda and covered the HIV crisis in South Africa and Swaziland for the Star. While working and raising a child, she continued to write poetry for herself and others. Having left the Star, she now teaches yin yoga and meditation and spends many an hour writing and polishing her poetry, exploring the human condition and themes of love and existence.

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Father’s pigeons. Fiction by Sherzod Artikov

Sherzod Artikov

Father’s pigeons

Translated from Uzbek into English by Nigora Dedamirzayeva

“This is the place that you told,” the driver said.

The taxi came to a halt near the edge of the road. I looked around from inside the car. The view – the edifice with two green cupolas and myriad pigeons around them appeared in front of me. Coming closer I found the yard full of pigeons which were eating birdseed scattered by people.

“Back in the day, it’s called « Pigeon cemetery»”, indicated the driver. “It’s become the shrine of a renowned holy man who lived in the city. The building at the corner used to be his praying room in the dim and distant past.

Plenty of people in front of that building were coming in and out turn by turn.

“Hundreds of people go on a pilgrimage every day,” he continued. “Here, people pray for the dead, patients for healing, childless couples for babies. They make imam* give the blessing and recite the Koran** asking for invocation. Walking in the yard they strew seeds and make a pilgrimage to the holy men’s grave.”

I was keeping my eyes peeled for a flock of pigeons flying in the sky even as I was listening to him, honestly. They were just the same as described in my father’s album: bluish grey, white, and black, more gentle and softer than each other as if giving a meaningful look.

“Dear guest, I’ll be in the car,” the driver said after some time as he prepared to get in it. “If I didn’t have an allergy to autumn air, I would escort you, unfortunately staying outside a lot makes me sneeze.”

Blowing his nose, he walked towards his car. I came closer to the pigeons busy pecking seeds. They were fighting over food as a few grains were left on the ground. In this case, the same as with humans, the weaker group will be sidelined, luck is only on the side of the more agile.

There was an old thin woman selling grains on one side of the shrine. I didn’t see her at first.  People were fetching grains in a cellophane bag from her. When I clapped eyes on it, I bought some. Seeing me scatter seeds on the ground, the pigeons surrounded me. Those flying in the sky also descended and joined the flock. In an instant, I was amongst countless pigeons. Forgetting fear, some of them pecked at my grain, as well as my hand, while others tried to climb up my shoes.

Soon, the bag in my hand was emptied. I sat down as I was getting tired. There was a cemetery behind me. The shrine and cemetery were separated by a long wall and it were clearly visible through a fenced chink in the midst of the brick walls. I guess there was a mosque next to it because the image of a soon-to-be-crescent moon made of copper on a high dome was inclined eastward.

As I sat on the bench watching the pigeons, I took my camera and photographed them several times. Then I opened my briefcase and took father’s album from inside it. I compared the pigeons around me with the ones drawn in the album. I looked through the notes and the dates written under the pictures there. Below each picture was a note and date. For example, next to the picture of a grey pigeon with the date «04.06.1995» was written «My darling, my child went to the first grade today.» Underneath was a picture of a white dove with the date «02.11.2001» and the words «Yesterday, I looked at the firmament through the window. I felt as if I was seeing you, Snow White.» Among them, the one that attracted the most attention was the picture of a black and white, plump pigeon. Father had dated it «07.06.2006» and written beneath it: «I bought chocolate from the store today, it has a picture of a dove on a package, just like you, Fluffy.»

When there was no one left in front of the scholar’s praying room which had been mentioned by the driver, I got up and went there. Inside, an imam with a turban on his head and white beard was sitting in the room, the Koran and the worry beads were on a table covered with blue velvet in front of him.

“Come on, sir,” the imam said giving me a warm welcome

“I want you to recite the Koran for my father’s spirit,” I said when I saw his inquiring look.

He began to recite the Koran. Listening to him I visualized my father: I called to mind his last days at the oncology department of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Back then I often stayed with my father who was lying on the bed for the last few days of his life with brain cancer and had lost his hair completely. He was emaciated and his eyes were sunken.  He always lay holding my hands; when I fed a spoon of water or soup to him, he looked at me smacking his lips and blinking his eyes. He always wanted to say something, but couldn’t speak as he became speechless, he was only wheezing.

One day, his condition worsened. As I didn’t move away from him, I took the remote control of the TV set on the wall and changed channels to distract myself. At one point, father wheezed in a low voice putting up his right hand as if screaming. Pigeons were being shown on television. At first, I understood that his grunting was for me to change to another channel.  When I did this, he got nervous, and his hands started to shake.

“Bring back the channel showing pigeons,” Mum said and approached father trying to quieten him.

After returning to that channel, father immediately calmed down watching pigeons. But his hands were still shaking, his trembling jaw seemed to be hanging when my mother wasn’t holding it.

“Ramadan, did you miss your pigeons?” asked Mum gripping his jaw tightly as if to read his mind.

Tears welled up in my father’s eyes, he tried to say something, but he didn’t go beyond gasping for breath again.

“I think your father misses the pigeons,” my mother said, turning her face to me. “In Marghilan, where we were born, there was a place called «Pigeon cemetery». Your father’s childhood was spent there. Even his youth.  There were countless pigeons. Your father adored and passed much time with them. He took me there a lot, too. When we went, we always fed the pigeons sprinkling grains and sat dreaming for hours.

My father was lying quietly listening to my mother. One moment he was staring at her mouthing, the next at the pigeons on TV. Listening to her words, he more or less understood what she was saying, and perhaps that was why he wept bitterly and tried to get up, wrinkling his border of bed.

After finishing reciting, the imam opened his hands in supplication. I did the same.

“There’s nothing wrong with asking,” the imam said glancing at me. “Son, you look like a foreigner.”

“I’m from The United States,” I said introducing myself to him. “But I’m Uzbek. My parents were born here. They lived in Marghilan for some time and immigrated during the “reconstruction years”***.

“They moved away before gaining independence, did they?” he asked.

The sky was dark, and the clouds were floating in blue. The yellow leaves of a plane tree in front of the praying room were falling over the ground in the breeze. I reminisced about my childhood in Chicago stepping on the leaves. My father said that I wasn’t born when they moved to the USA. Father had a deep affection for me as he was raised in an orphanage.  Every weekend we used to go either to matches of basketball team called “Chicago Bulls” or the nature museum. We also went to the cinema a lot. At night, I always passed into a slumber listening stories and tales. Whenever he was free from work, he used to call me to his room and teach me Uzbek and how to play chess. At that time, he impressed me as a blithe and pleased person. On top this, he was very jokey. 

Even after growing up, I didn’t notice any common human feelings such as woe, longing or grief in him. True, sometimes when we came back on foot after watching the “Chicago Bulls” match or drank tea on the porch in the summertime, his heart sank seeing a flock of birds in the sky. It would happen so quickly that he fell silent as if he had lost his tongue at that point where he was telling a joke or an interesting story, and sudden change in his soul continued for several days. Sometimes I saw my father opening the window wide and his eyes had a distant faraway look. Even then, the birds would be flying in the sky, and my father watched their movements hearing their cries.

He worked for a diamond trading company. Even worked at home because of his busy schedule. Sometimes I watched him from the doorpost of his room and sympathized seeing him working, wiping the sweat from his face. He worked overmuch, but in the meantime, he took a break, and wrote in the album that I now have, putting his hand on his chin. Then I realized that he had drawn the pictures of pigeons at that time.

After his passing, I flipped through this album every night.  Seeing the light in my room hadn’t gone out yet, my mother often entered the room and we looked at the album together, her eyes filling with tears. The inscriptions and dates under each picture were more heartbreaking than the picture of pigeons there. The more I read them, the more I felt like I was bent over the flow of memories.

“I think your father wanted to go back to his homeland,” my mother said in such woebegone moments. “He wanted to see pigeons.”

A light drizzle started to fall. October here is just like Chicago’s, it’s kind of cloudy and rainy. As it started to rain, the people who came to the shrine began to disperse.  Seeing them go, the pigeons seemed to be sad. They looked at each other as if they didn’t understand anything and stared thoughtfully at the people’s backs who had sprinkled them with grains.  Just then, the heavens opened and I walked to the car parked on the east side of the shrine to avoid catching a cold. The driver was dozing in the car waiting for me. He woke up when I opened the door suddenly. 

“Were you here?” he said rubbing his eyes.

On the way, it was pouring even more heavily. The car’s windshield wiper was unable to wipe off the raindrops hitting it. Seeing the sheets of rain, I thought of the pigeons with concern. I thought they got caught in the rain. After a while, I reassured myself that there was a place for them to keep inside. I couldn’t stop myself thinking. Another thought, if there would be a shelter for those countless pigeons began to flicker through my mind.

“Did you forget something there?”–the driver asked when I asked him to please turn back.

When I got back to the shrine, I got out of the car quickly. I hurried to the yard which had become a haven for pigeons.  But there were no pigeons, neither on earth,  nor in the heavens, as if they had vanished somewhere without a trace. I stood in the rain for a while not knowing what to do.

“Did you forget something?”

The imam who was closing the door of the praying room gave the same question.

“Where did the pigeons go?” I asked turning to him.

The imam looked around as if he did not understand.

“They went nowhere,” he said in a calm voice.  “Look at the roof. They have nests here.”

I looked at the roof. At first, I didn’t notice the shelter. After some time, I saw a long, narrow passage. The passage was enclosed and there were several openings to allow light inside.  The pigeons were close together and watching the rain fall outside, sticking their heads out from the windows.

“Do they all fit in there?” I said looking at him for clarity while my concern disappeared.

“Of course,” he said wiping his rain-soaked face with a handkerchief. “They  have been living there as a family for many years.”

When I returned to the hotel, my clothes were absolutely sopping. Seeing me enter through the main door, one of the servants there handed me a towel. While toweling, I ordered the manager to place a call for me to America. He immediately dialed the numbers I told and connected my mother.

“Mum,” I said when my mother’s familiar voice came from the receiver. “I went and saw my father’s pigeons. They are the same as the pictures depicted in the album.”

Mother wanted to say something, but her voice didn’t come out. Only the sound of her crying could be heard from the receiver.

2019, October

Comments:

*Imam – a Muslim religious leader

*The Koran – the holy book of the Muslims

* Reconstruction years- years between 1988-1990 in the Soviet Union.

Author: Sherzod Artikov

Translated from Uzbek into English by Nigora Dedamirzayeva

Sherzod Artikov was born in 1985 in the city of Marghilan of Uzbekistan. He graduated from Fergana Polytechnic institute in 2005. He was one of the winners of the national literary contest “My Pearl Region” in the direction of prose in 2019. In 2020, his first authorship book “The Autumn’s Symphony” was published in Uzbekistan by publishing house Yangi Asr Avlodi. In 2021, his works were published in the anthology books called World Writers in Bangladesh, Asia sings and Mediterranean Waves in Egypt in the English language. In 2021, he participated in the International Writers Congress organized in Argentina, the international literature conference under the name “Mundial insurgencial cultura” dedicated to Federico Garcia Lorca’s life and work, the International Poetry Festival in Tunisia, the International Poetry Carnival in Singapoore. This year he was honoured as “Global Peace Ambassador” by the Iqra Foundation, “International Peace Ambassador” by the World Literary Forum for Peace and Human Rights and awarded “Certificate of friendship” and other certifications by “Revista Cardenal” in Mexico. Currently, he is the literary consultant of the cultural website of Pakistan “Sindh courier”, the representative and delegate in Uzbekistan of the literature magazine of Mexico Revista Cardenal and the literature and art magazine of Chile Casa Bukowski.

His works have been published in several magazines and newspapers of Uzbekistan. Then translated into Russian, English, Turkish, Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Albanian, Romanian, French, Greek, Hebrew, Portuguese, Bengali, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Persian and Urdu languages.

Besides, his works have been published in the literary magazines, newspapers and websites of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania, Poland, Israel, Belgium, Albania, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Egypt, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua .

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