Surfacing. Prose poems by Susan Tiberghien

Susan M. Tiberghien — Jung Platform

Star Chair

A first photo shows him six months old, sitting in a small straw chair. A second photo show him one year old, upright, holding on to the back of the same straw chair.

He’s now two years old. We’re waiting at the airport. When we try to stand him on his own, he falls hard on the floor. The straw chair stayed behind in Saigon.

In the Light

We finish packing the car and walk to the cliff for a last look at the ocean waves below. I ask my husband to take a photo. We settle ourselves, six children and their mother. We want the photo up close, each face in the light.

Our youngest, soon seven, is too close.  He won’t be seen. Someone says “Back up!” He loses his balance and slips close to the edge. I catch his hand and hold tight.

Downstairs

There’s a voice downstairs, the voice of our son come back home for a spell. He says he’s broke, alone in the world. He says he’s out flat on the ground

His eyes see the darkness I hide with white curtains. His ears hear the sirens I stifle with Mozart. His words name the dragons I paint as cats.

“Surfacing”, three short prose poems about one of our children (published in Offshoots 9, edited)

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Susan Tiberghien is an American-born writer living in Geneva, Switzerland. She founded the Geneva Writers’ Group in 1993 which she continues to dirrect and where she teaches monthly workshops. She has published three memoirs, “Looking for Gold, One Year in Jungian Analysis” (Daimon Verlag, 1997, “Circling to the Center, A Woman’s Encounter with Silent Prayer” (Paulist Press, 2001), “One Year to a Writing Life” (Da Capo Press, 2007) and most recently, “Side by Side, Writing Your Love Story” and “Footsteps, In Love with a Frenchman” (both Red Lotus Studio Press, 2015) along with numerous narrative essays in journals and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic. She teaches and lectures at graduate programs, at C.G. Jung Centers, and at writers’ conferences both in the States and in Europe.

Daughters of Smoke and Fire. A novel excerpt by Ava Homa

Ava Homa

Daughters of Smoke and Fire (courtesy of HarperCollins)

Chapter 14

When his grandpa drew a yogurt mustache above Alan’s lips, the boy dissolved into giggles. Picturing himself with real whiskers thrilled Alan, who thought that facial hair might make up for being shorter than the other boys in his class.

“Your laughter woke me up, you cheeky monkey!” Uncle Soran, youngest of the six uncles and the only one awake, tousled Alan’s hair as he came onto the patio that opened to the yard. They sat around a nylon cloth spread atop a crimson handmade rug to eat breakfast.

Alan laughed again. “Bapir, I want handlebars, please.”

With a chapped finger, Bapir curled the ends of the yogurt mustache on either side of Alan’s puckered-up lips and planted a dab of the stuff on his nose too. Alan collapsed into laughter.

That June morning in 1963, Alan decided that Bapir was the most amusing person on earth. Perhaps he was the reason Alan adored older people and loved to listen to their stories of maama rewi, the trickster coyotes. It hurt Alan that most people with gray hair weren’t able to read or write, that their backs hurt and their papery hands trembled; his dream was to read stories into a loudspeaker for hundreds of elders while they relaxed in a large meadow filled with purple and red flowers.

Grandma brought out more nan, the thin, round bread she had baked in the cylindrical clay oven dug into the basement. Alan made his own “bulletproof ” sandwich: fresh honeycomb mixed with ghee. “After I eat this, I can run faster than the bullets,” he said.

“Our monkey is growing up, and yet we all treat him as if he is a young child!” Uncle Soran said, making his own bulletproof morsel.

“One’s grandchild is always young. That’s just how it is.” Bapir brushed crumbs from his lap. He winked. “If I were you, Alan, I would make it so I never grew up.”

“Growing up is a trap,” Grandma agreed, nodding.

“But I like the future,” Alan said.

They laughed. Bapir splashed a kiss on Alan’s face. “Something a six-year-old would say.”

Still wearing his yogurt mustache, Alan frowned. “I am seven.”

They cackled.

Father had come to Sulaimani to publish an article he’d written with Uncle Soran illustrating the suffering of the working class in Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq. Kurds had settled in the Zagros Mountains three hundred years before Christ was born, but now Alan’s people had no country to call their own. When the Western Allies had drawn the map of the Middle East, they had cut Kurdistan into four pieces, dividing it among Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

To visit Bapir with his father, Alan had to ace Kurdish spelling. But Kurdish was not a subject taught at school; Arabic was the only language used there. Father had been trying to teach him and his three brothers to write in their mother tongue, something Alan saw no use for. That morning, Father had skipped breakfast to search the city for a contraband typewriter.

Across the yard, Grandma was watering the pink roses and white lilies. A pounding on the wooden gate in the cement wall that surrounded their plot of land shattered her concentration. She dropped the hose.

“I’ll get it.” Alan ran across the yard to save her the trouble, but before he reached the gate, six men in Iraqi army uniforms, their faces hidden by striped gray scarves, broke the lock and directed their Kalashnikovs at Grandma’s face.

“Where are they?” the shortest one demanded.

Bapir froze, a morsel still in his open mouth. Alan turned to see Uncle Soran leaping over the wall and clambering onto the neighbor’s roof. Somebody—Grandma—grabbed Alan and backed him toward the house.

Nestled against her bosom, Alan watched the soldiers invade the house without waiting for an answer. All six uncles were pulled from their beds or hauled from the bathroom, the basement, a closet, and off the roof next door. Alan wiped off his white handlebars with his sleeve and tried to make sense of the chaos, the jerky movements, the incomprehensible noises escaping people’s throats. If only his eyes would give him weapons instead of tears!

His uncles were dragged by the neck, screaming and struggling, like animals to slaughter. Bapir’s questions and prayers, Grandma’s cries and pleas, the neighbors’ screams and curses—nothing had the slightest effect on the soldiers, who conducted the raid without a reply.

Alan’s uncles, some still in undershirts, were marched out at gunpoint to army trucks carrying hundreds of Kurdish boys and men between the ages of fourteen and twenty-five. Alan peeled himself from Grandma’s arms and ran to the street. The men were told to squat in the beds of the trucks, to place their hands on their heads, and to shut their mouths. Alan looked back at Bapir, who remained next to his smashed gate, head bowed.

Along with other children, women, and elderly, Alan chased after the lumbering trucks, their huge rubber tires kicking up clouds of dust as they carted away the men amid the anxious cries of the followers. The older men, unarmed and horrified, searched for weapons and ran up the mountains, asking the Peshmerga to come down to the city to face the armed-to-the-teeth soldiers.

Alan trailed after the truck carrying his uncles as it traveled up the hillside at the city center. His heart had never beaten so fast. The truck finally stopped at the top of the hill, and prisoners were shoved out. On the hard soil, the captives were each given a shovel and ordered to dig.

Ebn-al-ghahba,”spat the soldiers—Son of a whore. The angry bystanders were ordered to stand back. People obeyed the AK-47s.

Dirt sprayed over the prisoners’ bodies, hair, and eyelashes as their shovels cracked the earth open. Sweat dripped down their faces, and tears ran down over hands that muffled sobs. Alan looked at the pee running down the pants of a boy next to him, at a woman behind him clawing her face and calling out, “God, God, God,” at an older man shaking uncontrollably, his hand barely holding onto his crutch. Alan did not seem to be in possession of his own frozen body.

Once the trenches were dug, half of the prisoners were ordered to climb down into the ditches, and the rest were forced to shovel dirt up to their friends’ and relatives’ chins. Bapir had finally made his way to the top of the hill; he had found Alan in the first row of spectators, gnawing his thumbnail as he watched. Alan begged his grandpa to stop the cruelty.

Bapir hugged him. “They will be released in a few days, these young men.” He pressed Alan’s head to his chest. “They will be sent back home, bawanem, maybe with blisters and bruises, but they will be all right. Pray for them.” His hands trembled as he squeezed Alan’s. “May it rain before these men die of thirst.”

Alan searched through the crowd to find Uncle Soran lifting a pile of dirt with his shovel. Soran’s grip loosened when he looked into the eyes of his brother Hewa, whose name meant “hope.” Hewa stood in the hole, waiting to be buried by his closest relative, a man whom he’d play-wrestled as a boy and confided in throughout his life.

“Do it, Soran,” he said, his eyes shining up from the hole. A bearded soldier dressed in camouflage saw Soran’s hesitation. “Kalb, ebn-al-kalb!”—Dog, son of a dog—he barked, and swung his Kalashnikov at Soran, the barrel slicing the skin under his left ear.

Soran growled, almost choking, as he turned. With his shovel, he batted the Kalashnikov away so that the gun hit its owner in the head, cutting his scalp. Alan flinched. Bullets rained from every direction. Soran crumbled. His blood sprayed over Hewa, who was screaming and reaching for the perforated body, pulling him forward, pressing his face to the bleeding cheek of his brother.

Crying out, Bapir tried to run toward his sons, but dozens of guns pointed at his chest, dozens of hands held him back. The shower of gunfire wouldn’t cease; it struck the hugging siblings, painting them and the soil around them red.

His uncles, still in each other’s arms, were buried in one hole. Half of the prisoners were still covered up to their chins with dirt. The remaining ninety-five men were sent down into the other trenches, and the soldiers buried them up to their heads. Alan stared at the rows upon rows of human heads, a garden of agony.

Intoxicated with power, the soldiers kicked the exposed heads of the prisoners, knocked some with the butts of their guns, and jeered at them. At the top of the hill, Bapir sobbed with such force that his wails shook the earth, Alan felt. He clutched Bapir’s hunched shoulders and felt impossibly small.

A sunburnt man and a neighbor with shrunken features hugged Bapir, then placed the old man’s trembling arms around their shoulders and walked him down the hill.

“Where are my other sons?” Bapir gasped for air.

“Let’s get you home,” the neighbors told him.

Alan wanted to go with his grandpa, but he was afraid to move. If he took a step, the nightmare would become real. He scanned the hill for his other uncles, who were perhaps buried in some distant trench and unable to move. He couldn’t see them. Even Bapir was no longer in sight.

The hubbub was dying down. The strangers who’d witnessed the scene were bound by their dread, their exchanged looks the only solace they could offer each other. Their heads seemed to move in slow motion, as if everyone were suspended underwater. Alan breathed in the atmosphere of quiet horror, of paused hysteria.

Suddenly people cried out in terror. From the road below them, several armored tanks were approaching. Gaping in disbelief, Alan staggered back, holding a hand to his mouth. He could neither run away nor slow his hammering heart, which was now threatening to explode. When the panicking crowd pushed forward, guns fired into the air to hold them back.

The tanks advanced.

Alan’s mind couldn’t process the scene before him. Screams. Curses. Pleas. The devilish laughter of the soldiers. He felt an invisible piece of himself drop away and melt into the ground. He was not Alan anymore.

It took an excruciatingly long time for the tanks to pulverize the heads of the prisoners.

The metallic stench of blood, of crushed human flesh and skulls, the foul odor of death made its way into the spectators’ nostrils and throats. The lucky ones threw up. Alan did not.

While the giant metal treads ground his family and the other Kurds into nothingness, Alan sucked in shallow and unhelpful breaths.

Bapir lay in bed at home, tossing in anguish, a hand still on his aching chest. By his bedside his wife shed silent tears. Although they had not witnessed the crushing of their sons, they collapsed that day of broken hearts, one after the other. Someone went to find a doctor.

Father arrived at his parents’ home oblivious to the tragedy, having taken an unusual road to safeguard his treasure. His typed article was tucked under his shirt. The joy of achievement and hope for his people glowed in his eyes. Then he found his parents on their deathbed. In bits and pieces, the neighbors told him of the massacre, how Ba’ath soldiers—ordered by President Aref and Prime Minister Al-Baker—had punished the Kurds for daring to demand autonomy.

Father ran to the hill, where bewildered children gathered and clung to each other. Beside them, a group of adults wailed and cried, threw dirt into their hair, and beat their faces in terror.

“The British bastards armed Baghdad to kill us. Their tanks, their planes, their goddamn firebombs and mustard gas that killed Iraqis forty years ago are now killing us,” Father said to no one in particular.

Then he just stared with unseeing eyes at the gory mound of his pulverized people, his brothers.

Seeing his father’s dazed reaction, Alan finally allowed the sobs he’d held in since he first saw the soldiers to burst forth. Other children followed suit. Tears and snot rolled down the dusty faces of the boys and girls who’d been abandoned by the living and dead alike.

Alan ran to his father and held on to his leg. “Baba gian, Baba!” he cried. It took a couple of moments before his father noticed him and hugged him close.

“We will leave Iraq. We won’t live here any longer.” A wild urge to be anywhere but here tugged at Alan’s gut too.

Some stoic women and a few elderly men tearlessly buried the unidentifiable remains. They laid down uncarved stones in row after row and asked Alan and the other children to pick wildflowers and pink roses from the slope of the hill, placing them in rows too.

Alan sucked on the blood dripping down his index finger, torn by the rose thorns.

“Alan!” cried a woman whom Alan did not recognize. Three other boys turned when she called; one ran to her. Alan was a popular name, meaning “flag bearer.” It testified to what was expected of the children of a stateless nation, who had to fight against nonexistence.

Credit: From Daughters of Smoke and Fire: A Novel © 2020 Ava Homa, published May 12, 2020 by The Overlook Press, an imprint of ABRAMS and in Canada by HarperCollins. Excerpted with permission of the publisher.

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Ava Homa: Activist, humanitarian, speaker, and writer in exile. Her debut novel “Daughters of Smoke and Fire” is a survival story. Her collection of short stories “Echoes from the Other Land” (Mawenzi, Toronto, 2010) was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize. Homa is also the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship.

She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor in Canada, another in English Language and Literature from Tehran, Iran, and a diploma in editing from Toronto. A Writer-in-Residence at the Historic Joy Kogawa House, BC (2013), George Brown College, Toronto (2012), R. D. Lawrence Cultural Centre, Minden Hills (2011), and the Open Book Toronto and Ontario (2011), Homa has taught Creative Writing workshops, judged writing contests, served the editorial board of the Write Magazine and the National Council of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Homa has delivered speeches on writing as resistance, human rights, gender equality, Kurdish affairs, media literacy, and other topics in different settings across North America and Europe.
Website: https://www.avahoma.com/

Adnan Mahmutović in conversation with Jane SpokenWord

In this month’s podcast we introduce you to Adnan Mahmutović, a Bosnian-Swedish teacher, writer, and editor, who has written extensively on war, refugees, and immigrant experiences. Adnan became a refugee of in 1993 and landed in Sweden. He worked for a decade with people with brain damage while studying English and philosophy. He has PhD in English literature and MFA in creative writing, and he is currently a lecturer and writer-in-residence at the Department of English, Stockholm University. His stories have dealt with contemporary European history, and the issues of identity and home for Bosnian refugees. ~Jane SpokenWord

Adnan Mahmutović

Adnan Mahmutović in conversation with Jane SpokenWord

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Adnan Mahmutović is a Bosnian-Swedish Writer who has written extensively on war, refugees, and immigrant experiences. He has a PhD in English Literature from Stockholm University and MFA in Creative Writing from City University of Hong Kong. He has lectured at the Department of English, Stockholm University, and acted as the fiction editor at Two Thirds North, a journal of transnational writing.

He frequently reviews for scholarly journals in literary studies and creative writing, and has published scholarly articles in books and journals such as Studies in the Novel, Writing in Practice, Transnational Literature, Mosaic, ImageTexT Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, American Studies in Scandinavia, Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, The Journal of Postcolonial Cultures and Societies, The Journal of Contemporary Literature and The Coleridge Bulletin.

His stories have appeared in a range of journals including Stand and The Battered Suitcase. His short story “Gusul” was made into a short film by Artwerk, his novel “Thinner than a Hair” was the winning entry in the First-Novel competition by Cinnamon Press and his essay “Comics, War and Ordinary Miracles” has been adapted for BBC Radio.
He is a recipient of many awards for fiction and has served a judge on a number of literary prizes, including Neustadt Prize for Literature.

His publications include:
Ways of Being Free: Authenticity and Community in Selected Works by Rushdie, Ondaatje, and Okri. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2012.
Thinner than a Hair. Cinnamon Press, 2010.
How To Fare Well and Stay Fair. Salt Publishing, 2012.
The Craft of Editing. With Lucy Durneen. Routledge, 2019.
Visions of the Future in Comics: International Perspectives. With Francesco Alesio Ursini and Frank Bramlett. McFarland Press, 2017.
Which Side Are You On: Worlds of Grant Morrison. With Francesco Alesio Ursini and Frank Bramlett.
and At the Feet of Mothers 2020.

 

Jane SpokenWord

Jane SpokenWord.interviews

 

Street poet Jane SpokenWord’s performances represent the spoken word as it is meant to be experienced, raw, uncensored and thought provoking. From solos, to slams, duos, trios, and bands, including a big band performance at The Whitney Museum with Avant-Garde Maestro Cecil Taylor which garnered All About Jazz’s Best of 2016. Other collaborations include: Min Tanaka, Miguel Algarin, Beat Poet John Sinclair, her son HipHop musician/producer, DJ Nastee, and her partner in all things, Albey onBass. Combining the elements of spoken word, music, sound and song “Like those of the Jazz poets, the Beats, The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron and others – she is usually accompanied by Albey onBass Balgochian’s moaning, groaning, rumbling contrabass – adding double the gut-punch to her words.” (Raoul daGama) To preserve the cultural heritage of wording to document life, and foster a broader collective community, she brings her poetry and spoken word to a diverse set of venues including museums, festivals, libraries, slam lounges, art galleries, clubs, busking street corners and living rooms everywhere. She has authored two books of poetry with art and music by co-author Albey onBass: Word Against the Machine and Tragically Hip. Publications include: TV Baby A collection of Lower East Side artists – OHWOW, Shadow of The Geode, Bonsia Press, Stars in the Fire and Palabras Luminosas – Rogue Scholars Express and We Are Beat in the National Beat Poetry Anthology.

 

A special thank you to Albey ‘onBass’ Balgochian for the sound engineering in the prelude and postlude of the audio. Albey’s performances range from the Bowery Poetry Club to the Whitney Museum of American Art, his résumé includes many distinguished artists including  Nuyorican Poet Miguel Algarin, Beat Poet John Sinclair, Darryl Jones (Miles Davis, Rolling Stones,) and the Cecil Taylor Trio & Big Band  (“Best of ’05, ’09, ’16” All About Jazz) https://albeybalgochian.com/

WordCity Literary Journal. February 2021. Issue 6

Letter from the Editor, Darcie Friesen Hossack

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Just on the other side of the window from where I write, it is cold.

Here in the early half of February, in what’s considered a northern part of Canada, even though there’s more of the country above than below, it reached minus 38 degrees Celsius overnight, and is set to become colder still in the next few days.

And yet, for all the potential to freeze exposed flesh solid within a few minutes, it is absurdly beautiful here: all Rocky Mountains and bluebird skies, where poetry seems to have been written into the landscape, as well as the weather. In fact, the weather may very well be the ink.

Here, just a few days ago, beauty and poetry settled over a stretch of the Athabaska River. It happened just as the sun melted into a mountain and dust blew up from an exposed bed of river sand.

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Around this landscape, metaphor is everywhere, and lately, I’ve been finding ways that severity and beauty go together, drawing both lessons and relief about the time in which we are all living.

When it comes to the pandemic, there is nothing, nothing good about what has been blowing around the globe like the dust carried in the above wind. In spite of it, however, unexpected beauty has unfolded, as well.

This journal, for instance, is an outflow of the first round of stay-at-home restrictions. As is the global community of editors and contributors that have come together to fill its pages.

A year ago, I had no idea I would end up sitting at the helm of such a collaboration of writers and activists, charting this journal’s direction. It wasn’t something I even knew to look for.

Now, with this, our sixth offering, we have another collection of literary riches.

Together with poetry, essays, fiction and even a graphic story, we have literary new and writing advice.

This month, we introduce Kurdish-Canadian novelist Ava Homa, both in an audio interview with our own Jane SpokenWord, and in Sue Burge’s Writing Advice column. Coming up, we also have a planned excerpt and review of Ava’s Daughters of Smoke and Fire, which is, in my opinion, among the most important novels of the year. Ava has also lately join the team at the International Human Rights Art Festival (IHRAF), which is a platform she richly deserves.

In our book reviews this month, our founder Mbizo Chirasha will also find a surprise appearance of his new offering, Pilgrims of Zame, a collection of hybrid narratives.

These two authors exemplify beauty in severity, but they are not alone. Not in this issue. And not in this world.

If nothing else, that is what I’ve learned from the particular, shared severities of this year. For those of us who read and write about the world, motivated by care for the life lived upon it, there is community to be found, and WordCity is one such place to find it.

So tonight, although it is very cold, when I look out over the literary landscape we are creating here, what I see is a community that is growing on what we build, standing together, warming by the heat from our collective fire.

Podcast with Jane SpokenWord

In this month’s podcast we introduce you to Kurdish activist, humanitarian, speaker, and writer in exile, Ms. Ava Homa. She believes in the power of books, and her love for writing can be felt in the depth of her imagery and the power of her spirit. In our interview she shares her work and her life experience with us. She believes that people have the potential to move the world and humanity toward a planetary wholeness, and that we have the power to transform every cruelty, and every obstacle to shift into a moment of healing. ~ Jane SpokenWord

Ava Homa

Ava Homa in Conversation with Jane Spokenword

Ava Homa: Activist, humanitarian, speaker, and writer in exile. Her debut novel “Daughters of Smoke and Fire” is a survival story . Her collection of short stories “Echoes from the Other Land” (Mawenzi, Toronto, 2010) was nominated for the 2011 Frank O’Conner Short Story Prize and secured a place among the ten winners of the 2011 CBC Reader’s Choice Contest, running concurrently with the Giller Prize. Homa is also the inaugural recipient of the PEN Canada-Humber College Writers-In-Exile Scholarship.

She has a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor in Canada, another in English Language and Literature from Tehran, Iran, and a diploma in editing from Toronto. A Writer-in-Residence at the Historic Joy Kogawa House, BC (2013), George Brown College, Toronto (2012), R. D. Lawrence Cultural Centre, Minden Hills (2011), and the Open Book Toronto and Ontario (2011), Homa has taught Creative Writing workshops, judged writing contests, served the editorial board of the Write Magazine and the National Council of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Homa has delivered speeches on writing as resistance, human rights, gender equality, Kurdish affairs, media literacy, and other topics in different settings across North America and Europe.
Website: https://www.avahoma.com/

More on Ava Homa
and Jane SpokenWord

Fiction
Edited by Sylvia Petter

We begin this issue with fictions under 1,000 words  followed by two
short stories and closing with a flash fiction.

The True Story of Leopold and Professor Whiskers
Jacob D. Stein
A whimsical story about one cool cat.

Walking Upside-down – flash fiction
John Ravenscroft
A touching story where, driven by a pair of knickers, the past blends
into an old man´s present.

Final Edition – my mother, my father, myself
Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews
A story of how the narrator´s parents met against the backdrop of
postwar Italy.

Be Water, My Friend
Edvin Subašić
A moving story about boys and their heroes and how the war in former
Yugoslavia changed everything.

The Lido – flash fiction
Alex Keegan
A flash insinuating a different sort of war that no less ravaged a boy´s
life.

~Sylvia Petter

Jacob Stein

The True Tale of Leopold and Professor Whiskers

Scientists have long been placing bets on when ‘the singularity’ would emerge out of digital nothingness, and catapult an artificial consciousness into the physical world. However, the birth of an entirely new intelligence was not what they expected. The feline character of this consciousness took society completely by surprise. It came as a great shock to the befuddled owner, who heard her cat insist on premium kitty chow instead of the cheap stuff. While the latest ‘cat apps’ claimed to decipher meows and purrs of several varieties, Whiskers was able to converse using her owner’s primitive interface in marvellous and uncanny ways. Her vocabulary was off the charts, and soon she became the first cat to be able to read, write, and communicate with human beings using a machine that scanned and interpreted her brainwaves. After enrolling at Oxford, Whiskers quickly became Professor Whiskers, and was quite simply the smartest cat to have ever existed.

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John Ravenscroft

Walking Upside-down

In my dreams, the good ones, Mary Iris McCormack – Mim for short – is forever doing handstands, her knees bent, her feet planted flat against the redbrick playground wall. The skirt of her school uniform hangs like a soft green bell about the half-hidden clapper of her head, and when she turns to face me I see strange, knowing, upside-down eyes peering from beneath the inverted hem. She looks away and a quick flick of blond hair sweeps a swirl of dust from the asphalt.

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Josie Di Sciascio-Andrews

My mother, my father, myself

My father met my mother in 1954, in the decade after the end of the second world war, a conflict for which he had not been a soldier because he was too young to be drafted. A war which had nonetheless, left indelible scars of trauma and poverty in the heart and landscape of post-war Italy. He was twenty-five and worked for ACEA, a post-war national electrical company, precursor of what was to become ENEL. Having to stop his high school studies in Lanciano because the Nazis had bombed the railway tracks, my father decided to alternately get a diploma as an electrician from his hometown’s liceo tecnico. With this, he was soon hired by ACEA to install wiring along the roadways of communities throughout the country. It was a project funded by the Italian government in its aim to rebuild and modernize the infrastructure after the disastrous devastation of World War II, in those fifties of golden promise and technological progress. ACEA stationed trucks of workers all over Italy, in various areas in need of electrical power. My father’s crew was sent to Macerata, a province of Le Marche, several hours away from his home region of Abruzzo.

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Edvin Subašić

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BE WATER, MY FRIEND

Damir stood first in the line that wrapped around Kino Kozara like a serpent. The master, the immortal Bruce Lee, was in town. It was the opening night, Dragon night—the spirit of the impossible. At last, Enter the Dragon was about to play in our tiny theater with yellow walls covered in sloppy graffiti and wooden seats cracked in the middle, pinching our bottoms every time we moved too abruptly. After the movie played for an entire year in the cities around Yugoslavia, and although it was over sixteen years old, it finally found its way to small towns like ours.

On the way to the theater, our crowd of teenage boys had slowly but steadily grown as we joined the caravan. Not Damir. Damir had already beat us by a good two hours, the crummy nunchucks he’d made himself resting under his arms, the sleeves of his white t-shirt rolled up, revealing his lean biceps and triceps. The rest of his outfit was simple: washed-out jean shorts and a disintegrating pair of blue Converse. He was ready, waiting patiently for Master to show him the way—inside the dragon’s nest.

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Alex Keegan

AlexKeegan

The Lido

My father, and my mother took us to the Lido: a yellow bus to Caerleon, then a walk, down a dirty, too-tight lane. Keep in, Ronnie!

I don’t remember my sisters, perhaps they were paddling, but I, I was a boy and dad insisted. The other pool!

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Non-Fiction
Edited by Olga Stein

Dawn Promislow

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Pushelat, Lithuania

I was in Lithuania. I thought I would try to see the village of Pušalotas. My friend’s father came from there; it was a shtetl with two hundred Jewish inhabitants on the eve of the Second World War. The town was known, in Yiddish, as Pushelat.

So I hired a man to drive me, one day, the hundred-and-fifty kilometres from Vilnius to Pushelat. I would call it Pushelat. The man I hired charged far more than was reasonable and spoke almost no English. But he had a new black Mercedes, and he drove very fast. This was good.

Leaving the main highway at the city of Panevėžys, we found ourselves on a narrow road that went straight across a flat landscape. We slowed. I saw a rusty tractor, a windmill once, and some storks. A pedestrian and bicycle path ran parallel to the road, and a bicycle glinted in the sun, as a man pedaled alongside us for a while. We arrived after thirty minutes at a sign saying “Pušalotas.”

And so here was Pushelat. There were small wooden houses. The houses, timber worn, might be described as sheds. But they were houses. They sat mostly on the road, their doorways opening directly onto the street. Some houses had their doorways at the side or back, and someone had told me that these others, with doors at the back, were Lithuanian—not Jewish—houses. There were trees. One might even call it pretty. There was not a soul about.

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Olga Stein

OLGA STEIN89

ESSAY: Why the Scotiabank Giller Prize Keeps Getting Better (and What Literary Theorists Can Learn from the Sociology of Sport)

I suspect that my sense of time has been distorted somewhat by the current pandemic, because when an email arrived from the Scotiabank Giller Prize last week, announcing the five members of its 2021 jury, I was a little surprised. So soon? It seemed like the 2020 award gala had taken place only weeks ago. This last celebration made a strong impression on me (as I’ll elaborate below). Perhaps that’s why it felt more recent than it was. Pandemic or not, I reminded myself, the 27-year-old Giller is by now like an ocean liner. It has a well worked out itinerary and schedule that must be adhered to if it hopes to complete its annual journey successfully and on time.

            This year’s Giller jury has five members. Included are three distinguished Canadian authors, Megan Gail Coles, Joshua Whitehead, and Zalika Reid-Benta (serving as jury chair), a Malaysian writer, Tash Aw, and American Joshua Ferris. It’s an impressive committee for many reasons, and yes, the fact that the it now consists of five judges does matter (the judging panel was made up of three judges since the Giller’s founding in 1994, and expanded only in 2015). The result is, to put it simply, a more potent representation of Canadian fiction writing and its producers. Furthermore, the presence of foreign judges is also something positive—for the Giller and for Canadian literature. It safeguards the prestige of a Canadian literary prize which has worked long and hard to achieve national and international recognition, and it invites valuations of Canadian-made fiction that are more likely to be impartial, as well as worldly (in the best sense of the word). These aren’t just optics, it should be stated. Nor am defending the Giller Prize—or not exactly.

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Rachel J Fenton

Everywhere is Now. A graphic story

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Gordon Phinn

GordonPhinnPhoto

Leonard Cohen and Robert Fulford

     I first heard of Leonard Cohen while still living as a teenager in Scotland. His Sisters Of Mercy was played on my favourite radio show, Top Gear, and the disc jockey, John Peel, raved about waking up after an all-night gig, hearing the song for the first time, and feeling like he was waking up on another planet. It struck me immediately as beautiful in some mysterious unearthly fashion, maybe only similar in tone to some Simon and Garfunkel songs. You haven’t heard much when you’re fifteen.

     Settling in Canada a couple of years later and adjusting to my new life in high school and then college, the beauties of his ballads had much more to compete with in the flush of great musical innovation then washing over the airwaves. Cohen’s Selected Poems seemed to be on every second bookshelf, and at various get-togethers I would sit to browse its pages. Often, one or other attendee tried the complex finger picking patterns behind the hypnotic melodies.

     As the cultural bubble of my generation slowly expanded, my reading of his novels The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers merged with the newer albums and earlier poetry books to form the beginnings of an oeuvre I found by turns fascinating and repellent. The sour taste left by the sword thrusts of The Energy Of Slaves (1972) shocked me with its bitter self-recriminations. Apparently, we were welcome to call him Len or Lennie now. It seemed, as he sang in Songs Of Love and Hate, that there were “no more diamonds in the mine,” and yet at the same time, on the same album, he sang that “love calls you by your name.” Such radical contradictions suffused his vision for decades.

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Book Reviews
Edited by Geraldine Sinyuy

Two Reviews by Tina S. Beier

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The novel is set in the mid-1500s, on the island of Malta, during military aggression between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St John. The story features some battle scenes but mainly follows the life of two siblings (Domenicus and Katrina), who are well-off peasants who live in Malta. There are also some chapters devoted to Demir, a young boy living in Istanbul under a powerful and tyrannical father.

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Falcon’s Shadow begins with a punch that leaves you breathless. The most horrific part about the treatment of prisoners in the 1500s is the fact that it actually happened. It’s a stark reminder of why human rights are something we shouldn’t take for granted, even today.

As with its predecessor, Falcon’s Shadow is clearly painstakingly researched. Every little detail feels authentic and Fenech does not shy away from the gory details of life before sanitation.

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Review by Darcie Friesen Hossack

Pilgrims of Zame: A Collection of Hybrid Narratives by [Mbizo Chirasha]

In Pilgrims of Zane: A Collection of Hybrid Narratives, Mbizo Chirasha first takes the reader to Zimbabwe for a spiritual celebration, to which the congregants bring their supplication for rain.

Here, millet beer flows freely and wafts the aroma of bread. “Men [sit] on leopard skin mats and women [sit] on sheepskin.” Nuns dance with a dignity that is written into the variety of the shapes of their creation.

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Review by Marthese Fenech

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What Branches Grow pulls you into its vortex of action, spins you around and around (in the best possible way), and does not release you until you have read its beautiful final lines.

T.S. Beier applies a deft hand to the crafting of this Post-Apocalyptic tale and showcases a depth of perception when it comes to the human condition, human nature, and the human spirit. She manages to weave an elaborate plot brimming with tragedy but always offers just enough humour to balance the pathos.

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Literary News and Writing Advice
with Sue Burge

Ava Homa Speaks to Sue Burge about The Why of Writing

Ava Homa

Before I discovered why I write, I couldn’t stomach all the rejection and racism I faced as a minority woman writing in my third language. Nowadays, however, gatekeepers don’t dishearten me too much. My lifework stands at the empowering intersection of literature and activism, my goal to evoke compassion and convert it into action. I believe in the power of storytelling to expand our understanding of each other. With some guidance from activists, the extension of our horizon can transform into action, into standing up for justice and inclusion, into casting ballots while keeping more than one’s limited interests in mind.

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Sue Burge Introduces Hazel Press!

This month I managed to pin down the trailblazing energy of Daphne Astor.

Daphne, you did something extraordinary in 2020!  You set up a new independent publishing press, Hazel Press. This seems such a brave thing to do in the middle of a pandemic with the world locking down around us.  I know you are a farmer and conservationist as well as a poet/writer and artist.  I gather the idea to create a new press came to you while you were digging!  Could you tell us more?

Setting up a press is a lot like digging and preparing the ground for planting, gathering seeds, designing the space, sniffing the air – at least that is how Hazel Press got going. I had been thinking about creating a press for years and throughout my life have been involved in many and various ways with making, growing, nurturing land and life as well as engaging with books, writers and artists.

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Poetry
Edited by Nancy Ndeke and Clara Burghelea

Megha Sood

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Bless Us Lord for the Sin-Free Life We Are Living
 First Published in “Lift Your Voice”, Kissing Dynamite, Oct 2019
  
 I stare with my gaping mouth
 mock and revere
 at this whimsical reality
 eyes rolling in disbelief
 head bowed in silence
 knees scraping at the pew
 to absolve my sins
  
 We only bow down to the fear of the unknown
 the fear of being punished
 by an exalted God in heaven
 carved in our faith
 surviving generation
 through reams of yellow-tinged holy scriptures

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Lorraine Gibson

Lorraine Gibson.jpeg

The Shipbuilder and his Daughter
 His blood froze in a Scottish winter. His daughter danced unknowing
 in a land of southern summers. Alone in his chair, Buttons the cat 
  
 stretched out along his thigh, it’s said he did not feel that mighty brain tide
 pound its damage. Her ‘Hi Dad’ phone-call rings unanswered in the empty flat

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Luanne Armstrong

I went outside
after the rain,
into the late afternoon sun.
The robins hallooed hosannas
from the cherry tree
and the iris stuck up their razored snouts
and hollered
and two new daffodils, split open into the sun

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John Phebe

John Phebe

YOU ARE CLOSE TO ACHIEVING YOUR DREAM

As the stars brighten the sky
And the day slowly dies
So the beauty of the night unravels
In an enchanting world that travels


Don't ever be scared of the bad times
Look above and you'll see the light in time
Not only will you experience the joy of dawn
But will marvel at how dreams will be reborn

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Sabahudin Hadžialić

BLUES FOR MY EX-COUNTRY/HOMELAND
 
I had a country.
They took it away.
They did not ask for permission.
The very same people who
now
want to establish
customs zones,
introduce joint parliament sitting
and start to exchange war criminals.
The very same
THEY
who caused the trouble in the first place.
…
I can only say
one word
COUNTRY/HOMELAND
One day you will realise
that
PEOPLE lived there for generations
and not… NO, DON’T SHOOT!! 

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Patrick Connors

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Hemispheres
  
 My introvert side
 is glad to actually have a rest:
 Breathes, exhales slowly, sinks into his chair.
  
 He sets priorities, contemplates, makes plans
 yet accepts the folly of making plans - 
 releases all to its fulfillment.
  
 My extrovert side
 wants to eat sushi, drink draught beer
 experience the world beyond his front door.

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Bhuwan Thapaliya

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Rickety chair
 
Every morning my father stands on one foot,
arms raised in Surya Namaskar above his head
offering prayers to a solar deity, fully absorbed
within himself for half an hour in the rooftop,
and then sits down in a rickety chair
 nearby his desultory guest,
an amiable serene cat and smiles looking
at the  sunlight streaming through flowers.
Shiny plants, attired in colorful earthen pots
shades of white and blue, red and brown,

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Marthese Fenech

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Writer's Block
 
Tea leaves scattered,
jasmine across the table
The scent of plumeria
swirling
An open notebook

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Paweł Markiewicz

Paweł Markiewicz

Sonnet about the fallen moon and morning star

Heavenly sailorling spy out the wan light-sheen of star.
Baffling unearthly time: weird having just thieved by elves.
One of pale mornings longs for some meek fulfillment of night.
Moony and nostalgic chums – comets are upon the
skies.


Lonely dreamery – lying just blink-sea, weird above.
Endless nostalgia is being of pang. Hades is fay.
Heavenly moony lure, beings seem dark, Ethics fly off!
Poignant decease has become drab black, comet has picked rain.

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Claudia Serea

Claudia Serea

White lab coats
 
When I was still in Romania, studying to become
a chemical engineer like my father,
 
he asked me how I see my future.
I’d like to work in a factory, like you, I said,
 
walk fast and solve problems, like you,
and my white lab coat
 
would fly behind me like a cape,
or wings.
 
Everyone would move faster, energized,
once their problems were solved.
 
I must have been 14 at the time,
and wasn’t kidding.

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Josephine LoRe

Love is in the air  
  
 and I say love with cheese...  
 gruyère and emmenthal  
 brie, parmeggiano  
  
 crocks for the oven, red and gray  
 a bag of onions and bay leaves plucked 
 from nanna's garden last summer 
 a half-baked baguette  
 and chicken stock & thyme  

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Bernard Gabriel Okurut

bernard okurut

A bird in exile.
 
Here I am lonely bird,
Flying from tree to tree
With no place to call my own.
Here I am lonely star shining on
A moonless night.
 
Here I am-dead river,
Flowing without end
Carrying nothing but dead remains!
Hear I stand,
 Hopelessly in the middle of nowhere.
Am over fed with hunger,
Am over drunk with anger,
Forgotten, hated, and slandered.

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Patrick Williamson

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Three rivers

Even the three rivers
the winds, the currents
which bring better or worse,
even as the filter of my tongue
presents a different palette
love remains the same
when we speak of broad rivers
misery, silence, speech
the ocean rises up to you, in you
this is what I can give,
this to thankfully receive

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Mansour Noorbakhsh

Reciting
“After The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman”
 
Spell your name 
on the palm 
of my hand


as you spell it for 
the blind or the deaf. 
 
At the end of loneliness 
at the end of silence 
at the anonymous end  
of incoherence. 
  
I do not know what it means  
to be a child 
But I recognized you just 
from the light you were carrying 
in your hand in the silence
of a twilight of our hoping. 
 
Not from your voice 
as there was no sound 
from me 
or from you.  

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Ken Cathers

ken cathers in cappadocia

harvest
 
she is planting
the dead birds
in the back garden
 
imagines delicate
plumed stems
sprout in moist soil.
 
there is a place
below where bones
reknit, grow flesh
 
become the small buds
of unhatched warblers.
it is a cosmology
 
made up, a child’s
mystery emblazed
with wonder.

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Fagbemi Jesulayomi Abigail

Fagbemi Jesulayomi

A Ray Of Hope
What a glimmering gloomy day!
Full of fiery fears and hopelessness_
Will it ever get better?
‘Cause it doesn’t seem like it.
It seems to look the same_
Same obscurity everyday,
With not a ray of light–
To brighten my day.
Days are meant to be bright_
Why the gloom?
I can’t fathom the cause

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©®| All rights to the content of this journal remain with WordCity Literary Journal and its contributing artists.

1

A Ray Of Hope. A poem by Fagbemi Jesulayomi Abigail

Fagbemi Jesulayomi

A Ray Of Hope 
 What a glimmering gloomy day!
 Full of fiery fears and hopelessness_
 Will it ever get better?
 ‘Cause it doesn’t seem like it.
 It seems to look the same_
 Same obscurity everyday,
 With not a ray of light–
 To brighten my day.
 Days are meant to be bright_
 Why the gloom?
 I can’t fathom the cause
 Of the misery
 Making everything look hopeless.
 Can’t say why it looks so dark.
 Will it ever get brighter?
 Will there ever be a ray of light_
 To illuminate and give hope again?
 Nevertheless- I believe light will come_
 I will just have to hold on.
 Though it wouldn’t be easy,
 But there will be light for the day–
 To give me back my hope again.
 No matter how cloudy or gloomy the sky may be,
 There’s hope for a clear and brighter day_
 Lightened by even just a ray of sunlight.
 Yes, your gloom can get brighter too.
 And yes, there is hope for you!
 Though it may be dark_
 Yet again I say,
 Trust and believe in God.
 Change is on the way!

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Fagbemi Jesulayomi Abigail whose pen name is Layomi, is a native of Yoruba from Kwara State, Nigeria. She is a poet and a certified story writer and content creator who is presently studying Home Economics at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria- Kaduna, Nigeria.

She presently works as a salesclerk and has a notable passion for writing and art in general.

3 Poems by Ken Cathers

harvest
  
 she is planting
 the dead birds
 in the back garden
  
 imagines delicate
 plumed stems
 sprout in moist soil.
  
 there is a place
 below where bones
 reknit, grow flesh
  
 become the small buds
 of unhatched warblers.
 it is a cosmology
  
 made up, a child’s
 mystery emblazed
 with wonder.
  
 I can hear them
 singing in the dirt
 she says.
  
 tomorrow we will
 dig them up
 paint the faithless sky
             with feathers
 
  


 tatyana
  
 why did you think
 he could save you
  
 poets are not known
 for kindness
             bravery
  
 risk only words
 betray themselves
  
 for an image
 a line like
 sharpened glass
  
 you were drowning
 alone
  
 and he was far away
 writing an ocean
 composing the sky
  
 

  
 pretty things
  
 don’t know if
 it’s finished yet
  
 this pretty thing
 I’m working on
  
 has ignored me for days
 disappeared
  
 is out prowling
 the village
  
 may return with
 a live bird
 in its jaws
  
 a small dismembered
 rodent. . . one can
 only hope.
  
 is it too much to ask
 for a few stolen lines
             a stray image
  
 pray it doesn’t
 scavenge too close
 to the heart of the night
  
 grow blind
 with darkness
  
 bring nothing back
 but hunger 

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Born (1951) and raised in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island, Ken Cathers has a B.A. from the University of Victoria and a M.A. from York University in Toronto. Has been published in numerous periodicals, anthologies as well as seven  books of poetry,  most recently Letters From the Old Country with Ekstasis Press. Lives in the country with his family and his  trees.

2 Poems by Mansour Noorbakhsh

Meet
After: Requiem by Anna Akhmatova

 I will never forget you
 I cannot
 although I know you will 
 not come back,
 and I will 
 not see you again.
  
 Where did you die?
 I don’t know.
 Hanged up in a prison
 or killed in a war?
  
 I never believed the news
 that said you committed 
 suicide, in the prison,
 or were killed in a clash
 in the street.
  
 But I know, 
 I knew that from the beginning,
 nothing is more bloodthirsty 
 than love.
  
 And more painful it is 
 is that it hurts in silence,
 while it burns the silence.
  
 And burns
 without having a chance to shout.
 And above all, it burns oblivion
 before burning anything else
 and still, it is the beginning.
  
 I will not reach out to the end.
 My end is in me,
 like the beginning.
  
 We reached behind bars
 that blocked us at the end of 
 a dark tunnel, but light
 could still flow through 
 to your eyes, and my heart.
  
 

  
Reciting
“After The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman
  
 Spell your name 
 on the palm 
 of my hand
 
 
 as you spell it for 
 the blind or the deaf. 
  
 At the end of loneliness 
 at the end of silence 
 at the anonymous end  
 of incoherence. 
   
 I do not know what it means  
 to be a child 
 But I recognized you just 
 from the light you were carrying 
 in your hand in the silence
 of a twilight of our hoping. 
  
 Not from your voice 
 as there was no sound 
 from me 
 or from you.  

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Mansour Noorbakhsh writes and translates poems in both English and Farsi, his first language. He tries to be a voice for freedom, human rights and environment in his writings. He believes a dialog between people around the world is an essential need for developing a peaceful world, and poetry helps this dialog echoes the human rights. Currently he is featuring The Contemporary Canadian Poets in a weekly Persian radio program https://persianradio.net/. The poet’s bio and poems are translated into Farsi and read to the Persian-Canadian audiences. Both English (by the poets) and Farsi (by him) readings are on air. This is a project of his to build bridges between the Persian-Canadian communities by way of introducing them to contemporary Canadian poets. His book about the life and work of Sohrab Sepehri entitled, “Be Soragh e Man Agar Miaeed” (trans. “If you come to visit me”) is published in 1997 in Iran. And his English book length poem; “In Search of Shared Wishes” is published in 2017 in Canada. His English poems are published in “WordCity monthly” and “Infinite Passages” (anthology 2020 by The Ontario Poetry Society). He is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and he is an Electrical Engineer, P.Eng. He lives with his wife, his daughter and his son in Toronto, Canada.

2 Poems by Bernard Gabriel Okurut

bernard okurut

A bird in exile
  
 Here I am lonely bird,
 Flying from tree to tree
 With no place to call my own.
 Here I am lonely star shining on 
 A moonless night.
  
 Here I am-dead river,
 Flowing without end
 Carrying nothing but dead remains!
 Hear I stand,
  Hopelessly in the middle of nowhere.
 Am over fed with hunger,
 Am over drunk with anger,
 Forgotten, hated, and slandered.
  
 They have turned
  My victory song into a dirge,
 And replaced the rhythm
 With melancholy.
 They no longer sing my praises
 But talk ill of the good works
 My hands have done!
  
 Am a war hero, now forgotten.
 They now talk ill of me as a villain,
 They slander me.
 And awaken anger.
 In people’s hearts.
 They have destroyed all my cities
  And hold my family captive.
 Now here I am lonely bird, 
 Flying from tree to tree,
 With no place to rest my
  Snow frozen feet.
  

  
  
 Africa, my Afrika.
  
                                        A land where poetry 
            Is spoken from sunset to sundown.
  A place where drums tell tales of the past
    While the stars, moon and the royal sun,
       Whisper love in the changing seasons.
     A place to call home, to sit, hold a pen
           And let my hands write my heart out
           In one lovely poem, Africa my Afrika. 

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Bernard  Gabriel  Okurut  a.k.a  Blacfut Oracle is a young Ugadan poet, singer, songwriter, freelance journalist and literally activist. He is the author of  the ‘Noisy Silence’ a Ugandan poetry anthology published on amazon.com. He is a student of English  language and literature at Kyambogo University, Kampala Uganda. Okurut is the founder of  ’Psychic Poetry’’ a young poets student movement based in East Africa. Born and raised in a family of teachers, he started reading and writing poetry at an early age. His unique wit and pun makes him one of the most  phenomenal young Ugandan writer.

Follow him on,

Email ; bernard gabriel1995@gmail.com

And on all social media platforms at Bernard Gabriel  Okurut.

Love is in the air. A poem by Josephine LoRe

 Love is in the air  
  
 and I say love with cheese...  
 gruyère and emmenthal  
 brie, parmeggiano  
  
 crocks for the oven, red and gray  
 a bag of onions and bay leaves plucked 
 from nanna's garden last summer 
 a half-baked baguette  
 and chicken stock & thyme  
  
 and while you're on the slopes  
 I play my music—the same song  
 over and again but you're not here  
 so it won't drive you crazy 
  
 and as the soup simmers  
 and I brown the bread and grate the cheese 
 you come in 
 smelling of the mountain  
  
 you perch on the countertop
 and tell me about the lessons 
 you gave today  
 and I feel like a mom again  
  
 and in this delicious moment 
 love is in the air 

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a pearl in this diamond world … Josephine LoRe has published two collections:  ‘Unity’ and the Calgary Herald Bestseller ‘The Cowichan Series’.  Her words have been read on stage, put to music, danced to, and integrated into visual art.  They appear in anthologies and literary journals across nine countries. https://www.josephinelorepoet.com/ 

2 Poems by Patrick Williamson

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Three rivers

 Even the three rivers
 the winds, the currents
 which bring better or worse,
 even as the filter of my tongue
 presents a different palette
 love remains the same
 when we speak of broad rivers
 misery, silence, speech
 the ocean rises up to you, in you
 this is what I can give, 
 this to thankfully receive
 so we might become
 somewhere the other side
 for better or for worse
 hands reaching across 
 an ocean of solitude 
 coupled for ever
 even the three rivers
 cannot put asunder 
 what has been joined 
 in your eyes
 
  
 First published in Three Rivers / Trois Rivières, Editions l’Harmattan, 2010
 
   



 Before the clapping starts
  
             There they are again, the walkers
 under the trees at twilight when
             the day is done, and the runners
 pounding down silent roads, and
             dogs padding along, straining at
 the leash, and the clouds are
             gathering, it's been another cold
 day today as if autumn is upon us
             as the sky is so dark, the weather is
 turning, the tide is turning, one
             of which is true, but there is a long
 way to go and, like me, the trees
             are immobile as if afraid to be
 shaken by the winds, come out,
             step out, reopen, move, but is it
 time you say
 

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Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Most recent poetry collection: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (Samuele Editore, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014), Nel Santuario (Samuele Editore, 2013; Menzione speciale della Giuria in the XV Concorso Guido Gozzano, 2014). Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012) and translator notably of Tunisian poet Tahar Bekri, Quebecois poet Gilles Cyr, as well as Italian poets Guido Cupani and Erri de Luca. Recent translations in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quartely, and poems in The Black Bough, The Fortnightly Review notably. Also active in filmpoems (Afterwords, with Mauro Coceano) and other multimedia projects, often in association with artists’ book publisher Transignum in France. Longstanding member of the editorial committee of La Traductière, and founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.