The Green Grass of Home

Themba Lewis

Two years ago I was standing, exhausted, at 4am on a roadside in the wasteland of shuttered warehouse stores and box hotels just far enough from Charles de Gaulle airport as to require some form of transport. The busses did not run this early, and the hotel staff were asleep. I waited on the front landing in the cold early morning air. My heavy bags were at my side.

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Terai

Themba Lewis

And by what destiny or virtue does one, at a certain age, make the important choice, and become “accomplice” or “rebel”? From what source do some people derive their spontaneous intolerance of injustice, even though the injustice affects only others? And that sudden feeling of guilt at sitting down to a well-laden table when others are having to go hungry? And that pride which makes poverty and prison preferable to contempt?

Ignazio Silone
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For Ned

Abigail Jones

I

The girl is at that precise moment of adolescence wherein ugliness and prettiness are at the very apex of their battle to claim a lifelong dominance. At some times, the girl looks in the mirror and can’t believe how delicious she is. Most of the time though, she is horrified. To assuage her burning rage at not only having to live in Zimbabwe, but also at having missed out on absolute beauty, she adopts mannerisms and outfits that are sexually provocative and consciously inappropriate for whatever the task at hand is.

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Long Live King Edward VI

Grace Campbell

Ill-fated, ill often, teen king. Son of that bloated tyrant who hacked up a few wives, you’re pretty much all I’ve got right now. Fifty eight minute BBC documentaries that number in the dozens. I watch your brief life story play out again and again. I get to the fiftieth minute and push the button backward on the youtube frame so I can start watching the brandy voiced orations of the narrators wander again through Hampton Court and Windsor Castle. The camera pans outward to sixteenth century sylvan Britain. Wild stag. Centennial oaks bleeding their branches out into skyscraperless vistas. And some modern version of a lute melody I have heard four or five times in the past 24 hours soaking the scenery in the sound of history.

The end credits roll upward and I start to feel the fray of anxiety tightening my throat so I scan the sidebar with its endless row of thumbnail suggestions for the next. Will it be Medieval Foods, Part One? Or The Unknown Prince John, The Royals Best Kept Secret? Or will it be Isabella and Margaret: Forgotten Queens of the Middle Ages? Maybe this time I’ll branch out to Last Days of The Romanov Dynasty or Jenny Jerome: Mistress, Heiress, Mother of Winston Churchill.

If there were a niche Jeopardy game show for legacy families, monarchs and anglophiles I’d be a straight ringer. It turns out when you no longer feel capable of doing anything other than lying in bed, you can become a wizard at almost any collection of knowledge in a very short amount of time. Especially if youtube spoons this into your depression-heavy noggin one hour at a time.

When he started to stalk me, two months ago, I stopped tossing a novel into my purse before leaving to take the kids to school. The first few days into the harassment, I thought there was no way it would last longer than a week. My body sank fast into the somatic recognition that my brain was tap dancing real hard over a pile of bullshit. I’d take the book out, open it up and stare at it. Then I’d think about what he had sent me most recently, and maybe why. Then I’d wonder how, how, how while I stared off at my kids on the school playground and told myself it was going to all work out fine through the knot of nausea. Of course it was going to be fine because he was my friend and he loved me. Everything was alright and alright meant normal and normal meant that I read a decent amount every day. I refocused on the book and stared at the same sentence like a plate of something you know is going in the garbage. Then I stopped bringing the books. Because I was ready to get back into bed the moment I got home where my body could act out how not-normal things were in the privacy of my own space. I would wake up in the clothes I had worn the previous day and I would not care.

He would have sent me another message. Maybe two. Sometimes three or four. He would condemn me for abandoning him. He would praise me and express his gratitude at having ever known me. He would remind me that he would never harm me. He would tell me he was crazy and that he needed help. He would tell me this was the final time I would ever hear from him again. He would tell me he was going to kill himself.

I blocked him from accessing me in every way I knew of and researched how to block him in order to find other ways that might be more effective. He would find me on these accounts using dozens of fake identities. He would tell me that this would all go away if I would only start talking to him again.

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Gun & The Bear

Sarah Keliher

Gun

The city I’m from is discarded logging country, train terminal country, second-class port country, once upon a time gateway to the west country. Not quite the ragged edge of the continent, but the last bit of civilization before the endless wet tangle of mountains and water.  Ruined west coast strike it rich dreams left a series of vacant lots and empty buildings with blind eyes, wild lilacs blooming from the windows. People once came here to make their fortunes. We ran through its deserted streets trailing echoes. The city remembers all of what it once was: woods to stone to dreams. Continue reading “Gun & The Bear”

In College

John Milas

for Mike

I write a poem about hazing. In the poem I’ve just been promoted to corporal. The lieutenant has gone home for the day, so the other corporals take turns dead-legging me over and over again while I brace myself against a trash can and dry-heave over a puddle of my own sweat. Their laughter billows in rhythm with my throbbing skull. Continue reading “In College”

Even the dead don’t go back to Sudan

Themba Lewis

At 10am, the tenth-floor window offered a strange sense of calm. It was December 31st, 2005, and the sky was still clear, unclouded by dust and exhaust. The rooftops and minarets offered an unusually sleepy grace from this bird’s-eye vantage. It was as though the massive urbanity of Cairo was bracing for the new year at just the right pace.

On the inside of the glass there was a different story. Twenty-four hours earlier, 4,000 armored Egyptian riot police had brutally attacked and forcibly detained more than 2,000 Sudanese refugees at a protest sit-in at Mustapha Mahmoud Park, two officers on each refugee, just across the Nile. Many of the refugees had been beaten or trampled to death, almost half of the dead were children under the age of twelve. Continue reading “Even the dead don’t go back to Sudan”

Is It Me You’re Looking For?

Themba Lewis

04 February 2011

The Aqaba port at the northern tip of the Red Sea inlet has existed in some form or another for over 6,000 years – through the ancient kingdoms, the trading missions to Punt, the wandering and exodus of the Jews, and the manufacture of political states. It existed 1,400 years before the last of the Siberian wooly mammoths died, and thousands of years before the rise (and fall) of Ancient Greece. Now the tiny port city is squeezed tightly between Israeli access to the water at Eilat to the Northwest, the expansive Saudi Arabian coastline to the south, and the dark desert of Egypt across the water to the West. Continue reading “Is It Me You’re Looking For?”

Druzhba-2 Дружба-2

Themba Lewis

 

According to resident graffiti, Druzhba is a “state of mind.” It is also where I live. My building is number 271 of many more, in the Soviet-based equality housing complex “Druzhba-2.” It stands on the bleak industrial outskirts of the Bulgarian Capital, Sofia. In the background sits Vitosha, a massive snow covered peak dotted with springs that are said to run magical waters, capable of bringing sight to the blind. Continue reading “Druzhba-2 Дружба-2”

Bagmati बागमती नदी

Themba Lewis

I saw my first dead body on the Bagmati. It seemed clean, wrapped and tied in cream-colored sheeting. It was burning white hot in high flames, excreting human smoke up and across the valley in thin clouds. I thought of tiny particles of dead human flesh floating, light as ash, and settling on the streets and houses. In my lungs. I thought of boiling blood. Continue reading “Bagmati बागमती नदी”