Joseph Baxendell & his observatory

Source: Joseph Baxendell & his observatory

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Tom Bombadil Senryu Chain

bold eyes sparkle blue

his boots are yellow, he sings

and jacket bright blue

a merry fellow

with his crown of autumn leaves

Iarwain Ben-adar *

Ancient in the woods

on his musical command

all freeze and obey

the one who brings gifts

of flowers to Goldberry

he’s Old Man Willow

(A/N: Oldest And Fatherless in Elvin)

Erase The Old Realism – Ch 1

Moonshine Noire

CW: Drugs, Addiction, Mental Disorders

The empires collapsed to rubble. Skyscrapers dragged down to the ground. It was chaos. I could smell the end. It smells of tequila, cannabis, and strawberry shampoo. It’s so cold so cold so cold. But I’m not shivering from cold. My own teeth are frigid icepicks. Carved diamond hard, I think I’ve cut my lip. Maybe it was someone else’s teeth that nipped me.

Haha, nipped. What a strange word. N-I-P-P-E-D. Something valid rhymes with it. Ah yes, tripped. That’s what happened to me. Why I was on the floor. The floor, I could hardly see it. I stand up. Gracefully I think. Maybe I’m too drunk for that. Ah well. I’m up either way, squashed between two shirtless dancers. One’s a woman, I note with vague interest. I need to move.

People were packed like sardines in those decorated tins that you peel open…

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Four Tunisian Women Writers You Should Know

Arabic Literature (in English)

In the summer 2017 issue of The Charles River JournalTunisian poet-journalist-translator Ali Znaidi, who is also the editor of our sister site Tunisian Literature (in English), wrote a dispatch about the 2017 Tunis Book Fair. Because of the strong scene of women writers in Tunisia, the majority of writers Znaidi discussed were women:

With permission from Znaidi and The Charles River Journal, a list for Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth) of four Tunisian women writers you should know.

Houyem Ferchichi:

Znaidi describes a talk organized by award-winning Tunisian novelist Kamel Riahi, who was one of the “Beirut39” best Arab writers under 40, to discuss “the aesthetics of the image in short story writing.” The talk moved around the experiences of Ferchichi and Fatma Ben Mahmoud.

Houyem Ferchichi, Znaidi writes, “is a literary journalist and short story writer. She has published her short stories and poems…

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(f)able

lonely graphite eyes

how they stare in wonder

at the marvels of the world

 

you soar,  your soul beamed

your bones have broken free

see how they shine free

 

soggy knees bowed inwards

handsomely sculptured in rhine

your teeth gnawed rubies

 

I heard you had a good time

rainbow tree leaves entwined

around your prickly lashes

 

sight was life’s illusion

you figured that out long ago

and now you make art from sighs

 

the woes of people a palette

and their dreams like smoke

you breathed it all to life

 

life is but an illusion

delusional visions replayed

for marionettes’ delight

 

but you saw right through this

life’s philosophy was your joke

and your bones have broken free

At What Price Poetry? – guest blog post by Frances Donovan — Trish Hopkinson

A fellow poet recently had the courage to complain about the expense of our chosen vocation. It’s a sad fact that the net proceeds for poets are usually negative. We often have to pay to develop our craft and get ourselves read. Perhaps it’s not unlike many art forms in this way — especially the “fine” arts like […]

via At What Price Poetry? – guest blog post by Frances Donovan — Trish Hopkinson

Erase The Old Realism – Ch 1

CW: Drugs, Addiction, Mental Disorders

The empires collapsed to rubble. Skyscrapers dragged down to the ground. It was chaos. I could smell the end. It smells of tequila, cannabis, and strawberry shampoo. It’s so cold so cold so cold. But I’m not shivering from cold. My own teeth are frigid icepicks. Carved diamond hard, I think I’ve cut my lip. Maybe it was someone else’s teeth that nipped me.

Haha, nipped. What a strange word. N-I-P-P-E-D. Something valid rhymes with it. Ah yes, tripped. That’s what happened to me. Why I was on the floor. The floor, I could hardly see it. I stand up. Gracefully I think. Maybe I’m too drunk for that. Ah well. I’m up either way, squashed between two shirtless dancers. One’s a woman, I note with vague interest. I need to move.

People were packed like sardines in those decorated tins that you peel open. Tins that you peel back like bananas. A flash of yellow breezed past me. A bunch of bananas?

JUMMMMPPPP!

And someone flies off the 22nd floor. The party rages on, who gives a fuck?

Forget everything and lose control. Someone whistles in my ears. I turn. Nobody is there, at least not anyone who isn’t dancing wildly, minding their own business.

Elbows kiss brows and toes bruised up. Why don’t I feel it?

Set yourself free of your societal burdens. A girl strips off her designer dress. Capitalist slop. Stains remaining, stickiness and sweat.

*tears clothes off and throws them off the balcony*

Ecstasy passed tongue to tongue. I think I already have some on my tongue. That’s a funny word too. Ecstasy. It’s sticky on my tongue. The word. It’s a snake hiss. SSSSSYYYY.

Just forget!

The tempo beats an unforgivable demand.

Just forget!

This is just entertainment, less acceptable than TV more acceptable than …

Someone plays a cowbell -shreds the heck out of it- a girl picks up a fiddle from thin air -or so it seems as she attacks the strings. Paganini reincarnate it seems. The party rages on and on. The beat changes to something far more severe, it stinks of desperation in here, or is it perspiration?

You’re divine

THA-THUMP!

You’re divine

THA-THUMP!

You’re divine

The danger of the statement flits in and out of trances. The cowbell reminds me of moocows. Moocows were there when you were little. Your granddad milked them. You had a grandad, back then. He was a nice, wrinkled man with very bushy brows and now I think of how gran made fun of those. Gran smelled nice – of cookies and soap. Not this desperate perspiration…or was it desperation? Their house had different noises. Moocows mooed, they didn’t jingle like cowbells. Something clucked though – chickens. I don’t eat those anymore. I’m glad I don’t, they sound sweet. Less violent and heartrending than the fiddle.

The girl looks possessed. I think I want to possess her.

No, that sounds wrong. I’m no creep. I’d like to know her name. She’s beautiful and as she plays her bosom bounces and her hair covers her face. Why is she playing the fiddle?

I don’t think I’m at a concert or gala. No, this is his house, that blond one never met him but he said something. He promised it’d be worth it.

Again I think of gran, I saw her when she died. I think I saw something leave her, not a spirit as those bible people say. No, it was the rosiness of her cheeks and the twinkle in her eye. She was in her favourite brown chair by the fire because they had a fireplace. Very rural that house.

She smiled at me and I smiled back then suddenly her book fell to the floor. Shaggydog started to howl. The dog didn’t have a name, not that I recall. Very impersonal, I remember thinking. Why was the dog howling? I heard that dogs can sense when a spirit leaves the body. I think I read it in a book or magazine. I used to read books by the wheelbarrow-full, literally.

When I was nine, I was a scrawny child. Momma and daddy were too busy so I’d walk to the library and carry books out. Armful by armful and wheel them home. Wait, not always straight home. There was that empty field that I would read in or nap in, under the great oak. It was a lonely oak.

I always wondered why it had no fellow trees around. I asked her once (for I liked to think the oak was a she seldom does one see a man so lonely) whether she ever felt lonely or worse. I asked her whether she hated her life as I did, as I do. Of course you’ll say trees don’t talk but if you listen real closely you’ll hear it in the rustling of the leaves and the gyrating of the branches.

Speaking of gyrating, the party was getting wilder. The lights flashed blue and red, that made me think of the police. Why hadn’t anyone called them on us yet? Oh wait, this is an abandoned hotel a mile off the motorway. Or was it the blond boy’s hotel?

Either way it was in the middle of nowhere like the oak tree, like gran and grandad’s house, like Auntie’s house too. She lived a private life which I assumed was solitary until one day when I was twelve momma told me that she had a partner. I asked if they were married. Momma hesitated. Her hesitation told me all I needed to hear. Not that I realised it then. I thought at first that she was with a married man.

Society has a strange way of being very patriarchal. It didn’t occur to me until years later that Auntie’s partner was Auntie Eve. Even then only when Auntie Eve asked me whether I had a crush on someone. She didn’t say on a boy like society would assume and that made all the difference. I told her no boys caught my eye.

Johnnie spoke about girls in a disgusting way. Unmannered and uncivilized, Emma would say wrinkling her nose in disgust. I would nod and think Emma was awfully grown up. I wish I had independent thoughts. Maybe society engineers my thought process too much. I want to be opinionated and decisive about real issues and politics, like Emma.

I really liked Emma. I didn’t realise it then. Billy told me I was jealous of her. In fact, he sounded jealous as he said it.

There! An opinion unconditioned by social norms!

He didn’t understand then why I avoided him. He used to be my best friend. I taught him how to whistle with your fingers and he showed me how to make music with grass blades.

Music… that’s what the racket and chaos is. The loudness pulled me back to the present. Someone was brushing up and down against my leg. I blinked to clear my vision realising I had moisture running down my cheeks.

Tears –I was crying.

I haven’t cried since —

–since Blue said that I repulse her. That was three years ago. I was young and foolish then. Her parents were pastors, I should have known. I should be thankful she didn’t tell them. Momma would never forgive me if her church knew. Daddy didn’t even know. He wasn’t to know that I was ‘one of those’.

I haven’t seen Auntie since Momma found me crying. It was after Emma moved away. At first she simply assumed we were friends. Society’s patriarchal pollution acting on her too.

When I refused to eat for three days, she knew. Maybe she’d been dreading it, or avoiding it like a plague. It may have been the plague the way she muttered on about a cure.

Cure. I needed one. I needed a cure desperately. But not for that. That wasn’t the disease. The disease is far more. I can’t stop. I simply cannot stop.

The Sickly Lows of a Depressive Nihilist

Content Warning: Stream of conscience/thought, anti-life talk.

A stiffening numbness takes over, leaving you in a semi-paralytic state. You simply stare in whatever direction your eyes are pointing, no compass necessary. Would it really be that different if the view was of a seaside or a nice countryside? Nothing could fool you into thinking you’d enjoy it even if it were a tropical rainforest with a waterfall and colourful birds with hooked orange beaks fluttering through the canopy. You’re too drenched in grey which occasionally smudges into charcoal like an accidental tipping of an ashtray. You’re ashes without the flames. Something dead and used up. You have no future and upon further consideration you realise you had no past, at least not one you’re willing to think about.

Memories can be comforting, they remind you that you once did, once had, once thought, once realised, once learned, once laughed… but they can be an abstract puzzle of disconnected images that diffract through your mind and clash horribly. Nothing makes sense. Why? Why are you here? What is the purpose of thought? Why is it so hard to breathe when you know there’s more than enough air in your room? Why do you see flashes of things you’ve tried to bury for so long, things that weren’t reduced to ashes but rather remained only slightly charred around the edges? Are you a worker ant scurrying to be of service to the queen simply so more ants come into existence, and then what, those ants in turn do that, why? If you exist simply so existence itself continues then isn’t it pointless? That makes existence the most important purpose in the world. But again, why? Wouldn’t nothingness be equally effective in producing nothing of actual purpose? Then again, what is purpose and why do we assume it is necessary? Sounds like capitalism, working because you’re meant to so as to be productive for maximum profit, squeezing out every ounce of your productivity. So does that mean capitalism is instinctive and necessary? Maybe your whole purpose is to be a contributing part of a society that fools itself into thinking that it has a future when in fact each individual perishes at one point or another with only blood and sweats splattered behind to be remembered by briefly. An aim for the aimless.

The numbness is sometimes replaced with a strange melancholy that moistens your eyes and takes up all your energy and diffuses it into nothingness. Your fatigue is hard to explain but you feel weary to your bones and a few decades older. You stop bothering to do basic things that your daily routine consists of. You even give up on things you love, not because you don’t love them anymore but because you simply cannot bring yourself to do them. Like an artist’s block only magnified. You realise how dangerous this could get. A malady to the brain isn’t like a broken leg, you don’t simply put it in a cast and wait for it to heal. That is why mental illness is far worse. If your brain is healthy, you can live fairly steadily and maybe even happily. But if the disease is in your central unit, there’s little you can do. How does one escape one’s thoughts?

I used to think people who said they were depressed were trying too hard to be emo or seem deep. That is until I developed a depressive disorder. How I could ever have thought it a joke is beyond me. You have those lovely folk who understand and say they hate that it’s happening to you and those that’ll ignorantly call you a liberal snowflake (I’m not).

I’m still depressed and it is different for everyone so nobody can understand what anyone is going through even if they have the same ailment. Some wake up and decide not to move from their beds, others get up and act cheerful with plastic smiles, others still go through the day like a ghost nobody else can see and put on a brave front for themselves out of sheer willpower.

All suffer and none should have to. But why not? If suffering makes life seem more real or more abstract, both circumstances are infinitely more bearable than the disturbing reality of mundane work-to-live-then-die-bored life. Some days, I live in a haze of fantasy, imagining dystopias and utopias to comfort myself into believing in idealistic worlds or that this one isn’t the worst. I like to dream, completely blocking out any interaction with reality and people. Other days I sit there observing reality and people. Both mental frames are more comforting than active participation in the play of life. Looking through the goggles of fantasy or of existentialism can make the black and white seem kaleidoscopic or grey. It depends on you. Not everything is linear. You’ll never gain anything from simply succumbing to normality. Then again, you’ll never gain anything, ever.

Life on Earth is like a purgatory. Monsters lurk in the shadows, stalking you every step of the way and you never know when they’ll pounce out. Depression is knowing that all the monsters you should worry about are in your head.