Literary Fiction Literature

My Life by Hasti Abbasi

They say they won’t admit you here, Dad whispers.Hasti Abbasi
“Ahmad, for God’s sake! I’m dying,” Mum shouts.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?”
“Just do something! ― God.”
God is one of those words I’ve heard a lot since, I remember.
“Sakineh, stop walking,” Dad says.
“Don’t even mention my name you bastard ― A-Good-For-Nothing husband ― Nurse, please do something, my child will die if you don’t hospitalize me ― if you know God!” Mum begs.
“I’m so sorry but there’s nothing that can be done ― there’s no Gynaecologist in the hospital right now as Dr. Amini left two hours ago, and Dr. Karami won’t arrive until tomorrow morning. She’s in Turkey right now.”
“There should be something you can do. What do you mean there’s no Gynecologist in the hospital right now?” Dad has anger and depression in his voice.
“The private hospital is less than three kilometres away,” a quiet voice says.
“What don’t you understand? I DO NOT HAVE MONEY.”
Money is the second word I remember having heard, a lot.
There must be some relation between God and Money.
It’s getting hot in here.

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Poetry

Mark Terrill ~ Six Poems

Vox PopMark Terrill - photo by Moon

I thought about where I was
until I was there
where I thought I understood—
the town talking to the city
and the words not wasted there—
but they couldn’t hear
what it is I’m hearing
by way of destruction & abandonment
& washing up on another shore—
being interviewed by
Slick Entrepreneurs, Savage Impresarios
& Media Moguls of Information Technology—
flash-mob-chatroom-forum-blogspot-
hashtag-digital-virtual-lifeworld scenarios—
illusions of immanence,
verbal hallucinations,
the voice coming up out of the typewriter—
extremely loud, painfully clear—
but the kids, yeah, the kids,
they don’t even know
what a typewriter is.

. . .

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Poetry

Peter Bakowski ~ Three Poems

peter-bakowski-poetThe courage season

The days. You try to settle them in diaries, but they can’t be
Herded, tamed. They’re here to counter, perhaps best
Each chess move, your ability to push out from dead corners.

Curiosity, action and laughter are contagious as are their
Opposites. At crucial times you’ll need to go out on a limb to
Understand the landscape, to see the outlines of false paths.
Risk being a tightrope walker rather than a pedestrian. It’s
A case of attitude over altitude.
Go beyond data, dithering, staring at photographs of dead
Explorers. Today awaits your focus, imprint and bold steps.

Some self-examination is what the moral doctor ordered.
Excuses are crutches. Let them clatter to the ground.
A balance is sought but there are tremors, shifts, seizures.
Solutions come to the alert, the open-minded, excited by
Obstacles rather than dismayed. Perhaps right now there’s
No-one more in need of surprising than yourself.

. . .

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Poetry

Stuart Cooke ~ Four Poems

Download (PDF, 358KB)

stuart cooke poetStuart is a lecturer in creative writing and literary studies at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. His next collection of poetry, Opera, will be published by Five Islands Press in 2016.

Poetry

Five Poems by Bradford Middleton

bradford-middletonA POETIC LIFE

A few years ago I ran into this poet type who seemed to be alright
We would meet occasionally, invariably at gigs, and get right down to the important part of any poetry gig, the drinking…
As poets wandered to and from the stage the pair of them sat, quietly, soaking in the words
Some were good, some were bad and, some, just sounded all the same
A bad white rapper kid followed by a classical, very often of the smug, rich and dull type
During the intervals they would chat and occasionally one of us would rush outside
One to comeback curiously not that stoned
Whilst the other has somehow nefariously smuggled in some cheap booze
Eventually one of them would get called and with the hall nicely full
They would go on stage and pour their heart out to an audience who rarely cared
But when they did really listen and the words took hold it was a beautiful thing, standing in the limelight alone
Soon enough though a couple of other interesting places opened up and before they knew it they had 4 gigs a month
Then along came a new face and he overwhelmed them with his enthusiasm
It was all going to be filmed and it was all going to be amazing and make everyone look great.
Well, since that day, now some 18 months ago the film has not had any more done to it besides a trailer
And I got to say I ain’t impressed, has everything come down to this
Me a phony performance artist who merely turns on when on stage
Well that’s fucking bullshit man, I’m the real me all the time
I can be fucked-up or serious whenever I want, that’s part of what makes up my life
This life, the drinks, the smokes, the heartless brutality of just how real it feels right now
That night I remember, I gave my all, had a wine bar like putty in my hand as I ranted through an expletive tirade as a wake-up call
A call to arms, a resounding success, lots of people and a regular place which from month 2 on died a slow death
It was mainly prolonged by beautiful married red-headed women who would come and tease as I read them my love letters, making the offering of my heart
To them I dedicate those nights, thanks for sticking around and making it worth my while
But now, in my local pub, we hold fort once a month and here in Brighton they’ve got me down as a performance artist
So I guess, for you people here, this isn’t an act, this is really me
Get used to the fuck-ups, enjoy the highs and anyone wanting to challenge me well just stand up and come get me and watch my words bring you down.

. . .

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Essay Science Fiction

The Road to Galactic Serfdom – War, Tyranny, and Terror in the First Two Star Wars Trilogies by Dan Sanchez

 

1-cuPY-LGTRX5sBEv5IesGQgStar Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters this week, continuing the cinematic saga of an interplanetary civilization’s struggles with galactic war and tyranny. It will be watched by millions whose own civilization is beset by global warfare driven by a planetary empire on the verge of descending into a militarized police state. So now would be a good time to review the lessons to be found in the first two Star Wars trilogies concerning the road to universal serfdom and how to keep off it.
The story of how the Galactic Empire arose is told in the prequels trilogy. The whole process is orchestrated from within the Galactic Republic by Palpatine, a seemingly benign politician who is secretly Darth Sidious, grand master of the Sith, a power hungry order of mystic warriors wielding the dark side of the Force. The Sith are a dark reflection of the Jedi Knights, who use the Force to protect life and in service to the Republic.

Sidious is the “phantom menace” who, aided by his apprentice Darth Maul, covertly manipulates the galaxy’s republican government to progressively increase his own power, steadily advancing toward a total Sith coup. Just as with real life democracies, the Galactic Republic masks the machinations of the true wielders of power with the facade of “representative government” and drapes their seizures of still greater power with the sanctifying mantle of “popular sovereignty.” The Sith can be seen as an analogy for the deep state.

Sidious’s implement of choice for accumulating power is war. His modus operandi is as follows. He first manufactures an interplanetary conflict and crisis, manipulating one side as Palpatine and commanding the other side as Sidious. He then engineers enhancements of his own power over the Republic, justifying them as regrettably necessary for decisively dealing with that crisis.

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Poetry

Five Poems by Cal Freeman

cal-freemanFight Song of the Fiddleback

The rain tonight
dribbled through the silver
maple leaves long
after it had rained.
I sang a few bars
of Guy Clark’s “Dublin
Blues,” thinking of the spider
I hit with a boot
this afternoon for nothing
but fear and all
the pests I am always
killing to assuage
its grip. Spiders of this sort
(brown recluse?) hunt
roaches and other
insects we do not want
around. I worry over
what potting soil
and damp cardboard
will bring to the garage.
I am the type
to stay up all night
with vague foretellings
of reckonings
as I imagine
the collapsed carcass
distending its legs
once again
and scurrying away
in a gesture of weary
forgiveness though
there is nothing
a spider or a person
has the agency
to forgive.

. . .

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Literature Short Stories

Joan Didion’s Recipe Book by Ashleigh Watson

ashleigh-watsonJoan smiles at the camera. Her hands hugging a full bowl, short hair low in two pigtails with blue ribbons falling waist length long, white peasant blouse, blue jeans. The kitchen with clear jars and olive lids full of salt and brown sugar and Japanese green beans, mismatched oven gloves, a range of orange Tupperware and a red cast iron pot on the bench.

        The candid colour photo is page two of Joan’s recipe book. Joan’s favourite recipes and menus. It pinged into my inbox earlier in the afternoon while I sat drinking black coffee at the kitchen bench. The slick PDF was a kickback for donating to a documentary. I slid through the pages on my phone screen, finishing my coffee, ignoring two text messages, waving away a fly.

        Fall is the first season of food. Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, then a final section for Sweets. A roast garlic recipe photocopied from a 1992 Williams-Sonoma Grande Cuisine magazine is first. Page five is a journal note: dinner January 30 2003, J & J, Q & Jerry Micheal. John and Joan and their daughter, Quintana and son-in-law, Jerry, ate smoked salmon with capers, lemon and chives. Chiles and scallions and olives. They finished with clementines and chocolates. Page six is a Borscht recipe, handwritten on a LIFE magazine notepad. Page seven is dinner: October 17 2003. Roast chicken with rosemary, goat cheese and brie. Chocolates and almonds. J & J with Sharon Delano. And so the book goes.

      My J, James, came home at four from having his hair cut and I asked him what he felt like for dinner. We already had fish in the fridge but I scrolled past the artichokes and stopped at a winter recipe, Lamb Navarin. A full, meaty French ragout method only four sentences long, typed on a typewriter. I drank in the page and the smell of it, the taste, the heady warmth came alive like the blue does in her books. It was hot and late in the afternoon but the shops were open for another hour so I picked my wallet and keys up from the bench, pulled some shoes on and headed out for the ingredients. The fish would keep till tomorrow.

Navarin (for six outside)
Brown three pounds leg of lamb cut for stew, deglaze pan with brandy, roll lamb in flour, place in casserole.
Simmer an hour with white wine & beef broth to cover, three tomatoes pureed or tomato paste, garlic & parsley chopped, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf.

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