ISSUE IV: Mirror of Society

"Mirror of Society" is The Global Youth Review's fourth issue, which revolves around themes of social injustice, inequity, and inequality. We warmly welcome you into a space filled with riveting prose, poetry, and photography from creators across five continents. Designed by Sena Chang

"Mirror of Society" is The Global Youth Review's fourth issue, which revolves around themes of social injustice, inequity, and inequality. We warmly welcome you into a space filled with riveting prose, poetry, and photography from creators across five continents. Designed by Sena Chang


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PRESENTING <strong>ISSUE</strong> FOUR<br />

-<strong>IV</strong>-<br />

FOUR<br />

-<strong>IV</strong>-<br />


2 0 2 2<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>IV</strong> 2022 Y.<br />

M I R R O R<br />

O F S O C I E T Y<br />

T H E G L O B A L Y O U T H<br />

R E V I E W<br />


Ibra Aamir<br />

Dua Aasim<br />

Abdulmueed Balogun<br />

Sena Chang<br />

Steven Christopher McKnight<br />

Lisa Degens<br />

Joshua Ellis<br />

Zo Estacio<br />

Ella Fox-Martens<br />

Rowan Graham<br />

Arianna Harris<br />

Talha Hasan<br />

Bianca J<br />

Ziqing Kuang<br />

Gabrielle Loren<br />

Krittika Majumder<br />

Ivaana Mitra C.<br />

Shreya Raj<br />

Avantika Singh<br />

Helena V<br />

Lake Vargas<br />

George White<br />


Adrija Jana<br />

Alex Shenstone<br />

Anna Nixon<br />

Anoushka Swaminathan<br />

Arbër Selmani<br />

DC Diamondopolous<br />

Eneida P. Alcalde<br />

Fasasi Abdulrosheed Oladipupo<br />

Felix Otis<br />

Halle Ewing<br />

Ilana Drake<br />

Jaiden A<br />

Jen Ross<br />

Katherine Ebbs<br />

Leela Raj-Sankar<br />

Mantz Yorke<br />

Matt Hsu<br />

Natasha Bredle<br />

Oladejo Abdullah Feranmi<br />

Ray Zhang<br />

Rebecca Colby<br />

Sandra Kolankiewicz<br />

Sheeks Bhattacharjee<br />

For advertising enquiries contact: theglobalyouthreview@gmail.com<br />

Cover Art: Milada Vigerova<br />

Magazine Designer: Sena Chang<br />

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5<br />


A table <strong>of</strong> contents and a letter from<br />

the founder —<br />

1<br />


Pulling back the curtains <strong>of</strong><br />

society —<br />

2<br />


Shattered fragments that make up<br />

the mirror <strong>of</strong> society —<br />

3<br />

SHARDS<br />

Mending the shattered; healing from<br />

the broken shards<br />

4<br />


Featured writers and<br />

artists —<br />

5<br />



P<br />

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TABLE OF<br />



8<br />


WRITTEN BY SENA CHANG | A note <strong>of</strong><br />

gratitude to all editors, contributors, and<br />

team members involved<br />

17 GROWTH<br />


poem detailing one's growth after a<br />

series <strong>of</strong> tribulations in life<br />

22<br />


WRITTEN BY ADRIJA JANA | A powerful<br />

poem placing emphasis on the centuries-long<br />

virus <strong>of</strong> racism<br />

102<br />

25<br />


WRITTEN BY ILANA DRAKE | An bittersweet<br />

free-verse poem focusing on<br />

themes <strong>of</strong> loss and nostalgia<br />


A comprehensive list <strong>of</strong> all 23 contributors<br />

<strong>of</strong> the magazine, with biographies that<br />

provide further insight into their craft<br />

70<br />

72<br />

88<br />

95<br />

77<br />


BURDEN<br />


grappling with themes <strong>of</strong> identity loss and<br />

ostracization<br />


WRITTEN BY MATT HSU | A short story<br />

that describes a reality where babies are<br />

sold, covering themes <strong>of</strong> racism, commodification,<br />

and human trafficking.<br />



poem focusing on the importance <strong>of</strong> individuality<br />

in a world filled with preordained<br />

assumptions<br />

32 WED<br />

WRITTEN BY JEN ROSS | A poignant story<br />

highlighting the issue <strong>of</strong> child marriage<br />

through the portrait <strong>of</strong> a young girl<br />

60<br />



A critique <strong>of</strong> the growing disaffection and<br />

disconnect present amongst members <strong>of</strong><br />

our society<br />


WRITTEN BY JAIDEN A. | A piece exploring<br />

the inadequacies and failures <strong>of</strong> the<br />

modern criminal justice system through a<br />

short story<br />


The cover art for this issue used<br />

a photograph taken by Milada<br />

Vigerova. She can be found on<br />

Instagram at @milivigerova.<br />

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BY<br />


Editor’s<br />

LETTER<br />

T<br />

here is no doubt that the modern<br />

political system is shrouded by<br />

corruption, cronyism, and nepotism—<br />

all hidden within the everyday<br />

idiosyncrasies <strong>of</strong> life. From Putin's unprovoked<br />

invasion into Ukraine to the January 6th Capitol<br />

riots that threatened the very concept <strong>of</strong><br />

democracy within the U.S., 2022 has blatantly<br />

revealed the many inefficiencies and corruptive<br />

structures present within the political system<br />

that masquerade themselves as justice, equity,<br />

and other morales. The many issues that plague<br />

our politics and justice system have come out <strong>of</strong><br />

the shadows this year, demonstrating to us the<br />

fragility and temporariness <strong>of</strong> democratic ideals.<br />

Yet, many issues have still remained untouched,<br />

hidden behind curtains that are rarely pulled<br />

back in modern society.<br />

In this issue, we set out to find bold<br />

writers and artists unafraid to pull back<br />

this rhetorical curtain—steadfast in their<br />

commitment to speaking truth to power and<br />

shattering traditionally hegemonic narratives.<br />

Having closely read the works <strong>of</strong> each <strong>of</strong> our<br />

contributors, I firmly believe that we have<br />

achieved this goal through the powerful<br />

storytelling <strong>of</strong> our writers and poets. Reading<br />

through this issue, you’ll see the braveness and<br />

freshness with which these selected contributors<br />

face societal issues such as child marriage,<br />

racism, and commodification. These stories<br />

collectively reach into a rawness and pr<strong>of</strong>undity<br />

rarely found in today’s society; these stories<br />

plant a seed <strong>of</strong> hope within me that someday, our<br />

society will stand upon the pillars <strong>of</strong> true justice,<br />

equity, and transparency, instead <strong>of</strong> the distorted<br />

definitions <strong>of</strong> these morales that we have created<br />

in our world today. So, without further ado, I<br />

warmly welcome you into issue four <strong>of</strong> The Global<br />

Youth Review—a space abundant with talent,<br />

rawness, and truth about the most pressing<br />

matters facing us today.<br />


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“writing<br />

is the<br />

geometry<br />

<strong>of</strong> the<br />

soul.<br />

Plato<br />

(429–347 B.C.E.)

Magazine<br />

MIRROR<br />

<strong>of</strong> SOCIETY<br />

We warmly welcome you into The<br />

Global Youth Review's fourth issue,<br />

which focuses on what lies behind<br />

the curtains <strong>of</strong> society.<br />



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<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>IV</strong><br />

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11<br />




reflection<br />


" One <strong>of</strong> the most destructive things<br />

that's happening in modern society<br />

is that we are losing our sense <strong>of</strong> the<br />

bonds that bind people together."<br />

Alexander McCall Smith<br />


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"...rocking gently back and forth /<br />

in the wake / <strong>of</strong> our wasted youth,<br />

lost..."<br />

"Growth"<br />

Natasha Bredle


G R O W<br />

T<br />

H<br />

G R O W<br />

T<br />

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G R O W<br />

T<br />

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Natasha Bredle<br />


POETRY<br />

GROWTH<br />


Battle wounds displaced, we are<br />

a myriad <strong>of</strong> lovers, seekers in/out <strong>of</strong> touch<br />

with the world, but tell me<br />

was the world<br />

ever meant<br />

to be touched by our calloused hands?<br />

Purpled fingers, bleeding cuticles<br />

charred nails that corresponded with<br />

the fruit <strong>of</strong> our labors, dazzling shades <strong>of</strong><br />

sugar, citrus, everything<br />

in moderation has never failed,<br />

only we fail to see this<br />

when we mistake more for more, or<br />

less for more, or<br />

either reciprocal.<br />

Pursuing extremes, time slips<br />

through the cracks <strong>of</strong> our fingers to leave us<br />

rocking gently back and forth<br />

in the wake<br />

<strong>of</strong> our wasted youth. Lost<br />

laughter, fostering lips abridged<br />

dopamine receptors, abundant eyes<br />

caged seeds, fertile which might have become<br />

great forest trees destined one day to shade<br />

a weary traveler, or merely<br />

pump necessity into the atmosphere.<br />

Recognition is the greatest gift<br />

we give those unfulfilled possibilities <strong>of</strong> the past—<br />

recognition, and a promise<br />

to not fling the future behind us<br />

in the same blind-sighted way.<br />

The scars peppering our skin will remind us, striving<br />

for our different path, intending<br />

to see the sun that set too early<br />

rise again.<br />

We were birthed from the shadows.<br />

We will not turn our ancestors into the enemy,<br />

but allow their enlightenment to cascade<br />

over us like the light <strong>of</strong> day:<br />

barely perceivable, but overwhelming.<br />

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17<br />


POETRY<br />




Invisible clouds <strong>of</strong> cotton<br />

amass beneath your eyes, materialized<br />

during the night perhaps to soak up those inconsolable tears,<br />

and they did the job, but now your face<br />

might as well have been in a fist fight, bulging bags<br />

blurring your vision. But what is there to see<br />

when all you feel is the aftermath<br />

<strong>of</strong> your flight or fight perception?<br />

The heat, the bile rising in your throat,<br />

heart racing with palpitated rhythm. God, not again.<br />

Forget, forget, forget.<br />

But how can you carry on when the memory<br />

lies just behind the bend, along with the certainty<br />

<strong>of</strong> attacks planned ahead?<br />

Look around you, look,<br />

did the sun still rise? Can you feels its rays on your skin,<br />

oblivious to the terror that rattled your bones<br />

in the precedent hours <strong>of</strong> night?<br />

Is the Earth still spinning?<br />

Is your mother still driving to work at a school<br />

whose hallways are patrolled by buff men<br />

with tasers and badges?<br />

Are politicians still hollering on the morning news program?<br />

Are children around the world still huddling<br />

in the dusky corners <strong>of</strong> their homes, sucking their fingers<br />

until red welts appear?<br />

Are men still pacing jail cells, running their fingers<br />

along cold bars, struggling to recall the feel <strong>of</strong> sunshine?<br />

Are boys and girls still waking up in emergency rooms<br />

with their wrists stitched up like paper maché,<br />

tasting air and realizing<br />

they never wanted to stop breathing?<br />

Yes, the answer is always yes.<br />

You carry on when you keep moving.<br />

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POETRY<br />



If I wear my Father's shirt, do I become a boy?<br />

If I cut my hair short, do I cease to be Feminine?<br />

What is Feminine anyway?<br />

Must Femininity stand with downcast eyes and cover her head?<br />

Must Femininity lower her voice and sit in a particular way?<br />

Must Femininity sweat in the kitchen and cater to the Man's every whim?<br />

Must Femininity close her eyes, and cast aside every dream?<br />

Must Femininity not protest for her due, a placard in hand?<br />

Must Femininity not vote in a democracy, or as a candidate in an election stand?<br />

If that is what Femininity is to you,<br />

Then I'm sorry to say<br />

I'm not Feminine<br />

And you, my dear critic, are not suited to the present times.<br />

And yes, I'm a girl<br />

But I don't need to prove that<br />

By wearing clothes you choose<br />

By sitting the way you want me to<br />

By wearing my hair the way you ask<br />

If I wear my father's shirts, you say<br />

People might start to think I'm gay<br />

So what if they do?<br />

I know myself<br />

And for me, that's enough.<br />

And being gay- that is not something bad<br />

It's your thoughts that are caged in a box.<br />

I don't need your validation, nor your advice<br />

I choose to exercise my freedom <strong>of</strong> choice, my Right<br />

And I don't need to be feminine for love<br />

And I will not change myself<br />

For those who truly love me<br />

Will accept me for who I am.<br />

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21<br />


POETRY<br />

THE<br />

viRus<br />

"It's an epidemic that been ravaging,<br />

Not a year or two but for centuries now..."<br />


Icould be a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife,<br />

Or a father, a son, a brother, a husband,<br />

I might be a little one that's yet to walk<br />

Or established in my own job.<br />

But none <strong>of</strong> it matters<br />

For when you look at me,<br />

My skin colour is all you see.<br />

No, you're not too open about it<br />

But oh so subtle!<br />

And you did notice:<br />

My skin tone is a shade too dark.<br />

The way you shifted to the other end <strong>of</strong> the train seat,<br />

The way you shifted the resume to the discarded pile,<br />

Just by looking at the picture<br />

Oh! you definitely did notice.<br />

It's an epidemic that been ravaging,<br />

Not a year or two but for centuries now<br />

And the virus has now perfected its art.<br />

No mask, no hand wash, no sanitiser<br />

Can now stamp it out<br />

Because it is now comfortably settled<br />

Into the deepest recesses.<br />

Of your heart, mind and soul.<br />

Into the very stem cells <strong>of</strong> your brain<br />

So that you see feel and act upon the skin colour,<br />

And not upon the thought, merit or feeling<br />

Of the person before you<br />

And you and only you<br />

Can root this virus from within yourself<br />

Of course if you're willing.<br />


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23<br />



POETRY<br />

I A M<br />




I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And I will not be hearing you<br />

If I am running down the road<br />

And you wind your window down<br />

to tell me to run faster<br />

Take this lavender you bastard<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

I was just picking up a fork<br />

So why the f**k did you stroke my hand<br />

Did you have something slightly less charming planned?<br />

Take this clover, cuz your life is a sham<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And I will not be going near<br />

A man who comments on the smell <strong>of</strong> my hair<br />

As his breath moistens my ear<br />

With god knows what disease<br />

Take an ice plant because I hope you freeze<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And please don’t ever make me fear<br />

Opening messages when your name appears<br />

Just in case, instead <strong>of</strong> a text it is<br />

A sickening picture <strong>of</strong> your d**k<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And I just went for some fresh air<br />

When you stopped me in the park to stare<br />

And ask if I would gladly share<br />

A better view <strong>of</strong> my bunda<br />

Your flower’s ten feet in the ground that I wish you were under<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And why would you tell me that you’ll give<br />

Me milk everyday cuz you know where I live<br />

Stalking is not something easy to forgive<br />

So take this foxglove, and garnish your morning milk with it<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

On vacation I was chilling when<br />

You grabbed my arse from behind<br />

Thinking I wouldn’t see or mind<br />

Then turned to your friends and smiled wide<br />

Take this ivy and eat it, it’s deadly inside<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And don’t scapegoat me cuz I’m not mad<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And the patriarchy is my controlling dad<br />

Take the rose without the flower, cuz you’re a prick<br />


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I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And I am beautiful but I don’t need you to tell me that<br />

I am the modern reincarnation <strong>of</strong> Ophelia<br />

And I’m not drowning because <strong>of</strong> any lad<br />


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65<br />





BY<br />



it is inexplicable<br />

the handprints on my body:<br />

one per thigh, face smothered, stomach marred<br />

until<br />

i lift up my hands and see the blood painting my skin.<br />

the ancient scrolls say to cry out to the sky:<br />

i returned your stars,<br />

when will you shine on me again?<br />

upon its muted response, the waiting commences.<br />

throw in a dabble <strong>of</strong> sleepless nights, go searching<br />

for estranged serotonin and when i repeatedly<br />

turn up empty, may the realization emerge<br />

that i have found other necessities,<br />

such as<br />

the words to describe this ambivalent recovery.<br />

‘better’ is not the pellucid term they exalt it to be:<br />

will i recognize you when we meet?<br />

many welcome strangers have passed through here,<br />

as well as the hostile, whose aura lingers<br />

like a curated scent.<br />

pressed wisteria or burnt candle wicks,<br />

alluring, but with the capacity<br />

<strong>of</strong> untamable destruction which i<br />

have wrought on myself:<br />

water, please wash away these crippling stains.<br />

i promise i will not forget.<br />

for now the handprints remain,<br />

but the sky gives me solace. the blood<br />

runs through my veins, hailed as remnant <strong>of</strong> the war.<br />

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27<br />


Poetry<br />

on my<br />

identity<br />


perhaps i am a demon<br />

perhaps i am here, with my dirty claws and brittle teeth and mangled<br />

hair<br />

to ruin everyone’s life<br />

perhaps the reason that the way that i love upsets some is because<br />

they are perfect and god-fearing and pure and devoted and nothing in any<br />

way like me<br />

perhaps the reason that my in-between, my out-<strong>of</strong>-the-box is so terrible<br />

to some is because<br />

i go against their nature<br />

perhaps the reason that my skin, my history, என் மக்கள்* create such a<br />

tangible hatred in some is because<br />

we should have stayed in our own nation, browns and whites should not<br />

mix<br />

or perhaps those people are just overgrown bullies<br />

who can’t fathom the existence <strong>of</strong> those<br />

different than them<br />

perhaps i am the god, the monarch, the deva<br />

perhaps my ‘kind’ should do what we want without taking into consideration<br />

what will be said by a bigot<br />

perhaps our demonic nature is just that to someone who has never left the<br />

seat near their fireplace, staring into the flames with our imprints in their<br />

gaze<br />

*என் மக்கள், pronounced ‘en makkal’, means ‘my people’ in Tamil<br />


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POETRY<br />

What the Night<br />

Means to a Refugee<br />



Another room is ready to move my old memories<br />

and latest griefs.<br />

This is what I do all night, moving my childhood and<br />

its mistakes, my womanhood<br />

Before I become an outcast, moving my widowhood<br />

into the night,<br />

What used to caress me; s<strong>of</strong>t full <strong>of</strong> songs, hard full<br />

<strong>of</strong> sensation<br />

And these taking spirits out <strong>of</strong> my body now, tiring<br />

my existence.<br />

A carb in my pajamas, every falling star like a child<br />

who left without<br />

Owning a name; I have named them all Ibrahim,<br />

every moonless night<br />

Like my husband taking away the light, like the<br />

beginning <strong>of</strong> all these turmoil.<br />

Every night is a new insurgent, a fresh war<br />

somewhere in my head.

PROSE<br />

Jen Ross<br />

WED<br />

"Nahla's mother...put her to bed<br />

by herself to give Nahla the earthshattering<br />

news: “Nahla, my dear,<br />

you are going to be wed.”<br />


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PROSE<br />

Staring up through the tall grasses at the clouds rolling by, Nahla<br />

takes a deep breath, inhaling the fragrance <strong>of</strong> the date palms<br />

swaying gently in the breeze above her. The scent reminds her <strong>of</strong><br />

afternoons playing in the fields with her brothers, and the sweet<br />

date pastries her mother made a few weeks ago for her 13th birthday.<br />

Savoring this rare time alone, lying still in the morning<br />

tranquility, she digs her fingers into the earth beneath her, palming its<br />

freshness, as if feeling it for the last time. Her brow furrows. She knows<br />

today is the day everything will change. Today is her wedding day.<br />

***<br />

Nahla could usually be found in these fields, running around<br />

playing games with her brothers, or sometimes with friends from<br />

her village, Al Roda, on the banks <strong>of</strong> the mighty Nile River in Upper<br />

Egypt. Her family lived on the outskirts <strong>of</strong> town, on a small plot that<br />

received just enough river run-<strong>of</strong>f to cultivate a variety <strong>of</strong> vegetables<br />

and dates, which they sold at the village market. Along with her two<br />

brothers, Nahla would help with the planting and harvesting, between<br />

her studies.<br />

Although it hadn’t always been so, all three siblings had<br />

attended school for the past few years. It was the part <strong>of</strong> her day that<br />

Nahla looked forward to most. There, she could play jump-rope and<br />

handkerchief games with her many friends in the schoolyard, and<br />

they would tease and whisper to each other about boys whenever the<br />

teachers weren’t within earshot. But mostly, Nahla loved her classes –<br />

science, history, and geography in particular – which made her dream<br />

<strong>of</strong> what life was like in the world beyond her village.<br />

She’d once pr<strong>of</strong>essed that her favorite book was her geography<br />

textbook – which garnered a chorus <strong>of</strong> laughter from her classmates<br />

and an approving smile from her teacher. Nahla would <strong>of</strong>ten leaf<br />

through it when she’d finished her schoolwork and was waiting for the<br />

other children to finish theirs. Its glossy pages detailed the different<br />

plants, trees, soils, and animals in Egypt and other countries around<br />

the world. Nahla had memorized their names in both Arabic and Latin<br />

– and yearned to learn more about how farmers managed their crops<br />

in other countries. She hoped this knowledge could help her improve<br />

her family’s own way <strong>of</strong> farming.<br />

This year, the harvest had not been good. Many <strong>of</strong> the plants<br />

were diseased and the rains were getting fewer and farther between,<br />

which meant ever more frequent trips to the receding riverbed to fetch<br />

water. Beyond the dates and vegetables they farmed, her mother and<br />

father had struggled to put food on the table as there was no money for<br />

milk or meat.<br />

Her parents always seemed to have worried looks etched<br />

across their faces. But that didn’t stop Nahla’s father from telling them<br />

bedtime stories about ordinary men whose hard work and persistence<br />

would be rewarded with bountiful harvests and riches beyond their<br />

wildest dreams. While her brothers always looked on wide-eyed,<br />

arguing about who would be richer when they grew up, Nahla just sat<br />

silently, wondering why her father never talked about ordinary women<br />

getting rich.<br />

A week ago, Nahla’s mother had exceptionally come<br />


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PROSE<br />

to put her to bed by herself to give Nahla<br />

the earth-shattering news: “Nahla, my<br />

dear, you are going to be wed.”<br />

Although it was common for girls in<br />

her village to marry young, Nahla had<br />

hoped to be one <strong>of</strong> the lucky ones who<br />

managed to marry later.<br />

“Mother, no! Please! I want to<br />

finish school!” she protested.<br />

“That might be possible,” said<br />

her mother, frowning and looking at<br />

the floor, “but it will depend on your<br />

husband’s wishes.”<br />

“Why now?” pleaded Nahla.<br />

“Can’t we wait until I’m older, like<br />

cousin Mona? She was 18.”<br />

“I am afraid we cannot,” said<br />

her mother, no longer trying to hide the<br />

pain on her face. “You know the harvest<br />

has not been good this year. There is a<br />

man from Minya who is willing to pay a<br />

good sum.”<br />

The words were piercing.<br />

Nahla suddenly understood what it<br />

must feel like to be one <strong>of</strong> those goats<br />

at the market, and paraded around to<br />

fetch the highest price for their masters.<br />

Staring at her mother<br />

intensely, she took a deep breath to<br />

stop herself from saying something she<br />

would regret. Then her face s<strong>of</strong>tened<br />

and she sighed. She knew her family<br />

was in need. After a long pause, she<br />

reluctantly asked: “Who is he?”<br />

“Well, we know he works in a<br />

bank and he is a very respected man.”<br />

“How old is he?” was Nahla’s<br />

next question.<br />

“Does that matter?” asked her mother,<br />

defensively. “It has already been<br />

decided and your father has made<br />

the arrangements for a customary<br />

wedding.”<br />

Nahla stirred, her eyes betraying the<br />

fear brewing inside. Faced with her<br />

silence, her mother finally responded:<br />

“He is 33 years old.”<br />

Nahla gasped audibly. Ever<br />

since the day the blood had appeared<br />

in her panties, she had feared that her<br />

life would change in ways she would<br />

not welcome. It had been almost a year<br />

since that day and she was now 13.<br />

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She kept repeating the man’s<br />

age in her mind: 33. That was<br />

just five years younger than<br />

her father. How could she<br />

marry a man 20 years her senior?<br />

What would they have in common?<br />

What would she possibly speak to<br />

him about? She had seen girls in<br />

her village marry older men. Those<br />

girls looked so sad all the time.<br />

***<br />

A few days later, it came<br />

time to meet her husband-to-be<br />

and his family. It was a Thursday<br />

afternoon and her mother and<br />

aunts hurried her into the house<br />

after school and began brushing her<br />

hair, applying make-up for the first<br />

time, and dressing her in an<br />

elaborate gown.<br />

When Nahla caught<br />

a glimpse <strong>of</strong> herself in a<br />

mirror, her mouth dropped<br />

at the sight <strong>of</strong> herself in the<br />

long bright pink dress beaded<br />

with intricate flowers. It was<br />

stunning. She ran her fingers<br />

along the silky fabric, circling<br />

the crystalline flowers.<br />

“It is a gift from your new<br />

family,” her aunt Hiba whispered.<br />

When Nahla looked up to<br />

inspect her face she almost didn’t<br />

recognize herself. Her eyes were<br />

rimmed with dark lines and her skin<br />

looked much whiter than usual. She<br />

touched her cheek and felt a faint<br />

powder.<br />

“Do not touch!” barked<br />

her aunt Hiba. “You will ruin your<br />

makeup. It is time to go.”<br />

Her family rushed her into a car she<br />

didn’t recognize, with a driver who<br />

shuttled them to a neighborhood<br />

closer to the city. As Nahla stared out<br />

the window, the houses grew larger<br />

and more well-kept by the block.<br />

She tried to imagine the face <strong>of</strong> her<br />

husband-to-be. Might he be a goodlooking<br />

man? What if he looked like a<br />

goat? Would he be a nice man?<br />

They finally pulled into<br />

the driveway <strong>of</strong> a large two-story<br />

white house, trimmed in bright blue<br />

paint, which was believed to protect<br />

against the ‘evil eye’—a curse cast<br />

by an envious glare. Although Nahla<br />

had never been superstitious, she<br />

couldn’t help thinking to herself that<br />

she really didn’t need such protection<br />

now, for who could possibly<br />

envy a girl getting married at 13?<br />

Her parents walked her to<br />

the arched patio entrance, followed<br />

by her aunts, who had come in<br />

another car. Just past the gate, a crowd<br />

<strong>of</strong> people Nahla didn’t recognize<br />

was greeting one another excitedly.<br />

When she arrived at the front door,<br />

an older couple who looked about the<br />

age <strong>of</strong> her grandparents greeted her<br />

‘‘ ...who could possibly<br />

envy a girl getting married<br />

at 13?"<br />

warmly.<br />

“Nahla: meet your new<br />

parents,” announced her mother,<br />

smiling widely.<br />

“Hello,” said Nahla<br />

tentatively, unsure <strong>of</strong> what else to<br />

say to these strangers she was now<br />

expected to call ‘parents’.<br />

“Welcome to our family,”<br />

said the older woman, extending<br />

her arms, which were adorned in<br />

thick gold bangles, and pulling her<br />

in for a hug. Nahla got a brief whiff<br />

<strong>of</strong> her strong rose-like perfume<br />

as the woman proceeded to usher<br />

her inside the house, steering her<br />

towards an elegant long white s<strong>of</strong>a.<br />

“Please sit.”<br />

There, Nahla waited as her<br />

father came to stand next to her, and<br />

a bearded man wearing a black suit<br />

approached from the other side, to<br />

stand and face her father.<br />

“I would like to formally<br />

ask for your daughter’s hand in<br />

marriage,” the man said, in a low,<br />

husky voice.<br />

So, this was her husbandto-be.<br />

Nahla examined his dark,<br />

piercing eyes, high forehead, and<br />

long nose. He was not particularly<br />

attractive, but neither was he ugly.<br />

He was tall and looked older than her<br />

father, perhaps because <strong>of</strong> his beard.<br />

He did not shift his gaze to make eye<br />

contact with Nahla as she stared at<br />

him.<br />

A bushier-bearded Imam<br />

entered the room and began speaking<br />

<strong>of</strong> how the Prophet Muhammad had<br />

honored his wives.<br />

“Men should<br />

honor women and women<br />

should serve and honor their<br />

husbands.”<br />

As he said this,<br />

several women nodded<br />

approvingly, while Nahla<br />

gawked. How unfair was it<br />

that women also had to “serve”,<br />

rather than simply honor their<br />

husbands? she thought to<br />

herself.<br />

The Imam proceeded to<br />

ask the man if he would follow this<br />

advice. He nodded. Then he looked to<br />

her father, who also nodded to show<br />

he accepted the marriage proposal.<br />

Then he sat down next to Nahla on<br />

the long s<strong>of</strong>a, while the groom sat<br />

on his other side. Another man she<br />

did not recognize appeared with the<br />

Islamic holy book, the Qu’ran, and<br />

handed it to her father. The bearded<br />

man then placed his hand on Nahla’s<br />

father’s and they read the Fatha<br />

passage in unison.<br />

When they had finished, the<br />

man stood before Nahla, and for a<br />

split second, he met her gaze. It was a<br />

fleeting glance, but with an intensity<br />

that frightened her. Then he took<br />

her hand and mechanically placed a<br />

golden band on her right ring finger,<br />

handing her a larger ring in her left<br />


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hand. After an awkward pause, he<br />

motioned for her to place the ring<br />

on his finger. Nahla blushed and<br />

took his thick, hairy finger, fumbling<br />

with the ring clumsily. She’d never<br />

touched a man’s hand who was not<br />

a relative. Applause soon rang out<br />

from the dozen or so guests.<br />

Moments later, a belly<br />

dancer decked in gold sequins<br />

emerged and began swaying her hips<br />

to the ever-quickening beats <strong>of</strong> two<br />

drummers behind her. Meanwhile, a<br />

few women dressed in blue smocks<br />

entered, <strong>of</strong>fering the guests trays<br />

<strong>of</strong> fruit and flower-scented sweets,<br />

which Nahla declined. She could feel<br />

her stomach churning.<br />

“Fares! We are so happy for<br />

you!” called out an older woman that<br />

Nahla did not recognize. So, that was<br />

his name: Fares.<br />

“We thought you would never settle<br />

down,” laughed the woman, who he<br />

quieted with a stern look.<br />

The party went on for hours,<br />

without the newly engaged couple<br />

exchanging a single word. When it<br />

was time for Nahla to leave, Fares<br />

simply cocked his head politely.<br />

On their way home, Nahla’s father<br />

was the first to break the awkward<br />

silence, saying: “What a wonderful<br />

party. I think this will be a good<br />

family.”<br />

Nahla did her best to muster a smile<br />

but could not bring herself to speak<br />

the entire drive home. Staring out<br />

the window, she circled the sparkly<br />

pink flowers adorning her dress, and<br />

silently shed a tear.<br />

***<br />

Nahla did not see Fares<br />

or her new family again before the<br />

wedding.<br />

One evening, all the women<br />

and girls in Nahla’s extended family,<br />

and three <strong>of</strong> her closest friends from<br />

school, descended upon her house<br />

for Laylat Al-Hinna – a customary<br />

party to decorate the bride’s hands<br />

and feet with henna the night before<br />

the wedding.<br />

There must have been at<br />

least 50 women and girls gathered<br />

there to celebrate and wish her<br />

well. It was the first time a couple<br />

<strong>of</strong> her school friends were visiting<br />

and Nahla felt a little embarrassed<br />

by her modest two-bedroom home<br />

with sparse furnishings. But her<br />

mother-in-law had brought some<br />

fancy hanging decorations to liven<br />

the place up, and even her normally<br />

stuck-up friend Sanaa didn’t seem<br />

out <strong>of</strong> sorts.<br />

“Remember all those<br />

times we acted out tales <strong>of</strong> princess<br />

maidens and dragons at recess?”<br />

Saana reminded Nahla. “Now you<br />

will get to live your own fairytale!”<br />

she said, batting her eyelids<br />

dramatically.<br />

The pair had been school<br />

friends since kindergarten, although<br />


their parents were not. Nahla’s<br />

mother once told her that Sanaa’s<br />

family was “too high class for her”.<br />

Strange, Nahla thought, that her<br />

family was suddenly open to her<br />

marrying someone from that class.<br />

Nahla’s aunt Maryam, ever<br />

eager to be the center <strong>of</strong> attention,<br />

took it upon herself to do the henna<br />

painting. She began by tracing a<br />

delicate floral pattern surrounded<br />

by curvy, intricate designs around<br />

her wrist. The henna looked black<br />

and raised at first, but Nahla knew<br />

that when it was ready, it would leave<br />

a temporary brown die for several<br />

weeks.<br />

The girls plucked dozens <strong>of</strong><br />

sweets from stacked, shiny plates.<br />

They laughed themselves silly while<br />

playing games, then danced and<br />

sang songs. Meanwhile, the mothers<br />

and older family members clapped<br />

and took turns smoking a shisha<br />

pipe. Nahla lost herself for a while in<br />

the joy <strong>of</strong> the henna party, reveling<br />

in the rare congregation <strong>of</strong> females.<br />

She sighed and sat back to savor the<br />

feeling <strong>of</strong> safety, and love she felt in<br />

being at the center <strong>of</strong> such warmth<br />

and attention.<br />

“You are so lucky to be<br />

getting married,” crooned her<br />

10-year-old cousin Dina, who had<br />

always been close to Nahla, mostly<br />

because she defended her against<br />

an older brother’s teasing. “What a<br />

dream come true!”<br />

Reminded <strong>of</strong> what was<br />

to come, Nahla smiled awkwardly,<br />

feigning excitement. She didn’t want<br />

to seem ungrateful or reveal her<br />

feelings <strong>of</strong> impending doom. She was<br />

to wed the following day. After going<br />

to bed late, she barely slept a wink<br />

that night.<br />

***<br />

The next morning, Nahla<br />

lay still between the tall grasses near<br />

her home, staring up at the sparse<br />

clouds and savoring the tranquility<br />

and her last hours <strong>of</strong> freedom – the<br />

last hours <strong>of</strong> the life she had always<br />

known.<br />

Although she could hear<br />

voices calling for her in the distance,<br />

she dared not move. Perhaps if she<br />

stayed here, hidden between the<br />

grasses, her family wouldn’t be able<br />

to find her and the wedding would<br />

have to be called <strong>of</strong>f. What if she just<br />

rested here for a while? She was so<br />

tired and her eyelids felt heavy…<br />

Nahla had no idea how<br />

much time had passed when her<br />

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mother found her and angrily pulled her from the field.<br />

“Nahla, how could you? We were looking everywhere for you! The wedding<br />

starts in an hour! We need to get you dressed; we need to do your hair; we need to<br />

get to the groom’s house…” her mother shrieked.<br />

A dozen frenzied women crowded around her to dress and make her up –<br />

her aunt Hiba chastising her for the dirt beneath her nails and the grass in her hair.<br />

Meanwhile, Nahla tried to keep her eyes closed so tears wouldn’t be shed.<br />

The venue was Fares’ home again, which now looked like a flower shop –<br />

splattered with dazzling bouquets <strong>of</strong> pink peonies, cream-colored roses, and salmon<br />

dahlias. Nahla had been wowed by the engagement party decor, but this display<br />

was lavish beyond what she could have imagined. She bit her lower lip nervously as<br />

Fares appeared by a raised table in the courtyard.<br />

Clutching the protective arm <strong>of</strong> her father, Nahla took slow and careful<br />

steps toward him. Beads <strong>of</strong> sweat were forming on Fares’ forehead and he fidgeted<br />

with the sleeves <strong>of</strong> his fancy black tuxedo. Nahla had barely looked at the beautiful<br />

white gown she was wearing, but now noticed that it was so long she nearly tripped<br />

over it in her tediously high silver heels.<br />

As she reached Fares, he carefully lifted the thin transparent veil that hung<br />

over her face, running his hand gently over her forehead as he did, his first act <strong>of</strong><br />

tenderness.<br />

Fares and Nahla’s fathers stood next to them, placing their hands together<br />

and a religious <strong>of</strong>ficial man, called the shaykh, covered their hands with a white<br />

handkerchief while he read a passage from the Qur’an. He had them repeat a couple<br />

<strong>of</strong> words and then he removed the handkerchief – which made the transaction for<br />

Nahla’s hand <strong>of</strong>ficial. Nahla had watched this done before, at her cousins’ weddings,<br />

but witnessing her father gift her away in this fashion, under the guise <strong>of</strong> religion,<br />

left a deeply unsettling feeling in the pit <strong>of</strong> her stomach.<br />

This ritual was followed by an eruption <strong>of</strong> music. The clanging tambourines,<br />

blaring trumpets, and pounding drums were loud enough to compete with Nahla’s<br />

racing heart. The couple was surrounded by guests as the procession began. The<br />

band performed traditional wedding songs and the women wailed in high-pitched<br />

ululations.<br />

The new bride and groom slowly made their way towards a<br />

flower-laden stage set up with two chairs, where they were to greet their guests<br />

and pose for photographs. As they sat, without speaking, Fares handed Nahla an<br />

envelope and a small golden box which he motioned for her to slip into her purse.<br />

A few <strong>of</strong> Nahla’s friends and cousins approached to pinch her knee, for<br />

good luck in their own hopes <strong>of</strong> being the next to marry.<br />

The ceremony was everything a customary Muslim Egyptian wedding was<br />

meant to be.<br />

The party ended late into the night and Nahla was exhausted, nearly falling<br />

asleep several times. Fares led her to a bedroom in what was now her new home<br />

and laid her on the bed. Then, he began slowly undoing the buttons <strong>of</strong> her wedding<br />

dress. Gripped with fear but not wanting to <strong>of</strong>fend him, Nahla pretended to be<br />

asleep.<br />

After removing her dress, nudging, and turning her over a few times, Fares<br />

seemed to give up and quietly left the room. Despite her exhaustion, Nahla could not<br />

sleep for several hours, out <strong>of</strong> fear that he would return to her bed in the middle <strong>of</strong><br />

the night. As his wife, she would now be expected to “serve” him, in all ways.<br />

***<br />

Three months later, when Nahla came home to visit her parents, they could<br />

hardly recognize her. Her hair was disheveled and there was no longer any spark in<br />

her eyes.<br />


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Nahla did her best to stay<br />

positive despite her stormy new<br />

home, reminding herself to be<br />

grateful that she had no want for<br />

food or shelter, nor did her parents<br />

and brothers.<br />

She learned to play dominos<br />

with her father-in-law and tried<br />

to get to know the servants. In her<br />

mind, she would replay memories <strong>of</strong><br />

happier times – <strong>of</strong> Eid celebrations<br />

at her grandparent’s house, <strong>of</strong> the<br />

rotten lettuce fights she’d have with<br />

her brothers during harvest, or<br />

<strong>of</strong> her dragon-slaying days in the<br />

schoolyard with Sanaa.<br />

A few months later, Nahla<br />

began feeling tired and nauseous.<br />

When she didn’t bleed at her normal<br />

time <strong>of</strong> the month, her mother-in-<br />

She sat down with them.<br />

“Mama, papa…,” she said,<br />

with tears welling in her<br />

eyes. “I want to go home!”<br />

Taken aback, her father<br />

asked: “Why? What is wrong?”<br />

“I haven’t been to school<br />

since the wedding,” lamented Nahla.<br />

“I miss my classes. I miss my friends.”<br />

“Yes dear, we understand.<br />

That is natural,” interjected her<br />

mother. “But this is a new life stage<br />

for you.”<br />

“Fares doesn’t speak to<br />

me,” she continued. “He only seeks<br />

me out when he wants to take me to<br />

the bedroom to have his way with<br />

me. And… he is not gentle. He hurts<br />

me!”<br />

Nahla’s father took a deep<br />

breath and shook his head. Her<br />

mother looked at him, searching for<br />

a reaction, but he seemed at a loss for<br />

words.<br />

She held Nahla by the hand<br />

to comfort her. “I am so sorry.”<br />

Hearing her, Nahla’s father’s<br />

pained expression turned to a scowl<br />

and he sat upright: “Unfortunately,<br />

this is the way things are. You must<br />

obey your husband. Your marriage<br />

was necessary.”<br />

Nahla looked down at the<br />

floor, then up and around their<br />

now-well-stocked kitchen – at the<br />

meat, her mother was preparing on<br />

the counter, at the pitcher <strong>of</strong> fresh<br />

milk on the table. Her family was no<br />

longer struggling to make ends meet.<br />

But why did her happiness have to be<br />

the price?<br />

***<br />

law accompanied her to the doctor’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

They sat silently in the<br />

waiting room. Far from being like<br />

a ‘mother’ to her, Nahla considered<br />

her more like an overseer, always<br />

barking orders at her, as though she<br />

were one <strong>of</strong> the servants. She never<br />

showed Nahla any love or tenderness<br />

and would turn a blind eye when<br />

Fares yelled at her. And Nahla was<br />

sure she could hear her cries and<br />

screams from the neighboring<br />

bedroom, but she did and said<br />

nothing.<br />

But today her mother-inlaw<br />

looked oddly happy, and even<br />

tried to hold her hand, which Nahla<br />

retracted after feigning a sneeze.<br />

The doctor asked Nahla<br />

several questions before having<br />

her lie down on a large reclining<br />

table. He wheeled over a machine<br />

and placed a cold, jelly-like goo on<br />

her belly then gently ran a rounded<br />

plastic wand over the goo. Suddenly<br />

the sound <strong>of</strong> static came from the<br />

machine – almost like what you<br />

would hear when switching between<br />

radio stations – and then a light<br />

thumping sound.<br />

“There it is!” said the doctor<br />


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said to her mother-in-law. “That is<br />

your grandchild’s heartbeat!”<br />

Nahla’s eyes bulged and she<br />

stopped breathing.<br />

The doctor looked down at<br />

"This [fright] made sense—she<br />

was only 13, petite, and barely<br />

had a woman's body."<br />

her and said: “Congratulations dear.<br />

You are going to be a mother!”<br />

Her look <strong>of</strong> sheer confusion,<br />

followed by panic, made it obvious<br />

that this was not welcome news to<br />

her, so the doctor addressed her<br />

mother-in-law for the rest <strong>of</strong> the<br />

visit.<br />

After he had finished with<br />

the machine and handed Nahla some<br />

paper towels to clean up the goo, he<br />

took her mother-in-law to a corner<br />

<strong>of</strong> his <strong>of</strong>fice and lowered his voice to<br />

a whisper. Nahla tried not to crinkle<br />

the paper so she could overhear and<br />

was able to make out: “there are risks<br />

because she is so young”.<br />

Still trying to process the<br />

idea that there was a baby growing<br />

inside her, the thought that there<br />

could be risks because <strong>of</strong> it frightened<br />

her even more. This made<br />

sense – she was only 13,<br />

petite, and barely had a<br />

woman’s body. She looked<br />

over at her mother-in-law<br />

and the doctor – wishing<br />

she could scream out loud<br />

that she wasn’t ready to be<br />

a mother. Not yet. Not now.<br />

Not with Fares!<br />

She had seen other<br />

young mothers in the neighborhood<br />

and they always looked so forlorn.<br />

Nahla had always imagined it was<br />

because they couldn’t continue with<br />

school. But now she knew it must be<br />

more than that. They’d be stripped <strong>of</strong><br />

their choices in every way.<br />

The thought <strong>of</strong> it all<br />

triggered a deep resistance to what<br />

was happening inside her. Babies<br />

were cute, yes, but she had no clue<br />

how to change diapers or feed a baby<br />

or make them sleep. She had played<br />

dolls, sure. But a real tiny human<br />

that she would be responsible for<br />

was something completely different.<br />

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Now, more than ever, Nahla longed<br />

to be back home playing with dolls<br />

instead or running around in the<br />

fields with her friends, going to<br />

school, and simply enjoying her own<br />

childhood. Not a child raising a child.<br />

Before they left the doctor’s<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice, Nahla’s mother-in-law<br />

hugged her for the first time since<br />

the wedding.<br />

“Nahla, thank you! We are<br />

so thrilled that you are bringing us a<br />

grandchild!”<br />

Lost in thought, Nahla<br />

smiled unconvincingly but said<br />

nothing.<br />

***<br />

Seven months later, Nahla<br />

awakened to intense pain in the<br />

middle <strong>of</strong> the night. Fares ran for his<br />

mother as Nahla lay panting in the<br />

bed. Fares was yelling and looked<br />

frightened. The baby wasn’t expected<br />

for another month.<br />

He carried her<br />

briskly to the car and they arrived at<br />

the hospital within minutes. By that<br />

time, Nahla was crying from the pain.<br />

It is unlike anything she had ever<br />

felt. It was like magnified menstrual<br />


PROSE<br />

cramps but with her insides being squeezed out.<br />

The nurses and doctors hurriedly strapped a band around<br />

her arm that inflated and squeezed her. Saying something she couldn’t<br />

understand about her blood pressure, they wheeled her into a closed<br />

room. Something was terribly wrong.<br />

As the pain intensified unbearably, she started screaming.<br />

Overcome by flashes <strong>of</strong> cold, then hot, then terrifying dizziness, Nahla<br />

fainted. Foam began frothing at her mouth as her body started to<br />

stiffen and shake violently.<br />

Once Nahla had stopped seizing, the doctors prepared her for<br />

an emergency c-section to remove the baby. They injected the base<br />

<strong>of</strong> her spine with an epidural to numb her lower body and told her to<br />

look in the other direction while the surgeon began cutting through<br />

the layers <strong>of</strong> skin and muscle beneath her panty line.<br />

The smell <strong>of</strong> blood almost made her vomit and her head<br />

began spinning anew. Nahla lost consciousness again just as the baby<br />

was emerging.<br />

***<br />

When she regained consciousness, the room was quiet and a<br />

doctor was standing nearby speaking to Fares and her mother-in-law.<br />

Relieved that the intensity <strong>of</strong> the pain has passed, and by now anxious<br />

to meet the child she’d been growing inside her all these months,<br />

Nahla searched the room for her baby.<br />

Noticing that she was awake, the doctor came to her bedside.<br />

Speaking in a hushed voice, he said: “Nahla, I’m glad to see you are<br />

back with us. You nearly died.”<br />

Cringing, Nahla closed her eyes and thanked Allah that she<br />

had survived. Then her thoughts quickly turned to her baby.<br />

“And my baby? Is it a boy or a girl?” she asked, expectantly.<br />

The doctor hesitated, looking over at Fares and his mother,<br />

who gave him a nod.<br />

“I’m so sorry but your baby died during the birth. Its oxygen<br />

supply was cut <strong>of</strong>f and….”<br />

After the word ‘died’, Nahla did not register anything<br />

else. The baby she had so dreaded having a few months ago had become<br />

a part <strong>of</strong> her as it had grown in her belly. Although she still resented<br />

her age and lack <strong>of</strong> choice in this pregnancy, she had come to accept it,<br />

even growing excited and imagining what her baby would look like. She<br />

was eager to give it a name and to dress it in the tiny doll-like clothes<br />

she had picked out herself.<br />

“Oh, and it was a girl,” added the doctor, as he left the room.<br />

A girl. Of course. Nahla had always imagined it would be.<br />

A baby girl with curly black hair and big, beautiful brown eyes. She<br />

had secretly wished it would be so, even though she knew her family<br />

wanted a boy. They always did. Surely they wouldn’t be as disappointed<br />

as they would have been, had she lost a boy.<br />

As Nahla stared at her deflated belly, for a fleeting moment, she wished<br />

that she too would have died with her.<br />

***<br />

Nahla decided to name her baby Alya, which means “from<br />

heaven” in Arabic. She held a small ceremony with her parents to bury<br />


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her body in the fields near her parents’ home. Fares and<br />

her in-laws had tried to had tried to convince her not to<br />

do so and did not attend. But it was better that way.<br />

As Nahla’s body slowly recovered, her heart also<br />

began healing from the pain <strong>of</strong> losing her daughter. After<br />

watching her lie listlessly in bed for weeks on end, at<br />

the insistence <strong>of</strong> Nahla’s mother, Fares had allowed her<br />

to join a village support group for women who had lost<br />

children and husbands.<br />

The support group helped Nahla grieve and<br />

open up to others about her experience. She even<br />

made friends with another girl, with whom she vented<br />

her frustrations and confided the difficulties she had<br />

at home with the husband she so despised. She also<br />

secretly began taking English language classes after<br />

the support sessions with one <strong>of</strong> the women who was a<br />

teacher. This reignited Nahla’s thirst to return to school<br />

and learn about the world beyond her town.<br />

A few months later, at a follow-up medical<br />

checkup, Nahla’s doctor explained everything that she<br />

had been too distraught to hear that fateful day: that<br />

Nahla was very young, which carried certain health<br />

risks for her and for the baby. He explained that she<br />

had developed a blood pressure condition called<br />

pre-eclampsia that sometimes kills women and girls<br />

during childbirth. She had gone into labor more than a<br />

month early, which was common with young expectant<br />

mothers, but the baby’s organs had not fully developed<br />

yet, and the baby suffered a critical loss <strong>of</strong> oxygen during<br />

her seizure.<br />

With an indifferent expression, the doctor<br />

reassured Nahla that if she waited a few years, the next<br />

time would likely be easier.<br />

Next time? By now, she was 14 and the last thing<br />

she wanted was to go through that experience again!<br />

Nahla sat fuming, her mind flooding with a<br />

thousand ill thoughts that she was not allowed to voice.<br />

She thanked the doctor and left the clinic with her<br />

mother-in-law.<br />

“Do not worry. You will succeed next time.<br />

Perhaps it will even be a boy,” her mother-in-law<br />

reassured her.<br />

The words felt like a punch, deep in her<br />

abdomen. Nahla darted her mother-in-law a stinging<br />

look before getting into the car. But as they pulled out<br />

<strong>of</strong> the parking lot, Nahla realized that her mother-inlaw<br />

was right. If she stayed in this hollow life with Fares,<br />

history would repeat itself. She would be expected to<br />

produce an heir, no matter what the toll on her body or<br />

her happiness.<br />

And it was with this realization that Nahla resolved to<br />

leave – no matter what the consequences.<br />

After a long silence, she asked: “Would you<br />

mind dropping me <strong>of</strong>f at my parents’ house? I need to<br />

talk to them.”<br />

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DC Diamondopolous<br />

The Bell<br />

OWER<br />

"Born and raised in Montgomery,<br />

Reverend Penniman had a hard<br />

time staying relevant, what with<br />

tattoos, body piercing, rap music,<br />

not to mention homosexuals<br />

getting married and reefer being<br />

legalized..."<br />

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Reverend<br />

Langston<br />

Penniman sat on the edge<br />

<strong>of</strong> his bed, stretching his<br />

black fingers. Everything<br />

had either twisted up on him or<br />

shrunk except his stomach. Once<br />

six-foot-five, he now plunged<br />

to six two, still tall, but not<br />

the imposing dignitary he<br />

once was standing behind<br />

the lectern in front <strong>of</strong> his<br />

congregation.<br />

His parishioners aged,<br />

too. So hard nowadays to<br />

attract the young, he thought<br />

standing from the bed he<br />

shared with his wife <strong>of</strong> fiftytwo<br />

years. His knees cracked.<br />

He’d gotten his cholesterol<br />

under control, but at seventyfive,<br />

his health headed south<br />

as his age pushed north.<br />

Born and raised in<br />

Montgomery, Reverend<br />

Penniman had a hard time<br />

staying relevant, what with<br />

tattoos, body piercing, By SHANE HOVING<br />

rap music, not to mention<br />

homosexuals getting married<br />

and reefer being legalized.<br />

For a man his age, changing<br />

was like pulling a mule uphill<br />

through molasses.<br />

The smell <strong>of</strong> bacon<br />

and eggs drifted down<br />

the hall. He heard the<br />

c<strong>of</strong>feemaker gurgle. How<br />

he loved his mornings with<br />

the Montgomery Daily<br />

News—not Internet news—<br />

something he could hold in<br />

his hands, smell the ink. He<br />

even enjoyed licking his fingers to<br />

separate the pages.<br />

Off in the direction <strong>of</strong> the Alabama<br />

River, he thought he heard a siren,<br />

not far from his church.<br />

“Breakfast ready,” Flo shouted<br />

from the kitchen.<br />

Flo was the sweetest gift the Lord<br />

ever bestowed upon a man. Oh, he<br />

was fortunate, he thought, passing<br />

her picture on the dresser bureau<br />

and the photo <strong>of</strong> their three boys and<br />

two girls. Proud <strong>of</strong> his church, he was<br />

even prouder <strong>of</strong> their five children.<br />

Three graduated from college, all <strong>of</strong><br />

them respectable citizens.<br />

“It’s gonna get cold if you don’t<br />

‘‘ There's a girl up on the<br />

bell tower <strong>of</strong> your church.<br />

Says she's gonna jump,’’ the<br />

black <strong>of</strong>ficer said.<br />

come and get it.”<br />

“I’m a comin. Just let me wash up.”<br />

The siren sounded closer.<br />

The Alabama spring day was<br />

warmer than usual. At nine in the<br />

morning, it was headed <strong>of</strong>f the<br />

charts, as the kids say nowadays.<br />

Reverend Penniman washed and<br />

dressed. At the bureau, he brushed<br />

back the sides <strong>of</strong> his white hair, his<br />

bald crown parted like the Red Sea.<br />

When his kids teased him about<br />

looking like Uncle Ben, he grew<br />

whiskers just as white. His boys<br />

joked he looked like Uncle Ben with<br />

a beard. He chuckled. He would have<br />

preferred Morgan Freeman.<br />

“I’ll feed it to the garbage<br />

disposal if you don’t come<br />

and get it.”<br />

“I’m a comin now, sweet<br />

thing.”<br />

He heard the siren turn<br />

the corner at Bankhead and<br />

Parks.<br />

Reverend Penniman<br />

looked at the cell phone lying<br />

on his dresser. He’d yet to<br />

master how to get his thick<br />

fingers to press one picture<br />

at a time, or type on that itty<br />

bitty keyboard. He couldn’t<br />

even hold it in the crook <strong>of</strong><br />

his neck.<br />

He hurried down the hall.<br />

The floorboards <strong>of</strong> the fiftyyear-old<br />

house creaked just<br />

like him. Not quite shotgun,<br />

his house did have a similar<br />

layout what with add-ons for<br />

the three boys.<br />

The siren was upon them.<br />

“Lord have mercy,” Flo<br />

said as she put the food on<br />

the table. “That sure sounds<br />

angry.”<br />

“Sure does. Let me take a<br />

look,” the reverend said from<br />

the kitchen’s entrance.<br />

He went to the living room<br />

window and saw a police car<br />

pull into his driveway, the<br />

siren cut-<strong>of</strong>f. Two uniformed<br />

police <strong>of</strong>ficers, one black, the other<br />

white, got out <strong>of</strong> the cruiser and<br />

headed up his footpath.<br />

He opened the door.<br />

“Are you Reverend Penniman?”<br />

“I am. What’s the problem?”<br />

“There’s a girl up on the bell tower<br />

<strong>of</strong> your church. Says she’s gonna<br />

jump,” the black <strong>of</strong>ficer said.<br />

“Good Lord!” Flo cried, standing<br />

behind her husband.<br />

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“Let me get my keys,” the reverend<br />

said.<br />

“No time, sir. Come with us. You’ll<br />

get there faster.”<br />

Flo took <strong>of</strong>f and came back with<br />

"Reverend Penniman felt like<br />

he was up on that bell tower,<br />

on the edge, with his arms<br />

stretched out..."<br />

the reverend’s cell phone. “Here<br />

baby. I’m gonna meet you there<br />

soon as I shut down the kitchen. You<br />

should at least have your toast. I can<br />

put it in a baggie for you.”<br />

“No time,” he said as he hurried<br />

out the door with the <strong>of</strong>ficers.<br />

Reverend Penniman sat in<br />

the back <strong>of</strong> the car with a screen<br />

separating him from the policemen.<br />

“Who is she?” he asked.<br />

“Don’t know,” the young white<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficer answered.<br />

“What’s she look like?”<br />

“Black teen, skinny, baggy pants,<br />

chain hanging from the pocket,<br />

hoodie pulled over a ball cap.”<br />

“Akeesha.”<br />

“You know her?”<br />

“Like one <strong>of</strong> my own.” The<br />

reverend looked out the<br />

window as the car pulled<br />

away. He clasped his hands<br />

together and said a quick<br />

prayer for the troubled girl.<br />

Lord, help me help her, he<br />

repeated to himself. “Did<br />

she ask for me?”<br />

“No.”<br />

“How’d you find me?”<br />

“Your name is on the<br />

marquee <strong>of</strong> your church.”<br />

“Oh, right.”<br />

“I’m Officer Johnson,” the older<br />

man said. “This is<br />

Officer Perry.”<br />

Officer Perry reached<br />

forward and turned<br />

on the siren. The noise<br />

deafened everything,<br />

including the pounding<br />

<strong>of</strong> Reverend Penniman’s<br />

heart.<br />

They drove toward<br />

downtown Montgomery<br />

along the banks <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Alabama, the RSA tower<br />

soared above the city’s skyline.<br />

The speed limit was forty. The<br />

reverend guessed they were doing<br />

twice that. His right knee pumped<br />

like the needle on Flo’s sewing<br />

machine.<br />

The siren screamed. The lights<br />

blinked and rotated flashing red and<br />

blue on the hood <strong>of</strong> the car. Reverend<br />

Penniman felt like he was up on that<br />

bell tower, on the edge, with his arms<br />

stretched out, his body holding back<br />

the weight <strong>of</strong> all his parishioners<br />

who had wept in his arms.<br />

At the corner <strong>of</strong> Graves and<br />

Buckley, the cruiser slowed, the<br />

siren cut-<strong>of</strong>f. Officer Johnson made<br />

a right turn. People rushed along the<br />

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against their ears.<br />

Halfway down the block, Reverend<br />

Penniman saw more people standing<br />

outside his church than he ever had<br />

inside. A fire truck parked in the lot<br />

with men unloading a ladder.<br />

The police car jumped the curb<br />

and drove to the side <strong>of</strong> the brick<br />

building. He saw Greaty, Akeesha’s<br />

great-grandmother in her burgundy<br />

wig, mussed like a tornado whirled<br />

through it. She cupped her black<br />

hands on the sides <strong>of</strong> her mouth<br />

screaming and crying at the ro<strong>of</strong>. Her<br />

pink housecoat hung open revealing<br />

her cotton nightie.<br />

Before the car came to a stop, the<br />

minister jumped out.<br />

Greaty saw Reverend Penniman<br />

and ran to him. “You get my baby <strong>of</strong>f<br />

the ro<strong>of</strong>, you hear, Reverend? She<br />

done gone and have a meltdown.”<br />

“We’ll get her down. Just craving<br />

attention like all teenagers.”<br />

“She cravin’ nothin’ but death. She<br />

gonna jump. She all I have!”<br />

He ran to the front <strong>of</strong> the church.<br />

Greaty followed. The reverend<br />

gasped. “Good Lord.” Akeesha<br />

teetered on the edge <strong>of</strong> the bell’s<br />

shelter. Her baggy pants flapped in<br />

the breeze.<br />

Two firefighters carried a ladder<br />

to the ro<strong>of</strong>. They propped it against<br />

the gutters.<br />

“Get away,” Akeesha screamed.<br />

“I’ll jump, you try to get me.” Her<br />

voice carried over the mob.<br />

“I know the child. I can get her<br />

down.”<br />

“Don’t think so, Reverend.”<br />

The minister turned to see Officer<br />

Johnson standing beside him. “Then<br />

why’d you get me?”<br />

“It’s your church. I thought you’d<br />

be younger.”<br />

“I’m young enough and I’ll get<br />

her down.” He gazed up at the girl.<br />

“Akeesha!” he shouted using his<br />

pulpit voice. “I’m coming to you,<br />

child.” He sprinted around the side<br />

<strong>of</strong> the church, to the back, amazed<br />

at how his body complied with his<br />

will. Officer Johnson’s leather holster<br />

crunched with each matching stride.<br />

Akeesha had broken the frame <strong>of</strong><br />

the door and busted in.<br />

“If I have to cuff you Reverend, I<br />

will,” Officer Johnson said.<br />

“You really want to save this<br />

child?” Reverend Penniman asked.<br />

“I’ve known her since she was four.<br />

I’m the only father she’s ever known.<br />

Now you let me do my business.”<br />

He pushed open the door when he<br />

heard car wheels on gravel.<br />

“Langston,” Flo yelled out the<br />

window. “Where do think you’re<br />

going?” She slammed the driver’s<br />

door.<br />

“Good Lord, woman, I don’t need<br />

you pestering me too.”<br />

Flo ran up to her husband. “Officer,<br />

you arrest this man if he so much—.”<br />

“You gotta save her . . . she's<br />

my baby—she all I have!” Greaty<br />

screamed coming around the corner.<br />

“Calm down,” Reverend Penniman<br />

said.<br />

Greaty wiped her face with the<br />

sleeve <strong>of</strong> her house coat. “She never<br />

been so upset. She so angry. Them<br />

girls who beat her up. Them punks<br />

who tried to rape her.”<br />

The reverend looked at Officer<br />

Johnson. “Get all those people away<br />

from the front <strong>of</strong> my church. And<br />

tell those firemen to take down the<br />

ladder.”<br />

“I’m the one in charge here,<br />

Reverend.”<br />

“How about we get Captain<br />

Martinez?” Officer Perry asked.<br />

“They can secure the reverend<br />

with a rope and harness.” Before<br />

his superior had a chance to argue,<br />

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"The reverend glanced at the<br />

Alabama River. The spectacular<br />

Montgomery skyline was like a<br />

masterpiece God painted."<br />



PROSE<br />

young Perry ran <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

“Thank you,” Reverend Penniman<br />

shouted.<br />

“She a good girl except for her<br />

sin,” Greaty sobbed.<br />

Flo put her arm around Akeesha’s<br />

great-grandmother.<br />

“Flo, take her to the car,” Reverend<br />

Penniman said. “I’ll be okay.”<br />

“Keep him safe, Officer. Don’t let<br />

him do anything foolish,” Flo said as<br />

she led Greaty away.<br />

Reverend Penniman heard the<br />

whirling blades <strong>of</strong> a helicopter.<br />

“Good Lord. A child’s life is at<br />

stake and this is turning into<br />

a circus,” he said entering the<br />

back <strong>of</strong> his church.<br />

“How’d she get up to the bell<br />

tower?” Officer Johnson asked.<br />

“There’s a room with pulleys.<br />

A stairway curls around leading<br />

up to the bells.” Reverend<br />

Penniman could kick himself<br />

for letting Jake show Akeesha<br />

the inside <strong>of</strong> the tower.<br />

Officer Johnson shot up the<br />

stairs.<br />

“Wait! You can’t go that way.<br />

You’d come out behind her. I<br />

swear, man. You let me handle<br />

this my way or that girl is going<br />

to die.”<br />

Officer Johnson turned on<br />

the landing.<br />

The reverend had him in an<br />

eye-lock. “Please,” he said, not<br />

used to the sound <strong>of</strong> the word or the<br />

helpless feeling that it carried.<br />

“Why is she up there?” the<br />

policeman asked.<br />

“She’s a homosexual.”<br />

“My brother’s gay,” Officer Johnson<br />

said.<br />

The minister watched how the<br />

cop’s eyes captured a memory,<br />

something powerful enough to<br />

s<strong>of</strong>ten his features.<br />

Reverend Penniman climbed the<br />

fourteen steps to the landing. He’d<br />

always been proud <strong>of</strong> his bell tower,<br />

right now he’d wished his ancestors<br />

never built it.<br />

Officer Perry returned with<br />

Captain Martinez and a boyish<br />

looking black man. Both men held<br />

gear as they took the steps in three<br />

strides.<br />

“Well Johnson, your call,” the<br />

captain said.<br />

“We’ll feed Reverend Penniman<br />

below her, on the ro<strong>of</strong>.”<br />

“Thank you.”<br />

The reverend led the men around<br />

a corner to a l<strong>of</strong>t with stairs to the<br />

church ro<strong>of</strong>.<br />


“Got your Nikes on, I see,”<br />

Martinez said. “Good.”<br />

“Now put that contraption on me<br />

and let me out there.”<br />

The firefighters held the harness<br />

for the reverend to step into. They<br />

hooked the cloth rope to the straps,<br />

gave it a tug jolting the reverend<br />

backwards, then tossed the rope<br />

to another man who waited below.<br />

“Side-step going down the incline.<br />

It’s not steep, but we got you no<br />

matter what.”<br />

“Get rid <strong>of</strong> the ladder and the<br />

lookyloos. And stay well below. I don’t<br />

want her knowing you’re around.”<br />

“We’ll be down on the first<br />

landing,” Captain Martinez said.<br />

“I’ve had enough talk, gentlemen.”<br />

Reverend Penniman took the steps<br />

to the ro<strong>of</strong> praying as he went, for<br />

Akeesha, for Greaty, but most <strong>of</strong> all<br />

for himself. That he’d say the right<br />

thing, be sincere, because Akeesha<br />

had the gift <strong>of</strong> honesty. He prayed,<br />

asking the Holy Spirit to fill him with<br />

wisdom.<br />

The door to the ro<strong>of</strong> was ajar. He<br />

gently touched it. He felt the rope tug<br />

the harness. The door swung<br />

open.<br />

The ro<strong>of</strong> slanted and leveled<br />

out several feet down. The area<br />

around the tower was flat.<br />

He smelled the fumes from<br />

the asphalt as he stepped<br />

sideways onto the shingles,<br />

planted himself and managed<br />

the incline. He took his time<br />

placing his right foot, then his<br />

left, and held for a moment.<br />

He did it again until the ro<strong>of</strong><br />

flattened out.<br />

Applause and shouts broke<br />

out. “Get back!” Officer Johnson<br />

shouted. “Everyone!”<br />

The reverend glanced at the<br />

Alabama River. The spectacular<br />

Montgomery skyline was like a<br />

masterpiece God painted. Then<br />

he looked below. He saw the<br />

van <strong>of</strong> a local TV station, the<br />

helicopter <strong>of</strong>f in the distance;<br />

the crowd herded across the street<br />

by young Perry, and so many cell<br />

phones held up to the bell tower it<br />

looked like Beyonce held court.<br />

He heard sniffles, then crying.<br />

“Akeesha. I’m here to talk, child.”<br />

“Won’t do no good.”<br />

“Well, I didn’t climb all the way up<br />

here thinking it wouldn’t do no good.<br />

You and I have a way together, now<br />

don’t we?”<br />

“Prayin’ don’t work. I’m still gay.”<br />

“No reason taking your life.” He<br />

thought back to the convention when<br />

one minister said, let the gays kill<br />

themselves.<br />

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We need to protect our children. Only problem with that was<br />

all the molesting he knew came from men with little girls.<br />

He left those conferences feeling tired and old, the same<br />

men year after year with their stale jokes and self-righteous<br />

rhetoric. He felt trapped by the old ways and frightened by the new.<br />

“Everyone knows. It’s on Facebook.” Akeesha whimpered.” My<br />

girlfriend broke with me.”<br />

Reverend Penniman made his way around the side <strong>of</strong> the bell tower<br />

feeling the tug <strong>of</strong> the harness. He looked up at the teenager.<br />

Her hoodie covered all but the bill <strong>of</strong> her ball cap. She wiped her<br />

tears with the black leather band she wore on her wrist. “I wanna die.”<br />

She inched forward to the lip <strong>of</strong> the shelter. Her hand left the arch.<br />

“No!” Reverend Penniman yelled his arms stretched out as if he<br />

could catch her.<br />

The crowd oohed.<br />

He moved slowly around the tower until his back was to the mob.<br />

“Sit on the ledge baby.”<br />

“I’m goin to hell when I die. Bible says so.” Her voice quivered.<br />

“Greaty found out. Said I’d bring shame on her house—more than my<br />

mama in jail. Said a woman’s body parts were made for a man to make<br />

babies.” Her voice trailed <strong>of</strong>f.<br />

“Greaty loves you, child. She’s running around screaming and<br />

bossing, telling us to get her baby <strong>of</strong>f the tower. You hear me, child?”<br />

He watched horrified as she balanced herself on the rim <strong>of</strong> the tower.<br />

A slip and she would die.<br />

“They callin me a freak.”<br />

“Sit down now. We need to talk.”<br />

“Jump faggot!” someone hollered across the street.<br />

Reverend Penniman looked back at the crowd. Officer Johnson<br />

grabbed the man. Perry hauled him away.<br />

“They all stupid.” Akeesha sobbed.<br />

“We can work this out.”<br />

“Don’t dish with me, Reverend. Talkin’s no good,” she shouted.<br />

He lifted his head up to see her lip quivering. “Can be,” he said.<br />

“I’m goin to hell. Might as well get it over with.”<br />

“Now, don’t talk like that.” He thought <strong>of</strong> all those times they<br />

knelt together holding hands. Their eyes shut tight, the way Akeesha<br />

repeated his words to rid herself <strong>of</strong> the sin <strong>of</strong> homosexuality. When<br />

they were through, her face was wet with tears. He’d never forget how<br />

she’d wipe her fingers several times across her jeans like she’d been<br />

holding hands with a leper. He knew then she’d yet to be cured.<br />

He talked to his daughter about it. Rose told him the gay people she<br />

knew said they were born that way. She told him his generation treated<br />

the Bible like a deli, picking and choosing what to live by, who to hate<br />

and the nonsense <strong>of</strong> fearing God. His conversations with his middle<br />

child made him reflect. That’s all it did. He loved his children equally,<br />

but Rose had the gift <strong>of</strong> benevolence.<br />

“Akeesha.”<br />

“What?”<br />

“You jump, I’ll try to catch you. Then I’ll die trying to save you. You<br />

know that’d make Flo mighty mad, child.” He took a careful step back<br />

to get a look at her face. She gazed out at the Montgomery horizon. Her<br />

calm scared him.<br />


P<br />

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54<br />


PROSE<br />

He remembered the first time Greaty<br />

brought her to church. She was four,<br />

always carrying her dump truck and<br />

running it along the pews. During the<br />

sermon, she’d nestle into Greaty’s<br />

bosom, thumb in her mouth. Her short<br />

hair braided. When she got older, she<br />

sang in the choir. For extra money she<br />

gardened around the church. He’d take<br />

her to McDonald’s afterwards. They<br />

talked. She was a good girl—even if she<br />

did look like a gang banger— thoughtful<br />

and quiet, never swore, didn’t do drugs.<br />

But she suffered at school. It showed in<br />

her grades, and she finally dropped out.<br />

He was the only man in her short life,<br />

and she clung to him like a daddy. Her<br />

great grandmother looked after her like<br />

a one-eyed cat watching two rat holes.<br />

She ain’t goin to end up in jail like her<br />

mama, or dead like her granny. She<br />

gonna be respectful, yes, indeed, she<br />

gonna be a fine woman when she grow<br />

up.<br />

“Akeesha,” he said with a stern voice.<br />

“You want to give Greaty a heart attack?<br />

I told you how worked up she is.”<br />

“She always worked up.”<br />

“She loves you.”<br />

“Quit lyin!” She spread her arms out.<br />

“I’m not lying. You’ve seen her<br />

below. Running around. Now you hold<br />

onto that post.” The noon light threw<br />

no shadows. The wind rippled his shirt.<br />

He felt the sun beating down on his bald<br />

spot. “God loves you.”<br />

“Then how come we pray to change<br />

me?”<br />

“Cause you wanted to be like other<br />

girls. Remember? I’m not a psychiatrist.<br />

Praying is all I know.”<br />

Reverend Penniman took out his<br />

handkerchief and wiped his brow. In<br />

the 1980s, he buried a young man who<br />

died <strong>of</strong> AIDS. He’d never forget how<br />

his boyfriend threw himself on top<br />

<strong>of</strong> the casket crying and shouting the<br />

dead boy’s name. He never thought<br />

homosexuals had feelings until he<br />

witnessed that young man’s grief.<br />

“We prayed to make your life easier.<br />

So you’d be happy.”<br />

“Didn’t work. My life be easier if<br />

P<br />

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P<br />

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PROSE<br />

people left me alone.”<br />

“You’re probably right, child.” The<br />

reverend wiped his mouth with the<br />

handkerchief and put it in his pocket.<br />

Even if his heart struggled with what<br />

he was going to say, perhaps he<br />

could save her. “Maybe God made<br />

you perfect the way you are,” he said,<br />

thinking <strong>of</strong> Rose.<br />

“You lyin so I don’t kill myself.”<br />

“No child. I’m saying it cause God<br />

has a reason for you being here.”<br />

He heard sniffles. Then he saw her<br />

skinny hand swipe across her face.<br />

“Oh baby, come down and let’s have<br />

a good cry together.”<br />

He watched for any movement<br />

from her feet.<br />

“Quite a view up here,” he said,<br />

trying to sound casual. “We live in a<br />

beautiful city. Don’t you think?”<br />

“I wanna go to California.”<br />

“Now, why would you want to<br />

do that? What about Greaty?”<br />

“What about her?”<br />

“Girl, I’m getting a crick in my<br />

neck looking up at you. I haven’t<br />

eaten today. At my age, I’m on a<br />

schedule, and I get awfully tired<br />

if I’m hungry. We can talk better<br />

down here. Sit behind the tower.<br />

Alone. I want to talk to you like a<br />

grown-up.”<br />

“I am grown up.” She shifted and<br />

pulled the hoodie <strong>of</strong>f her head so it<br />

fell around her neck. “Jalissa broke<br />

with me. Who gonna love me?”<br />

“Child, there’s a whole lot <strong>of</strong><br />

people in the world. There’s got to be<br />

one just for you.”<br />

“You not being honest.” She tugged<br />

the hoodie back up. “You wanna boy<br />

to love me. I don’t wanna boy.”<br />

“Darlin baby, I admit I don’t know<br />

much about such things. All I know<br />

is that I love you, and that love is<br />

greater than any judgment I cast<br />

upon you.” He hesitated, and thought<br />

about the words that flowed out <strong>of</strong><br />

him so effortlessly. It sounded like<br />

something coming from Rose’s lips,<br />

not his.<br />

He looked up. “Akeesha!” Where’d<br />

He circled it fearing she jumped from<br />

the other side. “Akeesha!” he cried.<br />

He didn’t dare to take that part <strong>of</strong><br />

the ro<strong>of</strong>. The slant angled too steep.<br />

He felt weak, a little dizzy but his<br />

adrenalin rushed. He went back the<br />

way he came, the harness tugging.<br />

Sweat poured into his eyes.<br />

The door to the ro<strong>of</strong> creaked open.<br />

“What you wearing Reverend?”<br />

Akeesha stood in the archway.<br />

“Lord have mercy, child!” His<br />

heart felt like a bowl <strong>of</strong> confetti.<br />

Instead <strong>of</strong> fearing the worst, she had<br />

climbed inside the tower and took<br />

the stairs to the ro<strong>of</strong>. “You could<br />

have answered me when I called. You<br />

done scared the daylights out <strong>of</strong> me,<br />

child.”<br />

“What you mean, your love greater<br />

than your judgment?” Akeesha asked.<br />

“Oh, oh, my darlin baby—we<br />

"No child. I'm saying it cause<br />

God has a reason for you being<br />

here." He heard sniffles."<br />

should enjoy this magnificent view <strong>of</strong><br />

our city and thank the good Lord for<br />

the beautiful child that you are.”<br />

“I’m not beautiful.”<br />

“In God’s eyes and mine you are.”<br />

“You lyin’.”<br />

“I swear on my sweet Flo’s life.”<br />

“Then why we waste all that time<br />

prayin when I’m already okay?”<br />

He caught a glint <strong>of</strong> the stud that<br />

she wore in the center <strong>of</strong> her tongue.<br />

“You not as smart as you think,<br />

Reverend.”<br />

Reverend Penniman let out a<br />

hearty laugh. “Well, I’ll tell you a<br />

secret, Akeesha, I don’t have all the<br />

answers. Sometimes I have to make<br />

it seem like I do or no one would<br />

come to my church.”<br />

“They won’t come anyway, lyin and<br />

all.”<br />

He thought about what Rose<br />

said, how the young have turned<br />

away from religion. “You know<br />

my daughter, Rose? She’d agree<br />

with you. You know she’s studied<br />

in India. Traveled the world. Says<br />

God is always expanding—not<br />

sure what that means.” He walked<br />

slowly toward the girl. “You know<br />

something, Akeesha?”<br />

“What, Reverend?”<br />

“You taught me something.” His<br />

voice fractured. “You taught me,<br />

child. And I’m truly grateful.”<br />

“Taught you what?”<br />

“Can we sit here, for a minute? I’m<br />

really tired.” He slid down the wall.<br />

The harness grabbed at his thighs as<br />

he sat.<br />

Akeesha walked like she’d been on<br />

the ro<strong>of</strong> a hundred times, maybe she<br />

had, he thought. She sat next to him.<br />

“You taught me to accept you.”<br />

He slowly pulled the hoodie down<br />

so he could see her face. “I’ve<br />

always thought <strong>of</strong> you as one <strong>of</strong><br />

my own. Flo, too.”<br />

Akeesha took his gnarled old<br />

hand. She spread each <strong>of</strong> his<br />

fingers to include hers. He felt<br />

love in her fingertips.<br />

The confetti in his heart flung<br />

out over his beloved Montgomery.<br />

It showered like a vital rain. “I think<br />

there’s only love in God’s house,” the<br />

reverend mused. “So much <strong>of</strong> life is<br />

good.”<br />

“Can we go to KFC?”<br />

Reverend Penniman smiled.<br />

“Not McDonald’s? We always go to<br />

McDonald’s.”<br />

“No. KFC.”<br />

“Sure enough. My treat,” he said. “I<br />

could take you to a fancy place where<br />

we sit at a table with a white cloth<br />

and linen napkins. We can order ribs.<br />

They have finger bowls with water so<br />

our hands don’t get all sticky. Eat as<br />

much as we want.”<br />

“No. KFC,” she said, standing<br />

and holding her hand out for the<br />

reverend to grasp.<br />

P<br />

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shards<br />

SHARDS<br />

" There is one, and only one, thing in<br />

modern society more hideous than<br />

crime namely, repressive justice."<br />

Simone Weil<br />

P<br />

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Prose<br />

a<br />


D Y<br />

"My freedom flies away<br />

like a hawk disappearing<br />

into the night sky."<br />

By JAIDEN A.<br />


Imagine<br />

wavelengths<br />

<strong>of</strong> colour striking the<br />

surface <strong>of</strong> my skin as the<br />

bright light slowly enters<br />

my eyes. The sun caresses my face<br />

with its warm, unwavering, gentle<br />

hand. My eyelids flutter as the light<br />

extends its arms, s<strong>of</strong>tly opening my<br />

eyes as it unveils the world around<br />

me. The gentle serenity <strong>of</strong> the sun’s<br />

golden rays fade away, retreating<br />

bitterly into the shadows as my eyes<br />

adjust to the greyness <strong>of</strong> the setting.<br />

Broken shards <strong>of</strong> glass lay limp<br />

beside me and the TV is full <strong>of</strong> static.<br />

I imagine its beating heart about to<br />

give out as the crispy buzz from the<br />

screen slowly fades away like the last<br />

heartbeat. If it weren’t destroyed,<br />

the room would be quintessentially<br />

mundane.<br />

My mind starts to become a<br />

little foggy. The thoughts flowing in<br />

and out become slurred, my vision<br />

clouded. That’s when the panic sets<br />

in like an alarm clock going <strong>of</strong>f in my<br />

head and I realize…<br />

…I don’t know who I am. I don’t know<br />

where I am, whose room this is, or<br />

what my name is.<br />

The living room downstairs doesn’t<br />

make sense either. The couch is<br />


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flipped upside down. The light bulbs<br />

are smashed. The photo <strong>of</strong> the happy<br />

family is unrecognizable. But the<br />

girl is holding something that seems<br />

familiar, a<br />

phone.<br />

‘‘I don't know who I am. I don't know<br />

Phone.<br />

where I am, whose room this is, or<br />

I frantically<br />

reach into my<br />

what my name is..."<br />

pocket but<br />

there’s no<br />

phone, only a piece <strong>of</strong> ID. A woman<br />

with frizzled blonde hair, ghostly<br />

eyes, and a plump smile is encased<br />

within the photo. The name Stellar is<br />

listed on top.<br />

I pick up a shard <strong>of</strong> glass<br />

and look into its reflection.<br />

“So I’m Stellar.”<br />

Saying those<br />

words out<br />

loud makes<br />

my name seem<br />

true as if the<br />

wavelengths<br />

<strong>of</strong> sound that<br />

float around<br />

screaming, “I’m Stellar” into the<br />

atmosphere make my identity hold<br />

weight in the real world. But when<br />

the sound fades into emptiness,<br />

P<br />

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PROSE<br />

thoughts rush into my mind as a river <strong>of</strong> memories plunges my<br />

consciousness underwater.<br />

“Look, Stellar, I’d appreciate it if you kept this quiet.” A man in a crisp<br />

suit stands in front <strong>of</strong> me. “Plus nobody is going to believe you,” he adds.<br />

I can’t speak. I can’t even move my hands. But my eyes start to process my<br />

surroundings. Bottles <strong>of</strong> medicine line the shelves, papers are stacked on<br />

the desk, and empty pill bottles litter the trash.<br />

Medicine, medicine is what I need.<br />

As my mind is pulled out <strong>of</strong> my ocean <strong>of</strong> thoughts, finally<br />

having a chance to breathe, I decide to head out to a pharmacy to<br />

get medicine. It’s as if this plan was meant to be. There are keys in<br />

my jacket pocket that unlock the car. The navigation system shows<br />

Gregorie’s Grocery Store as a recent destination that’s been searched.<br />

As I start to drive the roads are clear. This plan seems too perfect to be<br />

true.<br />

I notice that it’s awfully quiet outside.<br />

But the silence is a gift, the first dose <strong>of</strong> medicine that soothes<br />

the throbbing headache, increased heart rate, and foggy vision that<br />

plagues me. As I continue to drive, something catches the corner <strong>of</strong><br />

my eye. A sinister shadow. The glimpse <strong>of</strong> a man holding a camera. A<br />

bright flash. I tell myself I’m making this all up, that once the medicine<br />

enters my body everything will be alright. That it will all make sense…<br />

The parking lot is empty. My car invades the lonely pavement<br />

like an insect. As my feet gently massage the ground a scream pierces<br />

the quiet <strong>of</strong> the day.<br />

“Come here, you.”<br />

I turn around and a tall, startling figure is present. I<br />

don’t know if I can even call him a man because his features have been<br />

twisted. His skin is patched with purple, his eyes glow a deep, misty<br />

yellow, as if they are dying stars, and his voice is slurred. It’s as if death<br />

has sucked all <strong>of</strong> humanity out <strong>of</strong> his soul.<br />

“I’m…I’m sorry sir, I’m not sure I can help you.” I take cautious<br />

steps back.<br />

“You should be sorry for what you’ve done,”the man blurted.<br />

“You deserve this.”<br />

“Deserve what? What does that even mean?” I whisper to<br />

myself.<br />

Then it happened. The man pulled out a gun from his pocket. His eyes<br />

lock into mine like a predator toying with its prey. His grey teeth shine<br />

as he smiles a wicked smile. It’s the look <strong>of</strong> a monster. The gun’s barrel<br />

stares judgingly into my soul and it’s all I focus on. My legs aren’t mine,<br />

my hands stay locked in place, my heart stops beating. Frozen in fear I<br />

lose control <strong>of</strong> my body. The hypnotic state is fascinating. The way that<br />

time seems to stand still, the way all the vibrance in the world, once an<br />

oasis <strong>of</strong> colour becomes a desert stinking <strong>of</strong> death.<br />

A bullet pierces the air, cutting through the flesh <strong>of</strong> the<br />

atmosphere and as I look in front <strong>of</strong> me, I see the man crumple on the<br />

ground. He doesn’t scream. He doesn’t say anything. But his eyes. His<br />

eyes are open, the bright yellow pupils stare at me with fascination and<br />

judgment, as if they are looking at a monster.<br />

A woman's voice booms like a thunderstorm,<br />

“C’mon we gotta go.” Her arms grasp my shoulders, pulling<br />


P<br />

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PROSE<br />

me towards her car and my legs follow<br />

in pursuit. I do nothing, I let her guide<br />

me into the passenger seat as the<br />

neurons in my brain try to send signals<br />

to process what’s happened. But I still<br />

don’t understand.<br />

“What just happened?”<br />

My voice sounds ghostly.<br />

“What’s been happening for the past 587<br />

days if I’m correct,” she calmly replies.<br />

“No please stop the car,<br />

this isn’t right, I need to go back for<br />

medicine,” I demand.<br />

“It’s a death trap in there”,<br />

the woman states, “You’d get killed the<br />

moment you enter.”<br />

“But where’s the police? Why<br />

are these people doing this? What<br />

was wrong with that man?” So many<br />

questions linger, they float like stars in<br />

a galaxy, burning brighter and brighter,<br />

waiting to be noticed.<br />

“Jeez you don’t know, do you?”<br />

“No, I woke up in this strange<br />

house with nothing but my ID.” Even<br />

as the words leave my mouth they<br />

dissipate into the air like a vapor trail.<br />

The woman looks at me with a skeptic's<br />

awe and all I can hope is that she<br />

believes me.<br />

“Well, I’m Moria. It’s<br />

complicated but around 2 years ago<br />

a parasite was released. It clawed<br />

into the minds <strong>of</strong> civilians, turning<br />

innocent people into deranged, killing<br />

machines.” Her voice didn’t waver, its<br />

flat sound dully gliding across the air.<br />

It’s as if she’s said this before.<br />

She continues, “The few who<br />

are unaffected are looking for a vaccine,<br />

apparently the scientists who caused<br />

the outbreak stashed a few in their labs<br />

before everything went wrong.”<br />

Scientists. Lab.<br />

Those words are like a stone<br />

being dropped into the ocean <strong>of</strong> my<br />

mind, sending ripples <strong>of</strong> thoughts that<br />

scramble to the surface. The electrons<br />

in my brain begin to panic as they try to<br />

process a new memory.<br />

“You crossed a line by touching me like<br />

that. It was inappropriate.”<br />

P<br />

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63<br />




P<br />

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PROSE<br />

Ihear my voice boom with the<br />

energy to spark a supernova.<br />

Wisps <strong>of</strong> anger are evident.<br />

“Common Stellar,<br />

stop freaking out.” It’s the same man<br />

again.<br />

“No. You need to face the<br />

consequences <strong>of</strong> your actions.”<br />

“Hey, are you still there?”<br />

The memories fade away like mist<br />

in the wind, dissipating into the<br />

atmosphere. My eyes open wide and<br />

the bitter afternoon light brings me<br />

back to the harshness <strong>of</strong> the day.<br />

“Yeah. I’m fine,” I added.<br />

“Like I was saying we’re<br />

heading to a lab up North to find<br />

a cure. We should be there soon”.<br />

Click! The sound <strong>of</strong> a camera.<br />

“Hey, are you taking<br />

photos?” I ask. Moria shakes her<br />

head but her eyes tell a different<br />

story.<br />

“It’s probably your<br />

headache playing tricks on you,” she<br />

explains.<br />

The lab looks out <strong>of</strong> place.<br />

Its metallic shine contrasts against<br />

the dull, matte sky. The tall white<br />

doors seem to demand respect<br />

from the people who entered, but<br />

there was no respect given to the<br />

crumbling bricks on the wall or to<br />

the cracked windows.<br />

“Here,” Moria whispered, grabbing<br />

a key from her bag and opening the<br />

door. Something seemed <strong>of</strong>f, the<br />

plan was again too perfect…<br />

“How do you have -”<br />

“It doesn’t matter”, she<br />

replies. “Hurry up.”<br />

Inside the lab, there weren't<br />

the expected bright white lights or<br />

chitter-chatter between scientists. A<br />

cave <strong>of</strong> darkness seemed to surround<br />

us, like a murderer enclosing in on its<br />

victim. As we entered the room at the<br />

end <strong>of</strong> the hall I heard a noise from<br />

behind. The crunching <strong>of</strong> broken<br />

glass was evident, the deep breaths<br />

<strong>of</strong> a person rang louder in my head.<br />

“Watch out,” Moria<br />

screamed.<br />

A woman with skin blotched<br />

with purple and eyes as yellow as<br />

the sun grabs onto my shirt. Then I<br />

see it. The screwdriver in her hands<br />

starts to spin like a tornado coming<br />

to life.<br />

This time I don’t freeze, I<br />

run. My feet carry me forward faster<br />

now, the terror still ringing in my<br />

head like a leech.<br />

“Help,” Moria shrieks, her<br />

voice slicing through the calmness <strong>of</strong><br />

the atmosphere.<br />

There’s nothing I can do, I tell<br />

myself. I feel guilty but that thought<br />

is the only justification I have to keep<br />

running.<br />

Her muffled voice is choked<br />

<strong>of</strong>f.<br />

I reach the end <strong>of</strong> the<br />

hallway. Left or right, which way to go?<br />

“Hey there beautiful,”<br />

whispers a man, holding a knife. I<br />

can see that it’s stained with what<br />

By EVIE S.<br />

appears to be dried blood.<br />

“Please, no, please don’t<br />

hurt me,” My voice drips with fear.<br />

“It’s ok darling”, he says,<br />

walking closer. That’s when I run<br />

when my legs bolt down the hallway.<br />

I see a light. Its golden gleam cuts<br />

through the darkness around me.<br />

The rays glisten with warmth and all<br />

I can think about is the safety that it<br />

will <strong>of</strong>fer. I approach the light, I take<br />

a deep breath, close my eyes…<br />

…“Bravo! She’s entertaining,<br />

wouldn’t you all agree?” a man asks.<br />

As I open my eyes, as I<br />

let the light trickle and bring my<br />

world to life, my heartbeat slows<br />

and I realize that I’m no longer in<br />

the lab. The courtroom I appear to<br />

be in stares judgingly into my soul.<br />

The jurors in front <strong>of</strong> me all laugh,<br />

chuckling with a sinister sense <strong>of</strong><br />

humor. The judge at the front smiles<br />

as the jury continues to whisper and<br />

laugh uncontrollably. I notice a giant<br />

screen in the middle <strong>of</strong> the wall. On<br />

it is a photo <strong>of</strong> me in the house I woke<br />

up in.<br />

What’s going on?<br />

“Darling are you alright, what’s the<br />

matter?” the judge asks in a snarky<br />

manner.<br />

“The infected were chasing me, they<br />

killed a woman!” I tell them.<br />

“The infected?” the judge chuckles.<br />

At that very moment the guy from<br />

the grocery store, the woman with<br />

the screwdriver, and the man with<br />

the knife walk into the courtroom. It<br />

was like seeing ghosts from my past.<br />

Except they looked fine. The purple<br />

splotches were gone. Their eyes were<br />

no longer gleaming with yellow. The<br />

seemingly dead man was now alive.<br />

“Can we have a bravo for<br />

these brilliant actors?” the judge<br />

questions. A round <strong>of</strong> applause<br />

echoes like dynamite as it explodes<br />

harshly into the atmosphere.<br />

“And how can we forget the one and<br />

only, Moria?” the judge chanted.<br />

Moria walks into the courtroom.<br />

It’s as if the court has now become<br />

a stage. I notice that the red stain on<br />

her shirt is gone.<br />

“Now last but not least, we have the<br />

accused, Stellar Hymen!” The jury<br />

doesn’t give me a round <strong>of</strong> applause.<br />

Instead frowns trickle onto their<br />

faces and looks <strong>of</strong> disgust plague the<br />

courtroom. One word seems to hang<br />

on longer than the others: accused.<br />

“Well even if we don’t love Stellar<br />

herself, I must say that she was<br />

entertaining,” the judge exclaims.<br />

“I don’t understand,'' I whisper. But<br />

the whisper turns into a crescendo<br />

P<br />

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65<br />


PROSE<br />


as I shout, “Moria should be dead.<br />

The 3 infected should be trying to<br />

kill us, why are you even in this lab,<br />

what’s going on?!”<br />

“We thought you might<br />

ask,” Moria replies. She looks at the<br />

judge who seems to nod.<br />

He presses a button and a video<br />

plays.<br />

It’s a news report from a<br />

month ago.<br />

“Yesterday at noon judges,<br />

lawyers, and jurors met at the<br />

supreme court to discuss the case <strong>of</strong><br />

Stellar Hymen, a pharmacist from<br />

NewTechLabs. Back in May, Stellar<br />

was seen accusing the CEO, George<br />

McGreggor <strong>of</strong> sexual assault, a bold<br />

assertion that threatened his career.”<br />

Memories started to trickle<br />

back in. I could remember the incident<br />

now, I could feel his hands pressed up<br />

against mine with the strength <strong>of</strong> a<br />

lion, his lips slithering against my lips<br />

like a snake poisoning his prey. And his<br />

eyes. The way his eyes pierced my heart<br />

as if he were staring at a piece <strong>of</strong> trash<br />

that would later be discarded.<br />

The broadcast continues,<br />

“The police launched an<br />

investigation and found that no such<br />

allegations were true. George Mcgregor<br />

took Stellar to court due to the public<br />

chaos that threatened his company as<br />

a result <strong>of</strong> her false accusation. His<br />

lawyer, Kenneth, one <strong>of</strong> the world’s<br />

best, saw that Stellar should be tested<br />

to see if she was worthy <strong>of</strong> redemption.”<br />

So this was a test? I suddenly<br />

remembered how the pieces <strong>of</strong> the<br />

puzzle clicked together. The weird<br />

house I woke up in, the way the GPS<br />

led me to the grocery store, the fact<br />

that Moria drove me to this lab.<br />

“To explain more we have<br />

Helen Larson, the founder <strong>of</strong> the<br />

company NewTechTrials that carries<br />

out this modern form <strong>of</strong> justice.”<br />

The camera pans to a woman<br />

dressed in a business suit. Her lips are<br />

glossy, her eyes stained with joy from<br />

what she’s about to say. “Well thank<br />

you. NewTechTrials is the future <strong>of</strong><br />

ensuring that our nation gets the justice<br />

it deserves. Stellar harmed the science<br />

community, and as requested we've<br />

been tasked to design a test to see if she,<br />

despite being guilty, is deserving <strong>of</strong> a<br />

second chance. We’ve been developing<br />

a new memory-draining serum so that<br />

3 months from now Stellar will awake<br />

with no recollection <strong>of</strong> who she is.<br />

Viewers will be able to livestream and<br />

enjoy some sense <strong>of</strong> punishment as we<br />

bring her into an apocalyptic world.”<br />

She didn’t lie, I thought.<br />

This world was apocalyptic and<br />

my memories were groggy. The<br />

details about the court case seemed<br />

fabricated. When I searched my mind<br />

I could recall nothing about those<br />

events. The trial seemed to have<br />

faded from existence like a lonely,<br />

lost winter day. I kept listening with<br />

intrigue.<br />

“To make this interesting<br />

we’ve hired some <strong>of</strong> the world’s best<br />

actors including Moria Donahue,<br />

Angel Arkams, Jason Leskts, and<br />

Matthew Ferris! As well some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

best cameramen, stage directions,<br />

and makeup artists will be featured.<br />

In the end, the jury and judge will<br />

decide whether or not Stellar deserves<br />

to be free. But stay tuned to see what<br />

happens. NewTechTrials promises you<br />

justice.”<br />

The video cuts to thousands<br />

<strong>of</strong> people chanting and clapping,<br />

holding up signs with my face printed<br />

on them, some with an X crossed<br />

through, others with flames around<br />

my head. So the memories about the<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice, about the abuse, about the<br />

fight with George were true.<br />


P<br />

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PROSE<br />

By IAM OS<br />

“Well folks,” the judge chuckles, “The<br />

expression on her face is priceless.<br />

But it’s time to see what the jury<br />

thinks!” I look over to see the faces<br />

<strong>of</strong> the jury. I notice how each <strong>of</strong><br />

"...as if the veil <strong>of</strong> lies that<br />

covered the legal system had<br />

been removed, I could see the<br />

truth now..."<br />

them is lavished with rich, luscious<br />

clothes, and how their teeth shine<br />

with a sparkling white. Watches,<br />

necklaces, and gems litter their skin<br />

like shimmering stars amidst the<br />

universe. It seems that the rich and<br />

powerful would be judging me. It was<br />

as if I was playing a casino game, one<br />

that was rigged, that I was destined<br />

to lose. A woman with blonde hair<br />

responded, “We the jury unanimously<br />

find Stellar undeserving <strong>of</strong> a second<br />

chance and guilty.”<br />

Guilty. The word lingers<br />

in the air like a dead song. As if it’s<br />

attached to an anchor, it seems<br />

to weigh me down as my mind<br />

starts to break under the weight,<br />

as I feel my consciousness sinking.<br />

Another memory flows in like the<br />

tide. The day <strong>of</strong> the court,<br />

the day George stared me<br />

in the eyes as I was judged,<br />

as he smiled wickedly the<br />

moment I was found guilty.<br />

These people were wicked, I<br />

thought. They were cruel<br />

vultures, desolate, greedy<br />

creatures for how they<br />

found happiness in seeing<br />

my pain. Only a monster<br />

would make me go through<br />

this apocalyptic test to see if I could<br />

be saved. But perhaps then, everyone<br />

in the justice system was a monster.<br />

My mind snaps back to<br />

the courtroom.<br />

“Thank you jury,” the judge<br />

responds. “Today it is clear that<br />

Stellar failed 3 tests. First, she let<br />

her greed consume her as she stole<br />

a car.” I rolled my eyes, <strong>of</strong> course I<br />

would take the car! The whole test<br />

was practically designed in a way<br />

that required me to do so. This<br />

wasn’t justice, I knew I was innocent.<br />

“Second she willingly broke<br />

P<br />

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67<br />

into a lab, showing her inability to<br />

follow the law.” I didn’t say anything,<br />

I didn’t even beg or plead as I heard<br />

those words. I knew that nothing I<br />

said would ever change their mind.<br />

As if a blindfold was lifted <strong>of</strong>f <strong>of</strong> my<br />

eyes, as if the veil <strong>of</strong> lies that covered<br />

the legal system had been removed,<br />

I could see the truth now: The justice<br />

system was stained with injustice.<br />

“Finally, Stellar chose to be<br />

selfish as she let Moria die, a perfect<br />

example <strong>of</strong> a narcissistic individual<br />

that shouldn’t be let into society. I, as<br />

the judge, sentence Stellar to infinite<br />

time in prison.” The gavel hits the<br />

desk. Moria smiles at me. The jury<br />

claps in glee.<br />

The last ripple <strong>of</strong> a memory<br />

that flows through the now-dead<br />

ocean <strong>of</strong> my mind is where this all<br />

started. I remember the room I<br />

awoke in, the shards <strong>of</strong> glass laying<br />

on the floor.<br />

The justice system was<br />

just like those shards: a fractured,<br />

broken, useless tool. I smile as the<br />

reality <strong>of</strong> the world shines brighter<br />

than it ever did. I cling onto that<br />

thought as my freedom flies away<br />

like a hawk disappearing into the<br />

night sky.<br />


i s s<br />

u<br />

mirror <strong>of</strong> society<br />

e<br />

f<br />

poetry & prose<br />

photography & art<br />

o<br />

u<br />

issue four<br />

r<br />



P<br />

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Poetry<br />

THEY<br />


US.<br />

In The End.<br />


Ludovico Einaudi is the name<br />

<strong>of</strong> experience.<br />

Hans Zimmer—he created time.<br />

Ramin Djawadi crowned our<br />

conqueror <strong>of</strong> the night.<br />

Danny Elfman taught us<br />

the art <strong>of</strong> war.<br />

Giona Ostinelli and Sonya Belousova showed us<br />

a kingdom’s last blooming rose.<br />

Carlos Rafael Rivera taught us how to<br />

win the final game.<br />

Justin Hurwitz gave us such an epilogue—<br />

an epilogue <strong>of</strong> we artists all.<br />

P<br />

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G 69<br />

E<br />



Prose<br />

T he<br />


BURDEN<br />

"A white teacher looks at me and<br />

says, "Now, aren't you glad we changed<br />

things for you over there?" I ask him<br />

what he means."<br />


PROSE<br />

M<br />

estiza:<br />

mes·tiz·a<br />

noun:<br />

1. (In Latin America) a woman <strong>of</strong><br />

mixed race, especially one having<br />

indigenous or Spanish Descent (Oxford<br />

Languages).<br />

2. A racial classification used to refer to<br />

a person <strong>of</strong> combined European<br />

and Indigenous American<br />

Ancestry. The term was used as<br />

an ethnic/racial category for<br />

mixed-race castas that evolved<br />

during the Spanish empire<br />

(Wikipedia).<br />

I am born into the<br />

entropy <strong>of</strong> 2006 North Carolina,<br />

cradled in the palms <strong>of</strong> white<br />

women, woodland phlox and<br />

Sweetgum trees the same color<br />

as my mestiza hair. A shiny<br />

spoon <strong>of</strong> white-passing clickclacks<br />

against my growing teeth<br />

while my mother is dismissed<br />

as nanny, servant, babysitter.<br />

This Filipino telenovela fades<br />

into the background with a<br />

choking cough when the halohalo<br />

comes out <strong>of</strong> the ice-block<br />

freezer. It thaws in my throat.<br />

I reach for it with baby hands.<br />

I am dumped into<br />

the palmetto fronds <strong>of</strong> coastal<br />

California. I am sitting under<br />

the tangerine tree when my<br />

uncle, my mother’s brother,<br />

brushes bangs <strong>of</strong>f my forehead<br />

and says I got the pretty genes.<br />

He peels open my eyelids and<br />

admires the swamp green, the<br />

same color as where I was born,<br />

and my mother tells him thank you.<br />

“Mestiza,” He says. “She is<br />

so beautiful.”<br />

I look at my mother and ask<br />

why I look more like Daddy when I’m<br />

equally hers.<br />

She says, “Manahimik ka (be<br />

quiet). Eat your oranges.”<br />

The next time it happens is<br />

By LIANE<br />

when I am in second grade. I wear<br />

my Filipino clothing to school on<br />

Cultural Day and people say I look<br />

like a little white girl playing dressup.<br />

A white teacher looks at me<br />

and says, “Now, aren’t you glad we<br />

changed things for you over there?”<br />

I ask him what he means.<br />

He ruffles my hair and says, “You<br />

wouldn’t be this beautiful if we didn’t<br />

help you out.”<br />

I tell my mother this. She<br />

sighs and says, “My little white girl.”<br />

I say, “Why do I look like<br />

Daddy and not you?”<br />

She says. “Ano Ka Ba?<br />

Kainin ang iyong pagkain at itigil ang<br />

pagtatanong.”<br />

(What’s wrong with you? Eat your<br />

food and stop asking questions.)<br />

It takes her two more years<br />

before she explains that while I am<br />

Filipino, I am also European because<br />

horrible men decided to taint<br />

pure brown bloodlines with their<br />

whiteness. I scrub the floor with a<br />

sponge.<br />

She says, “If you go to the<br />

Philippines, they will say you<br />

are magunda (pretty).”<br />

I say, “Because I look<br />

white?”<br />

She says, “Linisin ang mga<br />

sahig (clean the floors)."<br />

I am in fifth grade. I am<br />

lying next to her in my parents’<br />

wide queen-size bed as she<br />

explains a war I have never<br />

heard <strong>of</strong> and says, “The United<br />

States thought we were too<br />

savage to govern ourselves.”<br />

I say, “Why?”<br />

“Dahil sila ay masama (Because<br />

they are mean).” She says,<br />

“Masyado kang maraming<br />

tanong (You ask too many<br />

questions). Go to sleep.”<br />

(I ask my dad the same<br />

question. He says he hates<br />

white people.)<br />

I am in seventh grade. My<br />

mom drives me to school on<br />

the way to the hospital. She is a<br />

doktor.<br />

I am proud <strong>of</strong> her. I tug<br />

on her green scrubs and say,<br />

“Mahal Kita.” (I love you.)<br />

My family sits under that<br />

tangerine tree. My Filipino<br />

uncle sits next to me again. He<br />

brushes mestiza bangs <strong>of</strong>f my<br />

forehead and peels open my green<br />

eyes and says, “You’re a beautiful<br />

girl, you know. Very American.”<br />

I say, “I am Filipino,”<br />

He Laughs and Laughs and<br />

Laughs.<br />

He says, “No, you’re not.”<br />

P<br />

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G<br />

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71<br />


PROSE<br />


BOTTLE<br />

BABY<br />

By MATT HSU<br />

They presented Mom with a<br />

barrage <strong>of</strong> bottles, swollen<br />

like milk jugs, corked with<br />

burnt cardboard. The nurse<br />

held a clipboard in one hand and a<br />

clementine in the other. Mom had<br />

an hour to scan the reports, to raise<br />

the bottles to her eyes, to sing to the<br />

babies dormant behind glass. We<br />

left the hospital half an hour after<br />

entering, a bottle baby in Mom’s<br />

elbow crook, and the receipt in her<br />

skirt’s back pocket.<br />

The pricing system<br />

is rote, yet still speculative. Babies<br />

are awarded a value based on their<br />

longevity, their looks, their predicted<br />

personality;, anything that appears<br />

on the atomic-level scanner. Blonde<br />

babies are the most expensive.<br />

Blue eyes add a two-thousanddollar<br />

premium. Gene patterns<br />

that indicate obedience push the<br />

price upwards, while neurodiversity<br />

causes it to plummet to nearly zero.<br />

The cost used to be fixed, but supply<br />

and demand tossed the bottle- baby<br />

economy into financial entropy.<br />

We’re not wealthy, so our new baby—<br />

who we’ve decided to call Lucas—is<br />

small, angry, and Chinese.<br />

In his early days, Lucas<br />

is treated much like a hunk <strong>of</strong> raw<br />

poultry. He soaks in warm water for<br />

several weeks, as his limbs unfurl,<br />

his face takes shape, his umbilical<br />

cord floats away like bread in tomato<br />

soup. We season the water with<br />

nutrient packs, bought in bulk from<br />

the nearby supermarket. A lightbulb<br />

hangs over his tub, casting light over<br />

his scrunched fingers for twelve<br />

hours per day.<br />

Mom pulls Lucas from the<br />

bath at 7:00 a.m. on September 16,<br />

which I suppose is now his birthday.<br />

The moment his head emerges from<br />

the water, he begins to wail. Not a<br />

gentle coo, not a miracle cry—a fullout,<br />

five- alarm, pineapple- cake,<br />

donkey-on-the-mountain wail. It<br />

shakes the shutters <strong>of</strong>f our windows,<br />

turns our pecans into pie, grabs Dad<br />

by the collar and dumps him in the<br />


P<br />

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PROSE<br />

backyard. Mom tries everything,<br />

rocking and bouncing and steamed<br />

milk, but he just won’t shut up.<br />

I create a small barricade in my<br />

room, made <strong>of</strong> pillows and stuffed<br />

penguins, but Lucas’ cries drive right<br />

through it.<br />

It’s five o’clock the next<br />

morning, and he’s still going. Lucas<br />

has not gotten louder, but he’s<br />

definitely shriller, frillier than the<br />

night before. Mom and Dad have<br />

turned a muddy yellow from the<br />

stress. Their fingernails bend away<br />

from the noise, and the hairs on their<br />

heads have begun to wither away. All<br />

three <strong>of</strong> us have crusts contouring<br />

our cheekbones, black smudges<br />

beneath our eyes. My oatmeal tastes<br />

like tears.<br />

Mom’s on the phone when<br />

I get back from school, pressing<br />

her lips against the receiver. Across<br />

the house, Lucas continues to wail,<br />

screeching as if silence would cause<br />

the world to stop spinning on its axis.<br />

Several moments later, Mom taps the<br />

handset back into the dial pad. She<br />

tells me we need to take Lucas to the<br />

hospital. Dad tucks Lucas’ old bottle<br />

into a cloth bag, along with a turkey<br />

sandwich and a stack <strong>of</strong> manila<br />

folders, before ushering us into the<br />

car. Lucas continues to cry.<br />

The doctors say no<br />

refunds. Lucas can be returned,<br />

but his valuation has dropped<br />

significantly. They apologize, say that<br />

malfunctions don’t usually occur, but<br />

jab at the waivers Mom signed when<br />

she protests. Dad and Mom and the<br />

doctors disappear into the room<br />

next door, shouting over Lucas, who<br />

they’ve left with me. I take him in my<br />

arms, lifting his chin beside mine.<br />

Soon Mom and Dad finish<br />

their conversation with the doctors.<br />

They disappear for a while, then<br />

reemerge in the hallway, a handheld<br />

cradle hanging below their hips.<br />

There’s a baby inside. They wink<br />

at it, cover their eyes, bobble their<br />

tongues, shower its head with<br />

caterpillar fingers. I try to make<br />

eye contact with them through the<br />

door’s glass pane, but they keep their<br />

heads fixated on the exit as they walk<br />

away. The baby’s name is Luther.<br />

My name is Theresa.<br />

The doctors come back into<br />

the room. They stuff a purple rag into<br />

Lucas’ mouth, and he stops crying at<br />

last.<br />


P<br />

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P<br />

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PROSE<br />

A<br />

Farewell<br />

TO<br />

HARM<br />

"A Farewell to Harm", inspired by the<br />

Rift Valley region <strong>of</strong> Kenya, depicts<br />

how execution and banditry is<br />

influenced by poverty and corruption.<br />


"S<br />

he was right Tor, damn<br />

it..! “ John Bett was<br />

saying laughingly to<br />

his wife, patting her.<br />

She laughed with a wide, affectionate<br />

smile and hugged the sleeping boy<br />

child between them closer against<br />

her ribs. The child stirred. The car<br />

was trundling towards the gateway<br />

between the pleasant rows <strong>of</strong> Nile<br />

tulips and Nandi Flames which<br />

sprayed the shade beneath with<br />

their gay flowers in the gentle<br />

rainstorms and winds <strong>of</strong> the season.<br />

The headlights revealed in the dark<br />

the aesthetic display that this action<br />

created.<br />

“Easy lad,” said the mother.<br />

“You’ll soon be lying in your bed.”<br />

By REDD<br />

Their laughter was <strong>of</strong><br />

happiness rather than humor,<br />

and stemmed from Dr. Kiprono’s<br />

assurance last August that Tor’s<br />

medication to stem out a nascent<br />

tumor in her left breast would be<br />

successful. This evening he had just<br />

done a scan at Eldoret Hospital and<br />

declared her cancer-free.<br />

“You’re very lucky, Mrs. Tor<br />

Bett,” said the doctor, as he watched<br />

her and her husband and son sip the<br />

c<strong>of</strong>fee a nurse had brought them.<br />

“The tumor was found out early.<br />

Otherwise it’s usually fatal.”<br />

“What do we do, doctor,”<br />

asked Bett, “to keep healthy?’<br />

“Grow and eat lots <strong>of</strong><br />

vegetables. Fruits. Less purified<br />

sugar. If possible avoid sugar<br />

altogether. Seek regular check-ups.”<br />

The sound <strong>of</strong> honking had intruded<br />

P<br />

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75<br />


PROSE<br />

into the valley’s quiet nightlife<br />

when suddenly the rainfall and<br />

the drone <strong>of</strong> an approaching<br />

motorbike assailed them. They<br />

were two bikes and the damp faces<br />

<strong>of</strong> the men in dark jackets in the<br />

passenger seats looked into both<br />

windows and pointed gun barrels.<br />

“Get out, quick!”<br />

“What do you want?’<br />

“I said fucking get out!”<br />

Suddenly, gunshots were<br />

heard that shook the heart <strong>of</strong> the<br />

valley and made the male domestic<br />

who was opening the gate start. The<br />

force <strong>of</strong> bullets threw the couple out<br />

<strong>of</strong> the car into the rain, floodlights<br />

and gore that had suddenly ganged up<br />

over the array <strong>of</strong> flowers and leaves<br />

that daily the labor <strong>of</strong> trees sprayed<br />

their drive with, and the domestics<br />

curled into a heap and barrow and<br />

consigned to the bin pit with equal<br />

kindness. A backseat window was<br />

pistol-whipped, elbowed, and the<br />

sound <strong>of</strong> breaking glass rang in the<br />

silence. A damp, rough hand grabbed<br />

the backpack in the seat. The watery<br />

leather jacket arm appeared to<br />

glisten with infernal guilt under the<br />

light <strong>of</strong> the interior. Then the bikes<br />

turned and roared away into the<br />

dark night.<br />

Everyone scrambled to the<br />

gate from the farmhouse where a<br />

young daughter’s birthday was in<br />

progress with friends, wine, cake and<br />

music. A bottle <strong>of</strong> wine was spilt and<br />

an apple slipped from the table and<br />

dropped after the gathering down<br />

the stairs to the door. Their cries met<br />

only bodies and rain and gore. The<br />

rain-like sweat bathed their hair and<br />

trickled down their miens as they<br />

witnessed the nightly, dismal end.<br />

Two days later, a mediumbuilt<br />

man in his late thirties boldly<br />

walked into General Atea Maximum<br />

Security Prison and requested<br />

to speak to Gerald Sando. One <strong>of</strong><br />

the warders drinking tea in the<br />

reception, dressed in their green<br />

khaki uniforms and black berets,<br />

flipped his HP laptop and searched<br />

the name.<br />

“Gerald Sando… Gerald<br />

Sando,” he repeated under his<br />

breath. Large bold characters <strong>of</strong><br />

the name appeared on the screen<br />

with smaller details listed under<br />

it. “Gerald Sando. Robbery with<br />

violence. Third time. First taken for<br />

shoplifting. Second time for cattle<br />

rustling. Last time for cattle rustling.<br />

Slapped with 25 years. Doing his<br />

last three years. Suspected to be in<br />

constant communication with his<br />

gangs that terrorized Rerech Valley,”<br />

the prison policeman looked up, the<br />

look on his face none too pleased.<br />

“What’s your name?”<br />

“Kipell Bet.”<br />

“Kipell Bet,” the warder<br />

typed. “Related by any chance to<br />

the Bett killed with his wife and son<br />

yesterday in the valley in cold blood?’<br />

He handed Bet a printed, stamped<br />


slip.<br />

"No. My name is spelt with<br />

one t at the end.”<br />

“Sorry but I’ve used two ts.<br />

Visiting hours are close to an end. Go<br />

straight along that corridor. Present<br />

that slip to the <strong>of</strong>ficers at the <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

to the right. Good luck, and be flash<br />

about it.’<br />

Bet walked briskly along the<br />

corridor. A lot <strong>of</strong> friendly noise came<br />

from a canteen to his left where cops<br />

drank c<strong>of</strong>fee, tea, soda.<br />

“You want to talk, or just see<br />

him?” the stern little woman with a<br />

small pistol in her holster asked.<br />

‘Talk.”<br />

Two armed warders,<br />

chatting casually about the weather,<br />

were summoned from the canteen.<br />

They conducted him to a chair,<br />

indicated the telephone on the little<br />

wicket in the wall grilled with bars<br />

and withdrew. One <strong>of</strong> them looked at<br />

his wristwatch.<br />

“You got ten minutes, and<br />

that’s clement.”<br />

While he was being<br />

conducted to the telephone Gerald<br />

Sando was sitting on another chair<br />

on the other side <strong>of</strong> the bars while<br />

two burly warders withdrew five feet<br />

or so. Sando lit a cigarette. He was a<br />

sleek, hard, smiling man. He raised<br />

the telephone.<br />

"Success,” Bet said.<br />

"How much?”<br />

“Nine-hundred.”<br />

“Good. 150 to all. The dregs<br />

for King Gerald. How’s that?"<br />

"Perfectly understood."<br />

They rose together like it<br />

was a ceremony, and the cops on<br />

both sides <strong>of</strong> the iron curtain came<br />

behind them concurrently and saw<br />

them out.<br />

The three sleek c<strong>of</strong>fins were<br />

nearly covered in fresh, luscious<br />

flowers. They were real flowers from<br />

the fields <strong>of</strong> the valley. The valley<br />

teemed with trees and flowers. The<br />

catafalque was bathed in tears and<br />

sunshine. Among the mourners was<br />

Fredrico Maconi. He was bowed,<br />

humbled, tall, but still with his white<br />

skin and long golden locks he was<br />

prominent beside Annabelle, his<br />

wife. Maconi would never forget till<br />

the day <strong>of</strong> his death the sorrow and<br />

tears that accompanied the three<br />

c<strong>of</strong>fins and the red soil into the pit.<br />

Only three months ago he had come<br />

to the valley following a section in<br />

Safari. He had been in the south<br />

coast with Annabelle drinking coco<br />

water reclining on beach chairs<br />

reading in the tropical sun.<br />


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He decided at once to buy a<br />

plot in this little paradise<br />

if only to please Annabelle.<br />

And now beside the brook<br />

in the valley looking out on<br />

the emerald fields where residents<br />

grazed their cattle was rising<br />

the first expansion <strong>of</strong> his resorts<br />

outside Europe, La Emeralda. And<br />

the fields were alive with antelopes<br />

and elephants. But how would he<br />

tell Annabelle that the kindhearted<br />

man that had sold them the land<br />

was murdered in cold blood in that<br />

very paradise? She never believed it.<br />

Even right there in the cemetery she<br />

still obviously couldn’t believe it. He<br />

cried in his handkerchief and when<br />

he raised his damp eyes to look at the<br />

padre the pits were being filled.<br />

One spring morning,<br />

Maconi looked out <strong>of</strong> the third floor<br />

<strong>of</strong> La Emeralda. A drizzle ensued.<br />

Fundis was alighting in the yard to<br />

give their last touches to the interiors<br />

<strong>of</strong> the five floors. They wore helmets<br />

and reflector vests and boots. They<br />

conversed in casual drawls as their<br />

feet echoed up the vacant stairs. He<br />

was admiring the African tulip with<br />

its floral flames in the sunrise beside<br />

the brook close to where he had set<br />

up a large greenhouse to provide<br />

ready veggies for the resort’s needs.<br />

That week he had ordered batteries<br />

worth 150000 shillings to supply him<br />

with his own ready chickens and<br />

eggs.<br />

He gradually became aware<br />

<strong>of</strong> a large herd <strong>of</strong> cattle, including<br />

camels, approaching the valley from<br />

the other side <strong>of</strong> the rill. They were<br />

hundreds and their AK47-wielding<br />

herders drifted across the northern<br />

frontier looking for greener pastures.<br />

They were the Turkana, a nomadic<br />

tribe <strong>of</strong> the Nilotes. They wore beads<br />

and cloaks and plaited hair and were<br />

very friendly. They wore daggers too,<br />

and sometimes during the safaris,<br />

they provided security and guidance<br />

due to their special discipline which<br />

had made the country create them<br />

a sort <strong>of</strong> legendary symbol for its<br />

hospitality sector. In the nation’s<br />

tourism ads they were popular as<br />

accurate props and models for the<br />

face <strong>of</strong> the tourism industry.<br />

Suddenly, the herdsmen<br />

were attacked by five gunmen on<br />

motorbikes and Maconi heard<br />

gunshots and saw game and the herd<br />

scatter. One <strong>of</strong> the gunmen fell and<br />

three <strong>of</strong> the herdsmen also fell then<br />

from behind a police Land Cruiser<br />

braked abruptly and six anti-robbery<br />

squad policemen pushed through<br />

their doors with guns corked, barrels<br />

rising. Just when they were accosting<br />

the bandits more gunmen sped from<br />

behind and opened fire on them<br />

and Maconi watched their bodies<br />

scattered there on the field like <strong>of</strong>fal<br />

in a slaughter. He grabbed his phone<br />

and dialed, but when he raised his<br />

face again a missile flew into it, and<br />

with its force he was thrown back<br />

into the room against the approach<br />

<strong>of</strong> a scared Annabelle, who was just<br />

arriving from touring Lake Turkana<br />

five miles away.<br />

“Darling,” she said in<br />

Italian, leaning over him, shaking<br />

him. “Are you okay?”<br />

Then, she saw the red spot<br />

between his eyes. A crimson rill<br />

flowed gradually from it. Then the<br />

little source became a river. He had<br />

been shot by a stray bullet. Annabelle<br />

looked out <strong>of</strong> the window. The<br />

rustlers were driving the great herd<br />

away across the rill. There were two<br />

silver rills sourcing from her own<br />

eyes through which she watched this<br />

daylight terror.<br />

Inspector General Jeff<br />

Ochieng was a fat, dashing man close<br />

to his retirement. He was painfully<br />

conscious <strong>of</strong> the perils <strong>of</strong> his job. He<br />

had been for close to forty-five years.<br />

A meeting was underway in the<br />

conference hall <strong>of</strong> the National Police<br />

Headquarters. He had convened it.<br />

Arrays <strong>of</strong> shaken police inspectors<br />

sat around the glossy mahogany<br />

table in piece suits. Some <strong>of</strong> them<br />

wore berets, while the rest wore<br />

crew cuts. Mineral water bottles<br />



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and clipped print chapbook reports<br />

were laid before every inspector for<br />

reference. The Inspector-General<br />

walked straight to the front. Against<br />

the wall was a large computer screen<br />

that showed the Reret Valley. He<br />

indicated this, and for a moment he<br />

looked lost for words.<br />

“This, as you all know,” he<br />

said,“ is Reret Valley. This beautiful<br />

valley in the purlieus <strong>of</strong> Lake<br />

Turkana has been lately the scene<br />

<strong>of</strong> violence and murder. What is<br />

hard to understand is, who gives<br />

us away every time we attempt to<br />

stand between the residents and the<br />

bandits who’ve wreaked havoc in the<br />

valley? Only a week ago we lost near<br />

eight <strong>of</strong> our <strong>of</strong>ficers when robbers,<br />

obviously having been tipped by one<br />

<strong>of</strong> us, surprised them unexpectedly<br />

from behind. They were surrounded<br />

between two gangs <strong>of</strong> cattle rustlers<br />

and executed<br />

point-blank.<br />

An Italian<br />

businessman<br />

who has<br />

invested<br />

heavily in<br />

the country’s<br />

tourism was killed by a stray bullet.<br />

Crime in the area has become an<br />

eyesore <strong>of</strong> national concern, scaring<br />

investors.”<br />

An inspector raised his<br />

hand. The IG nodded to him.<br />

“Somebody has been<br />

making an income from betraying the<br />

force. Someone very unscrupulous<br />

and very dirty. Apart from the loss<br />

<strong>of</strong> our <strong>of</strong>ficers in the valley and the<br />

lamentable loss <strong>of</strong> civilian lives,<br />

a page <strong>of</strong> these chapbooks states<br />

clearly how a tapped line between<br />

a convict and his visitor appears to<br />

point to underhand deals.”<br />

Another inspector raised<br />

his point.<br />

“Am for watching this<br />

convict scheduled to be released. His<br />

much-hyped resolve to live crimefree<br />

should be totally disregarded.<br />

He will lead us to whoever has been<br />

"Crime in the area has become<br />

an eyesore <strong>of</strong> national concern,<br />

scaring investors."<br />

betraying the force, and this tapped<br />

chat, if am not mistaken, confirms<br />

that Gerald Sando was still very<br />

much in control <strong>of</strong> his gangs from<br />

prison.”<br />

“Good,” said the IG. “From<br />

tomorrow we set up a special<br />

commission to investigate the rot in<br />

our midst. Good afternoon.”<br />

Two burly prison warders<br />

were seen marching briskly one<br />

autumn morning along the corridor<br />

that led to the dungeons <strong>of</strong> General<br />

Atea Maximum Security Prison. A<br />

heavy bunch <strong>of</strong> ancient-looking keys<br />

jingled between them. They met at<br />

one <strong>of</strong> the gates, neighboring the<br />

wicket where the visitor had engaged<br />

with the prisoner three years ago,<br />

the turnkey, who returned their<br />

salute with casual condescension.<br />

He turned his back to them, and keys<br />

and heavy chains were heard to grate<br />

deftly against<br />

the metal <strong>of</strong><br />

one gate after<br />

another. They<br />

were black<br />

gates mounted<br />

with spikes<br />

in high walls<br />

<strong>of</strong> concrete in turn mounted with<br />

broken bottles.<br />

In a yard <strong>of</strong> the prison,<br />

hundreds <strong>of</strong> convicts in the gray and<br />

white striped uniform breakfasted<br />

on tea and toast. In a second yard<br />

behind that another hundred<br />

convicts breakfasted, the stewards<br />

busy at their heads with cauldrons<br />

and ladles. The place was crowded<br />

and noisy. They stood in smaller<br />

groups within the crowd chatting<br />

apparently without the slightest<br />

scruple in the world. Among the<br />

convicts and stewards were warders<br />

attentively keeping order.<br />

“Listen here,” said one <strong>of</strong><br />

the cops, producing a slip. “If I call<br />

your name step forward. Dolla Golla.<br />

Wait over there.”<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the burly <strong>of</strong>ficers<br />

conferred briefly with one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

warders.<br />

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hey walked through the<br />

T<br />

noise and crowd to the<br />

noise and crowd in the<br />

yard behind. The turnkey<br />

again tussled with the<br />

keys against chains and<br />

lock. Inside the gate, the second<br />

burly cop read aloud from a slip.<br />

‘Our Duka.’<br />

A not very good-looking<br />

man stepped from the crowd.<br />

‘Stand aside. Gerald Sando.”<br />

Gerald Sando was a tall,<br />

strongly built man in his early fifties.<br />

He had a mischievous smile upon his<br />

slick, pleasant face.<br />

“Step aside.”<br />

“Kyalo Kazu.”<br />

Finally, the cop folded the<br />

paper and lit a cigarette. His partner<br />

walked up to the three mentioned.<br />

“Get your possessions and<br />

follow us. Better hurry or you’ll have<br />

to resume your time.”<br />

Ten minutes later at the<br />

reception Gerald Sando, among the<br />

four, was seen to smile, a small holdall<br />

hugged under his armpit.<br />

“What you gonna do now,<br />

Sando?” the female cop asked. “<br />

Resume crime?”<br />

“No. I’ll start farming in the<br />

valley.”<br />

“You’re said to still regularly<br />

correspond with your old gangs. Is<br />

that true?”<br />

“No.”<br />

He was handed a form and<br />

shown where to sign.<br />

A quarter <strong>of</strong> an hour later, he<br />

was seen to emerge outside the Gate.<br />

To the press that accosted him owing<br />

to the infamy <strong>of</strong> his youthful days<br />

he told curtly he would have a word<br />

with them not very long. He would<br />

expose the rot in the security organs.<br />

The two burly warders watched him<br />

get into a waiting Toyota RAV4 which<br />

sped once it gained the highway. Bet<br />

lowered the window.<br />

“Where are you driving me,<br />

Bet?”<br />

“To The Pearl. On Lake<br />

Turkana. The guys are waiting.<br />

There’ll be a warm bath and a change<br />

<strong>of</strong> clothes and breakfast. And a bottle<br />

<strong>of</strong> wine.”<br />

The free convict stared<br />

at the landscape. It had changed<br />

greatly. Twenty-five years was<br />

an eternity. The road was a dual<br />

carriageway now, and down in the<br />

beautiful valley, he saw a new yellow<br />

tiled resort surrounded with ivy and<br />

bougainvillea from a new bridge over<br />

the rill. There were cars in the yard<br />

and tourists. In the distance, the lake<br />

lay wide and glossy like a leviathan<br />

mirror.<br />

They were silent for<br />

the five miles, and Bet was quiet<br />

to allow his friend to take in the<br />

breathtaking scenes and change<br />

that time and social ventures had<br />

wrought. Sometimes, they slowed<br />

down to give way to great herds <strong>of</strong><br />

cattle that belonged to the pastoralist<br />

residents. The Pearl was a sprawling<br />

granite edifice overlooking the lake,<br />

standing on nine acres <strong>of</strong> land.<br />

The land was arid and the dust<br />

drank deeply the heat <strong>of</strong> the sun,<br />

prompting tourists to seek the cool<br />

<strong>of</strong> the lake. As their car left the road<br />

they spied tourists and locals along<br />

the lake. There were boats on shore,<br />

and more <strong>of</strong>fshore. Some <strong>of</strong> the men<br />

rowed, while others were engine<br />

vehicles that parted the waters with<br />

their prows in their speed. Along the<br />

shore, some fishermen mended or<br />

prepared fishing nets. Annabelle was<br />

among a party <strong>of</strong> tourists who got in<br />

a boat excitedly headed for a remote<br />

island with guides to see animals.<br />

She now ran La Emeralda. Her resort<br />

shared a lot with The Pearl. Her only<br />

child with Maconi, a blonde, blueeyed<br />

man <strong>of</strong> twenty-four named<br />

Mike, was among the party with his<br />

Swedish girlfriend, Judy, <strong>of</strong> the same<br />

age. She was the daughter <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Swedish Ambassador. She was very<br />

pretty with long cascades <strong>of</strong> red hair.<br />

Mike had just joined UNHCR and<br />

drove one <strong>of</strong> the organization’s relief<br />

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ando shaved in the expensive salon on the ground floor. It was<br />

Sin the boutiques that served mainly wealthy tourists. There<br />

were massage salons, wines, and spirits. Beautiful girls,<br />

employed there no doubt, went about the place. He denuded<br />

in the toilets, and Bet came and binned the clothes and shoes.<br />

He bathed in a large white bathtub, savoring the luscious water and<br />

foam with his eyes closed. For a long time, he had missed this very<br />

freedom that the rich enjoyed, that inspired his reign <strong>of</strong> terror as a<br />

criminal in these parts. Now he was out <strong>of</strong> prison and his bank account<br />

was fat and he would have it all.<br />

Sando surprised the gathering in the third-floor suite like he<br />

was just in. There were bottles <strong>of</strong> wine and beer over the table but no<br />

one was drinking heartily, obviously pending his reception. He let go <strong>of</strong><br />

his little hold-all and a very buxom, beautiful woman sprang out <strong>of</strong> the<br />

corner seat and ran into his arms, followed by a youth <strong>of</strong> twenty-five<br />

dressed in jeans and short sleeves.<br />

“Sando.”<br />

“Njoki. Who’s this?” as he spoke the little youth hugged him,<br />

and the uncouth audience looked on touched, their silence redolent <strong>of</strong><br />

the sort <strong>of</strong> awe peculiar to people <strong>of</strong> very mean ideology who otherwise<br />

hold it in very high esteem.<br />

“Kennedy. Your son.”<br />

They disengaged, and looked into each other’s eyes. There<br />

were a striking resemblance and tears. Now one <strong>of</strong> the men rose. He<br />

had a tummy. He also wore a baseball cap. He was older. One <strong>of</strong> the<br />

ladies filled glasses all around. Everybody raising their glasses, the<br />

corpulent man said earnestly :‘To dear old Sando’s health.”<br />

Glasses clanked.<br />

“I hear there’s a job this afternoon, Jack,” said Sando, after a<br />

while, eying Bet and the older man.<br />

“A group <strong>of</strong> wealthy tourists, including the present owner <strong>of</strong><br />

La Emeralda, are out in the lake. They’re camping in one <strong>of</strong> the islands.”<br />

“Kennedy, you will join the team. Learn to fend for yourself in<br />

this jungle <strong>of</strong> a place. Got it?”<br />

The youth nodded. From his hold-all, the father who had just<br />

regained his freedom produced a new little revolver. He handed it to<br />

Kennedy.<br />

The island was sandy, and sunny. Where they made tent was<br />

grassy, and overhead was a near-canopy <strong>of</strong> acacia and other Nile tulips<br />

and other native trees that they could not give names to. Frederick<br />

Dickens, a widower in his late fifties and the manager <strong>of</strong> a travel agency,<br />

presided over the grille in the tent yard that roasted dik-dik meat<br />

supplied by the natives. Poaching was illegal but the occasional game<br />

wardens wandering in speed boats had respect for White Hunters and<br />

class privilege. Mike and Judy served warmed sausage and grilled dikdik<br />

and a Chinese spinster in her mother’s company and an African<br />

girl with whom they were on very good terms served the wine.<br />

“Let’s get out <strong>of</strong> here, Mike,” said Judy. “ It’s so sequestered.”<br />

“I can’t leave mother. We’ll go together,” they were walking<br />

along the lake now, away from the party. Judy clung with both hands<br />

on Mike’s elbow. “ Besides, after so long in the camps among disgraced<br />

crowds it’s great ambling freely where there’s only trees and sunshine<br />

– and you.”<br />

At two, they got into the boat to watch crocs. They were<br />


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looking out over the rails in groups<br />

<strong>of</strong> twos and threes when out <strong>of</strong> the<br />

horizon they were surrounded by three<br />

boats with gunmen.<br />

“Slow down or you all die!”<br />

shouted one <strong>of</strong> the masked gunmen in<br />

the boat that blocked their way. As well<br />

as the others his gun was pointed at the<br />

tourists. “ Turn back to the island.” He<br />

indicated the island by making little<br />

jerks suggesting the direction over<br />

their back. Finally, he fired overhead.<br />

The women shrieked and screamed and<br />

sought cover.<br />

When they got back to the land<br />

they were rounded and held hostage<br />

inside the tent. The bandits feasted on<br />

the remains <strong>of</strong> the dik-dik and drank<br />

the wine vigilantly securing the place.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the men walked in and grabbed<br />

Annabelle by the hair, roughly. Mike<br />

was furious but he could do nothing<br />

about it.<br />

“Take out your phone. Make<br />

a call to La Emeralda,” Annabelle was<br />

crying. She couldn’t believe this. A gun<br />

was pointed at her head. “ Tell them to<br />

send one million.”<br />

The same cruel process was<br />

repeated on every head under siege.<br />

That evening, Sando was<br />

abducted by four gunmen outside The<br />

Pearl. His wife reported to the police<br />

immediately. At the gate, four Jeeps<br />

belonging to the Flying Squad were<br />

leaving for the lake island. From the<br />

hotel balcony, Njoki saw the vehicles<br />

trundle into the Ferry.<br />

It was seven-thirty.<br />

“Hands up, and surrender.<br />

The island’s surrounded,” boomed a<br />

voice through a megaphone.<br />

They were afraid and started<br />

running. Boats strategically placed<br />

around the place flooded the island<br />

with headlights and heavy gunfire<br />

ensued. Four <strong>of</strong> the hostages were held<br />

as shields by four gangsters.<br />

“You get closer and they’re<br />

mincemeat,” threatened the corpulent<br />

leader, his shield tussling to get free to<br />

little avail, and a pistol was held to his<br />

head, for it was Mike.<br />

But presently, more policemen<br />

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walked up from behind and held<br />

guns to the gangsters’ heads in turn,<br />

and they were outmatched.<br />

“Place the darned things<br />

down,” said the foremost policeman.<br />

Closer to the shore some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

cops inspected dead and injured<br />

members <strong>of</strong> the gang when the<br />

exchange had died down. The leader<br />

<strong>of</strong> the squad, Inspector General Jeff,<br />

pistol-whipped a casualty nursing a<br />

leg shot, who groaned and rose.<br />

“Haroun handcuffs them,<br />

then huddle them in one <strong>of</strong> the boats,”<br />

he turned to the cops walking with<br />

him to the newly subdued bandits. “<br />

Two <strong>of</strong> the bastards escaped.”<br />

“Is everyone okay?”<br />

The tourists were hurdled<br />

in the tent yard, still very shaken<br />

with terror. A couple <strong>of</strong> them gave<br />

first aid to old Dickens, who was shot<br />

in the shoulder by a stray bullet.<br />

“Get up, everyone. Help him<br />

up. Get back into the boat.”<br />

Sando’s bullet-riddled body<br />

was found on a remote shore by<br />

fishermen rising early to check their<br />

nets. He had been tortured and he<br />

was pinioned with plastic rope. Bet<br />

saw his friend’s body. He became<br />

afraid. At midday, the Inspector<br />

General announced amnesty to<br />

gangsters that would give up their<br />

unlawful weapons on KBC. Bet was<br />

seen surrendering his AK-47 early<br />

the following day. The IG declared<br />

him forgiven, and this grace was<br />

echoed by religious leaders across<br />

the country. Bet became a reformed<br />

taxi driver.<br />

He had a beer in a bar<br />

in town the fateful evening. Two<br />

strangers engaged him at the bar.<br />

They mixed their brandy with ginger<br />

soda and drank standing up, and<br />

tipped the beautiful girl behind the<br />

bar who passed the orders through<br />

the wicket in spirits <strong>of</strong> good feelings.<br />

“Hola,” said one <strong>of</strong> them<br />

to Bet, after ascertaining he was a<br />

taximan, “ is that far from here?”<br />

“ Seven KMs, roughly,” said<br />

Bet.<br />

“How much would that be?”<br />

asked the other. “ Would you take five<br />

hundred a head?”<br />

“That’d be a surcharge.<br />

Three-fifty is fair fare to you and fair<br />

business to me.”<br />

One <strong>of</strong> them slapped a one<br />

thousand shillings note over the bar.<br />

Bet’s bullet-riddled body<br />

was found by a goat-herder the<br />

following day at sunrise. He had<br />

been violently interrogated. He was<br />

pinioned. The media was buzzing<br />

with suspicions and conspiracy<br />

theories. Almost everyone suspected<br />

the police. The Catholic Archbishop<br />

declared on TV that it was evil to<br />

murder indiscriminately a man<br />

already forgiven by society. The IG<br />

refuted the claims, adding that he<br />

only wished the police had been<br />

able in all that time to bring an end<br />

to these terrorists who had held a<br />


whole nation hostage with their reins<br />

<strong>of</strong> terror.<br />

“In any case, God forgives,”<br />

he concluded. “ That can’t be said <strong>of</strong><br />

a policeman.”<br />

Annabelle finalized<br />

the sale <strong>of</strong> La Emeralda to Moha<br />

Duresh, a wealthy businessman <strong>of</strong><br />

Indian descent at Phillip and Milly<br />

Advocates, an attorney’s <strong>of</strong>fice<br />

in Nairobi. Duresh’s firm made a<br />

transfer <strong>of</strong> three-hundred million<br />

shillings to Annabelle’s bank account<br />

P<br />

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immediately. Annabelle drove<br />

from the attorney’s at Three in the<br />

afternoon. She met Judy and Mike<br />

for lunch in one <strong>of</strong> the suburbs.<br />

The youths were going to announce<br />

their engagement. Mike had ordered<br />

shrimps, salad, and a bottle <strong>of</strong> Four<br />

Cousins.<br />

“You’re distracted, Mrs.<br />

Annabelle,” observed Judy.<br />

“She appears to be<br />

sorrowing,” said Mike, pensively.<br />

“It’s this place’s<br />

atmosphere, Children. I can’t take it<br />

anymore.”<br />

Later that week, Mike<br />

is seen leaving Judy on the coach<br />

and following his mother through<br />

the rooms. The look on his face is<br />

quizzical.<br />

“You’re not leaving, mum.”<br />

Annabelle is throwing<br />

things in a huge trunk.<br />

“But I am, Mike. Am sick <strong>of</strong><br />

everything. Am not the kind <strong>of</strong> soul<br />

to live every day looking over my<br />

shoulder for gods sake.”<br />

“They’re building a police<br />

station, and beefing up security.”<br />

She rose, and zipped up the trunk.<br />

“Sorry, but that won’t<br />

change my mind. Am fed up.”<br />

Mike was dressed in sidepocket<br />

britches and a t-shirt. His<br />

hands were in his pockets.<br />

“Every poor woman and<br />

child need the investment you’re just<br />

now leaving with mom. They need<br />

it. Badly. I’ve worked in the camps<br />

and the inner city and I know how<br />

badly these people need an improved<br />

economy.”<br />

“I don’t give a damn<br />

anymore, Mike.”<br />

Her plane left JKIA in the<br />

afternoon, and the two youths left<br />

behind, rode silently through the<br />

streets wondering whether it was<br />

still wise to assume a possibility <strong>of</strong><br />

surviving these streets.<br />

“Am afraid,” said Judy, and<br />

snuggled up closer, tightening her<br />

arms around Mike.<br />

“Don’t worry. We’ll go back<br />

to Europe. Then we’ll marry.”<br />


PROSE<br />

ut my dad won’t<br />

"B<br />

hear <strong>of</strong> it. Calls this<br />

slaughterhouse a<br />

paradise. He reads<br />

Gurna, and Achebe.”<br />

“It’s a paradise alright.<br />

Perhaps you can’t say the same <strong>of</strong> its<br />

people.”<br />

“Say that in the streets and<br />

you’re a racist. And it’s not everyone.<br />

Every nation has a crime rate. Take<br />

care.”<br />

The traffic sign ahead<br />

showed red. They braked behind a<br />

snarl-up <strong>of</strong> cars.<br />

“I don’t care. Besides, you<br />

don’t have to be your father’s disciple<br />

Judy. It’s enough he sired you without<br />

your consent.”<br />

“Mike, I love him.”<br />

“So do I.”<br />

Mike returned to UNHCR<br />

and the camps. He wondered if he<br />

should serve<br />

the poor and<br />

‘‘But my dad won’t hear <strong>of</strong> it. Calls<br />

displaced or go<br />

back to Europe this slaughterhouse a paradise. He<br />

and find work<br />

in some snug reads Gurna, and Achebe."<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice and<br />

marry Judy.<br />

When summer came he was still<br />

thinking.<br />

Kennedy walked with the<br />

frame to the door and back. His<br />

mama clapped happily. She took the<br />

new crutches from one <strong>of</strong> the hired<br />

medical people and gave them to<br />

him.<br />

“Try these. They’re at 5”5.”<br />

A petite nurse and two<br />

pretty paramedics adjusted them<br />

for him until they were two inches<br />

higher. He crutched to the end <strong>of</strong> the<br />

long corridor, to the loos.<br />

“That’s his accurate height,”<br />

said the petite nurse.<br />

“He will be like his<br />

father,” said a male voice over their<br />

shoulders. Everybody except Njoki<br />

withdrew. “ In fact, he’s very much<br />

like him.”<br />

“Yes,” laughed Njoki. “He’s<br />

the very chip <strong>of</strong> the blue block,<br />

Inspector Jeff.”<br />

The Inspector General had<br />

his black beret folded and stuffed into<br />

the buttoned part on the shoulder<br />

<strong>of</strong> his khaki shirt. He had one <strong>of</strong> his<br />

hands in his pocket. They stood side<br />

by side and gladly watched the youth<br />

crutch back towards them.<br />

“How’s that leg now, Ken?”<br />

“Better.”<br />

“You need a good rest,” said<br />

the Inspector General, turning to<br />

Njoki. “Let them give him a cup <strong>of</strong><br />

c<strong>of</strong>fee.”<br />

They watched Kennedy,<br />

askance, crutch himself towards his<br />

bedroom.<br />

“He had a metal screwed to<br />

his femur,” said Njoki.<br />

“All the more hopeful.”<br />

Without another word,<br />

they walked side by side down the<br />

external, steel stairwell.<br />

“Have<br />

you found<br />

out whether<br />

Sando and<br />

Bet perished<br />

in the hands<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Police,<br />

or from the<br />

betrayal <strong>of</strong> their own brethren in the<br />

underworld, Inspector Jeff?”<br />

Inspector Jeff hesitated in<br />

his walk, bringing them to a halt, and<br />

face to face. There was in Njoki’s eyes<br />

a thirst for information that might as<br />

well have been the unpredictability<br />

<strong>of</strong> her newfound love for him. But it<br />

was also an emotional salad <strong>of</strong> guilt<br />

and despair.<br />

“Could have been anybody,<br />

Njoki. Police to save their face, their<br />

brethren to stem rivalry. The job is<br />

just as risky as mine,” he shrugged<br />

his shoulders. “What’s for sure is that<br />

we’ll probably never know, Njoki.”<br />

In the yard <strong>of</strong> the suburban<br />

house, Njoki allowed the Inspector to<br />

kiss her cheek.<br />

“I’ll see you at The Pearl in<br />

the evening, Njoki.”<br />

She watched him drive<br />

away with a lot <strong>of</strong> uncertainty.<br />



P<br />

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P<br />

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POETRY<br />

WOULD<br />



I<br />

’m not sure what to say <strong>of</strong> the grim-faced men<br />

pushing people up the steps <strong>of</strong> the trains we<br />

were so thrilled to see updated, modernized<br />

cars floating on magnetic tracks at a speed<br />

unimaginable to my grandmother<br />

who never would have believed you could ride the<br />

Staten Island ferry with a phone in your<br />

pocket. My earliest memory’s <strong>of</strong> pointing<br />

to the great lady with the torch, appearing<br />

both gigantic and small under a grey sky,<br />

withstanding the raindrops that fell as we moved<br />

below to sit in our scratchy, woolen coats.<br />

A year in Chicago after her hasty<br />

marriage, from the window <strong>of</strong> their new high rise,<br />

they watched a tornado plow the city on<br />

the other side <strong>of</strong> town and wanted to go<br />

home. Who can blame them for knowing a lake was<br />

not the sea, for craving neighborhood grit, for<br />

missing their mothers and aunties, thinking a<br />

bay their home, an island their oasis? She<br />

never left again, knitted socks for soldiers<br />

in two wars, could admit drawing a line and<br />

holding was the same as losing, claimed painful<br />

events are sometimes meant to be forgotten,<br />

would recognize what is happening today.<br />


P<br />

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P<br />

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mend<br />

MEND<br />

"You must not lose faith in humanity.<br />

Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops<br />

<strong>of</strong> the ocean are dirty, the ocean does<br />

not become dirty."<br />

Mahatma Gandhi<br />

P<br />

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91<br />


POETRY<br />

T H I S<br />

HAS<br />

ALWAYS<br />

"and still after, supposedly innocent questions<br />

and jokes, / piling up year after year and I just<br />

/ sit and smile and endure, take it just like the<br />

other browns and yellows..."<br />


even though i’m growing up in<br />

silicon valley<br />

in the<br />

21st century<br />

wow, super advanced in terms <strong>of</strong> everyone’s rights, right?<br />

i wasn’t even double-digits when donald trump was<br />

elected president <strong>of</strong> a whole goddamn country.<br />

i was already aware at age seven that<br />

people with my ‘privates’ and my color aren’t<br />

safe.<br />

and even before, i was in kindergarten and<br />

another little kid said to me that he<br />

didn’t want to be friends because i’m<br />

indian and<br />

my brown might<br />

rub <strong>of</strong>f, my<br />

culture dangerous.<br />

and still after, supposedly innocent questions and jokes,<br />

piling up year after year and i just<br />

sit and smile and endure, take it just like the other browns and yellows<br />

‘where are you really from?’ here.<br />

‘haha, your rat’s nest curls’ they’re natural, and nobody taught me to<br />

B<br />


P<br />

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POETRY<br />

take care<br />

‘you being good at math doesn’t matter,<br />

it’s probably just because you’re indian’<br />

‘your home food is disgusting. why<br />

would you bring that?’<br />

whispered from the other table to the<br />

new kid: ‘don’t go near her. she’s indian,<br />

so her hygiene sucks’ (when i would<br />

shower daily and they were proud to<br />

remember once a month.)<br />

(and yet these are the ‘good’<br />

stereotypes.)<br />

and then, years later for me, discovering<br />

black lives matter and<br />

intersectional feminism and<br />

queer pride, all<br />

these concepts that had been right<br />

outside <strong>of</strong> my grasp, unnamed and<br />

amazing, but<br />

they’re still worth lesswe’re<br />

still worth lessthan<br />

one wrinkling<br />

predator’s voice.<br />

so, i’ve always known america isn’t<br />

great.<br />

those who didn’t are the ones who<br />

have always benefited.<br />

they ‘didn’t know’ because they didn’t<br />

have to, didn’t<br />

learn it the hard way, relearn<br />

every day.<br />

i feel no love for my country because<br />

it has never loved those like me<br />

EEN MY<br />

A M E R I C A<br />

P<br />

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E<br />


hy do they always teach us<br />

hat it's easy and evil to do<br />

hat we want and that we<br />

eed discipline to restrain<br />

urselves? It's the hardest<br />

hing in the world - to do<br />

hat we want. And it takes<br />

he greatest kind <strong>of</strong> courage.<br />

mean, what we really want.<br />

hy do they always teach us<br />

hat it's easy and evil to do<br />

hat we want and that we<br />


P<br />

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94<br />

eed discipline to restrain


Poetry<br />

LIFE IS A<br />

STAGE!<br />

"What the all don't see / are the strings<br />

carrying each <strong>of</strong> them after all, they are in a<br />

large sea / <strong>of</strong> puppets..."<br />


AMan walks across the darkened street His<br />

footsteps hitting the ground with rhythm<br />

producing a monotonous, steady beat and<br />

looking through the colorful tainted prism.<br />

A woman is sitting on her bed,<br />

reading a novel she's read before<br />

and thinking, what if i'm really dead? but, she buries herself<br />

into her novel once more.<br />

A child is playing in the park,<br />

their mother sitting far behind.<br />

But, before long, the sky turns dark<br />

The poor mother, it turns out, is blind.<br />

What they all don't see<br />

are the strings carrying each <strong>of</strong> them after all, they are in<br />

a large sea<br />

<strong>of</strong> puppets who the puppeteer has condemned.<br />

P<br />

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95<br />


By SARAH<br />

Poetry<br />

WHO IS TO<br />

BLAME?<br />


Descending from the body<br />

Comes the head <strong>of</strong> he who perished a nicer<br />

way<br />

In the hands <strong>of</strong> the men who seek fort in the<br />

bush<br />

But attention was paid more to emotional internal affairs<br />

Staking the souls <strong>of</strong> teens, fathers<br />

To face death in its vault. Who is to blame?<br />

Round, they sit now and then, fiddling<br />

Their games are from both standpoints. Unmasked,<br />

conspiracy<br />

Became the pass to rule, forgetting it's not to reign,<br />

The eternal curses, the souls <strong>of</strong> their puppets,<br />

The tears for their beloved, the dead man's mother<br />

Sets the suns even before dusk. Who is to blame?<br />

Who is to blame? The soil, a lot we met,<br />

Governed by our fathers, now pools blood. interstate,<br />

Religious disputes, with disputes in places<br />

Not worthy <strong>of</strong> calling home. Sit and pounder,<br />

You're the case, and it all emanated from you<br />

Labor on yourself before inquiring; “Who is to blame?”<br />


P<br />

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July. 2022<br />

The Global Youth Review, alongside Coexist Lit and SeaGlass<br />

Lit, is hosting a prose and poetry competition open to<br />

youths aged 13 ~ 24! Check out our socials to get updates<br />

on our free workshops, opportunities to publish, and a<br />

giveaway—all held during the duration <strong>of</strong> the contest!<br />


9 / 30<br />


P<br />

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P<br />

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Poetry<br />


E<br />

V<br />

E<br />

N<br />

though<br />

"Raised above you, her gaze outward<br />

/ and away, she cries like a maiden<br />

bound to / the prow <strong>of</strong> a ship, bent<br />

on a voyage..."<br />


The first light came like an infant who hasn’t<br />

slept the night, the sky red and screaming from her<br />

toothless, cherry mouth. Arrange her over your<br />

shoulder, away from your ear, and she wails at<br />

the past, the wave you leave behind in your wake<br />

as you walk the floor, upsetting the air and<br />

making a path for silent molecules to<br />

follow. Raised above you, her gaze outward<br />

and away, she cries like a maiden bound to<br />

the prow <strong>of</strong> a ship, bent on a voyage toward<br />

a future she resists. Children are poor<br />

metaphors for experience, the nurse told<br />

me after the operation which was meant<br />

to fix what happened in a country where they<br />

sterilized me for free. Man, woman, rich, poor<br />

rendered inert except for the energy<br />

in their own lives, no taking on the privilege<br />

<strong>of</strong> another, having survived the kind <strong>of</strong><br />

love that lets you see a baby as herself<br />

even though she’s yours and wailing at the dawn.<br />

P<br />

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POETRY<br />


Winter,<br />

FATED<br />

DEATH<br />


First published in warning lines<br />

I. Watch, first: from between the<br />

hands <strong>of</strong><br />

two bodies lying on a stripped bed in<br />

a dingy, airless apartment,<br />

light spills as if from an open wound.<br />

In the distance, a siren blares. On the<br />

street below, a woman<br />

whispers breathlessly to her<br />

companion: something is coming<br />

to save us. I don’t know what. But it’s<br />

almost here.<br />

So the city settles down to wait. The<br />

seasons pass. In a decaying bed in a<br />

decaying apartment on a decaying<br />

street,<br />

the lovers’ hair falls out in chunks.<br />

Flies circle the ceiling fan. The lovers’<br />

teeth rot in their open mouths.<br />

They’re<br />

not dead, just sleeping, in a city <strong>of</strong><br />

people who are<br />

not dead, just sleeping, anticipating a<br />

messiah who will never come.<br />

An hour or a year passes. The two get<br />

up and dance, and it’s just like they<br />

II. Suppose, for a moment, that in the<br />

huge dark empire made <strong>of</strong> money,<br />

the sun never rose. That we spent<br />

years pressed desperately together<br />

because<br />

all we had was our own feverish<br />

heat—<br />

Suppose, for a moment, that I loved<br />

you. That this was<br />

how we brought summer back to<br />

life; the empire to its knees.<br />

A film <strong>of</strong> sweat. The winding <strong>of</strong> a<br />

metronome.<br />

Overripe fruit. Laughter. We were<br />

happy and that was<br />

our one great act <strong>of</strong> political<br />

rebellion.<br />

III. Stay sitting right there by the<br />

window,<br />

where the light catches on your<br />

face—<br />

Whatever you do, don’t move, don’t<br />

make a sound, don’t leave this room:<br />

I’m going to save you even though<br />

that doesn’t mean anything. I’m<br />

going<br />

to save you even though it’s too late<br />

and you are Lazarus half-risen, a<br />

decomposing,<br />

corroded thing that doesn’t know it’s<br />

already dead.<br />

The poet and the muse. The lyre and<br />

the love song.<br />

The eulogy written in lieu <strong>of</strong> digging<br />

you a grave. Verse.<br />

Chorus. Wend and repeat. Wend and<br />

repeat.<br />

<strong>IV</strong>. I’m sorry I looked back. I’m sorry<br />

I threw it all away just because<br />

I needed to make sure you were still<br />

behind me, still following<br />

footstep after damned footstep, from<br />

the belly <strong>of</strong> this hell into the mouth<br />

<strong>of</strong> another.<br />

I’m sorry there’s not enough oxygen<br />

in the story to breathe and I’m sorry<br />

that<br />

as soon as it ends we are just brought<br />

back to the beginning. I’m sorry that<br />

we have nothing left to carry. We have<br />

nothing left to will into existence.<br />


P<br />

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P<br />

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By CHAI CHAI<br />

BY<br />


the<br />

LOCKET<br />

«love that extends, love that extends beyond the miles»<br />

hold onto my words like the times we<br />

spent together before before you left,<br />

two feet<br />

moving onto the train & i had to say<br />

goodbye, hands clasping the locket you gave me<br />

with a picture <strong>of</strong> you to remember to<br />

remember these times while you are gone.<br />

i remember how in high school, everything felt so<br />

right,<br />

you were there at the volleyball games & i would<br />

cheer you on with posters made with magic<br />

markers<br />

at your football games<br />

& our prom proposal put everything together.<br />

like a locket, love that extends, love that extends<br />

beyond the miles<br />

<strong>of</strong> distance we travel with eyes focused on the<br />

new surroundings<br />

<strong>of</strong> farms & cattle & <strong>of</strong> skyscrapers & streets<br />

which have been walked<br />

too many times & which now hold cracks that<br />

need to be fixed.<br />

& we come back we come back to our town on<br />

break.<br />

& everything seems different they say we are<br />

young,<br />

they say that everything can be fixed and what is<br />

meant to be will be,<br />

but i do not know where the words can start and<br />

form sentences,<br />

sentences which can lead into paragraphs about<br />

the journeys.<br />

& we become two parallel roads<br />

& a heart that breaks like a locket,<br />

a locket which now reminds me<br />

<strong>of</strong> the last part <strong>of</strong> us.<br />


P<br />

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TIMES...<br />

By DHRU J.<br />


the locket<br />




OF US.<br />


andromache<br />


originally published in Ex/Post Magazine<br />

broken promise friday morning,<br />

heat rising <strong>of</strong>f blacktop like<br />

a ghost trying to find its way back home. a thousand boys<br />

standing on street corners<br />

naming themselves nothing, yes,<br />

the ones holding their breath, yes,<br />

hands like bird’s wings and a dream like lavender<br />

that we don’t remember, wait--<br />

what was his name? how old was he? what did he sound<br />

like<br />

when he laughed? no, scratch that,<br />

i want you to bring him back, tape his body together<br />

and give it to his mother as<br />

a christmas gift. do you remember?<br />

do you remember? do you<br />

remember? every time that sentence leaves someone’s<br />

mouth<br />

a gun fires somewhere, but<br />

don’t think about that now, please, mind the gap,<br />

step back, put your hands up before you<br />

end up like him too, before they hand you another hat<br />

or identity and you end up like him too, dear, please forget<br />

there’s a word other than alive to describe him,<br />

just imagine him laughing in a home that isn’t this one,<br />

reborn on someone’s scarred shoulders, do you<br />

remember? do you remember? friends and romans and<br />

countrymen, i interrupt with more news, <strong>of</strong><br />

a lynching, and another, and another,<br />

though that doesn’t happen anymore! we’re just being<br />


P<br />

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POETRY<br />

melodramatic! a million crows on the powerlines.<br />

a million<br />

worn-out sneakers and broken ribs and<br />

hearts pouring from bloody noses and the tension<br />

that snaps like a string. do you<br />

remember? do you remember that<br />

we lived here? do you remember that you existed?<br />

in the summer silence, our<br />

frilly white dresses,<br />

loose collars, too-big suit jackets, every<br />

pearl <strong>of</strong> water, perfect body outlined in<br />

one-way glass. the july that said, don’t call me a<br />

casualty, the july reborn on hands and knees,<br />

concrete<br />

bones and eyes like knives and<br />

lungs that refused to give out. when the gun goes<br />

<strong>of</strong>f it spills<br />

marigolds and water lilies and carnations, but<br />

do you remember? do you remember the crimson<br />

roses? the sleepless nights? the day you came home<br />

to your<br />

mother, grinned with all your teeth and said,<br />

look, ma! not a single exit wound! while the city<br />

burned<br />

behind you? boyhood means searching. girlhood<br />

means writhing.<br />

growing up on fire means learning to breathe<br />

through the smoke, your blood<br />

the songs <strong>of</strong> lost saints. this town made <strong>of</strong> chlorine<br />

and<br />

oak trees and cigarettes. the mecca we built for an<br />

unfeeling god<br />

in the hollows <strong>of</strong> our cheeks. i want you to look at<br />

this place and say,<br />

now, everywhere, always. i want you to look at this<br />

place and<br />

think <strong>of</strong> bruised hips and overripe fruit. i want you<br />

to look at this place and say,<br />

do you remember? do you remember? do you<br />

remember? do you<br />

P<br />

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105<br />




P<br />

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Poetry<br />

Money<br />

Tree<br />

By RAY ZHANG<br />

i. devotion<br />

Edges <strong>of</strong> vermillion sun<br />

refract upon my skin.<br />

Evening crickets drowned<br />

by pulsating radios.<br />

Mutters <strong>of</strong> prayers<br />

arrive–each phoneme<br />

carry an intoxicating beat.<br />

Harmoniously<br />

wishing for more.<br />

ii. despise<br />

If only you knew petals drift down<br />

like roots <strong>of</strong> eucalyptus trees,<br />

then, you eyes wouldn’t mirror<br />

possums,<br />

playing dead before a fight.<br />

Your gentle prayers no longer rhyme<br />

with<br />

drips <strong>of</strong> a stream; they gush out like<br />

waves among the<br />

Congo. Stipped down to your<br />

bare stems, all that’s left is to<br />

move one foot in front <strong>of</strong> the<br />

other.<br />

iii. despire<br />

I know you sold everything,<br />

that grandmother’s pearls were<br />

gone, and that your smoker’s lung<br />

have given up –<br />

only weeping for the tree <strong>of</strong> ténéré<br />

when it has fallen.<br />

P<br />

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107<br />



Poetry<br />

MIND<br />

OVER<br />

Matter<br />

"Inescapable torture<br />

confines me in my<br />

conscience."<br />


Push me away and pull me right back again;<br />

tug <strong>of</strong> war twine stretched carelessly thin.<br />

Zero in on the light blemishes patterning my skin.<br />

Like flecks <strong>of</strong> paint splattered violently by your despicable hands.<br />

A twitch <strong>of</strong> the wrist and the bruises fade<br />

a cruel trick fashioned by an even crueler mind.<br />


Your vindictive words puncture gaping holes,<br />

ripping sinew and tendons to enigmatic shreds.<br />

Inescapable torture confines me in my conscience.<br />

The gnawing creatures from within come out to feast<br />

upon myself and my anxieties,<br />

tearing my still heart from my empty chest.<br />

Time shared with my demons is no better than death herself.<br />

Ivory claws dig excruciatingly deep into my permeable flesh,<br />

leaving no perceptible destruction in their wake.<br />

A tangible hurt is resistant to discovery,<br />

without painful illusions <strong>of</strong> a wandering mind.<br />


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108<br />


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109<br />



Poetry<br />

Russian<br />


The Global Youth Review would like to note that "Russian<br />

Deception" contains sexual themes that are intended for<br />

mature audiences only. Viewer discretion is advised for<br />

younger audiences.<br />


POETRY<br />

I<br />

am in the seventh heaven.<br />

For God’s sake, I am the<br />

favorite dish <strong>of</strong> seven men!<br />

I am the drink that is poisoning the<br />

peak <strong>of</strong> seven souls<br />

Within these walls seven melodies<br />

are being played<br />

From one angle to another,<br />

Fourteen hands treat me like as if I<br />

were the most beautiful harp on the<br />

universe.<br />

I am a man,<br />

But I am feeling like the queen <strong>of</strong> the<br />

order <strong>of</strong> every state.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> them is Chekhov,<br />

He takes me and writes to me<br />

literally,<br />

He peels <strong>of</strong>f the shell from my<br />

body<br />

He knows well how to write<br />

a verse, he knows where the<br />

feelings sting<br />

I bump into him in the corners<br />

<strong>of</strong> this bed,<br />

Around my mouth I have Russian<br />

juice, from the saliva <strong>of</strong> this<br />

passionate man.<br />

He will fall in love with me by<br />

tomorrow night,<br />

I am the sauna where he heats up, I<br />

am the fountain where his thirst is<br />

quenched.<br />

Pyotr Tchaikovsky is the most<br />

beautiful tonight,<br />

He asks me to be one <strong>of</strong> the swans<br />

He tastes me like the last vodka, like I<br />

was a lead treasure,<br />

He touches my eyebrows, and the<br />

curtains <strong>of</strong> the room are flying with<br />

the breath<br />

I roll with him on the table where the<br />

food is eaten,<br />

The vases are broken to pieces, all<br />

because <strong>of</strong> this brave Russian.<br />

Tchaikovsky will fall in love with me<br />

by tomorrow night,<br />

This Russian exploded with the<br />

symphony I love<br />

I want to rest, but how can I say no to<br />

Pushkin<br />

He begs me on his knees, he seems to<br />

have lost his muse<br />

My arms tremble when this man<br />

approaches me<br />

He gets hard on from my smile, from<br />

my seductions,<br />

Since the other one left him, his days<br />

are just a lie<br />

I surrender, on the piano, to all what<br />

this man represents,<br />

I surrender over his face.<br />

He’ll fall in love with me by tomorrow<br />

night,<br />

He will feel that he belongs to me, I<br />

am his running water on piano, like a<br />

stream.<br />

‘‘I am the drink that is poisoning<br />

the peak <strong>of</strong> seven souls / Within<br />

these walls seven melodies are<br />

being played..."<br />

Nabokov is sad, fragile, very jealous<br />

He has little hair, smokes <strong>of</strong> a lot <strong>of</strong><br />

cigarettes, we reconcile while he<br />

squeezes me<br />

hard to himself<br />

I made every butterfly in his belly, in<br />

his bones,<br />

I caused every earthquake to happen<br />

in Russia tonight,<br />

He tells me about lullabies, about<br />

children, he kisses me and his lips<br />

tremble wet<br />

We are in the bathroom, I give myself<br />

madly to him, two books forgotten on<br />

the floor,<br />

With water, destroyed.<br />

He’ll fall in love with me by tomorrow<br />

night,<br />

He protests strongly, then he is afraid,<br />

he tells me that I have to love him.<br />

Stravinsky looks out the window,<br />

stuck behind me and my neck<br />

He lists the dreams <strong>of</strong> nights in<br />

Moscow,<br />

He kisses my waist with pleasure, my<br />

right ear is inside his tongue,<br />

He gives me honey and wormwood,<br />

he feeds me, with the opera heard in<br />

background<br />

He invites me to the Russian sea, I<br />

give him no reason.<br />

Stravinsky will fall in love with me by<br />

tomorrow night.<br />

The fifth man who is touching me<br />

tonight, he comes to me like a well <strong>of</strong><br />

kissing,<br />

like a freshwater spring.<br />

Tonight I turned to Gogol in every<br />

character in the book,<br />

We touch each other, we argue,<br />

we kill each other, then he<br />

caresses my feet,<br />

I hate him, I like him.<br />

Between the pillows, two glasses<br />

<strong>of</strong> wine are waiting to be drunk<br />

This Russian man, he will drink<br />

me first and then his worries<br />

He will start by praising me, the<br />

classical hymn, turning me into<br />

a prophecy<br />

Gogol will fall in love with me by<br />

tomorrow night,<br />

He started crying, this man is crying,<br />

but there’s no chance that I’d say to<br />

him ‘I love you’.<br />

My body glows with coconut oil, it’s<br />

Dostoevsky’s fault<br />

Everyone leaves the room, the two <strong>of</strong><br />

us were left alone,<br />

He slaps me lightly on the face, he<br />

sees that I am as icy as a storm<br />

Like frost I open myself to this man, I<br />

surrender to him like a strong wind,<br />

like lightning, like rain<br />

This big-chested Russian laughs, he<br />

thinks he owns me<br />

Quickly, with his woolen hand, he<br />

shakes me as he pleases.<br />

Dostoevsky will fall in love with me<br />

by tomorrow night,<br />

Even if he goes crazy, he won’t<br />

swallow me like a quince next fall.<br />

P<br />

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111<br />


POETRY<br />

Grandma's<br />

APPLES<br />


“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” she mutters,<br />

Juice splattering as<br />

freshly peeled skin fall<br />

near old dusted shoes.<br />

Serene, she sculpts.<br />

Hunching over,<br />

apple bits touch my hands<br />

Peels stained with brown stellates, cascading its sides<br />

Dark stars<br />

dotting up and down<br />

Chunks<br />

carved and diced–<br />

not an even slice.<br />

A basket <strong>of</strong> apples<br />

each perfectly round<br />

Shining crisp skin<br />

Apples and hands<br />

wrinkle, craving away.<br />

away from fresh apples.<br />

As every morning before<br />

crisp red apples<br />

became<br />

brown s<strong>of</strong>t mush<br />

while muttering,<br />

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”


POETRY<br />

ON THE<br />


OF<br />



S<br />

enators gather for English<br />

breakfast—colonial crumpets & clotted<br />

cream,<br />

blood orange marmalade on white<br />

toast—<br />

sweetness stuck on sticky smiles pleased with<br />

the latest financials for their pockets & conflict<br />

mistresses’ jewels prim & proper<br />

jackals occupying the House<br />

built by the people<br />

but not for the people,<br />

history’s dust sifting beneath hard-toed<br />

shoes polished by laymen paid a pittance,<br />

sweat salty like yours tracking down<br />

your back saved from the lash<br />

unlike your neck.<br />

Senators play tug <strong>of</strong> war, sing<br />

London Bridges indifferent<br />

to your life, collateral<br />

for the rule <strong>of</strong> law,<br />

while your mother holds vigil,<br />


P<br />

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G 114<br />

E<br />

knees sinking into damp earth,<br />

hands grasping candles,<br />

teacup flames trembling<br />

under monsoon skies,<br />

fury clamouring<br />

to burst.<br />

No storm will wash away the ink<br />

commandeering your final moments.<br />

No stay <strong>of</strong> execution will be granted<br />

like all others declined since independence.<br />

Senators will go on to the House<br />

via the manicured fields, play poker.<br />

They will not witness the rope constrict.<br />

Your mother’s wails<br />

traversing the east west winds.<br />

Their President will close the Book,<br />

set the royal stamp on the cherry wood desk,<br />

wash his hands at the sink,<br />

reapply powder, and <strong>of</strong>fer a trained<br />

smile when he greets the Press.

e<br />

g<br />

egos<br />

e<br />

g<br />


o<br />

bullets<br />

poll numbers<br />

makeovers<br />

invisible hands<br />

pull<br />

red tape<br />

polished suits<br />

princes and<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>its<br />

push<br />

bolded and constant<br />

plastic<br />

puppets<br />

politics<br />

power plays<br />

o<br />

s<br />

s<br />


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I AM<br />

THE MAIN<br />


TW: Contains mature themes<br />

Understandably,<br />

I am the main prostitute <strong>of</strong> this city!<br />

I steal from the petals <strong>of</strong> every flower.<br />

I live because they drink me, curse me and eat me.<br />

I am the bee that bites the most painfully in hive<br />

I am the cure, the sweetest milk in the spring<br />

I am every torn dress, every sting, every slap that cracks<br />

I buzz, I keep this city alive.<br />

Through the streets, alleys, phone booths<br />

Under the bridges, near the sidewalks<br />

In bar kitchens, in neighborhood cafes<br />

Beaten by night lights, in terrible settlements,<br />

Even in the middle <strong>of</strong> the day, between cars<br />

I put lull minds to sleep, nervous tongues,<br />

The crown on my head, I am a monarch, I am that bird that never cries,<br />

I swallow, I keep this city alive.<br />

I am an observer <strong>of</strong> misery,<br />

In university buildings, in green parks<br />

In hot saunas, in muscle pools,<br />

At gas stations, in toilets with enough luxury<br />

I lose myself, I even lose the men who pay<br />

I am part <strong>of</strong> things, actions and meetings<br />

I delay hugs, I exclude caresses, even kisses, I hate it all<br />

I am the most dangerous woman, with charisma that does not kill<br />

I scream, I keep this city alive.<br />

I hear boredom to every moonlight<br />

Some women hate me, others envy me<br />

I step between the legs <strong>of</strong> the poor, I let the poor enjoy me<br />

I am the captain <strong>of</strong> morality, the first one to be called by every politician,<br />

I am the most beautiful with Japanese eyes, I am the sultan woman<br />

I break every law, every article, every code and every norm<br />


P<br />

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POETRY<br />

I break my neck, I get desperate, I get<br />

wet all over<br />

I am the train station, a stop, a queen<br />

without a king<br />

I poison, I keep this city alive.<br />

I face the storms, north winds, I am<br />

surrounded by an amazing aura<br />

I have no gender in my face, I am a man<br />

under my skin, always a useful woman<br />

I see hell, I see heaven, I kiss who I want<br />

In a bakery, in a hidden motel <strong>of</strong> a<br />

remote village<br />

On the tables <strong>of</strong> theater buffet, on the<br />

floor,<br />

No part <strong>of</strong> my skeleton is flawed<br />

They want to wipe me out, then we<br />

make love, I’m the craziest shark in the<br />

sea<br />

I am steel, I keep this city alive.<br />

I’ve opened up, and I am animated,<br />

I am the main prostitute <strong>of</strong> this city!<br />

Drunk I bow to those who see me as a<br />

threat,<br />

I am the anxiety <strong>of</strong> happy men, I am a<br />

body sunk in wandering<br />

I am a thin membrane that turns every<br />

man, every woman, every river bed<br />

Under the waterfall, in the mud, in<br />

important administrative <strong>of</strong>fices<br />

I have rushed, like a mad mother, to<br />

every tie, to every single poor one.<br />

The eyes <strong>of</strong> the priests see me, the eyes<br />

<strong>of</strong> poorly grown children.<br />

Shepherds and housewives and<br />

lutenists see me,<br />

Watchmakers see me, both blacksmiths<br />

and peasants want to enjoy me.<br />

I don’t like my lips when they have<br />

nothing to do, without any blessing<br />

I shake, I shiver, in red heels I keep this<br />

village alive,<br />

No,<br />

Together with the city.<br />



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POETRY<br />

P R O U D<br />



CW // Queerphobia<br />

Red sky at night shepherd’s delight, and queer herds are delightful.<br />

Red life screams that it’s about the person, not the pronoun.<br />

Red stop-sign cries that it could be Adam and Steve, and also Eve.<br />

Red ladybirds land in spaces where faces accept their spots.<br />

Orange chocolates heal queer heartbreak, no matter the gender.<br />

Orange autumnal leaf piles reject all the other seasonal norms.<br />

Orange lifejacket keeps those afloat who aren’t quite sure what<br />

Orange boat to board, but soon realise the boat doesn’t need to be labelled.<br />

Yellow rubber duck dives into his own depths, and discovers he likes drakes.<br />

Yellow sunlight hit the balcony window, and his eyelashes were a ray <strong>of</strong> vision to<br />

him.<br />

Yellow sunflowers he bought will never wilt. They only ache when he misses his<br />

Yellow ball <strong>of</strong> sunshine because he loves him for all his mistakes.<br />

Green hills drag them up and into nature to escape gender conventions.<br />

Green, healthy conversations about not feeling at home in their body.<br />

Green fingers link to uproot and re-plant our shoddy cis-earth, and to make a<br />

Green fluid world. The waves are as crystal clear as<br />

Blue artificial vodka sipped through her plump lips. A mouth whispers<br />

Blue melody and harmony about the first time she was kissed properly.<br />

Blue bruises linger at the spot she last missed her.<br />

Blue tac forever holding up flash shots they took on a disposable camera.<br />

Purple pictures made by mixing blue and pink. Spilt ink over the kitchen sink to<br />

find a<br />

Purple spirit. Not always just a fifty-fifty split, but sometimes it is.<br />

Purple silk handkerchiefs and purple petalled violets; the secret language <strong>of</strong> queer<br />

love.<br />

Purple, peace dove tweets love who you love because love is love is love.<br />


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P<br />

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P<br />

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POETRY<br />


“Great Britain has lost an Empire and has<br />

not yet found a role.” - Dean Acheson, US<br />

Secretary <strong>of</strong> State, 1962<br />


A<br />

globe splattered with pink:<br />

a proud testament to heroism and the gift <strong>of</strong> civilization,<br />

so my first school taught. As did my dad,<br />

starting a scrapbook <strong>of</strong> the royals’ South African tour<br />

with newspaper photographs <strong>of</strong> the battleship Vanguard<br />

‘showing the flag’.<br />

At high school I learned more about Britain’s victories,<br />

the benign governance <strong>of</strong> colonies<br />

and the moral superiority gained from noble commitments<br />

like ending the trade in slaves.<br />

SERVE AND OBEY, the blazer’s badge commanded,<br />

a motto so clear in its intent and yet too vague<br />

for youngsters to appreciate its relationship to learning<br />

skills <strong>of</strong> soldiery in juvenile platoons.<br />

The day the King died, the theme <strong>of</strong> the solemn assembly<br />

‘Service to the state’, brought out the implications<br />

as the Head insisted Russia threatened war<br />

and we should all prepare ourselves to play our part.<br />

Later, archival digs exposed<br />

some monstrous building blocks in imperial foundations –<br />

famine met with indifference, pillaged resources,<br />

severed communities, colonial atrocities.<br />

The sun long set on empire, the UK continues<br />

the conceit <strong>of</strong> potency – aircraft carriers, nuclear subs,<br />

troops engaged in wars abroad, a seat on the Security Council –<br />

and yet its pretension to military clout is undercut<br />

by trimming expenditure on soldiery, ships and planes.<br />

The pink on the globe spoke truer than we knew:<br />

the bold red <strong>of</strong> a coat has faded in the glare <strong>of</strong> day,<br />

and the Union Jack, now the grubby white <strong>of</strong> Jasper Johns’ flag,<br />

is a standard fraying in the wind,<br />

its cloth beyond repair.<br />

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WRITI<br />

TH<br />

GEOM<br />

OF T<br />

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NG IS<br />

E<br />

ETRY<br />

HE<br />

UL<br />

T<br />


EAD NOW<br />

READ NOW<br />

EAD NOW<br />

READ NOW<br />

EAD NOW<br />

READ NOW<br />

EAD NOW<br />

Heritage<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> III | 2021: HERITAGE<br />

FALL 2021 EDITION<br />


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Follow us on<br />

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media<br />

The Global Youth Review<br />



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<strong>ISSUE</strong> FOUR<br />

ADRIJA JANA is a bibliophile with a natural eagerness to learn new things, Adrija enjoys<br />

writing, music, dancing, acting, event management, communications, and public relations.<br />

An international award winning recently published poet, she has established herself in the<br />

national and international Model United Nations (MUN) circle. Being an empathetic soul,<br />

Adrija loves to take care <strong>of</strong> stray animals and devotes much <strong>of</strong> her time to social services.<br />

She has worked with several magazines and youth organisations across the globe and is an<br />

ardent and committed activist in the field <strong>of</strong> advocacy against Period Poverty and Education<br />

Inequity.<br />

ALEX SHENSTONE is a transgender, UK-based Creative Writing Masters student. He<br />

spends most <strong>of</strong> his time on binge-watching TV shows, adores the Marvel<br />

Cinematic Universe, and his poem "They Composed Us. In The End" was<br />

inspired by the composers that have really moved him in his favourite films<br />

and shows. His debut poetry collection "Jack <strong>of</strong> All Tales" is out with Alien<br />

Buddha Press, plus he has other work out with Pastel Pastoral, Ghost Orchid<br />

Press, Green Ink Poetry, The Minison Project and others. He can be found on<br />

Twitter at @AlexakaSatan.<br />

ANNA NIXON is an aspiring writer and poet from Manchester, England.<br />

In her poetry, she is especially interested in the relationship between our<br />

phycological and physical environment and seeks to find images in her<br />

surrounding nature to capture emotion. Outside <strong>of</strong> her poetry she enjoys<br />

swimming, reading and getting two-pint-tipsy in sunny beer gardens with<br />

friends. More <strong>of</strong> Anna Nixon's work, including poems, newspaper articles and<br />

spoken word performances, can be found on Instagram at @annanixonwritings.<br />

ANOUSHKA SWAMINATHAN is a queer Indian-American 7th grader from<br />

Northern California. They love reading all genres, but primarily write realistic<br />

fiction and sci-fi, as well as poetry. They have previously been published in Ice<br />

Lolly Review, Chasing Shadows Mag, and YAWP Journal. When not reading or<br />

writing- so barely ever- xe dances Bharatanatyam, yearns endlessly, and does<br />

debate. Xe also may have a mild addiction to writing in second-person. Both <strong>of</strong><br />

their pieces have been inspired by personal experiences as a queer girl <strong>of</strong> color.<br />

ARBËR SELMANI is a journalist and poet from Pristina, Kosovo. He has<br />

published four books. His poems and stories have been translated to Italian,<br />

Slovenian, German, Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek and lately in English<br />

for Songs <strong>of</strong> Eretz Poetry Review, Zoetic Press, Ethel Zine, The Impossible<br />

Archetype, Rhodora Magazine and Changes Review. He enjoys swimming and<br />

travelling, reading James Baldwin and likes to think one day he might visit<br />

Japan.<br />

DC DIAMONDOPOLOUS is an award-winning short story, and flash<br />

fiction writer with over 300 stories published internationally in print<br />

and online magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. DC's stories<br />

have appeared in: Penmen Review, Progenitor, 34th Parallel, So It Goes: The<br />

Literary Journal <strong>of</strong> the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, Lunch Ticket, and<br />

others. DC was nominated twice in 2020 for the Pushcart Prize and in 2020<br />

and 2017 for Sundress Publications’ Best <strong>of</strong> the Net.<br />


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ENEIDA P. ALCALDE’s poems have appeared in literary outlets<br />

such as riverSedge, Birdcoat Quarterly, and Magma Poetry. She<br />

graduated with an MA in Creative Writing & Literature from<br />

Harvard University’s Extension School and is the Managing Editor<br />

for Oyster River Pages. Born in Chile, Eneida fled the Pinochet<br />

dictatorship with her family as a child. This life event underlies<br />

her passion for social justice, a recurring theme in her poetry. Eneida also<br />

draws inspiration from her Chilean-Puerto Rican heritage and the places<br />

she has called home—from Chile and the United States to Bolivia, Abu<br />

Dhabi, and Singapore. Learn more at www.eneidaescribe.com.<br />

FASASI ABDULROSHEED OLADIPUPO is a Nigerian poet who loves every<br />

goodness carved out <strong>of</strong> words, he sees poetry as storytelling thus tells the<br />

stories <strong>of</strong> leaving, <strong>of</strong> vanquishing, <strong>of</strong> desert and its horrors, <strong>of</strong> oceans and<br />

bodies becoming griefs and flotsam, stories <strong>of</strong> stigma and having to live<br />

as homeless. Fasasi sees poetry as a graffiti <strong>of</strong> metaphors.Fasasi has been<br />

published at Southern Humanities Review, South Florida Poetry Journal,<br />

Oxford Review <strong>of</strong> Books, Stand Magazine, Olongo Africa, The Citron Review, Scrawl<br />

Place, Short Vine Literary Journal and elsewhere.<br />

FELIX OTIS Felix Otis is the pen name <strong>of</strong> Felix Otieno. Felix Otis lives in<br />

Mombasa, Kenya. He's a casual worker and writes poetry, short stories and<br />

novels. "A Farewell To Harm” is a crime/literary fiction inspired by a real valley<br />

deep in the Rift Valley region <strong>of</strong> Kenya. It depicts how death and banditry in the<br />

small, resource-rich location is influenced by poverty and unemployment, and<br />

police corruption; how after using unsuspecting bandits to murder and plunder,<br />

they kill them in the most cold-blooded extrajudicial killings ever seen.<br />

HALLE EWING is 15 years old and from Southern California. She has boundless<br />

love for the written word, and their previous publishings can be found in Paper<br />

Cranes Literary Journal, Crossed Paths, Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, the<br />

Weight Journal, Second Chance Literary, Ice Lolly Review, and the Blue Marble<br />

Review. Their Instagram handle is @halleewingg.<br />

ILANA DRAKE is a freshman at Vanderbilt University, and she<br />

is a student activist and writer. Her work has been published in<br />

Ms. Magazine, YR Media, and The 74 among others. She is also the<br />

recipient <strong>of</strong> multiple Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She can be<br />

found on Twitter @IlanaDrake_ and her website is https://ilanadrake.<br />

wixsite.com/mysite/projects<br />

JAIDEN A. is a student from Vancouver, Canada passionate about<br />

social justice, academics, and learning about the world around him. He<br />

loves how poetry and prose can be used as an outlet to untangle and<br />

express the knot <strong>of</strong> thoughts in his head. Jaiden hopes that readers are<br />

able to see the repercussions <strong>of</strong> his themes in reality and pause and think about the world<br />

around them, even if it's just for a second.<br />

MANTZ YORKE lives in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in print magazines,<br />

anthologies and e-magazines both in the UK and internationally. His collections ‘Voyager’<br />

and ‘Dark Matters’ are published by Dempsey & Windle.<br />

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<strong>ISSUE</strong> FOUR CO<br />


JEN ROSS is a Chilean-Canadian<br />

journalist and former foreign<br />

correspondent. She spent 10 years working<br />

in communications for the United Nations,<br />

including UN Human Rights and UN<br />

Women, before taking a break to write<br />

fiction about her passion: girls' rights and<br />

empowerment. She speaks six languages<br />

and has travelled to more than 50<br />

countries, including Egypt. She now lives<br />

in Aruba and works as a university lecturer,<br />

writer and editor.<br />

REBECCA COLBY is a sophomore at Littlet<br />

School in Littleton, a small town in the Unit<br />

enjoys writing poetry and prose, as well as d<br />

scriptwriting. Her steadfast writing compan<br />

cup <strong>of</strong> tea and her sticker-clad computer.<br />

NATASHA BREDLE is an emerging writer<br />

based in Ohio. She likes sunsets and the<br />

quiet, and is the caretaker <strong>of</strong> several exotic<br />

pets. You can find her work in Peach Mag,<br />

Full House Lit, and Anti-Heroin Chic, to<br />

name a few.<br />

KATHERINE EBBS is currently in her third<br />

year <strong>of</strong> reading English Literature at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Sheffield. Her writing tends to<br />

tackle issues <strong>of</strong> queerphobia and injustice<br />

within society. As a lesbian, she aims to<br />

emphasize the oppressions that queer<br />

people still face, even as society progresses<br />

forward. Her poetry also questions<br />

structures <strong>of</strong> power, particularly concerning<br />

patriarchal structures <strong>of</strong> abuse.<br />

LEELA RAJ-SANKAR is an Indian-American<br />

teenager from Arizona. Their work has appeared<br />

in Mixed Mag, Warning Lines, and Ghost Heart Lit,<br />

among others. In his spare time, he can usually be<br />

found playing Scrabble or taking long naps. Say hi to<br />

her on Twitter @sickgirlisms.<br />

MATT HSU is a student from San Franci<br />

His work has been nominated for the Pus<br />

and he’s published or forthcoming in The<br />

Dynamite Poetry, Sine Theta Magazine, an<br />

Currently he's querying his first novel: a<br />

mystery about a crafty assassin. You can<br />

Twitter at @MattHsu19.<br />


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on High<br />

ed States. She<br />

abbling in<br />

ions are a warm<br />

SANDRA KOLANKIEWICZ's work has appeared in<br />

Fortnightly Review, Galway Review, The Healing Muse, New<br />

World Writing and Appalachian Review. She is the author<br />

<strong>of</strong> Turning Inside Out, The Way You Will Go and Lost in<br />

Transition. These poems are about our sense <strong>of</strong> home and<br />

the kind <strong>of</strong> love and commitment that helps parents raise a<br />

child to fledge and be themself in a world full <strong>of</strong> preordained<br />

assumptions about what we are supposed to do or become.<br />

SHEEKS BHATTACHARJEE is a first-year college<br />

student at the Pennsylvania State University and<br />

is the co-founder/EIC <strong>of</strong> Vocivia Magazine and a<br />

nonpr<strong>of</strong>it organization (Astral Cognition). They have<br />

published poetry in Coexist Lit, music pieces in the<br />

Harmonic Mag, and Young Poets Unite’s Instagram<br />

page! All <strong>of</strong> her work can be found on her website<br />

(thecreativitydumpyard.tk) and she’s on Twitter and<br />

Instagram as @mildlysomewhat.<br />


sco, California.<br />

hcart Prize,<br />

B’K, Kissing<br />

d Paddler Press.<br />

twisty, thrillerfind<br />

him on<br />

RAY ZHANG is an Asian American poet. His work has been<br />

published in Teenink, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness, and the Blue<br />

Marble Review, among others. Ray's poetry has been recognized<br />

in the Benvenuto Poetry Competition, SCC Writing Contest,<br />

Scholastic Art and Writing, etc. In his free time, Ray enjoys hiking<br />

through the midwestern wilderness.<br />

OLADEJO ABDULLAH FERANMI is a Nigerianbased<br />

writer, poet, orator, and undergraduate at the<br />

University <strong>of</strong> Ibadan. He has been trying to pursue<br />

his passion for writing by writing multiple genres.<br />

He resides presently in Ibadan, Nigeria where he<br />

enjoys reading and writing indoors.<br />

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REVIEW<br />

<strong>ISSUE</strong> <strong>IV</strong><br />

JUL 2022

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