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  • Dormant Desires

    This publication has been removed for violating Ink Bowl Publishing's Community Guidelines and Terms and Conditions.

  • Feathers [A Collection]

    A series of oil paintings depicting a variety of species of birds.

  • Personal Space

    I wanted to paint a strong, seductive woman who, in her personal space, can be whoever and do whatever she wants without getting judged.

  • Ginsenoside

    It represents the culmination of my lack of faith: my very affirmation of God's death. Through it, I try to show the constant doubts that haunt the mind of someone who can't fit in any religion and the acceptance that happiness can be found even without a god. Had I tasted the bitter and vile root that births your reason would it have made me more of a saint? had I forsaken my selfishness would it have given place to holier sins? had I exchanged in an anti-Faustian pact my fruit for your paradise my science for your atonement my life for your death would it have made me as happy as I already am? after all had I been what I am not what I can not be would it have still been me?

  • Melt

    An address on climate change.

  • Forest

    This is a prose piece inspired by the Winter competition prompt. In this piece, I try to explore the concept of fear, how it can be towards the unknown and the supposedly scary (a dilapidated house in the middle of a forest), fear of an abuser, or even fear of the loss of something that one holds dear. I find it fascinating how fear can be both crippling, rendering one immobile while simultaneously spurring one to take action. This was a terrible mistake. With every crunch of leaf under my sole, I am further plagued by the sense that something terrible was about to happen— a feeling so palpable that it is almost a physical pain. “Wooh.” I hear a sudden rustle of branches behind me and stifle a scream. At the whip of my head, an owl flies past my head, brushing the top of my head with a caress horrible enough to shock the hairs on my neck. My heart pounds against my ribcage, a prisoner begging to be let out, and it takes every working nerve in my body to stifle my flight instincts. No, Kaz, you promised yourself you would not turn back. Watching the silhouettes of vines and lichens sway in a dance of their own, I could feel my anxiety strangling me with tendrils of their own, each one tighter and more suffocating than the last. As the house slowly comes into sight, the tendrils worm their way into my brain, draining the thoughts within. I could still turn back… But then the image of my father hurling his beer bottle toward me resurfaces amidst the mind fog, and an involuntary spasm shudders through me. I’m doubled over, hugging both knees. It feels like I’m 7 years old, skinning my knee on the pavement and bawling my eyes out for my mother. But my mother is no longer here. I turn around, biting back the tears, trying to pry their way out of my eyes. This is where the path ends, and my decision begins. Do I leap into this abyss of wilderness, praying for a safety net? Or do I turn back on the path I know all too well, into the Venus fly trap just for it to suck the life out of me, little by little, until I’m nothing but a soulless, hollow shell? I take a deep breath and step forward into the house. As nightfall approaches, the chirping of the crickets intensifies. As the forest descends into darkness, the symphony crescendoes. A cacophony of insects and the percussion of trees; a backdrop to my thoughts. It’s surprisingly calming. I feel enveloped in a small pocket of time, where only the forest and I exist. Perhaps because this is where Mother used to take me hiking, on her good days. There was a bed frame in the house. Lying upon the hardwood, I could watch the aluminum\ roof above tremble under the pressure of the winds. It was rickety too, like a wooden tent that would collapse if the wind got strong. But ironically it felt safer than the bricked square I had escaped from. A low whoosh sweeps across the undergrowth, and the trees bow at the beckoning of the wind, bestowing their foliage as offerings. As the first few raindrops land, I realized that I was not alone in my trepidation. The storm was a mirror to my soul, reflecting my inner turmoil. And at that moment, I found a strange solace in knowing that even the elements were subject to the same emotions as I. There’s something blissful about peaceful sleep as a storm rages on outside. For far too long, I had been caught in the storm. I awake to the buzz of mosquitoes in my ear. The little buggers must have had the feast of their lives last night; my arms and legs were flecked with red spots. I run my fingers gently across my face, the only part of me the mosquitoes had deemed too worthless to eat. My left eye still feels tender, and my nose still sore. Was this my father’s way of telling me I could never get away from his clutches? “Screw you,” I whisper, relishing in its reverberation in the empty house. “Screw you!” I scream. Faint light-headedness seizes me and all of a sudden, it feels funny to be screaming at an empty house. The house feels different now, as though miffed at me bringing my personal drama into their quiet space. It feels strange to stay so I escape into the forest, basking in the mix of warmth and green. If I stand still enough, could I dissolve into the ecosystem? Could I crawl into the mud and kneel at the roots of the flowers, or would they deem me unworthy? Oh dear forest, it would be an understatement to say I fear you as much as I love you. Your trees stand solemn, housing the secrets of the planet and now I feel safe in knowing, that they can house me too. But O Revered forest, what is it that you think of me? Alas, it seems the forest has many more important things to think about. The birds chirp, the creek bubbles and the trees sway to some mysterious melody that only they can decipher. Perhaps the day I can sing the same tune as them, is the day I can truly call this place home. It must be History class by now. Would the school call? Would they even care? Probably not any more than they would care about a tree collapsing. I’d be a small headline in a newspaper, a passing remark, and little else more. Breathe in, breathe out. The crisp air greets my nostrils like a long-lost friend, an escape from the air at home, polluted with the stench of cigarette smoke and stale beer. It wasn’t always like that; There was a time when the thought of going home did not drench me in dread. There was a time when the house was a home, the kind that enveloped you in a hug that you never want to get out of. There was a time when Mother was still alive and Father was not an abusive alcoholic. There was a time when the water running in these creeks was clear as crystal, unpolluted by the factory-flushed chemicals. There was a time when the forest could go on with its symphony day in and day out, without the roar of the bulldozer in the distance, slowly peeling back the floors to reveal tidy porches and perfectly grazed front lawns. All this while I have been escaping, from one home to another, watching them crumble as I lie helplessly next to them, a coward unable to save anything out of fear. But not this time. I walk on, far beyond the trees, far beyond the houses, all the way to the police station. Home is not just someplace that protects you, it’s a place you protect.

  • The Boat Heaved Us Fiercely “Oh, could it be that stiffs are in the river?” A fellow joked, and everyone recollected the same old story three decades ago. It’s said that a weird cloud first appeared over downtown, slowly covering our sky and forming the shape of “人”, which means “man” in Chinese characters. There was also a tail of cirrus behind, rolling out the shape of “死”- “death” in Chinese, and linking them together meant: “someone is going to die.” A local prophet sighed that heaven was short of angels and would pull dozens of people to fill that gap. A porous bridge stood still under the moonlight, like dense bones or a piece of the shroud as we rowed through it. It’s said that the tragedy occurred on this bridge. There was a grand lantern festival that night. But as many corrupt officials issued scalped tickets at will, it was extremely crowded and eventually caused a severe trampling accident. About dozens of people fell off the bridge into the river, drowned, and died, confirming the clouds’ prophecy. And the survivors recalled that something in the river was pulling them down that night. It was not human at all. “Oh, there were still some spirits who had no destiny in heaven. They became the water demons. Once someone told this story on this river, they would pull those people into the water, too.” The fellow lowered his voice, and everyone quieted down. The boat heaved us fiercely.

  • Dips

    This submission is significant to me because it explores my fear of things ending before I am ready. This fear is present in many aspects of life, whether it is something small like a vacation or much more significant such as relationships or milestone events. To explore this fear, I wanted to anchor it in a lighthearted tone of nostalgia and friendship because anxiety often creeps in delightful moments. If I am not careful, it can build to an overwhelming amount and sour what should be a beautiful memory. In this piece, Milo can throw off this fear and enjoy the moment for what it is. I hope to embody this state of mind as well, be present rather than focusing on the quickly approaching finish line. The steady trill of the river mixing with the hypnotic light of the campfire enraptured Milo. She watched the tiny sparks dance to the heavens to find rest among the stars. The heat of the fire was a warm cat purring against her shins while the twilight air nipped at her neck. Milo snuggled into Indi and pulled the quilt tighter around them. They probably should have grabbed sweaters like the boys, but it was too late to go back now. Besides, she refused to let a little chill rob her of this moment. For a few hours, they managed to shrug off the responsibility of cabin leaders and bundle up in each other's company instead. As soon as their little campers were settled into the bunks, each cabin leader extinguished the lights and slipped out of their cabins. Usually, they only left for a few minutes to get ready for bed. But on the last night of camp, they concocted a plan. Instead of heading to the washroom, Milo and Indi used their kitchen key to smuggle some leftover desserts. Earlier that day, Casey chopped extra wood during the smores activity to avoid the risk of thundering cracks late at night. And Jasper brought the key to the wood shack, applying minimal effort as usual. Reed didn’t have much to offer besides keeping their secret from the camp director, his mom. Somehow he had caught wind of their plan, but at least he was tolerable compared to the other junior leaders. Otherwise, everything went perfectly, and they indulged in the fruits of their labor, well, the brownies and layered jello of their labor. Surely the junior cabin leaders could handle the campers for a few hours. The terrors of the day couldn’t harm them while they were asleep. “To a perfect summer and the best cabin leaders I know,” Jasper said as he raised his cup and slurped up the jello. “Well, almost perfect. There is one more tradition we haven’t finished yet.” “If you mean star-tipping, forget it, Jasper,” Indi said. “Chef Carly’s brownies are too good to end up as vomit.” “No, I’m talking about the customary skinny dip in Kelpie Corner.” Milo scrunched up her nose. “Gross.” “You can keep your clothes on.” “Still, gross.” Kelpie Corner was a deep bend in the river, making it a perfect but dangerous swimming spot. In an attempt to discourage young campers from wandering too close, the staff named it Kelpie Corner years ago. They even created the legend of Lil Kellie, the camp's resident kelpie. But hardly any campers understood the reference now. After all, kelpies weren’t popular bedtime stories. Instead, the campers lovingly dubbed the bend Pee Corner since at least one boy cabin always found it hilarious to pee off the ledge into the river below. Last year, Casey’s cabin poorly timed their attempt during the scavenger hunt. “You’re allowed to have your opinion, but it's an honest tradition,” Jasper said, selecting another jello cup from the tray. “Just ask Reed.” “Mom discourages it, but it is pretty common.” “Fine, then what are you waiting for? Go take a swim, Jasper.” Casey said as he threw another log on the fire, sending up a shower of sparks. “I would, but,” Jasper waved his neon purple cast. “Can’t get this bad boy wet. And we all know Reed can’t swim. So that leaves you three.” “Actually, two,” Indi said. When Milo glared at her, Indi leaned in and whispered, “Our favorite Aunt Flo visited this morning, so….” “How fitting, our childhood sweethearts will carry on the tradition,” Jasper said, causing Milo to blush. Of course, that stupid rumor still clung to her. When she and Casey were little campers, they had disappeared in the middle of capture the flag, and naturally, their cabins assumed they were somewhere in the woods kissing. No one cared if it was true or not, and, to Milo’s chagrin, the story surfaced every year. “If you don’t, we’ll be cursed until next summer.” “What is this, some pseudo-sacrifice to appease the camp gods?” Milo said. “Pretty much. Look, I don’t care what you do over there, whether you make out with Casey or Lil Kellie. As long as you take the dip.” To Casey’s credit, he did begin to protest, but Milo’s voice was louder. “Fine,” the blanket fell from her shoulders as she stood. “Let’s go for a swim, Casey.” As she stared at their wavering forms in the water, Milo knew this was a mistake. Compelled by her stubbornness, she dove headfirst into this ridiculous dare, disregarding the consequences. If it were only her, that would be one thing. But with Casey? Alone? No doubt, more rumors would sprout. Or she would manage to embarrass herself, and this would be Casey’s last memory of her, circling in the back of his mind like the bitter aftertaste of burnt coffee. She dug her bare toes into the cool mud, wrapping them in an earthy blanket. Next to her feet, Casey’s white university sweater lay with their discarded shoes. Rightfully so. It would be a crime to soak it in the murky waters of Pee Corner. Milo considered pushing him over the ledge and running back to the fire with Jasper’s tradition fulfilled. But she dismissed the thought at the prospect of more ridicule from the boys. Because who was too scared to take a small dip? No, she couldn’t live with that mark on her reputation. The only way out was together- both jump or both leave. “This is stupid. Jasper’s just spewing his usual bullshit. Let’s make a splash with some rocks and head back.” “We won’t be wet through,” Casey said. “We’ll jump in quick and climb right out.” Milo crossed her arms and wished for Indi’s quilted embrace. “You seriously believe Jasper’s prophesied curse?” She tried half-heartedly as Casey matched her obstinacy and rarely backed down. “Not at all,” Casey said. “But it’s the last chance to do something stupid and harmless this summer? Do you really want your last memory to be chickening out?” He held out his hand and wriggled his slender fingers expectantly. Milo knew this wouldn’t end well. And she locked her hand in his anyway. His skin held the lingering warmth of the fire they left behind. With no countdown or warning, he pulled her along, and the mud squelched as her feet tore free. She tried her best not to, but a small squeal escaped her lips as they fell. Their flight lasted mere seconds before plunging beneath the water. It was colder than she expected. Silly, she’d taken this plunge many times before while the summer sun kissed the water, and it was fucking cold then. But the water pinched her cheeks, and her limbs sat in shock. Eventually, the chill soothed her nerves with a lullaby, and peace washed over her. The water distorted the starry sky, and Orion’s belt danced teasingly above. Despite her previous aversion, Milo wished she could stay here for a while and let the water freeze at this moment in time, preserving a perfect image of summer. The moment shattered when her focal point of warmth slipped from her hand, and Casey left her for the surface. With a mental sigh, Milo followed suit and kicked up into the night. A few feet away, Casey smiled giddily and swept his dripping hair out of his eyes. It had grown a touch too long without his mother around to trim it. Milo felt the sway of the water by her legs before she saw him shift closer. Oh god, was he leaning in? The sour scent of earthy river water already coated his skin, and her nose crinkled as he brought it closer. But his childlike joy radiated vibrantly, and Milo conceded to reflecting his glow. Until it faded. In an instant, Casey’s smile fell flat, and his eyes widened. “Did you touch my leg?” Milo frowned at the question. In a lake, almost anything could be brushing past their limbs - the snotty strings of algae, clods of dirt churned up in their wake, even a curious fish. But the night had a funny way of steeping familiar sensations with fear. And while Milo knew for a fact not an inch of her skin touched Casey’s, it also was not her own hand wrapped around her ankle. Exchanging a look of understanding, Milo said, “Lil Kellie isn’t real.” While she stated it as a fact, the words tasted absurd on her tongue. She stared into the depths, unsure if she hoped to spot the culprit or not. Milo flinched when Casey’s hands landed on her shoulders, his fingers clawing at her soaked shirt. Before she protested, he pushed her forward and cowered behind her like a shield. He extended an unsteady finger, and her eyes nervously followed its path. The water rippled and shook, disturbed by something beneath the surface. Something dark. Something fast. Something… small? Milo cocked her head as the creature approached them, its beady eyes glinting in the moonlight. Shrugging off Casey’s grip, she snatched up the creature before it swam any closer. Holding it out at arm’s length, she spun around to proudly display her catch. “It’s just a garter snake.” The snake writhed in her grasp, and its red tongue flicked in protest. To her surprise, Casey shot back with incredible speed, reacting like Milo’s campers to a boy taunting them with a handful of worms. "You’re still scared of snakes?” “No,” Casey said indignantly. But his tense muscles melted into relief when Milo tossed the snake into the bushes. "Maybe.” Unable to contain them, nervous giggles spilled from Milo’s throat. To her surprise, Casey joined in. Laughter seemed to be the only appropriate response to such a ridiculous situation. Better than focusing on the unknown, still tickling their feet at least. “Don’t mention it to the others?” “Only if you stop telling your campers I’m secretly Lil Kellie.” “Deal.” Before something else could twist around their legs, they clambered out of the river and mud-caked onto their knees. While Milo squeezed the fowl water from her hair, Casey unsuccessfully shook himself dry like a dog. Gathering their things, they ran back to their friends with giggles still bubbling out. In the corner of her eye, Milo thought she caught the shadow of a deer or maybe a horse trotting through the pine trees. But she chose not to mention it. When they finally reached the fire, Milo realized too late that she had accidentally pulled on Casey’s sweater. She chastised herself for opening the door to more rumors. But maybe that was ok. If this started a rumor, at least it also placed the ammunition of a secret in her own pocket. The soft fabric stuck to her damp skin. The sweater only smelled marginally better than the river water, and it was hard to tell if it was Casey’s sweat or the baked-in scent from a cabin full of pubescent boys. Though Milo doubted any of her clothes smelled like roses and vanilla at this point, either. Slumping back into place under Indi’s quilt, Milo shared a smile with the group, and the night went on. No mention of the dip. No teasing comments. Only the sweet smoke of the campfire and the intoxicating laughter of friends. Maybe Casey’s mood towards her shifted. But between her lingering shiver and the dark of night, she couldn’t really tell, and it didn’t matter. Summer’s curtain was quickly falling. Soon they would part ways for a normal life. If they were lucky, they’d all return in a year's time. Maybe next summer would last longer, and its warmth lingers far past its initial touch. Milo settled to solve the puzzle Casey then. Now, all she wanted was to soak in a healthy portion of joy to carry her through to next year.

  • Honesty Is The Only True Freedom [A Collection]

    My work is generally based on my personal ethics about being a person but also an artist. All the things I know about life, I have learned from art without even noticing. I choose small sized artwork that demand an intimate reading. My materials are pen, colored pencils, sumi ink and watercolor. These materials have prevented me from being able to fix mistakes. They rarely come out from precise under sketching, as I find very important that I preserve the element of inner connection and natural creation with every piece.

  • Land Of Narcissistic Humanity

    Writing has always been my way of embracing my emotions on the concrete ground. This poem is about my personal experience where my expectations from people in my life aren't validated. This explores a part of my life as well as the system of relationships between individuals in the lives of many. all the vessels in the world at the risk of explosion holding bombarding chemicals and sophisticated reactions with your inside rusted your hollow mortified I wish I could tell you "explode already" but don't because too many consequences mainly a hazard of owning a label after all this is a land of narcissistic humanity

  • Walking On A String

    This poem is significant to me because I believe that the first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge it and create awareness about the depth of its negative impact on its victims, and it is also a fitting way to take power back from the people or circumstances causing the problem. In my case, while life has always thrown its challenges at me, my primary caregiver holds me to these absurdly high standards. To them, achieving anything less is a moral failure, so I'm treated at my own home accordingly. My present domestic environment is suffocating. Writing this poem was my desperate attempt to temporarily loosen its clutches on me while trying to convince myself that I deserve better. There once was a little child Who was walking on a string– High heels clamped to their feet, With ends sharp and pencil-like, Stabbing the walking rope into a bend. Arms straight up in the air, Their eyes flickered between down and ahead. Determined to stride the rope Like it was a cakewalk instead. Nobody could see, nobody could know; They had to keep walking and walking. Little did they know That everybody could see, But all of them had, by preference chosen To perceive that string as flat land. So they walked, walked, and kept walking, Intent to find the illusive balance Between self and so-called perfection. Then, in a moment, it happened all at once. Right as they had begun to see The delusion of a finish point close nearly, One step, one slip, and that's all it took For the cruel balance to be broken. Leaving them burning On the rusty, rocky ground. The kid looked up, panic clear in their eyes, Only to find themselves in a pit; Mountains, mountains all around. Lifting their body, bloodied and bruised, They groaned and climbed up the steep slopes, Until… they spotted a hand. An open palm, outstretched and inviting, That the kid grabbed onto it quicker Than a trap snaps on a fly. Do you know what would happen If that very hand Would pull, then push the young one back inside? It would be a great fall, a cry for dear life, They would hit rock-bottom With both ribs broken and a heart. "Why did you betray me?" They would shout out upwards. "Not me," the hand owner would tell And watch the child shrink as they'd further yell, "Why did you lie to me? You said you couldn't keep walking on a string, But all I see is flatland."

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