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  • Winter Wisteria

    A dead vine in the winter, almost losing its foliage, Left with brown wood to get through the dark months. Losing its elegance as the fireplaces quench, but it still seems, A poet coming from far away to be comforted by the evergreen. The poet writes, "A winter wisteria coming back to existence, Rising from the cracks and overshadowing the barricades ," The runoff of snow begins as the sun softly shines, Signing an end of an era, And the beginning of a new. Aurora Her hands frozen By the snow Celestial lights Fell on her cheeks As she looked up, Her life tarnished Into the darkness, The place lit up. It was mother nature Telling her to get up, To stand up on her knees, It was mother nature Telling her not to be defined By someone else's deeds. A melody Not far away In a distant land, The sun sets Just in time. For now, It's darkness's reign. Under a leafless hazel tree, he sits The sound of a mysterious train echoed. Crying and burying followed. "Let's go home, sire." The Watchmaker looks up, It's his nephew He came to pick him up. The angel sings a melody The smell of roses in the snow The nephew was long gone, he thinks They disintegrate into a yellow glow.

  • In This Darkness

    This submission entails the fear of growing up. Addressing the 2023 Winter Writing and Art competition, In This Darkness, observe a college student's first night away from home and the consequent isolation of doing so. The truth of adulthood presents itself in various forms; newfound independence, freedom, as well as the unexplainable loneliness many people face in the new world. By addressing this fear, the story captures a brief example of what it means to be an adult - how scary it is to leave home, knowing your childhood is far behind you. August It was getting dark when I realized I had nowhere to go. Within the Midwestern darkness, I walked along the wet sidewalk. It was the last day of August, and it was killing me. The hours had whittled down until Autumn seeped into the stale-beer air, the sound of children echoing into a lovely little memory. The end of summer comes the birth of a new season, and with that, the arrival of strange darkness- the kind that lingers after 6 o’clock, only to leave half a year later with the coming of a new Spring. I promise you; I’m not morbid. I really don’t like the dark. Or the rain. Or empty university towns, or the loneliness that links to turning 18 and being on your own. With a shaky hand, I wiped my face; it was raining, and everything I ever loved was in my family home, 283 miles away. I was wet, and August was over. And my mother never called. I felt heavy, walking along the street, shop lights flickering in the forthcoming night. Perhaps it was the corduroy jacket my mother made me bring or the weight of 17 perfect years, perfect report cards, extracurriculars, and a full ride to the University of Chicago. I don’t mean to brag; I mean, college is college. It really is a place full of homesick young people... the ones that disappear into college bars or their own dispositions. I was walking when it began to rain, dark water pouring into my sticky, unwashed hair. I couldn’t bring myself to shower properly because the dormitory bathroom was always crowded, filled with mouths that never stopped talking, moving, brushing their teeth, or sharing unasked information. The rain made me feel clean. My shoes hit the pavement, water spraying with every step. Someone leaned against a street light and said, “Let’s get going. We got class at 8.” “What possessed us,” a girl mentioned. “Signing up for sociology that early in the morning. God, this place is gonna kill me.” She said it, but she was smiling. I mean, she really, really, really was smiling - in the flickering darkness. I could see her teeth, guarded by two pink lips and a tan face. She said this place would kill her. Does the act of leaving home not kill us all? Do we all die a little when we leave our lives in pursuit of better ones? Is the fear of death the same as for growing up? I wiped my face with the back of my sleeve. I promise you; I’m not depressing - usually - but something about the evening darkness stirred me. I wasn’t walking along the street; each step aligned with my conscience, my abandoned childhood, and the memories I feared giving up. I missed home, but I was afraid of forgetting it. Of walking into my bedroom in Detroit, only to realize that the bed was gone and those years covered in new paint. It was getting late, must’ve been 9. All the young people strolling around on this Thursday, arms linked because they were all they had. Really, that’s how it is with young people. We hold onto whatever we can. That way, when a few watered-down years pass - high school, proms, summers - we get sick of each other and choose to leave. We decide to go without understanding the fear of being alone. Walking quietly, I realized I could not remember the last time I held my mother’s hand. And with that, I wondered if I should call her, even though it would never be the same. The act of leaving cannot be reversed. A phone call will not erase the permanent mark of adulthood because leaving home means saying half a goodbye. More of a, see you later, but you’ll be different, and I’ll have changed. I want to tell you that after walking on the street, I reached my dorm, said goodnight to my roommate, brushed my teeth, and journaled for some crap. I did no such thing. I smoked a cigarette. She was lingering outside a 7/11. In the empty darkness, I could tell she was the sort of girl who never belonged, with her trembling cigarette radiating an orange hue painting her jaw. I saw her, and I remembered my father. Of him coming home from work, pulling out a lighter, saying he’ll be back in 10 minutes, appearing after 20, smelling horrible, smelling like the man I loved. And he would tell me about work. About getting an education someday, about doing better than he ever could have. I’d pinch my nose, and he’d tell me about his ‘university friends.’ Then he would cough. Mom would yell at him; I’d tell my father to quit smoking, but not in a way that showed how much I cared - my voice would go shrill, and I’d say to him, dad, I’m not going to take care of you when you’re old and dying… I was never scared of death, but I’ve always been afraid of saying goodbye… not to him, or my mother, or that old house, or the bedroom I’ve loved... but the warm grasp of dad’s smoky breath, summer in our old neighborhood, when I was young enough not to appreciate the things I loved and get away with it too. The girl on the street said nothing as I joined her. I guess that was fine; I mean, I had no reason to intrude. But then she spoke. “Are you lookin’ for something?” She breathed out, and I breathed in. God, she smelled terrible; really, she did. Up close, her eyes glinted brown in the streetlights. I felt stupid standing there, but I did not move. “No. Just hanging out.” “Hanging out…” she smiled to himself, taking another drag. The world fell quiet. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Have a nice night.” “I was about to ask you about that college stuff,” she said, sounding younger than I was. That cigarette stayed at her side, its amber afterglow lighting the dark brick wall. “You know, if you were with that group over there, those academics and all.” For no reason at all, I laughed. “That’s what everyone wants to talk about nowadays. Especially here,” I leaned against the wall. “I swear if someone asks about my major one more time….” “I get it,” she said. “What’re you minoring in then?” And I laughed again. “It must be nice,” she exhaled, smoke billowing around us. “With classes starting up and all. This time of year’s fun, isn’t it?” “It should be,” I stared at the ground. “Is it not?” “I mean,” I huffed. “I’m not complaining, sure, this place is great. The people are nice, and the dorms don’t have rats - but it’s bittersweet, you know? I’m not from here. It’s silly, but I miss the way things were.” “So you’re homesick,” she said. “Most of us are.” “I don’t know if it’s that,” I mentioned as I shuffled my feet, trying to explain the shaky feeling inside my chest, sliding underneath my ribs and into my throat. It was the same feeling I had in my guidance counselor’s office, talking about the future and the possibilities beyond college. I felt it when my parents stood in the dormitory doorframe, looking so small and fragile within the gateway to the real world. They said, see you later, and that was that. Sitting on that twin-sized mattress, I felt scared, staring at the printed pictures on the wall. I missed my parents and my friends and my silly little life. Of the faded memory of childhood, melting away into adolescence, into whatever the hell this was. More than that, I was afraid of letting it go, of letting it turn into 4 years at college, a corporate job, the lingering precipice of life on my own with no hand to hold onto. I explained it to her messily, and by the end of those four minutes, she was standing closer to me. “Detroit’s not that far,” she mentioned. “You can visit. I’m sure your friends will too. And let me tell you, you’ll meet so many new people. I promise you. This place is great for that.” “It’s not that,” I told her as she handed me a rolled cigarette. “It’s about visiting home and realizing I don’t remember all the details. Home won’t be the same.” She lit my cigarette, and for a moment, it seemed she was thinking really hard. “So you’re afraid of letting go?” I smiled a bit sadly. “And you’re afraid of growing up.” She took a drag, and I did the same. Coughing up, she said something, but I did not hear her. “It sucks, kinda,” I said. “Look at them all. It’s like there’s nothing to be scared of, and nothing has changed. Like our parents are going to pick us all up when it’s over.” She laughed, and that was that. She smoked a little more, as did I, and by the time her cigarette snubbed out, a short lifetime had passed. Blackness was sweltering around us, and as the final flicker of the dart died beneath my heel, what took the shape of an awkward silence. Until she spoke. "So, I’m Abby… and I miss home.” I turned to look at her; in the evening darkness, her straw-colored hair blended into the brick wall. She was smiling softly, and the moment was nice- the way she leaned against the mortar, faint store lights against her silhouette. Despite the dark nightscape, I could make out the expression on her face; it looked a lot like myself in a dormitory mirror, thinking of home and my childhood. “And I’m Reva,” I returned. She went to pull out another cigarette, but I stopped her, saying, “It’s not good for you. It really isn’t." Abby looked at the ground, smiling, fidgeting with that lighter. The flame lit the darkness, its warmth settling between us. “It’s the first night of college, and we’re lingering in a dark alley.” “Then let’s get out of here,” I said, and I meant it. “Are you hungry?” We stood around for a few moments, and then, she tucked the lighter into a pocket. Abby began talking about this Italian place down the street, how she dined there with her mother this morning, and how spaghetti is not a good meal for brunch. I begged to differ, and we talked about that. We disappeared into the Midwestern darkness, talking about our parents, memories, and the classes we had tomorrow.

  • Gambling Problem

    The poem is about a phase in my life that I consider very dear to me, and also the most excruciating. Writing this poem almost felt like catharsis. The cover photo is an artwork I made that sums up all the words I wanted to say, before I wrote this poem. This was a blind bargain, I called it when I met you, It felt strange, this familiarity; Like I knew you before you knew me. Beginner's Luck got us so far. You say your head's full of me; My name in your mouth Like pearls falling out, You love so loudly, the whole world can hear. This thing I'm feeling is bigger than myself. I have a Gambling Problem. I made deals with Delusion, Tried to win with a losing hand and couldn't, I gambled everything I had for everything I didn't. Me, my Monte Carlo fallacy, And you always coming back to me. So I let the cards fall on the floor. If we were set to win, we would've already. We were down to the wire When we got tangled in it. Perhaps, I can only write about love After I've lost it. Yet, I wake, shaking- On the moons I didn't gamble away, Dancing around drunkenly, In this dreadful drudgery of a parlay.

  • Dramatic Destiny

    The pale lady intertwined her auburn hair in a tight bun as she flipped through the pages of the book, ‘The emperor of all maladies.’ The air around was humid, and the whistling and hooting of people around hampered the creation of a pleasant studying atmosphere. But, for little Flora, scanting her from reading was something not a soul on the face of Earth could not prove efficient enough. The stripped lightning over her was quite harsh; it illuminated the belle nurses who tread briskly past her, barely giving her a second look. “We are receiving patients excess enough to brim all our passages and rooms, and the nurses over here are busy dressing their hair every day. I need everyone in the main hall in 5, or does anyone prefer boxes of ears instead,” The doctor coaxed while sniffing his morning tea. “En route, professor,” said the lady intern as she shoved the book on the shelves. The nurses shuffled their duties and traced their way to the restrooms. “Any updates from the war?” She gave her an exaggerated eye roll. “Seriously, I need to buy minutes to breathe; how on Earth would I be checking on the gossip of the town,” The other responded briskly. “Flora, she’s the new intern. How would she be nursing patients? She needs to nurse herself.” She whispered in a sibilant voice to ensure not a soul hears them. “She’s from an influential family in the west. I’ve heard that her family is among the richest in the state, yet she chose to live in this screwed-up mess. Patients die every day. If we encounter a living soul escaping this hospital, it’s quite bewildering.” "I suppose; she’ll prove to be one of those fashionable girls, who’d turn on our gates for a sneaky break and later dive back into the wardrobes for they realized it isn’t their cup of tea,” The nurse collapsed into a creepy giggle. “You girls, right there. Cease the twattling and get back to your dorms. My grandson achieved divine peace for you, don’t throw the minutes you live on so easily. The day you’ll be lying on a hospital bed unattended isn’t far,” An elderly lady tucked her few strings of white in a tail and scolded the women in the rooms. The nurses carried their trays and headed to their quarters, a few chattering along with the others and a few self-possessed in dressing their twigs. ***** A general dressed up in a Hindustani attire had been brought in from the battlefield, his wounds were grave, yet they remain obscured. He lay unattended, a few doctors shifted past his bed, but none gave away an eye. The lady. inched closer. She felt a queer inexplicable bridge; his fingers were thin, bruised, wounded, and burnt yet alive. She interlaced them with hers, tears dripping from her eyelids; a glimpse of his wounded self was enough to rip her apart. Flora, composed of flowers, she’d spent her days amidst the thorns, but this seemed to be not as blunt as the others. The night lamp next to her glistened as tears sprinkled on it. “Never fall in love during a war. It’s a beautiful way to make everything fall apart,” The elderly aunt claimed “What if the power that breaks us is, virtually, the spell that stitches the torn pieces back together,” Flora responded, shielding his broken arms with slings “I lost my family to the war. I don’t recollect the last time I met or touched them …My duties as a nurse stole all my hours. All I have now are dreams of sunbathing by a peaceful beach with my family, a family that no longer exists. I’ve seen my daughter in you. Delicate, Soft, and Brave.” The lady took a deep pause, clearing the catch in her throat; she held Flora’s fingers and continued. “She always yearned to be a nurse. But I never permitted it; I didn’t want her to risk all the happiness she deserved. So, promise me, don’t take any step that’ll nudge you to jeopardize your life.” The lady declared in a tone of power and honor. “I won’t give my word. I came here solely to jeopardize my life and save those of others. If I yearned for a content vie, I would have rather stayed back at my palace and been a fashionable young lady my family wished me to be,” Flora claimed, her eyes settling on the rippled aids of the youth. Her eyes had the gleam that would suffice to convince an elderly person of a torn heart. “The archaic closet in the room, midway the central hall, where lies the doctors’ canteen to the right. You’d find all the necessary medications and accessories, even the injections and sedatives. Rob is from the section at midnight. I’ll borrow the keys from the senior doctors for my night duty. He would never be treated here. Stich his wounds and send him back to his motherland. Not a word should be out in the mains.” There was something in Flora that forced her to say this. She blurted all of it with an electrifying impulse and sans a pause. “Thank you,” She raised a petite smile; she wasn’t sure what else she could do. ***** The young man bled incessantly, his arms were fractured, and severe wounds adorned his back and chest. Flora traced her fingers through and saw something she never even fathomed to know; it stole her breath away. She held the bewilderment to herself. “Promise me; you won’t convey the same to anyone. I sacrificed my life, guarding my secret,” The general uttered a few words so silently she was forced to carve them from his lips. "I won’t. It’ll die with me in my grave. But look at these bruises and the grave cut marks. How do you bear this unceasing agony?” Her eyebrows intertwined together. "Why would they ache? These are the red jewels of pride, of fading away for your motherland.” He intricately explained. “Why do you even do this? Do you not care about your family?” She enquired with a sudden rage. "I do, a lot more than you’d ever contemplate. And, it’s for them I do so.” “I told you never to fall in love during a war. You lose it in a blink of an eye. It’s quite common for nurses to fall for soldiers. However, it hardly lasts for over a week.” Grams explained, holding her fingers in hers. “Our love story was the queerest. Probably, because even if the soldier survived, our flames to reunite would be blown away by the prejudiced society,” Flora sighed. "We all consider our tales to be exceptional. However, that may often not be the case. Your family’s quite influential; nothing could ever prohibit them from giving their only daughter what she desires,” Grams suggested, hope deviating from Flora’s eyes. “What if I say the influence of my family would scant me from fulfilling our surprisingly uncommon tale,” “What was so peculiar between him and you?” She raised her white brows “Stop summoning the general by the pronoun ‘Him.’” She took a deliberate pause and uttered in a stroke, “I loved her.” “I hope you do realize what you just said. You don’t mean it, right?” She straightens, attempting to pull herself together. "I swore to her; I’ll keep the secret safe and bury it in my grave,” “I envisaged my daughter in you, but my daughter would never take this step. It’s my error; I let you have the keys,” She refuted, but the tone martyr dug deep in her voice "You should have permitted your daughter to be a nurse. You’re alive, but she’s….” Flora brutally uttered, her voice trailing away. “Stop, Flora. Is that all you felt for me in all these years?” Flora could hear her babbling away, but she wasn’t giving heed. ***** 9 days ago "Our tale stretches back to my 21st Birthday, my brother served in the British army for seven years, and the army conquered its borders across my motherland. Yet, his survival meant a trifle. It was 5 years since the date we met; his soul was treading on his homeland after half a decade. Divas were lit across the lanes of my village, the hay cottages engulfed in the chains of light. I was curating soils of colors on the ground the moment he paved into it. Ma and Papa embraced him with the warmest of hugs. But, I didn't speak a word to him and chided about his promise. A word, a wish that devastated our lives in a way we could never curate back together. Bombay, the city, was a dream for me; its architecture, its sites, its way of life...reading about it in novels gave me immeasurable joy. He was going to drive me through the city a year ago, but he kept serving his duties. Rage spun within me, condensing to cries, and he held me and took me through the city three days later. Heaven wouldn't be in comparison to the highs I experienced during those moments. I stood by the lanes, the structures, the trains, and everything I read in my textbooks. I scribbled all of it in my sketchbook, tales of my day beside it. We ate a spicy snack, and its drops are still on my tongue. On the last day, of our visit, with the clumsy bag on my shoulders, we left our temporary residence. Riots broke out in the city, fire enlarged in various streets, and citizens ran on rules for safety. The train station busted, and blood drops on every wall. My brother caught hold of a cycle rickshaw and drove into the thickets. We made it into the station, but that was the beginning of the worst showdown; our train stood on its tracks for a minute before it would run away. We swiftly juggled through the street, catching hold of its gate; he helped me climb in. And, it seemed like heaven froze the minute, he urged me to take a step, and a grave flash thundered in my eyes and an explosion that lit up my ears. A gunshot, amiss, clung to my brother’s chest. Blood draining from every ripple of his green coat. The train had measured its miles before I could breathe and comprehend the event that occurred. Men from all walks surrounded him. Surprisingly it takes death to curate unity. My senses numb, I fell, with no shoulder to cry upon; I spent the rest of my journey with only half the realization I may never see him again. I was retreating with a conscience ripped apart to my home. But, the letter at the entrance blew away all the winds that held me together. Respected General, Your leave was unexpectedly extended during the hours we needed you most. You didn't give us a trifle of your energy, so we won't consider posting you unless we see you at our residence tomorrow morning. I hope you aren't oblivious that your village's fields and hay cottage are mortgaged with us. They are quite futile to us, but they are worth diamonds to your family. Tomorrow at 8, in the mansion, right to our seniors' headquarters. She didn't exhibit any words further. Her eyes conveyed the message, and so did the name carved on her jacket. Prapti Singh became Pratap Singh on that day; she battled two wars daily, one on the battlefield and one for herself. Flora swore to herself she’d gift peace to Prapti only in her homeland. She battled across the seas for her motherly soil for years but didn’t even deserve a peaceful death by its shore. But, she’ll treasure her peace in the waters that bred her. “Flora,” yelled an elderly nurse from the heart of the structure, “She looked ghostly pale. She lifted her gaze as Flora trodden in, revealing shadowed eyes, reddened with grief. It was a ridiculously mundane sight. “Mrs. Forbes, what is it,” Her eyes tightened like two buttons of anxiety. “Your Grams, Kelly, deceased in her sleep,” She slurped down, tresses of tears fiddling down her eyes "No, that can’t be. Which kind of merry sport is this?” Flora refused to comprehend the upturn of events. “It’s true,” The doctor came in midway, “the dear soul served us for half a century; let’s bid her a memorable farewell, ignite this place with candles and lamps on every corner, and we shall see her smile, one last time,” “Flora,” He continued; he flung her fingers in his and passed down a ring. Flora scrutinized the object timidly “Monsieur, this ring’s grams’, why will you? “It’s her only possession, and you were the only child who lived. Keep it well.” ***** The waves of the sacred waters of the Ganges touched her feet and penetrated her soul as she felt peace. Her left arm engulfed the ashes of her, and the possession of her grams adorned the right. The soul-tweaking crescent of the Asian sub-continent poured its reflected light on the heavenly waters as her skin touched the sea and drowned deeper and deeper into its bosom. She’d never see the solar god again but sought peace. “Pappa,” The little boy yelled. His body refused to be pulled into death by the wild waters of the Ganges. He battled for breath, and his legs fought for life. The deeper the water god pulled him inside, the fainter his breathing was reduced. "Mohan, you promised me you wouldn’t drown yourself in those waters again. The last person I wish to lose is you,” “I longed to hunt pennies which we’d use to buy momma’s medications. The doctors in the city are quite upscale and profound. However, I found this emerald ring in the waters. They probably belonged to the deceased found drowning yesterday. Are we going to pass it to the government?” "Hop into the cycle and skid to the highway hospital. Your mom will be home really soon. Tell them we arranged all the monetary requirements,” Dawn twitted in the sky, and the sweepers played the dust into the bins. There scarcely lay a soul on the banks. However, a letter gleamed on the floor, but too dull to be noticed, it soon found its way into the bin. **** Dear skies: The pale lightning, and the gloom in the sky, reminisce me of the day I lost her. Her eyes twinkled with courage as they always do, and I felt as if I had no more left. I looked down at our hands, which were entwined… I found myself gazing at them, trying to revise how her touch felt against mine. It was nice to feel so wanted, to find myself at the focal point of someone’s thoughts after months of semi-detachment from the overly pale world. For the premiere hour in my life, that minute, I tried to remain oblivious to the future. I wanted to be myself, and I let the evening pass through my skin as I wasted hours gazing at her. I could touch her strengths, vulnerabilities, scars, and scents. However, she, perhaps, couldn’t feel any of it; she had commenced retreating toward somewhere I couldn’t reach. A weird panic brimming in me. I didn’t long to let her go; I wanted to squeeze her in mine, But I felt gravity flinging her in a queer direction as all the threads that tied her to earth loosened up. She kissed my fingers before letting go of my hand, but how would I let go of her? I read tales of exemplifying love by setting it free and craving to belong to someone in that way that their jubilance was all that meant. However, after experiencing every surge of emotion I wished to feel, I craved no longer be there. I suppose we all fall in love once to realize why we should not. I had a million words to yell in her ears, but none could exhibit my tongue. “Flora,” She pulled a lock of my hair, and I felt my face crumple, "we’ll meet soon, again.” I held her tight. Before I’d change my mind, I said, ‘Bye.’ It sounded more like a sob or a cough, but that was the last she heard of me. Is this how a farewell is supposed to be, or was it not one? Love, Anonymous.

  • Willow Bread

    As a kid, my family was financially struggling. We sometimes went to the mall for a grocery run, and my sister and I begged my mom to go to the local bakery. As we were a bit behind in rent, etcetera, we couldn't really afford more than necessary, so we usually had to share a pastry. And the case was I wanted willow bread while my sister wanted twist bread. And so, the story emerged. Here is a story of a kitchen boy So used to stealing leftover pastries From tea gatherings Kicked out from the foster house He is On a journey to find ingredients To make a willow bread But he stumbled upon people struggling Seven abandoned, hungry kids And so he struggles Internally When he realized The dough he made can feed ten kids If he were to make a sourdough instead But all the boy wanted Was a willow bread And all he ever wanted Was just willow bread. So he chose to feed the kids And starved himself instead When asked, “why?” he said “Willow bread is just bread .”

  • Of Fear and Friends

    It's a short prose written exactly in one of those moments of divagation these sorts of anxious thoughts linger on. That means it not only talks about the fear of loneliness but was created at a moment the author was feeling troubled by those very fears in an almost metalinguistic kind of way. Ever since I can remember, I've always had a very exquisite fear: that of not being my best friend's best friend. That is, on the rare occasions I had a "best friend" as per se. Maybe that can be translated somehow as part of a much more primeval fear: that of being alone. It may sound incongruous, as I really love being alone - that's how I've lived my whole life and I don't intend to change. That said, people never "intend to change", they just do. But there's alone and there's Alone, or you could say that it's okay being by yourself most of the days, I even like it. On some special days, though, on a full moon or something like that, I don't want to be alone and I can't be alone and I simply need someone to unconsciously affirm me: "you are not alone". And being by myself on days like those is the worst thing I have ever felt.

  • Perception Perceived

    This piece is meant to be a meta-statement on how art is open to interpretation, and in a broader sense, how our perception of the phenomena around us itself may not be as rigid as we may like to think it is. An homage to the absurdity that is qualia, and that which lies at the confluence of ontology and epistemology. Perhaps, even, a piece that urges you to question what exactly is "perception"? (Like the shadows, some standing, others sitting, on the "floors" and "walls" seemingly inspecting what they seem to believe is something worth inspecting) and also question who exactly is being perceived when you view this work of art? Is the subject of your perception the work of art? Or, perhaps, it's your perception of the work of art? And so on, (ad infinitum, as the mathematicians say) like the frame at the center of the piece, receding to infinity. But, then again, this is my interpretation of this work of art, a suitable construction to express a collection of thoughts that I felt were worth sharing. Of course, the forms and colors used, and the composition may invoke a different set of emotions, and thoughts, that may manifest in a different interpretation, which is not incorrect, as there is no "correct" way to perceive, it just is, it is what it is.

  • Ruminations of a Dying Soul

    Many believe that we humans must undergo two deaths. One happens the moment our heart stops beating, the other comes when our name is spoken for the very last time. Such dreadful certainty served as inspiration for this entry. Now, let us wade through a few necessary lines of exposition so that, once proven unfounded the dangers posed by waters we are yet to know, we may properly dive into the story at hand. In the realm of Fallondal, where mortals battle endlessly for dominion, every being that dies in combat is forever bound to its cause. As such, they shall renounce their place at the Havens of Strifeless Rest, choosing instead to return to Fallondal as Warden Souls- radiant holders of immense power who fight on as guardians of their still-breathing brethren. Although formidable, Warden Souls are not immortal. As with any other soul, they can only exist for as long as they are remembered by the living. Additionally, a rival soul that matches their power is capable of striking them down. Either cause will lead to the same result. The Warden Soul, and all memory that ever existed of it, will vanish from existence. This story follows such a dreadful scenario. ____________ I beg you not to show despair when you see the many wounds upon my body, old friend. They are nothing compared to the damage we have inflicted upon Emperor Nomoethon's forces. If you want to offer any aid to me, then all I can ask of you is to sit down and listen to my words as we share the momentary peace that our victory has earned us. Good. Now that we are settled, I would like to ask: Do you remember ever hearing about the concept of Preemptive Remembrance? Not too sure? I do not blame you… As I told you long ago, Preemptive Remembrance is something that we work towards, be it consciously or unconsciously, from the moment we become conscious of our existence until the day in which our body falls unconscious for the very last time. This Remembrance I speak of is built on how we interact with others while alive. Family, friends, brothers in arms- those we hold closest to our hearts, those we strive to protect from our enemies, and those who are inspired by the tales of our prowess; we provide them all with memories of ourselves. It all works itself into a system where, upon rising from its vessel of flesh and bone, our soul has preemptively acquired enough remembrance to become a vessel for the memories built throughout its life cycle. That brings us back to my wounds, unfortunately. What you are seeing me bleed is Remembrance in its purest form- as palpable sustenance for this celestial body. Every drop that drips from my chest contains a memory of me. This puddle at my feet may just be every vague thing that a dozen minds once knew of me. Touch it, and you might feel a comment from a younger me slither through your ears. Very soon, it will all be lost forever. Oh no, my friend! Do keep on remembering that I was all but humble in life, but accuse me not of forgetting what a martyr’s death has taught me. My Remembrance and its significance have nothing to do with the ambition with which I once sought to establish an eternal legacy. The memories that we Warden Souls leave on the living before our deaths matter to all of us. In essence, they are what grant each of us our divine vitality- a vitality that is entwined so delicately with our Remembrance that if you are to remove one, then the other will promptly follow into oblivion. Do not ask what I mean by such a statement and ask yourself this instead: What do you think will happen when there is no Remembrance left for me to bleed? When all memories of me vanish from the minds of every mortal being in Fallondal? Well, my friend, the answer is that my soul must vanish as well. Where I will go, if there shall even be a destination, I cannot be certain. No one can, no one ever will, and that is how it must be. If we knew the answer to every "And then?", there would be no thrill in asking or waiting to find out, do you not agree? If you were to agree, then you would not look so mournful right now. Lift your chin and cheer up for me a bit, will you? I would prefer my final moments to be entrenched in an attentive gaze rather than a soulful one. I promise you that any grief you now feel will not outlast the time it takes for a leaf to… fall… I… I feel tired now. So very tired… Could you please help a friend lie down? Oh, thank you. You are too kind, listening to what a soul like me has to muse about. Your attention brings me back to a time when I was still alive. Our apprenticeship days at the Ulloriel citadel, where you and I were but thorns in that old blacksmith’s side. I enjoyed her tales of battles and journeys across the Umber Seas, but I could never find the patience required for her lessons and those never-ending, ever-so-bitter lectures of hers. You, my friend? You had your ears perked for every word she spat. It’s no wonder the sharpness of your swords eventually out-mastered that of her tongue. You say that you cannot recall my presence at that time in your life… To lose such an early memory of us together can only mean that you are moments away from forgetting everything about me. No, please. Your devotion touches me deeply, but these forces are outside our control. Try as hard as you may, you will still forget me. Only a soul is allowed to remember those who have been subject to these sorts of untimely vanishments, and as old as you may be, know that you are still many battles away from joining your ancestors. I insist there is nothing to be done. But know that there is nothing for you to fear, either. Once I am gone, it will be as though I had never been here, to begin with. You will not mourn me. After all, one only mourns in memory of the dead. Not for a life that, by all accounts, never came to be. Yes, it feels dreadful indeed. Why must we die twice? And why must our souls be snuffed out so thoroughly? You might think that way, but you would be sorely mistaken in calling this method unfair or cruel. I can only consider it merciful. I said that, right? Erasing all memory of a dying soul is an act of mercy. If you do not believe me, think of how, with death's embrace, we are promised a reunion with everyone we have lost. How crushing would it then be to know that one of your kin will not be there to guide you as you oar into the Havens of Strifeless Rest? That the one you love will not be there to share an eternity of peace with you? Or, if you were to die in combat, that you and an old friend will never be granted the chance to battle side by side once more, now as eternal guardians of your people? Your eyes alone show the devastation brought on by the prospect of my departure, so I hope you understand my solace in knowing that your grief will not be prolonged until the end of your days… That your mortal psyche will be spared the weight of my complete and utter loss. My time is near… It is not fair on my part to keep my rambling going and going, rarely pausing to let you converse in these last minutes we have left. If I am perhaps talking too much, it is only because I cannot help but fear the oppressing quiet that could be lurking past the threshold that my soul now stands at. Will there only be a void where silence is law and sleep is unending? Or perhaps, once there is no trace left of who I am, my spirit will be forged into a new being? Pushed into a new body and granted a new life to live? I ponder those two options and find it hard to see any difference between them. We may be reborn, and still, we remember nothing from our past lives. Would that not be a sign that, after being forgotten, our old selves did indeed face that nothingness we all fear so much? What change does it make if, each time I am reincarnated, I have no recollection of what it was like to once take part in existence? Oh, forget it... There is no point in thinking my way around the inevitable. What I am now will disappear, no matter if any future lives await me… I can only thank you for being here to listen, my friend. You have lent me your ears so kindly that I wish I could deliver anything of value for them to hear without the memory of it being short-lived. I… I suppose I should still try. Havens know you deserve my best efforts… Very well, if the whim of fate grants you only one thing to remember from our talks, let it be this. The Remembrance that we build up throughout our lives can last a thousand years, and yet, on some unbidden day, it will nevertheless die and take our souls with it. But as dwindling as our stay in the memories of the living can be, its effect can never be erased. Even if the names of most of our fallen soldiers were lost in the fog of endless wars, the legends they have built would forever accompany us on the battlefield. It is in honour and memory of their sacrifice that our hearts beat with pride and our chants make riots out of enemy formations, for our ancestors’ presence is as mighty and undeniable as the myriad crags that guard our great Hallingher Kingdom. Similarly, no matter how little of me you will be allowed to remember, know that our bond, forged as we grew older and shared even after I joined the ranks of the Warden Souls, has shaped us both into who we are in this very moment. In the vast course of existence, there is and will always be a point where you and I fought side by side, in body and spirit, and unlike with your memory, nothing can shape or alter that past to remove me from it. By the Havens... I hadn’t even noticed. My hands have vanished… And this lack of visibility is crawling up my arms… This is it, my friend. Once I disappear, you will wake up, and this will all feel like a strange and distant dream, one that you’ll promptly discard when your captain summons you for your duties. I cannot feel my wings. Are they also gone by now? How-... How long do I have left? What more can I tell you? Oh, yes- yes! There’s one more thing I must ask of you, my friend... I assume that, after you, I am meant to be the last soul to forget who I was. So, could you please focus your mind solely on my name so that you may whisper it before nothing is left of me? I want that to be the last thing I hear. Of course, you remember it. You used to say that never in a million lives would you ever name a child after me until my death changed your mind. Yes, that one! Please say it loud and clear before my ears fade away… I can barely hear your voice now… And I am awfully tired… What comes next? Will I fall asleep or open my eyes to Fallondal once more? Will my awareness be gone forever, or will it follow into a new life? So many questions… I’m glad to be with you as I ponder them, my deepest friend. I hope you wake up with the blissful promise of a new dawn… Of another day to be alive... Did you say something? That was my name I heard, wasn’t it? Oh, thank you… Thank you… Yes… Yes- my name was Aliashtar! I’d almost forgotten...


    When everyone wept, my face remained bare. People in shock, still in pain Grieving the child that was lost that day. A numb state of mind Beats the agonizing pain. To me the day was ordinary, it was all the same Insanity running vulgar with not one person to blame. But, might I ask... What do you see when you look at me ? Nappy? Ignorant ? Ghetto ? a Gangster ? an Enemy ?— Reckless ?! Im a nigg— Back, BOP! Back, BOP! Head, SHOT! Back, BOP! He got SHOT— We a target ? You got us by a string and never let go. And inch us on so we won’t feel the string As if we’re free Get too comfortable, so you snatch us back. Take back control. So we wear a white tee and jeans So it’s easier to see the blood runnin’ down the seam For only the court to deem “not guilty” I surrendered a long time ago Our fate was written in stone. As I wait, I wear a white tee every day Just enough to become a tired cliche.

  • Hope

    Hope is something that connects us with each other. We all connected in some way with one another, just like a hope.

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