A Stranger and Plath
I lie on the upper berth of this train
peeking at the lady on the lower
as she reads Plath.
She looks outside the window
every time Plath mentions death
as if gasping for air.
I want to tell her
her highlighted lines from the book
resemble the poet’s tomato soup cake recipe
that tastes like my grandmother’s lasagna—
alive yet dead, inside out.
I want to tell her
her sketch of the poet’s chestnut brown hair lock
stands out as a portrait of the artist
as I picture her—
young and feminine and creative.
I want to tell her
her desperate sobs after every poem she reads
sound like the hauntingly sweet melody
I imagined for the poet’s recordings—
rough and raw and real.
I climb down and show her
her tightened fists, my moons inside my palms,
her floral dress, my flowers on my thighs,
her Sylvia Plath, my poems in my diary.
and I come back to my place, crying,
to caress my dead seeds; she calls me,
but I stay, I stay, until I sleep
for one hour or five.
and when I wake up, my lady has left,
my seeds are missing; I reach home,
my dead fig tree is blooming.
Shifali Gulati is a literature student, poet, writer, and editor from India. Her fiction and poetry have been published in magazines such as Delhi Poetry Slam and Everything Literati. She aspires to launch her own literary magazine in 2021.
The air is lighter than ever
With hair above your lips, the air is a bit lighter.
Purple flowers. Beetle eyes. Clavicle.
The windows look like flotation devices,
rectangular in the concrete of air,
the touch finally see-through, a little less dense on the skin,
more ancestral than ever, rivers closer to skies,
souls heavier — underbellies waiting to shed.
There was no one at the window.
White and fetal yellow with eyes picked out and scrambled —
lizard eggs tumble down, roll across easy gaps.
Not hills. They were never hills.
Just valleys waiting to be crossed.
An easy trek. The air is lighter than ever.
Kalyani Bindu is an Indian writer and researcher, and author of Two Moviegoers. Her poems and essays have appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Ethos Literary Journal, New Asian Writing, Variant Literature Journal, Madras Courier, Muse India, Modern Literature, the Indian Express, and others.
The Unburnt Toast
Unravel the mystery of the half-burnt toast
a slice of brown bread that couldn’t succumb to fire.
One day you’ll know what it means.
A pale, brown woman with unkempt tresses
walks along the pavement. The asphalt and concrete cracked with age:
a barren thoroughfare of desires — a road to hell in-the-making
Her black eyes look around —
the remnants of a half-eaten apple look tempting.
She hides it secretly inside her cleavage —
a feeble attempt at a brutal revenge —
those once altruistic soldiers become mannequins.
My poor Pakistani mother in a slum
now has apple as a weapon to express her rage
They say have patience — you will get the aid you deserve.
Don’t they know the toast has burnt and the jam is now wet?
First published by Stone of Madness Press.
Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published on quite a few platforms including Poetry Village and Poetry Pacific.
Life’s Grave Philosophy
A raven was shot dead; my father killed it.
Its family, friends, and relatives circled around.
Their mass crowing was their mass mourning.
They prayed for the departed soul and perched
On the leafless Neem-tree-branches spread in the yard.
Some of them were still circling around
While father prepared the rifle for the next shot!
Now he was ready; the rifle made a loud report.
Two more ravens fell in the yard in a crumpled heap.
Family, friends, and relatives flew off from the tree,
They groaned and mourned like human beings do,
Their screeching heaving the environment weirdly!
The second tragedy made the first one far less painful,
The ravens dispersed, realizing life’s grave philosophy.
Ziaul Moid Khan is a speculative fiction author and a romantic poet. His work has been featured in Better Than Starbucks, Bards and Sages Quarterly and Literary Orphans. Zia teaches English, residing in Rajasthan with wife Khushboo, and son Brahamand. Email him at email@example.com.
A bar. The red in Tim’s mother’s glass
disappears. Hit me again, she says.
A bar. Tim shall look after himself.
A blur. The tire swing replaced every summer
wets the muddy ground with its rain
soaked shadow. Tim blurs away in
his eyes. I am late. I should be there
with those underaged beers I promised.
We have toy revolvers that look like
a heady mix of black and clotted blood.