Before I forget

Venessa Kaiser

I keep telling myself
how you had a bad day
you really did not mean
what you had to say
But I am trying to keep myself
from realizing that you
have chosen not to care.
consciously did not spare
flooding my mind with
the salt you spilled on my scars
Of how you have managed to enclose
my generosity behind bars
I cannot be your epiphany of consolidation
A felicity of human emotion

I don’t think there’s a name for it yet
to say goodbye to you before you already left
to let your heart be stolen from
you when you could’ve prevented the theft
to be surprised by something
you already knew to expect
By the time the clock strikes
a brief moment beyond, too late
I will reconsider holding you back
I will rethink my fate
Cause if I am being honest at this rate

The way you respond
was enough to convince myself
that saying how I felt
was saying too much
it takes courage to give
more love than what I
have been given
& I know someday
you’d wake up not feeling like
you need me
& trust me when I say this I am ready
to let you go.

Before I Forget - Illustration for Venessa

One Day

Ikram Hossain Akif

Contains themes of violence.
Reader discretion is advised.

One Day Illustration for Ikram

Leaves fall silently;
bright rays gleam as they wither and die,
crushed mercilessly by joyous children
and adults alike
“A crunchy one!” they exclaim.

The paintbrush snaps;
broken wood and plastic clatter to the floor,
in a mess of paint and dreams
and blood
“Another F!” she yelled.

The door slams shut;
skin crawls to even breathe the same air,
the panic deafeningly loud, unstoppable
and addictive
“One day” I whisper.

Dishes clatter to the floor;
a million perfect pieces of china,
crying out at once, but not enough to drown out
the screams
“Throw that phone away!” she snapped.

Warmth pours over me;
blanket as safe as a dream forgotten,
overborne by care, concern, and tenderness
true and undying
“For today,” I muttered.

The world zips by;
it ran as I struggled to breathe,
shackles on my feet, drowning, fighting
dying
“How much more?” I begged.

Thunder strikes loud and bright;
skin scorching as blood ebbed and flowed
loudly, pain coursing in my veins
and anger
“No more,” He replied

The storm rages on;
shackles melted away as I let go
of the wheel, fueled by slow, torturous rage
He took over
“My turn” He sneered.

Like music to my ears,
the screams echoed the room,
anger, then disbelief, then all her fears,
she saw her doom.

Fists hit flesh and bone;
they scar, they break, they turn to mush,
the disbelief in her eyes, the sheer surprise,
in the blood-ridden walls I find solace
and peace
“Let that sink in” We sigh,
in relief.

The Phantom Pain

Ahbab Alavi Ishan

Contains graphic descriptions and themes of death.
Reader discretion is advised.

The Phantom Pain - Illustration for Ishan

The sky was purple for some reason,
I suppose I am lucid dreaming and fully aware.
My cousin and I were walking; all I know is that it was a cold season.
His face told me not to leave me alone on such a night, his tone whispered “Beware”

He pulled me away from the middle of the road itself, as a car had just missed me and sped away.
On further inspection of the driver, my late father’s face showed itself, a face of nonchalance and lacking dismay.

In this world you cease to be, yet I feel your absence as if it’s a severed hand,
Since time is just a man made construct or an excuse for feigned misery,
I look everywhere oh so desperately, to pick up and reset the sands.

I stumbled into an abandoned tower, still heavily induced by inner monologue
In my head, guns and knives have replaced flowers.
Shed all the blood you can until you reach the inevitable epilogue.

To my surprise, the tower only holds mirrors,
No ghosts, no demons, only my reflection lies there.
The phantom pain of you appears to be my only terror,
Reality sinks in and I once again wish to be unaware.

Shapes of your heart

Syed Raian Abedin

Mustered in leaves and left
With your eyes closed, a trance you lulled yourself into
Your thoughts in the seven shaped this tree,
Underneath it, the abyss:
Hospice for the vagrant.

A frail touch, and silence
The depths of which stretched beyond me
I feel a hug, approaching as slow as the soil at my feet
If only avenoir had let me see
All the sides of time, condensed in one
I would not have left yours
When the heart-shaped leaves took you too.

Shapes of your heart - illustration for Raian

But even with this corse sinking deep
I see you at the darkest ends
Hung by the neck
On flowering ropes, I see you smiling
For nirvana was no longer a transient dream.

Can I be you
Sinking into this gelid embrace?
Where is the warmth of your smile
Is your bodhi tree a lie?

My World in Ashes

Shazmeen Haq

I found heaven in her eyes
Until all I could see were lies
My world was all hers.
And I fell apart in tears,
Which can never quench
Nourish, harbour and drench
The flowers who saw
The hopeless romantic’s flaw.

I recall the heart-shaped bubbles
The sweet spring in doubles,
When we ran in laughter
Feeling euphoric after.
My butterflies loved you
So did the sing-song sparrow.
You were my personal sun
I thought you were the one.

My maiden of grace
Left me in disgrace.
From the beginning I knew
That I would be dyed in blue
Trying to chase after your love
Which I was unworthy of.
I don’t have the will to go on
To envision a new dawn

My world in ashes - illustration for Shazmeen

permanence

Arwin Shams Siddiquee

Contains implications of abuse.
Reader discretion is advised.

there are creases on the plastic covering on our old dining table,
and it’s yellowing softly in a few places
because my brother is a messy eater,
and the stains he leaves sometimes are more permanent than mum’s exasperated scoldings.
the stains and creases are here to stay, it seems.

there’s a little burn mark on the armchair in the living room
because my mother can be a little forgetful sometimes
and the hot bit of a mosquito coil keeps moving.
but it’s only a little mark, and no one really notices
except when you know its there –
like most small imperfections.

the switchboard on one of the bedroom walls is still cracked
because my father can’t hold in his anger sometimes.
at least it’s not another one of the fancy mugs
mum likes those, i think, for tea.
but mugs can be replaced;
switchboards too.

Permanence illustration for Arwin

the tiny inkblots on that one tee haven’t washed off and that’s alright
because i haven’t sketched with ink in a while,
and reminders are nice. like tiny time capsules
but only if you were there when they were buried,
and some version of me was.

the scratch mark on my cheek is still there
because even as an infant, my sister had had a strong grip
and it only got stronger. i’m glad her hands grip art supplies now
even if they’re used on my notebooks sometimes.
the colors are there to stay.

The Traveler and The Tree

Mustashfi Mustakim

The Traveler and The Tree- Illustration for Mustashfi

You’ve arrived, traveler?
Come. Sit beneath the vast canopy of my evergreen leaves.
Sit in this soothing shade.
Ascend this throne of soft clay, my liege!
Lay your head on this bed of green grass, riddled with weeds.
Oh, hermit! This is your sanctuary,
Where you have no reason to fear.
Hence, you may meditate undisturbed, like the recumbent Siddhartha.
Hour after hour,
Day after day,
For a millennium, or even a
Fleeting moment
Stay with me, and near me, as long as you please.

What’s this? Are you leaving?
Very well then! Go wherever your destination is.
Who am I to complain?
After all, I neither have the right nor the ability to stop you from leaving.
And I understood this a long time back.
But don’t you stop, wanderer!
Go! Proceed towards your destination.
You have a long distance to cover.
I shall just remain here, standing alone in this lonesome arbor;
Waiting for another traveler to come this way.
Oh, look! There comes another one.

My red is not your red.

Joyita Faruk

Contains themes of suicide, self-harm and hallucinations.
Reader discretion is advised.

Ah, yes. Color me a red
That you’d rather forget.
A dream you would reclaim-
If not for the searing suns of the west.
Sleep had scurried off, to the drab walls you stare at,
Under disinfected blankets, and towels, and the cloak of regret.

‘How are you, today?’
And- ‘Is it time yet?’

‘To eat or to drink?
Or, to take the pills?’ You say.

‘To blink.
Hey, did you remember to blink today?’

You blink as I ask, eyes hung in dark caves,
Your head finds its nook,
In the same place I’m red.

You pick at the scabs,
Fires blaze in your eye-caves,
‘What ugly drawings.’ You scorn.

‘…Should I draw you instead?’

‘There is no “drawing instead”!
Never draw again, you ungrateful-!’

‘But if I don’t draw,
How can I see you again?!’

I point at the walls. The barren white walls.
The stench of antiseptic-
Permeates my translucent claws.
The truth: That if I don’t color ,
the white lab coats never call you here.

‘Red is the only  paint  I have.’

‘You  are the only  dream  I have.’

My Red - Illustration for Joyita

Then a: Ding!
The scorching sun suffuses me. I dissolve.
Slowly – all sounds muffling weak –
I resort to seeing your howls at my feet.

The white lab coats come.
This time not for me-
It was a long time ago,
That they stopped by my bed.

‘That time was beautiful, right?
When I colored myself red?’

‘No! No, you’re NOT dead!’

The white lab coats sting you.
Bzzzt!
You fall to your bed.

‘Hey, as long as you dream,
I promise I won’t be dead!
There is no reason for you
To try and stain yourself red.’

‘Hey, can you hear me?’

Ah, yes. Color me the red
That never left my bed.
The reality you would regain-
If not for a suffering son’s bequest.

Elegy

Nadera Naeema Ohi

Ma, I didn’t know what to say to you today,
so I’m opening this diary to talk to you.

Sorry I don’t tell you these things in person. It’s just
that I can’t find the words, even when asked.
Some, I hope I never tell you. Not for a lack of trust
but because I imagine it and I am an aurai: 10,000 feet in the air, wings slashed.

Elegy - Illustration for Ohi

Lately, time doesn’t feel very real
I dream of a girl staring through the stained glass of a cathedral, and she has no reflection
… hey, did you ever get off those buses and wish you were back home for another meal?
Hey, how long d’you think the rest of me can survive this room, praying without direction –

Ma, I’m sorry I cried into your neck the other night.
I was thinking of the one certainty we can cling to
and how even after all this time, it is still a darkness so overwhelmingly bright – 
don’t worry about me. Goodnight, I love you.

Mother’s Day

Naveed Hossain

Contains implications of abuse.
Reader discretion is advised.

I’ve been staring blankly at this empty page.
You see, I have been asked to write something in regards to motherhood. 
And to tell you the truth I don’t quite know if I could write something about that or if I should.

And I suppose most people in my shoes would know something or the other to say, 
but to convey my experiences about the matter is a matter that will unveil a pattern of scattered memories that shatter me rapidly that I lose all my sanity and I want to retire me. So forgive me

if it’s a little

painful

to revisit.

Mother's Day - Illustration for Naveed

I’ll be honest: my instinctive response to Mother’s Day is one of diffused apathy, and if you want a reaction out of me, all you’ll get is a lifeless shrug. You see
where I’m from, parenthood doesn’t mean ‘I’m here for you emotionally’, it means ‘You’ll do everything I say, isn’t that right honey?’