Domestic Lover

Nahian Jamal Joyeeta

Domestic Lover - Illustration for Nahian Jamal Joyeeta

We share a bed and a window: 
The countertop and sink too.
Some days we fight over the spatula, 
On others, we spoon on the sofa. 

The lipstick stains on your shirt aren’t often mine, 
But you know I usually don’t mind. 
The nights that you come home close to dawn, 
I smell the Chanel and Dior on you, the whiskey wafts off your yawn. 

I hold you close still 
’cause I got nowhere to go: 
I am too used to the comfort 
of the “home” that you let me borrow. 

We share the TV screen but never the remote; 
You don’t play my songs when we’re down on the road. 
I sit there with you in the photo frame, but the lock screen belongs to another, 
When asked, “Who’s calling you,” you say, “Just my domestic lover.”

With our domestic love we plant flowers, buy furniture and paint the walls, 
Our domestic love follows us in echoes through the bathroom, kitchen and halls. 
Domestic love, domestic love,
That’s all that we are- 
Your towels still hang beside mine, because
“Old habits die hard.” 

Sir, this is a Wendy’s

Onindita Sarker Onadi

Contains themes of self-harm and abuse.
Reader discretion is advised.

As I pluck thorns out of my
Broken body,
Filled with bee stings and hands
And liquid gold;
I levitate on top of the ocean that is you
Refusing to be devoured again.

Yet my hands are weak;
My legs are cramped;
My audacious mind is running to places I cannot fathom.
But I refuse to drown in you,
Or get eaten alive.
I refuse to beg for your love
Or anyone else’s.
For I am worthy of love
And I will be loved.

Sir, This is a Wendy's - Illustration for Onadi

Drops of blood on the floor.
Like a hibiscus, in full bloom..
Scattered, in the aftermath of all we had.
In the homilies and hymns
Of the blissful silence,
The marks on my skin
Self-inflicted bruises and battle scars
Shaped in a perfect blossom
Remind me that I am alive.
I am alive with you,
And without you.

Farewell

Abraham Junaid

Farewell - Illustration for Abraham

Thrice that week the shadow dawned
And turned out naught but curtain-sway.
She peered once more, now withdrawn;
No diamonds in the Milky Way.
A silent string of pearly flies
Slung along in rows of four,
Go to-and-fro her rusty door,
Illuminating the starless sky.

Along her hallway, termites ticked,
The stairwell missed chunks of wood;
All forlorn in that neighbourhood,
A footstep near the bed-door clicked.
The low moon snug behind her lawn And cast a shadow thwart the tree;
But soon after, the moon was gone
To dark clouds, roaming purpose-free.

A greyish light embraced her Shawl,
First of morning, with the sun veiled:
The well-lit blaze had all but failed
To penetrate the cloud-filled Wall.
The shadows’ now hidden away, Replaced with sounds of gloomy birds
Which almost sound like spoken words;
None more than vibrant disarray.

She wept as sunlight spread galore,
She wept till sundown came and left;
She wept till night, and then some more,
Her eyes desiccated, her soul bereft.
The low moon once again she’d see,
Anonymously pouring dimmer lights;
Concealing all the night-fowl flights
Until the black clouds once more set free.

Atop her bed, beside her fan,
A bat chewed on its foreign prey;
The sticky outpour then began
And left new traces every day.
The sudden creeping wind smelt strange,
Amidst its unfamiliar Lilt;
Then crashed against the chimes she built
Upon the lonely moated Grange.

Awakened by peripheral sound,
With emptied hope she scanned outdoor.
Through fading howls of a distant hound,
Shaken, she still kept her floor;
For now she knew how ‘lone she lay,
Devoid of love and joy she cried;
She now had no more tears to hide;
Alas, sank back to her getaway.

An hour ere dawn she heard a knock.
Fleeting hopes filled up her sight
She rushed to answer, awed, in shock;
The rustling trees absorbed the light.
A shrieking mouse canoe’d her tour;
She tripped upon the softened edge
That formed upon her floorboard ledge
And flung ajar her worn-out door.

Whispered she, “my life was dreary;”
“He never came,” she said.
She wept: “I am no longer aweary,
For soon, I shall be dead”.

Farewell - Illustration for Abraham

Atop her bed, beside her fan,
A bat chewed on its foreign prey;
The sticky outpour then began
And left new traces every day.
The sudden creeping wind smelt strange,
Amidst its unfamiliar Lilt;
Then crashed against the chimes she built
Upon the lonely moated Grange.

Awakened by peripheral sound, With emptied hope she scanned outdoor.
Through fading howls of a distant hound,
Shaken, she still kept her floor;
For now she knew how ‘lone she lay,
Devoid of love and joy she cried;
She now had no more tears to hide;
Alas, sank back to her getaway.

An hour ere dawn she heard a knock.
Fleeting hopes filled up her sight
She rushed to answer, awed, in shock;
The rustling trees absorbed the light.
A shrieking mouse canoe’d her tour;
She tripped upon the softened edge
That formed upon her floorboard ledge
And flung ajar her worn-out door.

Whispered she, “my life was dreary;”
“He never came,” she said.
She wept: “I am no longer aweary,
For soon, I shall be dead”.

Plastic Wrapped Bodies

Saad Hasib

Contains themes of death.
Reader discretion is advised.

I think about death a lot.
I think about what will happen after I die.
No, not about me, I’m not that self-centered.
I think about my potted plants,
My clothes are still left to dry,
Oh, no is it going to rain, I’d have to dry them again—oh wait I’m dead.
I think about my room
I imagine this 4 walled box, high ceilings, single window, a broken mirror
Which sits all day and collects dust.
It’s not like I could ever bring myself to clean it.

Plastic Wrapped Bodies - Illustration for Saad

I hoard a lot of trash, mostly plastic toys and blurry polaroids.
Fragments of some distant memories I didn’t know I had like-
A photo of me and my best friend, from when we were 6
A plastic car, my first hot wheel.
A broken comb, my mother used to do my hair.
I think I left the gas on.
Oh, no who’ll feed the cat
But wait, I don’t have a cat
But who’ll feed the stray that lives in a cardboard box right behind my apartment?

I know.
I know I overthink, the aftermath of bad decisions I subconsciously take.
The truth is I don’t know what happens after I die.
Do I get buried beside my aunt?
Or maybe they never find my body.
Do they throw away my clothes,
Or do they give them away
Does my pillowcase still smell like me
My bedsheet still tucked, my bed empty
I know the earth will swallow me whole, my bones will feed the trees.
And I feel comfort in knowing I won’t ever be found again.

Where am I?
What do I become?
Do you remember me?
Please remember me.

we’ll be beautiful

Ashab Tanha

We'll be beautiful illustration for Ashab Tanha

my shadow creaks like an old house—
lived in and loved; my shadow, darker every day,
runs across the shifting floor spilling life, raging light.
i wonder why i bother using words at all
when i can’t use them as well as you.
i’ve watched myself disappear but this
is resurrection. your shaking hands, enough
to put the pieces back in place and hold me
in an embrace so fickle that it breaks with the day.
but you said, “look at me, stay with me, we’ll be okay…”
you know, time passes differently for us.
clocks tick the same but when i tick where it hurts
it’s always my metaphors. if time was water,
you’d be ice, and i’d be the heat
of the moment and you’d be flowing again,
you’d be glowing in this strange darkness,
this creaking shadow, my lunar eclipse;
my emotional ammo. now that we’re comrades
in a war we’ve lost so many times before,
the dust can finally settle in our hearts.
the rusty blade of my shadow cuts deep.
my shadow breathes, my shadow creaks.
my shadow blisters into a forehead kiss.
my shadow, dark. my shadow, darker.
my shadow/your heart.
you look tired. hold me. and rest. we’ll be okay.
we’ll be okay.

We'll be beautiful illustration for Ashab Tanha

Half-past

Mastura Tasnim

Every year, the same story
Some man, and his glories
While you shrink to half
And pay back retributions in glass
Fictional characters flit about in your dreams
Some real ones that you’d rather lose by now
If life’s game is in the crescent moons
And half-mast sails
Peering through the rudder hulls
Then yours is on a wheelbarrow, trudging along

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
Or a woman cowered
Or a woman ignored
Hell hath no women
They’re all standing mute on the corridors in between
Signing greeting cards
Wafting vacuous air hostess smiles
Ushering in the next great big legends of the world
A passing muse, a footnote in history

Half-past illustration for Mastura

In a small country far away, a father leans into the crib and says
“Your dreams are my dreams and my dreams are your dreams and no one can take them away”
Marriage rituals abound
Baby showers float into the vision
There’s a million balloons to partnership
A lifetime choice award for an engagement ring
Thousands of lillies strewn about on a proposal floor
That you better cross
If you’re worthy

Parties stop
Kandallah calls
An ear falls off heaven and listens to the ground
If you’re worthy

Isobel, The Fortune Teller

Tanjila Akter Mim

Now that she is gone
Shall I have my fate redrawn?
Raise my flag in grief
Prepare-
For Fourteen hundred sixty lonely dawns

Instead-
If I let the matter slide
Will I be taken down by tide?
Build myself a raft
Wander-
Till I can find what I was denied

Or-
Should I build a home alone;
Carve a statue with my bone?
Paint her face in song
Oh, Isobel!
Tell me-
My Lover! Is she gone?

Isobel, the fortune teller - Illustration for Tanjila

Love is a Grave

Alisha Hossain

Love is A Grave - Illustration for Alisha

In spite of the same tale retold several times,
we do not have to be lovers to be bonded for life.
I crave a deeper knowledge of human intimacy, one which refuses to be reduced to mere romance. But fear and I are woven together in dance. She whispers against my ear that you will not understand. That lies must leave my lips to make you stay.

If you knew how I want to bury my nails
into your flesh
If you knew how I wish to settle
beneath your skin
If you knew how I longed
to make a home out of each rib—

Would you run away?

We are alone in a forest which treats us as small and insignificant. You are telling me that love is fleeting while ignorant of my feelings.

For devotion is a burden which bleeds upon those being worshipped.

Thus your eyes watch me dig my own grave.
You ask me why I want to be buried. I cannot speak. I look at my nails caked with dirt instead.

For I would rather fill my lungs with soil than have you vanish.

As I sink,
I envision it is your soul and not the ground which takes me in. That, it is your tenderness and not the grime which coats my cheek.

I pretend that if just one more lie escapes my mouth—this papery thin thread between us will not snap.

rose-tinted

Nawal Naz Tareque

Contains themes of rape and abuse.
Reader discretion is advised.

Lingerie tossed aside, callous. A victorious win!
Enthralled fingers scurry south. I
Tense up – ears ringing high with the splat of torn flesh, pink
Tongues swirled tight, he pries my thighs open
Held frozen still, it is the grasp of the rabbi
Amplified. Not here, I plead. My mother knows-
Teeth graze upon my neck, desperate pleas caught
Slowly dissipate. Nails dug deep as my vulva
Insists, demands, begs for it to stop. Ah!
Not so fast, he declares with another shove. I start,
Knowing it’s futile for me to even expect
It to grow tired – the innocent monster with its salacious glare
Never listens, never notices; ravenous, he will only compel.

Rose Tinted illustration for Nawal - 01

Touch Screen

Nusaibah Yunus

Remember when we were two kids
Barely teens, walking around with big dreams-
We’d promised ourselves we’d fly to each other
No matter where we landed?

You’re far away now
And like a autumn-turned-winter’s day
The cold settles into your heart.
The days we spent battling time zones,
And the years of comradery now bygones;
I know exactly how it went from us to just me. 

Touch Screen - Illustration for Nus

Who would’ve thought that it would end up
Entirely for naught—
And as I erased your spot in my heart,
The teardrops fell onto my screen.

It’s funny how you think
That you’re not wrong,
That everything is alright 

No more, no more, 
To myself I swore
“I will not be a doormat.”

From this path of dismay,
I will bring to end
The block button is pressed—
You are no longer my best friend.