HER MIDNIGHT BLACK PIANOFORTE

Nusaiba Yasin

“Wander with me through a forest of pristine harmonies.”

Stepping into the woodland panorama,
A sage-green willow entwines itself into our narrative.
Each footfall ricochets striking against smoke burnt cobblestones,
Molten flickers of marigold sunshine peeps between auburn boughs;
Gossamer fractals of a timeless waterfall bleeds;
Bleeds in through the crevices of forlorn reminiscence.
And amidst all that splendid grandeur;
A midnight black pianoforte dares to stand its ground challenging the laws of ephemeral ruin.

Wistful ivory engravings coil around the pedals of the piano,
Sprawled out sheets of music by the brook embrace her haunting essence;
Every odd nudge at the chipped in keys play a rueful melody,
Each melody summons the ghost of her presence;
The skeletal framework of the pianoforte encrusts despondent breaths;
Breaths that mark the demise of my beloved mother.

“Father moves into the frame with red-hot lanterns and a pitchfork,
He escorts the bad men;
The bad men who stumble through the overgrown shadows of Blackthorn bushes;
They’re here to pluck out the strings from the piano,
And with that – the soul of my departed mother.”

a burning piano

I shield the pianoforte with a screeching defiance,
No one, none at all would massacre the last remnants of my mother.
But, alas!!
I stand in solitude,
A lonesome effigy frozen in front of a pewter tinted wrecking ball.
With each thundering crash, it felt as if I was losing my mother all over again.
I couldn’t save her that night,
“OH, NO!”
Not from those bloodied bad men with crimson red malevolence,
Nor from my father’s unfathomable vendetta towards a gentle breeze of piano tunes.

Seven and a quarter scintillating years later:
I tower over the desecrated shrine of my precious mother,
The final burial ground of her best-loved confidante; her midnight black pianoforte.

Under the sage-green willow tree;
My memories wander through a forest of pristine harmonies.
And at its core a vivacious young girl pirouettes about in a periwinkle gown,
With her mother’s lustrous fingers drifting smoothly across the pearly-white keys
Of her midnight black pianoforte.

Spring Cleaning

Nusaibah F. Yunus

The desk before me is cluttered, and I have decided to clean.
Hidden between the lines of junk I find momentary clarity–
Of what memories mean.

Behold, a jar of feathers, sitting on on the shelf,
Of past companions who have since fell.
A chipped photo frame sits beside,
Holding a rosy cheeked baby inside.
Two sheep made of sheep–As he once said,
Old memories, freshly dredged,
And the art supplies are now disorganized,
And the unfinished journals ask me why
Have I abandoned them?

But you see dearest reader, I
Am not organized, and let me tell you why.
Those feathers remind me of bites and screams,
From two birds who now soar and gleam
Across the rainbow bridge.
They were loved beyond measure,
My heart’s closest animal treasures –
They are in a better place now.

a jar of feathers

The baby is grown now, he is his own person,
Even though our living conditions worsened
The grass became greener once we reached the other side.
He has ambitions and dreams, sometimes it seems
Impossible, that he is almost my height.

The sheep made of sheep,
Dredged with memories and dirt,
Remind me of someone I loved
But that love will never outweigh the hurt
That he caused.
But yet I remember,
The days of December,
And a smile creeps onto my face.

The journals contain photos
And angst art and mementos
Of those who’ve come and gone
In this journey of life,
I remember them and above all
That is why I exist, dearest reader.

This is why my desk is cluttered,
I cannot part with the happiness
Even if they bring pain,
As the storm brews–
Clear skies will come again

Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

Nayara Noor

two cups of hot chocolate

I’d rather have cinnamon in my hot chocolate than marshmallows
I’d rather listen to harps than pianos
And I’d rather dream about you and me sipping our drinks
Our fingers almost touching, but not quite

I’d ask,
Tell me, would you rather be
Exploring all your life to see if there’s something better?
(Or would you walk down this rock-ribbed road with me?)

I’d rather stargaze and take long walks on the beach
Than get stifled by the bustling noise of this forlorn city
I’d rather replay our conversations like an old vinyl record
Than attune my heartbeat to new music

Tell me,
Would you rather be
Convinced that our futures can never be intertwined?
(Or would you weave a new red thread with me?)

I know you’d rather taste the twinkling seconds of today,
Than let tomorrow build its home in your mind
You’ve always disapproved of my incessant need
To look at the future and overlook the present

But if someday you ever ask me
Tell me,
Would you rather be
Hiking in the mountains of an icy land
Or trying to catch everlasting auroras?

(I’d say
I’d rather be sitting with you across the table
drinking cinnamon hot chocolate
While looking at you)

A Touch of Tea

Monishita Shaswati

The glass door deepens
My memory of loneliness
Blocking out the sound of
Freedom, but not forgetting
To flaunt the attire of joy

Your head slumped on the glass door
Mind absorbed in a careless ramble
Picking up words that are not built to
Break my hope, and certainly not the ones
Plucked straight out of your heart

Sipping cold tea on a red hot afternoon
Doesn’t seem to bother you anymore
The gust of wind with gasoline brings out
A nostalgia too pure, too blind, too precious
To be lost in the aftermath of a storm

Bit by bit
You gather up
The misplaced garments
Gamble your sorrows for the
Music that wind up your soul

When my eyes meet yours
They linger on for a little more time
The tea leaves drenched in bubbling
Water meets the warmth of your smile.

a cup of tea

Doe-eyed

Nadera Naeema Ohi

a house at the end of the street

You left me a scribbled note: “Oh my sweet, I live for you”
And I hope that this grief, just once, retreats (I live for you)

He listens to me at night, laughs soft and bright like sunshine
What a wonder it was merely to meet (I live for you)

Seaside cottage, city lights, home together somewhere else
Promise you’ll find me in a quiet street (I live for you)

She sings me our song – another year, another monsoon
Some days I can bear to feel incomplete (I live for you)

All At Sea

Maliha Tribhu

Far across the shore of cherrywine varnished ethers
Quietly sits an albatross awaiting its home.
Hollering for its comrades
To march onto wars,
Waving a ‘hello’ to the sailors who are lost
Shrieking in a constant desperation,
In its yearnings for a haven; a safe haven.
Flapping its tiresome wings upon lilac woven skies
Foraging in depth of the sea.

The sea, in all its depth and deadening silence
Offers no gratitude, no answers
Nor a direction leading somewhere.

The sailors marched by
The clouds, too, floated away and disappeared
The albatross— lost into the abyss,
Its comrades, all martyred beneath the waves.

Despite calling it a home, the sea never responded,
The shores all laid in feathers
Scattered about in a call for help
Treading towards extinction.
— I am all at sea
I no longer call for home,
For ceaseless hours of recurring sundowns,
For my comrades, all those deserted sailors lost amidst the hurricanes.

— I am all at sea
But the sea, too, never bore a home for me.

We’ll be alright

Syed Raian Abedin

a person with their hand on their face

These waters are meant to exist in a single space
Where hopeless endeavors and bludgeoning grief collide
It is here where I’m allowed to give you meaning
“Take shape” I tell you, “take this handful of dust—
And let it bear on you as the only fragment of hope I can give.”
And I send you on your way. In hopes you won’t look back.

————————————————

One thousand dusks later
I am here still with you
With the same dust now dragging you down.
Wearily, you look at me
Your eyes with prescriptions from a long time past.

And for the hundredth time—should memory serve well—
I beckon your farewell
Only to find you returned, tired. But alright.
A twinkling figure emerging from the silence of the world
Back to these waters
You come along.

Nothing to fix

Oikko Rode

In the underground storm shelter
A pipe caught a leak
Droplets fall on metal
One
Two
Three

It’s a beautiful morning
Or after noon
I stopped caring a while ago
But it’s beautiful.
Soft breeze with the ever changing city smell
Soil, petrol, dead animals.
But I feel good this morning
I planned my day the night before
Books, exercise, shower, tv
Beep, ring tones , sirens, car noises
All wrapped in tiny capsules
Background music to swallow it all down.

Nothing is broken,
Nothing to fix,
Four
Five
Six

The book is boring
I’m reading just so I can finish it
Tv is nice
I forgot what I liked about the show I watched a minute ago
But it was nice, I think.
Exercise now
Abs first, then chest then legs
I lie down for my crunches
One big breath in
Now go
I can’t get up
I lay on the cold floor
I’m all out of breath

A shower, yes
Rinse all the fatigue from out of my mind
I’m still all together
I’m still alright
Seven
Eight
Nine

a person laying on a pillow

I stand under the shower
A loud knock on the door
“It’s been half an hour “
“But I just got here”
I snap out of it
I feel embarrassed
I forgot to turn on the faucet.

Today was supposed to be better than yesterday.

I planned and all

Books, social media, exercise, shower

I thought I was getting better.

But
There’s a flood underneath my feet
I feel the water rising
There’s certainly a leak
But where?

I thought nothing was broken.
I thought I fixed them all.

this too shall pass

Saad Hasib

The sunrise is now monotonous
5:34 to 6:56
Every day around this time
It follows a routine as bleak as mine
Most days it rains
The other days it’s cloudy
The month of August, grey as ever.
The sky has lost its touch
It’s barely ever blue
This urban jungle has almost lost all music
Even the daily tunes of
Cars horns and shouting pedestrians,
The ages-old Toyota Corolla
The noise from its broken AC,
The loud exclamations at every passing car
Of the angry hot-headed CNG driver,
All of these have seemingly disappeared.
Hidden now behind a veil
Of mundane, depressing thoughts.
The ruckus of
A bike that just ran over the sidewalk
The alley dog barking at every passing car.
All of which seems to have been long gone.
The desperation of a man stuck
Inside the labyrinth of his mind
Mimics the passengers in their Ubers
Stuck in traffic
The tiny children with their three quarter shorts
Crossing the street drenched in rain.
The smile of youth forgotten,
like the sun every morning the month before,
The cat spends his days sleeping
On the stairway where Apu would sit
On her phone, texting someone she once loved.
And at night the lights no longer stay on
At the bike repair shop
Which used to be
Surrounded by teenage delinquents.
Smoking their cigarettes to catch a whiff of adulthood
And when the sun has finally set
The enthusiasm of working late
Doesn’t seem to be there anymore
Instead, there is a loneliness that is not shared.
Tears that never reach the floor
Or the sounds of which never leave the room.
But it’s okay
I still sleep with my window open
Hoping perhaps the first ray of sunlight,
Hits my face directly.
And that maybe the wind carries with it
The music of escape.
Maybe tomorrow
Chacha will still water the plants
The cloud will still rain cold water
but it will touch almost every leaf in a tree.
Maybe sunrise is still followed by the chirping of birds complaining about their lives.
Even if here and now you lie waiting
Waiting to be held.
Waiting to be free.
And even if here and now
Your life seems bleak,
Maybe the tomorrow morning
You’ll see, dandelions
Which still grows in between the cracks of the cemented pavement.
And maybe tomorrow will be a bit better than today.

It’s a long way to sunset

Abraham Junaid

Dandelion feathers fluttering away

Some say the light is merely an illusion:
An escape from the eternal Darkness of reality;
Carved on the tablets of confusion,
Antithetical to the truth’s profound finality,

Where we live not to dream, to pursue, to thrive;
But to indulge in envy; to compare, and die.
“How far have you come? Already twenty-five…”
Success-shaming is our generation’s lullaby.

Is age just a number? Feels like it’s much more;
The light continues to indicate remaining battery –
Year by year, the blinking fades in certain encore,
And we, masterpieces, waste away, chasing flattery.

The light is no lie. We’ve long made it our truth:
We’ve learned to smile through the pains of childbirth;
And prolong the gifts and blessings of youth;
And celebrate each long revolution of our earth.

We’ve grown so much – we can think, sympathize;
Through the struggles all around, we make time for joy.
We’re each blessed in a way, it’s hard to realize,
But when, in might, it hits, even the hurt we enjoy!

We’ve learned to love, from the depths of our hearts,
And pour our lives out for those we adore;
And grieve our souls dry as each loved one departs;
Yet, with time, find it in us to love once more.

Life is too short to be lived tracing footsteps;
Don’t blueprint someone else’s journey to embark.
Forge your own: it’s still a long way to sunset,
And even longer yet till it gets dark.