Galatea

Written by Aeshna Kumar

My Galatea stands upright.  

The arc of her back is perfect —  

I stand at attention  

when I see her in the doorway.  

She must have soft parts,  

dark, dewy places, loved by worms, but

the doll maker wrought her skin from ivory,

not porcelain.  

Her eyes are cold glass that no  

light can

penetrate,

her glossed lips, always wet,

her lashes, too, are always wet.

She shudders on her back, 

the rose in the heart of her throat as

red as blood.  

Her breaths so shallow,  

she could be dead —

Alabaster statue,  

where do your eyes tip?  

When you turn from me,  

a thousand images dance through my mind

from the medieval to the gothic:  

tarrings, and twisted wrists,

women kneeling in squares, catching

falling clumps of hair —  

I should love you,  

yet I am content 

to lay under a sloe sky and  

eat what strawberries i can pick from the bush.

Aeshna Kumar

Born in Kolkata, India, Aeshna Kumar has lived in many different places in her short life. She is currently based out of Cork, Ireland.

Where Hope Comes From by Nikita Gill: Book Review

Written by Joyce Bou Charaa

In her poetry book, Where Hope Comes From, Nikita Gill provides us with insights into the journey of finding hope in despair, and kindness in chaos. Throughout the book, she explores the different stages of Despair, Reflection, Resilience, and Rebirth. And, within these stages are poems of deep thoughts and feelings undertaken by Gill, and experienced by anybody during the tough years of the global pandemic.

In Where Hope Comes From, Gill compares this journey with a universal phenomenon: the rebirth of a star, where a star is reborn in space, and retakes its light, which is a similar act to any person who rises again from a difficult situation to a better one that would take place in the end of the day.

Nikita Gill’s poems not only reflect the mental and emotional struggle during the coronavirus pandemic, but also reflect the hope and love that we seize in order to survive. Gill talks about death and pain, about her contemplations, loneliness, and thoughts in her self-quarantine, as well as on every aspect the pandemic had caused for the entire world.

Gill explains the early beginnings of the pandemic: how things turned around to ‘‘Shinning screens instead of shining faces’’ as she mentioned in one of her poems. ‘‘All we can do is pray’’ was her response to the way of surviving the pandemic and longing for tomorrow.

Nikita Gill states that hope comes from despair, sadness and chaos. For her, these situations are not considered to be the end of life for anyone, but instead a light will come out of them to bring again joy and happiness into our lives.

One of the most interesting poems that I really liked in the book was called ‘‘Plague Year’’, where Gill talks about how the isolation during the pandemics in history, was a huge motive and an urge behind Shakespeare’s great plays and Newton’s scientific theories that changed the world. Yet here, Gill says that she found no inspiration in the lockdown to create any work or invent new ideas.

This book, which is more of a diary or a personal journal, is a reminder, as Gill repeats in her verses, of the strength of surviving in spite of all the craziness that could surround us at any moment.

According to that, this outstanding poetry book could be a reference for many beautiful experiences and sayings that lighten our way with higher motivations and hopes to stand still and keep moving on.

Joyce Bou Charaa

Joyce is a Lebanese undergraduate English student and a book reviewer whose articles are published in The Mark Literary Review and at Newpages. She has also studied 2 years of Journalism and has intimate knowledge of Arabic English and French languages.

Finding Peace of Mind: ode to Lauryn Hill

Written by Daya Dodson

Photo by Bruno Figueiredo via Unsplash

It was when the heart started to disintegrate from the chest. Where every word, touch, and embrace was recalled until this moment. A frantic and puzzled set of images replaying in a new perspective. No thoughts are left except embarrassment and emptiness.

It was four a.m., pressed against tear-stained pillowcases and hidden under blush-colored blankets. I realized I had lost peace of mind, and a part of myself was gone. All I could do was stare at a phone filled with words of misleading promises and thoughtless validation, hoping to find something lost in those dazed soliloquies. 

It was at four a.m., counting the days since we had last spoken and days since we first met, that I realized I had lost peace of mind.  An anxious individual was searching for a sense of security through inconsistency, hoping that this brief moment of separation was only temporary.  It turns out it was vacillant.

Four a.m., words filled with pain, passion, and prosperity that sang of possibility from Lauryn Hill is what helped set me on my path of finding peace of mind. Someone who understands what it feels like only to feel love from memories because this person you put on a pedestal may now look at you as disposable. Someone who also calls on a higher power to help find forgiveness and forgetfulness because it’s so hard to take back your energy. Someone who can say the words fueled with pain deep down in your chest for you because they understand.

It was three p.m. on the train ride home, watching gentrification turn into isolation, that I started searching for peace of mind. No more endless readings of horoscopes, themed general messages, or promised divine timing would I continue to look. While sitting on a hard plastic seat, the surrounding energy, staring out dirty windows, next to tired faces with mysterious lives, told me to find the mystery in my own life. 

It was three p.m., passing the station I caught on at whenever I would stay the night, I realized I had no other choice but to find peace of mind. So much thought  given to someone who more than likely doesn’t have a thought where I reside. It would only be cruel to entertain further the idea that maybe what I just said wasn’t true. 

After three p.m., those words of pain, passion, and prosperity that sang of possibility from Lauryn Hill are what stopped one less tear from shedding while pulling out of the train station for my daily journey back home. Someone who understands the unhealthy blurred line between a relationship and unwarranted ownership. Someone who has felt how hard it is to trust someone else when you are not sure you even trust yourself. When too many honey-glazed words from your past sound too familiar now and the actions speak otherwise. 

I have got to continue to find peace of mind. 

It was seven p.m, two weeks from a Friday, when I reflected on two weeks filled with soul searching, laughter, and a blend of sad and relieved tears, that I realized that there was peace of mind blossoming in myself again. Woman to woman talks with a loving mother who understood the patheticness I felt helped me change my mindset to look at this as a lesson learned and not a moment of weakness. To love with your fullest is something no one should ever feel ashamed of because it is admirable to have loved and tried than to have never loved or tried at all. 

It was seven p.m. two weeks from a Friday when a notification appeared, not a text, but a last-minute reply to a funny video I sent. There was no need to respond. It takes two to tango, and for my betterment, it was time I stopped dancing. Protection of time and energy was the answer I needed. 

Seven p.m.two weeks from a Friday were the words of Lauryn Hill that healed my broken heart and provided a sense of security. 

To find peace of mind within oneself, one must not allow somebody else to be that peace of mind. When that person, for whatever reason, decides to take that peace away, what do you have left for yourself? Nothing but your vessel of a body because you gave too much.

To find peace is to understand that one is merciful and deserving of second chances because it is always possible. Maybe when a little voice says it’s impossible because it will, listen to some Lauryn Hill. Someone who understands.

Daya Dodson

Daya Dodson is a twenty-two-year-old artist from Stone Mountain, Georgia. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Kennesaw State University. She is currently in school for Film and Media at Georgia State University. She plans to further obtain a doctorate in Creative Writing and become a screenwriter and director. Writing, photography, reading, and painting are some of the hobbies she enjoys when she isn’t studying for school.

Leave your pain here

Written by Alejandra Medina

wedge it between the sidewalks’
cracks and step over them lightly
like a child afraid of breaking


their mother’s back or bury it in
the sock drawer with the mismatched
pairs you swear no one will notice


or stick it into the chorus of that song
the neighbor is always playing,
you know the one (love gone wrong


sung in spanish always sounds
like such fun) or toss it out
the window or entomb it between


the pages of a book or drop it
in the gutter or leave it
between the sheets before you


awaken and pray that it’s gone
by the time you come back,
because sweet dreams never seem


to resume when you most want
them to and (maybe the pain)
maybe the pain is like that

Alejandra Medina

Alejandra Medina is a Latina writer and current undergraduate student, born and raised in the city of Los Angeles, California. Recipient of a Scholastic Art & Writing Award, her work has appeared in several places, most recently Unpublished Magazine and Lucky Jefferson, with other publications forthcoming.

It Started to Rain

Written by Lamarriv

Background Image by Frame Harirak

The light went out. It escaped from that peak moment of shared silences. It started to rain again. I listened as my thoughts were disorganized to the rhythm of a warm strangeness. They were poured over a dark forest of orphan words of syllables. Incessant confusion. A mixture of environments shaded by entities that I barely recognize. And the space that remains between what once was and what only happened in the corner of the blue tale is compromized by the strong absence of hope.

More than a thousand things happened; new people arriving, familiar faces dissipating between the colorful horizon and the imposing sun. However, the constant feeling of dispossession and disorientation does not give any respite.

The wait is prolonged. Continue waiting as a guideline to follow…perhaps to the longed-for or perhaps the unexpected.

Lamarriv

She’s a restless soul who seeks adventurous puzzles through her words and artworks where she can find a space in whose dimension there’s a truce between the mind and the heart.

Geyser Water

Written by Divisha Chaudhry

Background Image by Hannah Xu

The geyser is roasting water.
The water comes out murky, colloidal and yellowish because of that.
So much heat, so much water.
I turn the tap right for shower. Some misty droplets fall on my skin.
Brown, the water turns after meeting my skin.
The water adapts like a chameleon, the water remembers.
It remembers my skin and the heat of the geyser. It adjusts to become favourable for us
both.
But in the process loses its own no-colour. Like plastic.

How would one know if transparent plastic scraps are present in the water supply?
It might taste and smell like plastic I think and give off black fumes when burned. I’d test that after
the shower.
Test by burning water – if it turns black and volatile.
For now, I am remembering this water like it remembers me or some other beings that are no longer
alive. Their memory living in this water’s memory passes onto me.
Telepathy with the dead.
Yes, I am feeling something.
Hair hay wired. Red clothing is my favourite. Bite marks from my pet wolf. Clips fluttering lose. Feet
dangling by the field.
So many voices, so many heads.

Hush, Hush. I turn the tap off, the memories disappear. They’ll trouble me again tomorrow. Or someone else. I grab my white towel off the hook and wipe off the droplets lying solitary on my
skin.
No more dead living memories. No more hot geyser roasted water. I’ll mix the cold and hot
water tomorrow. Maybe that will kill those memories. Good, good idea.

Divisha Chaudhry

A 20-year English [research] student who explores literary arts to channel her thoughts and advocates for Intersectional Environmentalism. Divisha is a wild spirit who is trying to manifest a slow, more present life and still wondering how she has managed to come this far:)

Find Divisha on Instagram

Keeping Up With The Catalans

Written by Nibodh Minikumar

Background Image by Konstantin Evdokimov

FC Barcelona, one of the biggest sporting institutions in the world, now finds itself under what seems to be a mountain of debt. While fans easily point fingers towards Josep Maria Bartomeu (and rightfully so) very few realize the fact that it was the culmination of a destructive political rift in the club that started almost a quarter of a century ago. 

The year 1989 was one of many celebrations for FC Barcelona. Dutch legend Johan Cruyff was appointed the manager of the club. Cruyff’s time at Barcelona was incredibly successful, as Barcelona won four consecutive league titles and a European Cup among other trophies while playing in a style that was given the name ‘total football’. Cruyff’s total football and the Dream Team revolutionized football tactically, cementing Cruyff’s place in the history of the sport. However, serious doubts were cast on his ability following the 4-0 humbling of FC Barcelona by AC Milan in the European Cup final of 1994. Cruyff eventually left the club in 1996, but not before making serious positive changes in La Masia, the club’s academy. Cruyff remained an advisor to the Barcelona board after 1996.

Fast forward to 2003, the Presidential elections of FC Barcelona were taking place. Joan Laporta, a young lawyer was elected the President while Sandro Rosell was elected Vice President. Laporta and Rosell had a big task at their hands. The club hadn’t won a major trophy since 1999 and had to deal with the exodus of many important players, most notably Luis Figo and Ronaldo Nazario who complained about a lack of respect towards them from the then board. Barcelona’s finances weren’t well off either, and the booming success of arch-rivals Real Madrid under Florentino Perez made Barcelona’s image worse. Laporta and Rosell started their work with the appointment of Frank Rijkaard as head coach. The club then managed to sign Ronaldinho, after their other targets David Beckham and Thierry Henry declined Barcelona’s offers. Rosell’s acumen and connections brought in Deco and Samuel Eto’o to the club to join a new-look FC Barcelona. La Masia, meanwhile, produced players like Xavi, Puyol, Valdes, and Iniesta, all youngsters who grew up learning Cruyff’s way of the game. 

Despite initial criticisms and a poor 2003-04 season, Barcelona won the league title in 2004-05. In June 2005 however, Rosell resigned as vice president, stating that Laporta was being too authoritarian and no longer adhered to their combined plan for the club’s growth. This rift would light the slow-burning fuse to the downfall of Barcelona. Laporta was re-elected as president in 2006 as the club secured another Champions League title. 

By this time, Rosell had become a vocal critic of Laporta and Cruyff but refrained from contesting in the elections in 2006. In 2008, Laporta barely survived a censure motion, which he accused Rosell of bringing up. The year saw Rijkaard’s dismissal and the appointment of the relatively inexperienced Pep Guardiola as head coach, a decision made by Laporta as per the advice of Cruyff. The decision turned out to be the right one, as Guardiola’s Barcelona swept Europe away winning all available trophies that season, which boosted Laporta’s image among the socis of Barcelona. Laporta’s run would come to an end in 2010 when Rosell was elected President. 

Sandro Rosell’s first decision as President was to strip Cruyff off the title of Honorary President, a move that created much backlash among the fans and socis. However, the team’s performance on the pitch silenced his critics. Guardiola departed in 2012, bringing an end to a glorious era. 

The dark side of Barcelona’s financial deals started with the signing of Neymar in 2013. What had been initially considered a crowning jewel in Rosell’s presidency turned out to be his downfall. After weeks of evading questions about the transfer fee, Rosell told the media a figure of €57.1 million. Intense scrutiny followed, and Rosell resigned in January 2014 after judge Pablo Ruz ordered a hearing to investigate Rosell over the accusations of misappropriation of funds. Josep Maria Bartomeu took over as President, following which the actual figures of the transfer were finally found. Of the €57.1 million, only €17.1 million had gone to Santos, the club Neymar was signed from, while the rest went to the company N&N owned by Neymar’s father. It was further revealed that other payments were made in connection with this transfer, bringing the total money spent to a total of €86.2 million. Rosell was jailed without bail for misappropriation of funds in 2017. The investigation spread over to Bartomeu, but he managed to come out unscathed and solidified his position as club president. 

The signing of Luis Suarez in 2014 and the treble win of the 2014-15 season were positives for Bartomeu. However, performances of club legends Xavi and Iniesta were declining. Xavi left the club in 2015. The 2015 title win would also prove to the last time Barcelona would win the prestigious trophy. Barcelona’s exits in the following seasons were met with intense criticism of the team’s performance and the board’s management. 

In 2017, French club Paris Saint-Germain, backed by the financial might of Qatar, paid the €222 million release clause of Neymar Jr. Facing heavy criticism and now armed with a huge sum of money, Bartomeu attempted to strengthen the squad, but the lion’s share of the money, €105 million, went into the signing of French winger Ousmane Dembele. However, Dembele spent a majority of his time injured and unavailable, driving Bartomeu to find another replacement for Neymar. In January 2018, FC Barcelona signed Brazilian attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho for €142 million, but the move was criticized by many since Coutinho wouldn’t fit the team tactically, and neither was he a proper replacement for Neymar. Barcelona’s troubles in the Champions League continued, and Bartomeu once again went into the market and signed Antoine Griezmann, a move that was met with criticism once again and exposed the inability of the board to make good sporting decisions. 

Meanwhile, the club’s finances had also taken a hit due to the mindless spending by Bartomeu and the extremely high wages various players were on. The club has now accumulated over a billion euros of debt. Bartomeu was eventually jailed for a defamation campaign against Messi, among various allegations of tax fraud, leaving behind a broken Barcelona. 

As of today, Laporta is back as president, and Barcelona seemed to be moving in the right direction with the signings of Aguero, Depay, and Garcia, following a €500 million loan from Goldman Sachs.  However, Bartomeu’s poor financial decisions have caught up with Barcelona. As per La Liga rules, Barcelona must reduce its annual wage budget by about €200 million to register the new signings, and more importantly, renewing the contract of Messi. 

Barcelona’s predicament has often been compared to that of AC Milan, and it certainly does seem to be the case for the Blaugranas, at least for the next few years.

Nibodh Minikumar

Nibodh Minikumar is an engineering student at Vellore Institute of Technology, Vellore. He likes to spend his time writing short stories and essays on sports and history among other things.

Honeysuckle

Written by Duckie Harwell

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

Mama used to love me once upon a time. Before my hips grew out, and my voice grew loud. Back when I hid behind her legs in the grocery store, too shy to come out from the safety of the back of her knees. 

A child’s biggest comfort lies within the joints of their mother. The places few ever touch. A joint is a hinge, and my mother the door. 

I think of my mother’s love when I’m stung by a bee. The stinger embedded in my skin, the poison seeping in. A wound made out of desperation for survival. 

My mother wanted my survival to lie with her. 

A piercing prick from an insect

It resurfaces a memory.

Mama hands me honeysuckle. The small, soft orange bloom a trumpet between my fingers. The scalloped edges grazing my wrist. I turn it and suckle at the bottom, its sweet nectar falling onto the tip of my tongue. It tastes like summer and sugar. Little drops of sunshine. I imagine them falling like raindrops in the morning mist, melting into the ground. The honeysuckle roots getting drunk on the ambrosia. 

My fingers are stained from cherries, my wrists and lips sticky from the juice of peaches. My shoulders were dark from the sun, and my hair fell in curls mama said reflected my soul. Tangled, frizzy, and wild. I hand her back the flower and she presses it between two pages of a book. 

I wonder when someone will drink from me, and press me tightly between the pages of a book so as to keep me forever. I ask my mama this and she laughs, her hazel eyes golden in the sun. She takes her hand and sweeps my hair back from my face and kisses my forehead. She is always kissing my forehead. It always leaves a mark. Her dark red lipstick staining my forehead, a wet pucker of pure warmth. She doesn’t answer the question, just hands me another honeysuckle, this one a burnt orange. The nectar tastes even sweeter. 

Just as I’m about to hand it over to my mother a bee flies out and stings my hand, and I burst into tears. Mama’s face screws up, like a whirlpool of water. She grabs my hand and takes me inside, covering the sting in a paste made out of baking soda and water. My hand stops stinging immediately. 

“There we go.” she croons “All better.”

Her smile is blinding. She smooths my hair back and kisses my forehead.

“I’ll always take care of you.” She promises. 

What happens when you want to take care of yourself?

A mother’s love is a bee sting. The baking powder your backbone. 

I count the knots of my spine like the beads of a rosary, and when my prayers are met with indifference I make my own liberation on baking powder and water.

I remove the stinger. 

Duckie Harwell

Duckie Harwell resides in Fort Worth, Texas where they are taking some time off from college to pursue publications in both prose and poetry. They have a keen eye for detail and a clear, unique voice. They have a passion for reading, writing, and helping authors works blossom into beautifully finished pieces.

When to Run

Written by Bobbie Meri

Photo by Sane Sunny

The town of Braduk was one full of average people, each very busy with their own business. It was old and, as such, was filled with mostly old people. There was a great deal of young ones too, of course, though one rarely noticed that except to discourage them from being too loud. Braduk was the only town for a good many miles and only one of three towns in whole Entenea where the Nuri people resided. 

As far as old towns went, it was fairly standard by being entirely stiff. Not in the mind, necessarily, but in the back – especially when the Nuric people spent so much time hunched over their work. Farmer’s work, writer’s work, counter’s work, merchant’s work, you name it, every Nuri person was assured to be bent over it. Stiffly stuck, the people were, and it was this bit of attitude which made the running – running no less – and the shouting and the oddly festooned tears of Robin Gimrey that had every head he passed turning to stare in wide-eyed bewilderment. His shouting was an awful racket, going on and on. “Viviana!” he cried, over and over again “Viviana!” and the more heads he flew by the more heads shook with bitter disappointment. 

Robin Gimrey had nearly always been a mark of disappointment, you see, so even though it was a surprise to see him running against the wind and shouting a ridiculous name, absolutely no one was so shocked as to stop him and ask what madness he’d just now conjured. The reasons for Braduk’s general dissatisfaction with him weren’t particularly great, but as was said, they were stiffly particular people. Robin did things nobody else did, and that made him a nuisance. For one, his clothes were most always folded up at the ends, as if he didn’t like the tailor’s work. This made him ungrateful. For another, the boy wasn’t at all prone to haggling with the merchants, as if their work was actually worth the sheepish prices they set. This made him stupid. Worst of all, he was tall. Upsettingly tall. It was insulting how tall he was; nearly three inches taller than Caroney Billock, who had won the record in 241. 

There were countless other things, too: His tree climbing through gathering season, his mutterings as he went to town, and his willingness to burst into tears were usually the first few that came to mind about his case of strangeness. Most Bradukish Kind would make the worst of him out to the behaviour of his father, who always wandered home at Worst Hours with a mug in his hand and who always left when the best of any Healer’s work was meant to be done. Most Bradukish Kind thought Hennik Gimrey, said father, was the worst Robin Gimrey had to offer, but this wonderous shouting might just change their minds! Shouting, shouting. Absolute nonsense, why not? The boldness of him to call out at noonish! The impotence of him to run the streets with no mind to poor old grannies who walked!

On and on Robin sprinted, his chest heaving madly. Never had so much exercise hit him in his life! But Robin knew that once he finally came to the bend before town’s end, he would see if he had done enough of it or not. “Viviana!” Maybe her excellent Mellean ears would pick him up, learning her to stop. Maybe, if he was just lucky. The bend came, and tears reached him, streaming down his cheeks. He could hardly take his air anymore and knew he couldn’t last much longer. “Viviana!” 

She was there. Somehow, despite everything, she was there, short fifty foot-fall, accompanied by her father and her Uncle. Their magnificent horses were swinging their tails, hair gleaming. Her hair shone too, far more welcoming of the sun. “VIVIANA!” Robin bellowed at the top of his wearied lungs. Hope filled him unbarred now, each tear that it brought so much incredibly more sensational than anything Robin had let himself before. “VIVIANA!” He gave everything he had to the scream, his feet carrying him rhythmically forwards. “Viviana,” he murmured again, her horse wheeling to face him just as blackness took over and he fell to the dirt.

Bobbie Meri

Bobbie is an aspiring novelist and poet who is currently working on a fantasy novel “They Who Fight Fire”. With their fiery dedication and a history of performing on stage, Bobbie has managed to write three unpublished novels since their introduction to writing in 2015, passion flowing through the voices of their characters as plainly as their ink does to paper. Bobbie plans to publish after their second year in secondary school!

Find Bobbie on Instagram

I Lost Me In You

Written by Anjali Pandey

Art by Elizabeth Illustrates

I always knew she was like fire

Still, I let myself burn in her heat

Sometimes, she was like water

So, I let my soul quench its thirst

When the roots of love

settled deep inside my heart

she left me in pieces, shattered

just like broken glass,

Did not keep her word, promised

She would be beside me forever,

Memories of us haunting me in flashes

Never thought she would burn me down into ashes,

Even now I wait for her,

Let bygones be bygones, it’s all a lie

She will never know, for her

Lonely at night, I still cry.

Anjali Pandey

Anjali is a young and bright writer from India. She was born and raised in Delhi, and her ancestral home is in Uttarakhand, India. She has a lot of potential in her and is just kick-starting her career as a writer. She is already the author of her ongoing novel – ‘When Two Worlds Collide’ on Wattpad. She also has been showcasing her writing skills on her recently opened Instagram account ‘write.out.loud.04’.