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ISSUE 30

Column Articles

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- Shravan

American author Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said in A Man Without a Country, “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: do not use semicolons.”

 

Upon reading this, I, suddenly rising from my drooped posture in my chair, blurted, “Huh?” 

 

I reacted that way because of my experience as both a writer and an editor for Riot, where I’ve had a great deal of exposure to the English language; and I can confidently say, having worked with semicolons a lot, that they’re incredibly useful.

 

Semicolons can combine two complete ideas (as in the previous sentence) to tell readers that they’re related. They act as halfway points between commas and colons (as in this sentence); in speech, this indicates how long a pause should be with more specificity. They may also indicate afterthoughts or additions to a completed idea (as in the next sentence).

 

The fact that such a valuable punctuation mark was actively being lampooned shocked me; even worse, it was an accomplished author doing the lampooning. So, I set out to understand why Kurt Vonnegut Jr. so passionately shunned the semicolon, by utilizing one of the most useful tools known to humankind: research. And... I found an interesting pattern.

 

First, I saw this video interview of several YouTubers (that’s right; I used secondary research), all of whom have different thoughts on when semicolons are used. Next came this Quora page about the hardest punctuation mark, (credible sources, y’all*) which multiple people say is the semicolon. The Wikipedia page for semicolons (the reliability is unmatchable**) states that the semicolon is rarely used because it’s one of the ‘least understood’ punctuation marks.

 

To corroborate, I asked multiple friends, including the other Riot editors, what punctuation mark they thought was hardest to use (here’s some quantitative research***); to no one’s surprise, almost all of them said it was the semicolon. That’s when I understood two things.

 

First: Vonnegut isn’t alone, and semicolons have many dedicated haters. Second: there’s a reason these haters despise semicolons so much: they just don’t know how to use them.

 

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When I say that, I don’t mean to call out some deficiency or skill issue; admittedly, I’m often confused by semicolons as well. More importantly, though, the phenomenon I’m describing - avoiding what we don’t understand - is hardly limited to semicolons. Humanity naturally gravitates towards the familiar, finding ways to justify its distance from the unfamiliar.

 

When what’s unfamiliar is some punctuation, avoiding it is a personal decision. The worst that could happen? Some teenage writer decides to overanalyze it. But it sets a harmful precedent.

 

For most of my pre-teen life, my friend groups were predominantly straight and male, where boy-girl friendships and LGBT+ identities drew the wrong kind of attention. So, we enclosed ourselves in a bubble, far away from any understanding of the female or queer experience.

 

In maintaining this bubble, we created a space where stereotypes and prejudices could foment. Many of the boys I knew slut-shamed girls for having boyfriends and assumed boys who liked art were queer. We called things we didn’t like ‘gay’ and people who showed fear ‘pussies’.

 

The phenomenon of ostracizing and stigmatizing identities we aren’t acquainted with has a name - ‘othering’. LGBT+ people (and, as Simone de Beauvior opines, women) are often ‘othered’; that is to say, they are separated from society, depersonalizing them and hindering any efforts to preserve their individuality and understand them.

 

Vonnegut, a cis man, repeatedly othered transgender people himself. In a part of his quote that I excluded, he compares semicolons to “transvestite hermaphrodites representing [...] nothing”. Ironically, all his comparison represents is that we comfortably insult people who are members of groups we other, as we do not consider them persons deserving of respect.

 

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The semicolon was created during a period of great unfamiliarity: the Renaissance, an era characterized by innovation. Aldus Manutius, in particular, experimented by visually combining a colon and a comma in an effort to create a compromise between the two; and with no objective way to use it, writers just... did. They read Manutius’ texts where he used the semicolon, and then they just tried it out. Soon, it was added to most families; and we still use it today.

 

Just as semicolons represent the problem of othering, their story represents its solution: simply facing the things we can’t comprehend. To appreciate the semicolon, all we must do is forget about ‘right’ and ‘wrong; and use it. Similarly, to quell prejudices, all we must do is interact with different kinds of people, so as to humanize the othered and see them as equal to ourselves.

 

Since I turned 13, my friend groups have grown far more heterogeneous and diverse, in terms of both gender and sexual orientation; it’s no coincidence that in this time, I’ve grown more open-minded and learned to reject stereotypes pertaining to girls and queer people.

 

Much of our discomfort with what we don’t understand is internal, and it’s our responsibility to fight it rather than succumb to the system that holds it in place; to keep our minds open to learning and our souls open to growing; to read, talk, and confront difficult discussions head on.

 

So, here is a lesson in being a better person. First rule: use semicolons.

 

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* Quora is not a reliable source and should not be treated as such.

** Wikipedia is not a reliable source and should not be treated as such.

*** I’ve spoken of research mockingly throughout this article, but it’s honestly a great way to comprehensively understand other cultures and combat othering. Do your research, everyone

Between the Notes

- Snigdha

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE BLACKBOARD

The show Community’s ninth episode of its first season, ‘Debate 109’, tries to answer a simple question through one of its subplots: are we, as the human race, born good or bad? In true Community fashion, it leaves you half-thinking about a deep idea, but the essence of the show gives you exactly what you need to uncover the answer to the question it poses. And it’s really not a straightforward answer. 

 

Call it bad writing or a dedication to showing some version of our reality, but when Community shows you the fluctuating moralities of its main characters, some of it feels realistic, and the rest doesn’t. There is no inherent ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person; even the morally righteous people make bad decisions, and there is sympathy evoked for the dishonourable.  Personality and morality never operate in binaries, as seen through the show, and thus, an underlying assumption becomes clear through its episodes. 

 

No one is truly ‘good’ or ‘bad’. 

 

This article could be over now if that answered the question. Rather, it invokes some more thought. What about birth? Is goodness or badness passed on from mother to child, is it learned through the evils you find yourself surrounded by during your childhood? 

 

I could invoke the names of psychological theories like the diathesis-stress model, which argues that every disorder and behaviour have both a genetic and sociocultural root, but the answer we’re searching for is probably more on the philosophical side of things. And we’re not going to talk about Freud here, because all he would have to add that it’s about sex. But none of these concepts or thoughts ever give a straightforward answer. 

 

But no amount of searching, theorising or quantifying would give you a perfect ‘42’esque answer to such an earth-shattering question. To quench our own thirsts, all we can do is tell ourselves the truth we want most before we go to sleep in a world that makes it so difficult to find the right answers. 

 

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When I first bought my blackboard it was as clean as it could be. If I left the chalking up for too long, an ever-so-thin layer of white deposited itself upon it, never truly going away. 

 

Maybe instead of being born as good or evil, we are born as blackboards. Blank slates. Empty, pointless, useless until a force scrawls some knowledge on it in thick chalk. And the longer it stays, the more difficult it is to get rid of. This idea is supported by the theory of tabula rasa, which argues that we are literally born with nothing inside of  us - well, intellectually -  at birth. 

 

And yet, with all of us born as blackboards, with clean slates waiting to be etched upon, we all come out into the world, grown and with different markings. Forget about being born as good, evil, or blackboard; are we, as a race, only truly capable of the worst? 

 

Think of climate change. Environmental degradation. Incarceration, hate crimes, whatever is happening with Twitter right now. All human-led catastrophes. Sometimes I think that there is no point in finding out if we are all inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’, if there is so much evil in the world caused by those like us.

 

But you’re forgetting the essence of what the blackboard is: you can always erase some of it and start again by unlearning and relearning, and I think that’s exactly what Community is about. 

 

The title of the show isn’t because of the fact that all the characters went to a community college. It’s because they found the drive to help each other erase the most horrendous things on each other’s blackboards, and start afresh, as the best, kindest citizens of the world that they could be. Of course, there will be bumps when people will steal your dusters and hide the chalk with which you will mark your fresh start. But the journey to being better is what teaches you the things you need to become the best you can be. 

 

At the risk of dehumanisation, I’ve called you a blackboard. Do you know what is already written on you? Do you plan on erasing and rewriting your values and morals through the course of the episodes of your life? Whatever happens, it doesn’t matter how morally ambiguous you were born. You can choose what your blackboard says to the rest of the world.

Magnify

one step at a time

- Devansh

Winter’s almost here, and it’s my favourite time of the year. Sure; in Bangalore, there isn’t much of a ‘winter’ winter compared to somewhere like Delhi or Shimla, but a mild winter always feels somewhat like a blessing. It’s the time when it’s cold enough for me to snuggle up with a cup of coffee and postpone baths by a week (for legal reasons, I bathe everyday), but not cold enough for me to have one of my trademark sneeze fests. It’s the season of gajar ka halwa and green grapes. And birthdays! There are four birthdays in my family in December, so there’s almost always a slice of chocolate cake waiting for me in the fridge.

 

Another thing that winter brings with it is fog. I can’t see much in the fog, and it’s scary. But it’s also thrilling. Just the other day, I woke up and there was a thick fog in my area. It was so bad that I wasn’t able to see my neighbours’ house properly. One night it exists, and the next morning it’s not visible. The only thing I could see was the faint neon light of an isolated lamppost in the distance. Even something like a building wasn’t constant and permanent, and just the thought of that felt so scary.

 

When I’m in the car while we’re driving through a dense fog on a cold, winter morning, I always feel on edge. In Bangalore, you really cannot trust the direction of traffic - even though King George III established left-side driving all across India (the gem of my soul - if you haven’t watched Hamilton, you should), you can always expect to see a Swiggy delivery person riding a bike on the wrong side of the road. All the fears pop up. What if someone drives into our lane without signalling that they are going to? What if someone ordered something from Swiggy nearby? What if?

 

It’s difficult to take even one step forward when walking through a fog. You don’t know what lies ahead, what awaits you in the ether. It could be good, it could be bad. But Murphy’s law always seems to overpower, and you end up staying in the same place.

 

Allow me to take a small detour here; it may seem like either one of us is being stupid, but trust me, it’ll start to make sense towards the end. Sometimes, I’m faced with a complicated maths problem where I know the solution, like one of those “Show that” questions where I’m given the right answer and I need to prove it. At first, like everyone else, I’m entirely flummoxed. Often, there’s absolutely no connection between the question and the supposed answer and I usually spend a good couple of minutes contemplating the possibility that the creator of the question was high while making it. It’s around this time that I notice something, a flash of insight, and I begin my journey to solve the question.

 

Even if it feels like I’m going in the wrong direction, I just dive in, head first. I just keep doing something and hope it takes me the right way. I simply keep going. On average, it takes me about three sessions of pulling my hair out, five of washing my face, and eight of walking around the room aimlessly to clear my head. But finally, I reach the answer I’m supposed to. Turns out, it was all worth it. All the frustrating wrong directions and methods were worth it in the end.

 

In the fog, it’s not that you don’t know what lies ahead, you just can’t see what lies ahead. You know the building is there, it exists, you saw it last night. You can’t see it right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. Even though you might not see where your next step is going to take you, at least you’re moving.

 

Taking the wrong direction is not the end of the world. Sometimes, you go the wrong way. It happens, it’s a part of life. All you have to do at that point is retrace your steps and follow another way. Eventually, you’ll find your own right direction. You might have to traverse five wrong paths to do that, or at times, even a hundred, but you’ll find your right direction eventually.

 

You can’t see where you’re going, but you’re going somewhere. That’s progress. You don’t need to see it all, what lies in store for you a hundred metres down the road; you only need to know where your next step lies. Keep running or walking or crawling. You’re moving. You’re growing. You’re taking it one step at a time. Focus on the next step. And take it. Just keep moving. And it’ll all work out in the end.

 

I did not write this article while eating cake, I promise.

Intricate Connections

Jungle Book and the Burden No One Asked For

- Chaand

Who thought that a nostalgic tale that so many Indians have watched and enjoyed has connotations demeaning to that very population? It seems obvious, in retrospect, when thinking about the context of when the source material was written and who wrote it. There were two original Jungle Books consisting of several short stories written by Rudyard Kipling, out of which all the stories about the character Mowgli were combined into one chronological novel. These later became the basis of all the infamous Disney movies that propagated harm underneath their coat of childish fun.

 

Rudyard Kipling was a Britisher born in Bombay at the height of colonisation of India. He wrote most of his stories for his sick daughter who died at the age of 6, presenting a seemingly innocent and harmless motivation for his writing. But the most jarring and shocking of his works was a poem written for America’s then-president Theodore Roosevelt, after the US won the Philippines from Spain, called White Man’s Burden, which acts as the basis for all the imperialist interpretations of his works.

 

White Man’s Burden is a horrifyingly racist poem that acts as a message to the American leader, that it is the job of the White Man to help civilise ‘inferior races’ no matter how much they resist. He called on the young ‘White Man’ to fight ‘the savage wars of peace’ to save the natives of places that they invaded and called them ‘half devil and half child.’ He mentioned that the White Man should ‘reap his old reward’ after he helps the native, presenting a blatant and highly problematic hierarchy.

 

In case it wasn’t clear already, Kipling was saying that it's the duty of young white men to go to other countries and colonise them, and even fight them if they resist because it is for the collective good, and the white men should take rewards for doing this in terms of resources. That sounds an awful lot like encouraging imperialist ideologies and advocating for the racist idea that all people of colour NEED white men to save them from themselves. White Man’s Burden was both justifying colonialism, and advising on it.

 

Coming back to Jungle Book with this new understanding of Kipling’s ideologies, the racist connotations are quite clear. I’ve seen several interpretations of the texts, each of which is more off-putting than the next. The most blatant of them is the portrayal of the monkeys or ‘Bandar-log’ in the stories. 

 

Compared to Mowgli and the other animals and humans in the stories, the ‘Bandar-log’ are portrayed as people incapable of having laws, leaders, or a language; they are uncivilised by all means. They are termed ‘outcasts’ in the stories and described to be disorderly. Moreover, they are shown to be easily prone to manipulation and are characterised as ‘lesser species’ who try to imitate humans to learn how to do simple tasks. This is seen when they kidnapped Mowgli, who is shown to be vastly superior to them in terms of survival skills, and asked him for help. There are clear racist symbols here as we see Kipling connoting that the natives cannot get anywhere without the power and ‘refined skill’ of white men.

 

There are numerous similar instances in the two Jungle Book novels of underlying influences promoting imperialist ideologies. What’s interesting is that in Disney’s adaptation of the film, in an attempt to make it more appropriate for audiences, the story became even more racist. Here, Mowgli’s command over controlling fire is what makes him superior to the animals. The character of King Louie is introduced as the king of the ‘Bandar-log’, and he is a caricature of black people as we see him follow blatant stereotypes such as playing jazz music, without any further characterisation to make him unique.

 

What is jarring is how he’s shown to try to imitate the humans and make fire, and fails to do the same, showing how he can’t get anywhere without Mowgli and the humans. There is also the connotation that anyone who is not a white man is seen as the same primitive, primal creature regardless of whether they’re African or Indian. They are shown as inferior being portrayed as monkeys, considered to be a step below the evolved humans.

 

Although Disney’s subsequent iterations of the Jungle Book movies have gotten rid of most of these connotations, it is impossible to completely do without it when the source material is so blatantly advocating for imperialism. There are crystal-clear influences that Jungle Book has, with a  blatant praise of colonialism that Rudyard Kipling propagates in his works as seen in White Man’s Burden. The influences are extremely dangerous and I do not think this should be the type of media that Indian children should be shown. Young minds should be exposed to literature and media that doesn’t have the presence of white men and their imperialist ideas that nobody asked for written all over it. I am still waiting for the day we see a British forest with feral creatures in desperate need of help.

 

Throughout different forms of media, to this day, we see this saviour complex through white men believing they need to help the rest of the world as they are more knowledgeable on, well, everything. Superhits like La La Land and Dune have influences of this and although they aren’t advocating for colonialism, the dangers of the white man's burden are still there, long after Kipling’s time. We are influenced by this complex every day by different forms of media and literature, even when we don’t realise it. We're just teaching white people that they’re doing a favour by taking away our freedom and inserting themselves into problems around the world. Well, that is literally what modern-day colonialism is, isn’t it?

Killer Queen

Letting Things Go

- Brishti

All good things come to an end. However, so do all bad things. And all neutral things. I don’t know what that means for this column, or, more distressingly, my childhood. In two months, I will be eighteen, and this column will end. I’ve been trying to write about other things, but I can’t look the end in the eyes and ignore it. I won’t.

 

December is a time for endings. This year, for me, these are big, life-changing endings - but what ending doesn’t change a life? Some years, December has meant the death of a leaf to me, and I couldn’t ignore that either. In sixth grade, I bundled myself up and went out on the balcony every chilly December night, and I blew kisses to each leaf still standing. Then I gathered all the ones that hadn’t lasted the day, and I threw the crispy pile away. I felt my heart break a little for each leaf. I went back inside. I read a book.

 

This time, it’s this column that’s ending soon. And too soon after that, it’s my life as I know it - my home, my friends, my family. I don’t know what’s ending for you now; maybe it’s a year of school before board exams, maybe it’s a relationship, maybe it’s a leaf. This is me blowing it all a kiss. This is me going back inside. Things don’t always end cleanly or quickly, but we can control whether they end with love.

 

Today’s poetry recommendations are about endings, beginnings, and the spaces in between. Blow it all a kiss. We keep going.

 

Also, here’s a lovely poem from a friend over at Killer Queen. 

Mathemathinking  

By Chaand (Akshaj)

 

Add up, your brain is screaming at you,

Subtract your assumptions, putting two and two,

Multiply the product of your breathing, deep breaths, patient,

Divide the noise, banish the restless remainder, keep the quiet quotient, .

 

Integrate recreation, compose surrounding areas, bathe;

Differentiate what is real, you’re inclined to leave unscathed.

Construct intricately crafted doodles, emotions chaotically expressed, 

Formulate equations to harness heightened thoughts, inaccuracies suppressed.

 

Rationalise.

Justify the glaring evidence, unclench your fists, stabilise

Equate, stretch right and left hands, smile seeping into your face.

Hence proved, weight lifted away, intact wall, resolving with embrace.

Dance, Dance, While the Hive Collapses by Tiffany Higgins

Tiffany Higgins is a poet, translator, and journalist writing on Brazil and the environment. She is a Fulbright scholar and will begin research in the Amazon in 2022. Her long form narrative journalism appears in Granta and Guernica, and her poems in Poetry, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. She is the author of “The Apparition at Fort Bragg” and “And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet.” In 2020, she was the Annie Tanner Clark Fellow in Environmental Humanities at the University of Utah. She lives in Oakland, California. (mongabay.com)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/58655/dance-dance-while-the-hive-collapses

 

Elegy by Mong-Lan

Poet, visual artist, and dancer Mong-Lan was born in Saigon and left Vietnam with her family on the last day of the evacuation of the city in 1975. She grew up in Houston and attended the Glassell School of Art. In 2002, Mong-Lan received a Fulbright fellowship to Vietnam. A tango performer and instructor, Mong-Lan’s dance background includes training in classical ballet, jazz, modern, flamenco and Spanish dance, ballroom, and salsa. (Poetry Foundation)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57610/elegy

 

Winter Flowers by Stanley Moss

Stanley Moss was educated at Trinity College (Connecticut) and Yale University and makes his living as a private art dealer, specializing in Spanish and Italian Old Masters. oet and critic Hayden Carruth has been quoted as saying, “The poetry of the ages is an argument with God, but few poets have picked up that argument in recent years. Stanley Moss does.” In 1977 Moss founded Sheep Meadow Press, a nonprofit press devoted to poetry, with a particular focus on international poets in translation. He lives in New York. (Poetry Foundation)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/89333/winter-flowers 

For Better or for Verse

Notebooks

- Ishana

I love notebooks of all kinds. Whether they’re sparkly and covered with doodles, or the regular plain ones.

 

There’s something about a notebook that feels like a fresh start. The immense potential that it carries in its crisp pages, just waiting to be filled, makes me feel like I can do absolutely anything with it. The only problem here - I don’t actually use it for anything.

 

I’ve been collecting pretty notebooks for as long as I can remember. But every time I wrote in those notebooks, I seemed to ruin its aura of pristine perfection. No matter how hard I tried, something would always go wrong: I’d either make a spelling mistake, or smudge ink on the page.

 

Because nothing is more beautiful than a crisp empty notebook. But nothing is more useless than an empty notebook that will never be filled.

 

My drawers are littered with gorgeous notebooks that are half-filled with clunky articles, sketches that are out of proportion, and ideas that were discarded because they were not “good enough” even before they were fully formulated.

 

This mentality has led to me either not doing anything at all, or feeling a crippling fear that makes me procrastinate the easiest of tasks. I give up on things the second they become even a little difficult instead of trying harder to accomplish them.

 

To combat the pressure of getting things perfect, I first do something imperfectly on purpose. Whether it’s a doodle scrawled at the top of the page, or ridiculous ideas that would never work, these little imperfections lift the burden of achieving the unattainable pristine perfection off my shoulders and let me have fun. That way, I feel a lot better about  myself and get more done.

 

I write down my chaotic to-do lists in a fuzzy notebook that looks like a dog. Among the graceful manikins in my sketchbook pages, you’ll find the occasional fluffy bird nestled in the corner. My organic chemistry notes are filled with sketches of little grumpy cats frowning at conversion reactions.

 

Like I said earlier, I love notebooks of all kinds. Whether they’re sparkly and covered with doodles, or the regular plain ones. But my favourite kind of notebook is one whose pages are filled.

Aleatoire
Creative Rioters

DEROMANTICISING RELATIONSHIPS

- KRITI

You know those fictional characters that essentially serve as your standard for a significant other? Those characters you swoon over and spend sleepless nights dreaming about. Those characters you swear you’ll find someone like in real life. Yeah - they’re the ones that have currently put me in a predicament, a romantic one of sorts. 

 

I am an avid reader, especially when it comes to romance novels. The genre holds a special place in my heart; not just because it got me to start reading but because it got me hooked on it.  But during my journey with romance novels, my expectations and standards became sky high, and my touch with reality became, well... unrealistic. I don't know if the FBI secretly runs Instagram, because as I fell deeper into the rabbit hole of silly notions of love, my fyp (for you page) did the same, or maybe even worse. Each day, I saw a million reels featuring couples, young love, the fantasy of relationships, and how those in love perceive the world in little pink and red hearts. I was plagued by emotions, and more importantly, questions:

 

What does it feel like to be in love? 

Not the platonic or parental kind, 

The earth shattering, butterflies swarming your belly kind, 

Staying up till three am. cursing their name kind (taylor’s version) 

 

I was envious, really. I, too, wanted to experience this sort of love and have these sorts of experiences. I mean, all my friends certainly were. Their whole world revolved around having a significant other, someone they always had in their corner, someone unequivocally theirs. 

 

And so, I forcibly entered a relationship; scratch that, a situationship. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely liked the guy, more than I probably had any other guy. We talked for a bit, he asked me out, blah blah blah... happily ever after. Except not really. Throughout our three weeks of dating, I encountered some harsh realities, ones I was not expecting even in the slightest. 

 

Firstly, there were signals. Hot signals, cold signals, no signals, and my least favourite: mixed signals. One thing you should know about me is that I'm big on eye contact (or any contact for that matter) and words of affirmation, given that they are my love languages. And unsurprisingly, I didn’t get any of either one. Another thing I'm big on is conversation: not just surface level “hey, hi whats up”, but deeper level talk that isn’t just about your favourite colour. And I always started our conversations that ended up fizzling halfway through, which showed me that clearly, he was a super ecstatic person who 100% reciprocated my interest in him. 

 

Secondly, I was a chicken; obviously, in the metaphorical sense, but a chicken nonetheless. While I was an extroverted, confident boss on text who had no problem starting conversations and saying whatever I felt like, I was the total opposite in person: not with everyone, sadly just with him. And I didn't like that feeling at all.

 

Lastly, I missed being single. I missed not having my entire mood change for the worse when he seenzoned or didn't reply the way I expected. I missed my chill, old life devoid of any drama, where I didn't have to commit myself to someone and I missed the way I felt back then, especially about myself. 

 

And while that relationship made Taylor Swift's songs all the more enjoyable and relatable, I was angry. I was angry at those misleading romance novels and their fake message of young love and how it always works out. Obviously, this guy wasn't the main character in my novel, or “the one”, but I still felt like I was robbed of my idyllic definition of love, a purity I wasn't ever going to get back. I was mad at the fallacy those online couples put on of always being happy and in love and having a seemingly perfect relationship, as compared to my tumultuous one.

 

But this anger and duplicity taught me. It showed me the wicked claws of self pressure and deceit, and how while everything must seem jovial on the surface, it is not so beneath. It taught me to take my own time, make my own rules, and have my own experiences all at my own pace. 

 

And so, I broke it off......

Kriti
Submissions

WHEN I THINK OF IT

- JOHN ONYECHE

& the muse said; I am trying hard 

to stop from writing sad poems 

Perhaps, those that I die & muffle 

In-between its lines, seeking to live -

Again in the next stanzas where to live in

& there it whispers fear & doubts  

 

But each day's events & longings

They kept me gulping dirge into my mouth 

& heart the thousands of reasons

To cry & mourn my life & love again, family, 

To mourn my earth life as a broken lad 

To mourn my chronicles as a sojourner 

 

As the last strength within gasps 

It is only left within sounds

I retire to, this bed made of petals 

Listen to my soul in broken songs 

Those whose lyrics echo

A tremor within my broken heart 

How does one grow out of pains 

In this world where wishes 

Are not birds of roses

ANXIETY

- ATTICUS PAYNE

Previously published in Outlander Zine. 

Breathe. Breathe. As simple as an inhale and an exhale, yet so perfectly constructed, yes? What fantastic machines we are, fashioned organically by the creator. What there is in a breath. The pull of your diaphragm, the expansion of the chest cavity, pressure in and out. Calm. Calm. Think of breath. Remember? A swallow. Air rushing in, filling your lungs, oxygen squeezing in countless miniscule alveoli within the lining. Shh. Do you remember? The way it works? And then, next, the gaseous exchange. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. Fascinating, like clockwork. Yet adaptive, unlike metal and wheels. Aerobic turns to anaerobic respiration, burning glucose and oxygen to form adenosine triphosphate and setting your muscles, each cell that knits into tissues that pull on joints, bones, movement through this strange, dangerous environment. How well made we are. How I long to praise you, oh God. How I wish I could hear you now. Yet here you are, at the heart of everything, as you must be, just as you were previously, yesterday night when I wondered at the vastness of this existence. What is man that you condescend to him? Who am I that you would hold me up in pain? And yet the greatest One stoops to care over every human, contemptuous as we remain. Remember, remember. He has never, will never, can never leave you. He is here. Even now, he is here. In remembering, do you not feel him? That is how you know, in this time. That is how we all must know him. In words, in memory of all he is. Bits and pieces that come up at just the right time to prompt you every which way. In the storm of screams, here you are also. And you are unafraid. So what should I fear? It is all in your care. All I need do is wait and do the best I am able with the controls I have been given. That is all. How doable.

PALE GREEN

- DAMHURI MUHAMMAD

As a bird wants to escape from its cage, correspondingly language wants to leave the pages of a dictionary. "I wanna be a color," said language. However once being a color, he cannot return as a language. "You will never be read anymore. A lonely life," cajoled the dictionary. Language has been bonded by the promise he already made to a piece of paper on a painter's desk. The painter nonetheless did not finish his drawing then, for the colors he produced were so weird. Blue represents a trace of persecution, while red the blood of a warrior, and black the dark ages. “I will come as a gleeful color, to brush up your unfinished composition,” promised the language to the miserable paper. With the help of a faithful reader, language metamorphoses into a color: pale green, like a vernation. At the mercy of a courier, language arrived at the painter's desk. He merely found a faded plain paper, without a single trace of once a weirdly-composed drawing. “Where had your weird colors vanished? Language asked wonderingly. "I've been waiting for you for a long time. The terrible composition rendered my body colors worthless. A while ago the colors asked permission to metamorphose into language. Now the colors live in a dictionary," replied the weathered paper. Pale green was silent, taking a deep breath, then asked the courier to quickly deliver him to nothingness.

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