Broken Children by Osahon Ize-Iyamu
It’s a bit selfish, but I’d been waiting for her.
She barged in, lifting me from my sadness, to call me to action. We are going somewhere.
And as she puts the car into gear, I’m reminded that the world is a vast world of bumpy roads she leads me through.
She carries me, so I don’t walk much.
Her song playlist has an incoherent variety—defiantly saying; you can’t predict me.
I lean back in my seat because it’s comfortable not knowing where you’re going, and for another person to do all the work.
My heart hurts and leaves me broken, but my pain cuts through physical boundaries.
With all the things in the world, she shows me the night.
It’s her most basic move yet.
I don’t need to see that. Nature finds a way to repeat itself every once in a while; tell us it’s still there.
Her eyes have more bags than mine. We are wearing each other out, stripping ourselves of freshness like week-old gum.
“Don’t you feel better now?”
Her voice cracks. She’s been solving my problems since our university days.
I think about indulging her, for fear that if she stops lifting me, I might fall. And then we’d both realize I can’t walk that well on my own.
“No,” I say instead, letting her smile falter. “You can’t fix depression.”
She stays silent, looks surprised.
If she’s a little bit lost after this, that will make two of us.
Skywalkers by Ian Tennent
Drugs? Shoes on a wire don’t mean drugs.
Don’t mean high school’s finally done and dusted either. Or that some teenybopper just popped their cherry. In my neck of the woods shoes on a telephone line mean one thing. Someone saw, or heard, something they weren’t supposed to.
And I should know.
Last week it was high heels. The kind you find walking Point Road at night. Week before that, it was fake black Armanis, so polished you could see your soul in them.
Before that, green and white zip-up trainers. Not even as long as my hand, Ben 10 written on the side. The kid in the ditch even looked like the cartoon on the shoe.
In my neck of the woods it means someone just got a free entry to the Great Comrades Marathon in the sky.
No cut-off time or finish line in this race.
Just an ‘up-run’ or a ‘down-run’, depending. It’s a twenty-first century gibbet. A head on a stake.
And I don’t have a problem with that. The problem I have is that there’s a blade at my throat, and the shoes up there, now, are mine.
Storm Walkers by Cynthia Kistasamy
You said I feel too much. You were right. Words torment me, landscapes hurt me.
But I’ve never feared the beauty of a storm.
I remember days when clear skies would darken. When thunder rolled in and lightning-bolts lit up a Payne’s grey sky.
The calm before a storm.
So thick with promise that you could open your mouth and taste it.
Bolts of light like angry words, their tempo increasing and resembling disco streaks spun from a mirror ball above the earth’s stage. Flashes of coloured energy cracking open an ink-stained sky. Thunder from a boom box amplifying over shapeless stars.
A terrific, natural pyrotechnic display.
Yes! God is a DJ.
And down below the landscape awakens. The papery stems perking up, helpless in their electric climate. They reach up in throngs like dancers on a darkened nightclub floor throbbing towards the light and music.
Like those stems you and I swayed- touching, entwining, rubbing together, reaching up and pushing apart in the gust of life.
Our own storms were the small tragedies that walked us to old age.
You would always say, ‘It will never happen again’.
Looking back, those five words were the rhythm that paced our feet.
Without you now, the landscape is taut with unrelenting sun, for I never did fear the beauty of a storm.
Strut by Lester Walbrugh
Check make-up. Pout. Smile. These lights are too damn bright.
I pinch my eyes then: wrinkles.
“Five minutes. Places.”
I look old. My face is swollen. I’m an ugly, bloated has-been.
To the camera crew: keep close-ups to a minimum, if at all.
The damn bustier pinches. It cuts. It makes the skin here, under my arms, bulge.
The new designer? He’s gone, out of here. But that choreographer, the routines – amazing. And room to improvise. He’s cute, too. I’d adopt him yesterday.
Must I do the medley? It’s expected, isn’t it and, anyway, don’t ever forget. It’s all about them.
But what was that extra slice of pie? This brassiere must hold.
A full house and perched right in the front, smirking – all hair and teeth and ten cents charm – those teenybopper chart toppers. They’d have placed their bets already: will the queen trip up? Or whip up?
He’ll be here, of course.
Gorgeous flowers but I can’t stand their perfume. He’ll learn.
That roar, this is going to be amazing.
Walk it. Stretch. That feels great. This damn bra.
“One minute, here we go!”
Own it, girl.
Trapped by Kadiri Alex
Pink is her name; a vivacious beauty who loves the open fields and parks.
Because, there, the wind tangos with her hair. Because in all that greenery, there abounds a feeling of romance and life. Because she is a hopeless romantic.
Gaius is my name; the one who slithered into her world with stale promises of forever; the one who brought her crimson roses until she said ‘yes,’ until she made me so much of hers that there was nothing left of me for others to see.
Ogbonda is the street that houses our home, gray with dirt-roads and grimy gutters, devoid of electricity.
I do not blame the ceiling-fan for its paralyzed blades.
The heat that filters in through the window, the one the fan cannot fight back, it stifles and suffocates. Like her love.
Slowly was how it happened, this boxed-in feeling that threatens to choke me, that threatens to grapple and body-slam me if I don’t scout the perimeter and find an escape before she wicks what is left of my dew.
Surely, the spiders on the walls must feel like I do.
After all, what guy wants to watch Telemundo for the hundredth time instead of banter in the bars with all the green bottles and cigars?
Well, I found the breach, in her phone – some suggestive text she received.
It’s nobody’s business that she’s left it unanswered.
Now, at least, I can send her packing and blame it on ‘promiscuity.’
Vincent by Kayode Akomolafe
He had been talking in his dream.
It’s normal, thought his mom, boys play so hard by day. One morning he asked, ‘Mum, is there a God? Are there things beyond us?’
She smiled and told him, ‘it’s just a bad dream.’
When he spent more time drawing abstract images, barely eating and speaking to no one, she had taken him to the doctors, who concluded he had a mental illness – that he suffered from depression.
‘He’s only twelve, not maltreated, abused or denied in anyway,’ his mother said, but the doctor insisted and admitted him.
It was one morning when daylight turned dark, and the images from Vincent’s crazy drawings appeared in the sky, that she concluded he was actually the one who’d been sane all along.
Waif by Michael Jozefowicz
Kelp lay on a bed fashioned of tabloid detritus. Stretched out upon the world, he read absentmindedly. He did not much care for the cruel gossip pressing up at him. He needed something with which to whittle away at time.
Chasing its passage he fled to an earlier, unchanged instance. Through its flowing perspective to a kinder yesterday.
Walls were interchangeable. They were things he took solace in. He could stare at a wall from the outside until he was inside, instead.
Kelp would always start by imagining an empty room. Nothing lavish. He kept things simple, always building inwards. A well-worn sofa here, a stained coffee table there. Doing it in this way he constructed comfort, assembled a home.
The wind rose cold, forcing Kelp to draw his tattered collar close. Shifting, he felt the eternal presence of concrete reach out. Its frigid closeness laced with warm familiarity.
Someone had drawn a little UFO on his favourite wall during the night. A clumsy outline in red crayon. Upon its arrival Kelp had awoken to find his treasured wall no longer his own.
A faintly repetitive sound wailed whenever he looked at the alien craft. It blossomed to the beat of his pulse, revealing more of itself with every involuntary blink of his eyelids.
It was unsettling to think of out there, to imagine a populated empire beyond the séance of the city. A place where outwards construction brought relief.
Defenceless, Kelp thumbed a torn page of his bed and wept.