He wasn’t coming. I could feel it, first in the air—the way the vicar’s musky cologne hung heavily in the stuffy office cubicle. Then I felt it in the shaking of my hands and then blood-pumping thud in my ears and chest. Nicholas was not going to show up.
“Ms. Bamidele, I’m afraid there are many other couples waiting to be officiated this morning and I will not be able to wait much longer.”
He seemed like a friendly-enough man, in his mid-60’s. He was mostly bald with a modest patch of graying-to-white hair hedged around his round oval head. Probably under-paid and accustomed to expecting little or nothing from people. Beyond his smiling face, I could feel the sadness in his eyes –the fatigue from an unfulfilled life. Once again, he gave an urgent glance at the lopsided wall-clock on the opposite end of the cramped cubicle. In seven minutes, she would have to leave the cubicle.
Clearing his throat, the Vicar, began, “Ms. Bamidele, I do hate to pry– but I have witnessed such situations too often in my life-time not to—
The shame of the entire experience forced me to cut him off before he could finish the statement I had been fervently praying I would not hear on this day.
“Vicar…err..Vicar James, I do apologize for taking your time like this. I do realize that this might seem like a typical immigrant story but I can assure you Nicholas and I are in it for the long haul. I am sure he will be here at any point.”
The desperate words even seemed hollow in my own ears. Who was I fooling? The vicar simply smiled weakly and nodded, returning his gaze downwards as he pretended to view some scattered documents on the desk.
And so here I was, a 30-year-old Nigerian woman engaged to the man of her dreams who was thousands of kilometers away. Even when Segun’s visa to the United Kingdom had been denied for the sixth time, I could not have imagined that this would be it. That I would be sitting here waiting for a strange man to come and sign a marriage certificate, making me his wife, in order that I could ‘legally’ remain in the country.
I suddenly felt very nauseous. Very nauseous and very alone.
Ronke enjoys writing and reading. She is passionate about many issues and likes to describe herself as a womanist at heart. She has always had the deep desire to feel rooted in one cultural identity but she is realizing and learning to accept that culture is, in fact, dynamic and can be many things. As a recent graduate, she aspires to be a successful adult who is able to gracefully balance the curveballs and upsides of life.
© Ronke Abodunrin
E n d l e s s lamenting only darkens an uncertain future
As turns and twist increase, so does my suicidal streak
As righteous and vanity blur
E n d l e s s
I n f o r m a t I o n
You can’t force someone to be free
Darrell Herbert has poetry featured in the likes of the “Best Teen Writing of 2014,” by Hannah Jones, NotMyPresident Anthology, Writers- Black Artists Connected Blog, A Shared Format 4 Poets, Yellow Chair Review, Poetic Treasures Magazine, Section 8 Magazine, Blacktopia: Black Utopia Society Blog, Works in Progress, Woman of P.O.W.E.R. blog, Media Blast Press, Madness Muse Magazine, cocktailmolly, New York Rising Blog, thisis50.com, Supastars Magazine, downsouthhiphop.com, Beat Yard Magazine, All Black Entertainment Magazine, Southeast Hip-Hop Magazine, Poets & Writers Magazine, Tuck Magazine, Wild Sound Festival Review, Dwartonline, Zoomoozophone Review, as well as in HangTime Magazine and The Lemonade Stand Magazine.
© Darrell Herbert
Hell had frozen into hardened solid white ice, as heaven caught fire the devil laughed, as god wept and dried his tears on a well burnt angel wing. Planets exploded as the universe collapsed, throwing microscopic bits of the sun and the moon on to the few remaining humans. The sudden and vast disintegration gave way to new orders, Gods were born from shattered devils that had survived the blast. They moved in steady rhythm, placing chaos into order, creating new rules for their divine plans, destroying anything that had withstood the destruction, and built pure and new creations to take their place. And after the rebirth of the universe another catastrophe crashed, and hurriedly demolished it’s creation and took it’s place.
I am 23 years old and enjoy writing short stories and poems. My main themes are mental health and moral struggles. my work consists of dark themes and hopeless situations, that are based off of my struggles with bipolar disorder. My favourite pass times are reading, writing and gardening.
© Renee Heinrich
I was putting cigarettes out on my arm when Joey let out an obnoxious yawn and said, “If I spend one more minute in this house, I’m gonna apply for a gun permit on the sole purpose of permanently eradicating this boredom.”
The smell of burning flesh was permeating the air. I lit up another cigarette, took a hit and asked what our prospects looked like in the city that always sleeps?
Joey stood up to make his way to the window. It was nothing but gray skies again with the promise of misery in the form of falling rain. “We’re fucked,” he said.
This wasn’t news to me. I did however suggest the dire need to escape these empty walls.
We made our way to Bobby’s house in under ten minutes from Bethel Park to Brookline. Joe’s car didn’t stall once. Miracles happen every day. When they happen in Pittsburgh, they’re extraordinary.
On the way there I spotted a sexy blonde who looked damn near identical to my ex. She’s been burning a hole in my mind. I’ve been losing a piece of my soul each day since our departure.
Bobby let us in his dilapidated house, but made sure to inquire about the uninvited guest I brought along with me. He always was a cynical bastard.
Apparently, we came at the right time. There was a small gathering of people drinking cheap beer, engaging in cheap dialogue. I told Joey to grab us a couple beers, as I pulled up two seats to the kitchen table, where all the action was happening.
I was chugging my beer when Bobby asked, “Why didn’t you bring your girlfriend, man?”
I screamed back, “I don’t wanna fucking talk about it!” as I slammed down the empty beer can on his filthy table. Dust from a lifetime of neglect was floating in the air above us.
“Christ! I’m sorry, man,” replied Bobby with a blatant hint of trepidation in his voice.
The damage was done. I felt tears swelling up in my eyes. My emotions were like a tidal wave. Crying like a little bitch in public over the best piece of ass I’ve ever had was inexcusable. I suppressed my tears, rose up from my seat, and grabbed another cold one.
The small crowd of nervous, indigenous Pittsburghers made their introductions to Joey and I after my outburst. These people were insipid, forgettable human beings. I couldn’t tell you a single name from that party. My mind was preoccupied on other things.
After a few minutes I began to question why I made the miserable choice of leaving the confines of my empty house to put up with another uneventful night at Bobby’s.
Maybe the redundancy had something to do with it. Bobby has seen me in my worst, time and time again.
In the hopes of diminishing my anguish Bobby put on Frank Sinatra’s greatest hits volume one, classic vinyl.
Listening to the “Summer Wind” only set me off further. This is the album that would spin non-stop when I brought my ex over for cheap beer and good times.
I continued to drink like a drunk on a rush. Joey couldn’t keep up, in fact, with the way I was drinking, nobody could.
The record kept spinning, and the small talk persisted. It was all about men in tights, football and stats. The kind of dialogue that could push an unstable man over the edge. Occasionally, I would interject a crude comment about men being obsessed with men, followed by a condescending look to solidify my contempt for all things sports. The madness in my eyes was evident, so they nodded in caution.
Bobby was feeling apprehensive, not saying much. Usually he’s the one rambling on like a coke addict about absolutely nothing. Panic had arrived in Brookline.
Five beers later I took off to the bathroom. My first massive piss of the night was aimed in his grungy bathtub. I felt at one with the steam that ascended from the urine. She’s been gone for over a week, and with her, my happiness, muse and all around wellbeing.
Joey stopped me at the bottom of the steps saying, “Mario, this is boring as fuck. These dudes are all lame, and I haven’t drank shit beer in months. What’s the chances of any girls showing up?”
I pointed to the hole in the ceiling, assuring him it’s a bring your own policy. And that even then he better be careful. This place has a reputation for scaring off the most liberalized women available.
We made our way back to the beer, then back to the table of men talking about other men. Frank Sinatra was still singing.
“So what’s new, man?” said Bobby.
“Well,” I said. “I’ve been jerking myself off to oblivion, losing sleep and putting cigarettes out my arm. Life is a beautiful fucking thing.”
The crowd looked worried after my words. I stood up from my seat, lit a cigarette and began to pace back an fourth.
“It’s all bullshit,” I declared. “Once you’ve finally attained a piece of sunshine, it’s only a matter of time before it’s lost in the shadows. Funny how greatness can turn into shit, and be flushed down the toilet, leaving nothing but a faint odor!”
“Mario, it’ll get better. Just try to forget about her, man,” pleaded Bobby.
I took my unopened beer can, and wailed at him, screaming “I fucking told you not to bring her up!”
The beer hit the wall, exploding all over Bobby and the sports enthusiasts he called friends.
Bobby screamed out, “Mario, what the fuck are doing, man?”
“I’m crashing your fucking party, asshole!”
Joey stood up and flipped the table onto the floor. The crowd was covered in ashes, beer and debris.
I punched a hole in the wall next to the record player. It felt wonderful. I lost a piece of resentment in the drywall.
All his friends scurried out the back door as fast they could to the safety of their Toyota Camry’s or Ford Escort’s.
Most people cower away from violent situations. His friends were those type of people.
After that I chased Bobby out of his own house. His absence was my elation.
Joey and I laughed like degenerate assholes at the destruction we caused. I heard sirens coming closer, so we grabbed the rest of the beer and made our escape. Not before leaving close to an ounce of weed scattered in plain site all over the floor.
Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh with a chemical imbalance and lack of patience. His writing has propagated the small press like chlamydia in Beechview. He’s been faithfully volunteering at the Light Of Life Rescue Mission for the past three years now, the man believes in action. Check him out at https://insipidpressblog.wordpress.com/
© Michael Marrotti
Talking to myself (God’s in passage) y6-77
For such a momentous occasion a Lord once again bows his head. There be no beast that approaches, or daemon that wishes to seduce or entrap, but sin. It is once again time for the Lord of 6th to beg for his forgiveness. Time has not ticked in his favor this once, Luna has once again turned her cold embrace away from his grasp. He is tired again, drained; be it rest, his heart, his soul, or his thoughts, the lord is seeking a thing. Jousting thoughts across cosmos far beyond his understanding he tries to tackle the first disturbance in his troublesome mind.
Head heavy from a drain of all you may know,
This is not as deliberate as it once was,
You’ve been backed into a corner from wince you cannot retreat,
There is no compromise here,
This is no simple wanting of “a little shut eye”,
This is a strenuous need for an utter shut down,
For a starvation from all that rest here. . .close,
Close against the chest young Lord, ever so close.
Right where the void is,
Right where that maelstrom resides taking in all you give it,
That’s what you crave?
But to much of a coward to take slumber to a permanence,
Until you match the strict dedication of stone,
You shall forever remain weak,
You shall always want and need,
You will live the remainder of your days drained of all you crave,
Ever so close, but ever so out of reach,
All you need is but to ask,
But yet, you remain so fragile that a questioning rousing might break you. . .
You will never have rest this life time,
You will never slow,
And because of that,
You’ll die alone. . .
Once again erect are the horns that pierce the heavens, all three parts of his psyche sitting atop of his horns, as if he had not had to bare enough. There was no speaking of his decent into madness, thinking that it would only anger the Lord, knowing that it was he who caused it. Yet they spoke of his rise into a beast that may adapt to caring, something that had been stopped a many times, but to no avail of the three. Due to the heavy consequences of the Lord’s anger they chose to speak in dimensions he’d known nothing of, they chose to speak of his heart.
1. Had he given in to the parishes of cold as I had ask these inquiries would be null. Had he followed suggestion unquestioned his questing would’ve been defective, yet he struggled. He clasped at the hearts he held in his palms like precious stones expecting to crack and pressure them without breaking. My lord has become a foolish one, childish squandering in the minds of women as if he had himself made them. In each and every instance he rose to spire only to pierce himself atop and slide slowly to a spreading pain. As if no one had mentioned the position he’d entered, dented and scrambled he’s become. Fucking lunatic my lord has become. It ends the same way it begins, there is no change, this is the constant arrogance the lords are known for, thinking that with hands of stone they wouldn’t crack eggs. They were banned from these emotions for good reason, it was written as a rite for this exact fucking reason. How could one rule those of damned becoming if they do nothing but search for the reason they are so damned themselves?
2. You question as if your knowledge of him were beyond you. It is he who left you alone at the behest of the moon, just as he left all those he cared about at the behest of you. You, supposedly the collective darkness of a lord, forcing him into a weakened state, a crippling caring kindness. We asked of you of nothing but to not do this. Driving for a common ground with he and his heart, as if he didn’t already pain of thirty eons. But still this can’t all be placed on you, even after being cast out to the void you still clasped to him like the shadow he needed. This may seem like a trivial argument to you two but every little detail matters, he must either be rebuilt or eroded away.
3. There is no simple answer, you two jest and question as if you would actually change a matter of a daemon’s heart, you know nothing. Let him be, he will learn.
As lord sits upon suns, the days fade in and out of time, watching them end and begin in the same second. This is how lords are punished for abandoning their gods, their masters. Never taking into consideration that some lose hope in all gods, in all mumbles of crosses and reincarnation, sometimes it all sounds like the same lie. Sometimes that same lie moves nations and lords would rather be punished than serve false idols.
I can recall the ram pulling it from my chest like the smoke from an exhaust,
A twisting sickening feeling like living in a blender,
Churning in the elder cathedral,
My first awakening,
Blessed they claimed I would be without it, but I remember giving it away at such younger times,
I could feel the flame of candles thirty feet away on the altar,
My first new breath was one of brimstone,
Visions of altered existences that I’ll never be able to explain,
The horizon a visage of crucifixions,
This is what I was meant to see,
To dance in the sorrow of the crusades,
If only for a second it felt as it I had been there all my life,
I stood on my own coffin and took heart into the void,
I was there, I was where I was meant to be,
I was at peace with all my chaos,
Free of the restraints of sin and humane morality.
Gifted with the soulless shell of a lord,
A child of the sea, a lover of the Luna,
Mental immortality, the only life that ever mattered to begin with,
A gift from the vultures known as the Lords,
They taught me to dance on my grave until my corpse called out to me,
Until I am forced to dance with the elder lords in the void beyond the void.
This is what I’ve been left with,
The vessel of destructive plausibility,
I was left with but a shell of a man,
I was left a Lord.
This is what you find at the base of your throat when you just can’t speak, you leave yourself listless when you need to speak the most. This isn’t like the other parts you’re seeking, this isn’t the same safe passage I’ve always promised. This is truth, this is the bare bones of what I am, what I’m left to sleep with when no one else is around. When the bottle’s empty and nothing else around can soothe me, this is me thinking into my own void realm, the way I can’t find my way out when the light shines to brightly.
As I approach it again, the lands I find myself far to familiar with, I smile. Back once again in the home of the hollow mansions. Still in my aging condition I have found no answer for my fear of this place. Why merely being here feels like worms under the flesh, still I must be. I have now only returned with my ram, Luna stripping me of my hounds and replacing them with a dim halo around my neck, she declares, “for my light at darker skies”, it’s been nothing but a noose. I look again to the cardboard sounding sun, I know it’s time to seek shelter, I can smell the rain crawling over the hills. Sitting on the worn wooden planks of one of the mansions I for once learn something. They aren’t mansions at all, just all large single rooms for something larger than my comprehension. And then the ram reminded me of my reasons for being here.
Hello again my friend,
Don’t lose track of your jesting mind,
Your needless needing of necrotic things.
Where are you now?
How often have you fed in a cannibalistic way of your own brain?
Are you full yet?
Frightfully fleeing forward into a future framed around flimsy fragments you’ve found and thought you’ve fought for?
You’ve obtained nothing,
There has not been a single gain in your fruitless struggling.
You rest now, in a home of something beyond your own perspective hoping to find something,
You will learn nothing.
Twisted young lord,
Your mind has been as twisted as the maelstrom in your gut,
Not in the ways you’ve seen in the dark, but in the halo you wear in the night.
Let free the noose provided by your lunar lover and live lavishly off of all you’ve struggled for,
Off of all we’ve trained for.
I utter not a tone, but instead back slowly into a corner that seemed to back at an infinite length away from me and closed my eyes. I hope all is a dream, something I’ve always known it not to be, always knowing this was where I was to be when needed. I’ve never left the mansions without losing something I held dear, without a sacrifice of a love of mine. That’s how it works, that’s how it has always worked. For the first time since I’d come here I reply to my teacher I speak back to the ram.
With third eye open,
With mortal slivers closed I see it all my friend,
My true fiend.
I’ve seen the cost of thinking and the draining self loathing it creates.
Why do I have to lose something,
Why do I have to give something up that means so much to me.
I’m so fucking tired of just being a permanent student,
My loving brother, today I embrace the beast I am again.
But is today not another day you’ve pretended to be here,
To not be a galaxy away from the someone you will lose,
This is simply a punishment for another shattered way of seeing.
You’ve once again opened a door that you have closed.
What broken house have you created where the waterline meets the sky.
That’s why you are here, why your mind carries you to a home you will never be able to sleep in.
So welcome home brother,
The welcome mat has always been calling out to you.
My name is Shokief Dillon, I was raised mostly in the southern United States. I’ve been writing my entire life, it keeps me centered and able to cope with my multiple disorders. This is all I choose to mention here.
© Shokief Dillon