“Red Night, Black Night” – Martha Batiz

the red coat_szente-szabo akos

The last thing I saw — Mother, torch in hand, racing back home at the skirts of the volcano.

The sky was dark and grey—an impenetrable shade of grey, darker than night yet cruel enough to let you see as if through a veil, fight for breath, scampering for your life.

I watched her leave me. Begged her to stop, to run away with me. The gods had made the earth tremble. Made the volcano spit out its burning-hot entrails. We’d been trained to read the signals in the sky and below our feet; we’d been taught to fear the gods’ wrath—to be ready.

Nothing prepared us for what happened.

It had all started many moons before, I was a child, yet I remember. When they arrived—foreigners with tall, four-legged beasts, wearing clothes stronger than obsidian knives and bones—we took them in. We admired their skin, rosy as a seashell, their hair like threads of gold, and the weapons they called “swords,” which we had never seen before.

You cannot carve anything that long out of stone.

We thought they’d been sent by the Feathered Snake, Quetzalcóatl, our long-lost god who promised to return bringing blessings.

We were wrong.

They brought sickness and pain; the urge to take away, to dispossess. Forced us to give up our land, our freedom, and our beliefs.

It was too late when we discovered they were not gods, because our gods had appreciated the gift of fresh beating hearts. Our gods had given us rain and sunshine; crops grew and we were satisfied. But, those creatures had skin that blistered up and turned red and vulnerable under our sun; they pushed us to the ground, took our bodies, and then despised us; they were thieves who dug holes in our land and took everything precious, offering nothing in return.

So, it was time for war. Our men fought while we danced. And we prayed for forgiveness, for we had been forced to betray everything we had been, everything we had believed in. Then, our rivers turned red, and so did the sky.

We were not absolved.

Smoke opened an endless night as the earth trembled. As I saw her leave me, torch in hand. Me and my red dress—made in advance to mark our victory—were left alone. Alone, and drowning in the dust of loss.

these words by Martha Batiz were inspired by the work of Akos Szente-Szabó

“Checkmate” – Manahil Bandukwala


You enter a room with a checkered floor, a chessboard sprawling outwards. Your side is just you; on the other is a jester, a devil and a centaurette with a gun. You have no weapons. You don’t know the rules. The game is stacked against you before it begins.

White starts. The jester advances forward five spaces.

Black’s turn. You feel behind you for the doorway you entered through, but it’s not there. The only way to move is forward. You brace yourself to run, and smack against air. Staggering back, you find yourself a space ahead of where you were. Only one square at a time for you. A bruise starts to form on your cheek.

White. The devil moves to stand on your left side, brushing your leg with its pointed tail.

Black. You take a step forward and the devil moves with you but doesn’t touch you. There is a window across the room, your only way out. You count the number of steps to the mountains outside. Three. If you survive even one more step forward, it’ll be a miracle.

White. The centaurette cocks her gun and shoots. The bullet flies between your legs and goes cleanly through the wall behind. She gallops forward and stops two squares in front of you, right in front of the window. Her smile teases you to come forward and take her crown; she knows all the rules to the game and you’ve only figured out one.

Black. You stick to your plan. One square forward—the devil moves too. The jester dances around outside confines of boxes.

White. Nothing. They’re waiting.

Black. The window is almost there, but the centaurette sits spread across the tiles.

White. A shadow belonging to no one flits across the wall. Everyone jumps in surprise, including the centaurette. The square in front of you is empty.

Black. You leap forward and jump out the window, falling past storeys until you hit the ground. Glass rains over you, cutting into your skin. You hear a faraway giggle echo through the trees. You are a lump of flesh lying in a bush on a riverbank. The river snakes through the landscape, washing your blood away.


these words by Manahil Bandukwala were inspired by the work of Miza Coplin

“Screams in an empty place” – Jerry Corvil

nicolas sanchez-Lineage_JPG1

Alone in my room, my thoughts are dark
I live in a place where they hate me because my skin is dark.
Whoever says “smile and your misery will be history”
Is lying; the harder I smile the stronger it’s hurting me.

Knees to my chest, my soul crushing into pieces,
Sinking into darkness, happiness is all my heart misses.
Should I even write this; am I ever going to feel better?
I have long been digging from within, looking for a treasure.

Maybe I am not worth anything; should I even keep fighting?
All those thoughts and demons inside of my head.
I call for help, and no one hears me except those monsters under my bed.
I’m asking, to whoever can answer me, how can I survive when my mind is fading?

Those paintings inspire me, tell me there’s still beauty all around me.
I might be sick, who knows? I can only write when life’s hurting me.
Is it ironic to say that the only one who’s always been there for me is loneliness?
I have lived most of my life, lost, scared and confused; I feel better when I’m depressed.

This is what my mind is constantly repeating to itself.
It’s like one side is trying to find solutions, while the other’s killing itself.
I am not asking for much, only need somebody’s presence.
I’m tired of screaming, sitting in this blue room hearing only the echoes of silence.


these words by Jerry Corvil were inspired by the work of Nicolas V. Sanchez



New Prose by Josh Elyea: “On Punching a Nazi”

Passing Through


He had a habit where he’d slowly and meticulously pull the hairs out of his beard and pile them, as though they were kindling to start a fire, on whatever surface lay in front of him. It was a disgusting habit, one he was not fond of and one he would’ve judged others for having, and despite his most earnest and steadfast attempts, he was simply unable to quit it.

He wondered if that’s how Trump supporters felt about their casual racism, about their callous disregard for their neighbours. Maybe they wanted to stop, he said. Maybe they were aware of the shame of their habit, maybe they knew what they were doing was wrong. Maybe they just couldn’t stop.

Who cares whether it’s conscious or not, she says. This is the 21st century—we have Google and Wikipedia, for chrissake—and you’ve got the totality of human knowledge at your fingertips. There’s no excuse for ignorance, she says, and he knows she’s right. She’s cool, of the old-school variety. Think Dana Scully, but with more heart. When she speaks, it’s with a sort of callous candor, a ruggedness of speech that only works when underscored by a passionate sincerity. She listens to old jazz records and calls Louis Armstrong by his proper name (Satchmo, she says with love, and she blows him a kiss across the time-space continuum). As he stares, it seems as though she’s blurred into the landscape, a variety store Venus on the warpath, ready to lay waste to the barbaric conservative politics that have, almost overnight, eclipsed the American consciousness.

The future is female, she tells him, and he knows that she’s right. How could it not be, with an arbiter like this?

Maybe it’s time to take off the kiddie gloves, she says. Maybe, just maybe, the left has been playing nice for too long, and it’s time to stop rolling around in the mud with the GOP.

It’s time to call alternative facts what they are: propaganda.

It’s time to call Trump’s Muslim ban what it is: racism.

It’s time to call the alt-right exactly what they are: Nazis.

Maybe it’s time to stop giving credence to the idea that we’re all entitled to an opinion, regardless of whether that opinion is right. You’ve got the right to an informed opinion, but fuck those people who choose ignorance over equality. Maybe we need to stop playing to our slowest members, and maybe we need to grab these petulant, misinformed, archaic relics of a bygone era by the scruff of their hypocritical necks and smack them until they realize that the only ones who don’t deserve a place in the world we’re building is them.

Of course we ought to strive to live in harmony, of course. In fact, that’s exactly what most of us are trying to do. But there comes a time when punching a Nazi isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do.


these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the work of Mairi Timoney