“Starlight” – Nailah King

kyoto nocturne ii_linbaoling

Lena loved to move.

Through space, through life and across lands.

The first thing she ever learned when travelling is that, as you land, the lights dotted along the skyline will take your breath away.

One summer she crept onto roofs in Barcelona waiting for nightfall. Against the purple sky, lights twinkled back at her, the warm air rushing over her, her wine-kissed lips chapped against the sea air.

In movement, she felt free. Each new place cast a spell on her—she walked differently. Sometimes a stride of confidence, sometimes one of fear.

Her mother often asked her: “When are you going to settle down? When will your heart be still?”

She couldn’t answer.

Her mind was often so cluttered. A voice would whisper darkness into her ear. When she couldn’t move, she woke up, either alone or with a lover, in despair.

Many nights she’d walk along the train tracks behind her childhood home, wondering if she’d be hit and if she’d be grateful. Or, sometimes, she wondered if she could run fast enough to hop onto the train and ride it to places unknown.

Bright lights were a beacon of hope; new experiences and people.

On sleepless nights, she curled up by the window waiting for sunlight. Her body marked by tiny incisions from the past, she thought about each scar—a map of the past. She wondered why there weren’t passports for sorrow. To mark the ebb and flow of sadness and joy, destruction and rebuilding, regression and growth.

Once, when she was in the hospital, she booked a flight on her phone.

The nurse screamed at Lena but it didn’t really matter. The nurse’s words sounded warped, gargled even, the onslaught of disappointment and disbelief drifted over her. All she could hear was the sound of the ocean. She closed her eyes.

She heard the blaring sound of the train horn and raced along the tracks, dawn rising behind her.

 

these words by Nailah King were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

“Tickets and Rides” – Josh Elyea

nocturne with ferris wheel_linbaoling

The neon from the carnival lights, bright against the black sky, hurts my eyes when I stare at it for too long. It’s hard to tell where the light ends and the black begins; no matter how hard I try to hone in on the exact place where they meet, the edge never reveals itself. Sometimes our love is like that, too; even when I want to, I can never really find where the good bits stop and the bad bits start.

It feels as though something horrible is about to happen; the air is heavy, laden, just as it is before the breaking of a storm. I like storms. I remember fondly those moments when I would sit, as a child, on the porch swing with my mother and we’d watch the thunder clouds roll in across the fields. With the defiance found only in youth, I’d scream back towards the lightning with all the breath in my lungs, as my mother shook her head.

You have to whisper to the thunder, she’d say. That’s the only way it can hear you.

My wife looks like my mother, a little.

 The heavy air feels hot on my skin, and I worry my hands are too clammy to reach out and grasp the woman next to me. I do it anyway. As I do, I say that ferris wheels aren’t supposed to move this fast, my darling. They aren’t supposed to fly.

Cotton candy flavored kisses, corny lines like you complete me, cocaine drips and my corduroys rubbing together with that shhhk, shhhk. The drugs were her idea, I swear. Something about shaking the monotony of Saturday night rituals, of having a suburban crisis of faith.  

Stopped at the top, I stare deep into the sky. It’s moving, like a Rorschach without the white. Pulsing, and at the very edges of my eyes, from below, the neon creeps into view. Who knew a glimpse into the abyss could be bought with a single carnival ticket. Here I thought it would cost me a white picket fence.

 

these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

“And I Inhale Again” – Nahomi Amberber

Babe-in-the-Woods---Selina-Vesely-(2015)

I lay myself down in between you
And us
And inhale.
You do not smell like home
Like they said you would.
You smell like old pine trees and the mud they root themselves in,
And I inhale again.
I begin to weep and you ask me why;
“You smell like land unconquered,” I say.
“You smell like a dream.”

these words by Nahomi Amberber were inspired by the work of Selina Vesely

“Passage” – Jess Goldson

Icy-Melt---Selina-Vesely-(2017)

The young woman clothes herself in fall colours year-round. Something about being surrounded by hues emblematic of death gives her a sense of peace. Enrobed in maroon, and burnt oranges and umbers, she feels a crispness in her step, a frail assuredness. As she treads through autumn, flattening the leaves, she, too, finds herself bent backward. Snowflakes descend, stifling the last breaths of crunching leaves — disembodied trees. Sheets of ice overwhelm battered leaves, soothing and preserving their bruised tissues. Although she anticipates destruction, winter heals her.

 

these words by Jess Goldson were inspired by the work of Selina Vesely

 

“Healing” – Shagufe Hossain

Chelsea Rushton_In Which God is a Woman, part ii 300 dpi

It is not the same, the rain here and the rain there. Even though the sky is heavy with untold secrets the same way. Even though when the clouds breathe, they breathe tears. Even though it falls, as it does everywhere. It is not the same. I suppose it can never be the same in any two places. But it takes a while to know the difference.

People are people and places are places. But the earth breathes differently when water touches it, depending on where it is. Sometimes, touches make it shiver and shrivel away. Or don’t make it any more or any less than it is. And sometimes, touches make it come alive. You can tell how the water makes the earth feel from the way it smells.

It is the same with people. You can tell how touches make one feel from the way they smell. There is either the distinct fragrance of desire or the distinct odour of disdain. Or sometimes the distinct scentlessness of indifference that makes your feel like you have anosmia.

That is the worst of the lot. No stench. No perfume. Just scentlessness.
But it takes a while to know the difference. Nonetheless, it falls. Everywhere.

And sometimes, as it falls, it stirs a storm.

There is a storm in you and there is a storm in me.
You have blizzards that are icy. Cold. They stir broken pieces of glass that cut through the heart, leaving you wounded.

My storms are warm. They stir something soft. Clouds that melt, pour water. Heal.

Your blizzard is what you seek refuge from. Sometimes. My storm is what you seek refuge in. Sometimes.

I don’t know if your storm reflects my soul or your soul is reflected in mine. But there is a storm in you and there is a storm in me. And I hoped, maybe, if you saw the storm in me and I saw the storm in you, we would know some calm in each other. That is why I offered you my storm. So you would find some solace in mine and I would find mine in you. So none of us would have to hide. And both of us, maybe, would begin to heal.

 

these words by Shagufe Hossain were inspired by the work of Chelsea Rushton

“Caged” – Francine Cunningham

Chelsea Rushton_Vesper xiii 300 dpi

we’ve never seen the sunset,
just the reflection of it
on the mountains
our windows face

we could drive to the other side of the island,
i guess
we’ve talked about it
packing a picnic
blanket
all of it
but we’ve never done it

tonight, we sit on the patio
bathed in the noise of buzzing mosquitoes
loud and piercing when too close to the ear
the smell of citronella not helping,
it never does

the light fades on the mountain side
pink
gold
light and then dark green

when twilight envelopes us
we rise on stiff legs
hobble to the bedroom
silently undress
i don’t know anymore in which emotion we look at each others bodies
indifference, boredom,
maybe even hatred
sliding under stiff sheets offers
reprieve
and in the darkness our dreams take hold,

what wondrous things they are

 

these words by Francine Cunningham were inspired by the work of Chelsea Rushton

“Taste of Leaving” – Jess Glavina

majkapincik

The off-whites of your apartment
The buzz of your kitchen lamp
The halo it casts around your red hair as we wait for your friend

The fewer days you have to leave, the slower it feels

The essentials:
The two people you must say goodbye to.
The books to return. The one to get back.
The borrowed transit card. The money you owe.

I leave like I came
Moving alone through the city
A zigzag
Promises spoken lightly
turning to finishing nails in my pocket

these words by Jess Glavina were inspired by the work of Evelyn Bencicova

“White Light” – Charlotte Joyce Kidd

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To have your body be struck by a force that comes from completely within itself

To know that you cannot save yourself from it

That in every silent second lurks a light that will hit you between the eyes from behind your forehead

That cold will come in waves and shivers will grate the underside of your skin

That something will gurgle up through your trachea until you are sobbing not because you are sad but because the sobs have always existed inside you and want to see day

To try, desperately, to stave it off, to force it down with anything that you can grab and pull into yourself, through mouth and eyes and nose

So that it explodes in the seconds between: the moment when your feet touch the ground, before you have reached for the curtains

Light brighter and sharper than the sun you were trying to let in

Assaulting your eyes without your permission

Shaking your body like a silent church organ

This thing that is you now

That feels like it will not leave

It will

I promise

 

these words by Charlotte Joyce Kidd were inspired by the work of Evelyn Bencicova

“Goodnight (Again)” – Ajay Mehra

The Door of No Return_hires

I’m sad I saw you.

I’m sorry. I’m happy you’re happy. I’m happy. You’re happy.

Old pictures are magic. Memories are magic. Disneyland and imagination and the faces in your messages are magic. Everything is magic except now.

I’m sorry I left. I’m sorry I came.

I met a very beautiful woman at bridge two years ago. We see each other often. I should have said.

I wanted to see you.

You walk the same. I think I do too. I saw a video of me and I knew it was me. I miss you more everyday.

You were so beautiful.

Goodnight (again).

 

these words by Ajay Mehra were inspired by the work of Shanna Strauss