Darkness – by DEE LEAN

Darkness

by Dee Lean

A black cloud moves in amidst rolling thunder and thick, heavy droplets of rain. I stand by idly waiting for it to come closer. It will arrive slowly at first; something you can see at a distance  but blindly hope you will be able to shelter yourself from; or that it will pass you by.

But still it comes; you’re unprepared for the unpredictable storm.

It steadies itself upon your head, weighing heavy on your shoulders, crushing your chest, making it hard to breathe and settles in for the long stay.

All around you, you cannot see this formidable gathering that drags you down into the darkness.

You open your mouth to explain what they can not comprehend. They say there is no darkness, that there are no dark clouds or rolling storm. There is sunshine and blue skies and beautiful scenes all around you.

Why can you not see it?

Love becomes a word that means absolutely nothing. A memory of a feeling that lived inside you once; it kept you warm at night and held you close when everything felt wrong. A shoulder to lean on when you felt your legs weak beneath you; hands to lift you up and dust you off when you had fallen. Love was your head against his chest, hearing a heartbeat steadily against your ear.

And then it was gone. And then he was gone. And then you were gone.

It was all replaced with a darkness. A mist surrounds your every thought and move. You can’t shake it or set it free. It’s tied to your soul, it’s tethered to what’s left of your broken and shattered heart.

Everyday is a struggle and a war against the demons that have taken up residence inside your head. They talk to you in muffled ramblings, informing you of your worthlessness.

Unlovable, unlikable and the ugliness manifests.

Days roll into weeks and weeks roll into months and you still can’t see a way out of this hell and the walls that have built up around you. So why do you hold on and keep the hope alive?

Only in total darkness can you see even the smallest slithers of light. And with the light comes redemption. And with redemption comes my survival.

I am a survivor and my story does not end here…

*****

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***Dee Lean believes that a writer that doesn’t write is like a soul without a mate, aimlessly wondering without a purpose. Born in Belfast, Ireland, Lean currently lives in Melbourne, Australia and is a single mother to two gorgeous kids that get her up and inspire her to see and seek the good in all. When people ask her what she does, she simply says, “I write.” She tweets at: https://twitter.com/Dede18 ***

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Love Your Enemy/The Cooking Gene/Poets are ultimately… – POETRY BY PRERNA BAKSHI

Love your enemy

 

 

Love your enemy, they say. So I love them by killing them softly with my kisses, dripping with this unquenchable hate that grows stronger with each passing day. As bitter and rich as dark chocolate, as bright as the color red. Blood red. Trust me when I say my kisses are irresistible. Inescapable. To die for. Killing – quite literally.

My other enemies would attest for it or at least they could, if they were still alive.


 

The Cooking Gene

 

 

He asked if I could cook.

So I asked if he could hunt.

“Hunting? No. Why would I know that?” he said.

“Oh ’cause if you can’t hunt, then what would I cook?” I said perplexed.

“Well, you’re supposed to know

how to cook

for you’re a lady.”

 

I didn’t know there was a cooking gene

women carried innately.

So, thank you!

oh, enlightened man, for letting me know.

I said

wait…

I can smell something…

burning…

 

Oh, that’s the food

for you

I put on the stove.

So much so for

the cooking gene

I was bestowed.

 

Oh well…Time for it to be chucked away.

So say your goodbye

both to the food, and me.

And please oh please

stay miles away!


 

Poets are ultimately…

 

 

Seducers, teasers

who shamelessly seduce and tease

their readers

until they fully

submit themselves.

They talk dirty,

softly,

blow into their ears,

whisper

sweet little things,

tell them about the

sound that the

ocean makes.

The salty breeze,

stars at night,

the full tide,

shells on the sea shore,

moonlight,

footprints

on the sand.

Just then,

they let go off the

readers’ hand,

drown them

in the ocean, and

leave.


 

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***Prerna Bakshi is a Sociolinguist, writer, translator and activist of Indian origin, presently based in Macao. Her work has previously been published in over three dozen literary journals and magazines, most recently in Red Wedge Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Kabul Press, Misfit Magazine, Peril magazine: Asian-Australian Arts & Culture and Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. Her full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, recently long-listed for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UKis forthcoming from Les Éditions du Zaporogue (Denmark) later this year. She tweets at @bprerna***

Creativity on the go – by BRIAN MICHAEL BARBEITO

FOREWARD BY BRIAN MICHAEL BARBEITO – AN INTRO TO TRAGEDY/COMEDY WEEK

CREATIVITY ON THE GO

The nice thing about creatives is that no matter what they are cooking up, they are involved in similar processes. It’s fun to talk shop with artists and writers, photographers and musicians. I find in my journeys that it is rare that one of these makers has never at least dabbled in another form if not taken even two or sometimes three forms of creativity quite seriously.

These birds fly to other fields.

Something in an adjacent landscape calls them.

I primarily write. That happens organically. There is an experience, a happening, and then it reoccurs for better or worse in memory. After that, the subject matter informs the form. If what was seen and heard and then remembered dictates a long form of writing, then that is what comes out. Or, the frame might be small, and there is a vignette.

But what if something is seen right off and it really enthralls? That process can be speeded up to a certain extent. You see it. You process it. Your are already remembering it. You are impressed. You are taken. You have to tell someone. Or even just yourself again. This is where you can take a picture if you have a camera or I-phone.

This is the muse at work though not all people identify it as such. I might not be able to honor it properly, but I have to try. It’s not even me trying to capture what I have seen. Nor is it some magical metaphysical angelic process, – that I know of. It’s just a ‘larger’ process.

It is what happens.

So if I was walking in fields, or being driven somewhere, it is hard to sit and write a short outline, or to even write at all. A camera can work in these instances in seconds.

This is where photography came in. I had been writing over one thousand vignettes in ten years and they were mostly about the trees, the clouds, the fields, a bird, a feral shrub, and the wildflowers being danced by some wind that came across a summit in the late August afternoon. Some people resonated with them. I liked them. But then I just clicked pictures one day. Then I clicked more. That is an actual frame. I didn’t have to write the thousand words anymore.

But I still did.

So I had both. I had a picture and then later, I also had words. I started taking pictures, hundreds and hundreds, into the thousands I think- of rural landscapes. They seem the same but are always changing. I use the frame of writing, when I have time afterwards. And I use the frame of photography in the moment.

I don’t know much about the process of painting, music, sculpture, pottery, dancing, or the many other things. But I know that for me, – the photograph and the written word work well. And some others like what has been written or photographed, which is always a plus, a connective dynamic that is an unexpected gift after the fact. But, as mentioned, – I always write. That is my primary craft for better or worse. It was before the pictures and it will be after the pictures if the pictures end.

Writing is blood and photography is water. Water gives life, sure. But what is it giving life to? To blood. Blood runs deep, as the saying goes. Photography is my great friend. I love my friend, I do. I would do almost anything for my friend. But writing is my family, my blood. And I would do anything for it, not ‘almost’ anything.

But right now I do both. I have a family and friend! I am bringing the whole gang over.

If a picture is a worth a thousand words, that is great.

But with me, you will get the picture and a thousand words.

****

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***Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer, poet, landscape photographer, and editor (currently living in Ontario).Current work appears at Fiction International and The Tishman Review. Brian is the author of Chalk Lines from Fowlpox Press (2013) and edits BRLM Bougainvillea Road Lit Mag. Find him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/BrianMBarbeito ***

Welcome to Tragedy/Comedy Week!

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Welcome, welcome, welcome to Sick Lit Magazine’s Tragedy/Comedy Week!

We will have a wide array of work for you to peruse, ranging from poetry to flash fiction all the way over to some truly epic art.

Prerna Bakshi, who bravely kicked off our first Poetry Week, will also be the first up for Tragedy/Comedy week. Dee Lean, Ron Gibson, C.C. O’Hanlon, Cathryn Campbell, Toby Penney (and her breathtaking art), Gavin Hedaux, Rob True, and many, many more artists will be participating this week.

As always, if you are sitting here reading this letter and think you have a piece to submit for this week, it’s NOT TOO LATE! Send it on over to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com 

I have also decided (LAST MINUTE) to include a three-week long ADDITIONAL, running theme of FLASH FICTION. Again, if you are sitting here reading this and have some flash fiction for me, send it on over. 

Back to Tragedy/Comedy Week! 

Once a theater major at the University of Texas at Austin (I know, I know, I’ve dabbled; I’m sort of all over the place) and long time theater enthusiast, I’ve acted in many plays, one-act plays, excerpts, performed monologues, sang a cappella in a silent room to two people; I have auditioned my ass off. But some of my favorite times onstage were during my two years at Wichita Falls High School (Old High), with whom I deem to be the greatest theater teacher and director on the planet, Doc Wood.

I came to know that Tragedy and Comedy come in many forms. I know that they mean different things to different people.

Tragedy doesn’t always have to mean absolute and utter devastation; in fact, there is one school of thought that delineates that Tragedy and Comedy can be one and the same. In one way it makes sense; I guess it’s like when you laugh at someone who’s just rolled down the stairs. It’s tragic for that person, but comedic gold to you. And, yes, I’m one of those assholes who cannot contain themselves when someone hurts themselves. I can’t help it! (Unless their leg has just been severed. I’m not evil.)

Comedy comes in SO MANY different forms as we know all too well; (“Hey, check this movie out! It is so funny!” I’ve said to my husband a million times. He watched it. He did not laugh) and is made up of so many layers. Timing is oh-so-crucial and it isn’t something that can be taught. Whether it’s slapstick humor (a la The Three Stooges) or dry humor (Seinfeld), laughter will always, indeed, continue to be some of the best medicine. 

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When I was performing in the play The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman, playing the villainous Mary at a Theater Camp in Nacogdoches, Texas, I had to really look inside myself, because this was an extremely difficult role for me to play. Our director said it was why she’d picked me; with my bubbly personality and youthful optimism, she had wanted to challenge me. Mary’s character is destructive, sociopathic, manipulative and sneaky.

There was a scene where I was, of course, the petulant, angry, overbearing child, answering the other character (Rosalie)’s line with, “A lot of people are just ugly.” (This is not an exact quote, by the way). Which, to my surprise, elicited an eruption of laughter from the crowd. What? This was not a funny play. This was not supposed to be a funny line. Oh no! What’s happening? 

It was simply theater happening. 

That was it.

Later in the scene I actually had to slap the other girl in the face. During the performance, I slapped her so hard I busted her lip, eliciting a horrified gasp from the audience. So, there it was. The same audience that laughed, only a few moments later, gasped in disgust.

Tragedy and comedy, together. And as a cast, we had made it happen. 

And that’s what we do here at Sick Lit Magazine: We make things happen.

I truly love the network of authors we have created here. This is a very exciting magazine to be a part of. I’ll say it again after reading all of my Tragedy/Comedy pieces, damn, do my writers have soul.

They do not disappoint.

For any of you who watched the short-lived series My So-Called Life in the 90s, I kind of think of Sick Lit Magazine as the adult version of Angela Chase’s English class’s publication Liberty Lit. I despise censorship for censorship’s sake. I can’t stand pointless rules and “one-inch margin” specifications. Throw it out the window, readers and writers. And write what no one else will. 

So, curl up by the fire (if it’s cold where you are) and don’t forget to…Enjoy the Show! 

Cheers!

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Sick Lit Magazine Editor-in-Chief

PS: One of my favorite quotes is from Jane Magazine back in the 90s, merely an afterthought that hung in the air above a fashion editorial. It read: “Not famous? Who cares? Star in your own damn show.” And it’s kind of been my motto ever since. 

Unmasked – by ANTHONY SPROUSE

Unmasked

Chaotic randomness fills my mind,       stories,       ideas,         words.

A clammer of different voices – demanding to be heard.

Remember when…

I have a great idea…

Mines better…

Worries creep in, what if…            will I manage…            will she live…

Passion takes over, love, hate, betrayal, fear – will he stay?                                                  Am I enough?

Overwhelming thoughts, discarded memories work up a storm inside

my head.

I wish for peace from the endless torment,

I wish for escape,                                     even death…

Harry Olivia Petunia Auraya We are all in the gutter I dreamed a dream…

A sunset, the crash of waves, a bloody knife…

Characters, quotes, images come flooding in,

sensory overload.

I will never win my freedom,                           I will never escape…

My mind is a constant battlefield of chaotic thoughts.

Let them go…

*****


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***Anthony Sprouse is a short story author, novelist, and poet. He has several pieces of work appearing or forthcoming in several publications. Currently he is studying a Bachelor’s Degree in creative writing, and when he’s not writing avidly, he’s most likely getting stuck into a new book with a big mug of hot chocolate. He tweets at: https://twitter.com/WolfyWiccan ***

Four Winter Poems – by OWEN CLAYBORN

Four Winter Poems by Owen Clayborn

Child
Precipitous dark,
hungering dark,
I am kept from you
only by her thin hair,
her small head on my chest,
and her smile I would miss
too much.


 

Slaving Pain to Bones
Slaving pain to bones
Our cruel feet
Cannot evolve the promiscuous dark
past duality,
And hands slip from hands
that once depression slaked.


 

The Schoolboy
(With thanks to William Blake)
I used to have a cigarette every morning,
and lie smoking, ignoring the birds;
The traffic on the dual carriageway,
And the trucks would smoke with me:
A miserable fellowship.

But when the bus turned up in May —
God, what depression.
Watched by a tired old fool,
We would sit there
Pissing about.

Slouching around,
Butterflies in my gut;
Getting nothing from the textbook,
Hardly held by their teaching,
Exhausted by the rain.

I never got how a human spirit
Could be trapped like that.
A monkey-soul, full of anxiety,
Losing the elasticity of youth,
Shedding every happy thought!

One dealt hash under the desk,
Another retold last night’s fingering;
All these buds and sprouts
Growing cramped in the dark,
When there should have been light and space, —

But if this was summer,
Then what strange blooms would grow,
And what shapes form in the smoke,
And questing fingers unearth,
In the harsh frost of the year’s end?


 

Dusk, the Thirteenth

Pale blue and pale brown, living latticework
of sticks and clouds, blowing, booming, bending
in the mild gale, seen from my table.
The rattle of the magpie in the oak,
the automatic gunshot from the fields
scaring rooks from God knows what. Pointless noise.
Snaps of hail are wintering up the windows,
a warning of the cold to come, how hard
a frost the world could get. I sip my wine:
the day is ended by the blood of France,
of many nations.
*
I hear children
crying in the wind,
the sigh of sand drifting
on dead shores over
greenstick fractures,
tracing Europe’s bones.
*
Over the airwaves, the crack
of jets; the plume
of war being written large
for the third time.

 


***Owen Clayborn is a British-American writer of poetry, full-length fiction, and short stories. His work usually features roguish characters in unusual situations. Owen is currently working on a picaresque novel. Follow Owen on Twitter at:https://twitter.com/claybornwrites ***

Broken Glass – by COLT PRYOR

Broken glass

By Colt Pryor

 

 

Broken glass lit up my home’s entry hall. It was a gleaming trail of bread crumbs.

I stared down, mouth agape, stepping gingerly, slowly, heartbeat in my ears.

My right hip bone creaked as I lifted my leg up above the sharp edges that belonged to the glass shards and splintered wood, dangerously sprinkled across the threshold that led into the dining room.

Looking left, I saw my birthday flowers turned over on the tile in the breakfast nook, cloudy water pooling beneath the dried tulip petals that now lay sideways, askew, their preciously trimmed stems just a reminder of all that trouble gone to waste.

A timid “Hello?” escaped my lips. It hung in the air untouched.

My pulse sped and sweat beads formed on my face in a light sheen. My hands quivered as my mind’s eye saw broken images that didn’t quite connect.

“Hello…?” my voice sounded again, feminine and squeaky, echoing off the walls and bouncing off of the high, second floor ceilings, coming back to me from my stained concrete floors.

As my foot made contact with the concrete, my second step of terrific progress forward, I heard the sole of my shoe crunching the glass beneath my weight.

I grimaced at the sound.

My jaw clenched.

A scuffle in the breakfast nook took my pulse up another notch; by the time I collected my racing mind, I saw my back door wide open, the breeze blowing haphazardly in, ruffling the drapes in its wake, strong enough to blow the top layers of my hair back from my face and chill the moisture on my skin.

Taped to the back wall was an envelope with “Penelope” scrawled on the front in messy handwriting.

My foot itches…and burns…what…?

I took in a measured breath before I lifted up my left foot. Beneath my flat-soled leather shoe, buried deep into my foot, was a large nail.

I took another breath before the tunnel vision began. I retrieved my phone from my pocket and dialed 911.

Stop shaking. Quit shaking so hard, damn it. Focus. Focus, Penelope.

“Yes, hi, this is Penelope M. Miller. My home has been broken into and I have a nail driven into the bottom of my foot,” I said.

A shadow over my right shoulder made me jump with a start, driving the nail even further into my foot. Shrieking, I stumbled over to the adjacent wall, but remained puzzled as the shadow followed me.

Holy shit…

Only the shadow was actually a knife handle was sticking out from my right collarbone.

“And I’ve been wounded. I’ve been stabbed,” I said quickly before the tunnel vision narrowed.

I leaned over and threw up all over the glass before the black spots took completely covered my field of vision.


 

***Colt Pryor is an American fiction writer currently seeking representation. She considers herself to be an old soul and shies away from social media.***