Two Poems By Harris Coverley…

The Chapter House

Feet clatter across the iron grate

As the octagon of stained glass

Reflects the echoes of the faithful

And the unfaithful alike

Marble pillars segregate place from place

Some sections granted the privilege of a name

And the worn walls under sandstone façades

Of the twisted faces of men and beasts

Feel as smooth as ice

Electric bulbs rise bright above unlit candles

Shadows marked on red-gold tiles

Adorned in Turkish flavours

A rogue plug socket spoils

The atmosphere here and there

But what is a plug socket

For the faith of Yorkish souls

Stretched eight centuries back?

Once the Papal consulate in this ancient city

Now converted for the use of an English God

Who drinks tea at four with jam and scones

And who often forgets to believe in himself.

The House of Noun

I, that is I,

Came to the House to state my

Purpose.

I knocked on its door

And a slat opened up,

The darkness beyond

Completed with two deep green eyes.

“What do you wish?” asked that pair

Of eyes with the sweetest voice.

“I wish for a name,” replied I.

And I became I,

And no more,

And no less,

And nowhere.

“Harris Coverley has verse published or forthcoming in Polu TexniCalifornia QuarterlyStar*LineSpectral RealmsCorvus ReviewThe Cannon’s MouthNovel NoctuleTales from the Moonlit Path, Danse MacabreOnce Upon A Crocodile, and many others. He lives in Manchester, England.”

Musings by Greg Baines…

I Won’t…

Lie to me, please I wont

beg. I wont. you hear them

what is it? whispers on sharp edges

pixels of happy people

off the assembly line neon

teeth advertisements, made

with loving robotic arms,

a straight path to

fortunes of lies, on a beach

under plastic palm trees

please, I wont beg. I wont.

Noticing

Hills woven, threads mist.

tires glide over icy road

hungry morning thoughts.

in the rear mirror

clouds are kissed back by trees.

I pull over. stop.

Moon

The moon sets caramel

in sesame black sky.

I imagine the home we lost.

Greg Baines is a writer, teacher and painter from Gunning NSW, Australia. Before moving to Gunning he spent twelve years living in China, largely in Shanghai, where he began to focus on writing. He has published poetry in ‘Literary Shanghai’, been a contributor in the ‘Virtual Cloud 9 Pavillion’ as part of the 2020 Bangkok Biennial and his first novella, ‘The Nail House’ is published by Fairlight Books. 

A Man, Few Women and Two Cities: Micro Tales by Samrat Laskar

Some Other Day.

The flight was more than an hour late. He comes out of the airport, reserves a cab and reaches his lodging near Kamla Nehru Park. Calling bell buzzes. The usual high-pitched sound. No answer. He presses the button again. And then again. Nothing. The landlady doesn’t respond. That is unusual. He had talked with her last evening. Informed that he was returning today. She was supposed to keep his lunch prepared. Why isn’t she responding? He starts pounding the door. There are some curious faces jutted out across the neighbouring windows.

After an hour, she is found lying unconscious in front of her bathroom. Dead or alive? Not certain. But evidently dead. She has not surely prepared his lunch. He feels betrayed. She could have chosen some other day.

Weekend

Beginning of a weekend always bring in a kind of anticipation. Even at this age. His fingers dial a number. No response. Undeterred he tries to contact a different bird. Busy tone. He waits but none calls him back. What should he do? There is a seedy bar in Meherauli. But it is too far. He has lost the interest. He starts walking aimlessly. His favourite hobby. After an hour, he sees the girl in the corner of the lane. She must be in her early twenties. Not alone though. She is surrounded by a group of boys. Not friends. They are evidently heckling her. She needs help. He assesses the situation. There are few other onlookers also. They would help. His phone rings. He looks at his mobile, the name flashes, smile breaks in. He jumps in an auto to begin his weekend journey. There would be time to help a heckled girl. Not now. Not yet.    

Uncertainty

The city is flooded. Nothing unusual in the rainy season here. He has just come down from the metro. He is supposed to walk from here. He then notices the old woman. Walking unsteadily along the footpath with her fashionable but useless umbrella and a bagful of groceries. She is almost totally drenched. And then the expected happens. She slips. A thud. The umbrella and the bag flies in opposite directions. He rushes to help her and recognizes her. That old hag — his high school science teacher. A very rude, mean woman. He remembers the crude words hurled, the way she dismissed his assignments, the poor marks in the practical exams. He stands in front of her, undecided. He is not sure what to do next.

Treat

He arrives at his favourite Park Street restaurant a little late. She was there, waiting. He sits, asks her to select the menu as before and waits. After all, it is she who has asked him to come. She hesitates a bit and then informs that she is going to marry, again. Moving to the States with her husband thereafter. He listens, impassive. The waiter brings the food. A sudden epiphany. He would not pay the bills today. She should. It is her marriage. She must give the advance treat to her ex-husband. There is a sudden elation. He pounces on the plate of chelo kebab.

At Any Cost

He noticed her during his presentation in the famous South Delhi college. Very attractive. She asked him a question, very puerile to be honest, in the Q&A session. During the lunch, she approached him. He was expecting that. She was planning to do her Ph. D in his university. Could he help her? Would he agree to become her research supervisor? He must, he should, he decided there and then. He must have her at any cost.

Classmate

He has come to visit chhoto maasi. She had suffered a mild stroke last month. As soon as he enters her Behala flat, he notices the middle-aged ayah. She looks strangely familiar. But of course he couldn’t place her then.  He talks some polite non-sense with his cousin. He has never been comfortable among ailing relatives. Same today. Maasi calls in the ayah by her name. The name! It is the trigger. He remembers her. She used to be her classmate in the school. Quite a brilliant student, if he remembers correctly. He feels uneasy. Decides to leave the place. The ayah follows him. While closing the door, she looks directly into his eyes for a moment. The door is closed with a finality.

Samrat Laskar is an Associate Professor of English in the West Bengal Education Service. After
teaching in different colleges across the state, he is presently serving as a Deputy Director of
Public Instruction, Education Directorate, Govt of West Bengal and is now posted at GTA,
Darjeeling. A Ph. D. from the University of Calcutta, he has several academic papers to his
credit. He is engaged in creative writing both in English and Bengali. For the last four years, he
is co-editing a Bengali bi-annual literary magazine ‘Souti’.

Two Poems by Fred Pollack

Fifth Wall

Before poetry I failed at novels. Sex scenes

are hard to write, and otherwise characters

only wanted to think; I had to whip

myself and them back to the plot, which

bored me like any duty. Then came a time

when I thought of writing plays. But they bunched,

my characters, stage right or left,

orating. I made sure to mention

the gun early; when it was fired no one cared.

But what if I’d stuck with it? Rain

descends on a city I haven’t seen

since childhood, a neighborhood full

of the bistros, galleries, and guilty joy

of gentrification. If the rain turns to snow, we’ll

lose half of them at intermission. I sit

beyond hope or tension. Someone I

don’t know but have somehow charmed gets up

to introduce my play. Thank you all for coming.

Sidewalk

On a whim, knowing I’d appear,

an urbane sidewalk swerved from its grid,

humped itself into fake cobblestones,

and headed elsewhere, followed

by flower-laden bushes. “Country lane”

suggests Brit, and

the cottages behind their hedges

looked it. But despite some expert

formation flying by swallows, I thought

of Brexit, and genteel murders

solved by insufferable spinsters. So

the bungalows and the approaching town

with its pubs and spire subtly began 

to change. “You’re always fussing,” said

a troll, but since I have no sense

of rural Scandinavia, he vanished,

the houses now half-timbered, closely

set, and overbearing. No –

plaster, charmingly ramshackle, waiting

for Vlaminck to change seasons

and a mob of bicycles to pass.

Or silent, whitewashed, treeless …

Implausibly I heard but couldn’t quite

make out the voices: smugly lucid,

adroitly dismissive, categorical and loud?

I recalled (perhaps he was the troll)

de Maistre saying he had met

Italians, Russians, Germans, French

but never “Man,” and had no idea

what he would look like. I in contrast

had always wished to write for him,

to settle (at least when I retired) in

his village … I entered a bar, was met

by the machete gaze that greets a stranger.

Conversation stopped; they wondered

what I would order.