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Issue # 3 May/June Edition 2021

Welcome to the World of
Literature and the Arts.

Our online magazine publishes an eclectic blending of prose, poetry, short stories, and other works, (visual art, photography, special features of authors and their books), by both established as well as emerging writers and artists. We will periodically be featuring guest writers with interviews, and occasionally, a review and translation. We have also decided, even though we are fairly new, to make the transition from quarterly to monthly, which shall be published online, only.

Featured Quote

"Always be a poet, even in prose."

Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867)
French poet, art critic and essayist.

Open Book

Featured Poem

"Anguished Minutes"


When life was tormented, then man is cripple
I spread my wimped arms, temples, in seclusion
But I was betrayed by my own hands
Life is caught in drastic-heated shackles and chains, gruel
Air of beatitude was also closed for me
I sighed in grief and did not get any need
Moving sound of a snake I heard at late night
I often had shortness of breath
I was thirsty for a drop of water
I tried hard, but my body was frozen
Walls of my room heard the sound of shivering
Beloved called me, once, twice and thrice
But I was reined like a rover horse
Why do I have such delicate and gentle emotions?
On small and purportless talks I reach the edge of end
Now if my beloved will hold my hands
Maybe life will pass in a few goodly moments.

© Shahid Fayaz Saqi

Anguished Minutes

Featured Quote

"Life has been your art. You have set yourself to music.

Your days are your sonnets."     

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900)
Irish playwright and poet.

Featured Quote

"Ponder upon the meaning of poems rather than
marveling at the beauty of words."

© Author Haroon Rashid, of "We Fell Asleep in One
World and Woke Up in Another."


When creativity is utilized, it sparks the muse within us, whether through writing or visual arts, discovered or undiscovered, by chance or through a profound experience.  Our goals for ILA is to spark that creativity, to encourage, support and publish work
of writers and artists along their journeys of self-expression, whether through a voice, a pen or a brush, and by providing a harmonizing, comfortable environment. 

Creativity through Literature and the Arts is most beneficial to the inner senses and well-being from within. Each unique individual has a stronger sense of themselves and when you allow creativity to flow, whether it be through the various genres of literature and art, it is that impulse of that moment in time where a connection brings together, heart, mind and soul.

We want to publish cultural diversity of literature and the arts with both established and emerging artists and writers, who have a brush yet to be used or a voice yet to be heard, with perhaps a deeper understanding of values, such as humanity, peace and freedom of speech. Our goal is to broaden the horizons of many, to be a catalyst of guidance, to help boost confidence in people with a voice and who are just beginning their journeys, and for the silent voices who are just starting out on their adventures of  artistic expression.

We are supportive of writers and artists with aspirations and goals. We welcome voices of diverse individuals from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, cultures, societies, with utmost respect and love.

ILA is a non-profit magazine, devoted to the world of Literature and the Arts and it is here, we hope to provide a platform, internationally. We want to hear the silent voices, to celebrate the colorful aspects of your creativity, the chance to be read and recognized, to offer a sense of belonging, a deeply rooted feeling as if you've always been here and never left.

We support all writers and artists who aspire to publish their work and share their artistic expression with both our E-Magazine, as well as our Facebook Groups, (ILA Magazine Group) and (Kashmir Writer's Guild). Here, we feature Poetry/Prose, Editor's Choice, Short Stories, Special features of writers, recent Book Publications, Visual Arts/Photography, Blog Articles, an occasional review, interview and translations.


We will be transitioning from publishing quarterly to monthly in the near future.

ILA Editorial Staff.

Special Features

For Issue # 3, we are featuring Author and prize-winning poet, Ken Allan Dronsfield with two of his poems, "Rusty Wet Leaves" and "The May Queen", both are specialized Sonnets. "Rusty Wet Leaves" is a 'Terza Rima Sonnet' and "The May Queen" is a 'Hexa Sonnet'. Included in this feature is a Bio of the Author as well as photograph of his Books.


Boots of black on an oak stump, wet by the rains
a forgotten remembrance left long ago
woodpeckers tapping on a birch by the lanes.

Moss-covered granite whispers of sun and snow
deer spooked, disappear into the fern and pine
partridge drum in harmony first fast then slow.

A small woodland fairy dances so divine
the pathways are covered in rusty wet leaves
the gentle winds now calm along the coastline.
Hearing calls of faraway geese I believe
echo throughout the distant valley's and hills
peaceful surrender unto spring I so grieve.

Walking through the town by the old paper mills;
the old ways just memories while time stands still.


© Ken Allan Dronsfield


As I lie between the blades of green grass;

with a wave of your hand, you took me there.
a smile in your eyes, sunshine in your hair.
I'm climbing high through the mountain crevasse
seeing stars so bright, like crystalline glass
on a dream carpet we fly through the air.

As the full moon rises, I touch your hand;
you stare off into the dark azure sky.
Tears began to fall as you start to cry;
the carpet then fell to earth and did land;
we toppled to the beach on the warm sand;
you slowly turned away saying goodbye.

Sunrise rose over the tropical scene;

I wish to again dream of the May Queen.

© Ken Allan Dronsfield

Ken Allan Dronsfield.jpg


Ken Allan Dronsfield is a disabled veteran and prize-winning poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma.  He graduated from the Community College of the Air Force.
He has six poetry collections to date: 'The Cellaring', 'A Taint of Pity', 'Zephyr's Whisper', 'The Cellaring, Second Edition', 'Sonnets and Scribbles', and his latest collaborative book,
'Inamorata at Twilight'.

Ken has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and six times for Best of the Net. He won First Prize for the 2018 and 2019, Realistic Poetry International Nature Poetry Contests. He has recently begun producing Creative Content on his YouTube channel, and
has had wonderful success sharing his poetry with the social media community.

Ken loves writing, thunderstorms and spending time with his cats, Willa and Yumpy.





Ken's YouTube Channel: Ken Allan Dronsfield, A POETIC VOICE

Ken Allan Dronsfield_Image 2.jpg

Poetry and Prose


Behold, O'Temple Rose...
This is the old temple,
Where once we loved.
Do you remember...?
The caresses, "O! Beloved."
The spring, the wind,
The fragrance of marigold,

Golden shower and the rose,
Standing along manifold.

Coo of the Cuckoos and,
how did the peacocks cocked...
Do you remember...?
Whilst your whispered.
Those sweetheart songs
in my ears like a pheasant band.
Heartiest emotions of my love,

Your hands in my hand..
I couldn't speak,

even a word.
My heart became a beat...
You lived it longer than did I,
You did my - - self adore,

aren't these steps

on which way you ran,


to be chased,

to be caught in embrace,

those beds of flowers,

and the figs,


the color of your eyes...

Do you remember...?
The luminous moments,
when you await restlessly,

behind the temple gate.

Do you remember?


Green Garden

Image courtesy of Wix


Develop the daring of a lion
and the intrepidity of an adventurer.
Create a reservoir of mettle and pluck.
Increase fortitude as you preserve
through the murkiest dark along
any highway of people.

For who else should you depend on when things
How will you record your own history,
even as you walk into the present,
still unknown at that moment?


Run or be run over?
We must speak of the third option:
stand strong and carry as much as you can
and lay out your energies for others' sake.

Do all this while attaining your own ideal,
for the worst of humanity does not understand
that one must make a difference in a good way,
and the best are too busy loving others to judge.


Hiker on Edge

Image courtesy of Wix


I found this book when I turned nine how I came across it
for the very first time.

I was quoting whole passages from memory at ten
loving that sad, little family...
reading over and over...again and again.

Francie was sweet...a girl of my
no one I knew
so much more than a character on a page.

She was a latch-key child before the term was
ever known,
no warm winter coat for the 12 block
trip from school to home.

Her daddy was an immigrant...from Ireland
he'd fled.
His loves were song and liquor...his once lovely wife...
and tucking his precious girl into bed.

Francie would hear him coming...
his unmistakable baritone charming porch
sitters and well-wishers
on his nightly walk home.

I love this book...mourn the loss of that precious paperback,
found on a bookshelf in our home...
on that hot, summer many years ago.

I sat next to a curling vine of ivy...
variegated...a healthy green
just waiting for me to find and
devour...dwell within 200 pages
transported to Brooklyn and Francie's home
a ticking clock marked the hours.

Did my mom read it first?
Did she place it there for me to find?

Does she recall our solemn discussions
about Francie...her Irish immigrant waiter
father...his accented crooning
made her bairn's heart leap and skip a beat
every time she heard his drunken plaintive
"Sweet Adeline"
coming down the street.

We spoke for days of Francine's ma...old
before her
body and soul...
no twinkle left in her violet eyes,
an ancient love for her Johnny in a 
language of resigned sighs.

She scrubbed the floors of rich women,
until glossed, gleaming, and shining,
hurried home to her precious girl.
That nighttime walk was when she did her

She worried about leaving her daughter
alone each and every night
the times when Johnny stopped in for a 
brew or two,
Francie ate cold meals and had no milk to
help her grow.

Her mother was pretty once, herself,
soft, curling locks of chestnut and red.
Her mostly drunken husband was once
a charming lad,
his baritone once made her own heart
sing, still deep within, heart bells still ring.

I recall those times with a fondness I carry within
pray that mom still can
our first hundreds was the moment
US began!

Our First Book Club...

Always with remembered joy!


Jill's poem is based on the characters of the Autobiographical novel, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn', (originally published by Harper & Brothers in 1943), and written by Betty Smith.


The kiss speaks
You are both in silence

and what words are they said

after her words.
The kiss lost its way
and guided when found you.

Kiss is sun ray.

Daytime spreads

and at night, moonlight

illuminates the windows of love.

The kiss is fire

igniting hearts

and do not burn

so, go ahead

it does not count from the age

long or short.

© Mohammad Helmi ELsallab

Mohammad Helmi ELsallab Profile Pic.jpg

Mohammad Helmi ELsallab

Val Smit_Of Lost Love_art_2020.jpg


I linger solitary,

to taste one kiss of the evening breeze,
and feel the freshness of dew descending.

Blooms gather their tendrils in knots of beauty,
hang their clusters in loving profusion;
Faithfully renewing their perfumed petals
and honey-sweet pendants,
in the hope of autumn.

© Val Smit

'Of Lost Love', © 2020 Artwork by Val Smit

Bio of Artist/Poet, Val Smit:

Val Smit Bio.jpg


Now once-great events fading
into seamless history,
I am a mother, proud
my native numbers are few.
In my heart, digs many memories
forty-one relatives left in 1937.

Decay is all left of their bones,

I pinch my dark skin.

I dig earthworms,

farm dirt from my fingertips

grab native

Baja and Southwestern California,

its soil and sand wedged between spaced teeth.

I see the dancing prayers of many gods.

I am Cocopa, a remnant of the Human family.
I extend my mouth into forest fires,

Colorado rivers, trout-filled mountain streams.

I survive on corn, melons and pumpkins,

mesquite beans.
I still dance in grass skirts

drink a hint of red Sonora wine.

I am a mother, proud
I am parchment from animal earth.

© Michael Lee Johnson

Michael Lee Johnson's website links to his past books and
YouTube Videos:

226 Poetry Videos are now on YouTube:


Editor-in-Chief of poetry anthology, "Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze"

Editor-in-Chief of poetry anthology, "Dandelion in a Vase of Roses"

Editor-in-Chief of "Warrior with Wings: The Best Contemporary Poetry"

Member of Illinois State Poetry Society:

NOTE: This is the story poem of the Cocopah Indian tribe and their journey over
the years. 'The River People descended from the greater Human-speaking area,
which occupied lands along the Colorado River, and the Cocopa Indian Tribe had 
no written language. However, historical records have been passed on orally and by
outside visitors.'


The catch up is over
the talk filtered out
nothing left to say
we both know it won't work out.

Just one last slow dance,
one last intimate embrace

love still tugging at heartstrings
as the pulses, they race.
the love will last forever
as first loves always do
but we aren't getting anywhere
this thing that's me and you.
The song comes to a climax,
we kiss our last kiss to say goodbye.
This love is a love I know
I will cherish forever
as I walk away with a tear in my eye.

© Donna McCabe


I saw faces

laughing and smiling

joking around and being real

nothing seemed made up.

The widest spread lips
carrying the brightest of all smiles
and shiniest of all faces
making their fellows laugh
and wheezing along.

But eyes said it all.
They always betray
with every smile emerging
appears a tiny droplet
in the corner of eyes,
that waits to fall off.
But hands wipe them away
or brain pulls it back
pretending it never existed.

And it falls on the heart
adding to the river of grief
that flows through the cracks
of the torn apart flesh.
and the face continues being real
like no one saw what happened.

But I did.
I saw every little detail
of that droplet
composed of memories
and sighs and regrets.
The ifs and buts,
the question and exclamation marks

That continue
till one droplet of that kind
fell off my eye, too,
rolling down the cheek.
It burnt the skin
and stole my smile,
giving me reason
why the laughing faces
never let their droplets fall off.
It snatches the smile away.



© Fatima Zafar


Unknown wise men foretold me
leaving to Lira in beautiful dreams
through lights of celestial jewels
randomly spaced through the universe.


Blessed with a magic word,
a cosmic twinkle awake in me,
lit up and sparked my imagination.


The gorgeous North Star
ardently counts down for a departure


Flocks of phoenixes followed me,
bringing to light to hidden corners of
the universe
in the eye of a female initiator of light.

Passion flared like fire
in maidenly eyes

Somebody put off Diogenes' candle
I was blinded and could not see a man


Someone faked a dream.

Nothing is violet.

© Ibrahim Honjo


Haikus (Senryus)

Being a lotus
  Blooming in pure divine state
      Coming out of mud.

Feminine beauty
  Fidelity perfect bliss
      A marriage for life.

Divine conception
  Life and rebirth's origin
      Deep mystic meanings.

Spiritual flower
  Defy worldly temptation
      Seeking for wisdom.

A poetic bliss
  An artist's inspiration
      Brings love and passion.

The purple lotus
  A spiritual eightfold path
      Royal dignity.

Just like the lotus
  we can rise out of darkness
      from mud to glory.

© Stella Theresa Luna
Pearl of the Orient Skies



Also called sacred lotus in India and colloquially called water lily, the Lotus Flower grows in the deep mud, far away from the sun. But, sooner or later,
the Lotus reaches the light, becoming the most beautiful flower, ever. The Lotus
flower is regarded in many different cultures, especially in eastern religions, 
as a symbol of purity, enlightenment, self-regeneration and rebirth.


Cold splash of dewdrops
  Sitting on lotus petals
      A pink tingling glow.

Ripples of water
  Innocence borne out of mud
      A lotus chasteness.

Coquette petals -
  Blossoming from purity
      First sign of springtime.

The sun is six cm
  Fragrance above the water
      Stem rising to heights.

A knowledge divine
  Sarasvati's white saree
      Clothed in pure bloom.

A Bearer of Light
  Lotus rise from dark waters
      Resilient spirit.

Purity in mud
  Bowing in nobility
      A season of hope.

Awakened at dawn
  Lotus opens in the sun
      A Nirvana bliss.

Faith has brought me far
  I've traveled to the deep north
      In search of your love.

© Stella Theresa Luna


Why is 'man's world' meted out to me so unfairly?
Is it because I'm vulnerable, I'm a woman or I'm single?
Why these dark, staunch, cutting

That slash my soul when I start to mingle?

No, I'm not winkling coquettishly, nor am I
Trying to flirt,
I just want a sensitive companion to whom
I can talk,
As I enquire not into gossip nor lurid affairs,
But of a mind enriched with literature after
A healthy walk.

For yes, like a diamond, I sparkle...

I have no desire to elicit for myself, pity or attention,
But being single, I am grateful for a roof,
Clothes and food.
No time to worry about the riches'
Nor beat myself up for being a woman,
Crass and crude.

I am the golden gender of the disgruntled and distraught,
The middle class women who accrue less wages,
But yet break their backs for laborious work done,
I'm grateful that as a writer,
I just have to fill history's pages!

For yes, like a diamond, I sparkle...

Being a single woman, I evolved into one
Fiercely free,
To be astute enough to make transactions
With taxes and bills,
For a single woman cannot borrow money
For society could banish her beyond
Civilization's mighty hills.

Single woman, like me,
Should strike a chord of independence,
And the necessity of knowing one's physical
And emotional health,
For which schedules of diet and exercise
Should be in place,
Making me a staunch survivor - not a pursuer
Of bland wealth.

For yes, like a diamond, I sparkle...

As a single woman, I know I must be
The complete package,
By facing inevitable loneliness and frustration
By prayers to God,
And thereby eliminate fear-entrenched
And instead try to follow the footsteps
Mother Teresa trod.

Every step I take is scrutinized,
My life an open book,
I endeavor to be a "woman of substance"
Without fears,
For my every anxiety or stress factor is
Magnified tenfold,
Maybe the only things comprehensible
Are my heartfelt tears.

Yes, for though we suffer, we singletons
Brilliantly sparkle,
But we want a Harry and to be wooed,
Like Meghan Markle!


Editor's Choice


Tonight, my grandmother took no food.
Occasionally, after a quarrel, with my mother,
she used to pour her food down on the floor
though she might scoop up one or two morsels.

It is said that a person weighed down with age
tends to give in to childish propensities
and become irascible and stubborn in nature,
not trusting anybody or anything.
for my self-exiled grandmother,
I feel a compassion.
That is but natural as I have not yet aged too much.

My unfed grandmother weeps fitfully
til the late hours of the night
when the noise of her weeping, rouses me from sleep.
I too, start weeping, a Tithonus within.

Grandmother's laments, I am aware,
have been heard by everybody in the house
and also by some among the neighbors
but none could yet hear my laments,
not even I, myself.

© Rezauddin Stalin


Rezauddin Stalin is a well-known poet, born on 22nd of November in 1962, 
in Jessore, Bangladesh. He has done his Bachelor's degree in Economics and an
MA in Political Science from Dhaka University. He is the former Deputy Director of
Nazrul Institute, where he was employed for 35 years. Stalin's poems have been translated
in most languages, the world over. He is also a well-known TV Anchor and  media
personality in Bangladesh. Stalin is the founder and chairman of the Performing Art Center
and is also the Senior Editor of Magic Lonthon, a literary organization.

Rezauddin Stalin's total number of books total more than 100 now, and his Wikipedia link can be read below:


He has received many awards and accolades included are listed below:

Darjeeling Natto Chokhro Award India (1985), Bangla Academy (2006), 
Michael Modhushudhan Dutta Award (2009), Shobho Shashi Award West Bengal (2011),
Toronto of California Award, USA (2012), Writer's Club Award, California USA (2012),
Badam Cultural Award, California USA (2012), City Ananda Alo Award (2015), 
West Bengal, India, Centre Stage Barashat Award (2018), Journalist Association Award (2018),

and Silk Road Poet Laureate Award Xi'an China (2020).

Reza Uddin Stalin_Profile Image.jpg

Sacred Practices: Predicting the Predictable
India's Deadly Second Wave

It was the dawning of a nightmare
Waking up one day to the grim reality
Many were clueless of what struck bare
After the long, harsh lockdown remedies.

The night echoes a myriad of cries
Wild winds of suffocated voices flies
A vicious variant casting deathly - spells
Bounding cities as scores of them, fell.

What has struck sacred pilgrimages
Holding on to traditions and reverent places
A bountiful blessing abounding Ganga Goddess
Faith shall triumph over deadly pestilences.

River Ganges turned into cataclysmic tragedy
Ignoring sensibility over some astrology
A purification striking millions, perilously
A state of denial arising from religiosity.

A massive tsunami is fast descending
Super spreader events have pillaged the health system
Heroes weighed down, relentlessly pleading
Undertakers overwhelmed with bodies piling.

As the world looks at awe of India's crumbling
A humanitarian crisis is seeping globally
Hovering in a cloud of doom and misery
Did anyone see this coming?
Noone is ready for such a catastrophe.

You were once a wonder and mystery
Keeping infections at bay with practicality
I - v - mec -tin - was a promising remedy
A ray of hope for its safety and efficacy.

A hard lesson from letting your guard down
India has to get back to harsh lockdowns
Noone is spared from having a deadly wave
Countless bodies have piled, leading to their grave.

Let all the world learn from India's sad debacle
There is no certainty in treating this thing, blindly.
Let us come together humbly to seek a miracle
Wisdom and God's grace shall fall on humanity.

As we watch helplessly of our brother's sad demise
Falling one by one as the cases comes to its highs
Sending hope and comfort for the ones left behind
Prayers of healing and strength to keep them in mind.

The world should take a stand to stop this pandemic
Let those who seek death on the "deplorable", be
The first to be extinguished. They are the root of mankind's decimation, causing deaths,

fear and control, a New World Agenda diabolic.


God Bless our dear brothers and sisters.
Spare them oh God, from their distress.
Your hand is stretched seeking hearts in repentance
Deliver them from the evil one whose spirit has come
to kill and destroy with your mighty healing power
restore their hearts with joy.

"Oh India, I come to you, calling you by name.
Come seek Me, the True God Almighty and Sovereign
Who is able to give you, Life Eternal
My love is for All, and anyone who calls Upon My Name."

© Stella Theresa Luna 2021
Manila, Philippines



The Kumbh Mela in India, is as mesmerizing as it is spiritual.
The ancient northern Indian festival is a meeting of mystical minds. The largest religious gathering in the world, the Kumbh Mela

brings Hindu holy men together to discuss their faith and disseminate information about their religion. It's attended by millions of people each day.

In India, which is averaging more than 2,000 Covid-related fatalities and 300,000 new infections per day, understaffed hospitals are running out of beds for patients and pleading with government authorities for desperately - needed medical supplies, while crematoriums and graveyards are being overwhelmed.

Outside of a crematorium in Lucknow, bodies were being incinerated on sidewalks, according to the Associated Press report.


Not just a word,
Or not just a gender
To refer as
Is an embodiment of patience,
And compassion,
As a motherly affection,
As sisterly protection,
As a Better - half in sensation
As a Daughter-in-law attention
As a niece - concern
She is not weak as you surmise,
Man is free
As the woman took the reign of the family,
Not only confined to the usual
She paddled with the stars in the sky
As astronaut,
She dives deep oceans to scale
Antarctica Ocean,
She holds stun guns to immobilize the enemy
Being combatant,
She is the powerhouse of the planet.
Just imagine the man without the woman
The existence of his and the life.

© Prasanna Kkumar



I pull this book out,

when my loneliness gets too heavy.

Sometimes in daydreams.

Sometimes in night.

You see, I wonder what you might have been

if you were by my side?

A forever wish.

You were the one who saw right through me.

saw something "good",

when I myself saw nothing.

I had no idea I was only "existing" before,

and once again emptied...when you were gone.

Ah, but in between the pages, was what everyone
prays for.

It's what the music is when the sound covers you
with goosebumps.

Why babies are born,

why miracles happen when there is only a string of
hope left,

and the reason we are here in the first place.


One summer day you told me, "this is magic".

It really was.

But your fate was to leave this earth,

to leave me and my suddenly empty heart.


I call it my golden chapter

with scented pages of sun, freshly mowed grass, fresh
summer breezes,

overripe corn that perfumed each step we took
talking about nothing.

And everything

You and me

and one faded red rose.

© Barbara Suen

Barbara Suen, is 56 and from Mishawaka, IN, USA. Her poems have been published nationally,
as well as globally, in magazines and anthologies. Her inspiration comes from the pain and the joys of life, spirituality, social issues, love, loss and nature. It is a huge part of her creative side
to reach out to others, and touch someone with her words, even if it's just one person on the
other side of the world. That's "magic".


the snow was falling and
the village road
frosted with sweet whiteness.
The plum trees,
the icicles were freezing.
The spring water had become a garden of ice,
the blue vase had been cracked.
The white beard man,
the snow landscape was catching his eye and
he was singing a winter chant.
and the admirable snowman with his soft arms
kept a fire burning
and figs were boiling in a pot.
The white smoke of the fireplaces
was rising up from the madhouse's chimneys and
the children had white dreams.
Shivering sparrows in cold
were cuddling together under the eaves
the snowflakes like butterfly,

                                             were gently fluttering to the ground.

© Diyar Latif
Translator: Daliya Raouf

Diyar Latif_Image 2.jpg

Diyar Latif came to life in 1989. He is a poet, journalist, writer, Peshmerga, as well as an
activist, and works in literary meetings. He is a resident at the Town of Kfri, in the Iraqi
Kurdistan region. The works in each of the (Plastic Land) books are poems. He has published a literary research book titled, 'Title and Text'. His last published book is in
partnership with a literary meeting titled, 'Modern Poetry and Some Margins'.


More blood than sane ink has been spilled,
Though we're born to play many different roles
Can resist tyranny, if one's strong-willed.

By hate, or greed, many've been killed,
So lonely, and tiny feels unique soul;
More blood than sane ink has been spilled.

Blind fear in man has been instilled,
Stingy are hours clocks grudgingly dole;
Can resist tyranny, if one's strong-willed.

Though insights are processed, get distilled,
Does blank remain part of our truth's scroll?
More blood than sane ink has been spilled.

Just slivers or our destiny get fulfilled.
Do all human races form part of a whole?
More blood than sane ink has been spilled,
Can resist tyranny, if one's strong-willed.

© Sultana Raza


Platinum half-moon
in a rose-brushed sky. Bright green
Loros call...respond,
flying within this languid
dusk washed by Carib wind.

That wind sweeps a tiled
patio, swaying the hammock
hung from post to gnarled

Totumo trunk. Fruit bats flit
amongst the elusive limbs.

Thin heat lightning flits
across the midnight heaven,
charcoal blue. A lone Gecko
chuckles in this cooled
dark barren of the half-moon.

© Lorraine Caputo

Moon Clouds

Image courtesy of






Sleet splatters upon

   Thawed earth, sharply splaying

      The tender young shoots




Red clover


Still-chilled rain falls on

   Another spring weekend

      Cooling last week's heat






The dew is thicker

   The longer days muggy

      Mud cracks like raku

Rose of Sharon




Naked Lady

Heavier days combust

   Into thunderstorms, sky

      Sliced raw by lightning

Shooting star



The monsoon rains come

   Beating dull autumn leaves

      Into frosted earth.

© Lorraine Caputo

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over
250 journals in 6 continents and 14 collections of poetry - including 'On Galapagos Shores'
(Dancing Girl Press, 2019) and the upcoming 'Escape to the Sea' (Origami Poems Project, 2021).
She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks.

In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Lorraine has done literary readings from Alaska to Patagonia. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the Pueblos and Earth.


I want to be the son of nature
For deep wounds, not going back to my doctor.
This doctor, putted the outside of my worldview.
I have to respect him.
I should run away of him and search for my soul.

I want to rise up to the same tree, but for shadow
Like roots, put myself inside ground
For steaming smell of soil around
Not working, fog in mountain with "Shimshal"* melody, not be a mixture of cloud.
What's a profit of wind?  If he's not boring, dance inside my eyes.
Don't put Leaves drunkenness on the path of rivers.

But wind, is a traditional musical instrument
God, playing our words
And put it on a melody line.
Wind born on a burp of air
Instead smell, he was busy with buzzing
He ran behind the soil,
Hanged himself with a claw: for the love of steam.
Before we came, was busy pairing.
He brought three girls into the world: snow, hail and rain.

Rain, so softly umbrellaed:
Stone liked to melt underneath it.
Until the human came to the world:
Learn from it and avoid cruelty.
When he saw the hail,
He's more far away from the soul.
But snow, with all this softness
He can't calm down our stupidity.

I want to be the son of nature.
When I was blind, put a drop of rain inside my eyes.
When I was injured, wrap my wounds with leaves.
When my hand is broken, grafting a stick of a tree from me,
So that my writing can be re-greening.
When my hair is falling, plant a mint on my head,
So that instead of sweat, it will spread, smell good.
When my hearing deafens, take me to the sea,
Put two seashells for me, and at least, it will move waves to me.

So that I will not be the son of nature,
When the basil goes back to the mint tribe.
Mentha pulegium, who anyone doesn't eat freshly,
When he gets old, his height will rise as old man,
Drying same old "Mentha pulegium".
Come on, let's be in nature, spreading peace!


Qaladze, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Translated to English by Dlovan Ali


*Shimshal: A Kurdish cultural musical instrument. Type of a Flute.


Peshawa Kayaki_Bio Image.jpg

Author's Bio:

Peshawa Kakayi, was born on April 19, 1984, in Qaladze, Kurdistan region of Iraq.
He graduated from the Political Science Department of the University of Sulaimaniyah.
He writes in many literary appendixes in Kurdistan. He has published eight books of poetry, written in Kurdish.

* 'Residue of Breaths: Poetry Collection', © 2008

* 'I am, I Guard Flowers, Poems' © 2011

* 'Garden - Your Love Poetry', © 2015

* 'From the House of Aunt Khunche, I Went to Saeed's Son-in-law' Open text © 2017

* 'American Letter with the Taste of Poetry', Poetry, Prose, Narration © 2018

* 'Cosmology', Poetry © 2019

* 'Rebuilding the Light on the Return of Zoroastrian i Ahmed Mala'. Investigation © 2020



Even if it is different,

the sun that people miss
Of the aid,

of the smile,

it's where beauty lives


friendship, fraternity of words

tolerance, solidarity are the thoughts
It's where children play.
It's where children go to school.
It's where the sun rises.

© Turkan Ergor

Turkan Ergor, sociologist, philosopher, writer, poet, columnist, was born on 19 March 1975, in Canakkale, Turkey. She is from the city of Izmir, Turkey. She graduated with degrees from the Department of Sociology, Philosophy, Business Management and Home Management.

She has won many awards and accolades around the world from various institutions and organizations. She is a role model for many of her writer friends and a prominent writer penning her articles and poems effectively on life and the environment.

Turkan Ergor is the author for bilingual poetry books, "RING-YUZUK", and "WORDS-KELIMELER", garnering fame for its profound poetry related to life and the environment. Her poems have been translated and published in different languages. She was named 'International Best Author/Writer in 2021 and Best Poet 2021. Her biography, articles and poems have been published in various newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias and anthologies.

Turkan Ergor_Profile Image.jpg


When my body is set aflame
By the growing pangs of love bouts,
I feel crazy and lost
In the wilderness of a dreamworld,
Smelling with unique fragrance of love potion,

Benumbing my senses beyond measure.

I'm yearning to meet my beau,
And to feel the warmth of his innocent love;
I long to melt down in his arms,
And to inhale his breath deep down
To quench the thirst of my parched soul.

I'm in readiness to taste the nectar
Of love oozing from his pair of lips;
I want to drink this peerless honey,
Beyond the borders of time and space.

Let this love flame burn my body,
Till I turn into ashes for some time;
But I will rise again in other forms,
As a bard singing ballads of love,
Which will ring in the air till eternity.

© Rakesh Chandra

"Irfan: The Martyr from Sopore"

Tonight, I write for the martyr
who was brutally slaughtered
and for the oppressed
who must have been blessed
in the Heaven
by the sacred mavens.

After the marvelous reception,
He might have asked God the question:
"Why in my land, is missing your reflection,
Why don't you see the perfidy, the deception
of your people against us
to make our lives a miserable fuss?"

I wonder how would've God responded
to keep the martyr's faith bonded
to HIM
in the circumstances grim.
HE probably would have said,
as HIS Eyes bled:
"Look, Lad,
Don't be sad!
I've been testing you,
and those molesting you,
and those protesting you
and those detesting you.
Soon, the test will be over
The tyrants shall pay for their maneuver!"

© Summiaya Nilofer Kichloo
(From Kishtwar)

Summiaya Nilofer Kichloo is a student from Kishtwar district of Chenab valley. She is an avid writer and enthusiastic to writing poetry and fiction. Her poetry covers a broad range of ideas, thoughts and philosophies. Currently, she is working as a freelance writer and columnist.


I will release to recieve
the peace of angels.

I will count the changes
as realizations, tip over
the radicalized, and be singular
in my transcendence.

Purpose is a translation. Within
are experiences discarded
or validated by memories

Floating or being summoned
are counterweights, dangerous to stand
but in the middle.

Loss is a hot vapor - burns as it first rises
and then, no more.
Love is everything - fills a moment
with the breath of eternity.

I will find the color that draws me
the closest and I will choose it.
I will release the rest, know this surrender
as an exhale, a baptism to witness
that splits the sky.

© Allison Grayhurst



Sail of Memories_Zakir Malik Front and B
WPH_Zakir Malik Sail of Memories.jpg

'Sail of Memories' is an anthology of philosophical poetry, which includes metaphysical, themes based on nature, self-introspection,
political poetry and revolutionary verses. According to Author, Zakir Malik,
"Writings dominate the sense of irresponsibility towards
the nation as a whole. And at time, when it's in making, in need of improvisation, filling the gaps within, lack of harmony among the

sects, thirsty of mutual understanding, inconsideration of brotherhood, and having deficiency of faithfulness, eventually resulting in

hoaxes, lack of vision, and untrustworthy behavior."

He added that since his early childhood, he felt it seriously needs to be repaired, rebuilt and set the doors all open for development.
While he then came up with a compilation of poetry, namely, 'The Wail of the Woods', which was published in 2019, laying a strong

impression, even at present time on his nerves, and new ideas started trickling from it, he still seeks inspiration from its strata and themes,

in particular.

However, his new collection, 'Sail of Memories', continues the same philosophy in many ways, elaboration of deceit, hopelessness,
natural depiction and after-effects of colonization, on the other hand. Its content fills the reader's heart and mind with what's next and
how to overcome, Zakir said.

The author has kindly given ILA Magazine, permission to post a link of a recent news article, written by the Asian News Observer, regarding his new book, 'Sail of Memories.'

Asian News Observer: "Meet Zakir Malik: A youth from Kupwara who publishes his second anthology."

Zakir Malik's book is printed and published by Wular Publishing House, Wanpora, Kulgam

Zakir Malik_Bio Image.jpg


Hailing from a small town, Trehgam, in the frontier district of Kupwara, in northern Kashmir, a young Kashmiri writer, Zakir Malik, recently published his new book, 'Sail of Memories' (Wular Publishing House).
In 2019, he published
'The Wail of the Woods'. He writes with the aim of bringing change in society through his poetry, targeting social evils and calling for transformation of society toward positive outcomes. 

He is very enthusiastic about poetry and other condensed, precision-based technical writings. His interest moves from psychology, political science, to politics and Philosophy of Islam, peace and conflict studies.
Zakir Malik started his reflection of ideas, thoughts on paper, since his early childhood. Every verse of Zakir's poetry reflects his yearnings for adequate guidance to dilapidated youth, illustrating new tendencies to direct energies of thinking and practices to some innovative and decisive deck. 

Zakir is a visionary, a poet of whom, we will hear in the future, of his ideas, far cultured and much wiser than his youth. An Ambassador of Peace, hankering for peace, reformation in society, fighting with words for social stratification, stereotypes and the social evils in particular, that still dominate mind-sets, halt the common welfare and focus on creamy layers in society. he inspires his audience by inducing them, a devotion of expertise, knowledge and Renaissance. he appears to be an inspiration with his vision, insights, depth in understanding the social psychology, and the practical philosophy, the demand of his time. His impressions delve deep on each layer of society, culture and encompass youth from all corners of the country, Kashmir in particular, for his words speak louder than his skeleton, tongue and personage. His progressive thinking differs him from the rest of contemporary poets from ends of the globe and places him right in front row of skill, ability and professionalism, in writing, capturing even the minute facets of catastrophe.

While being a son of a laborer, having no major resources in life, despite having done Post-Graduation in Political Science, he has brave the odds, by publishing his maiden poetry book titled,
'The Wail of the Woods' (2019) and most recently, 'Sail of Memories.'

Zakir is a poet, translator, editor, reviewer, writer, critic and social campaigner, as well as a motivational speaker. He has co-authored more than 10 poetry books. Apart from all of what has been mentioned, he is the founder of 'Kashmir Writer's Guild' and 'Valley of Poets.' He is the Editor-in-Chief for Insight Version and Kashmir Poetic Images as well as ILA Magazine. He has been honored as a Country Ambassador for LitLight Global Platform and he is also a Director for UNESCO to International Youth Development Model United Nations - India and a permanent member at Jammu and Kashmir Innovative Foundation for Transformation Society. He is a contributor to many periodicals, literary magazines, poetry foundations and journals. 

Zakir Malik completed his post-graduation from Indra Ghandi National Open University and is hounding a PhD in Political Science.


For any inquiries, please contact Zakir, at:


Rohit Dawesar_No Matter What (Front Cove
Rohit Dawesar_No Matter What (Back Cover

Synopsis of 'No Matter What...I will always Love you!':

A ordinary-turned-extraordinary tale about the magic of love...

From romantic escapes in the beaches of Goa, to witnessing the beautiful Manali sky lit up with fireworks on a Diwali night,
Rishi and Mishika's lives were like an exciting rollercoaster ride, every moment that they were together. But when Mishika
disappears on the morning of their engagement without leaving so much as a wisp of a trace behind, Rishi finds himself alone

and adrift in a dark sea of doubts and fears. Was this one of those pranks that Mishikia loved to pull on him to test his love for her?
Or had something happened to her?

Join Rishi as he tries to look for answers in an unforgiving world where holding on to even the slightest bit of hope is a daily struggle.
Will he ever find Mishika? Was she even alive? What unbelievable things would his love for her, make him do?

From the bestselling author of
'The Stupid Somebody', comes yet another gripping story that will make you laugh, cry and

will reaffirm your faith in the strength of love.

Rohit Dawesar_No Matter What_The Stupid


Rohit Dawesar is an author from Indore whose debut novel 'The Stupid Somebody', became a national bestseller
even before he signed a contract for his second book,
'NO MATTER WHAT...I will always love you!', which
was released on 5th January 2021. The book is already topping the ranking charts.

Popular for his Nanotales, short stories and one liners that he posts on his social media accounts and on his website, 
Rohit started writing when he realized that the story he had in his mind, was a unique tale that needed to be told.

Now a full-time writer who creates magic with his words, he also owned a coaching institute for engineering and MBA
students at one point in time, was a director at Entrepreneurs Consulting Pvt. Ltd., and is also the co-founder and director
of a fast-food restaurant brand name, The Urban Gumti. He is a book lover and a movie and television series fanatic
who will hardly say 'No' to a cup of coffee, any time.  

For any inquiries on his book(s), contact author, personally:
Rohit Dawesar


Sabina Alia_Bonny Musings (Front Cover).
Sabina Alia_When the Heart Speaks (Front
Sabina Alia_Bonny Musings (Back Cover).j
Sabina Alia_When the Heart Speaks (Back

"Bonny of Musings" consists of 70 poems portraying different moods
and personae. The book is divided into three groups,
"Group A" contains poems of philosophical insight, "Group B" contains Feminist Poems and "Group C" contains Romantic and Tragic Poetry.

Sometimes here, the revolutionary voice strikes the characteristics of feminist poetry, sometimes, it's the warm feelings of a romantic heart tuning up the melody of love. Sometimes, it's an anguished voice, raising fingers against brutality of the patriarchal society and sometimes, profuse words unfurl the philosophy of life as well as the depths of thought.

Some of the poems in
'Bonny Musings', describe the beauty of nature, the philosophical insight, practical experiences and morals.

Different figures of speech, such as simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, onomatopoeia and idioms are appropriately applied in different poems and parable from the Holy Bible is also applied to some extent.

'When Heart Speaks in Silence', is the author's fourth (4th) poetry book, after 'Sonata of Dreams', 'Chandrajeeta' and 'Bonny Musings.'

Poems included in 'When Heart Speaks in Silence', carry the message of peace and humanity. Since life is not possible without love and affection, as it has been learnt in the womb of mother before taking birth, so some poems incorporated here, convey the feelings of love and affection. We are the victims of a patriarchal society where women are brutally deprived from their rights and freedoms and dominated with cruel hands. Some social customs stand like a barrier in front of women if they want to prevail the rights and freedoms provided by the Constitution. Without freedom of women, we can't imagine a peaceful society and can't define humanity I the true sense.

Some of the author's poems with feminine concepts, have also been included in this book. Most of the poems included here, have been published in various local, national and international magazines and anthologies.

Sabina Alia_Critical Analysis Book (Fron
Sabina Alia_Critical Analysis Book (Back

"Porphyria's Lover" is one of the creepiest poems of Robert Browning.
From the point of view, it is about a psychotic murderer who strangles his beloved with her hair and spends the whole night sitting beside her corpse. The poem also explores the complete madness of the speaker,
but without offering any definitive answer as to his ultimate motivation.

'Porphyria's Lover' is full of surprises that ends with a kind of ambiguity. Many critics have harbored different views on the dark motive of Porphyria's lover, which could lead him to do such a demented activity, like murder.

After a keen observation, my point of view declares that Browning's, 'Porphyria's Lover' can rightly be categorized as an absurd poem as the narrator murders his beloved just to capture a particular period of time, when he discovers Porphyria in worshipping him. Porphyria is afraid of the barriers of aristocratic society, where she belongs to, and the narrator cuts off all the social barriers and makes her free by strangulation.

Is it possible for a normal person to strangle his beloved who has come to light up his life? Can a normal person choose the way which has been selected by the narrator to win Porphyria, forever?  The narrator claims that Porphyria hasn't any pain, when he strangles her. Waiting for the judgement of God, talking with a corpse and kissing with passion claims his absurd mentality.


Author Sabina Alia belongs to Assam, India. Since her schooling days, she has been writing
poetry, short stories, novels and articles, many of them having been published in various local,
national and international newspapers, magazines and anthologies. In her collegiate time, she published a novel,
'Nishar Ninad', in her native language, Assamese. She was awarded with the "Best Fiction Writer (Junior)" in all Assam-based fiction writing competition. 

She worked as the sub-editor of
"Kannan", a monthly Assamese magazine. She pursued an M.A. in English literature and a teacher by profession. Her poetry book, 'Sonata of Dreams', was published in March 2019, by BlueRose Publisher, Delhi. Her third book, 'Chandrajeeta', has been published by Spandan Prakash, Guwahati. She writes in Asomiya Khabar (Local newspaper) and Niyamiya Barba (Local newspaper).

Her English poems have been published in Assam Tribune (An English newspaper). Her poem,
"Companionship", has been published in Poetry Planet Magazine (Philippines). The review of her poem, "Shelter", published in "Universul Culturii", an international magazine and reviewed by an Australian author and critic, Toni Lovric.

Sabina's article on Robert Browning's poem, "Porphyria's Lover", is a poetry absurdity, and has been published by Amazon KDP. 

Sabina is the Editor of "Cultural Reverence", an International Magazine of Art and Literature. She was awarded with the "Kabya Prarona Award 2021, by All Assam Poet and Poetry Union. 

In 2021, she was facilitated by the Assam Government for her huge contribution to the field of literature under 'Bhasha Guarav Achoni'.

Sabina Alia_Profile Pic.jpg

"Sometimes it seems that my world is too small to share my happiness. Anyway, today has been counted amongst my memorable days as my 7th book, 'When Heart Speaks in Silence', having been published worldwide. Today, I have met the reward of one of my endeavors, otherwise, I am a great dreamer so dreams illuminate me with utmost attraction and being spellbound, I rush to touch it. At last, I just whisper...'The best reward for an artist is hidden behind the completeness of own creation."

Sabina Alia

26 April 2021

You can find the author's book,
'When Heart Speaks in Silence', listed below:










Robert Browning's Porphyria's Lover: Critical Analysis by Sabina Alia:




All other inquiries where you may be able to purchase her book, please contact the author at:


Philogyny Back cover image_Safdar.jpg
Safdar Bhatti_Bio.jpg
Philogeny_Safdar Bhatti Book.jpg

Author's Bio

For those who find it difficult to read Bio in image, Safdar Bhatti is a published poet who has

been writing whole poetry since 1994. 'Philogyny' is the title of his book, published from UK. His verses have been commended by various dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth, University of Manchester, Chief of the Air Staff, Pakistan Air Force, National University of Modern Languages Pakistan and many more individuals. He is also a member of The Poetry Society of London. He holds an M.A. in English Literature. A widely read scholar in almost all the major English poets from Langland and Chaucer to Thomas Hardy along with poets and tragedians of Ancient Greek and Rome. He lives in a small village called Marri in district Sargodha of Pakistan. Besides poetry, he is also working on short stories and verse plays. 
He intends to publish his poetry in Urdu within a short time.

Featured Authors






In the Casa De La Danza, young women in hues of pink, orange, and green slinky satin dresses,
sit in a row of chairs along one wall. They look like different flavored shaved ices melting in the
heat of the ballroom. The blades of the ceiling fans whirls slowly about, circulating the warm air that is heavily scented with the perfumes, colognes, and sweat of the dancers. The girls fan their rouged
faces with bamboo fans. Impassionately, they watch the couples on the dance floor.

Mateo stands near the entrance, his hands in his pockets, a toothpick dangling from his lower lip.
Surreptitiously, he eyes Aymee who sits at the far end of the row of girls. While the other girls sit
with their knees touching, she has her legs crossed. Her foot wiggles, lazily keeping rhythm to the
music. the bright green comb she has inserted into her dark brown hair piled high on her head like a
mound of cascading chocolate is slightly askew. He has known her since they were children but hasn't
seen her in a long time. At that moment he wants her. He wants any woman. But not to dance with.
These girls, the ones in the Casa De La Danza waiting to be asked to dance, do only that. Dance.

His patience with the slowness of the night is frayed. Despite his athletic good looks, he is unable to
compete with the men on the dance floor who move their bodies in ways he is unable to do. He turns,
spits out the toothpick, and leaves the building. The recent downpour has left the air even more 
humid than usual. The palm leaves on the tall trees droop as if oppressed by the rain, humidity, and
their inconsequential existence. The asphalt that covers the parking lot is coated with rainwater that
makes it shine like black gloss. The cars in the lot are all older model Russian-made Ladas, all with
excellent paint jobs in colors fit for an upscale whorehouse. His motorbike along with a dozen others
stand side-by-side at a rack, chained there like animals awaiting slaughter. The boys who ride them are
of the Cuban middle class, although technically a class system doesn't exist. His only consolation in
owning a motorbike is that it gets him where he wants to go. He can't afford anything but what he has.
He sweeps the water from the bike seat with his hand and unlocks the chain. He wraps the chain
around the handlebars, and gets on. There's a moment of anxiety before he turns the key. Will it start or not? His motorbike is like the women he dates, ill tempered and unpredictable. It sputters momentarily and then he drives off.

The streets of Havana are busy. Old cars, junk-heap pickup trucks and aging buses move slowly along the crowded thoroughfares where pedestrians seem impervious to the headlights that catch them in their beams and the honking of the horns that implores them to get out of the way. The white light that shines from the moon that is peeking out from behind diminishing storm clouds illuminates the brightly painted facades of the buildings. Graffiti is scrawled on every available surface. Little of it is political, which could get the artist arrested. Most of it is intended to be poetic.

Mateo turns onto a side street with the intention of taking the less busy back streets. Only two blocks inside the meandering tangle of streets, his motorbike is stopped, surrounded by four men.

Standing in front of the motorbike, gripping the handlebars is Diego. "Hey man, word has it you know a way that could get an amigo off this goddamn island if he wanted to go to America."

Mateo looks around at the men surrounding him, and then back to Diego. He only knows Diego.
He doesn't recognize the others. "Yeah, buy some oars and build a raft," he says. "Now, get outta
my way. Abuelita can't soak her feet unless I'm there to help her and you know how cranky old 
women can get when they have sore feet."

Diego grabs Mateo by his shirtfront. "Listen cabron, I'm gonna be keeping my eye on you and if I see you getting ready to depart Cuba without taking me along, I'm gonna cut your throat." He lets go of Mateo's shirt and shoves him back on the seat.

Diego and the other men hastily turn and are quickly lost in the throngs of Cubans on the sidewalks.

Mateo puts his foot on the gas pedal and speeds on.


Mateo tears a piece of rind from the orange with his teeth and spits it on the floor. Around his chair
there are several pieces of orange rind and a banana peel. He bits into the pulp, slowly swallows it,
savoring the taste of juice dribbles down his chin. Doves perched on the wrought iron railing outside
the kitchen window fill the air with their coos. In the next room, his grandfather has the television turned up loud. A soap opera is on. The actors speak rapidly, in the heat of discussion about someone's unwanted child. Mateo tears another piece of orange peel from the fruit and spits it on the floor.

"Cerdo," his sister, Adoncia, calls him as she walks into the room and sees the mess on the floor.

"Oink, oink," he replies as he bites into the pulp.

She goes to the refrigerator and takes out a plate on which sits six eggs. "Diego came here last night looking for you while you were out.," she says. She places a frying pan on the stove and turns on the flame. "I told him you had gone dancing."

He wraps his hand around the orange, squeezing it. Choking it. "Why would you tell him that?"
"It's where you said you were going. You go dancing at the dance halls and clubs every Friday and Saturday night."

"I go to meet jevas, not to dance," he says.

She pours fat from a jar into the pan, waits for the fat to begin to sizzle, then cracks two eggs and drops them in the pan. "Anyway, Diego seemed in a rush to see you."
"He saw me. I saw him."
She pushes at the eggs with a spatula. "What did he want?"
"To see me," he says, rising from the chair. With his bare foot he brushes aside the debris he has left on the floor and leaves the kitchen. In the living room his abuela is rocking back and forth in the rocking chair Mateo made for her. Her favorite wool shawl is draped across her frail shoulders, although
the room is hot. Potted ferns and cactus are lined up on the windowsill that overlooks a noisy alleyway. He glances out the window to make sure his motorbike is still chained up just as he left it.
He goes to his grandmother and kisses her lightly on the forehead.

"You're a good boy, Mateo," she says as she affectionately pats his hand without looking away from the television.

He kneels down by the chair and looks up at her wrinkled face. "I will be going away soon," he says.
"Where is there to go? she says. "Where can anyone go?"
The actors in the soap opera are screaming at one another.
"There is a whole world beyond Cuba, Abuelita," he says. "I want to go to America."
"Be sure to wear a raincoat and make sure your sister wears hers," she says.
"Adoncia is such a good girl," she says.

Mateo stands, swats a fly buzzing around his head, and goes into the bathroom. He strips off
his boxers, steps into the shower, and turns on the cold water. Just like the water that comes out when
the hot water knob is turned, it's tepid. Hot or cold knob, what comes out is always the same. While
lost in thought, thinking about Aimee, and fully aroused, there is a sudden banging on the bathroom door. It's Adoncia. "Mateo, something is wrong with Abuelita," she screams.


Mateo's grandmother lays in the hospital bed blankly staring up at the ceiling. Mateo passes his hand in front of her face, but her eyes don't follow the movement. They follow nothing. There is no longer any life in her eyes, although her heart beats and she breathes. Tubes, monitors and IV's are connected to her body.

Adoncia is sitting at the bedside, holding her grandmother's hand, crying softly.
"How long will she live?" Mateo asks the doctor who stands at the foot of the bed making notes
in a chart.

The doctor looks up, as if startled from a dream. "It's hard to say. She has had a severe stroke.
If we keep her on life support, she could remain alive for a long time. There's no way to really
predict these things."

"My grandmother won't recover?" Adoncia says, not taking her eyes from her abuelita's face.
The doctor hesitates before saying, "At her age, it's unlikely, but miracles doe happen."
"And if she's taken off of life support?" Mateo says.
The doctor looks first at Mateo, and then at Adoncia who has her lips pressed against the back of her grandmother's hand. "Perhaps it's time you contact your priest."

The wet sand beneath Mateo's feet is cool and soggy. It oozes up between his toes but is washed away by the ebb and flow of the tide. In the early evening sky, seagulls perform a chaotic ballet accompanied by their screeching cries. They have been drawn to crabs scampering beneath the cover of mounds of sea foam that washes in and out with every wave. Mateo has rolled up his pant legs revealing his muscular calf muscles. Whenever he looks at them he is reminded of his lack of  coordination when dancing. He once took lessons on how to dance the Cuban tango, but was told by
the instructor, "You should just concentrate on walking."

The wind blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico is warm and filled with salt that is invisible but clings to his skin. On the horizon, there are ships carrying large containers, heading for the open sea. Smaller vessels, many with white sails, ply the waters nearer to the coast. The sea craft of the Tropas Guardafronteras skim the waters, on constant lookout for anything that appears illegal. The bells of
buoys mix with the blaring of horns from the boats, the crashing waves, and the ruckus of the gulls.
Mateo came to the beach to think, but in the noise, he finds that hard to do. He turns to leave when he sees Aymee at a distance, walking up the beach, accompanied by two other young women. He hastily
puts on his shirt and tucks it in. He stares out at the sea as if in deep contemplation, remembering that when they were children, Aymee was very smart. After several minutes of trying to appear intelligent, he turns his head and sees that Aymee and her companions have left the beach.

Returning to where he left his motorbike chained to a bike stand by the boardwalk, he finds the words "no olvides" spray painted on the bike seat in bright red. He wonders, Don't forget what?

He looks around for signs of Diego and his crew spying on him, waiting, but the boardwalk is mostly crowded with couples walking hand-in-hand or other loners like himself standing about, aimlessly searching for something. Something real, but elusive.

The drive through the city is slowed by a sudden downpour. The large potholes in the streets quickly fill with rain water, forming small pools. The drainage system has quickly baked up, creating overflow from the sewers that carry garbage and vegetative debris in rapidly flowing streams along each sides of the streets. he is soaked by the time he reaches home. At the front door, he removes his shoes, empties the sand from them, and along with his sopping wet shirt, leaves them on the ground, next to the welcome mat.