Here in the trees of people we hide from the sound of their wooden bones that crisp and creak we hear them whisper about us their voices control us the voices we speak to, type to, at night; they are trees. They are trees!
Their voices control us they shout as one they shout the trees shout the trees of people.
The trees of people silence us make us scream inside the trees make us scream.
name is Jull Soares and I am a bastard. This is not a particular
opinion that I, or anyone else that I’m aware of, has placed on me.
It is objective truth. My mother was an unlicensed sex worker and
neither she or I have any inkling of who fathered me, although a
couple of gringos are among the suspects.
is nothing more painful than longing for things that never were. Many
of my friends grew up with fathers and when I was young, I was very
jealous. However, based on what I’ve witnessed in films and in real
life, it doesn’t seem that I missed out on much. If you are
loved—it doesn’t matter by whom or how many—you’ll be fine as
long as you feel worthy of being loved.
I am old now, but I do not think that I fear death. Sometimes I get upset that while I am rotting in the dirt others will be drinking beer and dancing, or lying on a beach with closed eyes, caressed by the sun. My love of history has been an enormous help in smothering my panic of not being alive.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve adored hearing city elders tell stories about Cartagena. How my ancestors fought and killed the Spanish invader Juan de la Cosa when he tried to steal a 132 pound golden porcupine from our Sinu temple. And how we citizens repelled an attack of the English Armada that included George Washington’s half brother Lawrence. Or when the great North American female matador, Patricia McCormick, one of the finest bullfighters of her time, slew a bull at the beloved Circo Teatro. Streaked in blood, she knelt by the animal she just killed and stroked its head while screaming out, “I love this brave bull!”
can accept and enjoy that all these events took place without my
being alive to witness them, so why should I regret events I will be
unable to experience after I die? I have come to believe that when we
die, we return to wherever we were the year before our birth. As I
was born in 1959, I will simply return to whatever I was doing in
1958 and that’s where I will be for eternity. There seems to be
very few second chances in life and I suspect the same will be true
like lying on this ledge, becoming part of this glorious mural. I
feel as if I’m a horizontal recruiter enlisting pedestrians to take
some time outs during the day and not to fear exposing themself in
public. Often kids, mostly teenagers, come over and tease me that I
look dead when they shake or kick me into awakening. I can appreciate
their concern or forgive their mockery, but I don’t like it when
they pee in a wine bottle and try to force me to drink. Or pour it
over me while I sleep.
Sleeping in public can give you interesting insights into human nature. It’s been my experience that the good are pretty evenly matched with the bad, although it does tip a bit more in favour of the positive. Many people think I’m just a homeless misfit and don’t realize I’m actually giving them a chance to join me in creating a temporary public family. Compassion and cruelty is what I frequently dream about while I sleep on this beautiful ledge, and is what I often wake up to.
I was a child, I’ve always hated shoes. Most men like to appear
tough. If a person really wants to be tough it must start with their
feet. Our ancestors probably went tens of thousands of years
travelling in their bare feet—tough, grizzled, calloused—but not
indifferent. Growing up without family except for my mother, I don’t
think of being shoeless as a sign of poverty. I am walking in the
footsteps of my ancestors where each step I take is headed in the
direction of a family reunion. The soles of my naked feet scrape
along the same paths where the souls of my forebears once walked.
Please forgive my clumsy attempt at poetic wordplay, but it is a holy
A human head should always be cradled. That is why I always carry a pillow in my pouch. A good pillow allows you to dream in colour. My pillow is very old and even when I wash it has a distinctly peculiar smell to it. That’s because of the many beautiful dreams and disturbing nightmares burrowed inside it. My sweat and tears puddle into the stains of my life. A kind European visitor once told me I should consider my pillow as a work of textile art. I’m not sure what that means, but I like how it sounds.
It is a pillow almost as old as me. My mother made it for me when I was still “shitting yellow” as she used to like to say in her colourful way of labelling me a baby. Each day I ensconce myself into this bright yellow mural, beneath a stunning young woman with legs spread, as if birthing me onto this ledge.
is isolation. Slavery is the obliteration of isolation. I abhor
flophouses, government housing and charitable hostels. Once you lose
your ability to desire isolation, you become a slave. Creativity can
only flourish in silence and solitude. If I was in some kind of
forced shelter do you think I would be writing in this notebook and
accompanying these words with images torn from magazines, newspapers
and catalogues? The European woman who told me my pillow was textile
art also said that I have a collagist mentality when I showed her a
few of my notebooks.
Do not pity me as homeless. Celebrate me as one who possesses the special gift of being able to live alone. Sometimes I am forced to enter the dark doors of slavery, but I maintain the wherewithal to escape back into freedom and return to this colourful ledge.
so here I lay, precariously balanced between moments of exaltation
and the fear of being disturbed. In between those two points lies the
secret to a healthy and productive life. Boredom is not having
nothing to do, but feeling like nothing is worth doing. No one
volunteers to experience life. We don’t have a choice. That is why
anyone who completes this journey without taking short cuts is
you spare a few pesos in support of a pilgrim’s progress?
May you be spared a life of inertia in motion.
Mark Blickley, from New York, is a widely published author of fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Scholarship Award for Drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center and author of Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press), Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes from the Underground (Moira Books). In his 2018 video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected to the International Experimental Film Festival in Bilbao, Spain, was an Audie Award Finalist for his contribution to the original audio book, Nonetheless We Persisted, and co-curated the Urban Dialogues art exhibition, Tributaries: Encontro de Rios, in Lisbon, Portugal. His most recent book is the text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams by Clare Songbirds Publishing House.
Katya Shubova is a photographer and former competitive gymnast who grew up in Ukrainian Odessa. Her true passion is dance and she travels internationally to perform tango. Although identifying as a dancer, for the past few years she has studied improvisational performance and sketch comedy at New York City’s Upright Citizens Brigade. She stars in the upcoming short film, Hunger Pains, directed by Iorgo Papoutsas for Wabi Sabi Productions.
Over the edge of the cliff
I can see twirling
around in the sea
like a panic-stricken monster
A piece of wood
Swaying across the waves
Desperately trying to keep itself afloat
Underneath the fading Autumn sun
Etching out tension
Next to the nearby pier
Almost like it was a shipwreck
Now frozen in a watery suspension
Like it had been pulled up
From the bottom of the ocean,
Building a makeshift bridge
Upright against the wind
Salt crusting the mood
Curling just a little too close to my heart
Changing the colour of the sky
Instead of a hazy blue
To a stark blood red orange in panic.
She had shown him a new world
Feral, sensual and wild in beauty
Flying free, a forever butterfly, in a new Eden
Yet he was now a lost soul
A new Adam alone with femininity
It was her empire to roost
Lust left him in an abstraction of paradise
To age in shameful silence
She sang the siren song
Until she could sing the song no more
And the song was drowned
The words lost
The trees burned
In the fire of another’s love
Of reckless gain
And her hair falls
In layered strands
Remnants of the finesse of what once was
To strew the land
What’s left of hope has become
A tired empty tear down one side of her face
Whilst the other stares
In vacant disbelief
Trees now denuded of paradise
Stalagmite stumps of make believe
Her lips full and pursed with pregnant words
She cannot sing or speak
Because the words have gone
Not even enough for a lament
All that’s left a final scream
A dying swan
A sound which can never be heard
By those left to walk the land
Heads buried in coats of despair
Because nobody listened
No one really cared
But for her the memory is still there
The memory will always be there
Life melts , slips away,
pooling slowly, before cascading
over the edge into decline.
Cooling, hardening, leaving a path,
too soon traced and overlaid
by the next generation.
bursting with energy,
flaring and flickering, finding
cupped hands of protection
against the breeze,
spluttering and guttering.
The light now fades,
a naked flame chars
a crumpled wick,
sending up a plume of silvered smoke.
The candle shortening, descends
into oblivion, extinguished.
Is it an endless sleep, oceans deep?
In Karma, do we rise again?
Or, when flame is dowsed
and all is black
does death defeat us?
Darkness and nothing more?
Death welcomes us all; unbiased and inclusive,
Inevitable mortality holds no prejudice.
Some rush towards him,
giving the Grim Reaper a hand.
Others run from him
on supplement and vitamin fuelled treadmills.
The indiscriminate scythe offers strange comfort;
levelling the playing field.
You cannot take my life,
barter or buy it to lengthen your own.
My spark burns until the day I’m snuffed out.
I am grateful for every second.
Cassandra’s fractured face seeps into hollowed rock
Quick bow-spray spatters white across spectral seas
Cool effigies dream of thespian victories
Winged artistry, brave hands and tragic sorrows;
Mimetic marble strives at dawn to recollect
Ecstatic festivals and nights of wanton dance
While colours leap from distance, filling us with spring
And pallid plastic dreamscapes with primeval song;
Uncounted species and genera of lost loves
Rise tall and stalk like phobic shadows of dismay
Through trembling phonic moments on forgotten strands
While our new Muse awakens, thumbs sand from her eyes
Takes morning ship to Corinth, eying spindrift waves
Occluding Thracian smiles and foreign faces
Unheeded on her long and voiceless voyage
Towards a distant shore of endless origins;
A few more lines weave Phidian visions taut
With drowning lovers and heroic inference.