Cum laude

Gridiron

From the cold and bitter, withering shores of Cape Cod in winter, Antonio Cinelli, a Sicilian farrier, who in his spare time occasionally applied injudicious might for the local mafioso, washed up upon the shores of the New World pursuing a whole new cosmos for himself.  Furthermore, he sought asylum for his part in the inadvertent murder of a soldier of a competing gang, a violent act whose eruptions, and accrued infractions, he could not elude if he remained in Italy.  Training his hands to work with leather rather than iron, he settled in a room above a cobbler’s shop whose owner pitied him.  Life in America suited the man, who was still in his late twenties.  According to family lore, it was there he met and married his future wife, Rea Repollo, also Sicilian, that founded a family that later grew into a thriving tribe on the northern bank of the Charles River.  Here, family lore grows thin, but Antonio’s descendants eventually took over the cobbler’s factory, where it remains today in their hands.  Men of the Cinelli family were mustered into the army as foot soldiers for the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, the two World Wars, the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam Policing Action, losing not an inconsiderable number of scions of the family seed. Continue reading “Cum laude”

Train story 2 (Merchant of arrivals)

Platform

The ticket to board the delayed train

grows sharp like a knife in the hands

of annoyed passengers.

 

Their eyes remind Shylock.

 

At the Cantonment station,

the rail lies hapless like the well wisher

of a debtor, surrounded by lenders.

 

The electronic display plays the

messenger bird delivering relief:

Five minutes for the train to arrive.

 

Today,

they will scramble for prime seats

to watch the sky unfurl into a

new canvas through its window.

 

They will ride over the debris of daily

tragedy and cut a pound of train soul

without shedding a drop of blood.

 

By Aditya Shankar

 

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Aurora Borealis

Northern lights

We came across the water when the moon was just starting to rise above the fiord’s frozen flank, a light mist falling on the bay, like the tears of the seraphim.  There were the three of us, Frank, Jason Williams, the card hustler, and me.  The Klondike Gold Rush was yet a trickle.  The tide was up.  Where there was a gravel beach on the inlet, we pulled the canoe ashore, the rocks rattling beneath our feet, dragging our vessel a good hundred feet inward to where there was a small, sandy meadow.  Frank and I camped there many a night before, sleeping scores of nights under the silent stars.  Not infrequently, the Northern Lights floated above us, wavering as if they were green bunting at some Christmas festival. Panning for the precious powder, we grew hungry.  We decided to take the next day off and head for Juneau.  Frank and I reckoned we were about twenty-some miles from the boom town, where Joe Juneau had struck pay dirt not one year prior, and others seeking the precious metal had not yet panned it out. 

Frank gathered rocks to make a small fire pit, while Jason and I gathered dead wood.  When we had gathered enough, Frank put a slight light to a piece of wood he had carved to accommodate the flame from a kitchen match.  In time, the sticks and logs took; we dried in warmness to the comfort of the fire, while Jason pulled out some elk jerky and a bottle, no less precious despite its poor provenance.  Continue reading “Aurora Borealis”

Illumined

Clouds

From my very center love

spins a silence like thought;

and, deep in the wholeness

of my heart, I surrender to

the bright periphery all

around me, a world I’m free

to wander in, unburdened

by the petticoats of the day.

Light I hold so patiently is

a river of time and every

day I savor breathing in

the air. Life flowers like

the words of a lover, given

without asking, an illumined

sky shining above me.

 

By Bobbi Sinha-Morey

 

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Train story 1 (Kafka on wheels)

Train tracks

There is a train in Cantonment station so weary

of his rails, he levitates into the children’s park

seeking sand-soaked feet. But alas, the train

wakes up as a toy train with wheels and rails.

There is a train in Cantonment station trapped

on the sticky flypaper, he follows brooding

passengers into the bustling street. But alas,

the train wakes up as a tram with the soul of a

hawker’s bell. At the womb-like mountain tunnel,

the train aches to metamorphose into a caterpillar:

a fluffy fullness that masks movement with

meditation. Better, be the earth itself, the reverie

of movement that rises up as sun and moon. At

the spindly arched over bridge, the train offers

prayers to stooping forefathers to evolve into the

lazy depth that soaks the banks beneath. Better,

be a ripple dying on the girls faded jeans, with the

parting embrace of a dying grandparent. But alas,

the train wakes up a sea sewerage that carries

within, things it never asked for

 

By Aditya Shankar

 

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Cass Masters

rail fence

Of the roughly one hundred and twenty men comprising Cass Masters’s company in the Union Army who proceeded into the Wilderness, only seventy were left standing when the battle teetered to a halt.  For it is so recorded in my great, great, great, great grandfather’s war-time diaries.  They obsessed me and when I finally found the key to the roll-top desk, I started reading them as soon as I could, reading them non-stop, until I finished two days later.  The pages of his diary, the cramped writing penciled in after the battle ended some days afterward, were scribbled in long-hand with both pen and pencil, whatever he could find to write his thoughts regarding the August conflagration, the battle that saw Grant assume the command of the Potomac Army, marching his battalions into the forest primeval where the Confederate forces were, in his clipped notes, meant for posterity.  Prior to the engagement, he even witnessed Grant ride past, gamboling by on his bay horse, looking no more imperial than a second lieutenant, except for his epaulets.  And so he commits to paper his feeling as his company forged forward into the forest of smoke, for all the musket fire set the Wilderness ablaze.  The soldiers on both sides fired blankly at apparitions in the smoky haze.  No more than a standstill when it ended, the Northern newspapers that were passed around by the exhausted survivors of the engagement, claimed a Union victory.  Grant finally made the Union soldiers stand and fight.  Continue reading “Cass Masters”

The new way of life

Bullets

Nobody deserves to die
Mother dressed in black with flowers while she cries
The new way to deal with your problems is with a gun
But you don’t know the reality of the harm that you’ve done
And now a mother has to bury her son
Tears coming down her face and even through all of this we still kill our own race
What is the issue? How can it be resolved?
What is the answer to this puzzle we caused?
Is it the guns? Is it the gangs?
In the end it doesn’t matter because we all still hang
We hang from a tree of slavery making it a need to kill our own to look cool or be tough
We look like fools acting like this knowing our ancestors had it rough
Now sketched into stone is your sibling’s name with bones
Wishing you could have told them to stay out that zone
This is all a cycle that we need to stop
But it never stops because we still have cops
The people who are supposed to protect us
They abuse the power they have and objectify us
“I only killed him because he looked threatening to me”
He look threatening to you?
My black skin is nothing new
Now you are turning blue because you feel unsafe
I’m guessing that it has to do with my race
And the fact that our Kings and Queens have beautiful faces
Or maybe it’s our height that gives you fright
Whatever it is our people will always be alright
For the past 300 years we have had to fight
Nothing has ever been easy for us
We weren’t even allowed at the front of the bus
What have we done to deserve this?
I wish there was a way we could reverse this

 

By Chyna Colon

 

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Together forever

Bougainvillea

Finally, Pili gathered courage and approached her husband, Saad. “Oh darling husband, I’ve passed the interview,” she said calmly. Her husband, however, did not look up from his reading.

“I’ll be reporting for work in my new employment tomorrow,” she pressed on.

“Get out of my way,” he said threateningly.

“We shall now be better off.…”

“I said you get out of my sight,” he said, looking up for the first time.

“Darling, how can you be so unfair?”

“Don’t you hear?” he said rising from his seat.

“I assure you.”

“I don’t need to be assured. You can take your assurance elsewhere.”

“No darling. Don’t say that.”

“If you wish to avoid trouble with me, do keep your distance.”

“I think we’re not communicating.”

“Any more of this nonsense,” he said rising to go, “and I’ll break your nose.” He threw the paper violently at her and walked away.

The following day, Pili reported for work in her new job.

In the evening, Saad was raving mad. “You’re now puffed up with pride, eh,” he started. “With a car to visit your men, you now feel at the top of the roofs.

“Have I ever been insincere to you?”

“One day, I’ll teach them the lesson of their lifetime.”

“Come on,” Pili said sharply. “I’ve endured long enough with you.”

“Who gave you authority to talk to me like that?” Continue reading “Together forever”

Echoes of peace

Wind chimes

In the echoes of peace

the house seemed so quietly

still as if it held its breath

and the wind chimes outside

the glass door would catch

the sunlight and add their

own brightness to the room.

Overcome by a curious sense

of elation, I tie back the white

lace curtains to invite the sky

in, glimpse the cerise blossoms

in the wind. The day smiles

back at me and I feel a quiver

in my heart of what’s to come.

The air, soft as a lady’s hand,

gently wraps me in.

 

By Bobbi Sinha-Morey

 

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All quiet on basketball courts

Basketball court

The “March Madness” ran its course into the first week of April. At the end, two basketball powerhouses would meet: one drawing last blood from the other to raise the championship trophy. The nation, however, remained dazzled by a new Cinderella, the team from a small catholic college outside Boston. She danced exquisitely until the semi-final, when her clock struck midnight. But, it was their octogenarian nun, perched on a wheel-chair at the courtside, rooting enthusiastically for her boys, that would melt the soul of a politically fragmented nation.

Bill Walton, a firebrand senator, understood “How sports find a way to bind an entire nation!”

 

By Sankar Chatterjee

 

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