I REMEMBER – VISUAL VERSE

You can imagine my surprise when I found out in February that Visual Verse published my story in November without me knowing it. I know I read the whole issue. Maybe it was added additionally or lost and found. Either way, it’s there now.

Btw, I thought the photo prompt was unusual to say the least and rather hard to put into words so my first reaction was to pass. However, I couldn’t get it out of my head, and eventually went back. I’m happy I did. The motto of the story – Giving up is not an option.

You can read my contribution to the November 2018 issue of Visual Verse here.

MY POEMS IN DOWN IN THE DIRT

I’m super excited to have four of my earlier poems in Down in the Dirt, an excellent lit journal, also publishing previously published works.

Interestingly, I was first notified they’d accepted two, but then I sent a follow up letter with two additional poems saying although I know they don’t want the rhyme in their magazine, I’ll take my chances, knowing that the one that rhymes here and there is a good one, and assuring them that when I use it, though rarely, I do it for a good reason, never for the sake of the rhyme itself.

So, persistence pays off.

You can read my poems here, here, here and here.

CONQUERING FREEDOM, ET CETERA – VISUAL VERSE

This month’s Visual Verse photo prompt was not only challenging but also spoke to me on a very personal level. The only way I could respond to it was by drawing on my experience as someone who had taken part in peaceful protests in Serbia in response to electoral fraud in the winter of 1996/97. It was cold and times were tough so it came as no surprise that many people connected. Apart from subversive badges, demonstrators who didn’t have a partner back then were often wearing badges saying: Looking for a boy-/girlfriend, So green but haven’t been picked/sprayed yet (with a picture of a green apple on it) and so on. There was a guy who got pretty popular at the time because of the banner he was carrying: Just hang in there a little longer. I’m about to find a girlfriend.

Having all this in mind, I’m more than excited that my poem found a home here.

Tell the story challenge

Damn those challenges! Though I’m always pressed for time, I can’t resist a good one, especially when it’s visual. I was challenged by lovely Kim whose blog I Tripped Over a Stone, which, among other things, helps us understand her everyday struggle with fibromyalgia, is a must. Along the way, you’ll get to know a charismatic person, a fighter, a lifelong learner and a great writer, who, if you’re lucky like myself, you will be honored to call a friend.

 

Here you go, my dear. Hope you’ll like it.

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SWORDFISH

Before the light faded behind western
hills, Mama told me of ferocious
animals that hunt for a living, much worse
than earthly dragons and water demons
some swear on their lives to have seen

she said i’d meet fierce-looking
monsters in not so legendary a form
hiding in the darkest corners with
their corked mouths and balls of fire
snarling and snapping at me

when you see them, imagine wearing
a deep blue hood the color of ripe plums
over your head as deadly as a long
sword-like extension of your upper jaw
to frighten the demons away


 

I challenge three ladies who I think the world of, both as human beings and writers:

Basilike (Silent Hour)

Angela (Heart Breathings)

Susan (Stories From the Edge of Blindness)

 

My photo prompt for the challenge:

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The genre is entirely up to you. To quote Kim, there’s no time restraints on this. Do it if you can, I’ll wait, no problem!

NATION & DECORATION (Part 4): Basilike Pappa & Bojana Stojcic

BUY ANY PRODUCT FROM OUR DECORATION GALLERY 1, GALLERY 2  OR GALLERY 3 NOW AND GET TODAY’S OFFERS FREE!!!

(If you are not satisfied with an item you have purchased, you can return it within 30 days from the order date for a full refund of the purchase price, minus the shipping.)

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You have an ideal job, an ideal house, an ideal family and overall lead an ideal life. Alas, it is just for show. In reality, it is all more like a boring screenplay with a vague notion about the plot and you as a lead character. Let our interior designers help you get your life back on track by redecorating your house and changing your pursuits until you become a full-time member of the cutthroat world and stop giving a crap about anyone but yourself.

Men in Tights (if you’re happy and you know it)

We have all had just about enough of the limitations that come with age and interior design styles. Women in the throes of MLC have an all-inclusive package today: xanax, a handsome yoga instructor, a cone bra à la Madonna, an autobiographical novel and Botox to wipe the misery off of their faces. Besides, it is mostly wives who have exclusive rights to exploit their talents and decorate their home, which can be a real nightmare for men’s OCD and emasculate them by leaving them little room to properly express themselves, drinking, smoking, farting, and being (for once) right. Men may also find it tricky trying to strike the right chord with their target audience, that is when selling themselves while remaining relatable. To deal with this injustice, the Nation & Decoration team has come up with ideas that will turn your garage into a statement against feminine domestic authority and help create your own getaway where you could take up a hobby or hang out with you male friends.

‘Fun’s for the young’ belongs to the past as it is never too late to start an awful band, recapture hard-partying youth and interrupt your family’s and neighbors’ lives. Stop burdening yourself with soundproofing (what’s the use of putting your heart and soul into making music if it’s for your ears only), as well as a lack of music education (it’s overrated too). When there are lonely suburban hubs and fathers, neurotic wives, confused teenage children, the burden of living next door to Alice, microphone stands, amplifiers, passion and inspiration, you cannot go wrong. Don’t be another middle-aged man on guitar, desperately seeking Susan and band mates. Find them and practice basic chords together, gradually progressing to the greatest ’80s hits of all time, in your newly decorated garage until your fingers bleed (i.e. into the wee hours, even on work nights). We cannot guarantee that your wife and kids will be delighted to see musical midlife crisis making an updated comeback so better get used to the ‘just fuck another woman already’ or ‘dad, shut up, we’re trying to sleep’ chorus, and remain composed. We do not expect somebody who thinks their best years are behind them to understand you, let alone someone who likes to watch a girl hanging atop a Wrecking Ball to respect your music taste. Remind wife again you have no interest in sex whatsoever (at least not with her) and the brats this is a journey for the young at heart.

Since you may be out of touch with the market, our celebrated professionals will assist you with tips on building a proper rock star image. Push the boundaries of taste some more by teasing your hair, and digging out your leopard-print spandex and shoulder pads. If you opt for an eye patch and a neckerchief, you might need an adequate alter ego, something as original as Ziggy Stardust. Get your first tattoo, an army of groupies and a camper van, and hit the road and top music festivals. When at home, give the lady of the house a chance to live out her teen dream of hanging out with the band by carrying equipment, setting up lighting, managing sound levels, serving beer and cleaning up the mess (if she wants to give you a lap dance, she needs to deserve it). Should your fooling around with other fans infuriate her, tell her it’s only rock ‘n’ roll. If you yourself ever get tired of your Boys from the Hood, our designers propose buying an unsuitably-powerful racing bike and joining other middle-aged men in lycra. At least your MLC is less dangerous than acquiring a tastelessly expensive motorbike.

When looking to bring in eclectic design styles into your home, think big and remember the best breweries usually start as home brewing in a converted garage. Now you too can have your guests watch distribution from brewery to glass with its boilers, fermenters, and a fridge transformed into a five beer tap system. Divert your unwanted visitors’ attention away from your mistakes and real problems by getting them roaring drunk, encouraging them to sit behind the wheel and speed off (safe driving is for pussies anyway). When making your own beer at home, there are a couple of things you need to know. Plenty of brewers use at least one electrical appliance in the course of a brew day. A typical garage being electrically malnourished, you may need the electrical service upgraded to include a dedicated circuit-breaker panel for multiple circuits in order to handle heavy power consumption. Electrical work is generally not a DIY thing. However, our professionals trust your competence. What does a pro know that you don’t, right? Having said this, we also suggest you steal power from your neighbors, which is particularly convenient if the pole is in between your houses. By doing this, you will not only be able to support your equipment but also prove how resourceful you are. The worst thing that can happen to you is electrocution but don’t despair – you come out ahead no matter what you try; you were born under a lucky star.

If you want to make a habit of spending time in the garage, keep in mind the floor is almost always the second-dirtiest thing in the world (your mind being number one). Fortunately, there are more than enough options when it comes to making the oil-stained concrete floor look good. Get your wife to scrub it on all fours, preferably with a mild, acidic cleaning solution that can be obtained at our hardware stores. Having created a clean pallet, use the best garage floor paint you can find on the market, i.e. our popular epoxy acrylic product. For a more resilient and costly alternative, move up to our industrial epoxy coating. This will naturally require extensive surface preparation so make certain you recruit your children and their friends, promising to pay them and, when they get the job done, simply don’t. This will teach them a valuable lesson on how to treat their own employees later in life. Lastly, many homeowners are nowadays turning to rubber overlays or composite products to top off floors. Nation & Decoration also offers large mats and rolled sheets in various colors and sizes, cut to fit your space. You won’t make a mistake whichever you choose. The bottom line is your wife will be happy as all these clean easily and are generally impervious to petrochemicals, antifreeze, household cleaning agents, sperm and vomit.

Our eminent designers advise keeping the garage as simple as possible since you do not have to behave here or worry about what others think. Harsh fluorescent bulbs, a vending machine, nude calendars and posters on the walls and a couple of sofas are enough to provide it with a no-nonsense look. Make sure you install a safe garage door as well. Instead of consulting the owner’s manual, we would visually inspect the garage door each month, looking at cables, springs, rollers, and pulleys for signs of wear. Don’t listen to safety maintenance companies trying to sell you a trained technician when you can do all this on your own. It is a well-known fact everything is a matter of perspective and self-esteem. After all, you can explain possible dangers to children by placing your fingers between door sections. Needless to say, ensure the garage door opener control is out of wife’s and kids’ reach. Now lie back and enjoy your solitude, masturbating to a vintage gay hardcore magazine until you go weak at the knees. The lack of heat and air conditioning should not be an issue as your transition from a warm-blooded animal into a cold-blooded one and vice versa literally takes seconds.

The garage is your retreat so it is more than ok to have the guilty pleasure of building small tracks and playing with model railways too because your love for choo choo trains holds a big place in your heart. Don’t take it seriously if you are mocked for your teeny tiny houses and engines, especially by two-time losers who are desperately unenthusiastic about anything. With digital command controls and all that jazz, this is clearly more than just a toy so don’t waste your breath. When it comes to illegal stimulants, your children are, in our opinion, big enough to see you consuming them. They are doing it themselves anyway so stop hiding. However, they might moan about your laid-back nature, lack of authority and interest in their problems. The key to using rewards and punishment effectively is to make them tangible and worthwhile, respectively, if you want to manage their behavior the right way. If you ground them and take their cell phones (or at least bribe them), they will surely stop cutting classes and the idea of dropping out of school will never again cross their mind. On the other hand, it won’t be the end of the world even if they do. You went to college and see how it all turned out. Better get the best earplugs, shut everybody out, and go on pumping iron. Your infatuation with an attractive neighbor half your age is a project that needs detailed planning if you want to make your dream come true.

The man in turmoil over his stale existence is a tale as old as time. Don’t fall into a trap because now you have the garage all to yourself where you can disappear for hours while never leaving your home. Your loved ones will eventually accept your choices and won’t stand in your way if you want to make a mess of your life, that is until you make a mess of theirs. By then, we will probably be out of reach. Be that as it may, you should still know one thing – nothing is irreparable. When things go from bad to worse, resort to the good old tool box to fix what’s broken.

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Basilike Pappa wrote: ‘The light of a candle makes our embrace longer’. If you want to find out what else she is capable of, you’ll need to check out her blog Silent Hour. My selection of her exquisite poetry includes: this and this.

Photography: Seph Lawless