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Love is Stupid by Ian Zerafa

Love is Stupid by Ian Zerafa

Kids, I’m running away. I know that’s not the sort of thing a dad should ever say to his kids, much less write it. Especially at 11:34 on a Wednesday, when I know we’re going out to dinner on Friday. But I’m going. This letter’s […]

The Bleeding Blue Rose by Joanne Bugeja

The Bleeding Blue Rose by Joanne Bugeja

The sky was growling like a starved hound. The pale winter moon was buried underneath heavy silver clouds. The Stars had taken their leave surrendering to the merciless downpour. This was a night where lovers would clash, where pleas would fall on deaf ears and […]

HE by Claire Bajada

HE by Claire Bajada

His eyes so blue

Lips so pink

Smile so pleasant

He makes me think


He speaks with confidence

A really kind soul

From many different girls

Their hearts he stole


He gives me flowers

Some daisies, some roses

He comes up behind me

And my eyes he closes


So gentle and sweet

He’s the perfect boy

One you should care for

Not use like a toy.

When he plays his sport

The way he cheers

When they win a victory

His eyes fill with tears


Oh how often we chat

All the jokes and laughter

It’s obvious to everyone

That it’s me he’s after


But there is just one thing

When my secret unfurls

What will he think

When I say I’m into girls?

The Latecomer’s Tale by Daniel Cossai

The Latecomer’s Tale by Daniel Cossai

“Oh, grandmother, tell me the story of Cinderella!” “My dear,” the grandmother told the little girl as they sat by the fireplace. “It is lovely, but wouldn’t you like to hear a new story?” “Can you tell me the one about the sleeping princess?” “Yes, […]

Asphyxiation by Juanita Galea

Asphyxiation by Juanita Galea

I am not a sinner, But sin itself  I am the dark entanglement of deceit,The attraction that many try to hide.A fixation on the prey. You run away from me, Say it’s in the pastTell me that I’m stupid, that it would never last. But […]

Literature: The Last Standing Lighthouse by Mariana Debono

Literature: The Last Standing Lighthouse by Mariana Debono

“A man, to be greatly good, must imagine intensely and comprehensively; he must put himself in the place of another and many others; the pains and pleasures of his species must become his own. The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Defence of Poetry

Countries waging war, that is to say, humanity waging war against humanity, rulers upholding nuclear weapons in order to safeguard their sovereignty, terrorist attacks escalating like wild fire, workers being exploited in obscurity, vulnerable women undergoing female genital mutilation, innocent children murdered prior to birth, asylum seekers snubbed — the list is endless.

When contemplating on all of the above, anyone deemed humane is bound to feel uncomfortable — burdened, almost. Such phenomena have been taking place for centuries. One would think that, by now, the lesson would have been learnt, and yet, it is clear that it has not. Shall we, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn rightfully asked once, “have the temerity to declare that we are not responsible for the sores of the present-day world?”

Hence, this causes us to question how such injustices could be amended; it seems foolish to suppose that we could eradicate them once and for all, however. Evidently, certain mishaps are utterly out of our control, and yet, in spite of this, we must not adopt the ‘blessed is he who accepts’ outlook: a rather crude form of ‘bystander apathy’. In complete contrast to this, we must act, and we must do so with prudence and care, and by subscribing to a set of noble ideals. Without an ideal blueprint, the architect could never bring his craft into being. Without an ideal, the very possibility of progress falters.

Contending that there is room for progress, one is left with the task of looking for the tools with which to generate such progress. Education may present itself as a promising candidate, and yet, theoretical education in its barest state will fail to bring about the necessary change. This is due to its inability to stimulate the human ‘will’ and, hence, to instil the sufficient ‘motivation’ for righteous behaviour. For it is our ‘will’, our emotive side, that dictates our actions, not our intellect. That being said, the question therefore becomes about how one is to make his ‘will’ will good actions. How is the ‘good will’, which Immanuel Kant so fervently prioritised, formulated?

The tool I am proposing is literature, an instrument which is capable of inciting this progress. Literature is language manifesting itself creatively; it is the only tool available to us human beings with which we could, somehow, inculcate some measure of humanity and compassion in one other, accomplishing this in a world which lacks both. Compassion is the child of Pity, and Pity the child of Selflessness; it belongs to the man who sees himself in others, one who recognises the plight of the human condition and is able to relate to it, understand it and is, ultimately, able to act. The French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau stated a similar belief in his treatise Emile, contending that it is only he who pities, and is able to put himself in the shoes of another, that can be good and virtuous: “When combined with pity, [the] imagination puts us in the place of the miserable man”. As a result, instead of feeling envy or enmity, we are able to metaphysically comprehend the other with compassion. Rousseau’s use of the word ‘imagination’ reels in the notion of literature.

Be it through novels, drama, poetry, music or film, literature always employs the same method: defamiliarising the reader and showing him a whole new array of possibilities that he might have never felt or even experienced. We can all relate and learn from Hamlet’s plight — this is partially why this play is so widely read. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness tells us of the horror and evil that reside within us, yet which we often disregard; Kurtz is not just a fictional man, he is us. C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe portrays forgiveness as the greatest, most valued act to be practised. We froth at the mouth while watching Schindler’s List because we are able to recognise the evil wrongdoings of the Holocaust, and thus condemn them. Whitman’s poem ‘O me! O life!’ is able to plant the seed of hope within us, portraying life in a beautiful light and thus destroying the nihilistic worldview that has permanently fused to our lifestyle. Orwell’s 1984 urges us to be cautious of the dangers of utopic aspirations and totalitarianism. Storm of Steel, a novel by Ernst Junger, sheds light on the horrors of war through the eyes of an ordinary soldier. The list is endless. We must not forget that such themes, capturing both the negative and the positive side of human life, ultimately teach us lessons that could never become anachronistic. This sentiment is rightfully echoed by the Russian Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his address:

Who might succeed in impressing upon a bigoted, stubborn human creature the distant joy and grief of others, an understanding of dimensions and deceptions which he himself has never experienced? Propaganda, constraint, scientific proof — all are useless. But fortunately there does exist such a means in our world! That means is art. That means is literature.

Literature is capable of exposing the danger in certain motives like envy, selfishness, blinded ambition, pride, and resentment, and even shows us, at times, the virtue in others. It is a telescope that magnifies human behaviour and analyses it, exposing both the wickedness and sublimity of human life and its course.

Essentially, it is up to the author and his skill to instil compassion. If one is unable to impel oneself to act virtuously by means of self-discipline, he may, instead, turn to literature, not merely for the sake of pleasure or distraction, but to become better, for the sake of goodness itself.

That being said, one is bound to realise that reading literature alone is not sufficient. Once our compassion is roused and we are fully aware of our wrongdoings, we must be practical and act accordingly. I propose that one ought to engage in simple acts that, simple as they are, could make the greatest difference. We must contemplate what is right and wrong and, above all, evaluate our own actions critically. In the words of Socrates, “Let him who would move the world first move himself.” It is only after one has a clearer conception of both himself and the world that he will then be able to flourish and reform.

I hope to have demonstrated well enough the importance of literature and the role it plays. It is a powerful tool that, as anything else, could be manipulated, yet, if used correctly, certainly has the power to make the greatest difference.

This article was primarily written as a reaction to a number of propositions that suggested that Literature should no longer be a compulsory subject taught at secondary schools: an act which, I believe, outright fails to take into consideration all the above points, and more.

Hexapoda by Jeanelle Arpa

Hexapoda by Jeanelle Arpa

It started a little over a year ago. Small, winged insects with compound eyes buzzed around fruit, bread, cups of tea and standing water. I shooed them away and crushed them with newspapers when I couldn’t. It never really did anything, but then again there […]

Twin Shadows by Jeremy Mifsud

Twin Shadows by Jeremy Mifsud

Raquelle adjusted her earpiece as she strode towards the Rotunda of Mosta. Its cross glistened under the Maltese sun. Perfect—she performed best in warm weather. “I’ve arrived. Whom shall I blast?” “We’re uncertain. Minimal levels of suspicious activity are being detected. You might have to […]

Hitchhiker by Claire Bugeja

Hitchhiker by Claire Bugeja

You don’t notice it, at first. 

It infiltrates your life slowly, measuredly, amalgamating with your life seamlessly. It’s only when it begins to dig into your brain with fingers of liquid darkness that you notice it for the first time, the chill dread of its reality dripping down your spine, numbing your fingers, turning your legs to mush. 

It’s in your thoughts, a cruel voice of mockery that chills you to the core. It’s in your every waking hour and it even accompanies you to bed. It’s in the restless tossing-turning hours of trying to fall asleep. It follows you in your dreams, and greets you when you wake.

Others notice it later, but no one understands. It’s clear in their faces, their disappointment loud and bare. The cruelty of it drives you to despair, to hours crying alone in some forgotten place, your tears dripping down your face and onto the bathroom tiles, locked up on the ground floor of a building you despise. Your silent, choking sobs echo in the darkness, terror of the unknown gripping your very being.

And still it haunts you everywhere, telling you you’re to blame.

And, silly, you believe it, because everyone else agrees.

And your thoughts turn bleak and grey, and still it grows stronger, till it has you in its grasp one day, with its gaping maw hovering an inch from your jugular, and you’re torn; you can’t give in, not now, not after so long, but the sweet abyss of silence yawns before you and you yearn to just step forward, let it snatch you away in its icy embrace –

And you push it away, you triumph for today, and for just one day, the darkness lifts slightly, and you remember what it feels like to live without terror.

But it is short-lived. The next day is worse, it is always worse, when the numbness returns and your mind is screaming for help, when all around you everyone drops away, and no one understands, and no one helps, and no one cares. You are alone with your thoughts and the dark black hunger crawling in your veins, with that hated voice whispering foully in your ear, a soul gripped in the merciless clawed hands of the dread monster Anxiety, and you are alone.

_

About the Author: Claire is a twenty year old student studying English and Classics at the University of Malta. She discovered writing at an early age and hasn’t stopped writing since.

 

Track the Dead by Sarah Zammit Munro

Track the Dead by Sarah Zammit Munro

She knew what she was getting herself into. She always did. Into the black, into the dark unknown, unfathomed by all who see the light. A mind capable of standing out in the crowd, a deep crimson stain growing, eating the body alive, the monster […]

The Anguish of an Echo by Ian Zerafa

The Anguish of an Echo by Ian Zerafa

It wasn’t the most pleasant of murders. I’d like to say that I wasn’t taking it personally – Elijah and I had been trying to kill each other for years. But he was definitely crossing a line here, this was my home! I must’ve really […]

Horror: Short Story Competition | TEXT

Horror: Short Story Competition | TEXT

Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there. – Stephen King

Craft a terrifying story in 1200 words or less and send it to us on text.desa.uom@gmail.com. When submitting your entry please indicate which option you have chosen from the list below and include your full name, course details, contact number, title of short story and total word count.

Deadline for submissions: 31st October 2018.

All submissions will be published on our online website https://text.desauom.org/ and the winner will get a €20 voucher from Agenda Bookshop.

Option A: Psychological – Write a short story that will instil fear and paranoia in the minds of your readers, one that will seep into their skin and contaminate their blood.

Option B: Murder, Blood and Gore – Write a short story dripping with blood and gore, psychopaths or murderers committing monstrous acts in order to feel human.

Option C: Paranormal/ Supernatural – Write about the unusual and the uncanny, and about those monsters that lurk in the dark, waiting for the right moment to strike and clamouring to be heard over the deafening silence in your mind.

 

Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/288608691864356/

Ash Stash by Maria Fsadni

Ash Stash by Maria Fsadni

A thief broke in for some cash, Found boxes kept in a stash, Filled with powder so fine He snorted a line, But alas, it was dead man’s ash.

DESA | Call for Submissions – Life, Mortality, Friendship, and Loss

DESA | Call for Submissions – Life, Mortality, Friendship, and Loss

As always, we editors of TEXT are thematically linking this call for submissions to an upcoming 2018 literary event. This time in connection with the 132nd anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s death, which falls on the 15th of May.   Although Emily Dickinson was an American […]

Who Run the World? Girls by Rachel Caruana

Who Run the World? Girls by Rachel Caruana

Asher shuffled across the cobbled pavement with short, tentative steps; his head hanging and his eyes coyly lifting every now and again to quickly take in his surroundings. A row of neatly packed, red-brick houses lined the street, with their bold, bright green gardens that proudly drew every eye towards them. These were once humbled houses. Once, cosy houses perfect for a family; a family which Asher used to picture around the dinner table, talking about school, football and weekend plans over a hot meal of roast chicken and baked potatoes. But these houses became cold and boastful now. Each roof was fixed with a broad, rainbow-coloured flag that puffed up with pride with every gust of wind. The Feminists had repurposed the LGBT flag for themselves, and it now flew high on every building, overseeing everything; Washington’s ‘Big Sister’.  

Asher did not look at the flags as he made his way down the straight street and turned onto a busier road, peppered with small shops and mini-markets. Walking towards him was a young woman whose fiery locks bounced with each confident stride. Asher stiffened. He could hear his own heartbeat pounding in his ears, screaming a desperate note of warning. Asher’s eyes darted towards the ground as he hunched his shoulders over, like a homeless person futilely trying to trap air to keep himself warm. With his eyes narrowly fixed on his quickening feet, Asher slid past the woman and let out a long, staggered breath. He lifted his chin cautiously and scurried on, without missing a step. He was especially lucky today; there were few women walking at the moment and the guards, stationed at every corner, did not seem to be in a very militant mood. Asher had still not recovered from the previous week’s ordeal, when one of them had dragged a man violently to the courtyard for sentencing. His charge: sneezing in the direction of a wrinkly, dried-out woman who mistook his action as an advance towards her; as if anyone would want to touch that shrivelled, old pile of bones. The gate to the city’s courtyard was always open to the public, and an entire spectacle was made of people like that unlucky sneezing bastard. All the men living in the area where the crime occurred, Asher included, had been taken to the town’s Courtyard and forced to watch the victim’s face turn a deep purple as the life was strangled out of him. They had then been quietly escorted to their district’s XY-Zone before the clock struck seven; just like a modern-day Cinderella story, but with a happy ending for the ‘Evil Stepmother’. Asher’s ‘Fairy Godmother’ had not shown up yet, and until then, he had to live by the stepmother’s rules.

Asher could now still hear the shrill, pink-haired President’s high-pitched voice screeching the new laws on the television, a memory that clung to him like garlic clings to the breath. “All men must return to their designated XY-Zone by not later than nineteen-hundred hours. Failure to do so is punishable by Courtyard Execution. No man is to approach a woman under any circumstances. Failure to abide by these laws is punishable by Courtyard Execution…” But her speech had been cut short by two burly female guards who had burst through his front door and hauled him out to a prison van packed with other male convicts. The van had driven for about an hour before stopping at a rusty gate carved out in a thick, grey wall that spread out further than Asher could see. The gate was flagged on either side with the multi-coloured Feminist emblem and two female soldiers standing rigidly under them, as if the flags’ poles had been shoved up somewhere uncomfortable. That was the first time he had seen the inspiring symbol be used to represent an insidious party of sexist people who, ironically, saw everything in black and white. Men’s sexual orientation or identity did not matter to them; they were men and therefore, rapists.

The Feminists had been smart about their plan; Asher had to give them that, at least. They had campaigned and protested for years before the take-over and had managed to get into the heads of many naïve young women by perpetuating the idea that every man commits sexual crimes; as if sticking one’s penis into a woman who explicitly said “no”, was a rite of passage that all men had to go through and then brag about cockily with their ‘bros’. Their slogan had been “Enough Is Enough”, with the central message being that it is no longer enough to teach boys not to rape, but that boys need to be made not to rape. This had all sounded very vague and ambiguous to Asher, and he had not thought much of it. He had never imagined that the party would be able to infiltrate the Washington society like a cancerous, air-borne virus and brainwash enough voters to elect them into government.

On the first day, Asher had been given a bright orange jumpsuit, intended to make all men stand out like a Christian conservative at a pro-choice rally, and had been ordered to wear the uniform at all times. Each freshly-incarcerated man was also assigned a specific job that ranged from running errands outside the XY-Zone, to putting on shows at the Lincoln Theatre at the request of the women in the audience. Every morning, the prisoners were allowed out after ten to complete their jobs; freed earlier only on those days when an execution was scheduled. A mere seven months had passed since the Feminist movement was handed unlimited power by a flock of brainless sheep, and thirty executions had already taken place across the whole state. It seemed to Asher as if these women were just like spoilt children throwing tantrums; hungry to avenge what they had previously termed, ‘decades of systematic sexism, female oppression and senseless violence against women’. But he also hoped, for the sake of progressing the human race, that this was just something the blood-thirsty politicians needed to get out of their system, and that numbers will gradually dwindle in the upcoming months.

Shaking this thought out of his head for the time being, Asher now approached a snug little shop, squeezed in-between blocks of apartments. He remembered this being a controversial sex shop that had also sold pornographic magazines and movies, for the especially nostalgic. Asher had never bought anything from it, but he had gone in once or twice before with Greta, and had laughed at the ridiculous toys and over-the-top movie plots. The shop was now a wholesome book store that sold novels exclusively written by females; spitting in the face of all the ‘chauvinistic male pigs’ who dared allow a consenting female adult to do what she wants with her body and then make a disgusting film that only panders to a male audience. Greta would have laughed at the idea. Asher could picture her face now; doubled over, clutching her ribs, blood rushing to her cheeks, and eyes glittering with tears. She straightens up again but the colour has escaped from her face. Her velvety brown eyes are wide with horror as she stares, frozen, straight into Asher’s own confused eyes. Greta parts her dry lips and lets out a frenzied scream that rings deep in Asher’s ears.

He blinked and somewhere behind him, a guard was blowing furiously in her whistle, probably about to reprimand a man for loitering or looking suspicious.

Asher was being increasingly haunted by the idea of Greta being eaten up by the Feminist agenda, and that, were they to meet today, she would only see a nymphomaniac ready to charge at her. He hadn’t seen Greta since their last lecture together, two days before he was thrown into the XY-Zone, and was now tirelessly conjuring up possible scenarios in his head as to what must have happened to her. He wasn’t sure what he feared the most: that she had been taken to the Training Centre and was found to be unmalleable, or that they had actually succeeded in brainwashing her and that she would now hate him like every other woman. That she had been taken to the Centre, he was sure of. Or at least, he had tricked himself into believing it, because the alternative would mean that she had never been resistant to the Feminist cause and might have actually given them a vote. This did seem far-fetched to Asher, however. They had grown up together and he knew Greta like the back of his own hand. She preferred the company of men; no gossiping, no cattiness, no drama, and she never considered herself a Feminist. Asher had often teased her about sharing the same sex as those crazed, extreme Feminist who branded men as the enemy, and Greta would agree, cheekily adding, “A penis makes everything better.”

He missed the raspy chuckle she would blurt out at her own jokes, and he could almost feel his heart sink at the idea of her now being scared of him.

Asher gulped down the lump forming in his throat and trailed on, now only a block away from the Fertility Clinic where he was required to deposit his monthly sperm sample. Asher smirked to himself; no matter how hard they wanted it, women could not get rid of men completely. He sniggered softly as he imagined women’s faces scrunching up in disgust at the clumpy liquid being squirted inside them. He pictured them lying obediently on the cushiony chair in their Gynaecologist’s room, praying to any god that would listen that that would be the last time they had to make any sort of contact with a man’s by-products. Unless, of course, the woman was later cursed with a baby boy and had to wait eighteen years until he could be legally purged to the XY-Zone.

Asher was now in view of the Clinic. It was mounted with half a dozen flags as well as two massive posters draped over the façade of the building, displaying a picture of a woman lovingly looking down at her cradled baby. Asher was about to cross the street when to his right, from within a small alley-way, he heard a stifled, whimpering noise. He paused in his tracks.

Asher scanned the streets and the pavement behind him. Women were casually lugging around grocery bags or chatting leisurely with friends. A few scattered, orange-clad figures slumped around, avoiding eye-contact. One guard on duty was talking to a young woman while another guard was posted further down the road from Asher. He peeped into the alley and saw a shadow tremble from behind a large rubbish skip. The sobbing became clearer now and Asher guessed it was a lost child. He took a step forward, but then hesitated, “What if it were a girl?” The child’s cries grew more urgent and Asher feared that he – for he hoped the child was a he – was hurt, so he gambled on the child being male and approached the skip.

The crying stopped abruptly. Two bulging blue eyes stared up at him, wide with alarm. Asher examined the child for any cuts or pressing injuries and, finding none, gently hazarded the question, “Hey, Sweetie, are you hurt?” The child was gripping a railing just beside the skip, shocked into stillness. Asher tried again, this time with slightly more confidence, “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you. Have you lost your mother?” There was what seemed to Asher, a full five minutes of silence and calm oblivion before the child started screaming, “RAPE! RAPE! RAPE!”

Asher went white and a shiver shot down his spine. There was no way out of the dull alley, other than the same way he had entered, and that would soon be swarmed with guards and vengeful women. Asher crumbled to the floor in defeat, as if his bones had become dust and within seconds he was surrounded. His hands were cuffed tightly behind his back and he was being yanked upwards and prodded forward by thick batons.

Asher looked over his shoulder and glimpsed a petite woman kneeling down and lightly stroking the child’s arms. “She will soon be safe”, he mused as he was thrust out into the blinding sunshine. The whole city will soon be safe.

The Thing About Andromeda by Steve De Marco

The Thing About Andromeda by Steve De Marco

Samson loved his job. Whenever he thought of all the things he had given up just to be where he was, he felt no regret. He could have found someone, fallen in love, maybe he would have had kids, who knows. But no, he had […]

The Celiac Killer by Samuel Azzopardi

The Celiac Killer by Samuel Azzopardi

Rufus Cayce looked over the corpse of the thirty-year old hotel receptionist. He could already imagine the headlines printed in large black lettering on the city’s newspaper front-pages: Serial Killer Strikes Again – Police at a Loss. This was now the sixth murder perpetrated in […]

DESA | Call for Submissions – Laughing Limerick!

DESA | Call for Submissions – Laughing Limerick!

Whilst hoping that you all have a wonderful Easter, we editors of TEXT bring to you our next call for submissions, this time linked with the comical theme tied to the 1st of April – April Fool’s Day!

Keeping this in mind, all writings are to be made in the form of a limerick.

For those who are unsure as to what a limerick is, below please find its definition according to the Oxford Dictionary:

Limerick: A humorous five-line poem with a rhyme scheme aabba.

Hereunder, you can find a few examples of popular limericks that will get you acquainted with the structure:

“Hickory dickory dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he run.
Hickory dickory dock.”
by Edward Lear

“There was an Old Man of Peru
Who watched his wife making a stew.
But once, by mistake,
In a stove she did bake
That unfortunate Man of Peru.”
by Edward Lear

“And let me the canakin clink, clink.
And let me the canakin clink.
A soldier’s a man.
A life’s but a span.
Why, then, let a soldier drink.”
by William Shakespeare

All emails are to be sent on desa.uom@gmail.com, addressed to Editors of TEXT, and are to include all of the following information:

Full Name/Pseudonym
Title of Limerick

The deadline for all submissions falls on Tuesday 10th of April 2018.

Good luck from your editors,

Alexander and Kathryn
Editors of TEXT – DESA

DESA | Call for Submissions – Dystopia

DESA | Call for Submissions – Dystopia

Taking inspiration from current events, as well as the local and international news feeds, we editors of TEXT feel that this Dystopian theme is something to be discussed and put forward. With this in mind, all writings must be done and submitted in the form […]

Thoughts on Arcite and Palamon by Helena Camilleri

Thoughts on Arcite and Palamon by Helena Camilleri

“Of lover in jail and lover free as air. I cannot tell you which had most to bear.” But what is lover free as air with love never returned? A prisoner still, left concerned about what if and what could have been, longing for a […]