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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 […]

A Question of When, Not If by Gabriel Lia

A Question of When, Not If by Gabriel Lia

When books smell of smoke,

When poetry mutes

When silence disturbs

When sweets bitter

When stargazing ends

When countryside is put aside

When flowers become perfume

When all we do is consume

When acting is life

When prayer is ritual

When gifts are mandatory

When quality time is quantitative

When walking alone is daunting

When fields are monetised

When body prioritised

When art is simply funding

When love is sex

When love is valentine

When fun is drunk

When racism is us,

 

When becomes Then.

Then I used to love life.

 

This poem is one of the chosen entries for DESA’s Valentine’s Themed Poetry Competition.

Shakespearean Couplet by Sarah Zammit Munro

Shakespearean Couplet by Sarah Zammit Munro

Their love was based on nothing more than two genuine souls linked together through art, spark ignited through words, poetry shared from one breath to the other.   They were the couple from next door, you know, the kind of couple everyone assumed would end […]

Honey Eyes by Sarah Zammit Munro

Honey Eyes by Sarah Zammit Munro

I write best when I’m falling in love or falling out of it. I write best when I’m falling. When I was broken, when I was head over heels; When I was overwhelmed, When my heart tossed and turned in the space of in-between; When […]

Valentine’s Day by Jake Aquilina

Valentine’s Day by Jake Aquilina

another one comes
another one goes
another one with
only one
participant

who’s to say
that’s a bad feat?

i’d rather be alone
than be as two
who never knew
how apart they’ve grown

so please, stop moaning
yes, you are alone today
there’s no need to act
like Romeo in search
for Juliet;
life is no play

be glad you’re not
a bird caged
inside a collector’s aviary
like some birds are

and yes, maybe someday
cupid shoots arrows upon our asses
and we meet some other half
but today is not that day

there are two ways
to go about this –
whine alone
or wine alone

my answer pops open

 

This poem is one of the entries for DESA’s Valentine’s Themed Poetry Competition.

Fearless Firework by Gabriel Lia

Fearless Firework by Gabriel Lia

Normality sleep! Liquid love arise! Roll on the carpet sweet taste of text unearthed scrolls breathing eating, hungry hugs for travel rides; what a stride blazing chocolate, melting stars basketball beer bubbling Fearless Firework blended in flowers floundering bound, peaceful sound mind, body, expect soul […]

The Changing of the Seasons by Michaela Demicoli

The Changing of the Seasons by Michaela Demicoli

That blooming May field had been a raging backdrop of pure colour mingling with existence, featuring layer upon layer of pigmented hyacinths and prettier peonies.   This grieving November field indeed sees grave stagnation which brims with tactless incongruity. An exodus of dampened hearts must […]

My Heart by Anonymous

My Heart by Anonymous

My Heart is expectant,

but never gets

what feels due

what should be next.

 

My Heart is hopeful,

and never wavers,

till it gets bad,

then it quavers.

 

When will it take

for me to feel

like it’s getting good

and actually real.

 

Not just a dream

painfully surreal,

deceiving me so, that

I won’t need to heal.

 

Life is cruel,

Why me?

Others jump hurdles,

I jump three.

 

And yet I feel as if

I’m just complaining.

Who can blame me

when it’s always raining?

 

Rain’s not terrible,

but it’s always the same.

I want some sun,

not hoping in vain.

My Heart is broken,

waiting once more

for a break from rain –

for someone to adore.

 

This poem is one of the chosen entries for DESA’s Valentine’s Themed Poetry Competition.

No Clouds in Sight by Anonymous

No Clouds in Sight by Anonymous

My day was bright, no clouds in sight. Everything warm and blue, I even played with my kite.   I thought your sky was also blue, but you first had some dew, then it started raining and ruined your view.   The temperature was rising […]

Victoria’s Terror by Gianluca Busuttil

Victoria’s Terror by Gianluca Busuttil

It was a thick October night in West London, three days before Victoria’s golden jubilee, when a little boy named Jack found his mother skewered on a pitchfork like a fat trout. The morning after, Constable Barry came immediately after breakfast to inspect the corpse […]

June 25 by Kathryn Bianco

June 25 by Kathryn Bianco

Lying on bed, sheet crushes my shape.

I don’t want a sheet.

Even though the air is fresh.

 

I am the only warmth within these walls.

I breathe out that smoke, that once amused me;

A merciless reminder.

The moisture escaping my mouth, still I salivate.

 

Someone once told me I moved lots in my sleep,

From foetal position,

To stretched,

Stiff, to liquid.

 

Maybe my dreams are a constant search

For warmth –

Maybe when it gets too hot, I fear the fire.

 

Maybe I’m an ungrateful human being who doesn’t appreciate the present:

Wants summer in winter, wants winter in summer.

I don’t know. All I know, is that right now

It is Winter.

 

This poem is one of the chosen entries for DESA’s Valentine’s Themed Poetry Competition.

Hands by Kathryn Bianco

Hands by Kathryn Bianco

I crave cold hands. I want to feel the ice On my abandoned parts   With time, watch them thaw Gradually revealing every crease, Wrinkle and bump;   Like Winter turning into Spring, Spring turning into Summer. Even in winter, warmer will they grow   […]

I Know by Alexander G. Lewis

I Know by Alexander G. Lewis

As the shutters lower, light begins to fade. It has cheated itself; by shutting out that thing so small. And with no energy left to pick it up: keeps drooping slowly down.   The last day of the month is here and everyone seems to […]