Tagged literature

Book Review: Scraps of Love

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Scraps of Love, Shann Tajiah

PJ Review Score: 3/5

3: 🙂
4: 😊
5: 😲 

Overview

Scraps of Love: Poetry From the Darkest Night 1992 – 2010, is a poetry collection written by Shann Tajiah and published in 2018 by Ithirial Rising Press. The collection is organized logically, starting with the table of contents, followed by an interesting foreword. The table of contents is made up of twelve chapters, all of which are organized in reverse chronological order from dates 2010 and 1997.

As the title suggests, Scraps of Love focuses on the pain of human existence, fear of the unknown, and love of things and people that are familiar. The poetry emphasizes visceral emotions, which stems from the emotional struggles that the writer has experienced or witnessed. From the foreword, the reader can surmise that the writer put a lot of thought and care into this book.

Additional Information

There are several groups of poems for each year, each with distinct titles. The poems themselves seem to match the overall themes of the year. Each year has a short title or phrase that the poems beyond will follow.  For example, the following poem, ‘Naked,’ falls under ‘2002,’ which is titled ‘Life is Written in Ink.’

“The fog is lifting / burned away by a hotter face. Naked now / I stand, my robes gone…”

The next quote is from ‘1999,’ titled ‘Lost Soul.’

“Ashes to ashes / dust to dust / the end of life. The circle will never be broken / one must live / one must die.”

Like most poetry these days, Scraps of Love is made up of mostly free verse poetry. There are simple rhymes in some poems, but mostly, the poems enjoy free reign from metered constraints. The above quotes are an example of Tajiah’s poetry – minimalist, but with echoing emotions and implied endings. Poetry written in this way is something to be enjoyed, at least every now and then, even by people who prefer metered rhymes.

Comments

Scraps of Love has a few quirks, such as, misspelled words in some titles. However, it’s a solid poetry collection with poems written with great care. If you’re interested in reading this book, you can buy it on Amazon. It has a nice book trailer that you can watch on Youtube.


Further Reading:

Hear my Thoughts

by Swesuny

This piece was inspired by the current social and political climate in the writer’s hometown and abroad, in the United States. 


It saddened me to see others look for faults in the other people,
It saddened me to see others misjudge the other people,
It saddened me to see others consider themselves higher – above the other people.
It saddened me to see others use their ability to degrade other people,
It saddened me to know others manipulate the information to sabotage other people,
It saddened me to look at those who are in authority using their powers to disgrace other people.
It saddened me seeing others so full of themselves and forgetting their manners,
It saddened me – things I have noticed and seen around my surroundings,
It saddened me that they can’t be more ethical and virtuous human beings.
A human being that has a good heart ready to accept individual uniqueness,
A human being that has an eye open to see every possibility,
A human being that has ears ready to listen to every person’s concerns,
And a human being that has a hand to help without expecting anything in return.
I hope we can spread love and acceptance, not hate.

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Stamped

by Blue_Notebook


Their bodies have gone soft, almost on the verge of melting down like burnt candles. Look! See that one melt with a smile on his face as if folly became he.

Rivet your gaze and witness! The melting of a thousand souls in this bright room swarmed by the strongest tempest.

What is it that a voice so faded has longed enough to utter? Bear with me for my hearing is clogged with blood coming from the mouth of my thoughts.

Ah! Poison you say? Is it indeed poison that a tongue deprived of nudity suffers to howl?

Eyes! My dear normality! Eyes must and are meant to stay wide open for such poison to finally take the form of words.

Hear now! Say, what is it indeed that they whisper to your senses? Focus! And pray for it not to be, “The reign of coffins.”

Light! Painful in the perception of the mad! Extinguish such torture for they who crawl and they who walk are meant to roam under the hands of darkness. It pains them to be seen and to see.

For such spectacle is indeed not for the living nor for the dying. Only those who are in between are given the opportunity to enjoy and peruse the roughened surface of this place.

Behold and tense not in the sight of the damned and the chained!

It is but a comedy to the blind and a fantasy to the insane. The endless pursuit of the decapitated for the cliff of oblivion; their hands imprinting death on their paths as they strive for wings. But what misfortune it is to find themselves flying with their bones as a parachute!

None but I and the others who belong with my category have arrested such sight without any contempt. There is no room for one when we acknowledge the beauty of such exit.

The ravens flew with their golden wings, as gray hands with dead fingernails draw themselves outward, though chained to the beckoning voice of a moth. But a moth it is not. For that is my– our, freedom. The only door remaining for us to exit upon.

And yet, must I do it. My body must suffer from decapitation too the way the rest of us did. It is true that I have been known as the warrior o’ old. A fighter who battles with life in order to be with my beloved death at all cost.

I long for its embrace, for its touch upon my skin, for the thrill of its words as my pieces gather before it. There I will run, naked and free from those shackles.

Lift them higher! Ah! Run fast! For life might get you back and the chains might get thicker. And yet such is a vision, a stupor in pity for the rheum my eyes have produced.

Phantasms, if given power, can surpass the capabilities of a phantasmagorical event. And I dare but elude the possibility of my being freed and at last, be rid of such a lurid place full of cretins.

So I reach for more, this time my hands grapple on the chains placed on my aching wrists. Then lo! A crack, long and deep, red tinctured, appeared under my arms.

Continue! Pull! See the overflowing success as I dissipate from such a horrible place. Ah! The sensation of being lifted is overwhelming. Here I have stayed, in this gloomy place inhabited by bleakness. Now I am winning my freedom.

Pull! Pull and see from my cracks the redness of my amorphous life as it flows towards death. Drain it all out until I am but a liquid crawling toward my beloved.

At last, with one last drop of strength, I pulled myself out. No longer am I chained, no longer am I seen, no longer am I suffering. To the caress of death I go, stamped with victory, tired and in need of the abyss endless where I can lay, drifting in its recesses without rue.


Summer Daze, Summer Haze

by Vivian


The sun blasts through the window.

Hazy rays of light illuminating

Through the translucent pink curtains.

Specks of light fall through green leaves and little eyelids.

Little legs run through fresh-cut greens.

Silky grass grazes through little toes and tickles little armpits.

The warm air kisses the tips of little foreheads and flat noses.

“Weeeeee,” yells Prince Charming as he slides down the yellow slide

That will take him to the Fire-Breathing Dragon:

A test he must past before he can rescue Princess Peach.

“Cha-Ching” goes the lemonade stand. “Splish-Splash” in the pool all day long.

And in one blink of an eye, the little legs run off to school for the first time, ever.

 

The sun blasts through the window,

Leaking through magenta curtains –

The ones with glitter and girly assortments.

Shadows cast on boy-band-covered walls,

Revealing the horrid of a mess from yesterday’s first make-up run

Dirty, brown makeup wipes on the dresser and uncleaned brushes.

Strips of light shine through the window on to hot pink Hannah Montana sheets.

The active legs run down the stairs into the backyard,

Glittery pink eyelids squinting underneath a lavender hat that reads:

I LOVE JUSTIN BEIBER

Walking down aisles of clothes, trying on new dresses that rumple-rumple with every move.

Flick, flick goes the red nail brush,

Coating manicured fingernails and pedicured toenails.

And in one blink of an eye, the adolescent legs run off to high school for the first time, ever.

 

The sun glares through the white curtains –

The ones with the floral décor.

Its disgusting brightness pierces through the tired eyes of a restless teenager.

And on the counter are polaroid pictures of friends,

Scratched out faces of frenemies, and encircled hearts of cute boys.

A bracelet catches light and shines like gold,

Bestowing promises of love and life.

As backpacks swing onto broad shoulders

And aching arms from yesterday’s rowing practice

Carry heavy books to summer classes,

The hours pass by like centuries, a voice speaking at the front of the class.

Something about Ernest Rutherford? Or was it “Earn this rusted Ford?”

“Ring-Ring,” goes the bell as the teenagers throw their papers,

“Crunch, wrinkle,” deep into the black hole at the bottom of their backpacks.

Was it the beautiful summer air that warmed all these stolen moments?

From the stolen kiss from a boy who said, “I love you,”

To the Lana del Ray sing-alongs.

And in one blink of an eye, they throw their caps into the air,

First time to be whisked away to new dorms and the Land of No Parents, ever.

 

The sun glares through the blinds, white and monotone.

Slightly bent, but not that broken from last Friday night.

The half empty beer bottle sits beside an e-invitation, as they laugh in pity at

The pile of returned grades beside a break-up note.

Rays of light illuminate from the curtains with the floral designs and

The familiarity hits of waking up in that old room with boy-band-covered walls.

Old memories of the warm summer air that used to kiss little foreheads and flat noses.

The warm air peaked its head out from behind the tree of leaves

Ran to greet its old friend, kissed the tip of a familiar forehead.

Once again, what lasted for only one blink ended,

As the suitcases rolled to the airport, belts got buckled,

And grumpy grown-ups got whisked away to Adult-Land.

The first time they’d wished to go back to the time of translucent pink curtains, ever.


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Fatal Attraction

by Vanessa Carter 


I don’t think he understands the hold he has on me, but then again no one does. And I don’t think he understands that the idea of me without him makes my stomach quiver uncontrollably, like the uncontrollable shudder your gut makes from what I imagine is your heart descending from its original position in your body.

I don’t think he can feel the void I feel from trying to fill him with my love and commitment, I thought–thought that if I could just show him what authenticity looks like and what devotion felt like–you see, I devoted myself to him and it wasn’t easy but with time I broke down my walls and barriers and chains. I let it all go with him.

He knows everything. Now I hate to sound cliché, but it was love at first sight with him. The kind of love that took my breath away with just a simple gaze into his perfect brown eyes.

I loved him.

At that very moment, he had me under his spell. It was a marked fatal attraction and I couldn’t get enough of his insatiable stare. I was hooked before we even touched. Before our bodies ever touched, I felt him inside of me,

He was a part of me and I, him. No matter how hard he tried to fight it, we were connected by something neither one of us understood and we couldn’t walk away

We tried.

I remember when I asked him how much he loved me and his response was: he would kill and die for me. That excited me, but why?

Attraction grew into addiction and addiction grew into obsession and he was all mine! Funny thing is, I loved him the way he did me and any time an enemy attacked our fort, I envisioned fatalities.

We were meant for each other, except one thing:

He never broke down his walls for me and he never exposed his demons under the confidentiality clause so it created a stagnant pause in our potential to grow, like how it was intended to be because he doesn’t understand all the good he has to offer underneath all his baggage.

I was willing to bear his burden, but he had a different idea of how he would release his pain and I would be the punching bag.

The first time felt like a dream, at least, that’s what I forced myself to believe because he loved me. We loved each other.

That gaze in his eyes was unrecognizable every time, so maybe I convinced myself that it wasn’t him. But rather, the demons in control because he didn’t trust me with them.

Now I know it sounds crazy, but I understood and could hear his cry for help with every blow. He needed me to live, even if it meant I wasn’t.

Ironically, I felt his pain when he inflicted that on me.

Breakdowns create breakthroughs and it felt like there was no alternative because I needed him to break through the constraints in his mind and finally let me in.

Fighting a battle alone can bring the worst out of the best people and unfortunately, an unnourished brain isn’t equipped to sustain the fight without destroying everyone else on the battlefield.

I don’t think he understands that this was a team thing because he fought me like I was the enemy and I thought–I thought I could just show him that I was ride or die.

I mean, the hood part of me screamed Bonnie and Clyde ‘til the end, but now the end feels nearer than I anticipated. So that’s what comes with fatal attraction. Someone has to die in the end, even if it’s just figuratively.

So just die. Let all of who you were die, and all of what you’ve been through establish a new foundation in life and take control of your destiny.


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I’m A Warrior

by Tylia L . Flores

Photo credit: leninscape, pixabay


I may not own a sword

But I am a warrior of my own kind.

Having a condition called Cerebral Palsy

That causes me to have low muscle tone and stiffness

Throughout my whole left side of my body.

Sometimes life gets crazy

Going to specialist after specialist

Only to get the same answer that there’s no cure

But that doesn’t matter to me ’cause I’m a warrior.

Fighting my own battle every day trying to find a way to make it

As writing is my getaway to help me get through the bad days

As I remember that I’m a warrior.


Book Review: Vortex

Note: This review was submitted by a guest writer who has some association to this book.

by Mark Kodama 

I just finished Vortex. I must say it was like hosting a neighborhood potluck with all your friends bringing their ‘A’ dishes. I certainly skipped all the starchy food so as to leave room for the very best. I was not disappointed. Vortex, an anthology of literary fiction, is edited by Grant P. Hudson and published by the independent Clarendon House Publishing, based in Sheffield, England but it features authors from around the world.

Content

I loved every story – the grand ideas and then execution of the grand ideas – the craftsmanship and beauty of the words. I think if a person only reads bestsellers and classic short story anthologies they are really missing out on a lot of great stories.

I had a favorite story in Vortex. It was “The Sins of the Father,” by David Bowmore. It was an absolute page turner and just a riveting story about a priest whose moral weaknesses were about to catch up with him.

Other jewels in this crown were: “The Vanishing of M. Renior,” by RLM Cooper, “Concrete,” by Bill Swiggs, “Burnt Candle,” by Marlon Hayes and “A Rock N’ Roll Song,” by Samantha Hamilton. The stories all had grand ideas, a great soul to them and the executions of their grand ideas were flawless.

“The Vanishing of M. Renior,” is about a young American Magazine reporter in Paris, just before World War II who meets a true Parisian gentlemen M. Renior who engages her periodically with conversation and they develop a friendship. Later, he pretends not to know her. The puzzled reporter must evacuate to London before the war begins. When she investigates a story about the child refugees fleeing to England, she discovers what a truly courageous gentlemen M. Renior is.

“Concrete,” is about an Australian farmer who disowns his son for volunteering for the Army to fight in the Vietnam War. The son is killed in action and wins a medal of valor. And still, the father cannot forgive until a surviving war buddy of his son who was saved by his son comes to the farm.

“Burned candles,” is about a close-knit African-American family in Chicago trying to heal from the memories of the violent shooting death of one son and the imprisonment of a second son for his revenge killing. What stands out most about this piece is the natural dialogue of the storyteller.

“Rock N’ Roll Song,” is a story told from the point of view of a Rock N’ Roll song about a young talented rock star from Iowa who is destroyed by the fast paced life of instantaneous success. It is heart wrenching but at the same time exhilarating and certainly artistically bold and creative.

The stories were great, no false notes and the endings were all strong. I think these five pieces would hold their own in any university anthology featuring the greats like Edgar Allen Poe, Stephen Crane, and Ernest Hemingway.

I thought “The Midas Agency,” by L.E. Lacaille to be an over-the-top quirky, humorous piece of work on karma, fame and success told tongue in cheek. I absolutely loved its dark, alternate world humor.

“Mops and Fairytales,” by Catherine A. McKenzie was a marvelously disturbing piece about a middle-aged woman unable to cope with life.

“A Taste of Friendship,” by Shawn Klimek was wonderfully neurotic about a lonely neighbor who unexpectedly receives a cupcake from an anonymous neighbor.

“The Taxi,” by Edward C. Hartshorn was funny.

I thought “Animal Pancakes,” by Traci Mullins and “The Blizzard,” by Copper Rose were wonderful pieces about the deaths of close, aged family members. It is always a shock to lose someone you assume would be around forever.

Mehreen Ahmed’s “At the Far End of the Alley,” was a nice meditation on love and the contrast between love within the bounds of society and adulterous love that ruins families told as if it was a Pakistani fairytale.

Conclusion

A lot of effort and talent went into all the stories in Vortex. If I did not mention a story, it is because I don’t think laundry lists are helpful. I honestly enjoyed every single story. They were all certainly well worth the read. Certainly the world of independent publishing houses are a source of great literary works for those who enjoy the refinement of a plate of Oysters Rockefeller to go with your homemade macaroni and cheese. Vortex is available on lulu.com.


Note: This review was submitted by a guest writer who has some association to this book.