Rachel Belward — I Hope You’re Ok


I Hope You’re Ok

The night here is not black, but a washed-out blue.
Awake, he waits.

The city is switching gears.

The froth of blossom.
Bubbles gathering around a plughole as the water runs out of a bathtub.

We longingly press our hands against gasp-clouded glass.
Collectively horrified.
Splintered in so many solitudes.
The smears of breath, lips, cheeks.
All carefully wiped away.

Our handprints are scattered petals, unfurling leaves.
The plumes of a bird in flight.

The sun beats onto abandoned pavements.
The windows of other blocks wink at us.

She types “how to pray properly” into the search bar.
Stares at her own hands.

She is so tired of seeing their faces on screens big and small.
It makes their absence harder to swallow.
Tears saved up, bitter on the tongue.

He’s not sure he can bear yet another so-late-it’s-early awakening.
Another bruise-coloured sunrise witnessed alone.

The air smells so different.

We take our daily walk into the memory fog.
It isn’t always safe here.
But it is where we can regroup.

Shadows move and shrug.
We grasp at them, and long for them, and fear them.

And we wait.

Rachel Belward works for a mental health charity. She lives in London, reads a lot, and documents this on Instagram here.

  • This poem was submitted in response to the first ekphrastic challenge (Melting Away, by Sadaf Sawlath).

Mark Blickley & Amy Bassin — Sentenced to Death by the Muse

Image by Amy Bassin

Sentenced to Death by the Muse

(by Mark Blickley)

Sir, I have registered your desperate entreaty for guidance. A meaningful dialogue between two receptive adults articulates in a myriad of styles. Sensuality offers a portal to the subtle communication often not available in our daily lives.

Thousands of decades of life, love and experimental understanding have nurtured a powerfully feminine and wisely balanced woman. I offer a manner of engagement reflective of another era indeed; when grace, sensitivity and the healing power of intimacy were the standard.

As discriminating as I hope my clients to be, I take very few appointments after testing our communication skills to assure a mutually enjoyable and enriching encounter. Please offer your inquiries with a respectful metaphysical introduction and allow things to move from there. I present myself with straight-forward integrity and expect the same in return. That being said, I will simply not respond to queries that are blatantly solicitous or unforthcoming.

I welcome mature and urbane gentlemen to my hired accommodations in or around my Temple of Trust with availability thru 5 p.m. Weekend afternoon and evening visits to your discreetly hired accommodations are negotiable as well.

Given my desire to develop a repartee prior to our interlude, I cannot accept requests for meetings with less than 36 hours prior discussion.

You will find me quite generous with my time; an encounter being about a connection and its development rather than a mere chronological passage. However, I am a very private woman and therefore am not available for booked appointments exceeding two hours in duration.

Appropriate emolument as follows:

A. Genuflection for hour one
B. Total obedience for hour two

Please respect my professionalism and maturity by referencing my entire conditions as well as reputation prior to contact. Specific details noted within the forthcoming coda will not be discussed.

I make all arrangements through petition—without exception.

Please refer to me as Cyn. I shall be in touch.

Gynecocracy Coda:

I have holistic orgasms of innovation that allow for me to achieve an altered state; men do not. Men have ejaculations of thoughts. The patriarchy calls ejaculations orgasms because they never want women to consider themselves superior in any way. Thus they pretend sensual experience is reduced to simple spasms that are equal for both genders. It is a phallic fallacy that leads to the small death of visionary inventiveness.

Men are usually less adventurous. Most like to do the same things and do not budge. My sensual tastes change. Boys grow up with chronic mental masturbation and so they train themselves to limit their view of sensuality to strictly physical pleasure. True sensuality encompasses the enriching aspects of both pleasure and pain and is why women don’t have penis envy, but men have pregnancy envy.

I can always tell if a man is aroused simply by looking at him. My response isn’t obvious, thus I can make the male work harder to prove his manhood by feigning a lack of desire so he puts more effort into pleasing me. His testosterone will poison his ego if he thinks he is not as desirable or cannot please. One of my greatest excitements is when I can sense a man’s intense desire for me. That is a visual/intellectual/emotional power I can choose to withhold until he consummates his desire with an exquisite display of heartfelt aesthetic curiosity and discipline.


Mark Blickley

Amy Bassin

New York fine arts photographer Amy Bassin and writer Mark Blickley work together on text based art collaborations and videos. Their video, Widow’s Peek: The Kiss of Death, was selected for the 2018 International Festival of Experimental Video and Film at Bilbao, Spain. They published a text based art chapbook, ‘Weathered Reports: Trump Surrogate Quotes From the Underground’ (Moria Books, Chicago). Bassin is co-founder of the international artists cooperative, Urban Dialogues. Blickley is the author of ‘Sacred Misfits’ (Red Hen Press) and proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. Their text based art book, ‘Dream Streams,’ has just been published by Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

More of their work:

Dream Streams, Columbia Journal

Speaking in Bootongue, South Broadway Ghost Society