Short stories, creative non-fiction and poems - from most recent to oldies but goodies
Published by Superpresent,
The setting sun like pouring wine
The tree naked of spring leaves
Dark strong wood of this seat
A boat now for play
The fast tongue and all these stories
The unfamiliar language
Mind in quiet freedom
A high tide of sounds
The inside of my mind’s world map
The traveling of a fresh wind
Outside of a circle
A shortfall of words
The new sounds hit play
Inside it’s wondering
If the sky is blue down there
If eternal flowers exist
The vibrations feel
Inside it’s whispering
If far away deep souls stand
If fishing them would be a thing
The silent bird and the small cage
The invisible shoreline
Stillness of a stranger
An image at odds
The growing distance drifts away
The friendly gathering seats
The anonymous stares
A lost play in sight
The garden and the air so green
The cool grass under bare feet
Voices like a rumble
A feeling like home.
A Green Suitcase
Published by The Purposeful Mayonnaise
The loud music playing in the café across the yard pulls me out of sleep. It’s still dark inside but sun rays from the outside world are beaming. Like when I’m tucked under water, heart beats keep me afloat, voices above get louder.
Light tries to make its way to me, through the hideous blind. It’s thick, grey and made out of plastic. I didn’t choose it. It comes in handy to move into a fully furnished place when you’re new in town. With only a green suitcase. It’s priceless not to own much. I inherited the few plants from the previous tenant. And her blanket too. Remnants of paths crossing. The plants are by the window, breaths of life for my humble abode. The blanket embraces the couch now. Color for the charm. I will be here for awhile. As wet sheets get thinner, I burst the surface like a new-born child.
I roll to the other end of the bed to check my phone waiting on the bedside table. It’s the large green suitcase actually. I use it as a table. It found a perfect place. The time shows. And a few messages. My window to the other side. Canada. It’s my little brother. They got the house. Is he more adult than me now? I look at my green vessel. The dark stains on the corner from conveyor belts. My eyes shift to the tired blind. I tug on the string and it rolls up, singing loud screeching sounds. Sun pours in. Like when I’m whispered to myself, mind shapes more parts of me, visions ahead get clearer.
Five steps and I’m in the kitchen. I make myself a bowl of cereal. I miss baking banana bread. The warm smell spreading throughout the house on a Sunday afternoon… Blueberry muffins 1 too. This apartment doesn’t have an oven. My sister tells me I should get one of those toaster oven things. And have it out on the counter. I’ve been making it out just fine without one. I don’t know why I’d buy something if I’ve been able to survive without it. But maybe I should buy a house. Fifteen years ago, I thought I’d have kids and a house by now. My love for the unknown is insatiable. It still takes me by surprise at times. How far I swim. Or maybe I!m just scared to walk the line. How did he do it? I love cereal though. Especially when the milk is super cold. I don’t need an oven. As hot air rises from the road, I cross oceans like a snake in the sand.
I get ready for work and hop on my second hand bike. The wide roads like highways leading to great plains of discovery. The cityscape; home to growing greens taking over impressive cement boxes and imposing asymmetric structures standing against time. My sister dancing on the world’s biggest stage. That’s why I moved to Berlin. To breathe. I cross West to East to work shifts at a pizza restaurant. I cycle through visual archeology. Still the words from my phone imprint my mind: We got the house! Somewhat overwhelming. Too bright, it pains the back of my eyes. I get to the restaurant and there’s already a line up of hungry people, like curious animals approaching a roadkill carrion ready to consume. How can one buy a house and live? Bank loans and mortgages. A plan for the future. Like when I’m shown the stars, voice grows to colour my real, shades of my skin get thicker.
Is moving to another country any different? I don’t want to own a house. When I’m forty-five perhaps. It could also be nice. The fine line between inner dreams and social expectations like eyes of a cat dawning through the dark night curtain. It’s hard to tell. I wouldn’t trade my bike for a new one. Who would want to steal this one? As life wrinkles upon me, I’m more real like words in a book. 2 Riding home. The wind curls my hair. I’m a speck from the other end of the world making its way. I’m surfing. The setting sun washes pink everywhere. I have dinner for one in my basket. Margarita. People place an order and forget to pick it up. This remains a mystery to me. I get free food and waste less. I know there’s going to be that sweet spot of sunlight in the corner of my apartment. I want to get there before it disappears. Like when I!m erased from before, body breathes to live the change.
I make it right on the dot. I warm the pizza in the frying pan. A cheap beer in hand. Picnic in my tiny pad. I’m lavish. My mind is at ease. I pick up the phone and send little brother a message. I’m proud of him. So much pride it is blinding. I’m also proud of my green suitcase. This is what I own. Sweet breeze flows in. The sky gets darker and I hear the black birds sing. Thoughts only get truer, as senses awake themselves, I create my own like water carving drops.
Published by Sluggish Magazine
Perhaps a story doesn’t exist
If it’s never told
Perhaps we all see upside down
And the blue sky I see
Isn’t the same as theirs
And the sun shines dark
Without the moon.
Published by Heavy Iridescent
A puzzle inside
A dream blows
There it is
It is made as
And seems like you
It’s not easy to define
Not all do
To be different
An eye inside
A vision shows
There it is
It is eyeing there
And it eyes you
It’s not even a mirror
It is the mere fact of mirroring
And of taking that choice
A reflexion inside
A glass breaks
There it is
It is living there
And it lives you
It’s not easy to detach
While becoming a part
To be one
A mind inside
A matter over mind
There it is
And it margins you
It’s not choosing nor fooling
What are you telling yourself
Who is telling on you
To be you.
Published by Sluggish Magazine (in print)
There’s a barrier. All physical contact with the outside world is to be avoided. Indefinitely. Isolated I remain. My mind transports me to a white cube where floors melt into the walls. Silent. And empty. But in reality it’s an apartment. With lots of shades. Sounds. And a window.
And when you peek through it, you can see a garden six floors down. Somewhat abandoned
and desolate but it’s green and still alive. Across the garden is another building. With
windows leading to the insides of many different homes. Some with warm light, some with cold
light. Some with no light at all. Some with people sitting at a dining table. Another with a young
woman leaning over to smoke her daily cigarette. Everyday, at 10am, I see her. There is a
dreamcatcher hanging from her window sill. And I think she lives with someone. Perhaps it’s
her boyfriend. She keeps turning her head toward the inside of the house between
puffs, as if she is having a conversation. It’s the first thing I do every morning. Walk to the
kitchen and open the window letting fresh air and sun into the room. I look at life outside. And
there she is. Sounds are also heard. Footsteps from the people upstairs. Music from the next
door neighbour. The thump and hum of a distant washing machine. There are sounds in the apartment too. Like the cracking of the doors when the breeze blows in. If you leave the doors free of chairs when the window is open, they slam shut because of the circulating wind from one room to the next. It’s a very loud noise that can be heard everywhere in the building.
Just like it happened one evening.
Although that time it happened because I purposely slammed it shut. We were screaming at
each other. Insults echoed. I’m sure they were heard. There are a lot of reasons why the tension
rose in the apartment. Being two jobless people confined to four walls is one of them. Being in
love but speaking two different languages is another. Or the age gap. Or a life gap.
Lying on the bed trying to calm my breathing. For a moment I think of the dreamcatcher girl.
Wondering if she ever fights. From where I am I can peek through the window and see the sky.
It's still very brightly painted from sunlight. I hate it. When you are dark and gloomy inside but
the outdoor world stands bright and strong. With flowers blooming and a rainbow arching.
Someone on set forgot to tell the art department of a different scene. And then shy footsteps.
The door cracks open. Ever so softly. Bed sheets ruffle. A gentle cradling of my face. Love
remains. Night brings peace and serenity. Morning comes. I walk to the kitchen and open the
window letting fresh air and sun into the room. I look at life outside. Something has changed.
This morning she isn’t there. It’s 10am. Her apartment window is shut so tight it makes the
dreamcatcher crooked. It's dark inside.
Berlin Art Exhibit in Corona Mist
Self-published on Medium
I like to call it Corona mist. It makes our lives foggy and uncertain. As we put one foot in front of the other, who knows when the next turn will be. And titling it as such for this story adds a tat of irony as it was actually a beautiful sunny day (and the art was colourful and by no means misty). It was the weekend when the city of Berlin decided to open up its restaurants and galeries again. Despite it all, the show must go on. It was a Saturday.
The sun is shining, and people are thirsty for food, art and mingling. I get invited to join my sister and her boyfriend to a vernissage at König Galerie. The old St.Agnes church that was converted into a space for emerging and contemporary art. It’s one of my favorites. A vernissage during these particular times requires guest list, as only a few can enter at once. Mask on or mask off, that’s to ones discretion. Luckily, we qualified as friends and family since Flo knows the galerie’s technical director.
I was very much looking forward to being in that space, and immersing myself in art for a moment. Art that was seeing light of day for the first time and entering public gaze. In a way, we had that in common. The space is calm and serene. Three employees at the front desk are whispering to each other and barely notice us walk by. The young man lifts his eyes as I turn the corner. I see through the side door some of the cool cats hanging out in the backyard, sipping on rosé. Mmm rosé I think to myself. The artist and friends I suppose. Corona seems to not exist in here. It’s nice.
We get to the chapel. A series of colourful paintings depicting different characters interacting with flowers takes over the space. I have a thing for eternal flowers, so this exhibit caught my attention evermore so. The colours are rich, the scenery seems to anchor itself somewhere between dream and reality. Some flowers are eaten, others are picked, some form a bouquet others are stepped on. Some are big, some are small. One particular painting attracts my attention. I like to call it The love hate relationship between a mother and a child. But I don’t know what the title is til this day and I intend to keep it that way. Funny enough, it was the last piece still available for purchase. And it was bought at that very moment.
The artist comes out to greet us. She has a very familiar face and stride. Someone could’ve told me we went to high school together and I would’ve believed it. Little did I know we would both be ordering pizza at Standard a couple of hours later.
“Congratulations on the exhibit, it’s beautiful. The colours and faces remind me of South America… was this an inspiration of yours?”
“My inspiration comes from the Portuguese farmland and its socialist values. I’m very drawn by the simplicity of their lifestyle and the nature that surrounds them."
“And how long have you been working on this series?”
“Wow that’s fast… you must feel good, the show is evidently quite a success.”
“Yes, I’m very happy!”
I wish I had asked more questions now that I think about it. But those few unplanned exchanges at the moment felt satisfactory. The artist is Conny Maeir. A Berlin born and based artist to be looking out for. She also lives in Portugal part of the year. And used to illustrate children books. Domestic will run until June 14th 2020.
A Journey with the Sun — part I
Self-published on Medium
I remember my first day moving into my apartment in Berlin like if it was yesterday. I was lucky enough to even have a legit apartment upon arrival to begin with. A practically non-existent scenario. Got it through a good friend of mine who happened to move here. Although I had travelled to Berlin before, I had no clue if my apartment was well located or not. At this point, it was just a dot on the map. A little shoe box.
When people ask me which neighbourhood I’m in, I still don’t know what to answer. Sometimes, I say Schöneberg. Other times, I prefer saying Kreuzberg. Or Mitte. I’m right at the intersection of all three. My door is sandwiched between Rocket & Basil — a trendy coffee shop, and the entrance of an old dive bar, Kumpelnest 3000. Good looking youngsters and smokey transvestites. Some Russian casinos down the street and an Acne Studio. Prostitutes at the corner and Blain Southern gallery on the other. Ying and Yang.
One of the things I love most about Berlin is the size of its streets. The sidewalks are so big. Spacious. It gives me a sense of lightness under my feet. As if I’m floating. That day, I was strolling down the big sidewalk of my street heading to the park. Another thing I love. The parks. They are huge and everywhere. Even in the most unsuspected areas. It’s so green.
And so I came across a stand with a poster on it: Gallery Weekend exhibit. My eyes shifted and saw the door with ATM stencilled on its glass. A small art gallery. In a semi-basement. On my street. How neat.
I carried on strolling about and started day dreaming about home. About the very recent time my brother and I held a passion project together. When we worked as curators and artist managers, shedding light on emerging art. Crazy to say we had our little company. We barely made money but had the blast of a lifetime. A lifetime. I left it all behind and moved here. I still didn’t really know why at the moment. Somewhere, deep down, I felt that I needed to be here. I needed those big streets. Coming across the ATM gallery nonetheless pinched my heart. Bittersweet. So I turned around a few steps and walked right in.
I still get nervous walking into galleries. The whiteness of the walls. Even if I used to spend so much time working in them. Putting up exhibits. There’s still an ice that needs to be broken every time. Maybe it’s just me.
The minute I stepped foot inside I saw the big painting on the back wall. My heart started to pound. I probably stood a bit too close to it as the man seemingly running the place came up to me. I turned around to face him:
“Are you the owner?”
I knew the answer already. Icebreaker.
“Yes! I’m Marc, hi!”
“Is this a Danny Gretscher?”
I felt so professional asking this question. I’m not a big art connaisseur but this, I had seen before. My brother had shown me the artist’s work online. We were big fans. We are big fans. I knew it. I was sure of it.
“Yes it is! He uses my gallery as his studio actually. He’s a good friend of mine. I showcase street art here but I really enjoy exhibiting some of his pieces.”
Danny Gretscher’s studio? Here. On this big sidewalk. On my street. Next to my shoe box. My jaw dropped. My heart smiled. I was early into my new Berlin life and discovering this art space was a sign I had made the right choice. I called my brother right away.
Mullayup, January 2013
“I have a pretty good handwriting too,” he says, barging in from the screened kitchen door. Looking down at a scruffy piece of paper on the thick wooden table, he sits down. “I can try to imitate hers.” He suddenly grabs the blue pen from her. The sun rays light him right in the face. If you look carefully, his eyes are green. They are quite nice. But his hands are dirty. From thinning apples. Maybe from other things too. With great application, he draws a few trembling lines: Justin Tencel. He stops. “But I can’t be bothered. I can’t be bothered,” he repeats, nodding his head in apparent frustration. “I used to be good at drawing too you know. But I broke my wrist skateboarding and I can’t draw for more than a couple of minutes at a time or it starts to shake,” he says in his strong Kiwi accent. He sits there for awhile, shirtless, just staring. Maybe at the distance or maybe at the cows in the field. His tattoos cover most parts of his body. Homemade they are, he’d said to me one day.
He takes his cap off, brushes his hands through his dark hair and puts it back on. And then, out of the afternoon quiet he speaks up: “Maybe I’ll call my friend later. Melissa her name is. All my friends are girls.” Lucky, our pet chicken walks by. I smile at him. “I don’t miss my friends but I miss hanging out with them”. I nod, pensively. I don’t know if I could miss hanging out with my friends without missing them. He pulls his smartphone out of his back pocket and starts typing. He violently throws his phone on the table. Lucky awkwardly runs away leaving a few feathers behind. “Piece of shit... You know why I only have girlfriends?” He turns to me. Almost angry. “That’s because I don’t trust guys. I’ve never met my dad and so until the day we actually meet, I will never trust any guy!” I look away, to the distance. And the cows in the field. I let his steam blow off. One piece of the broken puzzle I think to myself. I look at the cupboard where jigsaws rest. I’m going to start one tomorrow. He leaves the kitchen and shuts his bedroom door tight. Later on that night, I learn that his mom is a dancer and his sister is a model. A stripper and a Playboy star in some other words. But sometimes I don’t want to know about labels. I also realize that he can’t read very well nor can he write. “Pranna” he scribbles down, grabbing the blue pen again. “You know those fishes that eat human flesh?” I’m confused. Perhaps he will teach me something. He draws a childish figure of a fish with big teeth. “Piranha”, I whisper to myself. “Yes of course,” I tell him, “Pranna.”
I go back to the cupcake puzzle I started. I already know pieces have been lost from tenants ago. He brutally sits up and heads straight to the fridge. I think he likes us to hear what he does. He pulls out a bottle, unscrews it with his teeth and spits it to the ground. He takes a big gulp. A Jim Beam and cola in hand, he stands there for awhile.
Mullayup, December 2012
“I just wait for them to sprout and then I take their seeds and plant them again for next season and I love doing that. Really. I need to reconnect with my roots and here I’m able to do so,” she says as she ties a scarf up in her hair. “I grew up in the UK on a farm. And there you can lie down on the grass and roll down the hill because there are no snakes. But here, you can’t do that. No really. You can’t.” A few strands of red and grey hair crumble down her face. She takes the Bernardin glass cup of red wine and puts it to her lips. “I’ve got a whole variety of vegetables and herbs here. Like coriander. My god coriander everywhere for me! But it’s only been a year since I moved. And Brian always invites me over. You know Brian?” she carries on, passing me the bottle of Cabernet with that insisting stare in her eyes. I can see hard farm work has left scars on her delicate hands. “He’s my next door neighbour, really friendly guy, very outgoing.” She generously pours me out some red. The moon is shinning so bright but the cows cannot be seen in the fields. I turn my eyes to the inside of the house.
The candle is slowly dying on the table. The breeze is nice and warm and I don’t really have anyone to go to at this time of the night. “But sometimes, I need my space you know, so sometimes I tell him I prefer staying home rather than coming here because I need my space and he’s very relaxed about it, very easy-going.” She pauses and takes time to take a sip. She seems to let the wine rest on her tongue to absorb every flavour and colour.
She leans back and curls a strand of hair around her finger. For a moment, I saw her at fifteen years old. “Yeah he reminds me of people in Fremantle, where I used to live. Hippies you know! I worked in festivals there making fireworks. And I still do. I head out on the road during summertime and work in different festivals.” “Do you ever get lonely out here sometimes? Or on the road?” I ask. “I don’t have any attachments to anything or anyone. I don’t believe in that. And so I prefer living on my own.” I smiled.
Mullayup, December 2012
He lives off the fat of the land, mainly raising chickens and renting out rooms from his hand-built wooden country house. You can tell he was a good looking man in his young age but life left its marks here and there. And yet he has a companion as he calls her. Kelly. “She came down from the sky that girl.” Loves the man to death. She’s not very pretty but it’s all about personality he once told me. “And the smile, look at her smile, how can you turn your back on that?” So I thought to myself that one day maybe someone would think of me in that kind of way and love me for who I am.
Sunday morning, he invites me for coffee in his house. I can notice the wine stains on the corner of his lips from the night before. His hair is as ruffled as loose hay. “Could you bring the milk? Kelly forgot to buy some.” And so I grab a glass bottle from the house in the orchard field. Lucky, his pet chicken, and her newly born chicks are running around the living room. The place smells like fresh wood. He frames his own artwork and then hangs it up on walls so the house can become a casual gallery at times. Unlike what the man seems at first glance, he really has it all figured out. He starts to brew the coffee. As the espresso machine warms up, I smile. Such a familiar, comforting sound. No matter where you are in the world, an espresso machine always mumbles the same. Two flat whites.
He tells me about life in Mullalyup. It means bone through the nose. Back in the days, tribes used to gather up in Balingup, about five miles away, where magic mushrooms grow wild. Young boys at the passing of age used to have to kill a kangaroo, pierce their septum with one of the wrist bones and wear it as a noble symbol. I listen, fascinated.
He carries on telling me about his chickens and how one day he walked into a French bakery in the village with his pet chick on his shoulder and the poor baker shrieked of terror. His older brother had apparently locked him up in the chicken shed when he was just a kid and so he’d developed this chicken phobia ever since, he tells me laughing heartily. And then a car pulls up in the driveway. A man and a woman would like to take a look at his paintings.