Measuring Time by Craig Lamont

11.30 pm.

Tonight, I won’t sleep. Dead relatives stand still in my dreams these past few nights.

I put the lamp on, breathe out. I think of the lights going off in other houses as I decide if I’m up for reading. Across the shadow line of this hemisphere a wall of dreams is taking shape, like clouds on the edge of the weather report, dispersing as the day wheels round.

It is in these moments that you often notice your breathing and you realise you’ve been taking it for granted. Sleeping and breathing, breathing in spite of it all. Even before you were born, the collective breathing dating back. That great grandmother who immigrated, poor and disowned, armed only with the wrong religion and a strong will. These twists of fate in the roots of your family tree somehow led to your being. Somewhere it began, in spite of the hard wind and the rain. You arrived.

Stasis by Ellie Roy

Dust floated in aimless specks in and out of the golden light flooding in through the attic’s sole window.  It was really more of a crawlspace, with a growing number of cardboard boxes among other miscellany crowding the floorboards and only a couple of square feet where one could stand up without craning the head to the side.  The slightest movement between the boxes sent up another small gust of disturbed cobwebs and dust-bunnies.  Leighton sneezed and stacked the newly filled box she was holding on top of another to her right, weaving her way through the growing cardboard towers.

People say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a human can do.  Leighton, meanwhile, felt nothing save a numb sort of relief.  You pick up everything you own, gather all the material pieces of your life, and pack them away to be used another day—if not abandoned altogether.  The temptation to do so was certainly there, and it was unavoidable.  The opportunity to recreate herself.  Destroy the past.  Rebuild from scratch.  She was moving somewhere nobody knew her story or her name.  Hell, she could even choose new ones if she wanted.

Chalkboard of Consciousness by Yash Seyedbagheri     

They know only that you smoke pot. Terms like “addict,” “troubled,” and “stoner” are bandied about. Counselors are recommended. But you’re eighteen. Counselors are for fucked up, abandoned thirteen-year olds. Middle-aged lechers.

They cannot know what it means to smoke pot. They claimed they dabbled back in the day but had to grow up. Put childish things behind.

When you smoke, labels are wiped away by a feeling you call a chalkboard of consciousness. It’s like the idea of John Locke’s tabula rasa, but with a chalkboard hovering in your consciousness, wiped clear of waste and labels. It’s ready to be filled with something else, something of your own choosing.

Watch Your Weight by Joe Giordano

Skyrocketing numbers of obese Americans have triggered an epidemic of type-2 diabetes leading to deteriorating health for millions, so I’m supporting the legislative proposal to make wearing the newest Apple Watch obligatory. With bouquet-recognition and hand-motion monitoring, the timepiece’s diet mode automatically senses what you’re eating and the mouthfuls you’ve taken, alerting you when your permissible calorie threshold is approaching. Should you exceed your limit or, God forbid, someone tempts you by placing a crème brûlée within sniffing distance, the stage-one feedback response zaps your wrist with an electric shock.

When The Pendulum Swings Too Far by Jenny Butler

The group were weary. They had reached the deserted settlement, black-clad pilgrims comprised of masters, priests, prophets, messengers, and six big German Shepherds. The meaning of the place, Xtul, was “the end” in Yucatec Maya, which they had taken as a sign that they should settle there. At first it seemed desolate and without hope but they held out until they received a communication. Some among them believed beings had accompanied them along the journey but more important were the felt presences in this new land. The beings here were altogether unique, apparitions of translucent shapes, amorphous blobs that moved slowly and deliberately, others appearing jewelled and shining or human-sized billowing forms.

The Language of Birds by Gary Glass

The hermit thrush has an ethereal flutey call. It composes its serenades in a minor Dorian mode, structured around an ascending scale that concludes with a coy come-hithering, the phrase being repeated at various rather awkwardly connected pitches. Actually, like most birds, it has a variety of calls — even the “mute” swan, which sings like a crow eating a cricket. The so-called “trumpeter” swan sounds something like a hoarse goose. Many a purple poet has assayed to paint the hermit’s song in lyric:

 

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone

gone beyond all going on beyond real gone