Abhishek Sengupta

The Rhythmic Progression

A maddening music of the mist
spread like dreams
of a child
knew nothing but his gifts
wrapped in golden ribbons
on his birthdays
celebrated annually 
every week or so
with vacuum-filled balloons
and only two invitees -
one, a solemn clown
another, a multitude of guests
all rumored to be lost
went waltzing, like a breeze
a maddening music of the mist
that was
a nightmare 
wrapped in golden ribbons
for a child
music is a window
has two sides to it
each side darker than the other
and choosing sides is an option
you cannot choose
not to repeat
the maddening music of mists
and you realize
you were the nightmare
wrapped in golden ribbons
dreamt by the solemn clown
in your birthday bash
celebrated annually
every evening after dark
you kept turning hundred



Abhishek Sengupta is imaginary. Mostly, people would want to believe that he writes fiction & poetry, which borders on Surrealism and Magical Realism, and is stuck inside a window in Kolkata, India, but he knows none of it is true. He doesn’t exist. Only his imaginary writing does, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Sheepshead Review, Sonic Boom, MidnightCircus, and Literary Heist. If you’re gifted, you may also imagine him in Twitter @AbhishekSWrites.

Website: https://abhishek-sengupta.com


Ashira Shirali

Left Behind

I stepped out of the cab into the blinding sunshine, hastily putting a hand up to my forehead. The day was the kind of bright which made you scrunch your eyes till your nose was ridges and valleys and left magenta spots behind your eyelids. I stumbled towards the café I was supposed to have reached ten minutes ago.

The milk pink ring I had put on so carefully was slipping off my finger without a care for the effort that went into finding it. I held it tightly in my fist, suddenly sure that it would fall through the metal grate into the drain below. The ring simply said ‘best’ and had two little hearts made next to it. Today, after three years my pink ‘best’ would be reunited with Neha’s blue ‘friends’ and Vaishali’s purple ‘forever.’

Neha had visited America in the summer of sixth grade and chosen the trio from a huge rack of accessories with shouting colours. The day she had given them to us we had held them in our hands like pearls retrieved from the deepest ocean, locking the pastel ceramics in our desks before we left for P.E.

As I stepped into the oval of shade under the café awning my eyes were assaulted by more abstract art. Neha and Vaishali were sitting at the farthest table in the café. For the next five minutes I tried to weave my way through the little white tables and overburdened waiters, all of us feeling like we should say something to acknowledge each other but realising that we wouldn’t be heard over the noise, so we kept cement smiles on our faces till our cheeks were two orbs of pain.

When I finally reached the table Vaishali leapt up to hug me, her papier-mâché earrings swinging wildly as if they too were excited to see me. Neha’s silky hair was a river under my chin. We sank into our chairs and started talking of our school days through the cheesy sandwiches and fruity drinks in our mouths.

I noticed mid-chew that neither of them had brought their rings. I slipped the pink circlet quietly into my bag.

Our stomachs were happy knots of pain as we bent over laughing, remembering those high school days which had seemed like viscous gel then and were easy water now. I was always the first to volunteer for any production, waddling around hanging posters; Neha was the only one to have completed any homework assigned to our class, and Vaishali would glue together things she found in unseen corners to make delicate gifts for us.

Somehow Neha always ended up with more papier-mâché dolls than me.

I don’t know when exactly it happened, but at some point I began to feel like my seat was tilting. I noticed that we weren’t sitting in a triangle, but facing each other, with me on one side. When I asked Neha what she had been up to lately, Vaishali chirped in to add details.

I began to feel like I was intruding on something. I looked at the lady sitting at the next table as if I expected her to have a conversation with me, but she just pursed her lips and ordered the lasagne.

Neha and Vaishali continued to ask me questions – How is my roommate? Is the food in college that bad? Do I still like red velvet cake, and if so, should it be ordered for dessert? I felt like I was answering for someone else. I shifted several times in my seat.

At one point Neha reached for the salt and I was sure her hand would hit something in the middle.

Cobalt blue started descending onto the sky outside. Neha and Vaishali hugged me again. We promised to keep in touch. The words felt like cut plastic in my mouth.

When I stepped out onto the street I felt a cold wave wash over me even as heat burned at the edges of my chest. I looked for several minutes couldn’t find a single cab. I walked down the blank street, the pink ring somehow in my hand. I heard a clink as it fell into the drain. I didn’t stop walking.


Ashira Shirali is a high school student from Gurgaon, India. Her work has been published in Germ Magazine, Teen Ink and Moledro Magazine and is forthcoming in Parallax Literary Journal. You can find her reading with a cup of tea on most days.


Richard King Perkins II

Winding Staircase

A mind rises and falls through planets
spinning blue eyes counterclockwise.

I don’t remember my projectile existence—
leaving my father

then my mother

but my wife and I
went on to make a baby

out of a Golden Yukon potato
and a bit of elbow grease.

I stand on a straw floor,
the dogs are barking not far away

rust of the steam age burrows
across a world 
both flat and hollow

incising intent on all things inanimate.

Someone is smashing a hammer on pavement
a father telling distant relations

his child is almost born.

An old woman sits by the stove
bored or just cold

a withered umbilical cord snakes out
from beneath her housecoat

rising from morgue and twisted earth;

all deformed monsters
are inherited, passed on

the bell on the oven timer rings—

that which should be destroyed
can also be transformed

into bliss.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie, and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.