LITERARY

THE ANONYMOUS ARTIST (1)
The anonymous artist is wedded to the magnitude of embellishing the embodiment of loyalty into a restricted version of utterances. On the island of contradictory landscapes, the crevices of historic buildings are impaled with the memory of a defence that vanquished its brutal oppressor. The words seep to the fictitious island, seeking an eloquence that stutters in its recapitulation of the revolution. In an alley that holds the scent of past years, a house is converted into a library. The anonymous artist wanders in search of a name and speaks to an echo that is as ancient as its reality. In the swathing darkness that creeps through the open door, the memory sustaining the anonymous artist etches itself into the palm of her hand – a testimony of loyalty transferred to her name.
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MOSAICS
The pebbles succumbed to their subterranean abode. Their farewell reeked of distortion, as their opaque smooth flesh expanded and writhed beneath the dark water, requesting that the silhouette conduct their memorable descent. As he strode away from the water, I beheld the waves subside in gentle gestures, promising to obliterate the sensitive presence on the shore. I saw the magnificent eyes swell, as the silhouette steered me towards the streets that widened and narrowed, depicting our shared awareness in elapsed frames of fragmented portraits.
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The biographies were not restricted to those stifled within the conjured borders. There was a narrator whose voice had been obliterated by the politics of oblivion, the anonymous artist whose metaphors had hibernated for thousands of days and a fraction of hours. The comrade who travelled incessantly to the island of contradictory landscapes and inhaled the scent of ideals – only to incarcerate herself once again as an unwilling caricature within the fictitious island. A singer from the narrow land who explained the betrayal of memory. A poem that flaunted a reality distorted by the hegemony abhorring shades of red. There was the embodiment of loyalty who reflected our thoughts in slanting calligraphy. In a tiny room brimming with dilapidated historical manuscripts, fabricated borders denounced themselves and seeped through the crevices in the wall to engrave a testimony transcending the failure and limitation of justice.
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EXCERPT FROM A WORK IN PROGRESS
The absence of the river was of no importance, unlike the wound festering in the absence beside me.In the years before the sky weighed heavily on my head, I used to peer at the river from the dilapidated terrace that stood as testimony to seasons and the people that fluttered through as rapidly as time. The river was a distant, solitary blue vein contaminated with green and little boats disrupted its tranquillity. I thought of it as water – the faces beneath sprawling hats called it their itinerary. It was as predictable as their lives. They never sought what lay beyond.One day it faded, changing geography and culture with its disappearance. The villagers despaired, reluctant to explore a land without water. I could have told them there was water elsewhere – I had completed my voyages on water, and land was a necessary transition to the mind of a restless wanderer. Their faces shrivelled; their hands gnarled and stiff, until only their eyes remained, trickling tears to entice the river into existence once again.
*******

Politics on the fictitious island was a product of assimilation, colonialism, capitalism and anything that could fit into and between the categories of what made the leaders supreme. That was the democracy smothering us, an emblem of corrupted justice emanating from the laws of the majority that were manipulated at random, without explanation and with the condescending attitude that expected gratitude out of its citizens. There was no dignity – only its carcass serving as a functional mechanism of our imperial rulers. Autonomy had bowed to the abhorrence of indignity, and the citizens were as fictitious as the island beneath their feet. There was not a single map that would mark their bearings.

******* 

Sebastian was reclining against a pile of crates, his blue eyes betraying and disdaining a memory that he inherited – a memory which had sapped language from our late companera. I thought to disassociate the hue of my eyes from the granite they had once become.

Cesar’s resonant intonation conquered the night spreading over the continent. The guitar adhered to his intention with the fervour of someone fearing desertion and flaunting the politics of loyalty. It was a ballad unlike the rest. The thematic silence we associated with Cesar became a tenacious cry that rendered victory an emotion beyond any patronising anthem. Unfettered by the banal procedures of educational institutions that promoted the acquiescence of conformity, the campesinos in the narrow land grasped the essence of revolution without the conflagration of fear. The song mingled with the spirit of the murdered revolutionaries in the Estadio Chile, seeking the hands of the workers whose minds sought within and beyond the necessities of work.

This time we were stunned by our irregular silence. It was as if Cesar had rendered us incapable of uttering a word. But the greatest dissonance came from Sebastian. His usual imposing manner, which tended to infuriate me more than anyone else, seemed depleted. His eyes were a shimmer of tears, whilst on his lips writhed the curse of inheritance and the burden of shared memory. He walked past me with swift paces, bestowing a glance back at me before taking the stairs down to his cabin.

I was loath to leave Cesar’s side but, with curiosity rather than concern, followed Sebastian. The door was wide open, and he was staring at the collection of paintings, all bearing his signature. One of his paintings, which I had never noticed before, was a portrait of luminous brown eyes defying specks of sapphire in the distance. An apology welled up in me that was more resilient than my pride. I sat beside Sebastian, and for the first time since the inception of our voyage, appreciated the personality imbued with the undesirable connections of corrupt power, wealth and the memory of a past degeneration which had nothing and everything to do with him. It was the reason he chose to embark on the raft. Sebastian was the only inadvertent recollection that would manacle me to the years when I resigned myself to muted masks.

He had already added me to his precious collection of imagery, whereas my memory had become a putrid lake of subconscious hatred. I could not articulate my thoughts to him, but his hand traced the abrasive tear that scorched my cheek. I had persisted in chaining him to the blunder of his ancestry. He was a minefield I did not seek to understand, but in our different worlds, we faced the ambivalent challenge of rising beyond the hatred stemming from undocumented history.

REVERBERATION
Shying away from the papers harbouring hidden
hieroglyphics visible in fabricated light. Garish columns
awaited the mental flagellation of the pebble trudging
to cells after the verdict was branded on its mouth.
During oration it sprouted fingernails to scourge the
venom speckling its face. A dull shade of flaming crimson
fading in an inclement sky twirled a fountain pen
which recognised no form of art, but pretentious signatures
on burdened papers. The armchair sagged with the weight of
erroneous righteousness reclining like a satiated prosecutor.
Books in glass cages became parched and bare, black inscriptions
of tedious wisdom suffocating in dust.The pebble transfigured
into a pair of hands at sunset, when greed dilapidated names
and loosened ties or buttons. Fingers coiled over a pencil
to sketch discrimination in water quenching the thirst
of a nearby plant for fear of implication in treason.

©Ramona Wadi

~~~~~~~~~~~
VERDICT
paralysed in an utterance
a voyage metaphor void of itinerary
tulips decomposing in decades of grey
stifling the separation of narrations
from mutual omniscience
solitude sustaining a stained silence
hovering between thought and affirmation
navigating a deterioration of verses
in recollections lacerating
an inscribed duet
the voyage dispelled itself of the metaphor
a melodious declaration regurgitating sand and cliffs
a street bearing witness to tree bark
autumn leaves, rain and dispersed months
confined in mahogany caskets
impregnated with sonorous syllables
vacillating between indifferent intonations
enforced, embraced, repulsed
a death knell for the word
cremating my mind

©Ramona Wadi

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RUPTURE

etched on petals wallowing
in melancholic memory
monologues incarcerate themselves
within historical chronology
wilting in whispers of weeds,
interwoven intrepid interpretations
rupturing recollections
echoes of lacerated breath
fossilised in slivers of stationary screens
memory succumbs to sentient stories
relics of dreams, bludgeoning the piano
with an anthem commemorating
the hesitant hibernation of distorted duets
duelling the enshrining of unequal representation
eradicating remembrance
into a predetermined conclusion
©Ramona Wadi

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529

abandoned inscriptions on folded pebbles
evaporated by thunder, in verdicts obliterating
the process of laborious counting
in slivers of utterances
incarcerating time
numbers depicting premeditated murders
immobilised within hues of a garish cartoon
multiples of hundred
premonitions of corpses
echoes destined to epilogues of brevity
lamentations in the harvest of spring
abomination sanctioned to fulfil hibernating portents
a depiction deafening silence
blood nurturing sand
an accomplice staining the weight
of colourless medals
smothering syllables in fragments of wax
multiples of hundred lacerated
by shadows of steel bars
faceless memories across alienated continents
the scent of stone succumbing to salutations
defining the massacre of living recollections
tethered to shadows conjuring
a forbidden intonation of names
a testimony of persecution fragmenting
the commemoration of inconspicuous biographies
demarcated by torture and multitude
slivers of eyes, hands, voices,
degenerating into syllables on stained parchment
in scraps of paper oppressed with scrawls
a distant memory ponders
living as remembrance
in the mind of another
a scorpion testing its venom
in eclipsed, ephemeral moons 

©Ramona Wadi

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LAND OF PARALYSED BUTTERFLIES (first published in Palestine Chronicle)

crimson stains their mangled wings
drenched before reaching a spring
untarnished with rippling veins
it’s my fingers and other paper hands
that erase and replace letters on the map
as butterflies writhe in parched mouths on dying faces
a pair of scissors stabs our hands to brand us
traitors of diplomacy

we soothe our lacerations with glue

the empty squares parade before us
perverted precision brandishing tiny pencils
dangling on strings launching the limited dictionary
entitled responsibility
 
in the land of paralysed butterflies
some devote themselves to primary colours
and others to extracting their hues
 
when we turned the pages we beheld
a paralysed land smothered in red and grey
unravelling threads punctuated by missiles
dazzling spectators with hideous light
sanctioned by the throng lauding their right
to emblazon numbers in the squares.

 

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