pic by Tracey Mansell

When I look back on this corona time, I’ll remember the way we were housebound, occupying the same space, but not really occupying it together. Each of us developed a kind of unnatural insularity, a personal quarantine, inhabiting a box within a box. We were distracted by work and school and by each other. The impression that will remain with me is the one of a girl playing alone in her room, building a house out of blocks. A house, within a house, within a home.

The girl, who shall be named Nora, built a blockhouse with her grandma’s house…


A Lebanese Story

Pic by Tracey Mansell

The Lebanese uprising has failed. It started on October 17, 2019, with a people’s revolution, which petered out during 2020 with the banking crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, and then came to an abrupt and final end on August 4, 2020, when an explosion at the Beirut port damaged half of the city. These dates and events are significant as markers of a failure to launch real change in a country weighed down by an intractable ruling class, a ruling class made of leaders that have satisfied our political and social identities. …


In this part of the city the fog doesn’t hang around for very long. At dawn the sun comes out and wakes up the neighborhood and brings everyone out of their homes. There are children playing in the park, parents pushing strollers, people waiting for the bus, stoners standing outside the donut shop, and early birds buying fresh produce from the vendedor de frutas. A homeless man is curled up at the entrance of the boarded up old movie theater. He wakes up and stretches his stiff limbs. He holds his face up to the blinding sun and closes his…


Tripoli

Hallab pastry shop, sweet oasis: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIBXBcupnZi/?igshid=8lz568g72bzb

The last time I went to Tripoli was over a year ago. My children played at the island park in the Al Mina neighborhood. We walked along the corniche. Children were shooting around on scooters. Older men sat together and smoked argile. There were hawkers; some sold cheap imitations of Disney princess dolls, some others sold sesame kaak or coffee which they carried on their backs. Lebanon was a very different place back then. The Revolution hadn’t happened. Inflation wasn’t wrecking the economy. Covid 19 wasn’t even coined yet. …


Naima Abu Esber

Jena is creating a self portrait for her portfolio. She likes using the smudge tool. She uses it to blend colors and to obscure imperfections. The portrait is a process of creation and annihilation; it’s full of innuendo and goes deep. On second glance, the self portrait looks more like a younger version of her mom, the way that Jena wants to remember her. Each project starts with a secret, which gets buried underneath pixels and layers. Jena has been accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute. It’s been her dream to study at an art school in America.

Domestic…


pic by Tracey Mansell

Kate called late last night asking if I’d come with her to Beirut to pick up her cat. After the bombing, Kate’s landlord pleaded with her to leave the blown out apartment, until the damage was assessed, repairs were made and the apartment was deemed safe to live in. Kate is intensely independent, so when she asks for any sort of service there’s no hesitation to say, yes, of course I’ll go with you. There was another, inaudible voice, laced with dark curiosity, that said yes for other reasons. I wanted to see Beirut after the blast. I watched videos…


my pic

A long time ago, when bees didn’t have wings and birds didn’t have beaks, when human beings were small and stout, there was a valley in the shadow of a snow capped mountain. They valley used to be verdant and bountiful. All the creatures who lived there had taken advantage of the earth’s beneficence for centuries, and had forgotten to give praise and thanks to Avikwaame, the mountain spirit, manipulator of seasons and influencer of weather. The mountain spirit took her benevolent hand off the valley and a record breaking heat wave pervaded. Almost everything that grew from the ground…


https://www.freepik.com/photos/people’>People photo created by jcomp — www.freepik.com</a>

Alex is riding his bike through town making deliveries for the post office. His backpack is heavier than usual; it’s a busy day for Sleepy Hollow. Alex thinks about the destination of his package, and his legs carry him there. His body has memorized the circuitous route of the roads; he leans into his handle bars, digs his left foot down and sails around the corner. His thoughts are beyond the bike and his backpack. He’s got wings on his heels and he’s sailing across the finish line. Coach told him he’ll make varsity this year if he can make…


Reedsy Prompt

my pic

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but we are not, not in the least. Our country has been pulled inside out. Wages have been cut in half. Businesses like mine suffer. Many people have locked their shops and restaurants because there are no patrons, or out of fear of thieves. The banks have closed their cold doors. The hospitals and orphanages are too full to open theirs. Beggar children have multiplied in the streets during the day. Gangs of thugs patrol them at night. The spirit of Christmas is obscured by the hunger in our bellies.

The Inn sits on…


Reedsy Prompt

my pic, revolution graffiti, downtown Beirut

When I woke up this morning, it was still dark outside. I had stayed up late studying for finals. It was close to 2am when I went to bed. I felt as though I hardly slept at all. Mom was in the kitchen preparing coffee, and making a lot of noise doing it. I pushed the kitchen door open and found mom, in her robe and slippers, talking to a stranger in baggy pajamas. The stranger was emptying a sachet of Nescafé 3 in 1 into my hot chocolate mug. My first thought was about the mug. Why would mom…

Jen Ponig

Posting essays and short stories.

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