Always

Anyone’s memory can be erased
except yours friend
seems your shadow will stay
haunting mind, heart, soul

from the moment you left
the pictures of you repeating
always

Isolation

Even herculean imagination
will not bring the mind to reason
that newcomers mean no harm
mean only to lead
towards better destinations,
maybe, even to a place like Shangri-La.

Could they really be different
than the ones who arrived
lifetimes ago and left their scars?

In the beginning they too were sweet
yet always unknown
were calculations and secret needs
and the eventual picking off
of whatever was left of the flesh
fists thrusting further
to the heart underneath,
until reaching
the seat of the soul, Trust
which when shaken
is rarely ever the same.

So, imagination remains contained
as caution creeps up the spine
protecting the body from any more incursion
always parrying away to avoid a final blow.

T. Nicole Cirone’s Nine Nails: A Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

How much pressure can a spouse’s loyalty and fidelity withstand? How seriously do individuals take their vows of marriage? How many times can someone help another human being who is clearly lost and has no compass? The answer to these, as well to other questions, are explored in T. Nicole Cirone’s beautifully written novel, Nine Nails.

In the beginning of the book, things are going great for Nicole – she has a rewarding career as a teacher and has loving and close relationships with her family, including with her twelve-year old daughter and her parents who live next door. Nicole finds love in a charming, handsome, and successful man who was once a childhood friend. The couple marries, and everything is perfect.

Though not obvious at first, a troubling pattern emerges. Nicole’s husband has episodes where depressing and destructive feelings overwhelm him. Sometimes, he locks himself in his room. He spends a lot of time at the bar. He becomes abusive and calls his wife names. According to him, Nicole is the cause of his unexpected behavior, and she cannot do anything right. On the other hand, he can’t do anything wrong. Though another woman may have already ended the relationship by this point, Nicole continues to keep her marriage vows in the forefront of her mind, trying to help her spouse through addiction and turmoil. Her love for her husband abides through every imaginable test and speaks to something that is difficult to find, a fixed heart that continues to be able to withstand anything and everything to preserve the possibility of what could be. Will Nicole’s husband be able to change and keep Nicole’s love, or is the marriage doomed to fail?

Nine Nails is gripping and the author’s skilled use of pacing will keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens next. Cirone places us perfectly in scene with vivid descriptions of time and place. Her use of language is equally masterful as word choices are both meaningful and exquisite. The combination of language and craft details are sure to make Nine Nails a favorite book for readers as well as writers. Nine Nails rises to the level of great literature, transcending time and person and focusing on universal themes regarding human love and loss. It is also a cautionary tale from which much can be learned. Nine Nails is definitely a must-read.

Nine Nails is published by Serving House Books and is available on Amazon.com.

Tori Bond’s Familyism: A Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

Family means different things to different people, and Author, Tori Bond, explores the vagarities and variances of family in her debut, flash-fiction collection, Familyism. Whether her stories consist of children spending time in nature and performing plays or townspeople, sitting in a bar and dreaming of a way out, Bond is able to create entire worlds with a sparsity of words. Bond perfectly captures the essence of the mundane as well as the extraordinary; she immerses us in the surreal and magical but keeps us rooted through her skillful exploration of human emotion. The author has the unique ability to make the reader feel deeply; her stories are crafted with care and are guaranteed to fill the reader with wonder. The powerful endings of each story will leave readers mesmerized.

Bond uses her ability to make the reader laugh, but Familyism goes beyond simply being funny; Familyism is equally sad and profound and joyful. While reading, I found that the veins of isolation, loneliness, and the yearning for escape crashing over me like a wave. Characters experience the loneliness of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the settings of the stories don’t offer characters an escape – Again, the reader is drawn into a world of powerful emotion. Regardless of the intensity of feeling Familyism elicits, Bond masterfully balances emotion through her well-timed use of narration and humor. 

I highly recommend Familyism; It is not just a book, it is an experience! The book is a quick read, and the stories flow easily. The book will make you laugh, and you will be moved. You will ponder, question, and reminisce. This book could make you laugh out loud, so I don’t recommend reading it in public.

“Saved from Summer” by Ayesha F. Hamid

She welcomed the end of summer’s oppression,
the pressure under, over, everywhere
having cooked her from within.

In summer, the sun weighed down, disheartening from dreams,
while the wandering, distracted mind meandered
wished to be someplace else,
wished to be free, somewhere else
where she was listened to, was esteemed,
someplace else where she never had to fear being suspect
for being something less than ideal
a place she wanted to welcome on hot skin
like a perfectly cool breeze.

“Love on the Street” by Ayesha F. Hamid

I look up crookedly, just a bum on the street
but I can still see the things you don’t think
I can see – the steps you take, the role you play
the stride with which you walk
makes its way deep into the recesses of my heart,
out through every tear, every drop
the liquid filled with lore and longing

and as long as I have eyes, which can offer
love at first sight, the greatest gift
a human soul can give, even when crouched
down on the ground, staring without a sound,
I give you the only thing I have to give – LOVE.

A Book Review of “I Am Terezin” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Immutable rules govern our world such as the law that no matter the time or space in which it occurs, evil committed by humans against other human beings leaves its mark, and that regardless of the amount of time it takes, the truth will always surface. These ideas, as well as others, are explored in depth in Richard D. Bank’s I Am Terezin.

With meticulous historical research and great care, Bank has painted a vivid picture of the people and personalities associated with the events that took place at Theresienstadt during the Nazi Holocaust. I Am Terezin is a revolutionary memoir – unlike others, it is written from the point of view, not of a person but, of a physical entity, the camp itself – an omniscient narrator. The voice of the camp comes alive to relay the ominous reality of itself, and it tells the reader what Theresienstadt really was, a concentration camp and not the paradise ghetto for elderly Jews the Nazis claimed it was.

The changing tone and perspective of the omniscient voice is compelling. The voice of the camp takes on many roles – a caretaker in one moment, a silent observer in another. It can be argued that the voice of the camp is none other than that of a lamenting God, unable to intercede in the world of human atrocities and forced to watch insidious actions play out. No matter the tone or perspective, the abuse, injustice, and crime which occurred at Theresienstadt is resurrected for the reader, and the reader comes to learn intimately about the lives of innocents who were forced to be bound within the walls of Terezin. Each word and sentence of I Am Terezin is written with great care, paying homage to the many who lost their lives at Theresienstadt. In taking part in the arduous undertaking of researching and telling the story of those at Terezin, Bank has completed the ultimate labor of love in tribute to his grandparents, Ludwig and Sophie Frank, who were imprisoned at but subsequently survived Theresienstadt.

Bank is masterful in his knowledge of the history of Theresienstadt, and I Am Terezin is a must read for scholars of the Holocaust, as well as those interested in bettering the human condition. Reading this book will help the vigilant to reaffirm the oath of never again. Never again should sadism be allowed to hide behind laws and systems meant to dehumanize. Never again should humanity allow the atrocities of genocide to occur. Never again should any people be persecuted for the faith they follow or for the way in which they worship the Divine.

I Am Terezin is published by Auctus Publishers (www.auctuspublishers.com) and available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles.