“Violent Game” by Ayesha F. Hamid

Cursed earth, always at war,
a field for violence and pain.
The poor, dead and buried
in shrouds the same
as what was worn
for nights and days
with no choice for change.
No one for these deaths
ashamed, except the powerless
always expected to have shame.

The earth trembles for so many lives
that the heavens can’t partake,
yet humanity stands with its
unflinching gaze
as lives extinguish
coming to ground,
bodies black, white, and brown
all reddening the ground as they fall.

The good earth screams,
beware this treading over sacred lines
and of this doing with no shame,
leading to an irreversible idling of being
and the return to the
primitive part of the brain
which revels in violent games.

“Escape, 2020” by Ayesha F. Hamid

A woman scribbles with movement of her pen
is able to change what’s unpleasant
describes only water dripping below
birds singing above
a melody forcing her ear to pay homage
as she writes of sun rays lighting
earth with yellow, green, blue
all the while avoiding thoughts of the virus
raging outside or asking if pandemic
will bring humanity to its knees

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 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. Her parents live right 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 bars. 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.

My Memoir: The Borderland Between Worlds

Please check out my debut memoir The Borderland Between Worlds which explores issues of immigration, belonging, bullying and mental health. “Not fully belonging anywhere or with anyone is a great burden to bear…but it can be a place of incomparable strength.” The Borderland Between Worlds is available on Amazon https://amzn.to/38RanP5 and Barnes and Nobles: https://bit.ly/2G09M0

Newest Cover

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

Family means different things to different people, and Tori Bond explores what family means 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 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 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. 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 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.