The sun had already vanished behind

the lights, while we were busy arguing over

a meal gone wrong. I turn to the sea

after the goodbyes with no handshakes or

kisses. The bins aren’t empty yet, of

the plastic bottles and spoons, paper cups,

sandwich wraps, and other unnamable

stuff. A lone seagull hovers above, but I’m

the least bit worried. An artist, with a

fast-burning cigarette in his mouth, carries

his unsold paintings – ‘Jesus and Uncle

Mephisto on a Fishing Trip’, ‘Amy

Winehouse’s Inward Gaze’, ‘Self-Portrait of

a Frog as an Artist’ and so on – back

to the store that’s going to be his studio at

night. There’s a man persuading

a reluctant dog on a leash to get back home,

to end its inane engagement with

a piece of dirtied cloth that looks like

a headscarf that must’ve flown off

too far from someone who might not have

bothered to get it back, or to cover

their head again. I let the dialogues, tones,

gestures, omission of words, choice

of food, and length of sighs from my recent

memories lap against a receding

conscience. They froth over the signs, soon

to be washed off like footprints on

the sand; the very same signs that’d pushed

me to this vast emptiness where a stale

breeze caresses me, amidst what’s lost, torn

apart, stolen, relinquished, or thrown

away for no reason, to the smug black bins.


Jose Varghese

Jose Varghese is an Indian author who has worked as an English teacher in colleges and universities in India and the Middle East. He is the author of ‘Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ and his short story manuscript ‘In/Sane’ was a finalist in the 2018 Beverly International Prize. He was a finalist twice in the London Independent Story Prize (LISP), a runner-up in the Salt Prize, and was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. His works are published in Litro, Joao Roque Literary Journal, Haunted Waters Press, Tempered Runes Press, Cathexis Northwest Press, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, The Best Asian Short Story Anthology (2019 and 2021), The Best Asian Poetry Anthology (2021), Dreich, Live Encounters, Meridian – The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology, Unthology 5, Unveiled, Reflex Fiction, Faber QuickFic, and Flash Fiction Magazine.

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