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Cyril Blythe Sep 2012
I followed him down the trail until we got to the mouth of the mines. The life and energy of the surrounding maples and birches seemed to come to a still and then die as we walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelt of mold and moths. Delvos stepped into the darkness anyways.
“Well, girl, you coming or aren’t you?”
I could see his yellowed tobacco teeth form into a slimy smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped.
“This tunnel is just the mouth to over two hundred others exactly like it. Stay close. Last thing I need this month is National Geographic on my *** for losing one of their puppet girls.”
“Delvos, ****. I have two masters degrees.” He rolled his eyes.
“Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling.
“I survived alone in the jungles of Bolivia alone for two months chasing an Azara’s Spinetail. I climbed the tallest mountain in Nepal shooting Satyr Tragopans along the cliff faces. In Peru I…” Suddenly I felt the weight of the darkness. In my blinding anger I lost track of his lantern. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I did in Peru.
I followed a Diurnal Peruvian Pygmy-Owl across the gravel tops of the Andes Mountains, no light but the Southern Cross and waning moon above. I am not scared of darkness. I am not scared of darkness.
I stopped to listen. Somewhere in front of me the canary chirped.

When I first got the job in Vermont I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Mining canaries? Never had I ever ‘chased’ a more mundane bird. Nonetheless, when Jack Reynolds sends you on a shoot you don’t say no, so I packed up my camera bag and hoped on the next plane out of Washington.
“His name is John Delvos.” Jack said. He handed me the manila case envelope. “He’s lived in rural Vermont his entire life. Apparently his family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When the accident happened the whole town basically shut down. There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly after. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He ships them to other mining towns across the country now. We want to run a piece about the inhumanity of breeding animals to die so humans won’t.” I stood in silence in front of his deep mahogany desk, suddenly aware of the lack of make-up on my face. He smiled, “You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Yes sir.”
“Don’t look so smug, Lila. This may not be the most exotic bird you’ve shot but the humanity of this piece has the potential to be a cover story. Get the shots, write the story.”

“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers? Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.” Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me. He relit the oily lantern and turned his back without another word. I reluctantly followed deeper into the damp darkness.
“Why were there no canaries in the mine on, you know, that day?” The shadows of the lantern flickered against the iron canary cage chained on his hip and the yellow bird hopped inside.
“I was nine, Ms. Rivers. I didn’t understand much at the time.” We turned right into the next tunnel and our shoes crunched on jagged stones. All the stones were black.
“But surely you understand now?”
The canary chirped.

When I first got to Sheldon and began asking about the location of the Delvos’ cabin you would have thought I was asking where the first gate to hell was located. Mothers would smile and say, “Sorry, Miss, I can’t say,” and hurriedly flock their children in the opposite direction. After two hours of polite refusals I gave up. I spent the rest of the first day photographing the town square. It was quaint; old stone barbershops surrounded by oaks and black squirrels, a western themed whiskey bar, and a few greasy spoon restaurants interspersed in-between. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good nights sleep and defeat this towns fear of John Delvos tomorrow.
My room was a tiny one bed square with no TV. Surprise, surprise. At least I had my camera and computer to entertain myself. I reached into the side of my camera bag and pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC. I stepped out onto the dirt in front of my door and lit up. I looked up and the stars stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except it’s sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the stars dancing became.
“Ma’am? Everything okay?”
Startled, I dropped my cigarette on the ground and the ember fell off.
“I’m sorry, sir. I was just, um, the stars…” I snuffed out the orange glow in the dirt with my boot and extended my hand, “Lila Waters, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Waters, are you new to town?”
“I’m here for work. I’m a bird photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I’m looking for John Delvos but I’m starting to think he’s going to be harder to track than a Magpie Robin.”
The stars tiptoed in their tiny circles above in the silence. Then, they disappeared with a spark as Ian lit up his wooden pipe. It was a light colored wood, stained with rich brown tobacco and ash. He passed me his matches, smiling.
“What do you want with that old *******? Don’t tell me National Geographic is interested in the Delvos canaries.”
I lit up another stick and took a drag. “Shocking, right?”
“Actually, it’s about time their story is told.” Benet walked to the wooden bench to our left and patted the seat beside him. I walked over. “The Delvos canaries saved hundreds of Sheldonian lives over the years. But the day a crew went into the mines without one, my father came out of the ground as cold as when we put him back into it in his coffin.”
I sat in silence, unsure what to say. “Mr. Benet, I’m so sorry…”
“Please, just Ian. My father was the last Mr. Benet.”
We sat on the wooden bench, heat leaving our bodies to warm the dead wood beneath our legs. I shivered; the stars dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Waters. This whole town indebted to those tiny yellow birds, but nobody cares to remember that anymore.”
“Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Delvos and his, erm, martyrs?” The ember of my second cigarette was close to my pinching fingertips.
“Follow me.” Ian stood up and walked to the edge of the woods in front of us. We crunched the cold dust beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed, “See that yellow notch?” Sure enough, there was a notch cut and dyed yellow at his finger’s end. “If you follow true north from this tree into the woods you’ll find this notch about every fifty yards or so. Follow the yellow and it’ll spit you out onto the Delvos property.”
“Thank you, Ian. I really can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to find out where to find this elusive Mr. Delvos and his canaries.”
“You don’t have to,” he knocked the ash out of his pipe against the tree, “Just do those birds justice in your article. Remember, martyrs. Tell old Delvos Ian Benet sends his regards.” He turned and walked back to the motel and I stood and watched in silence. It was then I realized I hadn’t heard a single bird since I got to Sheldon. The stars dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary chirped and Delvos stopped.
“This is a good place to break out fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky this morning and had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. I was definitely ready to eat. He handed me a gallon Ziploc bag from his backpack filled with raisins, nuts, various dried fruits, and a stiff piece of bread. I attacked the food like a raven.
“I was the reason no canaries entered the mines that day, Ms. Waters.” Delvos broke a piece of his bread off and wrapped it around a dried piece of apricot, or maybe apple. I was suddenly aware of my every motion and swallowed, loudly. I crinkled into my Ziploc and crunched on the pecans I dug out, waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“I’m not a parrot, Mr. Delvos, I don’t answer expectedly on command. You’ll tell me if you want.” I hurriedly stuffed a fistful of dried pears into my mouth.
Delvos chuckled and my nerves eased, “You’ve got steel in you, Ms. Rivers, I’ll give you that much.”
I nodded and continued cramming pears in my mouth.
“I was only nine. The canaries were my pets, all of them. I hated when Dad would send them into the mines to die for men I couldn’t give two ***** about. It was my birthday and I asked for an afternoon of freedom with my pets and Dad obliged. I was in the aviary with pocketfuls of sunflower-seeds. Whenever I threw a handful into the air above me, the air came to life with flickering yellow brushes and songs of joy. It was the happiest I have ever been, wholly surrounded and protected by my friends. Around twelve thirty that afternoon the Sheriff pulled up, lights ablaze. The blue and red lights stilled my yellow sky to green again and that’s when I heard the shouting. He cuffed my Dad on the hood of the car and Mom was crying and pushing her fists into the sheriff’s chest. I didn’t understand at all. The Sheriff ended up putting Mom in the car too and they all left me in the aviary. I sat there until around four that afternoon before they sent anyone to come get me.”
Delvos took a small bite of his bread and chewed a moment. “No matter how many handfuls of seeds I threw in the air after that, the birds wouldn’t stir. They wouldn’t even sing. I think they knew what was happening.”
I was at a loss for words so of course I blurted, “I didn’t see an aviary at your house…”
Delvos laughed. “Someone burnt down the house I was raised in the next week while we were sleeping. Mom died that night. The whole dark was burning with screams and my yellow canaries were orange and hot against the black sky. That’s the only night I’ve seen black canaries and the only night I’ve heard them scream.”
I swallowed some mixed nuts and they rubbed against my dry throat.
“They never caught the person. A week later Dad took the remainder of the birds and we marched into the woods. We worked for months clearing the land and rebuilding our lives. We spent most of the time in silence, except for the canary cries. When the house was finally built and the birds little coops were as well, Dad finally talked. The only thing he could say was ‘Canaries are not the same as a Phoenix, John. Not the same at all.”
The canary chirped, still only visible by the lanterns flame. Not fully yellow, I realized, here in the mines, but not fully orange either.

When I first walked onto John Delvos’ property on Thursday morning he was scattering feed into the bird coops in the front of his cabin. Everything was made of wood and still wet with the morning’s dew.
“Mr. Delvos?” He spun around, startled, and walked up to me a little too fast.
“Why are you here? Who are you?”
“My name is Lila Waters, sir, I am a photographer and journalist for National Geographic Magazine and we are going to run an article on your canaries.”
“Not interested”
“Please, sir, can I ask you just a few quick questions as take a couple pictures of your, erm, martyrs?”
His eyes narrowed and he walked up to me, studying my face with an intense, glowering gaze. He spit a mouthful of dip onto the ground without breaking eye contact. I shifted my camera bag’s weight to the other shoulder.
“Who told you to call them that?”
“I met Ian Benet last night, he told me how important your birds are to this community, sir. He sends his regards.”
Delvos laughed and motioned for me to follow as he turned his back. “You can take pictures but I have to approve which ones you publish. That’s my rule.”
“Sir, it’s really not up to me, you see, my boss, Jack Reynolds, is one of the CEO’s for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Waters.” He turned and picked back up the bucket of seed and began to walk back to the birds. “You want to interview me then we do it in the mine. Be back here at four thirty in the morning.”
“Sir…?”
“Get some sleep, Ms. Waters. You’ll want to be rested for the mine.” He turned, walked up his wooden stairs, and closed the door to his cabin.
I was left alone in the woods and spent the next hour snapping pictures of the little, yellow canaries in their cages. I took a couple pictures of his house and the surrounding trees, packed up my camera and trekked back to my motel.

“You finished yet?” Delvos stood up and the memory of his green and brown wooded homestead fled from my memory as the mine again consumed my consciousness. Dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I sifted through, into my pocket.
Delvos grunted and the canary flapped in its cage as he stood again and, swinging the lantern, rounded another corner. The path we were on began to take a noticeable ***** downward and the moisture on the walls and air multiplied.
The canary chirped.
The lantern flickered against the moist, black stones, sleek and piled in the corners we past. The path stopped ahead at a wall of solid black and brown Earth.
The canary chirped twice.
It smelt of clay and mildew and Delvos said, “Go on, touch it.”
I reached my hand out, camera uselessly hanging like a bat over my shoulder. The rock was cold and hard. It felt dead.
The Canary was flitting its wings in the cage now, chirping every few seconds.
“This is the last tunnel they were digging when the gas under our feet broke free from hell and killed those men.”
Delvos hoisted the lantern above our heads, illuminating the surrounding gloom. All was completely still and even my own vapor seemed to fall out of my mouth and simply die. The canary was dancing a frantic jig, now, similar to the mating dance of the Great Frigate Bird I shot in the Amazon jungle. As I watched the canary and listened to its small wings beat against the cold metal cage I begin to feel dizzy. The bird’s cries had transformed into a scream colder than fire and somehow more fierce.
The ability to fly is what always made me jealous of birds as a child, but as my temple throbbed and the canary danced I realized I was amiss. Screaming, yellow feathers whipped and the entire inside of the cage was instantaneously filled. It was beautiful until the very end. Dizzying, really.
Defeated, the canary sank to the floor, one beaten wing hanging out of the iron bars at a most unnatural angle. Its claws were opening and closing, grasping the tainted cave air, or, perhaps, trying to push it away. Delvos unclipped the cage and sat it on the floor in the space between us, lantern still held swaying above his head. The bird was aflame now, the silent red blood absorbing into the apologetic, yellow feathers. Orange, a living fire. I pulled out my camera as I sat on the ground beside the cage. I took a few shots, the camera’s clicks louder than the feeble chirps sounding out of the canary’s tattered, yellow beak. My head was spinning. Its coal-black eyes reflected the lantern’s flame above. I could see its tiny, red tongue in the bottom of its mouth.
Opening.
Closing.
Opening, wider, too wide, then,
Silence.


I felt dizzy. I remember feeling the darkness surround me; it felt warm.

“I vaguely remember Delvos helping me to my feet, but leaving the mine was a complete haze.” I told the panel back in D.C., “It wasn’t until we had crossed the stream on the way back to the cabin that I began to feel myself again. Even then, I felt like I was living a dream. When we got back to the cabin the sight of the lively yellow canaries in their coops made me cry. Delvos brought me a bottle of water and told me I needed to hit the trail because the sun set early in the winter, so I le
judy smith Apr 2015
The Pakistan Fashion Design Council in collaboration with Sunsilk presented the fourth and final day of the eighth PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. Indeed the 8th PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week marked the twelfth fashion week platform initiated by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council [with eight weeks of prêt-à-porter and four of bridal fashion] and was a direct manifestation of the Council’s commitment to sustainability and discipline within the business of fashion and the facilitation of Pakistan’s retail industry. Indeed #PSFW15 endeavoured to define and present trends for 2015, focusing specifically on fashion for the regions’ long hot summer months. Day-4 featured High-Street Fashion shows by the House of Arsalan Iqbal, Erum Khan, Chinyere and Hassan Riaz and designer prêt-à-porter shows by Sana Safinaz, Republic by Omar Farooq, Syeda Amera, Huma & Amir Adnan, Sania Maskatiya and HSY.

Speaking about the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week platform, Chairperson of the PFDC, Sehyr Saigol said: “With the 12th iteration of our critically acclaimed fashion weeks, the PFDC is always working to streamline our prêt-à-porter platform to make the PSFW experience more beneficial for all stakeholders in terms of show experience, exposure and ultimately, retail value. To that end, each year we look inward to find the best possible formats and categories to benefit the very trade and business of fashion. In this vein, we introduced 3 separate categories for Luxury/Prêt, High Street and Textile at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week, giving each entirely separate show space, times, audience exposure and viewing power. Our High Street fashion brands had been given a standalone show time on two separate days as early evening shows and Textile brands a separate dedicated day for Voile shows on Day 3 of PSFW 2015, a measured step to further highlight Pakistan’s textile prowess and high street fashion strength which are of significant importance to national and international fashion markets. As per past tradition, we continue to work closely with all our emerging designers and mainstream brands to help hone their collections for the runway through mentorship by senior PFDC Council members and with retail support through the PFDC’s own stores and network. We are grateful for the committed support of our sponsors and partners which provides us the stimulus to further enhance our fashion week platforms and put forth the best face of Pakistani fashion on a consistent basis.”

“The Sunsilk girl is an achiever, with an air of enthusiasm and positivity. Great hair can give her the extra dose of confidence so with Sunsilk by her side, she is empowered to take on life. Fashion is very close to this aspirational Pakistani girl making the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week a highly valued platform for us. We recognize PFDC’s efforts to promote the fashion industry and experienced and upcoming talent alike. Sunsilk has been a part of this fantastic journey for 6 consecutive years and continues to shape aspirations, taking contemporary fashion directly to the homes of consumers and encouraging them to script their own stories of success” said Asanga Ranasinghe, VP Home and Personal Care for Unilever Pakistan.

On the concluding day of #PSFW15, the Chairperson of the PFDC Mrs. Sehyr Saigol also made a special announcement on behalf of the Council and its Board Members, where she shared the Council’s plans to establish Pakistan’s first ever craft based Design District, a multi-purpose specialized facility that would assist in developing and enhancing the arts and crafts industries, which are an integral part of Pakistan’s rich cultural legacy. In addition to being a centre for skill improvement and capacity building, the Design District would also house a first of its kind Textile Museum.

The official spokesperson of the PFDC, Sara Shahid of Sublime by Sara also announced the official dates for the Council’s next fashion week, PFDC L’Oréal Paris Bridal Week 2015 which is scheduled to be held from 15th September to 17th September 2015.

Indeed the success of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week continued to prompt private sector associates to grow in their engagement of the platform to launch new marketing campaigns and promotional activities. To this end, the PFDC’s evolving partnership with Sunsilk grew exponentially this year whereby in addition to their title patronage; Sunsilk also took over the coveted PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week red carpet and the Green Room/Backstage, as sponsors. This extension of their support is indeed a manifestation of the brand’s belief in and commitment to the platform. Also in continuation of their support for the platform, Fed Ex – GSP Pakistan Gerry’s International returned to PSFW as the official logistics partner, offering the PFDC a special arrangement for international designer consignments.

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was styled by the creative teams at Nabila’s and NGENTS. Light design, set design, sound engineering, video packaging, choreography and show production from concept to construction was by HSY Events, front stage management by Maheen Kardar Ali, backstage management by Product 021, Sara Shahid of Sublime by Sara as the official spokesperson for the PFDC, logistics and operations by Eleventh Experience and photography by Faisal Farooqui and the team at Dragonfly, Hum TV/Hum Sitaray as the Official Media Partners, CityFM89 as the Official Radio Partners with all media management by Lotus Client Management & Public Relations.

High-Street Fashion Shows

The House of Arsalan Iqbal

The afternoon High-Street Fashion Shows on the final day of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 were opened by leading fashion brand The House of Arsalan Iqbal, who showcased a collection titled ‘Devolution Chic’. Inspired by street art across the world by various artists, European high-street trends and technique of quilting, Arsalan Iqbal garnered personal portfolios of graffitists from myriad urban cityscapes such as London, New York, Tokyo, Barcelona and Cape Town, juxtaposed with some unique in-house created patterns including those of Pac-man, calligraphic flourishes and aqua and tangerine bands and circlets. Based in chiffon, the ensembles were molded into voluminous structured silhouettes including draped tunics, edgy jumpsuits and wide palazzos dovetailed with off-white and ecru charmeuse silk jackets created with a revolutionary quilting process. Along with menswear pieces, the collection also included in-house footwear and jewellery made in collaboration with pioneering Karachi-based street artist SANKI.

Erum Khan

Designer Erum Khan followed next and made her PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week debut with ‘The Untainted Shine’. The collection took its inspiration from the sparkle of twinkling stars, a walk on pearl dew in the morning and the enchanted glow which is produced when “a magic wand” is waved around the body, making it glow in a pearlescent white and exhibiting a jewel themed lustre on the body. With neat and straight structured cuts, Erum had used fabrics such as organza combined with silk, 3D flowers, patch work and antique katdanna in a collection which was based in a white colour palette. Trends highlighted in the collection were high waist skirts to button up pants and sheer long dresses. Acclaimed Pakistani musician Goher Mumtaz and his wife Anam Ahmed walked the ramp as the designer’s celebrity showstoppers.

Chinyere

Following Erum Khan, fashion brand Chinyere showcased its Spring/Summer 2015 High-Street collection ‘Mizaj-e-Shahana’ at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015. An ode to the era of the Mughal royalty and their imperial aesthetic, the collection comprised of modern silhouettes and traditional embellishments with organza skirts paired with cropped tops, angarkha-peplum tops with embellished cigarette pants, sheer knee-length jackets paired with structured digital printed bustier-jumpsuits, diaphanous wrap-around boot-cuts and embellished boxy sleeves with soft A-line silhouettes. Chinyere also showcased ten menswear pieces comprising of waistcoats, jodhpurs, knee-length sherwanis paired with gossamer sheer kurtas. The colours used had been divided into a collection of distinctive Mughalesque pastels and jewel tones. The pastels included the classic marble ivory-on-ivory, the bold black, saffron, gold and ivory. The colour segments also included metallic gold and grey sections, with accents of bronze and black. The jewel tones included jade, emerald, ruby and sapphire.

Hassan Riaz

The concluding High-Street fashion show of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was presented by Hassan Riaz who showcased his ‘Contained Shadows’ collection. Inspired by the diverse facets of the human soul that explore both the dark and light sides of human nature, taking into account yearnings, desires, and anxieties that make us distinctly human, Hassan had based the collection in summer twill, organza and summer denim in shades of blue and white with a gold accent to reflect upon his inspirations. ‘Contained Shadows’ made use of structured and drifting silhouettes, cage crinolines with corsets and bustiers with distinct trends featuring cropped tops, nautical accents, experiments with transparency and patchworks of metal mixed & matched with flowers.

Designer Showcases

Sana Safinaz

PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015’s evening [rêt shows on the fourth and final day was opened by premier designer label Sana Safinaz. Sana Safinaz’s PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week collection was inspired by monochromatic structured looks with pops of color. The collection was based in luxe fabrics such as kattan, silks, fine silk organza and dutches satin in a colour palette majorly based in black and white with strong vibrant pop infusions.
Key trends being highlighted were the oversized T, constructions-clean lines, simplicity of cuts and effective embellishments.

Republic by Omar Farooq

Following Sana Safinaz, acclaimed menswear brand Republic By Omar Farooqshowcased a collection titled ‘Que Sera, Sera!’ (whatever will be, will be!). Omar Farooq had used a variety of luxe fabrics such as suede, linen, chiffon, cotton, cotton silk and wool silk. A collection for all seasons, the ensembles built upon the label’s signature aesthetics while providing a new take on contemporary menswear. Acclaimed media personality Fawad Khan walked the ramp as the brand’s celebrity showstopper.

Syeda Amera

The third Prêt show of the final day of PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015 was presented by designer Syeda Amera who made her ramp debut with ‘The World of Sea’. Inspired by love for the enchanting underwater, the collection was based in premium quality organza, jersey, nets and silks with delicate cuts and embellishments consisting of beads, sequins and feathers to reflect the collection’s aquatic theme. ‘The World of Sea’ featured a palette of aqua marine, scupa blue, powder pink, grey blue, tequila sunrise yellow, orange and lagoon green with trends that employed skirt layering, frills and ruffles and flared pants.

Huma & Amir Adnan

Following Syeda Amera, Huma & Amir Adnan showcased a joint collection for the first time at a fashion exhibition. Both Huma and Amir feel that as a couple they share their lives and draw synergies and their collection ‘Symphony’ was an epitome of how two people can revolve around the same concept in harmony, while maintaining their individual distinction. Showcasing both menswear and women’s wear at PSFW 2015, Huma and Amir had used a mix of fabrics, textures and embellishments with a complex collection of weaves, prints and embroideries in silk, linen, cotton and microfiber. The color palette included midnight blue, emerald green, wet earth, aubergine, ivory, old paper, turmeric, leaf and magenta. Key trends highlighted in the collection were long shirts, double layered shirts, printed vests and jackets, textured pants, colored shoes for men and layers of multi-textured fabrics, tighter silhouette, vests and jackets for women.

Sania Maskatiya

Designer Sania Maskatiya showcased the penultimate Luxury/Prêt collection of the evening at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2015. This S/S ’15, Sania Maskatiya took audiences on a fashion journey to ‘Paristan’ – a place of fairytale whimsy at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week. With a colour palette ranging from the softest shades of daybreak to the deepest hues of nightfall, ‘Paristan’ was a collection of playful, dreamlike prêt ensembles. Featuring luxury fabrics like silk, organza, charmeuse and crepe, the pieces followed the brand’s signature silhouettes, both structured and fluid. Beads and sequins embellished varied hemlines and multiple layering, all set against captivating scenes of mirth and magic. Motifs ranged from the sublime to nonsensical; friendly mice and naughty elves, clocks and teapots, flowering fields and star-filled skies, princesses and ponies.

HSY

Day-4’s finale was presented by acclaimed couturier HSY who showcased a collection titled ‘INK’; a collection inspired by Asia and specifically HSY’s journeys to The Land of the Rising Sun. INK represented the essence of Langkawi, Indonesia, Nagasaki, and Yunnan with natural and indigenous yarns, hand-woven to perfection. The collection featured the traditional dyeing techniques of Shibori from Nagasaki, Batik from Indonesia, and Gara from Sierra Leone infused with mackintosh, saffron, aubergine, eggshell, rosette, indigo and ochre. Created with the scorching sub continental summer in mind, INK channelled versatile hemlines to suit a diversity of younger, older, working men, women and homemakers alike.Read more here:www.marieaustralia.com/long-formal-dresses | www.marieaustralia.com/formal-dresses-brisbane
Cyril Blythe Nov 2012
I followed Delvos down the trail until we could see the mouth of the mine. The life and energy of the surrounding birches and sentential pines came to a still and then died as we left the trees shelter behind and walked closer, closer. The air was cold and dark and damp and smelled of mold and moths. Delvos stepped into the darkness anyways.
“Well, girl, you coming or aren’t you?”
I could see his yellowed tobacco teeth form into a smile as I stepped out of the sun. It was still inside. The canary chirped in its cage.
“This tunnel is just the mouth to over two hundred others exactly like it. Stay close. Last thing I need this month is National Geographic on my *** for losing one of their puppet girls.”
“Delvos, ****. I have two masters degrees.” I pulled my mousey hair up into a tight ponytail. “I’ve experienced far more fatal feats than following a canary in a cave.”
He rolled his eyes. “Spare me.” He trotted off around the corner to the left, whistling some Louis Armstrong song.
“I survived alone in the jungles of Bolivia alone for two months chasing an Azara’s Spinetail. I climbed the tallest mountain in Nepal shooting Satyr Tragopans along the cliff faces. In Peru I…” Suddenly I felt the weight of the darkness. I lost track of his lantern completely. I stopped, my heartbeat picked up, and I tried to remind myself of what I had done in Peru. The mine was quiet and cold. I wiped my clammy, calloused hands on my trail pants and took a depth breath.

In through the nose. Out through the mouth. This is nothing. I followed a Diurnal Peruvian Pygmy-Owl across the gravel tops of the Andes Mountains, no light but the Southern Cross and waning moon above. I am not scared of darkness. I am not scared of darkness.
I stopped to listen. Behind me I could hear the wind cooing at the mouth of the mine.
Taunting? No. Reminding me to go forward. Into the darkness.
I shifted my Nikon camera off my shoulder and raised the viewfinder to my eyes, sliding the lens cap into my vest pocket. This routine motion, by now, had become as fluid as walking. I stared readily through the dark black square until I saw reflections from the little red light on top that blinked, telling me the flash was charged. I snapped my finger down and white light filled the void in front of me. Then heavy dark returned. I blinked my eyes attempting to rid the memories of the flash etched, red, onto my retina. I clicked my short fingernails through buttons until the photo I took filled the camera screen. I learned early on that having short fingernails meant more precise control with the camera buttons. I zoomed in on the picture and scrolled to get my bearings of exactly what lay ahead in the narrow mine passageway. As I scrolled to the right I saw Delvos’ boot poking around the tunnel that forked to the left.
Gottcha.
I packed up the camera, licked my drying lips, and stepped confidently into the darkness.

When I first got the assignment in Vermont I couldn’t have been more frustrated. Mining canaries? Never had I ever ‘chased’ a more mundane bird. Nonetheless, when Jack Reynolds sends you on a shoot you don’t say no, so I packed up my camera bag and hoped on the next plane out of Washington.
“His name is John Delvos.” Jack had said as he handed me the manila case envelope. He smiled, “You’re leaving on Tuesday.”
“Yes sir.”
“Don’t look so smug, Lila. This may not be the most exotic bird you’ve shot but the humanity of this piece has the potential to be a cover story. Get the shots, write the story.”
I opened the envelope and read the assignment details in the comfort of my old pajamas back at my apartment later that night.
John Delvos has lived in rural Vermont his entire life. His family bred the canaries for the miners of the Sheldon Quarry since the early twenties. When “the accident” happened the whole town shut down and the mines never reopened. . There were no canaries in the mines the day the gas killed the miners. The town blamed the Delvos family and ran them into the woods. His mother died in a fire of some sort shortly before Delvos and his father retreated into the Vermont woods. His father built a cabin and once his father died, Delvos continued to breed the birds. He currently ships them to other mining towns across the country. The question of the inhumanity of breeding canaries for the sole purpose of dying in the mines so humans don’t has always been controversial. Find out Delvos’ story and opinions on the matter. Good luck, Lila.
I sighed, accepting my dull assignment and slipped into an apathetic sleep.


After stumbling through the passageway while keeping one hand on the wall to the left, I found the tunnel the picture had revealed Delvos to be luring in. Delvos reappeared behind the crack of his match in a side tunnel not twenty yards in front of me
“Do you understand the darkness now, Ms. Rivers?” He relit the oily lantern and picked back up the canary cage. “Your prestigious masters degrees don’t mean **** down here.”. He turned his back without another word. I followed deeper into the damp darkness.
“Why were there no canaries in the mine on, you know, that day?” The shadows of the lantern flickered against the iron canary cage chained on his hip and the yellow bird hopped inside.
“I was nine, Ms. Rivers. I didn’t understand much at the time.” We turned right into the next tunnel and our shoes crunched on jagged stones. All the stones were black.
“But surely you understand now?”
The canary chirped.

When I first got to Sheldon and began asking about the location of the Delvos’ cabin you would have thought I was asking where the first gate to hell was located. Mothers would smile and say, “Sorry, Miss, I can’t say,” then hurriedly flock their children in the opposite direction. After two hours of polite refusals I gave up. I spent the rest of the first day photographing the town square. It was quaint; old stone barbershops surrounded by oaks and black squirrels, a western-themed whiskey bar, and a few greasy spoon restaurants. I booked a room in the Walking Horse Motel for Wednesday night, determined to get a good night’s sleep and defeat this town’s fear of John Delvos the following day.
My room was a tiny one bed square with no TV. Surprise, surprise. At least I had my camera and computer to entertain myself. I reached into the side of my camera bag, pulled out my Turkish Golds and Macaw-beak yellow BIC, and stepped out onto the dirt in front of my motel door and lit up. The stars above stole all the oxygen surrounding me. They were dancing and smiling above me and I forgot Delvos, Jack, and all of Sheldon except its sky. Puffing away, I stepped farther and farther from my door and deeper into the darkness of Vermont night. The father into the darkness the more dizzying the star’s dancing became.
“Ma’am? Everything okay?”
Startled, I dropped my cigarette on the ground and the ember fell off. “I’m sorry, sir. I was just, um, the stars…” I snuffed out the orange glow in the dirt with my boot and extended my hand, “Lila Rivers, and you are?”
“Ian Benet. I haven’t seen you around here before, Ms. Rivers. Are you new to town?” He traced his fingers over a thick, graying mustache as he stared at me.
“I’m here for work. I’m a bird photographer and journalist for National Geographic. I’m looking for John Delvos but I’m starting to think he’s going to be harder to track than a Magpie Robin.”
Ian smiled awkwardly, shivered, then began to fumble with his thick jacket’s zipper. I looked up at the night sky and watched the stars as they tiptoed their tiny circles in the pregnant silence. Then, they dimmed in the flick of a spark as Ian lit up his wooden pipe. It was a light-colored wood, stained with rich brown tobacco and ash. He passed me his matches, smiling.
“So, Delvos, eh?” He puffed out a cloud of leather smelling smoke toward the stars. “What do you want with that old *******? Don’t tell me National Geographic is interested in the Delvos canaries.”
I lit up another stick and took a drag. “Shocking, right?”
“Actually, it’s about time their story is told.” Benet walked to the wooden bench to our left and patted the seat beside him. I walked over. “The Delvos canaries saved hundreds of Sheldonian lives over the years. But the day a crew went into the mines without one, my father came out of the ground as cold as when we put him back into it in his coffin.”
I sat in silence, unsure what to say. “Mr. Benet, I’m so sorry…”
“Please, just Ian. My father was the last Mr. Benet.”
We sat on the wooden bench, heat leaving our bodies to warm the dead wood beneath our legs. I shivered; the star’s dance suddenly colder and more violent.
“Delvos canaries are martyrs, Ms. Rivers. This whole town indebted to those tiny yellow birds, but nobody cares to remember that anymore.”
“Can you tell me where I can find Mr. Delvos and his, erm, martyrs?” The ember of my second cigarette was close to my pinching fingertips.
“Follow me.” Ian stood up and walked to the edge of the woods in front of us. We crunched the dead pine needles beneath our feet, making me aware of how silent it was. Ian stopped at a large elm and pointed. “See that yellow notch?” he asked. Sure enough, there was a notch cut and dyed yellow at his finger’s end. “If you follow true north from this tree into the woods you’ll find this notch about every fifty yards or so. Follow the yellow and it’ll spit you out onto the Delvos property.”
“Thank you, Ian. I really can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am.
“You don’t have to.” He knocked the ash out of his pipe against the tree. “Just do those birds justice in your article. Remember, martyrs. Tell old Delvos Ian Benet sends his regards.” He turned and walked back to the motel and I stood and watched in silence. It was then I realized I hadn’t heard a single bird since I got to Sheldon. The star’s dance was manic above me as I walked back to my room and shut the door.

The canary’s wings and Delvos stopped. “This is a good place to break our fast. Sit.”
I sat obediently, squirming around until the rocks formed a more comfortable nest around my bony hips. We had left for the mines as the stars were fading in the vermillion Vermont sky that morning and had been walking for what seemed like an eternity. I was definitely ready to eat. He handed me a gallon Ziploc bag from his backpack filled with raisins, nuts, various dried fruits, and a stiff piece of bread. I attacked the food like a raven.
“I was the reason no canaries entered the mines that day, Ms. Rivers.”
Delvos broke a piece of his bread off and wrapped it around a dried piece of apricot, or maybe apple. I was suddenly aware of my every motion and swallowed, loudly. I crinkled into my Ziploc and crunched on the pecans I dug out, waiting.
“Aren’t you going to ask why?”
“I’m not a parrot, Mr. Delvos, I don’t answer expectedly on command. You’ll tell me if you want.” I stuffed a fistful of dried pears into my mouth.
Delvos chuckled and my nerves eased. “You’ve got steel in you, Ms. Rivers. I’ll give you that much.”
I nodded and continued cramming pears in my mouth.
“I was only nine. The canaries were my pets, all of them. I hated when Dad would send them into the mines to die for men I couldn’t give two ***** about. It was my birthday and I asked for an afternoon of freedom with my pets and Dad obliged. I was in the aviary with pocketfuls of sunflower-seeds. Whenever I threw a handful into the air above me, the air came to life with wings slashing yellow brushes and cawing songs of joy. It was the happiest I have ever been, wholly surrounded and protected by my friends. Around twelve thirty that afternoon the Sheriff pulled up, lights ablaze. The blue and red lights stilled my yellow sky to green again and that’s when I heard the shouting. He cuffed my Dad on the hood of the car and Mom was crying and pushing her fists into the sheriff’s chest. I didn’t understand at all. The Sheriff ended up putting Mom in the car too and they all left me in the aviary. I sat there until around four that afternoon before they sent anyone to come get me.”
Delvos took a small bite of his bread and chewed a moment. “No matter how many handfuls of seeds I threw in the air after that, the birds wouldn’t stir. They wouldn’t even sing. I think they knew what was happening.”
I was at a loss for words so and I blurted, “I didn’t see an aviary at your house…”
Delvos laughed. “Someone burnt down the house I was raised in the next week while we were sleeping. Mom died that night. The whole dark was burning with screams and my yellow canaries were orange and hot against the black sky. That’s the only night I’ve seen black canaries and the only night I’ve heard them scream.”
I swallowed some mixed nuts and they rubbed against my dry throat.
“They never caught the person. A week later Dad took the remainder of the birds and we marched into the woods. We worked for months clearing the land and rebuilding our lives. We spent most of the time in silence, except for the canary cries. When the house was finally built and the bird’s little coops were as well, Dad finally talked. The only thing he could say was “Canaries are not the same as a Phoenix, John. Not the same at all.”
We sat in silence and I found myself watching the canary flit about in its cage, still only visible by the lanterns flame. Not fully yellow, I realized, here in the mines but not fully orange either.

When I first walked onto John Delvos’ property on Thursday morning he was scattering feed into the bird coops in the front of his cabin. Everything was made of wood and still wet with the morning’s dew.
“Mr. Delvos?”
He spun around, startled, and walked up to me a little too fast. “Why are you here? Who are you?”
“My name is Lila Rivers, sir, I am a photographer and journalist for National Geographic Magazine and we are going to run an article on your canaries.”
“Not interested.”
“Please, sir, can I ask you just a few quick questions as take a couple pictures of your, erm, martyrs?”
His eyes narrowed and he walked up to me, studying my face with an intense, glowering gaze. He spit a mouthful of dip onto the ground without breaking eye contact. I shifted my camera bag’s weight to the other shoulder.
“Who told you to call them that?”
“I met Ian Benet last night, he told me how important your birds are to this community, sir. He sends his regards.”
Delvos laughed and motioned for me to follow as he turned his back. “You can take pictures but I have to approve which ones you publish. That’s my rule.”
“Sir, it’s really not up to me, you see, my boss, Jack Reynolds, is one of the editors for the magazine and he...”
“Those are my rules, Ms. Rivers.” He turned and picked back up the bucket of seed and began to walk back to the birds. “You want to interview me then we do it in the mine. Be back here at four thirty in the morning.”
“Sir…?”
“Get some sleep, Ms. Rivers. You’ll want to be rested for the mine.” He turned, walked up his wooden stairs, and closed the door to his cabin.
I was left alone in the woods and spent the next hour snapping pictures of the canaries in their cages. I took a couple pictures of his house and the surrounding trees, packed up my camera and trekked back to my motel.

“You finished yet?” Delvos stood up. The mine was dark, quiet, and stagnant. I closed the Ziploc and stuffed the bag, mainly filled with the raisins I had sifted through, into my pocket.
Delvos grunted and the canary flapped in its cage as he stood again and, swinging the lantern, rounded another corner. The path we were on began to take a noticeable ***** downward and the moisture on the walls and air multiplied.  
The lantern flickered against the moist, black stones, sleek and piled in the corners we past. The path stopped ahead at a wall of solid black and brown Earth.
The canary chirped twice.
It smelled of clay and mildew and Delvos said, “Go on, touch it.”
I reached my hand out, camera uselessly hanging like a bat over my shoulder. The rock was cold and hard. It felt dead.
The canary was fluttering its wings in the cage now, chirping every few seconds.
“This is the last tunnel they were digging when the gas under our feet broke free from hell and killed those men.”
Delvos hoisted the lantern above our heads, illuminatin
If Daedalus built us a labyrinth

Of chambers with beds, and smells of mint,

I’d never try to leave or escape,

I’d stay with you, it be our fate.

-

Your enticing scented perfume,

Catches my nostrils as I gaze at you,

You glance back, seductive and robed,

Your shoulders revealed, the rest unknown,

Until a slight twitch adorns the floor,

With the garb you wore before,

Your lingerie lingers there now,

Across your backside and ***** endowed,

Your back is still there turned to me,

Morals become my enemy.

-

I walk slowly, creep behind,

I take your hips and you take mine,

I feel your nails dig in my sides,

Pain is not to be belied,

Turned around now, look at me,

In my eyes, what do you see?

Feel my hand gently stroke

That precious cheek of yours to stoke,

The fire that internally burns,

Inside ourselves, the passion churns,

My hand softly grasps your throat,

Your pupils widen, you are smote,

A short gasp, an inhale of breath,

I adore seeing your heaving chest,

Surprised, aroused, you grab my hair,

We break something beside us,

I don’t care, we don’t care.

-

Your *** in my hands, your legs wrapped around,

I put you on a table, throw you down,

You smile and bite your lip and look up,

Joyous repetitions of “****, oh ****”,

You bite my collar bone and shoulder,

I think “Oh, how I love to explore her”,

Pandora’s Box knows nothing of this,

I feel, as I hold down your hands with clenched fists.

-

To the chamber that promises silken sheets,

You and I alone, who needs “discreet”?

Sensual moans from my Aphrodite,

You call me Ares, and quiver slightly,

We've now become quite volatile,

You feel no need to hide your guile,

You bury my face a midst your chest,

Smiling lightly, pointing to your crest,

I serve you well,

As far as listening can tell,

You happily return the favor,

This moment in my mind, I’ll savor,

A fallen angel is angel nonetheless,

You look up and I must confess,

The sight of it, so great to behold,

That I stand you up, and around, and fold

You across the bedside chair,

Alas, the pleasure doth find you there.

I am yours and you are mine,

Behind our door records no time.

-

When I bend to receive a kiss,

Ah, the touch of your perfect lips,

Your taste, it’s addictive to say the least,

I cannot stop, your tongue can’t cease,

Then you recoil and I silently beg,

You then submit, and tighten your legs,

I kiss your neck, hear a deep breath in my ear,

You have the power of my mind to steer,

Your hands and nails find my back,

And then, in ecstasy, you attack.

What must be hours go by and then,

I feel from inside, your body tightens,

We are both together this moment,

There is a small flood after the levee’s exploded,

You lean back, dragging nails, and scream,

Heavy exhales as if we were breathing steam,

You lay atop, beautiful and breathless,

After all, we are quite reckless,

Feeding on our insatiability,

We lay here kissing awaiting re-ability,

We are lost in each other’s flesh,

And mind, and heart, and we both have fetched

A longing lust that took command,

Without daring reprimand.

-

This is Adam and Eve’s paradise,

Without The Apple, it will suffice,

This night feels as if it will never end,

We take each other again and again.
Danny Valdez Apr 2012
My Mom needed something from the store
So I told her I’d walk up there for her and get it.
We were barely getting by
The two of us.
She was living on a disability check
And I was in between jobs
Again
So these little walks to the store were all I had.
I got her some Epsom salts and was walking back
Had just walked past the hardware store
When a small, sleek, black, BMW pulled up next to me.
To my surprise it was a chick
A big titted redhead with pink sunglasses.
There was something in her eyes
When she peeked below the sunglasses
I saw something in them
that frightened me
A voice inside was screaming at me
Just keep walking
Just keep walking
But like a fool
I ignored it
And bent over the passenger seat
In the convertible that smelled new.
“How big is your ****?”
The lady asked
Her chest just heaving and jiggling
With every breath she took
And every word she spoke.
“What?”
“I said….how big is your ****?”
“Ha ha!”
I took a look around
Expecting to see a hidden camera
Or a film crew in a van across the street.
There was no one
No witnesses.
I leaned back down
“7 inches? Maybe 8? I don’t know lady, I haven’t measured my **** since the 11th grade!”
The redhead took off the sunglasses completely and looked me up and down
Those bright green eyes scanning me
From my worn out Converse to my greasy pompadour on my head.
It seemed like an eternity
I got uncomfortable.
Just standing there
Squirming
While the redheaded fox
Kept inspecting me.
“Okay. Get in. Hurry up.”
I wasn’t even thinking
Just reacting to it all.
I’d always dreamed of this
When I was walking down that
Same old ******* street
The only street that I ever saw
Dreaming of
A beautiful woman in a sports car.
And now here she was.
Here we were
Driving down the street
The breeze blowing in our hair
She made an immediate right turn
Onto a suburban side street.
She parked in front of a house that was up for sale.
Again she took off the sunglasses.
“Let me see it.”
She said, staring at my crotch.
“Whoa, whoa, lady. What’s this all about?”
“My husband and I…..we have certain…..tastes. Things we like, things we enjoy. He’s an older guy, so he likes to watch young guys **** me. I mean, just really give it to me good, make me scream. And of course after your services have been….rendered….you’ll be paid two-thousand dollars. Now do you think you can do that?”
“Uh……I—I think so.”
“Well, I need you to know so. And if you were bullshitting me, if that **** isn’t at least 7 inches, you can get out of the car right ******* now.”
“No it is, it is.”
“Well...”
“Well...you gotta start my engine first—“
Before I could finish my cheesy line
She was in the passenger seat
Climbing on top of me.
“Rip it open” She said looking down.
I did as I was told
And ripped the front of her blouse open
The buttons flying in all directions
Bouncing off the windows and rolling on the dashboard.
Her two, round, fake, **** sprang out of the top
Hitting me in the face
As she rubbed them up and down
And all around.
She kissed me sloppily
And then started in with that biting *******.
She met my lip so hard
It drew blood
acting purely on reflex
I grabbed her by the arms very hard
And pulled her back from me
Staring at her with those crazy, intense, eyes
That I sometimes got when startled.
“Oh…..” She said looking down, at the ******* in my Levi’s.
“Alright. You wanna see the house?” She asked.
I let go of her arms and she rolled off of me,
hopping into the driver’s seat and starting the car up.

She drove all the way to the edge of the city
Where the Red Mountains in the east
Meets the long winding road out of town
And into the desert.
It was a large ranch style mansion
Decorated with cowboy themed ****.
The redhead parked the sports car in
A massive garage
Filled with dozen of rare and expensive automobiles .
She told me to leave my plastic grocery bag of Epsom salts
In the car
She said I could get it later, when we were done.
I followed her to an elevator at the back of the garage.
We took it all the way down to the very bottom.
Stepping out of the elevator
I found myself in a large expansive grey room.
The floors were concrete
But they were shiny and slick
Reminded me of the floor in the meat department
At the job I had just lost.
The room had a few beds in it
Some custom built sets were erected all over the room
An office, a jail cell, a medieval dungeon, a medical examination room,
There were a lot these little sets built all over
In the back of the room
The corners
Were pitch black and covered in darkness.
I wondered what they had over there.
“So what do we do?” I asked, fidgeting in my pants
thumbing my switchblade stiletto in my right front pocket.
“We have to wait for my husband to come down. I just texted him.”
“Oh okay.”
“You should take your clothes off and put this on.”
The redhead said, taking a hospital gown from a hanger
Next to the medical examination set.
“….put that on and I’m gonna go get into character.”
She said, walking behind a white privacy screen
The old kind, like they used to have in doctor’s offices.
I undressed myself and got into the hospital gown.
I can’t say what it was exactly
But I still had that real nervous feeling
I couldn’t ignore it
So for some reason
I hid my switchblade on me.
Put it in the waistband of my underwear.
And that made me feel a little bit safer
This whole thing was beyond belief
I was never this lucky
Something was rotten in Denmark
I could feel it in my bones.
But there was no backing out now
I was riding this all the way
No choice.
I took a seat on the medical examination table
The thin paper crunching loudly beneath my ***
They had it down to the finest detail.
Even the little slots with the Highlights magazines.
I watched the black & white clock on the wall
And it took them 28 minutes to finally come out
The two of them together.
The tall, beautiful, redhead and the rich old man.
But they matched in an odd way
His face was nearly the same color as her hair.
A red faced, big nosed, drinker,
I’ve seen that face a thousand times
Ain’t no mistakin’ it.
He had white hair all spiked up
Like how young people have it
And he wore nothing but gold
All over himself.
Gold necklace, full fists of rings, bracelets,
I couldn’t ******* believe it
I tried my best not to laugh
I was snorting to myself
The ******* had a Mercedes medallion around his neck
Like Flavor Flav or something, it was that flamboyant.
But the guy was like 70 years old
None of it made any ******* sense.
The florescent lighting above
it did this thing where
his eyes were so sunken in
that it created these two black shadows
where his eyes should’ve been
just pitch black
endlessly hollow and empty
with a red face.
Satan himself, covered in gold and diamonds.

“What’s up?” He said, extending his well tanned, leathery claw.
“Hey.”
“Alright, so let’s not waste any time. Let’s get down to business? Huh?”
“Yeah, sure.” I said.
“**** yeah! Let’s ****! You wanna **** him baby?”
”Why do you think I got him? Hell, I almost ****** him on the way home.”
“Did you now?” He said, looking over at me with this look
I couldn’t tell if it was pleasure or rage.
“Alright, alright then.”
The chick started to walk up the three little steps
Of the examination table
Her feet were pale as snow and her toes
Shiny and red like a the paint job on a brand new Cadillac in 1956
I remember that.
She climbed on top of me
Started kissing me and
Rubbing my ****
Under the examination gown.
From the corner of my eye
I saw the husband moving over to the camera
Which was setup a few feet away
Looked to be hi-def ****.
She bit my lip again
Really ******* hard
Pulled a big chunk of skin off
“*******!” I yelled.
“What?” The husband shouted back.
“He hates it when I bite him!” The redhead shouted with a smile
blood on her lips, from mine.
“Well, don’t take any **** son! If she does that again, you just give her a good smack!”
“What?”
“Yeah, don’t be timid boy! This ain’t ******’ Sunday school! We’re ******’, here!”
She did it again
And I wasn’t even thinking of what that old coot was yelling about
I just hit her on principle.
A good open handed smack across the cheek.
“There ya ******’ go! That’s what I’m talkin’ about.”
The old man threw his hands in the air
And started doing this little dance it was the weirdest ****
I had ever seen.
The redhead grabbed my face with her hands
Taking my eyes off the old man
Who was now singing some song
And shuffling around the floor.
She looked right into my eyes
Those mint colored eyes
She whispered to me
But I read her lips
“I’m sorry.”
And she pulled me in and kissed me
Put my hands to her *******
And proceeded to kiss me
Like a long lost love
Not some guy off the street.
And that’s the last thing I remember.
Besides the ***** of the needle in my neck.
Just her red hair hanging in my face
The florescent light shining through.
When I came to
I was standing upright
But I was strapped to a table
My arms
My legs
My head
Every part of me strapped down
Tight.
I wasn’t going anywhere
This was that bad feeling I got when she looked at me.
This was where it ended. Right now.
They were both standing there
Staring at me
Smiling with drinks in their hands
The cameras rolling
They had multiple cameras setup
Some 80’s techno playing from an iPod dock.
“What? What are you gonna do?” I slurred, it was hard to talk.
“I know, I’m sorry. Okay, look. We both agree that you probably are owed an explanation, I mean….these being your last moments and all…”
The redhead interrupted, looking at me, like she had before
There was love in her eyes
“Honey…remember what I said? About how there are things that we like and things that we enjoy? I’m sorry, but this is what we like.”
“*****?” I managed to choke out,
just the sound of the words chilled my ******* blood.
“Yeah. Hey…son, let me tell ya…we’re actually saving you a whole lot of heartache and disappointment. You weren’t gonna go anywhere, you weren’t going to accomplish anything. You’d work the same **** jobs, bouncing from one to the other, until you finally died of either ***** or drugs.”
“It’s for the best, sweetie.” The redhead said.
And I’d love to tell you that
They left the room for a few minutes
And I was able to free my hand
Taking the switchblade
From my underwear
Cutting myself free
Killing them both
And cleaning out their safe’s cash and diamonds.
But this was no movie.
Well not the kind with a happy ending anyway.
That’s when she walked over to the table
And grabbed the knife.
The song on the iPod changed
And I instantly recognized it.
It was the song.
I never could explain why
But as a boy
This song would come on the radio
This 80’s electro song
And it always scared the **** out of me
Turned my stomach
I never knew why
But now it all made sense.
That song would be the last thing I ever heard.
With the cameras rolling
The redhead gave me one more kiss.
I closed my eyes and pretended.
I pretended that she was a girl that loved me
That she was kissing me goodnight
Sending me off with a smile.
I just kept my eyes closed
Squeezing them tight
And I didn’t even feel the knife
When she slit my throat right there
In that slick, shiny, grey basement.
It didn’t hurt
I didn’t feel any pain.
Just warmth.
The blood flowing down the front of my neck and chest
pure warmth sliding down me
And I started to get light headed
Everything getting dark
Very quickly.
I could hear my heartbeat
In sync with a high-pitched ringing in my ears.
The last thing I saw
Was the redhead standing there
Luckily the husband had his head behind the camera
So I didn’t have his scary face as the last thing I ever saw.
No
It was the redhead
And those mint green eyes.
They never found my body.
The couple put me through a wood chipper
And fed my scraps to their dogs
After slicing off my biceps for dinner that night.
They went on doing this for years
Picking up guys and girls from the streets
who were down on their luck
And wouldn’t be high profile missing persons.
They acquired hundreds of DVD’s
Selling these ***** films
To their elite and powerful
Friends in high places.
But they justified it all.
Surely I wouldn’t be missed.
I didn’t have a mother
Like they had a mother
I didn’t laugh and love
Like they did
I was expendable
Disposable
Use once and discard.
The rich eating the poor
Blood meal for their insatiable & gruesome appetites.
It’s okay though.
I’m not mad or anything now.
It’s just blackness
A dreamless sleep
I don’t even know how I’m telling you this
But the worst part
The thing I still think about the most
Is my mother.
And what she must of thought
When her only son
Went to the store for her
Epsom salts
And just never came back.
AmberLynne Jul 2015
I show the world my flowers,
daisies flowing from my fingertips,
smiling with the brightness of tulips,
and leaving a trail of poppy footprints
with each step I take.

I present this spring-themed Monet masterpiece,
careful to conceal the chaotic overcrowding
pushing, building pressure beneath the surface.
This rootbound torture belies the floral illusion,
and if you peer closely at the pretty pastels,
you'll see they're nothing more than
brush strokes and broken hopes.
6.5.2015
Nat Lipstadt Aug 2013
The Seven - The Mashup


In memory of my mother who passed away recently, I wrote, or intended to write seven (only six were actually done) new poems themed about her, her passing and some perspective on life and death.  All were read and I am deeply appreciative.  I have consolidated them all here, in order, though not necessarily the order in which they were written. But the order does matter, as it reflects the change in my mood with each passing day.   Perhaps I will write the seventh someday, but not now, not soon.

Thank you all so much for incredibly kind words of sympathy. I am not a dweller, so I set myself a goal to complete this vow, this task, in a week to correspond to the seven days of mourning the immediate family observes after the burial (the shiva, shiva meaning 7).  For seven days, the bereaved family "sits shiva," sitting on low, uncomfortable stools and the comforters come to share their grief, praise the deceased, from mourning till late at night


#1 Shiva

I am confused - what day is it?
Windows tell day or night, a necessary but a condition insufficient.
The days have no distinguishing marks, a video stuck on
Repeat - a single track of recollected tales, prayers add a mild seasoning.

Though brief is this week of pre-sentencing hearings,
If one cannot dice the time into portions,
Then, there can be no pardon,
No early release date, from Phase One.

Rinse grief. Repeat. Seven cycles.
Apply stain-stick at the intersection of
Bloodied hurts and dimming memories,
Strangers secreting, spilling on you secrets unwanted.

This play, saw it many decades ago,
Before there was poetry, children.
A young man of twenty one,
Very afraid, silently, of the newest unknown,
His father, cancer won.

I hated it then. Now experienced, I hate it more.
This semi-catharsis, a tapestry tale wove of faded pasts
Twisting an heirloom blade into an old wound,
the original cast, a new revival, playwright, regrettably, deceased...

First time at bat, hid in a small room, away from this tradition.
Beating my head against a wall privately,
That being my preferred manner of mourning,
Not this Broadway show, twice a day, seven days.

Rituals well intentioned, a time tested method,
nonetheless, jail time for me, a/k/a, the boy, the brother.
Familiarity comforts some. Me? A prison uniform.
I write my own poems, I am not a Borg collective.

Cast as Son, my obligations specific, aged.
My Hamlet doublet, cut/torn, messaging my somber status,
The cuts deepest, invisible, but all see this child
Drowning in eye pools that continuously self-replenish.

I'll do the time, this show the longest running ever,
Did forty years as son-shadow of a father-man,
Tacked another concurrent sentence for his woman,
End Date: Indeterminate...

The low stools will reappear, seven days for me,
Yet my job as poet not fully done, until this be read!
Leave 'em laughing o'er this Official Release from the obligatory,
Read, sit but once, read this poem, this script, this story, and be freed.

#2 Hover^

My Children:

Ancestral homes oft possess,
a unique scent, product of an atomizer, a memorizer

Musty time, the odor of
faded and shadow,
hollow, yet hallowed.

Somewhere along the road,
a residence transforms from home to
shrine-storage unit-hospital room-tomb-records depository.

Dust, expired perfumes,
the sweet odor of crumbling, yellowing books, disinfectant,
stale medicine chests, years of furniture polish, sabbath candles.

It is my smell -
the parfumerie of my history, a customized blend,
a commissioned work in 1964, entitled, more accurately, emitted,
"Her-Story."

Photographs, memories, and paper scraps
my very own Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Yet the most potent firing pin for historical retrieval,
the molecules of scent.

Soon all will be dismantled, discarded,
just plain dis'ed.

Confused and disenchanted,
my departure orderly but, in a disordered fashion.
unable to seed one last kiss upon your forehead,
nonetheless, surreptitiously enter your neurons
though my entity, away, across the miles-wide Hudson River.

For three days, I will hover invisible,
implanting myself once more,
slapping your mucous membranes,
transversing this pathway, an additive to your cells, nuclei,
where my markers always reside.

Adding one more ingredient to your inner vision,
strengthening the formless structure, my altered state.
This odor, keep close, fresh, no becoming musty too, my scent,
the last of your senses knowing me, a true keepsake.

Hold me close and hold me fast.
This one last magic spell I cast.
This one last magic smell I set fast.
You cannot hold it, but it will cradle you.
You cannot see or touch it, but when contact comes,
You will see me, hold me, as in the days of your youth,
When you loved me best,
And I, you.

^According to the Talmud, the soul hovers over the body for three days after death.  The human soul is somewhat lost and confused between death and before burial, and it stays in the general vicinity of the body, until the body is interred.


#3 Orphan

The funeral will commence at 11:30 am.
Gives me one last review time before the
Final Exam.

Panicked, I discover a whole new chapter
for which I am wholly unprepared,
though its inevitable presence was
assuredly knowable long in advance.

Orphan

It doesn't fit, occur, imagery is of a young child to
soon abandoned, not a late-in-life curmudgeonly poet-boy,
who has been multi-times reincarnated.

I add this title to my list
of proper ways to address me,
titles earned by dint of hard work,
or just unlucky luck.

This new status, orphanhood,
bequeaths no special privileges,
other than, a semi-official
societal permission slip
to feel bereft, lost, and compose poetry.

Know a real orphan, from early, early on,
has never recovered and
never will for it is just impossible.
Just impossible.

So whom am I to make light of
my undesired, unrequested new degree?

I accept it and to my surprise,
It hurts.

# 4 Judgement Day

After you put in some time on this planet,
You kinda know what the world thinks
About you, your rep, what they don't say to your face,

Sure, thingies, time and incidence and circumstance
Can sometimes cause makeovers external,
But each of us know the quality of ourselves,
Self-certification, you can out your internal self,
Better than anybody else.

So I inquire of myself, about myself,
what will you be remembered for, if at all?

Why do I ask, today, now?
Do we not ask ourselves this
On the low down, subconsciously everyday?

Is this a poem?
Most assuredly...
And a trial.
You, the judge the jury and the prosecutor,
The defender, if u can, if u will.

For seven days my mother was adjudged,
Family, friends, hers, her children's,
Almost an 80 years of live, in color, HD, looking back video,
Tales told, memories dug up, old photos explicated,
Who what when where of the details of one women's voyages,
Creations.

I cannot, I will not, do the details here.
Suffice, acts of kindness, faith in people,
Feminist in a strange land, a chance taker,
Gifts of memories, streaming of adoration,
Many strangers are witnesses to me,
This trial a runaway train.

I am outed.  There will be no such verdict for me.
I am outed.  There will be no trial needed, just a
Summary judgement delivered.

Out yourself.
What will you be remembered for, if at all?


#5 Summer Girls In Their Summer Clothes

Oh yes!

The streets of Manhattan, jewel dusted,
Summer girls in their  summer clothes,
Bedeck the streets and make men say, Thank You!
To their creator.

Little black dresses, previously immortalized^,
Seasoning and sauces, halter tops and jeans cutoff,
Give thanks for the tanks, revel in the revelations,
For God created man and women in his/her teasingly bare image.

Yo! Dude!  This is number 5 in the series,
Of sad and somber, re dad and mother, ***?
Have you lost perspective, not read the directive,
You're in mourning, time to be introspective,
Not dis-respective!

My mother was a beautiful women.
Till the day she died.
Yes, physically beautiful at 98.

She, was a poem.
For her exterior was suffused, burnished,
By the spirit residing within her body

I ask myself, why not judge a book by its cover?
Her cover was exquisite, but what gave her a glow,
A radiance, was her modesty, her love of humanity.

What's under our cover?

^ Nat Lipstadt · May 30
The Little Black Dress (and its magic prowess!)

*#6 & 7 Live like you're dying

Perhaps you know the lyric, the song?

Live like your dying.
Dying caught my ear, my eye, can't imagine why.
Con-Textual emendation, Natalino style.

Live like your writing.

Yes, that makes sense...
Embrace with passion each new session
Charge every second stanza with ruminating rhythms,
Cut the wires to the air traffic control sensory tower, go solo,
Pulse each word, beat all into a plowshare, even the anger,
Even the hate, dressed to ****, in words, forgivable...

Grant the mundane, the insane, even the pain of tragedy,
You refuse so hardily to glorify, grant it and
Record it all - a moment,
A royal audience with all
Your writing parts.

No fancy footing, keep it simple.
No jesters in rain puddles,
Let images of clouds of sand
Born and perish  in other's eyes and sighs, let verbal games bedevil other
Wooden puppet princes drinking fairy ales.

Huh?

Write clean and clear,
Let the sheerest wonderment of a new combination,
Be the titillation of the tongue's alliteration,
No head scratching at oblique verbal gestation,
Let words clear speak, each letter a speck,
That gives and grants clarification, sensational.

You, afternoon quenching Coronas, white T shirts,
Sun glazes and later, a summer eve's Sancerre,
Wave gazing on the reality of rusted beach chairs,
Babies sandy naked, washed in waves of Chardonnay,
The traffic-filled word-way highways and bay ways,
Exiting at the Poet's Nook, for exegesis & retrieval.

Write of:
Body shakes and juices, skin-staining tongues,
Taking her, afternoon, unexpectedly, her noises your derring-do!
Broken tear ducts, the Off switch, so busted, write about
Real stuff.

Write not in fear of dying
Angels delivering bad news in vacuum tubes,
Write joyous, psalms of loving life,
Live like your writing,
Write like your living,
So you may die well.
I once caught a gaze that you deemed to spare me,
Your eyes were Andromeda, your hands adored me,
I believe you fell for my sardonic wit and charm,
And knowing my heart would do you no harm.
I was lead to your chamber and then,
It was as if I'd entered Heaven.
-
I smelled the rain from outside your window,
The petrichor and your graceful perfume,
Drunk with lust I stepped forward,
Hoping you were ready to be adored.
You stopped me and sat me down
On a cushion, then kissed my crown,
Then you backpaced with a viscious smile,
And danced for me and all the while,
I couldn't resist you, I didn't try,
If I layed you down, I wouldnt let you just lie.
-
Twisting to your intoxicating tune,
I couldn't but stare and watch you move,
Piece by piece, you shed your coverings,
And second by second, plucked at my heartstrings.
You stalked forward, my heartrythm cracked,
Sitting in my lap now, hands on my back,
It was so vivid, so real, so adorabley twisted,
The creatures in us, to feel, to visit.
-
Your scented bodice enticed me still,
Your lips were parted, nostrils flared as well,
Your eyebrows were arched and quite intrigued,
Your eyes showed me everything you wanted to see.
Avast, alas, a glimpse of the past
You move my hands to your chest and as
I grasp gently your hands go down,
They reach for what you need endowed,
Your fingers then trace the ink marks on my chest,
And then lay on my left side to feel beating breast,
Eyes, they're alive, they cast aside,
You then embark upon a wild ride,
My shirt you lift, my belt undone,
You bite my neck for the sake of fun,
I caress your ribs, your perfect skin,
I am the epitome of sin.
-
You turn around and tease me now,
Back arched and leaned against my chest, and how
You move so delicately and with all vehemence,
I want to know your passionate violence.
-
"To bed then my dear",
I hear you say,
"My darling, it would then make my day",
Your hand on my chest, mine around your neck,
You mount atop and in all bedecked,
In sulfurous longing, and hiding a biting lip,
You take me for a sensuous trip.
Arise, dear goddess, I know not this love,
It's new to me and all above,
Every ****** a moan,
And silence from  I,
I try so hard to please,
I love your breath and rolling eyes.
Faster rotations and deeper depths,
And then you seek to give punishment,
To a crawl you stop, slow and so shallow,
You are the siren that shall be hallowed,
Intensity and pleasurable frustrations,
But with a coy smile you spare me lustful aggrevations,
You return so slowly to increased mach,
In ecstasy, my thoughts all to you flock,
Nothing appeals like the words you speak,
Amidst a room so vastly bleak,
In my ear you gently ******,
The thoughts become real with no protest,
My, oh my, the night goes by,
And time lost is gained with you and I,
Never and forever hold no ground here,
I make you quake, I want to hear,
Hear the longings within yourself,
As I unleash all of your hells,
Faster and harder it comes to fruition,
Taking eachother until submission.
I was dreamin' last night real well,
of kush that seemed quite swell.
Sadly, when my eyes did open,
my dream was then broken,
because my herb was not the smell.

The smell was poo.
I **** myself.
I need an adult.
CAL  Dec 2018
sleep lion boy
CAL Dec 2018
i often wonder why it is i can’t dream
i can sleep just fine
but i’m always tired
i sleep pitch black
like a smoker’s lungs or like the rift
my mind blank and open, empty
dead asleep
dead still, awake
tired and fatigued
unconscious with open eyes
i hear little monsters in my head
chanting
“sleep, sleep lion boy”
their unholy mother sings
“rest up, lion blood”
and they stop as soon as i close my eyes
as soon as i pass into that void
i cross a line into the abyss
i can no longer think
do i even breathe
sleep now lion-hearted child
i want to dream
i want your pixie themed, technicolor movie theater dreams
i don’t miss my rusted monochrome nighterrors
i just want back those memories i never had
blazing beaches, my arms tanned and strong
but all i know is my body pale and sick
all i know is i’m awake
and i don’t think i want to be
sorry i havent posted for awhile, got busy then school let out for break

— The End —