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Design by Allane Sinclair

TWELVE picks up where Constant Muses ends; this is the yearlong journey of my grief and healing expressed in poems and prose. While most pieces involve my mom directly, some are just byproducts of melancholy. But dark as my days have been, there is one who keeps me tethered to the light—you will know her influence in certain pieces; she reminds me to breathe on my worst days. And so I keep on digging into the pit of me—I know my truths deserve to be heard.

In TWELVE, you’ll feel the mourning of a daughter, the love of a mother, and the highs, lows, and plateaus that make the healing process an intricate one. Above all, you’ll feel the steel of a woman determined to hold on to life. To quote The Crow, one of my favorite films:

“It can’t rain all the time.”

 

Peace,

Kindra M. Austin, TWELVE

 

 

EIGHT

Hearts Bled

3 January, 2016—Sunday

4:30 a.m.

Decimation was nigh. Two hearts bled. What a pitiful sight. Imagine parallel trails of iron scented crimson staining the flooring as the lovers navigated the airport terminal, hand gripping hand.

Rowena mutely rehearsed a sendoff while fighting back the acid rising in her esophagus. Lucas blinked, and bit back tears, chewing open his bottom lip. The airport was practically a ghost town, and the calmness only added to their feelings of desolation.

At the top of the escalator, Lucas freed his hand from Rowena’s, and placed it at the small of her back, guiding her to a vacant bench. There they sat, looking at the weekend pictures Lucas had snapped with his mobile phone. Rowena felt a pang in her chest because she hadn’t bothered to take any pictures—she couldn’t have evidence for Adrian to find, of course.

“I like this one, here, of you in my shades. They suit your face.” Then Lucas placed the sunglasses in Rowena’s lap. “They do look better on you, baby.”

Rowena puckered her lips, and leaned in for a kiss. “Thank you. Now I need to give you something.”

“Oh, I have something,” he smirked. “I’d taken it upon myself to pack your pink panties into my luggage. I’ll not wash them. Ever. I’ll sleep with them under my pillow.” And they both laughed. The raucous turned the few sleepy heads.

“Lucas, I want you to know that we’re in this thing together. I am absolutely in love with you. I want you. Remember what I told you. I require you.”

“Do you? Really? Because I’m in too deep, Lady. Please don’t let me leave you thinking we have a future together if we don’t.”

“I’ll prove it to you.”

“Damn the gods! I don’t wanna go home without you.” His mouth squirmed in pain.

They held one another and cried until time tore them apart. One last kiss; the dive was bottomless and brief. It was as though she’d blinked, and found herself alone. Her flame flickered through security, dejected. The further away he moved, the dimmer he grew. Rowena watched him until he was no more, totally snuffed.

*

Concrete feet carried her as she wept all the way to the parking garage. She unlocked her car and opened the driver’s side door. The scent of his cologne, spiced citrus, clung to the interior. Lucas had made Rowena promise not to drive until she’d stopped crying. But she was never going to stop, so she slid in behind the wheel, and jabbed her key into the ignition switch.

I should have stopped him. I should have…

6 a.m.

Take off. Lucas watched from his reclined window seat as everything below abandoned all detail, lost beneath unforgiving dumpling clouds.

A layover at Dulles International afforded him the opportunity to catch a nap at a Holiday Inn. But Lucas couldn’t help but notice the fine looking bar off the lobby, so he spent four of his six free hours imbibing on bourbon, neat. The bartender pitied Lucas, and slipped him a few tumblers now and again, on the house.

“What’s your lady’s name?” the bartender asked. Nice fellow.

“Rowena Fanning.” Lucas Davies slugged back the last of his drink. “I’m working on correcting her surname.”

*

“Rowena Davies.” She said the name aloud, speaking over the radio volume as she drove north. The airport was miles away. “Preach, Janis, preach.”

Little Girl Blue was a song best heard in a car speeding toward Hell, and with an aching heart. Rowena hit repeat, and increased the volume. “Tell me, Janis. How the fuck did things end up this way?”

Yes. How does a woman find herself naked and drunk, holed up in a shoddy motel room with a sensitive Englishman?

Easily enough.

*

Rowena was mostly unhappy with her home life, married to a man she’d long stopped loving when she and Lucas first met online. No one in her real life circle knew of this Lucas, or the mutual friend through whom these two fell into a chasm of desperate love.

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In eighteen days, I release my third book, a novella titled, For You, Rowena. I’m honored to announce that Allane Sinclair has yet again created a cover that encompasses a universe I’ve imagined and put to paper. I couldn’t ask for a better collaborator than Allane. As always, I hope my words serve justice to the emotions that scream from her artwork. Allane Sinclair is the real deal, folks. She pours every bit of her soul into her work, and it shows.

For You, Rowena, at its core, is about self-preservation, true love, and the road a person might travel to claim that love as their own, despite the obstacles; it’s about abusive relationships, self-exploration, redemption, and revenge.

For You, Rowena is not written in the narrative style of Magpie in August. Though two different animals, I hope that those who’ve read Magpie will recognize both the strengths and vulnerabilities I’ve instilled into the main women characters of Rowena.

For You, Rowena is scheduled for release on 31 August, 2018 in paperback and Kindle format via Amazon.  Pre-sale to be announced.

 

 

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Herald Saw Her Ending  

11 June, 2017—Saturday

Herald was lounging in the grand bay window that overlooked the flower garden when the end came calling. Curled up on the yellow seat cushions amongst a few magazines, he’d been surveying the backyard through drowsy eyes. He was a keen hunter once, ages ago in his youth. Still, olden as he’d grown, Herald could sometimes sense a warm-blooded body stirring someplace it oughtn’t be, or catch the glimpse of something flitting, and his heart would beat with familiar eagerness.

On this day, it was a peculiar scent drifting into the kitchen that perked his attention; he squinted in aversion, and noticed the glint of sunbeams bouncing off serrated steel. Herald maneuvered his arthritic body into a crouch, and stared wildly through the window screen. The woman he loved was outside in the garden barely three feet away from him, and she smelled like the earth she’d been digging. Down upon her hands and knees, she was overshadowed by someone Herald had not long forgotten.

He couldn’t comprehend what it was that he was watching; his woman and the caller struggled against one another for just a moment. Then the tang of her escaping blood filled Herald’s nostrils, provoking a rumble that emerged from the pit of his chest. His growling went unnoticed, and all was still in the garden for an immeasurable space of time. He remained in the window seat, round-eyed, and vibrating with tension. When at last the backyard   darkened, and the bats began to fly, the killer rose up from the rose bed, and kicked the face that had been made silent. Herald cussed through the window screen like a sentry willing to defend his castle. But when the sound of frenetic footfall entered the house, grey Herald fled from the window seat, and took refuge inside a kitchen cupboard—the one that stored his food.

Click, clack! Click, clack! Click, clack! Herald recognized the sound. Click, clack! Click, clack!

“I can never unknow you,” the intruder mocked.

Those hollow words were the last human noises that Herald would hear for two desolate days. And then, the screaming would begin.

© Kindra M. Austin

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I’ll never forget the sight of you, dead in the garden; I couldn’t look away from your body. The blood, and the bugs crawling all over you. The blackbirds eating you up. My only love, carrion. You were the one person on this earth who knew where I lived and breathed. What am I supposed to do without you?

Never have I ever believed in Heaven, but just now, I’m wishing Heaven were real, if only to know the memories of our life together don’t belong to me alone.

But does an unbound soul even keep memories? Silly to believe so, isn’t it?

I remember our first date—a picnic out at the gravel pits. It was my sixteenth birthday. You kissed me at sunset with sticky lips underneath the pink June sky—my first French kiss. Your tongue tasted like golden wine coolers and cheap menthol cigarettes. You kissed me, and it was the beginning of everything.

© Kindra M. Austin

Sometimes I imagine myself not plummeting, but falling slowly, spiraling uncontrolled into the black; the nonentity is dizzying and cold like outer space, unsympathetic.

 

So Dad opened the door to the dark January night. The sky was black as pitch and cloudless, the stars brilliant, perfect white dots. He picked up his suitcase, and he said nothing as he crossed the threshold, shutting the door gently behind him. Back then, Dad looked exactly like the Renaissance era’s personification of Jesus Christ.

 

I feel sorry for her because she doesn’t know. The last time she saw our house, she was watching it grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. But I have driven by nearly every Sunday afternoon since Mom and I moved away, and I have watched it decompose.

Our old house is a corpse. Maybe I should burn it down and dump its ashes in the lake.

 

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© Kindra M. Austin/cover design by Allane Sinclair

Available on Amazon  and Amazon UK.

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Just another day
just another town
bullet perforated backpacks
spilling loose-leaf lined paper, textbooks
onto blood stained sidewalks
helicopters hovering
to give us the birds eye view
I tried to avert my eyes
out of respect for the dead
the injured
but I could not look away
Christine Ray

Even though I should
Because I am ashamed
At the bullets that rain
At the bullet point pain
Etched in their faces, rivulets in their eyes
They were just children, stolen from their time
Not forgotten in these lines
But to their parents and loved ones
It’s a void they’ll never fill, and it shouldn’t
Lives shredded and ruined
17 times we’ve gotten the chance to do better
and for the 18th, we blew it
Just like those children who looked at their killer

Their killer is not Nikolas

The Killer is you
Devereaux Frazier

Seventeen blossoms
seventeen blinks of an eye
seventeen bullets in the body of spring
and those left behind
food to flashback phobias
memory outbursts
numbing
Spring won’t be coming
in a town far away
in a country across the sea
right next to me
Basilike Pappa

Running
Running for class president
Running for the Varsity Football Team
Running to get in line for a movie they can’t wait to see
Running to embrace someone they love
Running and laughing with siblings or friends
Running to get to the dance floor before their favorite song ends
Running for exercise
Running for fun
They should never be running from the thunder of a gun
We’re destroying our future for profit and gain
While they run for their lives
And we’re left with questions and pain
Eric Syrdal

Look away, little bird.
The sky has adjourned, rejecting your flight path
well into wrath.
hell hath no fury like the anger turned apathy, semi-automatic rhapsody that plays on
the overhead speaker that once freed us
from maths.

It doesn’t add up, the physics, social studies, introduction to business, life and
death 101.

Nothing could prepare us for the words we don’t have.
Nicholas Gagnier

Lives swung into darkness
and voices numbed
Eyes losing hope
and
Blood on the hands, soul
screams and tears everywhere

Deafening silence of the death
and roaring sound of the violence
life stripped of its happiness
and tears losing the feeling

Yet again, My heart is hopeful
Lips in unison with the prayers
Trying to calm my self down
Thinking It won’t happen again

But deep down inside
I know we all are living in denial.
Megha Sood

Spare me your
thoughts and prayers.
Spare me your
people-kill-people babble.
Seventeen more names
added to a statistic
that will never be used.
So, by all means,
let’s keep sending
millions of dollars a year
to powerful people
in exchange for turning
a blind eye.
Proving over and over again
that dollars mean more
than lives.
Sarah Doughty

Seventeen more reasons we grieve.
Seventeen more reasons we’re
broken as a nation.
Seventeen more reasons we must
rise up
a giant against apathy, and
negligence—
willful ignorance.
Destroy the dissidence.
End the agenda of greed.

Our freedoms are not free—
seventeen more innocent souls sacrificed.
Kindra M. Austin

True horror has unfolded,
We watch on glowing screens of disbelief.
With the voices of innocents ringing in our ears,
Fingers swipe it all away.
As others moved on with their day,
I could not look away.

Grief, pain, disbelief,
All right there, before our eyes.
Yet one headline replaces the next,
That gut wrenching sadness suddenly replaced.
As the topic changes to something else,
I could not look away.

Where is our humanity,
I ask as society moves on from this butchered elephant in the room.
Can’t we just stop and think,
Acknowledge the death, the suffering, the wrongness.
Another day will come and go, setting on our community,
We cannot look away.

Doomed to repeat this dreadful fate,
We need to choose to change.
Insanity is as insanity always does,
As we continue to place ammunition with malignant intent.
What can I do, the individual, the lone soul, this:
I will not look away.
Michael Erickson

We
Only
Have ourselves
To blame for this
Again and again
An unsolved tragedy
We must hold ourselves to task
For every death. Every child
Like spent shells fallen to the ground
Souls adrift to haunt those who do not act –
Who do not act again and again and again
I cannot look away again, again, again
Again
Again
Again
Again
Again, again, again, again, I cannot look away, not again.
Stephen Fuller

I cannot look away
From the train wreck shit show
This country has become,
Where cash in a senator’s pocket
Outweighs the blood of our children,
Where losing your ‘right’ to own an assault rifle
Is more an abomination
Than Children being murdered in school
Than human beings dying at a concert in Vegas
Than parents burying their babies.
The blood on your hands will not wash away.
I’m with you in Parkland!
Where kids call presidents out on their bullshit.
I’m with you in Parkland!
Where they won’t let hypocrites hide.
I’m with you in Parkland!
Where they call BS on the lies.

I’m with you in Parkland!
John W. Leys

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