This piece was submitted by Pejk Malinovski as part of the 2014 PEN World Voices Online Anthology.

Todd Colby’s event: Translation Slam

Monsoonal Surge

One thing is certain: we’ll always have our fears.
Fear of friends, of monsoonal surges, of hidden clauses
in contracts and, oh, I won’t bore you with my
fears; I’m sure your arms are full of them.
Then it occurs to me: The night is fast approaching,
an almost liquid darkness seeps in over the highway
and invades the room I’m in, until electric light
simmers on the bright orange pillow, and a certain
solemn pall covers the evening enough to feel
snug and comforted by this encroachment. A neighbor
downstairs is watching a program with loud explosions;
the sounds rumble up under me, slashed by
the fierce hiss of cars heading home. They sound
so rhythmic and enchanting, they could almost be the ocean;
if one were to find a pastoral frame to display them in.
What really startles me is the emptiness of this room,
how dumb and vacant the books on the shelves appear. The words
on their spines are mere designs. And the newspaper on the floor,
bent away from the center crease, flapping like an
injured bird under the broad blowing of the window fan

How to Look Like Everything is Okay in Photographs

Is your house making
you feel large? Do your curtains
reveal a shimmering dust when
you pat them gently in the sunlight?
Is your kitchen a “no fuck zone?”
Does your bathroom smell of bleach
or the fragrant after-sprinkle of talc?
When you enter your house
are you greeted with the whoosh
of dander, or a plush degenerative
offal gush? Is your desk littered
with broken hair and pencil shavings?
Do you fix your hair in a
proper room? Do you enjoy gazing
out the window absentmindedly,
only to discover someone is looking
back at you from the adjoining building?
When you ate your breakfast this morning
did you think of me?

These poems first appeared Splash State, published by The Song Cave 2013.