Babel

The multilingual, multicultural online journal and community of arts and ideas. There's a heaven above you, baby.

Babel

A Cup of Coffee

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Black winds chase across the manmade
canyons as Carter leaves the bus station.
Towering structures hover all around him,
as snow comes billowing down the shafts
of darkness. While on street level, designer
dream worlds in which stylishly dressed
mannequins play act a high-style life of eye
popping riches, appear in storefront windows
everywhere, as shadow shapes bundle past
them from every direction, paying them no
attention, going every which way in a flurry
of commotion.
The big city, Carter shivers. He has to find
some work here. Nothing going on in his
hometown since they closed the plant down
and shipped the whole kit and caboodle to
Mexico, leaving everyone, jobless, and hopeless.
It was scary, this giant city, where everything
was too big and everyone was in a hurry.
“You can’t let life bring you down!” The
Preacher had told the congregation. “You
can’t let fear hold you down! You have to
move on! The Hebrews were afraid to go on.
They were afraid of the desert! They were
afraid of the danger! They were afraid of the
unfamiliar! But they couldn’t go back to Egypt
and despair. Moses made them go on. Moses
said ‘Trust in God!’ So they followed him.
And God parted the sea for them!”
There were beggars everywhere, families dressed
in rags shuffling through the cold, their faces filled
with fear. There were drunks, and what looked like
dead bodies huddled up in doorways and shady
looking characters watching him from alleys.
Carter had to get inside somewhere, get out of
the blizzard. He had to get his bearings, get his
head together. He slipped in a diner and sat at the
counter. Everyone looked like sleepwalkers. The
counter seemed crowded with ghosts and phantoms.
“Coffee” he told the waitress who looked at him
askance like the only reason he was there was to
get in her hair.
“Trust in God and the seas will open!” The preacher
said. Well there was no going back to Egypt, Carter
thought, that was for sure. There was nothing there
anymore. That door was closed, the lock changed,
the bridge to it burned. God better part that sea soon
for him, Carter knew, or he’d drown in this big city
with the rest of them.

Paper Moon

BookCoverImageForeWord Reviews
Clarion Review
LITERARY

Paper Moon
Rex Sexton CreateSpace 978-1-4791-1967-7 Five Stars (out of Five)

Renowned surrealist painter Rex Sexton is also a highly regarded writer, imbuing his fiction and poetry with the same startling vision and mastery he displays in his artwork. His newest novel, Paper Moon, dazzles with words, just as his paintings do with form and color.

Sexton tells the fictional tale of aspiring teenage artist and poet Ithiel Ingbar as he comes to grips with a transient lifestyle in the underbelly of Chicago during the 1980’s. The author checks in on the course of Ingbar’s life intermittently over the next twenty-five years, concentrating on brief, pivotal moments. Displaying a dramatic flair for the poetic, Sexton produces images as vivid as dreams and often as feverish as nightmares, all in the course of describing “life noir” as lived by Ingbar.

Graduating from a job shoveling coal in the train yards to “day labor slug” on museum security duty—not for the money, but for the art-school scholarship that comes with the job—Ingbar observes life at its darkest and most bizarre. Social commentary swirls with wordplay as Sexton reveals the seedier side of life, that place somewhere between “nowhere and no way out.” Bruce Springsteen screams “Born in the USA” in the background while prophetic words written on the wall of a jail cell fundamentally summarize the young man’s existence: “I walk among the lost … where chasms have no bridges over bottomless abysses.”

At twenty, Ingbar suffers a traumatic occurrence that has a lasting effect on both his psyche and the artwork he creates. Through his paintings and poetry, he examines his complicated history and circumstances, seeking to understand life’s enigmas. His art becomes that previously missing bridge connecting reality and fantasy. Existentialism battles theological doctrine. Sometimes confusion reigns; at times, lucidity prevails. The subconscious mind that comes alive in Ingbar’s dreams makes its way onto his paper and canvas in what Sexton calls a “mindscape of amazing grace.” “Artists live where all dreams end,” he says. “Truth, Illusion, are a dance of apparitions. You try to capture them. Smoke and mirrors are what you usually get—but sometimes life’s magic.” It is impossible not to consider the autobiographical nature of the author’s statement.

Sexton creates a dizzying madhouse of a world that exists beneath the surface of “normal” life. The topic itself feels unfiltered and raw, yet the presentation is remarkably precise. The descriptions are extremely visual, and the cadence so perfect sometimes that passages beg to be read out loud. Fans of Coleridge and Blake will not miss the allusions and undercurrents, and those who grew up in the Catholic Church will recognize the source of certain of Ingbar’s private hauntings. Sexton is both clever and creative, and Paper Moon is refreshingly intense, unusual in its complexity, and disquieting in its revelations.
Cheryl Hibbard

Razor’s Edge

Hotel

Razor sliced clean – his too-quick smile
was your bad dream.
At night, in the Hood, when the street lights
glowed, blood flowed. Sometimes you
could hear the screams.
Razor was a friend of mine
He would slice you anytime
For nickel or a dime
Fifty cents for overtime
Stop the poem! This next stanza is a
disclaimer! I never knew anyone named
Razor! Or any other psychopath who
would steal, cheat, murder for profit
or pleasure! I’m making this up!
(Can’t get bumped off or sued by a whacko!)
OK, I grew up in a slum. But I moved on.
I saw nothing, heard nothing, remember
nothing, know nothing.
I keep company, now, with the cream of
society: bankers, brokers, politicians,
the titans of industry and commerce.
Maybe I shouldn’t write about them either?

For Every Season

For Every Season
Summer heat, the town asleep,
I walk empty streets in the
hallowed light of a full moon
night. Above me, the stars sparkle
like gems in the heavens.
All around me a jubilee is celebrated
by the crickets as they perform their
nocturnal rhapsody – to accompany
the lullaby the hushed wind whispers
through the leaves of the trees which
canopy the winding lanes which
wander up and down the hills and
dales of our small town.
Come the dawn is there a reason to
go on? I wonder.
The days shall go on: full moon,
new moon, Autumn, Winter, Spring,
Summer again, world without end.
Round and round the planet circles
the sun, time passes on, life moves
along.
Tomorrow morning the Plant shuts
down. Our lives shut down and soon
comes a ghost town.

Unnamed soldiers: secret heroes, great causes, death and glory

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Napoleon Crossing the Alps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

We all watched and maybe even loved stories of great heroes – kings, queens, generals – leading their armies to victory or glorious defeat. Each country or culture has its own such historical names that may have existed or not, and there are international names acknowledged and respected internationally. Nevertheless, we know about Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon and so on to name some less politically controversial names, but what do we know about all the nameless foot-soldiers that fought in the first lines?

 

This post will be dedicated to these people and their portrayal in literature and in media, more or less contemporary. …..click here to read more

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