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Christine M. Payne

Contributor Biography

Christine M. Payne has been a writer by trade for decades and recently became a writer by passion after she took her first creative nonfiction writing class. Her work has been featured in Miracle Monocle: Poetry, Prose & Hybrids (Issue No. 10) and Louisville Eccentric Observer (Literary LEO first prize in poetry). She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

Because you said so (for Greg)

You always knew how to dress immaculately for any occasion.
(my parents wished we would date.)
And throw the best parties and make the most festive cocktails.
(with you I drank icy gin and vodka in tiny vessels.)
And laughed when I said you intimidated me with your savoir-faire.
(you introduced me to chocolate-dipped strawberries decades ago.)

We met on the Rotunda steps when you offered me my first julep.
Then we danced to Aretha.
And listened to an organ concert.
(how you played all keyboards like you were born to do so.)
Your small town Virginia chief-of-police father.
My small town California cornet-playing diplomat dad.
Your cosmopolitan everything.
My bashfulness in spite of world travels.
(our Francophilia linked us.)

In the times before success stories you were among the prey.
(with fevers and lesions and weight loss.)
I brought you chilled melon soup.
(closed doors with orange biohazard stickers.)
You told me insurance would save your life.
(and kept apologizing when the soup made you queasy.)

ICU was foreign territory for this 26-year-old.
(where I met your parents and sister.)
Listed as family, I was permitted to hold you.
(your long, cracked nails on dry hands and feet.)
Tentative and then firm strokes on your arms and legs.
Feeling rigid muscles ease.
(your sudden tears looping around a ventilator strap.)

That summer (before the one when you left me)
I travelled with a ludicrous French “countess”.
Your laughter and rosy cheeks as you watched my parody.
And told me “write your stories.”

I will read them aloud to you.

Author's Note:


This poem was first published in Louisville Eccentric Observer (Literary LEO, 2019).

Kok Wei Liang

Contributor Biography

Kok Wei Liang tries (and barely succeeds) at being a functional member of society. Wei Liang believes the future of art is multi-disciplinary. He started with standup comedy, before branching out into poetry and musical parodies. He now also creates original songs, experimental plays, performance art, and short stories. He dropped out of law school in his 20s, to save his life and disappoint his parents.

The Secret Of Coping

There will be less pain
This way will leave little to
No (visible) scars

You withdraw from the knife
That will plunge into your skin
That will reach into your flesh
That will slice into your sickness

Tear it out at once 
Leaving you 
For heaven knows how long
So instead 

You drag out the disease
You avoid thinking about it

You go about your life
Pushing the burden you carry
To the back of your brain 

Choosing the gentle stab of affliction is
Undeniably logical when compared 

To the massacre which precedes
All hardcore mending and

Slowly, slowly
Slowly, bit
By bit, you find 
Yourself more and more able to live 

With the throbbing, throbbing 
Throbbing, until it almost feels
Like it’s no longer there at all
A throbbing numbness easily ignored 
It’s better this way
Anyone who’s ever been through

This, would know the healing process
For certain things almost 
Always hurts far more than
Grinding your teeth in concealed

You have the right to refuse 
Treatment and why shouldn’t you?
The first step might eviscerate
You permanently
In an instant
While coping? 

Gets you through the day.

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