Photo: John Towner/Unsplash


A Room in the World


by Brian Kasymaliev-Kelly

(ft Humphrey Bogart as Raskolnikov)                                                  

The living room separated from the kitchen with a formless tabletop with long knife cuts across the top, lies dormant. An inept, cheap blue phone with a tangled pink linguine cord detached from an answering machine rests on the bar. The fake walls resembling the morbid walnut exteriors of coffins hold every centimeter of darkness in the room. Essentially bare, one wall holds up a calendar with the banner reading, Amazing Animals. This month shows curious and beautiful macaques that meditate in Hokkaido hot springs. The faucet drips into a steel sink with one plate and fork resting in solitary formation below the wood dish rack perched on the dollhouse electric stove. A foam love seat is cornered near the flat window lit with a cold, insistent cold shine of winterblue.

Half-dressed with a blue white rug the seat unfolds like a wallet into a decent bed. One narrow bookcase, flat against the wall, holds an odd collection of one very unread Great Books and do it yourselves. On the buckled chocolate carpet, a pillow sleeps beside a fat, unread Sunday NYT sprawled with headlines about global warmth and Gaza. Beside the paper is a saucer with a half-eaten pumpkin walnut muffin, Styrofoam cup, looking recently abandoned. A door into the bedroom faces the living room like a gasp, above it an open smoke alarm with no battery. The desk near the door is a home-assembled job with the same fake grain as the walls. A few things on the desk but all organized in an orderly way that suggests little use: a blue pencil-holder stuffed with brand new pens, a phone bill with regular service charges, one or two 900 line listings.

A hundred-dollar radio lurks on the hutch playing its concoction of progressive radio and commercial crap at low volume. By the radio a red scaly organizer suns itself under a craning lamp. The sole concession to joy in the room is a stuffed koala peering brightly out of a mouthful of eucalyptus leaves. The outside door into the apartment is a stolid, heavy white, easily scratched. Along the jamb someone tried to block the cold by hammering pine slats along the crease. From the window ledge a narrow concrete walkway is visible, bordered with a black metal railing that tries at ornate curls. Along this rail, scrapping sparrows sometimes appear and puff their feathery bodies against the wind.



About the author:

Brian Kasymaliev-Kelly is a teacher and graphic artist, author of L’america, a book of poetry and art, who lives in Harlem.