Nineteen rifles and the village was burned to the ground nineteen rifles stolen by rebels and then came the awful burning down what was called scorched earth policy. My mother my father my brother were burned down to the ground and god knows what else with nearly two hundred others my god the atrocities committed my god I go on repeating numbly coldly meaninglessly in someone else’s voice not my own my god the atrocities. The village. I escaped. I don’t know how. Later on I heard the story it was on a radio program a story about a man this painter who went to the village the ruins of the village and painted. Every day he went to what locals from neighboring villages now called the Vanished Village he went there to paint the bones of the village the ghosts wanting to paint what the land held its hissing and fractures telling him what it tolled. The program said the man was a medium between the living and the dead and that dreams had led him to the village to paint to listen. The man went there with a dog his dog’s name was Ginger or the dog was ginger colored or maybe it was both the name Ginger and the color ginger I can’t remember but the dog went rooting around and found a doll with broken limbs half buried in the earth. And when the man picked up the doll when the man held it he said torrents of grief rushed through him the grief the voices the burning. The doll it seems was a medium between the living and the dead a gateway a portal. The man painted the doll. In painting the doll he felt the presence of the young girl to whom the doll belonged the young girl who had been the doll’s best friend and this is where I come in wondering if the doll had belonged to me. Was I the young girl? Were me and the doll best friends? I don’t know. My history isn’t mine. The village has been barred from my memory. I was told it was my home once upon a time and so in that respect I have inherited its ghosts but what else. Mother father brother. These are words almost like stones dropping into a dark well echoing sometimes feelings sometimes sensations. They are dirges memoryless calling to me from far off places from graves I don’t know. When I hear the voices calling I feel as if the fire is moving dangerously close.  

Artwork by Mark Rothko

About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, performer, and playwright, John Biscello, has lived in the high-desert grunge-wonderland of Taos, New Mexico since 2001. He is the author of four novels, Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, Nocturne Variations, and No Man’s Brooklyn; a collection of stories, Freeze Tag, two poetry collections, Arclight and Moonglow on Mercy Street; and a fable, The Jackdaw and the Doll, illustrated by Izumi Yokoyama. He also adapted classic fables, which were paired with the vintage illustrations of artist, Paul Bransom, for the collection: Once Upon a Time, Classic Fables Reimagined. His produced, full-length plays include: LOBSTERS ON ICE, ADAGIO FOR STRAYS, THE BEST MEDICINE, ZEITGEIST, U.S.A., and WEREWOLVES DON’T WALTZ.
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