Sick Bay | Gareth Culshaw

(Based on the short story, Gusev, by Anton Chekhov)

Gusev lies in the sick bay. The ship breaks up
waves that are in search of beaches. The iron
groans from squeezing between currents.

Illnesses feed off his body then wait to jump
into another. His eyes scratch away the morning
as he wakes. He tries to yawn but his jaw

is a rusty hinge on a cemetery gate.
The boat goes up and down kneading the sea.
Gusev thinks of home. His family and friends talk,

he replies with unhinged words. Slobber slugs
down the side of his mouth. The ship calms down
happy at last to be on the sea. A porthole is open

allows a breeze to escape the outside. The heat crushes
the skin of the ill. Gusev grabs his knees, so they
don’t spring his body into the sea. Gusev asks

a soldier to take him up top deck. They look into nothing.
The waves try to outdo each other, manure and hay fills
Gusev’s nostrils.

‘There’s nothing to be frightened of. It’s just scary,
like being stuck in a dark forest.’ says Gusev.

Three days later Gusev dies. They sew him up
in sailcloth, fill it with iron and place him on a plank.
The priest speaks then the board is tilted.

Gareth lives in Wales. His first collection, The Miner is available from Futurecycle. His second is due in 2020. His main critics are his dogs, Jasper & Lana who prefer sticks to poems.

He can be found on Twitter at @CulshawPoetry and his website,

Fy Duw, A David Jones Pastiche | Gareth Culshaw

I said Oh! where is the song?
I looked side to side.
(He’s teased me in the past
with his shadows in sunlight.)
I knocked the door for his answer.
I have knocked since childhood
waiting to be announced.
I have walked my feet over the paltry tarmac.
I have travelled along the dead leaves
ancestry beliefs from book to song.
I have blinded my brain
searching the sky and sun.
I have sensed His bruises
in wood and stone.
I have glanced at technology.
I have listened to words
without bigotry.
I have kept my breath
when in the unknown.
I can walk past Him
when my head is in the next century.

I have gazed at the sky to see the birds in case I might
hear the voices of the earth, in case I might believe that
God is in their throats. I have sung to the oak tree, be my
father and for the grassy fields I thought I sensed some
murmurings of His creature, but Fy Duw, my ears heard the silence
of mining and the horrifying coin a coliseum-glue….O Fy Duw.

Gareth lives in Wales. His first collection, The Miner is available from Futurecycle. His second is due in 2020. His main critics are his dogs, Jasper & Lana who prefer sticks to poems.

He can be found on Twitter at @CulshawPoetry and his website,

The Clairvoyant | Patrick M. Hare


I never met Thomas Calame. As he died in 1956 – well before I was born, much less interested in art – I came to know him as we do most artists: first through the lens of their works and only later, if at all, through stories, biographies and informational placards. With Calame, however, even his works are becoming less well-known with the passing years; so much so that a painting of him (Rene Magritte’s La Clairvoyance [1936], in which a man in a dark suit is depicted painting a bird in flight while looking at an egg on a side table) rather than a painting by him is the most viewed work with which he is associated. It is perhaps not surprising that Calame’s fame is waning; he was never a master painter nor a bold conceptual artist, the two requirements for lasting impact on the canon. Likewise, he has so far failed to fall into one of the accidental frenzies that grips the art auction world. No biographies of him exist and barely a line is devoted to him in the encyclopaedias. His paintings can be divided into two groups, distinguishable not by their different techniques – for he painted simply and realistically throughout his career, favouring simple colours and bold lines – but by their subjects. Like the surrealists with whom he is grouped, many of his paintings depict impossible things: gravity-defying cities, labyrinths that were also tigers, the corpses of mythical beasts in still-life. As surrealist works go, these are generally considered rather pedestrian. His other works depict the startlingly mundane: eggs, birds, landscapes. Within this group of prosaic subjects are several hidden depictions of the unthinkable – the future.  

Calame’s works are now scattered throughout the world, filling out the surrealist and modern galleries of provincial museums. The museum in Canton, Ohio has one and so I must have seen it growing up, but it wasn’t until I chanced upon one of his canvases (Self-portrait IV, a weedy lot with drifts of trash piling up against a peeling fence) in the Kunstmuseum Bern that I became interested in his works. A docent saw me puzzling over the painting one day during my lunch break and we fell to talking. She mentioned that one of the museum’s retired conservators, an Australian by birth, had known both Calame and several of his colleagues. In town for a conference followed by a week of vacation, I asked if it would be possible to meet the conservator for coffee. From that meeting and the several that followed it, I have assembled the following information/biography/sketch.


The Thomas Calame depicted in La Clairvoyance seems to be an accurate representation, for those who had met him described him thusly: tall, thin, even for the times, with a mushroom-like head, an impression only heightened by dark hair that seemed to have slid off his crown to lie clustered about his ears. The painting is also a good representative of his sartorial preferences – black suits with simple straight lines. While he and Magritte looked very similar at the time of the painting (which Magritte, with characteristic humour, described as a self-portrait), their appearances diverged as they aged: Magritte filled out, Calame did not. Magritte kept more of his hair, although it all whitened. Calame’s thinned and whitened on the crown of his head, but it stayed thick and dark below, giving his head its fungiform aspect. Among the things not captured in the portrait: Calame was partial to French cigarettes which he smoked continuously; he moved quickly with a very quiet step; talked little but when he did he would gesture emphatically with both hands. He was excitable, not given to socialising much. He had few friends, but he was fierce in devotion to those he did make.

Calame was born in 1907 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, a small manufacturing centre in the mountains along the French border. The only child of a reasonably well-off lawyer and distantly related to the 19th century painter Alexandre Calame, he showed an early aptitude for art. Unwilling to bring an instructor to their house because of the cost, his parents did begin sending him to study in town at the age of eleven. His education was challenging, as would be imagined of one with his ability, even though the precise nature of that talent would not be recognized for many years. Instead, adults described him as overly imaginative, prone to fancy, and unable to focus on the task at hand. His talent lay hidden so long because while he could easily draw or paint from his imagination, if asked to paint or draw from a model, be it a person, still life, or landscape, his brush or pencil would produce an image of the scene unlike that in front of him. Childish drawings of the view outside the classroom in the morning would depict a night scene during a different season. Houses in the distance would be shown in ruins, or new houses would appear in empty fields. Still-lives were grotesqueries, full of desiccated corpses and rotten fruit, or they showed bare tables, or piles of unrelated clutter. When asked if that was indeed what he saw, he could only respond with incomprehension. Demands to repeat his work would produce a different image. Thus obstinacy and stupidity were added to his list of character traits. Despite this, by the time he came of age, several of his paintings had made it into regional shows, and he developed a reputation as a promising young painter.

Catalogues record 137 paintings and drawings by Calame, of which thirty-one have been lost or destroyed. Seventeen of these, comprising most of his early output, have the distinctly dubious honour of having been destroyed in the first V-2 strike on London in 1944. Of the remaining fourteen, most went missing during the war from friends’ homes when the home was destroyed, or were presumed stolen or sold. To date, none have resurfaced.

The painting of the bird shown in La Clairvoyance (egg III) was one of only two series of paintings he is known to have produced: eggs I – VII, and a series of works titled ‘self-portrait’ that were discovered posthumously. It is unsurprising that neither series depicts in an obvious fashion either an egg or Calame. Both series are now distributed among half a dozen museums throughout the world. The egg paintings (two of which were destroyed in the V-2 strike) depict, in addition to the mature bird in flight in egg III, an omelet (egg II), a fluffy chick (egg VI), a cat with the broken body of a bird in its mouth (egg I), and a single feather stuck in the crook of a tree (egg IV). It is not clear if multiple paintings depict the same egg or if each canvas was created from a different model.  This point would reasonably be considered vital, as it would settle at a stroke the debate between determinism and free will. Calame, though, seemed uninterested in the question, relying on servants to remove and do what they would with his models. The supposition that an egg, or the egg depending on your philosophical bent, ended up breakfast for the servants is irresistible. The series was produced in Paris between 1933 and 1936, where Calame had moved in 1928 to gain more exposure. There he met Magritte, Max Ernst, Miró, and others active in the surrealist scene. He found a ready home with surrealism and its depiction of realities that are impossible, or at least very improbable. It was an easy field in which to paint purely from imagination. It did not afford enough of an income to live on, though, so for a time he painted by commission. This came to an end after he spent three months in 1935 working on a portrait of a prominent Jewish family. He refused to paint portraits after this, and indeed no more paintings of any subject are recorded until he moved to London in 1936. He appears to have spent most of the intervening years closeted in his rented room.

In moving to London, Calame was following Magritte, who was living under both the patronage and the roof of the poet Edward James. It was there that Calame asked Magritte to paint him. It was also during this time that Calame exhibited the egg series, as well a number of typically surrealist paintings. When war looked to be inevitable, he fled England for Australia, where the unchanging nature of the landscape provided him with a chance to have his brush produce the same scene others saw.

It is not known when he produced the series of paintings titled self-portraits I – IV. Some have suggested that they were produced in Paris after his failure at portraiture, but there is no record of their storage or shipping to Australia. I believe it more likely that he only painted them after arriving in Australia, having had a chance to come to peace with what they would show. The series is composed of the following subjects: An an open packing crate with the lip of a dark green jar lid just visible inside; a single tree off-centre in a level grassy field with farm-covered hills in the background; a broken body in dark cloths lying, head at an impossible angle, at the bottom of a set of marble stairs, a pool of blood spreading to encompass the body; an empty, weedy lot in front of a peeling wooden fence. Many people assume that these were titled whimsically in keeping with the proclivities or of his early friends. Those sympathetic to New Age mysticism and certain forms of Buddhism assume they are meant to show the universal connection between all living things. They are not these things, though, at least not fundamentally. He was simply being honest in the naming.

The paintings were not found until several years after his death, when a manager found them in a storage room he had taken out in Perth. He died in his small house outside Perth in 1956, following a fall down a full flight of stairs. He appears to have simply tripped. The fall broke his neck and fractured his skull. His will dictated that he be buried in his native Switzerland, but his estate was unable and his relatives unwilling to pay for transportation of his body from Australia. He was cremated, his ashes deposited in a small, simple urn, and this was shipped to his hometown. A proper burial was also out of the question. A cousin who had met him only once scattered his ashes on a field outside Columbier. I visited it before leaving the country, and while the field is intact and the tree is still standing, albeit with a number of rotten branches, it is only a matter of time until the growing town overtakes the field, leaving a peeling fence bordering a weedy, trash-filled lot in its wake.

Patrick M. Hare writes fiction and photophysics. He lives near 
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

He is on Twitter @NKUPMH

Black Tuesday | Holly Salvatore

cheap and dirty
I break bottles in the driveway when I’m angry
our house sinks a little more each day
we reinforce with I beams
bats colonize the attic
I stain my skin orange with ore
bathing naked in the creek

I want to tell you a story about a boy selling newspapers, breathing ozone through his paper mask The streetlights are on and I can’t breath I love you
I want to tell you a story about infidelity, but instead I tell you a story about smog
so thick I cut words in it, my hands are stained black
You tell me to go wash them without even looking

“There is no royal road to the solution of smoke.” — St Louis Post Dispatch
on November 28th, 1939, we all go blind as an inversion chokes the city
I blow the coal dust out of my nose until my sleeve is ruined
Remember this? How we tamed nature and killed it? We said we were sorry, we just didn’t know
it couldn’t live in captivity
when the sun doesn’t come out for the 9th day in a row
I think of you kissing me and nothing else

carbonite solarite
this can’t go on forever
you call me your dirty girl and I think “high-sulfur, bituminous,
I’m your dirty, dirty coal”
back at the house we replace the floors
crooked windows and doors
I tell you about my past life as the smoke commissioner
how I did my best
but it wasn’t enough

St Louis







A cartoon from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 26th, 1939, pg 18

Writer’s Commentary

On November 28th, 1939, St Louis, MO had what Wikipedia calls “a severe smog event.” In actuality, St Louis had been having air pollution issues almost since its founding; the city passed its first smoke ordinance in 1893. By the 1930s, St Louis was the most polluted city in the country. In large part, the smog was due to the use of “soft” high-sulfur, bituminous coal mined from southern Illinois just across the river. Bituminous coal burns “dirty,” but it was cheap and there was tons nearby, so everyone used it.

Seventy years later, my parents bought a house that was built on one of the old Peabody coal strip mines in the area. Each year, it sinks approximately 1/16th of an inch into the improperly re-filled mine, resulting in slanted flooring and crooked doors/windows. Set something round down and it will make its way across the room.

So, this is the history of a city that brought itself back from the brink and the history of my life there.

It’s also a way of self-soothing about climate change, because I feel powerless.

Holly Salvatore is a farmer in Boulder, CO. They tweet @Queen_Compost, and are excellent at naming chickens. Find them outside.

Gardens are for burying secrets | Nikkin Rader

don’t let him in your house,
so I dug a hole and put our found corpse in it,
but he began to sprout,
a lazarus taxon I can’t unmouth,
reappear in fossil record–
phoenix fire or witch inspired.

he wept like my father under blue TV lighting in the dead of night,
but redhead deadman risen, made only to unearth the crops–
miraculous lies spewing from liquored lips

besides magic protection for the openings of his body, man has equal need for the magic protection over openings to his dwelling, roofs of holy places, windows of holy places, a lust for strong protection more important than ordinary domestic windows. Without chimney, smoke from fires can sustain you. Travelers cannot escape the stoking, the he-smoke and she-smoke, other-smokes ignored.

or, liveth and believeth in the rise and fall of sun, to street dance on uncut rocks by moonlight days after the tomb-vowels: he who thou lovest etched over planty arcadia or echoed near our abode. no more plague on these stems from nearby death sea, just pesticides to keep the undesirables out, wrongdoer bugs exiled, sickle backs of heathens, tying all hoe down, hose ‘round tree, enmity rising from rosebeds–

he came in grave-cloth and stunk of wet shit, a beetle dwelling in his eye, black as soil, its iris wisp or sea-wine. ever since he came here the fungal curse returned, tainting berries and roots buried. sulky vision intrusive on tongue. you are not the same man born from below, no, you

became something else when under the earth, skin rotting, mind melting, in want.
wishing instead for him to shed his skin for me to wear, then go disappear back to–
from whence did you come?

I tell creature to hop o’er my fence made of dogwood tau,
but he leaves behind crushed butterflies,
worms crawling over aluminum can tabs, chewing plastic. if only
I could ground his bones into compost until we are all barren land-selves.

bodies bore of gender yet we do not make for lovers, taking to empty dirt hole.
keepers abstaining roamers thru bay of salt circles and needle thread traps,
we tire of them and spike faucet, water spew & shout:
let me cultivate the trance that burns cloudy– wets our palms splayed over fire–

sleepy somber would you drop arsenic down wishing wells or fleece wool ‘round neck
cool in early morning light? seen uphill: the man reborn of unwanted might
running down towards town before children wake.

remember, not all dead things stay lying and
not all living things simple kept– breaking bread–
shaking off what thoughts of you burrowed into my peach–

Nikkin Rader has degrees in poetry, anthropology, philosophy, gender & sexuality, and other humanities and social science.  Her works appear in Occulum, the Mojave Heart Review, peculiars magazine, littledeath lit, and elsewhere.  You can follow her twitter or insta @wecreeptoodeep

Bonnie | Steve May

Guess who came to the factory this morning…Steve McQueen. To pick up his new Bonnie. He had this girl, Maureen, from the office, sitting on the back for some photos. You should have seen her face. What a sight. Steve McQueen and our Maureen!

Me dad made motorbikes at Triumph Engineering in Meriden. He had a hand in the Bonnie from the word go. He’d come home knackered but buzzing from the factory and talk like a kid about this great new bike. He felt he had a stake in it even though he was only on the shop floor.

The original Bonneville, a thing of beauty, a classic. A work of art in tangerine and blue separated by a single hand-painted gold pinstripe. Stripped down fenders; 115 mph; a real hot rod for for the US market. “The Best Motorcycle in the World” said the blurb. Who could disagree?

I was never a biker, me, but in 1974 I bought an ancient Honda 50 that managed 50 miles from Stockport to Leeds in just under 8 hours then clapped out, kaput.

It was Honda that eventually killed off Triumph; too heavy, too expensive. Though the Bonnie lived on, it was never the same as in those early days, when me dad raved about its sculpted tank and sturdy frame.

The Triumph Bonneville, a mythical machine, famed for jumping that barbed wire fence in The Great Escape. McQueen on top and a little bit of me dad in its battered frame.

 The Triumph Bonneville was first produced at the Meriden works in 1959. Steve McQueen visited the factory to pick up his new bike in 1964.

Born in Coventry, UK,  Steve May has worked extensively in the field of drama-in-education, including winning  an Edinburgh Fringe First with Wigan Young People’s Theatre and leading a Performing Arts Department at Sunderland College. More recently, living in Sunderland, he has worked as an acupuncturist and returned to his original passion of poetry. He regularly performs his work around the NE of England and further afield. He has had poems published in The Writers’ Café and the anthology Mixed Emotions and won the 2019 Shelter Poems for Home Competition, judged by John Hegley. He is a Poetry Society (UK) member.

He is on Twitter at @s_may_uk

An Arkansas Airwoman Cheats Her Death | K. T. Slattery


I am sure I saw you outside of your house-
But memory refuses you any other backdrop,
A never changing world,
Except at Christmas when four angels
Spelling N O E L adorned the never played piano.
Every year the obligatory Christmas visit
Brought three little girls racing in-
To be the first to play the big joke
Switching them round to spell L E O N.
Your stove and refrigerator as old
As your wooden leg
You refused to have refitted.
All the fixtures in your house
Including your hair and wardrobe
Frozen in decades past.


A plane fell from the sky
Crashing through the Live Oaks
Adorning itself with their Spanish Moss
So it hung like tinsel from the wreckage.
Gators scrambled away from the impact
A propeller gradually slowed
Until the words Banks-Maxwell
Revealed themselves upside down.
For four long days the propeller stood still.
You kept your life, but lost your leg
And with it your spirit.


When you put on your old jazz records
Did you imagine yourself whole again?
A woman who saw U-boats in the Gulf of Mexico
From a cargo ship bound for South America
Beheld the birth of jazz
Saw Satchmo’s cheeks puffed out like two Frigate birds
Accomplished pilot
Training the men deemed worthy to join the cause.


Unsung, you sacrificed your leg and more-
Then returned to Arkansas
To a piano that never made music
In a house where time stood still.

Writer’s Commentary

From the moment I started writing, I have wanted to compose something that pays tribute to my great aunt, Adele Thorell – a woman who was ahead of her time and witnessed so much history first-hand. I remember a woman who listened to jazz incessantly and never left Stuttgart, Arkansas. However, she was so much more than this. Attending Tulane- she was in New Orleans for the birth of jazz. Whilst travelling to see her brother in South America, she and her parents were forced to stay below deck for most of the trip when U-boats were spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. Finally, an accomplished pilot, she trained fighter pilots during World War II. Her adventures came to an abrupt halt when she crashed in the swamps of New Orleans and lost her leg. She returned to Arkansas and never left again.

K.T. Slattery was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up just across the state line in Mississippi. She attended Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where she studied English Literature and Philosophy. K.T. now resides on a mountain in the West of Ireland with her husband and an ever increasing amount of rescue pets.

Find her on Twitter at @KTSlattery1

The Litigator | A. M. Walsh

Attorneys study every letter;
in smoke and stench they hone their stings– Osip Mandelstam

My desk is                    a paper armoury:
the keys clink              like a chain lifting ordnance
into                                my keyboard
but there is no            boom
my broadside              is
just a                             swoosh.

I am a hired gun         for different faces,
a professional             chameleon.
I’ll name the price      for you to become
my temporary             enemy.

A. M. Walsh is a poet and lawyer who lives in York, UK and started writing poetry in 2018. He has been published in the web magazines Chaleur and Royal Rose and has work forthcoming with Drunk Monkeys. He is presently working towards publishing a pamphlet.

You can find him on Twitter at @amwpoet and Instagram at @amw_poet

 When People Ask Me So How Do You Feel About the War in Ukraine? | Nicole Yurcaba

Contains references to violence and rape

A Ukrainian can be pushed down for a long time, but when his forehead touches the ground, he’ll rise up and no one will stop him.— an old Ukrainian saying

I think of Evgen, who, five years ago emailed a picture
of his grape-eye and the blood-creek cruising his face.

My father, 75, was in his bedroom, searching for his passport
and packing his suitcase, determined to die in the mother

country. I, at 26, postponed studying literature in Kyiv.
I think how many times I cancelled and re-planned.

It’s too unsafe, my father says. Listen to your father,
my mother pleads. Listen! I am always denied

home, return, chance, existence, identity. I am a woman
of two countries, but in one tanks roll through my wheat-

fields; my sunflower fields, now snow-covered, are imprinted
with artillery and bomb blasts, are stained with the lives

of brothers, of cousins, of sisters and century upon century
of rape and enslavement My willows bend and creak,

and I remember my grandmother, how she wiped tears from my cheek
and said You, like Ukrayina, are large and beautiful—

 a mystery no one’s meant to decode.

Writer’s Commentary

In a Ukrainian family that came to America as political refugees, I learned vast amounts of history. My family is very political, and from a young age I learned to debate not only American politics and history, but also international politics and history, specifically Russo-Ukrainian relations. Because of my family’s history in Ukraine and America, and as many of my family members were imprisoned in Nazi camps, I have a deep interest in World War II. Thus, I admire people like Horace Greasley who defied camp guards and high-ranking Nazi officers. More recently, because of my own desire to return to Ukraine—a return that has been delayed more times than I can count due to the current Russian invasion of Ukraine—my poetry has focused on what “home” is to people like me who live as part of a culture’s diaspora on soil where we don’t necessarily feel we have an identity.

Nicole Yurcaba, a Ukrainian-American writer, teaches in Bridgewater College’s English department, where she also serves as the Assistant Director for the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival. Her poems and essays appear journals such as The Atlanta Review, The Lindenwood Review, Chariton Review, Still: The Journal, OTHER., Junto Magazine, Whiskey Island, The Broadkill Review and many others.  When she is not teaching, writing, or traveling, or dancing to Depeche Mode and Wolfsheim in goth clubs, Yurcaba lives, gardens, and fishes in West Virginia with her fiancé on their mountain homestead.

 She is the Assistant Director of the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, on Twitter at @bwaterpoetfest and  Facebook at (Bridgewater International Poetry Festival).

Disguise | Megha Sood

The acrid smell of the past
that rotten gut-wrenching smell
that fills you with disgust

the reflection of the memory
so deeply etched in your
sullen mind
the one you fervently try to erase
the emptiness,
deeply seeded in your soul

like that in the eyes of the orphan
left at the step
of the church
that metallic taste of
those brackish memories
lodged firmly in the back of your throat

never to be spat our
lodged like the toothpick in
your warm supple throat
every breath brings you pain
grief changes you in different ways

you build up a facade
built on the broken lies and empty truth
those empty smiles try fervently to
cover your broken truth
which rears its head then and again

like those incense sticks in the graveyard
my broken smile
disguises the pain.

Megha Sood lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a contributing author at GoDogGO Cafe, Candles Online, Free Verse Revolution, Whisper and the Roar, Poets Corner and contributing editor at Ariel Chart.

Her 290+ works have been featured in 521 Magazine #Sideshow, Oddball, Pangolin review, Fourth and Sycamore, Paragon Press, Royal Rose, Visitant Lit, Quail Bell, Modern Literature, Visual Verse, Dime show review, Nightingale and Sparrow, Piker Press and many more. Her poetry has recently been published in the anthology “We will not be silenced” by Indie Blu(e) Publishing and upcoming in six other anthologies by US, Australian and Canadian Press.  She recently won the 1st prize in NAMI NJ Dara Axelrod Mental Health Poetry contest.

She blogs at and can be found on Twitter at @MeghaSood16 and Instagram at @MeghasWorld16