Colin Watts; The Weight of Dunlins

The Weight of Dunlins                                                      

I was on North Uist, walking the machair, that thin strip of fertile land between beach and peat bog that graces a few of our remote north-western shores. I didn’t really know why I was there. Just to get away, I suppose, though I wasn’t sure what I was getting away from.

On the ferry over, a local man had told me how the sea ground down shells over centuries to form the beach. How westerly winds spread sand over the peat. How calcium in the sand reacted with acid in the bog to form the machair: Gaelic for “the fertile land behind the dunes”. ‘Treat it gently,’ he’d said, ‘it’s a precious gift.’

It was one of those days when late summer meets early autumn; one side of you warmed by the sun, the other chilled by the air. A tang of salt; a breath of peat. The wild flowers were looking tired, ready to lie down for the winter. Though it was mid-afternoon, the light was still so sharp you could have cut yourself on it.

I tried spinning round to mix up the sun and the chill, but felt dizzy and had to sit down. That’s when I saw her, walking along the strand. She wore sandals and a long dress of dark blue cotton. Her hair was that red that so many highland women are blessed with.

‘I saw you spinning,’ she said, as she approached.

I got up, apologised and explained.

‘You should turn more slowly,’ she said, ‘then you wouldn’t get dizzy.’ She had freckles and high cheekbones and her hair glowed like old rust. It moved in waves, though there was scarcely a breeze.

‘Were you looking for something?’ I asked.

‘The wow factor,’ she said.

‘Wow!’ I said.

She laughed. ‘Every day I look for something that makes me go wow! at its beauty or strangeness.’

‘Doesn’t that defeat the object?’ I asked. ‘Looking for it.’

‘No,’ she said; ‘it’s about keeping yourself open, going to new places, meeting new people. You were nearly my wow for today.’

I felt myself blushing.

‘Sorry,’ she said, ‘have I embarrassed you?’

‘No,’ I said. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Why only nearly?’

‘Because I didn’t go wow! I have to go wow! for it to work. I only went weird!’

‘Thanks very much!’

‘I meant the situation. You look nice though, quite cuddly – for a Sassenach. And you blush easily. We’ll have tea later. Four o’clock at the museum cafe. See if you can have a wow in the meantime and I’ll try too. Don’t try too hard; just let it happen.’

‘OK,’ I said. ‘We could exchange wows I said,’ blushing again.

‘Ha ha,’ she said, and strode off.

Wow I thought, but it didn’t appear out loud, so I guessed it didn’t count. By then it was after three, so I set about doing whatever it was I had to do to get a wow. I turned round slowly with my eyes shut, counting to five, then set off in the direction I was facing (towards the beach), stepping gently.

When I got to the museum, she was already there in the café, drinking tea.

‘Sorry I’m late,’ I said.

‘You’re not,’ she said. ‘I’m early. I got thirsty. You apologise too much, even for a Sassenach.’ She poured me a cup. ‘Did you have a wow?’

‘I did,’ I said. ‘Did you?’

‘I did, but you must tell me yours first.’

I took out a pebble from my pocket. ‘I’ll show you. When I’m walking on beaches I play this game; I pick up a pebble I like and then try to better it as I go, looking for one more extraordinary, more pleasing, more perfect.’

‘Wow!’ she said. ‘Almost a perfect sphere. And the colours; reds and pinks and greens.’

‘That streak there is the colour of your hair,’ I said. She didn’t blush. I did. ‘Hold it,’ I said; ‘let it roll in the palm of your hand.’

‘It’s like it’s alive. And it feels much heavier than it looks.’

‘I think it must have some iron in it, making it move towards magnetic north.’

‘Or it’s imbued with the power of the sea, and is moved by the moon.’

We drank some tea.

‘Tell me your wow,’ I said.

‘I’ll show you,’ she said. She took a small cardboard box out of her shoulder bag. In it was the skeleton of a young bird.

‘Wow!’ It must have been out there for months.’

‘I think it’s a dunlin, a fledgling. I found it in an abandoned nest. Maybe a fox got the mother and insects did the rest. Feel the weight of it.’ She took it out of the box and placed it in my outstretched palm. It was lighter than the touch of her fingers, which stroked mine as she took back the skeleton. 

‘How much do you think it weighs?’ I asked.

‘A pelican,’ she said, ‘grows to approximately 5 feet long and weighs nearly 20 pounds. Its skeleton weighs in at 23 ounces.’

‘That’s really interesting,’ I said, trying to sound sarcastic.

‘Isn’t it,’ she said; ‘I found out about it here in the museum. There was nothing about the weight of dunlins.’

We finished the tea.

‘I have to go,’ she said.

‘Me too,’ I said, not meaning it. I wasn’t really going anywhere. And I wanted her to stay.

‘We’ll exchange wows,’ she said, ‘like you suggested.’

‘I’d like that,’ I said, without blushing.

She put the skeleton back in the box, which was dark blue and, as I found out later, smelt of lavender. I wrapped the pebble in a paper napkin that was stamped with a thistle design. We exchanged our wows, shook hands and went our ways. I never even asked her her name.



Colin is seventy four, married, with grown up children and has lived in Liverpool for many years.

Publications include two poetry collections in print and short stories on-line and in magazines and anthologies. He’s had plays performed in and around Liverpool.

He cycles everywhere and cultivates a quarter of an allotment. He is a long-standing member of the Dead Good Poets Society and co-runs a regular Story Night at The Bluecoat Arts Centre in Liverpool.

Facebook: Colin Watts

Twitter: Colin Watts @FentimanW



Lorraine Whelan; Prayers for My Children

Prayers for My Children

The bedside light is dim and two of my daughters speak to each other in subdued tones. I can’t quite hear what they are saying, but if they were speaking on a normal day I know they’d be talking excitedly about art and writing. They think I am asleep and I am doing my utmost not to disabuse them of this idea. But I also know they are watching me closely, despite their conversation, in case there are any changes in my breathing, any signs of discomfort or pain.

I can hear small sounds of night-time traffic outside. Footsteps. A car door. Someone calling in the distance, laughter – people on their way home from the pub. This is a busy street during the day, but there is always some noise or other, at any hour. I insist on having one window open at least. It gives a welcome coolness to the air. Prevents an accumulation of odour. A sick old woman, me, is near to death. A bit too near for my liking. Earlier today, my eldest daughter had plugged in one of those discreet air fresheners that you can buy in any shop nowadays. She must have been worried that I would be insulted, as she waited till she thought I dozed off before fiddling in the corner with the outlet and freshener. However, it was a relief to me too; the air was cloying. I appreciated the thoughtful gesture.

The hospital bed whooshes and settles. Like the freshener, it too is plugged in to an outlet and is regulated to a constant air pressure for my maximum comfort. At first this sound was startling, but everyone – both me and my various carers, my daughters – is well used to it at this stage. I have been bed-ridden for at least a month, confined to this small room. Maybe it has been longer, I am not sure, as I navigate the fuzzy edges of time these days. I have friends who visit often and a lot of children, who cater to my every need. Well, some more than others.

This room used to be my mother’s sitting room. I have a permanent image of her seated between the bay window and the fireplace, watching the “soft parade”. I understood this phrase later to mean the outside world passing by. I was determined not to be like my mother. I would fully participate in everything life had to offer. And I did. I don’t know where the time has gone, but I would so love to have more of it. There is still much I could do. Fun I could have. “People to meet, places to go” as they say. If only.

Changes were made to the room before I got home from hospital. Items brought down from my upstairs bedroom. Lots of photographs form a collage on a cork board: my numerous children and grandchildren and great grandchildren watching me from the wall. But no books. No art. None of the clutter of my life. My bedroom here, now, is more clinical than I am used to, but it is pleasant enough. It is practical. In one corner there is a table for medication – so many prescriptions, syringes and tiny plastic cups – a veritable nurse’s station. In another corner the potty chair looms; it is moved closer to the bed in the evening, when non-family visitors have gone home. There are several tapestry covered foot stools that I bought years ago and a comfortable chair for special guests. The small set of drawers has been brought down from my room to contain the clothes I need now – mostly pyjamas – and one drawer of bed linens. It is a practical room to die in. 

The two daughters who are with me now like to talk to each other, but when they realise I am awake they change their focus to me. Other siblings have accused them of “partying” with me when they are here together at night, and I am wondering who could have started this strange rumour. I only wish I could dance, be capable of a party! I love dancing.

I ask for painkillers, the potty, food. Generally that is the order of things. Though less “asking” – more demanding, or motioning if I can’t speak. Sometimes I can’t speak, the pain is so bad. And sometimes I can’t even indicate where the pain is. They try to keep me comfortable. I try to escape in sleep.

We laugh when I am on the potty. This has become the state of things: there is no longer a time and place for private bodily functions. They help me out of bed, slowly, slowly. Sometimes I am in more of a hurry but still everything goes very slowly. I can’t will my feet to move. One daughter always massages my feet while I am seated. Or rubs my back; this I love. Her hands are so warm. They are considerate of my modesty and place a shawl on my lap. My daughters sit beside me, hold my hands, ask gentle questions, tell jokes, reminisce. I am joyful with them. There is still much joy in my life.

I’m hungry and one of the girls offers to fix me a bite to eat and the other takes the potty bucket upstairs to clean. While one negotiates the steep staircase to the main bathroom, the other walks – quickly – down the hallway to the kitchen and investigates the fridge. I hover over her shoulder, peering inside the refrigerator as soon as it is opened. I like the look of the cooked drumstick of chicken cling-wrapped on a small plate behind the milk carton.

My daughter brings me a ham sandwich with a light salad and a cup of coffee. I can’t hide my disappointment with this fare and ask her about the chicken leg. The expression on her face is priceless: she has a look of surprised awe. Then I remember that I have been in my bed this whole time, and though I correctly saw a piece of chicken that was there in the fridge, I am confused at my guesswork. She explains “out-of-body” experiences to me, and describes the incident in detail when my other daughter returns to the room. She is hugely interested in this “astral projection” as she calls it, and talks about her own, related experience from a hospital bed, in another country, many years ago.

To placate me, the chicken leg is brought on a saucer along with the pepper mill, and I devour it with gusto, obviously dismayed when I reach the small bone and there is really nothing left for me to gnaw on. My two daughters look a bit shocked, but they are also amused. I return their smiles and suggest dessert. Simple rule: if I am awake, I am hungry. It is 4 a.m. One of the girls runs to the kitchen to fetch me some raspberries, cream and a bit of cake that she has made. I realise that this is what the other siblings have complained about as a “party”. But when I first came home, they explained what the Palliative Care nurse had told all of them: “be led by your mother’s desires and give her whatever she asks for; don’t forget to be a daughter as well as a carer”. I don’t have much time left, so it hardly matters how outrageous my requests might be. We all know this. A bite to eat and a coffee in the middle of the night is hardly outrageous.

After more medication and more time seated on the potty, I am tucked in, kissed and gently cuddled by both sisters. I worry and ask for my rosary beads, which are nearby on the bedside table.

One of the girls is not sure what to do; she abhors Catholicism though I know, deep down, she believes in the spirit and the soul. She just isn’t sure how it all fits into the modern world; this is something she will discover on her own terms. My other daughter is more fluid: with good humour she embraces the best of all religions and kneels by the bed to murmur the prayers with me, holding my hands steadily while I touch each bead.

I start with the Joyful Mysteries. The repetition of prayers is comforting to me. The “Mysteries” represent the stages of Christ’s life, a man’s life – well, anyone’s life. My life. Joyful. Sorrowful. Glorious. I think the “glorious” part is supposed to be the next life. After death. I’ll soon find out.

My daughter who is praying with me thinks that what we are doing is parallel to chanting a mantra in Buddhism. She is proud of herself for remembering the order of the prayers from her childhood. The other daughter is completely quiet, listening but not participating in this ritual.

I pray for both these daughters and the others too. They will all need a lot of help in the coming days to face their fears and despair. They have shown me the depths of their care and I know they will support each other with strength and love when I am gone. I pray that they will be kind to each other. This is my most important prayer. It will be a time of deep sadness for them, but I pray they will remember my joy. This will be my legacy.



Lorraine Whelan is a writer and visual artist based in Ireland.

Fiona Perry; Circumnavigation


(Part 2)

The calm, pretty midwife wanted the absolute best for my baby and me. I could tell by the way she said, “I’ll be back in an hour to give you the first pessary”.

I was aware that I had been nodding and grinning at her too excitedly as she spoke but I had just finished a box of Black Magic chocolates which Loran had given me for my hospital bag and I was ready for anything. The other mothers-to-be on the ward were nervous, weary or in pain so I was consciously trying to tone it down a bit because my mood seemed so hopelessly out of synch with theirs. But I couldn’t resist taking out a small Babygro and stroking it. There will be a baby inside that by tomorrow.

The heartbeat couldn’t be found. The normal precursor, a musical introduction of rushing blood, was absent too. “There’s something wrong with the Doppler,” I thought, refusing to acknowledge the concerned expressions and solemn hush in the room. But the look registered on Loran’s face could not be ignored.

When Michael was born he had to be untangled, set free. His cord encircled his belly and coiled fully several times around his neck. It was as if he had been attacked and squeezed lifeless by the tentacle of a giant squid. In fact, his umbilical oxygen supply had been cut off as he dropped to be born. But I wasn’t listening to explanations at the time. I was cradling my perfect baby, who was still warm from being inside me, and contemplating why the awesome power of birth had cast out this tiny, suffocated corpse instead of the wailing, pink newborn of my imagination.

As the heat dissipated from Michael’s body into mine, I began to disappear, my molecules mingling with the surroundings. Lorcan’s expression changed from pity to fear as he shouted something at the midwives.

I was bleeding out a crimson river over a tundra of starched hospital sheets. Before long, I found myself swimming underwater, Michael in my arms, admiring green swathes of seaweed and darting fish. I tried so hard to hold him but he wriggled free and swam away into the watery darkness.



“The Holy Spirit moves in mysterious ways,” I whispered at the kitchen window overlooking my David Austin Tranquillity rose bush, as I sometimes did when I thought of Michael. 

            Geraldine looked at me wide-eyed, clearly surprised that the subject of the Holy Spirit had made a reappearance in our conversation.

            “I don’t know Mammy,” she said in a casual tone, as if controversial theological discussions were a common occurrence between us, “that belief has been used to cover up a multitude of sins for the Church. I’m not sure it should be employed in this instance to excuse the mysterious predilections of priests.”

            She looked cautiously towards me, blushing right up to her hair line, but when she turned back to read the paper, a smile flickered on the corners of her mouth.

            That’s it. She doesn’t deserve this lovely dinner, I’m going to throw it all in the bin!

            After I placed the mashed potatoes and the steak steeped in oniony gravy in separate casserole dishes and covered them with foil to keep warm in the oven, I told Geraldine that I was off to work in the spare room.


I’ll say the Mysteries and start an Our Lady of Hope Novena for her tonight. I was sure I could convince her to continue with Medicine. History? What kind of future does that hold? Teaching? Untold years slaving for some bossy headmistress? I sat in an armchair running my eyes back and forth over the knitting machine’s needle bed for a long time. When I came to myself, I saw that I was wringing my hands.

            I picked up the body of a baby cardigan and started to sew on a sleeve when I heard the familiar dripping noise, subtle but present. Predictably last night, Lorcan had said he couldn’t hear it, presumably just to annoy me.

            In an effort to screen out the sound, I slipped wantonly into my customary knitting daydreams; Geraldine is a cardiologist renowned for her surgical ability; now she is a paediatrician reassuring a despairing couple that their beautiful boy is in safe hands; finally an oncologist speaking to the World Health Organisation about new, cutting edge therapies. Her confidence and poise astounds onlookers. Her hair is shiny and groomed.

             As I finished the last stitch on the armhole, I had the despairing thought, “none of those dreams will come true now,” and the words spiked with every irritating drip sound from above. The infuriating pitter-patter was increasing in volume the more determined I was not to listen and it wasn’t confined to one location above the ceiling but moved around and overlapped like light rain fall. I jumped up and wandered around the room following the sounds.

            Resolving to find the cause, I stormed into the kitchen and grabbed a torch from the drawer. Geraldine looked up from the paper and gave me a bored look. She was massaging the back of her head again.

            I pulled apart the step ladder in the hall, wobbled up the steps slowly and lifted the attic hatch door. My head and shoulders were now above the entrance as I cast the torch light around.

            In the corner of the roof space, seemingly floating just below the eave, was a huge, white oval-shaped object, as softly contoured as a Georgian wig. Imposing and stately.

            A wasp’s nest.

            I had a sudden recollection of my father tackling one on the farm by dousing it with petrol and setting it alight with a blowtorch, it didn’t seem to bother the wasps but he badly singed his eyebrows. It is was very funny, right enough. A little shudder of muted giggles washed over me. I tightened my grip on the horizontal door frame to anchor myself, my heart was fluttering like insect wings.

            As I continued the investigation I noticed that the wasps in flight appeared to be astonishingly stupid and uncoordinated. They were banging off the roof and wall, emitting little tapping noises with every collision. That explains the dripping sound. Why are they incapable of flying in an efficient, straight line? I singled one out to track it with the torch light. It was facing the nest whilst flying in a series of ever-increasing arcs away from it. The movement looked like a hypnotic act of worship, every conceivable angle of the nest was being lovingly memorised as if the insect had just witnessed a miracle inside. “The wasps are trying to tell me something,” I thought, swiftly followed by, “I’m losing it. Mary, mother of God preserve me.”



Fiona’s short stories and poetry have been published in The Irish Literary Review, Spontaneity Magazine, Into The Void, Dodging The Rain and Skylight47 amongst others. She grew up in Ireland but has lived most of her life in England and Australia. She currently lives near a volcano in New Zealand. Follow her on Twitter @Fionaperry17.

Bayveen O’Connell; Collooney Man

Collooney Man

The storm woke me, cleaved the old tree and threw my bones into the air to feel the darts of Connaught rain in the shadow of my Maeve in her cairn. Someone in the sky was throwing spears of light. Barely a man when I was buried face down and alone, I was catapulted into a new time and space, with half of me tangled in these roots. Who were my people? What was my crime? Why was I brought back? And my bed, my eternal bed exploded?

     The wind died down and dry leaves scraped along the marrow, drying me, though I felt no cold. Days and nights passed. I saw the stars hadn’t changed. Cows kept their distance from the cavity left by the wrenched tree. It seemed that cow pats looked the same but gave me little bother without a nose to smell them with.  A farmer appeared with a dog a few times. The dog sniffed, whined and made to go for my leg bone, while the farmer clutched his chest and just peered down at me with his gob gaping.

     Not long after, more folks came with white gloves, masks, brushes and tiny spades. These strange hands were gentler than those that buried me. My skull was carefully plucked from the high roots, my shoulders and spine unwound and lifted down, and I glimpsed my hips and thighs being dug out little by little. The touch put me in mind of a mother or a lover. All lost and long gone. 

     I was put on trays with little tags, covered in sacks and placed in a strange cart that was driven from the inside. Later, under a very strong light near my eye sockets, the people with gloves and masks put me together again. They took each bit of me, looked at it, put it back down and made a little scrawl on their vellum.  Staring at me and shaking their heads, they smiled excitedly. I wanted to tell them that I was just old bones.

     Couldn’t I have stayed looking up at the sky after having my face full of dirt for all these years? If I’d been able to reunite the pieces of myself, where would I have gone? Taken the back road towards Strandhill, struggled up the slopes of Knocknarea, and knocked on Maeve’s grave to see if she was awake?

     I missed my earth blanket with its peace and quiet. It wasn’t much of a grave but it was mine. Someone was done with me all those days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries before and placed me there. Did Maeve really toss me back up to have all these eyes on me? To be danced around like a bonfire?

     The people disappeared and the giant indoor sun went out. It was no place to sleep – on some table made of silver. Please Maeve, I prayed through broken teeth, send another storm, set me free once more.  



Bayveen O’Connell lives in Dublin and delights in dark things. Her flash fiction and short stories have appeared in The Bohemyth, Nilvx, Rag Queen Periodical and Molotov Cocktail. She is currently seeking a home for her Historical Gothic novel set in a medieval village. 

Kevin Nolan; Rubious


I fantasize about you, sometimes, 

 fantasize that you are happy, 

realizing yourself 

in a way that was not possible back when  

each morning your eyes thrown from darkness opened to the sunlight  

and gazed, gazed, gazed into mine.    


I hope you are in love 

I hope it’s new and dramatic 

and I hope it makes you smile when you’re on you own,  

hanging out the clothes  

or broken down on the roadside, kicking tyres, your mind desperately holding on to  

itself for dear life, suddenly, effortlessly and like in some self affirming salacious  

dream, lets go.     


I fantasize the most perfect act of love I could commit  

was to set you free,  

let you grow natural, unbarred,  

let the sunshine warm your skin  

without thoughts of anything else but being you in the world.    


I also fantasize that someday we’ll meet haphazardly, we’ll have out-grown our  

difficulties and very, very, very slowly we’ll fall in love again.    


Forgive me, I know this last fantasy is just the little bit of you left in me,  

warming me, still believing in me, still wiping tears and whispering I love you into my mouth.  



Kevin Nolan, Dublin born, holds an honours degree in Pure Philosophy from The Milltown Institute, also received a Philosophy through literature diploma there all in all he spent six years studying Philosophy. He then Studied fine art in the National College of Art and Design in conceptual art and film.  His writing has appeared in, Colony, The Galway Review, Skylight 47, Bard, The Shine Newsletter, Studies,Decanto Magazine / Anthology (England), The Jack Kerouac Family Association Newsletter, Yareah Magazine (Italy), among other journals.  Nolan is also a singer/composer and has been played predominantly by John Kelly on The JK Ensemble. His debut album Fredrick & The Golden Dawn on which he deuts with choice award winning singer Julie Feeney received highly acclaimed reviews both in Ireland and abroad.

Kurt Tucholsky; Flu Remedy

Flu Remedy

At the earliest signs of the flu—recognizable by a slight tingling in the nose, foot cramps, coughing, a shortage of money, and an aversion to going to work the next morning—one should gargle a pinch of ground cocaine mixed with half a drop of iodine. This helps the flu to take hold.

The flu, also known as Spanish flu, influenza, and the common cold (in latin: the sniffles), is spread by nervous bacteria which have themselves come down with a cold: the so-called infectious animalcules. The flu is sometimes accompanied by fever, which begins at 128 degrees Fahrenheit. On days when the stock-markets are strong, the flu is somewhat milder; when the markets are weak the flu is stronger—so it’s generally stronger. In order to expedite contagion, male flu-sufferers are advised to kiss a woman; female flu-sufferers, a man. Consult a medical professional if you are unsure of your sex. Contagion can also be achieved by visiting a cough-house (or so-called “theater”). But avoid covering your mouth when you cough: this is unhealthy for the bacteria. The flu is not strictly-speaking contagious, but it is an infectious disease.

Cold compresses always did my husband the world of good—for best results cook up a warm batch of semolina pudding, pack it in a linen cloth, eat it, and then give the patient some brandy—within two hours the patient should be tipsy; after another hour, blind drunk. In lieu of cognac, furniture polish can also be used.

It’s best to avoid all vegetables, soup, butter, bread, fruit, compote and dessert. Homoeopaths are advised to lick a five-Pfennig stamp three times a day, or, if the fever is particularly high, a ten-Pfennig stamp.

One must not leave the bed under any circumstances—it does not necessarily have to be one’s own bed. In case of chills, woolen stockings should be worn, preferably around the neck. To avoid bare legs, wrap each leg in a detachable shirt collar. The main thing is warmth: so a trip to the thermal baths is in order. On the return journey, make sure to sit on the top deck of the omnibus, but have the other passengers close their mouths to avoid a draught.

Conventional medicine is powerless against the flu. It is therefore a idea good to hang a pendulum over the belly: if it swings from right to left, it’s influenza; but if it swings from left to right then you’ve got a cold on your hands. Wash your hands immediately and proceed to Dr. Weissenberg for treatment. Take the white cheese he prescribes and smear it directly onto the flu; sticking it to the underside of the bed is a sign of medical ignorance and hard-heartedness.

Under no circumstances should you bring this mysterious ailment to a so-called “Doctor.” If you have the flu you’re better off asking Frau Meyer. Frau Meyer always has a remedy. If there is an outbreak of flu within a circle of acquaintances, it is sufficient for one member of the circle to seek treatment—the others can just follow the same instructions.

Principal remedies include: Camomile tea, elderberry tea, magnolia tea. rubbertree tea, and cactus tea.

These remedies go back to our grandmother’s days and are not particularly effective. Our modern age has seen the advent of new means of supporting the pharmaceutical industry. Popular flu remedies include: Aspirol, Pyrimidine, Bysopeptan, Ohrolax, Primadonna, Bellapholisiin, and Ethyl-Phenil-Lekaryl-Parapherinan Dynamite acetylene Koollomban-Piporol—In the latter case, it’s enough to pronounce the name several times in quick succession. Take all these remedies immediately—for as long as they help—in alphabetical order (“Ph” counts as a single letter). Bicarbonate of soda also does wonders for one’s health.

Prophylactic injections (lac, from the Greek. Lit: “milk” or “lake”) are proven to be particularly successful after treatment. These injections have a 100% success rate in cases of flu which are already over.

Americans are known to treat flu by filling cold compresses with hot Swedish punch; Italians keep their right arm extended in the air for long durations; the French ignore the flu, just as they ignore the winter, while the Viennese write lengthy feuilletons each time they fall ill. We Germans tend to treat the matter more methodically:

We go to bed, catch the flu and don’t get up again until we have a really high fever—at which point we rush off into the city to take care of some urgent business or other. A telephone by the bedside of female patients can considerably lengthen the course of the illness.

The flu was invented by the English priest, Rev. Jonathan Flue in 1725; it has been scientifically curable since 1724.

The signs of a full recovery include back pain, coughing, foot cramps, and a slight tingling sensation in the nose. These symptoms however do not belong—as the layman might be inclined to believe—to the old flu, but to a new one. The duration of a common domestic house-flu is three weeks with medical treatment, twenty-one days without medical treatment. Additionally, male patients suffer from so-called “self-pity” with roughly the same amount of fuss that women exhibit during childbirth.

Julius Caesar’s go-to remedy for flu was laurel-leaf soup; at the Vanderbilts’ palace they prefer platinum-broth with soft-boiled pearls.

I’d like to conclude my remarks on the subject with the words of the world-renowned Fluologist Professor Dr. Dr. Dr. Ovaritius: The flu is not a disease—It’s a state of being!


Translated by Daniel Kennedy



Kurt Tucholsky (1890–1935) was a German-Jewish writer, journalist and one of the most influential satirists of his time. He wrote under multiple pseudonyms for a variety of magazines and newspapers, most notably die Weltbühne. He tirelessly and mercilessly satirised those he considered to be the enemies of democracy and human rights, but grew increasingly pessimistic about the future of his country.
He left Germany in 1924 and travelled widely before eventually settling in Sweden in 1930. In 1933 the Nazis revoked his German citizenship and burned his books.

Owoh Ugonna Alexander; Our Journey to the City of Light

Our Journey to the City of Light

And the night was a saddened tree in the Amazon, where streets

sang to the rhythms of bullets and bombs.

On a vague street, came a tremendous flock of men, greeting

their bodies with violence.

Because the night was an enemy; mothers fought fears in

darkness; Father kissed their guns cheerio,

Babies filled their beds with tears.

Joan said; we shall set to a place where the gods doesn’t feel naked,

“Where water running over pebbles was the tears of wildness”.

Maybe it became a night when we threw our staffs into the Caribbean, like shepherds of the hilltop.

As daylight kissed the land, so laid a street of death,

As men became cockroaches whose bodies fell into rotten carcass,

And as the morning kissed our bliss, so laid the silent night as it went to bed with several corpses.

Maybe water is a way into love; where seas shall dance to our thirsty throats.

Three days, as we set our path for a virgin land, as nightfall had kissed our blossom, and as the eye of the gods brightened our morning, so shall we found our sweet manner.

And as we set to a land where shelter finds us, lay we crossing the tears of the Nile, as we filled our masque baskets with water.

The border cries for our departure, but we shall never lay in the blossom of perplexity.

Whereas, we shall consume the fires of the mountains, as they baked our bread.

Because we drew across the Kilimanjaro, came the short nightfall; a city of light, where our mysteries shall be found, where our stories be told.

And as daylight kissed our bliss, came “my dreams; A reality” as our feet consoled the lands.

Yes we did arrive to our fantasies, where breads were given to us by eagles, where water kissed our throats and light; our dreams.

And as we kissed the street, came a town of laughter, as men drank their ginger beers to the rhythm of music,

Where women were charitable sellers of gossips, as they gave signs to their lovers, where birds sang lullabies to babies.

Yes we did arrive to our dreams of laughter, our joy and consolations,

And as we sort a place to lay our heads, came I kissing the moonlight with a loving embrace, as I rose by hands to its coldness.

And so came sleep, kissing my eyes “nighty night”, as I laid in happiness to a city where my ears weren’t scared of bullets and bombs.



Owoh Ugonna Alexander is a prolific writer, poet and playwright. He has written many poems, stories, anthologies, articles, and essays. He is a romantic poet who believes in nature as a pious and tremendous creation of God. Born in south eastern Nigeria, he is the author of “ocean of love.”

Mitchell King; The Fairy With The Turquoise Hair

The Fairy With The Turquoise Hair

(Part 2)

 “Do you remember anything from before?”

“I don’t believe there is anything to remember. I exist because I was Dreamed.”

“Have you ever undergone, sorry to be rude, but…studies?”

“If you are asking if I’ve ever been poked by men in white coats, then yes, and you’re right to be


“Did they disclose anything to you?”

“About myself?”




“Would you like to ask if I’ve ever had a period or any other intrusive questions while you’re here?”

“No!—I just—well, have you?”

“I was Dreamed by a seven year old boy in 1946—I have nothing but a smile and blue hair. Peter didn’t think to make me anatomically correct.”

“So, you’ve continued to exist years after Peter died.”

“Yes, he died young and I don’t age and now I think I’d like it if you left.”

“Are you angry at him?”


When The Fairy With The Turquoise Hair slammed her door behind me, I stood on her front porch under a trellis of wisteria and whispered to her blue oak door my last question—I had been too afraid to ask in our five minute interview—do you wish you didn’t exist?

I came home from Maine and our father had three new pairs of goggles and it was dusk and he was getting ready to head out and walk the same corpse roads looking for the dead and he offered me some chocolate milk and I said yes and he said he would make it special which means he just adds a splash of French Vanilla coffee creamer to it and it does taste better but I think drinking milk this way is going to clog his heart.

When I woke up I was holding a twitching hand with pearlescent nail polish and my hair was blue. I went downstairs and waved the hand at dad and he said “nice hair” and I threw the latest hand into the pile and it disturbed the butterflies into a ripple of flying orange and insect smell.

Our house is on stilts. Hanging from it is a garden fed by rain run-off and in the back yard there is a large oak tree beside a honey suckle plant and some nondescript shrubs that bud violet in the late summer. Our house has three bedrooms. Sometimes in the spring a wind will ride up against the house and the timber holding it up will lean. The house will snap back into place. We lock all the cabinets shut in the spring so the dishes don’t fall out.

“I think I’m going to go back to Maine and see The Fairy With The Turquoise Hair.”

“Would she like that?”

“Yeah, we got along famously.”


“Come home with me.”

“Get off my porch.”

Spring is colder in Maine than it is back home and I saw inside her house how she had the logs dancing into her small fireplace.

“Can you change things?”

The logs stopped dancing.

“Why would I change anything for you?”

“Because you are The Fairy With—“

“I know my name. What do you want changed.”

“Is dream stuff identical—composition wise—to the real thing?”

“What do you mean? Most of the time Dreamers bring back unique things.”

“I’m bringing back hands. Is it as real as a hand from this world?”


Spring is a season of mud and butterflies. Our backyard is a mess with them both and the fairy had to lift her skirts as I showed her the pile and the butterflies and the smell and the red mud around the pile which was held together by chicken wire like a compost heap and I told her how sometimes when I come outside I find foxes chewing on the fingertips and I have to chase them away with a broom and she felt sad but she told me she couldn’t guarantee and then our father introduced himself and I could tell he thought she was pretty because he told her the joke he only tells pretty women and she asked about the goggles and he got embarrassed and I told him it was alright because I told her everything—that she was here to help—and he smiled wide and toothy and I could see the caps on his teeth and I think the fairy liked him too because she likes wood things and one of his teeth is polished and finished sycamore and then they went inside and he offered her some chocolate milk with a splash of creamer and the fairy giggled because she had never heard of drinking milk that way before and our dad said it was a family secret and I heard all this from outside because I have good hearing but I didn’t come in I just kept counting the butterflies on the pile of ivory hands and I kept losing count at 350 but some would leave and others would come back and I don’t have a word for a hive of monarch butterflies except maybe to say a “court” of butterflies or a “palace” and they shifted and blurred and I couldn’t see them as individuals anymore because they were a kaleidoscope because I had water was in my eyes and it seemed like a breathing heap of smell and orange and I wanted to lay in the mud but instead I went inside and took a shower.


The Fairy With The Turquoise Hair was standing over me as I counted sheep and I could hear her wand swishing in the dark air above my bed. Before that I told her what I wouldn’t tell dad— about ache and memory and heartwounds and she said my tears might help so she caught each one with the tip of her wand and I sank further into the bed.

“I don’t know if this will work.”

“I appreciate you’re trying your best.”

Dad had said she could sleep in the empty third bedroom and sometimes you hear things and it opens a space in the middle of your body like a small black hole and all you feel is empty and sucking and light draining.

“The angles of your room are helping—did you do this yourself?”

“I’ve been rearranging it for months trying to get the layout right for this.”

“You want whole things.”

“I want whole things.”

And then her wand touched my forehead right between my eyes and she said something about the third eye and chakras and bringing imagined manifestations into reality but I fluttered shut my eyes and thought things like the vowels of your name.



Mitchell King is a runaway witch living in Kansas City. Someday he hopes to colonize the moon.

Natalia Godsmark; The Bridge

The Bridge



I sit on the edge of the bed, my hands clamped over my ears. Matthew is crying again. I can’t listen anymore. He never stops. Never. I just…need some sleep.

            Nine years, we tried. Nine long years. Every month I would let myself get caught up in excitement; maybe this month will be the month. And each month reality would hit me like a punch in the stomach and I would weep and sob and rage. I would sit in the bathroom, the drip of the tap mirroring the dull thud of my heart, while the fan would sigh with me. I would flush the toilet and it would roar in anger. And then I would pick myself off the cool bathroom tiles and wipe my eyes with the back of my hand. Get back to the slow rhythm of my life.

            Then one day it happened. Just like that.

Matthew was conceived, quite out of the blue, when I had long stopped thinking it was a possibility. I was 39 and Jonathon was 40. Our little miracle.

Nine uncomfortable months later, he was born, with dark, wide eyes just like his father’s, but with a soft jawline and fairer hair like my own. The desperate longing I had felt for nearly ten years was satisfied; I would never want for anything else.

            And now, just two weeks later, I sit at the edge of my bed, with my hands clamped firmly around my ears. How can a creature, so tiny and beautiful, make that sound for so many hours a day? He’s hungry again. Or maybe he has wind? Or maybe he just doesn’t love me?

I don’t know what to do. I can’t hold him all day and all night. I need some sleep. I just…need some sleep.

            Jonathon picks him up and hold him until his screams quieten to soft little mews.

            “Sarah,” he says, tiptoeing forward to sit beside me on the bed, “I think he might be hungry.”

            I reach for Matthew without a word. Let the bruise-coloured bags beneath my eyes do the talking.

            Jonathon puts his hand on my shoulder and together we watch Matthew’s tiny mouth latch onto my nipple. He suckles furiously and I close my eyes.

“Once you’ve fed him, just go to sleep. I can watch him,” Jonathon says.

            I shake his hand off me. “I’m fine,” I say. And I am fine. All I need is Matthew.



For the fifth time tonight (or is it the morning?) Matthew’s screams pull me back to consciousness.

I was having that dream again, or I guess it was a memory. Isobel and me on a night out in London eating at a restaurant overlooking Tower Bridge. She was telling me her plans, her hopes for the future. They didn’t involve me. Not the way I wanted to be involved anyway. I had started a row; how could she be thinking about these sorts of things without consulting me? Didn’t she want to be with me?

No, it turned out, she didn’t. Because when sweet, innocent Sarah had come along, she had pushed us together. Practically set us up. Sarah who wanted a football team of children and whose life plans involved making her future husband and children very happy.

            I can see now it was the turning point of my life, that night at Tower Bridge. Had I not started the argument, who knows what would have happened? Perhaps Isobel and I would have stayed together, making each other miserable, each of us putting ourselves before the other. And Sarah and I wouldn’t have ended up together; we’d never have suffered through those ten unbearable years of what we thought was infertility.

            I pick up my son. My beautiful, very noisy, little boy, and, for the first time after dreaming of that night, I feel no sadness that it happened at all. Sarah mumbles in her sleep and I brush a loose tendril of hair off her face.

I take Matthew into the living room and lie him on my chest.

            “Ave Maria, Gratia plena…” I sing, and very soon, his whimpers become the snuffles of sleep.



Natalia Godsmark recently resigned from her day job as a Compliance Officer in an Asset Management organisation (but she’s a much more interesting person than that makes her sound). She has a one year old and is currently trying her hand at writing flash fiction and short stories. In April this year, she was longlisted for the OhZoe Rising Talent Award with two children’s story manuscripts.

Ruth Hogger; Ashes to Ashes

AshestoAshes copy



Ruth Hogger is an artist who works intuitively with free association through collage. Triggered by symbolic imagery, metaphors surface from the unconscious, and merge into scenes resembling dreamscapes. Her process draws from Freud’s free association, Jung’s work on active imagination, and her current MA studies in Art Therapy.