Frances Browner; Minefield in Korea 1953

Minefield in Korea, 1953

We came upon boots and bones

Heels and toes together

As if at attention.

As if this Unknown Soldier,

Grown jaded of War,

Had wanted to sleep it off.


While Sergeant went for help,

I lit a Pall Mall and reached

For a small bone, a finger

Perhaps that resisted.

Pried it from frozen ground,

Cleaned it with my bayonet.


As I cleared more mud away,

I discovered bits of rotting fabric

Rusted with blood,

An arm band, tattered and dirty

Bearing the Medic’s Red Cross

One of our own was he.


A second trove turned out to be

His wallet with Army ID,

A driver’s licence from Minnesota,

Pictures of people in front of a

Sturdy, red-bricked house

And a letter I did not read.


How long would it be before

They learnt that their son

Was no longer MIA, but KIA?

Their hope hopeless, prayers wasted?

I nodded at my skeleton

For, he was mine then.


Imagined him heeding screams for help

Stumbling and crashing down the hill

With no thought for mines.

Did he die instantly, or linger fatally

Wounded, calling Medic, Medic,

To himself?


I gazed over the valley

At the hills all covered

In an icy white-blue frost

Nothing stirring

A Christmas scene

In this killing field.



Why don’t we?

Wade across the valley to meet in the rising mist.

Share cigarettes, swap souvenirs, admire family

Photographs. Find a common language.


Why don’t we?

Walk away together, wherever our hearts take us

So that when the call to arms sounds on the battlefield,

There’s no one there to hear.



Frances Browner was born in Cork; grew up in Dublin; spent twenty years in America, and now resides in Wicklow. Her short fiction & memoir pieces have appeared in magazines and short story anthologies, been short-listed for competitions and broadcast on radio. Poems have been published in the Examiner, the Ogham Stone, Poems on the Edge, the Limerick Poetry Trail and Skylight 47.

Faye Boland; Gorseland, Mystery


(After Ann Tuohy)


Before fair day she’d

scrub his pants and geansaí

on the washboard

with carbolic soap

pray he’d get a good price

for the sheep, enough to buy shoes

to stop the children’s feet


She loved the honey’d smell

of laundered sheets left

to sun-dry on tufts of furze

was grateful for her humble home

on mountainous land where only

sheep would grow.


Under her bed

she kept a tea-chest

a treasure trove of linen and lace

relics of her time in America

before she was matched

to her husband – high-necked blouses

swooshing skirts, dancing shoes,

dainty as a dolls.

Every now and then she’d

lay them out on the bed

revive each garment

then fold, tuck it back in place.

Perfume her tea-chest

with fresh mothballs.



She’s a mystery to him

like the bermuda triangle,

the immaculate conception



The time she fritters

on the phone, at the hairdressers

haemorrhaging money,

her monthly moods.


She’s the wrecking ball of

a man’s freedom, her duster, hoover

bulldozing the peaceful enjoyment

of his tv. An inferno

filling him with an insatiable thirst.


For the slightest transgession

he’ll pay. Freezing him with bitter

eyes, he’ll face her gargoyle grimace,

and in her voice,

that sounds like breaking glass,

he’ll hear his mother.



Faye Boland is winner of the Hanna Greally International Literary Award 2017 and was shortlisted in 2013 for the Poetry on the Lake XIII International Poetry Competition. Her poems have been published in Three Drops From a Cauldron, Skylight 47, The Yellow Nib, The California Quarterly, The Galway Review, Literature Today, The Shop, Revival, Crannóg, Orbis, Wordlegs, Ropes, Headstuff, Silver Apples, Creature Features, The Blue Max Review, Speaking for Sceine Chapbooks, Vols I and II and ‘Visions: An Anthology of Emerging Kerry Writers’

Ann Egan; The Astoundment Of Fuamnach, Fuamnach And Midir’s Obsession

The Astoundment Of Fuamnach

The eyes of that moth,

damselfly, whatever it is,

truly astound me.

They’re as bright as gems


in the waters of the Barrow

when the sun is at its height and

salmon sleep beneath its bank

where no shadows fall.


They shine like amethyst

in the pitch of night when

hazel twigs burst into flames

and red and gold sparks


light silence in shadows.

Her wings beat, hum a song

more melancholy than lays of

the harpist at Samhain’s feast.


Her wings thrum as lightly

as the dance of an only child

tapping to meet another in

childhood’s lost gallery.


The fragrance of this fly

is like being in a garden of

wildflowers and elderberries,

perfume wafting sweetness


of a peaceful summer’s evening.

Around here they say she has

a cure for all ills and hardships,

and can create any world


the mind ever dreams about.

Look at my husband, Midir,

in search of no other, at home in

himself and a damselfly’s company.



Fuamnach And Midir’s Obsession 

Midir can’t be parted from her,

wherever he goes, she goes too.

She’s always hovering around him.

If he gallops across the moors


on his white horse, the damselfly,

Etain rests on his shouder,

purple of his clothes and her wings

make her appear a royal decoration,


the two look like they are one.

When he sleeps at night,

she watches over him from

the bough of the silver birch


he’s had replanted in his chamber.

He checks she has all her needs,

dew of the rising sun,

folding sigh of the night star,


flutter of the homing swallow,

sweetness of the rowan berry.

She is as well tended indeed as

the baby I dreamed of, never had.


Can you imagine a grown man,

one in his position, castles, servants,

fields, plates of gold, silver,

plains, forests and secret terrains,


and all he wants by night is

the hum of her wings as

she folds herself in slumber

on the silkened bough by his bed.


His eyes close, gently, peacefully

for she will awaken him at once

should the thoughts of an enemy travel

to disturb the sanctity of his sleep.



Ann Egan, a multi-award winning Irish poet, has held many residencies in counties, hospitals, schools, secure residencies and prisons. Her books are:  Landing the Sea (Bradshaw Books); The Wren Women (Black Mountain Press);  Brigit of Kildare (Kildare Library and Arts Services) and Telling Time (Bradshaw Books).  She has edited more than twenty books including, ‘The Midlands Arts and Culture Review,’ 2010. She lives in County Kildare, Ireland. 

Lucie McLaughlin; Palm


There is a gap


it is where Orpheus

used to be.

Yellow diggers carve into

rubble pits

the long pendulum

of a crane sways

slightly from

side to side. 


I filmed a part of


before the final


The legs of a beautiful

brass staircase 

open to the air

gulls let in to the 

inside of the

stained glass heights.

The lost affair; 

a hard drive broken, 

where once I placed 

the mutilated limbs. 


Other films remain 

the flashes weakly 


writhing along 

white sides 

of buildings

the ends 

of trees. 


Vocalising across 

the forecourt 

and onto the grey storm 

of the Lough.

Smoothing over or 

pressing down

 like the palm of 

the wind does.



caressing the 


the flat grey.


I touch my lips 

with the tips 

of my fingers

not knowing where 

the texture of 


will take me. 


Into the well of its 

disgrace I fell.

It sees good in the 

rain and the space 

of the writing, 

where a voice 

sounds a work

undoes these paths



at the lowest ebb.


And turning

the crest and swell 

of incalculable waves

there’s a seal’s head 

gawping at me.

When the seal slips, 

wordlessly, under the

robe of invulnerability 

the smooth 

wood of the desk, 

bone dry. 

Within a 

glass walled temptress

shuttering up the 

poured concrete

walls of late,

stairwells whistle 

and shake



Lucie McLaughlin speaks, performs, makes and writes with a fervent rhythm, symptomatic of a way (and multiple ways) of thinking through poetry. She has performed her poetry in London, Paris, Berlin and Belfast and her recently commissioned poem Slime was released by AQNB in 2017. 

Marc Nash; Tense


A moment in time

A moment of your time

A monument to time

Deep monumental time

A modicum of momentum through time

Occupied in time

A preoccupation with time (≈)


i have/am/will

moved/moving/move through time

Forever and never (≠)

i say “i”

Yet what that will be/is/was hard to determine

Since what construed/construes/will construe “i” (∂)

I found myself shuttled/shuttling/will be shuttled from the chemical growbag of my mother’s womb

A precipitant precipitate, abreactive reagency, postpartum postulate (Ø)

Capillaries, thew and membrane all constructed/constructs/ will be constructed from words in the dictionary

Aught but a cluster of sensory excitations

Relayed/relaying/will be relayed to a central processing cortex

Which clutched/clutches/will clutch at them interpretatively,

Glossed and glommed/glossing and glomming/ will gloss and glom impressions

And imagined/imagine/will imagine them as singularly connected/connecting/will connect («)

Ergo clumped/clumping/will clump them together as a self-reflexive unity

Of self

Ergo ego

That imagined/imagines/will imagine it can act through time

And changed/change/will change events

As if time proceeded/proceeds/will proceed along regular intervals

As if the “i” existed/exists/will exist sequentially along an unbroken continuum

Until death and cessation (Ω)

The nagging uncertainty that ate/eats/will eat at the core of this i of me

Saw/sees/will see the me reached/reaching/will reach for a pen

And wrote/writes/will write a parallel sequence with will abridge/abridging/abridged continuum

Yet that i is avowedly fictional unlike the indeterminate state of the prior/current/subsequent me

Which itself was/is/will be, of course, a fiction

Set/setting/will set up a parallax ‘me’ reflective and reflexive of the i that already was/is/will be pushed out there as having represented/representing/ will represent me

Stood/standing/will stand for me stood/standing/will stand the test of time

Friction upon fiction

A fictional i viewed/viewing/will view a second fictional i at one stage removed/remove/will remove

No three-hundred and sixty degree vision was/is/will be possible

Because of single point perspective

Subjective perception subjected/subjecting/will subject itself to reflexive scrutiny

Even though neither being existed/exists/will exist (∓)

The second Being being the mark the first being had left/leaves/will leave on the earth

Even though all human marks were/are/will be buried beneath soil or were/are/will be digitised somewhere in the ether

A data set generated by another data set

Both became/become/will become an evanescent smudge, proof positive that time did/does/will progress in a forward direction

As the waves of the sea will wash/washing/washed over the beach and obliterates/ will obliterate/obliterated any impressions cast there


A moment in time

A moment of your time

A monument to time

Deep monumental time

A modicum of momentum through time

Occupied in time

A preoccupation with time (∞)



Marc Nash has published 5 collections of flash fiction and his fifth novel will be published by Dead Ink Books in Autumn 2017. He collaborates with video makers to turn some of his flash into digital story telling. He lives & works in London.  

Brian Dunster; The Tangram Enigma

The Tangram Enigma 

(Part 2)

            “Make sure you tighten those pipes firmly together.  You don’t want the steam to blow in your face again, do you?”

            Master Morfran immediately took me under his wing when I arrived to work in the underground chambers below the Ministry of Stuff and Things.  He’s a surly fellow but he does know the ins and outs of the job.  He’s proud of his maintenance skills and likes to brag about how he alone saved the Governingmen from collapse by fixing the heating and returning hot water to the sauna.

            “That was one heck of a day.  They were this close to abandoning Plana Petram.”

            Master Morfran has been working in the chambers since he was my age.  He was too young to remember the destruction of the round world and he doesn’t like to talk about it.  He thinks it’s all a load of hot steam.

            “What does it matter?  Who cares if there was once a round world?  We’re here now.  And we all have to make the best of what we got.”

            Master Morfran doesn’t believe in chasing things that aren’t real.  That is why he has never left the chambers his entire life.  But the long exposure to the cramped, hot passageways have not been kind to his face or body.  His skin has wrinkled like a prune and hangs from his bones. And his posture is bent and broken causing him to look smaller than he actually is.  Due to his condition he has learned to move in a unique way, hobbling from side to side to propel himself forward.

            “Hope is a lost practice best forgotten.  Focus on what is in front of you.  Get the job done.”

            Despite our philosophical differences, Master Morfran has been kind to me for the past several full moons.  He has shown me the art of discipline and patience. He is proud to call me his apprentice.  I respect the man and I have gained much wisdom from his teachings.  I would not have made it this far without him.  The brutal conditions under the Ministry of Stuff and Things are much more harsh than I would have imagined.

            “Don’t get all soppy on me, lad.  Now, pick up the wrench and tighten that bolt.  After we’re done you can sneak off to see your girly for ten minutes.”


            Natsuki sits at a solitary desk inside a great hall, directly in front of the elevator that leads to the top floor where the Governingmen reside.  She is secretary to President Comfort and the others and is their only staff member.   While sneaking about the ground floor of the building she caught me but said nothing of the incident to her superiors.  Every night after I braved another scouting mission, I’d always end up teetering at the door on the far side of the hall and admiring her.  At first she was nervous.  I could understand why.  Here’s some guy who shouldn’t be here, staring at girl like a painting with moving eyes.

            “We don’t have long.  I have to type up some reports before midnight for President Comfort.  Maybe tomorrow night we can talk?”

            One night as I approached her door she stood waiting for me.  She smiled and held out her hand.  I didn’t know what to think.  Master Morfran told me from the very beginning that I should trust no one in this world but myself.  That others would betray me and want to hurt me for their own gain.  I thought those were some very wise words at the time.  But at that particular moment I chose to ignore them.  I took  Natsuki’s hand.  Her skin was soft and clean.  Compared to mine her hand seemed like it was crafted from the Goods themselves.  Her eyes glowed bright blue and her crooked smile greeted me with a warmth that is hard to describe.  I chose to trust her in that very moment and from every moment since then.

            “I have some curious information I want discuss with you.  I think it might help with what you’re looking for.  But you better hurry back to the chambers for now.  Security will be making their rounds.”

            Natsuki was fascinated by the elder stories I told.  She could hardly begin to imagine a complete world where one could walk its circumference.  Our land mass, our Plana Petram, is engulfed in a dome and travel beyond it is impossible.  In fact, you’re forbidden to reach within a mile of the dome itself.  Patrols guard it constantly and are ordered to shoot on site.  But sometimes Natsuki and I would sneak away and get as close to the forbidden zone as possible and stare into the vast expanse.  In her eyes I could see all the chunks of rock and debris, floating out in space, come together and connect like a jigsaw puzzle.  Her whole life she had worked for the Governingmen and forced to do their bidding.  While society festered and rotted, she watched as President Comfort and his cronies relished in others suffering. Yet there was nothing she could do.

            “I want to help you find the Tangram Enigma.  I want the world that once was to come together and be whole again.  I want the Governingmen to fall off their high tower and plummet into the graves we’ve dug for them below.”

            I was too afraid to ask for her help.  I knew it was dangerous for her and if she were exposed it could lead to unspeakable things.  Despite the consequences and reality of being murdered or worse, she pressed on in helping me discover the secrets the Governingmen were hiding. 

            I didn’t know if there were seven other Plana Petram’s.  The Tangram Enigma could have been just a fairytale.  Everything I was told came from questionable sources.  But there were enough consistencies in how each elder told their story that some truth had to exist. 


            “How was your date, lad?  Remember what I told you, trust no one.  Especially a young lass with her own office.”

            I found it hard to concentrate on work.  Natsuki possibly has evidence that would prove some or all of my theory.  Master Morfran noticed and I’ve never seen him so inquisitive.  He wiggled a mallet in front of my face and grilled me.  He wanted to know what my intentions with Natsuki were and what I was planning on doing if we’re found together.  I’ve never seen him so worried.  His concern frightened me to my core. 

            Natsuki and I fell in love with this wonderful idea of a round world and playing revolutionaries.  But had we considered what the ramifications of our actions would be?  If exposed, the people would declare all-out war.  The Governingmen would have no choice but to defend themselves and use whatever means necessary.  Our way of life would cease to be.  

            “Nothing in life is worth risking peace.  Even if peace is slowly sapping away people’s lives, it’s much better than the alternative.”

            For a man whose spends his time in the dark fixing pipes, he’s very convincing.  But he wasn’t entirely wrong.  People have shown up dead from just uttering the Tangram Enigma.  If I were to expose it, those deaths are on me. 

            “Be comfortable with what you are.  Don’t reach for something out of your range.”


            Natsuki waited for me at the entrance to the great hall.  She saw me sneaking about the corridor and ushered me over.  Before I even opened my mouth she grasped my hand and dragged me to her desk.  A glint of excitement in her eyes.  An inflected tone in her voice.

            “While sorting through all President Comforts memos and correspondences to the other Governingmen I came across this.”   

            Natsuki handed me a piece of paper with the initials TTE inscribed at the top.  It was then followed by a desire to immediately discuss preparations for departure of PP and disposal of the excess waste.

            “I have other curious correspondences that relate in similar ways.”

            TTE – The Tangram Enigma.  PP – Plana Pentram.  Are the Governingmen planning on ditching our world to occupy another?  Had they discovered the whereabouts of the other land masses?  My mind raced with so many questions but provided few answers.  It was a start, though.  Natsuki has given us the first solid evidence that proves we are living a lie.

            “What do we do now?  How does this help us?”

            “It doesn’t help you.  It helped me.”

            The voice was deep and calm but sent shivers down our spines.  We turned to find a colossal man standing before us with several armed men, who looked harmless next to him.  I had seen his face many times plastered about Plana Petram but those posters did nothing to prepare me for the sheer magnitude of his presence.  President Comfort made the great hall seem small.  We wanted to run but the doors were already sealed shut.

            “There’s nowhere to go I’m afraid.  Only one way out for you both.”

            “We know about the Tangram Enigma.  We know what you’re planning.”

            Natsuki stood before the giant and held firm.

            “So?  There’s not much you can do about it now, Natsuki.  And to think, I was considering bringing you along.”

            Men with guns surrounded us from all sides.  By the Goods above we have no way out.  And to think we were only just beginning to discover the truth.  Master Morfran was right.  Hope is a lost practice best forgotten.

            “I tried to warn you, lad.”

            Hobbling from behind President Comfort he stops short of me.  Master Morfran cracks his back as he looks up and meets my eyes.  I can read his face; he’s disappointed. 

            “What did I tell you from the beginning?  Never trust anyone.  They’ll only hurt you for their own gain.”

            I couldn’t argue with him.  He had told me that from the start.  I should have expected this.

            “Mr. Morfran was kind enough to warn me of your goings on.  I was amused by your enthusiasm.  You might say I admired it.  But unfortunately we can’t have disorder.  And it is here where we end this little adventure.”

            “I’m sorry, lad.  I can’t have things being disrupted.  I’m too old for it.  Peace comes at a cost. No hard feelings.”

            “Yes, no hard feelings.”

            Presdient Comfort took his gargantuan hand and threw Master Morfran into me.  I managed to catch him in my arms before toppling to the floor.

            “Are you mad?  That could’ve hurt me!”

            “Quiet, you old pipe-cleaner.  By the grace of the Goods you’re lucky I didn’t squash you with my bare hands.  Now die with the ones you betrayed like a good sewer rat.”

            President Comfort returned to the elevator.  As the doors closed his mouth grew wider.  It was hard to tell but it looked like a smile.

            The armed men took aim and cocked their weapons.  I held Natsuki’s hand and drew her close to me.  I was shaking but she remained strong.  Master Morfran muttered under his breath then let out a burst of curse words towards the guards.  I never seen him so animated before.  He turned to us and pulled out several nuts and bolts from his jacket.  A sinister grin formed on his crumbled mouth.

            Just then the floor shook and the marble exploded, giving birth to a cloud of steam.  Several more explosions burst through the floor and filled the great hall in mist.  Screams of men echoed throughout.  The blasts must have gotten them and now the hot steam is melting their flesh.             

            Master Morfran hobbled his way through the misty hall as we followed him.  The steam was quite dense but he waltzed through as if it were a clear day.  The screams eventually died out as we reached the doors.  An explosion had conveniently ble them open and we managed to get through. 

            We made our way out of the Ministry of Stuff and Things and took shelter in a nearby bush.  It provided much needed cover as we catched our breath.  I wanted to punch Master Morfran very much but I could see what little difference that would make to our situation.  We were fugitives from the Governingmen and they would stop at nothing to hunt us down.

            “What do we do now?”

            Natsuki wasn’t concerned about our well being but rather what we plan on doing about President Comfort and the Governingmen.  If not for her I would have certainly given up and scurried into the deepest hole I could find. Which, ironically, is exactly what we did.



Brian has an itch… A mighty big itch. But it is no ordinary itch, oh no. It’s an itch for storytelling. Brian creates for a living. He can not see himself doing anything else. He has spent the last ten years building a portfolio of work, producing short films, music videos, and short stories. Brian studied film and television in IADT Dun Laoghaire and since graduating in 2011 has been evolving and honing his skills ever since.  He has won awards for his work, winning Best Student Film at the Kerry Film Festival ion 2011, and has showcased several other projects in numerous festivals across Ireland, including the Jameson International Film Festival and Cork Fastnet Film Festival, to name but a few. Keep up to date on his Facebook page – and check out some of his work on Vimeo –

Sheelagh Russell-Brown; Lilacs: The Word Collector’s Tale

Lilacs:  The Word Collector’s Tale

            The Scent of Lilacs on the Wind.  Cat and Mouse at Play.  Newly birthed titles, still fresh, inscribed in crimson ink on the ivory pages of the book where she kept such things.  Frost Feathering the Window.  How Large the Sky.

            How small the room she sat in and traced the shapes in crimson ink of all the words she heard.  The world turned dark outside the room, and still she sat and wrote the colours of the universe inside her.  She did not hear the rain, tiny fingers tickling the windows like the ivory keys of a piano, ivory like the paper, nor the mice inside the baseboards as they scratched out their grey yet eager lives.  She’d sat inside this room for months, for years, while seasons turned and passed again.  She did not see the frost flowers on the windows, the scrawny cat who prowled the room, the lilac bush whose purple buds sent out their heady welcome, whose branches tapped at the window, joining the rain in a neglected symphony.  She sat and wrote.

            She wrote, but only titles left their mark, like carvings on a tiny piece of ivory that hinted of things unsaid.  The world’s ephmera condensed into a half a dozen words or so.  She adorned the few words with curlicues and figures.  As if a mediaeval monk within his cell, she reimagined them as fish and fowl, as funny folk engaged in tasks unknown to her in life.  Atop each page a set of words.  Below, blank space still waiting for its story.

            She lived her life within the walls of wood and bricks and paper.  She lived, but did not see, or hear, or smell, or touch, or taste all that it offered.  She saw, but only in the few words she wrote, the street, the people walking on its stones, the trees.  She saw the lilac bush, the frost tracing its tales upon the window, the snow upon the roofs.  She saw but did not see their truth.  She heard the wind scattering the lilac petals that fell to earth, the cries of children playing in the park.  She heard.  The hearing did not touch her life.  She smelled the lilac petals as they fell, as they were crushed by tramping feet, as they were washed by rain.  The Scent of Lilacs on the Wind she wrote.  The petals stirred no memories for her.  Nor did they stir desire.

            She sat inside, collected words, shards of a life that glued together might spell, might speak some meaning if only words would come.

            How Large the Sky she wrote in crimson ink.  How cold her heart.  Her room was small.  How vast the field of white upon the pages.

            One day in spring she woke, ate her small meal, took out the book to write down there the titles that had come to her in sleep.  But as she turned to a new page, The Scent of Lilacs on the Wind had no blank space below it.  Instead, in crimson ink, a half-familiar hand spoke out its story.  She turned the page, and there was more, another page came after that.  She dropped her pen upon the desk and read.

            “The scent of lilacs on the wind entered her dreams.  She stood upon a bare hilltop and raised her arms to the lowering sky.  Her bare feet gripped the cold green grass.  Her gauzy gown blew in the breeze as if, once cloth was filled with air, she could take flight.”

            She read these words and quickly closed the book.  She opened it again.  The words still spoke.

            A mirror stood upon its legs in a long-forgotten corner of the room.  It had been years and many springs since she had looked into its world.  She held the book up to the mirror and saw inside the glass no words except those seven of the title.  She also saw she had no face, no features, was just a shadow on the glass.

            She walked toward the window and held the book into the light.  The words appeared again.  And in the glass she saw reflected a still young face, a puzzled face, her eyes seeking beyond the glass for answers and for stories.

            Again she sat and read a tale of a young girl who fled the world of sorrows and of shadows for a universe of words.  She read of blood that flowed like crimson ink through youthful veins and stirred the passions of the heart to flower like the lilacs gathered in jars upon each empty surface.  The scent of lilacs filled the room as she read on.

            She read on, and the world grew dark outside.  There was no light inside, but still she read, crimson words glowing.  A whole life was held inside them and it spoke.  A simple meal appeared beside a book. She ate and read until she heard the sad yet soothing call of a mourning dove amidst the lilac branches speaking to its mate.  She smiled a little then to see it there upon the pages.

            The door stood open.



After having taught at an international high school in the Czech Republic for seven years, Sheelagh Russell-Brown is now a lecturer in English literature and a writing tutor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Her research interests are in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and European literature, the portrayal of the Roma in art and literature, and the foregrounding of marginalized female roles in neo-Victorian literature.  She has been published in The Fem e-magazine, in Abridged poetry and art magazine, and in Tales from the Forest e-magazine, and will have a short story published by TSS in November of this year.  She has also won second prize in the first Irish Imbas Celtic Mythology Short Story Contest, and was shortlisted for the second Irish Imbas contest, as well as for the 2016 Fish Publishing Short Memoir Competition.  She is a contributor to Backstory e-magazine, to Understorey e-magazine, and to Historical Honey.

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.

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.