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CONTENT POETRY Nathan A. Thompson :

In McDonald’s

Catherine Ayres :

Indelible Ink

Zakia Carpenter-Hall :


Amy Ekins :


Verónica Pamoukaghlián :

What Is Sacred

Alex M. Pruteanu & Helen Vitoria :

Ars Poetica

José-Flore Tappy :


Kanchan Chatterjee :

November Night

Joao da Silva :


Nicola Audrie Hamilton :


Marcus Pactor :


Peycho Kanev :

Let’s Go Back

Christopher Barnes :

Electric Chair ART

Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné Sarah Burrows Valery V. Petrovskiy :

FICTION Spade As Baton

Nicola A. Hamilton :

Short Collection 6 x 6

Copyright May 2013

Firestorm Literary & Arts Journal

All rights reserved

Edited by Nicola Hamilton Designed by TC. Ferguson


IN McDONALD’S She collapses like an empty packet of fries. I scoop up her body, feel the rough nylon of McDonald’s uniform on the skin of my forearms and palms and slowly, beneath high cheekbones, a smile like dawn breaks; I cancel my stare, the girl keeps on mopping. I still have to learn that daydreams are just that.

COLLAGE OF A CZECH COFFEE SHOP Lavazza and laughter Chocolate Dolphin: Noir Lavande Product of BROWN SUGAR Mauritius Framed photographs and candles in small glass bowls Bewitched, bewitched you got me in your spell.

OFFA’S VIEW On the hillside, the wind strums a symphony of bobbing stalks. The thoughts of the composer bubble into hills traveling into the blue distance. His voice, lighter than sound, is the sky where my heartbeat is written clouds map each peak of a beat. A dead tree is a many-headed Hyrdra frozen by gorgon-glare and new worlds unfurl beneath the shelter of this once vital beast. Distant hillsides march, conifer mohawks and working farms tattoo their slopes – who will be here to witness their dive into the dark waters at the end of time? For now the truth is that everything is written in the grain of the wooden bench on which I write.

Nathan A Thompson has has taught contemporary English poetics at Palackay University in Czech Republic, curated poetry Nozstock Festival and runs workshops at schools and organisations all over the country.

CATHERINE AYERS INDELIBLE INK In January I dreamt of indelible ink, turning away from a mirror to marvel at dainty black daisies spreading across my lower back. A mixture of nausea and elation at not being able to return, trapped in necessary acceptance, forced to understand my difference. Five months later, I tentatively unbutton in front of a hospital mirror, door locked, strip light out, seeing a thin red line of indelible asymmetry, this virgin reflection strange and thrilling. And no, no; not that bad. Who would have thought, this new physical pride?

LOW TURNEY In this Other Eden I see feathered foam underneath a fern, white silhouette on water confirming magic. This place a bright coin in my head, needing no record.

DOUBTS The railings cast reassuring shadows. there is pleasure in sunlit symmetry on a morning path and the simple geometry of a curved black spine fills me with unexpected relief at a job well done. But on the flat brown river the sun loses its nerve, slipping clumsily on the oily surface, splayed on sticky amber, like a drunk on a pub carpet, making a fool of itself. I look away, embarrassed, shaken, The shadow spine still there, offering guidance.

OUTSIDER I record the ecstasy of sunlight, the strange melancholy of birdsong, the luminosity of leaves. I classify shadows. I meet the blank stare of rivers with an unwavering eye. I crawl so far into silence that I can feel the world’s pulse. I play I Spy with the universe, profoundly alone.

Catherine Ayres is a teacher, who lives and works in Northumberland.

ZAKIA CARPENTER-HALL WAR A disoriented queen leads her soldiers, numbering thousands, into a chimney to colonize a home. Faithful, they cover curtains, take over drawers, ignite the air in a discordant hum. The bee man says the queen will lead them out or they will die by tomorrow. So like plucked fruit, they perish. Death collides with beating wings.

MODERN Flattened pieces of silver hang above the ground like patchwork dinner plates or compressed chandeliers. But these are whatever the artist could find and press until the metal yields like dough. Mirrors and saucers bear witness only we cannot deliver their secrets with our hands. To an artist, books make weathervanes, hair brushes are really suppressed skipping stones. A metal cave bears a familiar likeness, the swimmable blackness is a place I have been, Surfacing from the watery abyss fished from wherever the artist goes to create. As I leave the cave, I’m surprised by the light, how completely it swells or recedes as I change direction.

ANCESTRAL LANGUAGE Imagine beliefs like insects stuck in amber, centuries old DNA of a species long gone swallowed up by something sweet *** My friend wanted to be a paleontologist she could talk bones, dead & extinct with the best of them. When she spoke to presenters at conferences, they’d ask about her degree. We were in high school learning languages far away from dinosaurs, that was elementary, playing with replicas, trips to the science museum and digging in the dirt. You see when you’re young, anything you find is treasure, especially if it’s old. It’s like opening up a doorway between now and then. My friend kept liking dinosaurs, wore khaki and green to school ready for safari – believed you were best poised to speak your ancestral language. And I guess it’s difficult to go back farther than dinosaur bones.

Zakia Carpenter-Hall is an American writer, multidisciplinary artist, facilitator and artistic consultant. She holds a BA from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and will attend Goldsmiths University in September of 2013 for a Writer/Teacher MA in London. Her poetry has appeared in Kalamazoo College’s magazine the Cauldron and Coal Modes of Transportation anthology.

AMY EKINS MARGARET A great-aunt brought me a pencil-case printed with stags in the snow. I filled it with HBs and hopes and zipped them out of view. Hers was the life fantastic among the redwoods of the red people – I sequestered sequoias in my bawazigaywins.1 Whilst I dreamed of escape to the big C, a C of another went Windigo2 on her limbs. Niboowin3 came for her – a wind that blew the life from her lips. I wear her spirit as an ozawabik4 and wait for my Olympic-sized quest. ____________ 1 Dreams 2 Cannibalistic spirit 3 Death 4 Yellow medallion

NUN JAR There's a shiver of petals on the table and a jam of red stuck to the base of two glasses upturned, made bell jars, or crystal performance underwear. My own, silk, and slack, and wireless, is hung from the dining chair, rumpled and empty; it looks like a scene from a museum – Victorian life, or literary heroines. Literary nones more like. Nuns are passing my window, in polyester blue habits. They don't look like the nuns that visited my school, Starched, black, voices lilting no matter the region, like lilies wilting on a heady altar, incense thick as perfume on their tights. I envy them. But then, I'm an agnostic, engaged, and working, and too fond of the naked dash through the living room, ground floor blinds open, to collect pants from the dryer. Not very modest. Not very honest either, or chaste. They wouldn't take me, couldn't make me as was needed. One looks up, waves, smiles. I feel slick words slipping down my cheeks. My mouth is dry. I raise an arm, heavy at the tip with polish, and jewellery, and disappointment in myself.

HOME I’m coming home. You penned it on a postcard and slipped it in a box, postage double what was needed, just in case. The stamps were gold, and patterned like our picture-rails at the edges – cornicing, I think you call it. Skirting up high, like how I pull my hem now, to dance with joy down the hall – parkay flooring my stage, my socks made ballet slippers, I pirouette into the hat stand, take your flat one, tip it, wear it, sniff it, kiss it – you’re coming home. I lift down your wax jacket, pick out gold thread from the drawer, and stitch words into your hems. I use all the words I saved in case you weren’t returning, so as to save face; grace be to God that I was wrong, that you are coming back to me. I feel you now, a tug at the edges of my seams, and wonder if perhaps we were sewn together all along – should I have known we were a set? Like a cardigan with pearls, or Pringle socks with Oxford brogues – classic, dull, happy, well-made, eternal.

Amy Ekins is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, a project manager for a publishing company, with a MRes in Creative Writing. She is passionate about communities, public art, and her Kindle. She tweets at @AmyEWrites.

VERONICA PAMOUKAGHLIAN ODE TO A SWEET SHOP OWNER PREACHER MAN Do you believe in heaven he said fake idol´s feet of clay talking to the lost teenagers looking for guidance a shining light somewhere to follow So he would talk for hours and saying nothing about heaven´s disadvantages gloom and doom and fill their heads with California breeze and fill their brains with cotton candy instill a fear without a purpose or enemy and keep them dumb and sell them pricey tea I like her he said to him about his girl I like you and that was it they´d follow him wherever he may lead a hamelin with feet of clay and nought to say and less to sing this world it has been lost for long far longer than it seems.

CAVALRY CHAPEL OF THE SEA Preaching obedience to the laws of God with the conga drums on the waterfront JESUS IS COMING from the neon sign on the highway Better to die than to burn he said, then he played his drum Assemble on Sunday by the beach to listen to him preach of Jesus coming and of Kingdom come they should be praying to a demi god and living by the Polynesian ways and caring less about the laws of sin and of its punishment A land inviting to all the things the bible deems impious Maui Let go the microphone and embrace the drum drink to the marrow of the coconut and find the secrets of the underground temptation lay behind the priest that solitary beach that so called doom of all humanly pleasures Jesus is coming from the neon sign over the highway as we drive away

INNER BLISSDOOM Magmatic and magnetic enigmatically icebergness of me beneath my dress and under the undress the masks of everyday the little tasks and chores that we perform to sustain our humanity that we are more than this undersurfatic blissdoom of instant pain and blessedness this microscopic navelstare of every living day our little world apart away estranged from each other.

Veronica Pamoukaghlian is a Uruguayan poet and filmmaker. Winner of the Zapatos Rojos Love Poetry Award, her work has been featured on PRISM and Sentinel Literary Quarterly (UK). She has won the Best Documentary Award at the East Harlem International Film Festival for and the Uruguayan Film Fund Award for her short film Monstruo. She currently runs her production company NEKTAR FILMS, and writes and edits for clients around the world. Visit her poetry website at

ALEX M. PRUTEANU & HELEN VITORIA ARS POETICA I know about what hangs around tomorrow: fire, fasting, spit shine of furniture, a body hinged & muzzled, hooves Medusa with a pail of poisoned water & a cup, with rabid teeth fever & succubae; nixies sliding down discreetly on well-oiled, silky cobwebs whispering sweet while sharpening her knives sacrament of blades, slick & sleek, bare contours of bores, bits & pistons like water holding the frequency of winter or ink fevered This is the season come back ‘round for heavy lifting & her, sawing through my bones; discontent of piety I am a dwarf, walking with rusty hammer & dull sickle weight of centuries, villages, fields & ploughshares pushes down hard & strains my back; looking for lost, calm animals But, the animals. Silent . Calm. Scattering in water & light pushing through hunger, saying: this is the future, we sink in its sound They sing a cryptic language I don’t understand I am, it is my folly, and before them, bone by bone, I petrify don’t turn, don’t stare, whisper the beasts I am trudging through a canvas sack of iron bearings slung about my shoulder I am all nervous system & insomnia A structure of envelopes & sun, burning― small bits of soul, breath, bile, and arsenic packed hastily into the sealed patina, a time capsule of leftovers; stale breadcrumbs for historians to rehydrate & put together an unknown life in some specific time until she returns as shelter. Alex M. Pruteanu is author of “Short Lean Cuts,” available as an e-book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and in paperback at Amazon. He has published fiction and poetry in Guernica Magazine, Pank Magazine, Specter Literary Magazine, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and others. Helen Vitoria's work can be found in: PANK, wicked alice, The Awl, Barn Owl Review,decomP, Camroc Press Review, Referential Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Rougarou, A-Minor, Safety Pin Review, ThunderclapPress, Gloom Cupboard, and many others. She is the Founding Editor and Editor in Chief of: Van Gogh's Ear, THRUSH Poetry Journal, & THRUSH Press.

JOSE-FLORE TAPPY KAOS Cut-off heads empty skulls roll in the dust resound over the naked earth their foreheads hit the ground the bowling balls leaving a player’s hand when they arc up then down strike other balls like rocks a game for bandits a game for murderers

[Untitled] But it’s the moon hallucinating the sea the anguish the attractive one provoking laughter or shouting reeling calling out to it it’s the salt in the air and the song of Sirens and its head spinning on the rolling waves

[Untitled] Numbed blue with cold down there their eyes vanish in the depths of their faces we look for we wish but oblivion oblivion alone covers them their mouths stuffed with snow * [Untitled] While a worn-out man withdraws to his mattress and ever closer to him his breathing lessens the light unfurls in waves sweeps through space moving broadly fluidly Or hovering drops into gardens into gardens below a straw roof every day the hibiscus opens five red petals

[Untitled] The wet green sweating persevering earth a bowl of steam into which I plunge my face all its moisture rises to opaqueness saying nothing is perhaps just to breathe when the body no longer casts a shadow

José-Flore Tappy was born in Lausanne and is the author of five volumes of poetry: Errer mortelle (Payot, 1983), Pierre à feu (Empreintes, 1987), Terre battue (Empreintes, 1995), Lunaires (La Dogana, 2001), and Hangars (Empreintes, 2006). She has won two prestigious Swiss literary awards: the Ramuz Prize for Errer mortelle and the Schiller Prize for both Hangars and her entire poetic oeuvre. She works as an editor and scholar at the Centre de Recherches sur les Lettres Romandes at the University of Lausanne. Her John Taylor’s translated poems have appeared in the Antioch Review, the International Literary Quarterly, Two Lines, Carte Blanche, Asymptote, Trans Lit Magazine, Thrush, and The Bitter Oleander. — Translated from the French by John Taylor John Taylor has translated the Georges Perros’s Papiers collés and Louis Calaferte’s Le Sang violet de l’améthyste. He has recently translated books by Philippe Jaccottet (And, Nonetheless, Chelsea), Pierre-Albert Jourdan (The Straw Sandals, Chelsea), and Jacques Dupin (Of Flies and Monkeys, Bitter Oleander Press). Taylor’s most recent collection of personal writings is If Night is Falling (Bitter Oleander Press, 2012). He is also author of the three-volume essay collection, Paths to Contemporary French Literature (Transaction), as well as Into the Heart of European Poetry (Transaction). The original French poems are selected from Lunaires [Lunar Poems], Éditions Empreintes, 2001 / 2005

KANCHAN CHATTERJEE A NOVEMBER NIGHT Everything was perfect till ten P.M. Beethoven was on I was sipping my first glass eyes closed relishing the Symphony No.9 in D minor. Then the couple started their usual fight their voices cutting through the still November night. The next piece began 'Fur Elise' this time. 'Ah' raised the volume just a bit finished the glass and poured another.

DOESN’T MATTER.... I don’t know the theory of relativity or how to change the Gear oil or how to detonate a dynamite for that matter... hell, I don’t even pray Properly sometimes even use obscenities while talking to God can't get the nuances, the undercurrents the looks in the eyes of most of the people most of the time and The grass still grows the river still flows …

THE BIKER He’s standing by his bike a naked Yamaha RX100 nothing much on it no silencer, not even the head-light. He’ll circle inside the hard wooden well twenty times, the biker… I’m in a village fair. Starts his bike now the crowd roars, the young bride gasps and catches her man’s arm, ‘Hope he’ll be o.k, no?’ she says. Can see the sweat coming on his forehead, clenching his jaw he jumps on his machine and starts off. Only he knows……

WAITING… You stole the words and left me and these naked December trees to shiver. The unborn poems lie by the dead dry leaves, waiting to be dumped in the garbage bins. ‘Christmas is coming’ they say. I’m waiting for March.

Kanchan Chatterjee is an Ministry of Finance in India, who resides in Jarkhand. Although he is not from a literary background, he loves poetry and writes when time permits.

JOAO da SILVA FLASHBACK (The Voices) A voice was heard inside my mind weeping This betrayed me and myself refused to be consoled This is my beloved word and I take delight in it but I am living in the shadow land. A voice seemed to come from within and whisper in my mind But let it be near me I've had enough of sights pointless struggle with destiny.

MY FEELING COLOURS: MY PICTURE PLACE ANGER Is like black skylight with a bad thunder noisy in my heart HAPPINESS is white when the best families bring it home LONELINESS is a red wave in the abyss WORRY is a silver sad person under the moon ENTHUSIASM is yellow ball on the pitch CONFIDENCE show the green in the goal plan to paradise.

Jo達o da Silva was born in Angola and came to Britain in 2003 seeking asylum. He writes emotive poetry and has previously been published in English PEN he is currently working towards his first collection, Just Me: The Way of My Liberation.

NICOLA A. HAMILTON OUTCAST Before sunrise we are halfway across the Savannah our feet disappearing in the mush. We were passing the spot where our Chachai succumbed. Maiyah is planning our escape. Last week Raja drank white rum again those who heard didn't come the door on his cabin bolted tight we knew then poverty was a curse, we gather the mangoes. Sweat, load the canoes and queued. Today's Pay day. Like Fridays we exhale close to the four o'clock hour We collect discarded mangoes for the children We each take turns adding items to our fantasy shopping list then Bread, rice and sugar. Tomorrow we'll catch fish but tonight we'll eat porridge made of flour we sit on the floor with the children and Mother in the dark and laugh at the candlelight throwing jocular shapes on the wall our jaws will numb. Our secret quiescent in our bellies until we are blackbirds in the field.

NIGHT OIL I had fallen asleep after Auntie Prem had washed and oiled my hair. I awoke to the motion of uncle Keith was carrying me over his shoulder, music and the scent of food greeted me. They were dozens of faces staring at me, teeth bearing elatedly at my arrival. I was taken with the lights that were running along our fence. In our village only some of the neighbours who worked in the big offices had current as they called it. Someone had run a cords from their house to ours. I saw Auntie Joanie and wanted to get to her, I was looking for my cousin Ashok. In the holidays and at parties we would play together our mothers cooking and cursing our fathers, mostly mine, while stealing glances in our direction. I had found Ashok. He was sitting on the decorated altar. Uncle Prem set me down right beside him. In all these years we have never spoke of the night we wed.

PANAVISION I avoided her eyes and tried to look normal. I am three thousand miles from my sister Janet. My husband envisages Janet and I gossiping like girls. Janet envisages me with Joaquin he is muscle and olive skinned. Life is always beautiful in Panavision I am heading through Nothing to Declare she steps out in front of me. The knots in my stomach tightens. A bead of sweat betrays me. I think of the goodbyes I have not properly said. The cell is cold. My clothes are tropical.

Nicola Audrie Hamilton began writing poetry in her early teens. She has performed at Apples and Snakes, Brixtongue, Gypsy and Blessed Souls. She is currently working on her first collection. A graduate student with a MA in Documentary Research from University of The Arts London, she is a keen on documentary photography and facilitating media workshops for young people.

MARCUS PACTOR APOCRYPHAL He performed his daily graces and spat. The apple core said to wash up. A mouthless yapper. He knew the type. Wash, the core said. The tiles are splotched with mud and raisins and spinach stems and pills and centerfolds and standing juice. And you? He asked. Toss me out. Forget, if not forgive. Prayer won’t save you from waste. Sanctify this kitchen-slash-dining room. His mouth watered. He spat again. Rose. He trusted no apple. Yet.

DIAL THAT ROBIN She described rotary phones As though real. I said, You hoard wet dreams Of permanence, a need For grounding. Old school becomes new. Ice Cube writes sitcoms. Jay-Z goes suit and lie. Gone your summer flannels, Your crush on Tawny Kitaen, And your kid’s faith in Hegel. Describe nothing. Progress Is the Christmas roll-out. Or dial the robin. Tell it what remains.

THE NIHILIST CHEWS Beside the river, the nihilist Shows his teeth. Hungry, Cracked. Above the water Birds swoop and eat. River Phoenix Od’d. Facts are facts dropping Beak first, pecking away. River had a brother. What’s his name? Manatees proceed Unbothered. Fat, dark Brahmins. They follow the river. Drop seed, hunt food. Fail. He knows them. A child could have been Nothing. Something. Made up. Maybe. (Answer’s Joaquin. Knowing hurts.) The river flows north. He follows a shadow. Wishes it would rise Or vanish. Does neither. The birds descend. He is a poor nihilist, Chewing the facts, Needing the taste.

You knew the secret Of captured time Hourglass, no Water travels Thus to thus To its level. Whoring done. This why Men reckon Time in seconds Rather than love. Confuse numbers. With acts. Clepsydra’s work.

Every minute costs or counts, Numbers reckoned As clocks or money melt on Dali But this Greek and this love Facsimile, and also time One and the other, both whores, Subs for hands, idle and needy. Liquid time is kept time, finding It’s level. Ancient this clock Knows well: love is done.

Marcus Pactor, won the 2011 Subito Press Prize for Fiction and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. My short story collection, Vs. Death Noises, will be published in October. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in Conte, The Dos Passos Review, Fourteen Hills, Front Range Review, Peeks and Valleys, Quiddity, River Oak Review, Timber, Knock, and The Minnesota Review.

PEYCHO KANEV LET’S GO BACK I don’t know which is deeper – the shadows born in darkness or the salt of the earth sodden with blood? The abyss is filled with blood, and the darkness covers it as a lid, shiny and lonely as the sun. There, a bird flutters its wings, voiceless over its egg. Because of that, let’s go back, where everything was simple and pure, the dark blood slowly becomes clear, and something is born, which is yet to be named.

AND TOMORROW Today, I will look in the mirror to see only one unshaven beast. Today, they’ll offer me razorblades and foam to prepare myself. Today, they’ll drag me out of the cell, and we’ll go out for my last stroll. Today, I will read the newspaper with my name in it, underlined with thick line, and the time of my birth and death at the end. Today, I’ll dream of childhood, dandelions and something lost forever teeth, nails and stolen virginity. Today, I’ll eat my last supper in secrecy, happy for who I am and what I was. Today, my time will be heavy as the Sphinx, and I will wait for the night. And tomorrow, I will leave these golden bars behind, I will walk between the guards of honor and the people with dark faces, and they’ll scream: “Fry him like a dog”, but wouldn’t they see that I am god?

THE EMPTY WELL A single neuron in my brain is going Ha-Ha, like a hungry beast that dwells in the well. And all of these things shouldn’t happen if: I hadn't closed the door, if I had come inside and looked in your eyes. But now the walls are painted in red, in your spectrum. This is beautiful enough to dry your eyes, but you are singing silly songs. I am somewhere else! From the urn on the mantel, someone is pointing his finger at me.

Peycho Kanev is the Editor-In-Chief of Kanev Books. His poems have appeared in more than 500 literary magazines. He is nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Net. A new collection of his poetry, titled Requiem for One Night, will be published by Desperanto Publishing Group in 2012.

CHRISTOPHER BARNES COUNTDOWN Electrode is to calf As megapixel is to eye, A painstaking transformer. Purple-mould injuries bludgeon the head - Always this demonstrative shot. The footsteps of your legend Is ruinous. Fuse-blowing vital chunks, Alternating current hurled hangmen Into regenerated undertakings. Crackle goes an extra life.

BRAINER This blanched anteroom’s irksome, A shrine to Edison ’s trails With cats and dogs. Squishy seals, a queasy camera-lens. Crabbedness of scalding muscle. Water-salt that sopped electrodes Is dust. You have passed into a frame. The body streams As life empties.

DATE White Coats enlightened us. Extremities give rise to energy (A charged switch Stung yours). A botch, by tears. Cut-short. No lovebird deliberates Your cage in its pupil. His Nikon, winceless, Impotent to unsettle Your lost-sleep eyes. Even-tempered, Cadaverousness engrossed that thick head Into a knockabout bruise.

Christopher Barnes is from the North East of England,who won the Northern Arts Writers award and is an annual participant in the proudWORDS Festival of Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Writing, where he both writes and workshops. He has published a collection LOVEBITES (Chanticleer Press, 2005). He has produced radio programs and worked with art, digital and visual poetry formats. He has written poetry reviews for Poetry Scotland and Jacket Magazine. Listen to his poem, The Holiday I Never Had


Children of the REVoLUTiON


Danielle Boodoo-Fortune is a Trinidadian writer and artist whose work has been published in journals such as Bim: Arts for the 21st Century, The Caribbean Writer, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Tongues of the Ocean, Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal, and Arc Magazine, among others. Her art has been featured at Trinidad Erotic Art Week 2011 and WoMa (Women Make Art) Exhibition, 2012. She was part of Urban Heartbeat Street Art Project (Trinidad). Danielle undertakes commissioned (hand-drawn) website banners, portraits, murals and illustrative projects.


Sarah Burrows is a Trinidadian artist who entered and won her first art competition, aged 15. It was then she decided that art would be what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Burrows works in the medium of pencils and fabric paints and held her first solo exhibition in January 2012 and is the official fabric artist for "The Art of Wear".


'Writing sustains your sanity Reading feeds the soul'

Valery V. Petrovskiy SPADE AS BATON From my town to the burial ground one can go two ways: the first we are supposed to go by walking and the other… (they bring the departed this way), by the road where one can drive a car along. And a path with a steep slope is the only way to walk, old men couldn’t take it. In general, old folks rarely went to the cemetery, I saw little of them there, and they didn’t like the place. I made my way to the burial ground by the path; it ran from the town’s upper end down to a brook. The pathway was sloping steeply, still one could get to the cemetery in five minutes, or it could be at most ten minutes in the dark. To get to the burial ground I had then to climb a hill to the left, it was upside there. As kids we had run this way down to the brook many a time. The cemetery didn’t quite belong to my town; we shared it with a neighbouring village, they buried there too. On the contrary, the burial ground could be initially theirs, nobody knew. Half the names of the buried were written the same, maybe relatives - from my town and the village nearby. They all were my fellow-countrymen in any case. So I was going to see my friends there at the cemetery. I keep a picture with all my guys from the same street, side by side in it. Lately we used to meet more often at the cemetery, burying an old man as a rule. We interred them with no fuss, in an ordinary way: my mates leaped down a grave with their spades one after another to dig. We were used to go bury-digging with our own spade. One was not to pass it from hand to hand, it’s not a baton. If one had to pass a spade, he would lay it down, never drive it into the ground, and so let the other to pick it up. So it was! Otherwise folks would die one after another, dragged off by a diseased. It couldn’t be denied, all the guys knew that! So, while two of us were digging a grave, the others waited around smoking. That night three of my friends could have been waiting for me at the burial ground. In the dark no strangers attended it, and the pals were local residents. Gosh, it was a moonlit night, and the moon looked like an armful of last year’s straw. The fellows would sit there having a respite as if sitting in the shade of a hayrick in summer. A deadly light was casted by the moon from far above. Only Alex would sit there with his back upright as if a Guard officer, he had a regal bearing. I don’t know what position he held in the Army, but I’m sure he served his time. Then a boy I hadn’t been present at his send-off where old folks gathered together, some parents and adults.

When I grew up, he was already back and we went around with him, a jolly crowd from the same street. And Mike would lie nearby. I don’t know what it’s called when one stretches oneself out with his elbows resting against the ground. He wouldn’t be comfortable but stand it: I call him single-minded. He’d lie facing Alex, not quite looking him in the face. They walked in line in life, worked at the same weaving mill with so many girls around. Why had they disagreed once? Mike moved out soon after and sold his own house. The fact grieved him much, and he never appeared on the street again. So Mike stretched himself out, and Alex would sit opposite with his leg bent under him. And Pete would stand beside them as if going to run somewhere. Where could be he hurrying at night I wonder? Pete was ever ready to come to the aid: to dig potatoes or to chop firewood, or even to dig a grave when needed. Not everyone would go to a burial to assist while Pete was ever good-natured and reliable. He didn’t agree with quarrels, that’s why he was standing there between Alex and Mike, just to make sure. But the guys wouldn’t fall out. All the three of them were dead long ago. They died one after another; maybe one has driven a spade into the ground, who was I to ask then?

Valery V. Petrovskiy is a Chuvash University, Cheboksary graduate in English, and graduated from VKSch Higher School, Moscow in Journalism. He has had his prose works published in The Legendary, Danse Macabre, The Other Room and Apollo’s Lyre among others. Valery resides in a remote village near the Volga River in Russia.

6X6 London 2012 • Alarm. Toast pings. Door slams. Gridlock • May 2012. Unforgiving rain: clean laundry. • Jubilee!? Raining. We watch on screen. • Jubilee. Floats. Crown sparkles. Diamond river. • Host nation of nations. Winning Gold! • Recession. Depression. Double dip. Press on!

Nicola Audrie Hamilton, lives in London and writes poetry. She will be teaching Media Literacy and Poetry writing to teen girls for the @FuseMediaProj this Summer. She is working on her first poetry collection.

Firestorm Journal:The Poetry Collection  

This is our first issue. Bumper packed with poetry, prose, and art.

Firestorm Journal:The Poetry Collection  

This is our first issue. Bumper packed with poetry, prose, and art.