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Editor Terri-Jane Dow @terrijane Cover Art “Galaxy” by Jessica M Farrugia @jesmgia

...the dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move.

The SPACE issue received the most submissions we’ve had since SEVERINE started, with art and writing including supernovas and black holes; artists, aliens, and astronauts; planets, galaxies, and sprawling universes. I feel like the inbox certainly had a fairly decent stab at that definition of “all things”. Choosing what went into this issue was the most difficult so far, and the pieces here are, I hope, a balance between inner and outer space; with non-fiction, poetry, and fiction nestled up against some beautiful artwork. I hope you enjoy them! - Terri-Jane

The night sky embodies the unknown, the infinite. The little we do know confirms that it is empty and utterly hostile to life. It is hard to imagine something less human than space, dispassionate, while we are creatures of passion, eternal, while we are finite, dead, while define ourselves through living. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in space. Of course our home occupies a tiny part of it, but we have, do, and will continue to find, human meaning in the cold vastness of the universe. For the native people of South America, the bright strip of stars dividing the sky, known to us as the Milky Way, is a pathway followed by the dead to the afterlife. Popularised in Walt Disney’s The Lion King, the African Zulu and Ndebele tribes believe that stars are the now immortal eyes of their ancestors, forever observing mortal affairs, present to hear prayer and act as a source of wisdom. These myths rely upon the unreachable and unknowable nature of the stars for their spiritual meaning. The mystery of space reflects the mystery of death. An ever-present reminder of our ignorance whose qualities are fertile ground for metaphor through which we gain some solace when contemplating mortality. By gazing into the unknown then, we explore the unknowable facets of ourselves. We also place ourselves in the stars, organising the universe in our own image through the constellations. Here it is not ourselves we seek to understand but the universe itself. The identification and labelling of groups of stars, often defined by their structural embodiment of human heroes, permitted the ancient civilisations of Babylonia and Greece to harness their movements to navigate and keep time. We placed ourselves in the stars and found our own place in space and time. These tools of science developed in tandem with religious and spiritual belief. Constellations

and their movements took on significance beyond their geographical utility. Romans read the will of the gods from astral dynamics, portents informed decisions on everything from auspicious dates for important events, to indicating the optimal time for harvest, or the declaration of war. Nowadays of course we find our individual meaning from on high delivered in terse tabloid prose. Whether or not these claims have ever possessed any merit, the passage of human life and society finds itself often governed, and perhaps better understood, through the interpretation of celestial events. Again, having placed ourselves in the stars, we find they impose on us a meaning that guides and influences human existence at every level, from the personal, to the cultural. As scientific understanding of the universe grows, so does our own image in the mirror of space. Far from dispelling the pretension of finding human meaning among the stars, we find ourselves there in a far more concrete and profound sense. The proportion of elements that make up our corporeal bodies almost precisely matches the overall chemical makeup of the universe as a whole. We are a reflection of it. When we ask how those building blocks were created and came to become part of us, we find that they were forged in the dying furnaces of supermassive stars, reaching our small suburb of the galaxy having been flung across its disc by the immense forces of supernovae. Again and again we find that an understanding of the universe breeds understanding of ourselves, and now we find that understanding the elemental parts of ourselves will aid our understanding of the cosmos. Space holds one final significance for us. It is clear that spiritual meaning and scientific understanding are both avenues through which we find ourselves in the stars. However, we also find our survival there. The rapid development of programmes such as Mars One, and NASA’s own Mars colonisation programme, show that both the private and public sectors are

taking seriously the necessity for human civilisation to migrate into the unknown. Indeed, futurists expect us to colonise a significant proportion of the galaxy provided we do not suffer an extinction event before we have the chance. In the future we will find ourselves among the stars, living our lives on alien worlds. By that time the universe will no longer be a symbol of the unknown, it will no longer be dead and empty. It will be a vessel for burgeoning life. We have a link with the universe. A narrative, self-made link, a spiritual link, a physical link in the most literal sense, and further a link founded in hope for the future of the species. We find ourselves in the vast unknown of the cosmos at every step in human development.

Facing: Heartbeat Galaxy, by Ana Prundaru

We pull another roll of pickled film out from our mouths & retrace our memories in negatives, a motion of dead like smoke rising from its prey. Then coils around our ears, whispering, a force that makes sky starts gathering heavy as if grapes to a basket, to a winery, pours to our glasses, then back to our mouths again. Some shadow play of Petrushka but not with puppet string but noose; a funeral rehearsal. We witnessed this event bloom to a swirl. Sirang plaka, paulit-ulit. My doctor’s theory is that we are sick & inside our heads we are dreaming; outside are the events caused by delirium within the dream. The tests say we fell into slumber— sleep is how we slowly enter

the black hole

shredding us apart.

This space where fever rises & outside we quiver, we scream. A synchronized loop of two breaking through for a bigger event, to its opposite— the reversing of sleep:


Of blackhole’s vomit to the rupture of new form against its shell. The dream, the head cracking open with liquid silvers and clouds of dusts. There, from the void a new soul will emerge skin like the first light of morning— the waking of us, birth of tala.

*tala – a Filipino(tagalog) word for star.

(first published in Rising Phoenix Review)

I Maybe I thought we were cosmic because your bedroom reminded me of deep space. Hollow and pinpoint light, gravity and silence. They pioneered a probe and found us, the latest scientific discovery, the sound of black holes colliding. They returned in awe and with audio. They had bentbacks leak us into their ears and transcribe us on paper: all brackets, no speech. They published us in journals. Some say the recording sounded like being underwater. Some say it sounded like a child’s heartbeat in the hand of God. All I hear in it now is the low roar of a lonely blood rush—the sound of sitting here cupping my hands over my ears. When this started I said I wouldn’t think about astrophysics—I wouldn’t think about parasitic absences of light more massive than stars. I would steel my limbs against gravity, the mirage of stability that fluctuates infinitely and (in)definitely. I would try to remind you of the bodies orbiting us resounding with proof that our duty is beyond spinning moons. And for a while it worked: we fought the yawn of all that negative space with blunt force, with sinewed dual orbits—but we couldn’t hide from the event horizon. You know that I stretched myself galaxy-wide for you. I wish your arms could’ve escaped Nothing’s pull and clung to me. (I heard they’re learning you can escape from black holes.)

II I awake from this telescopic cosmodream to find us terrestrial again. I awake, and you are a manmade natural disaster. Your shoulders creep steadily past your ears and our oceans rise inch by insidious inch. You embrace subduction like submission and our deep-earth drills birth earthquakes. You are a coal seam screaming danger, hissing fire speech from steaming teeth. I always hear fears of coal fires but never about the men who brave the mines still, steeling eyes to onyx, daily daring the maws that mirror lovers’ mouths. I find myself among them: fire under my eyelids, soot on my skin. I know the pressure could tear me blood from bone but, god, can you blame me if when morningbreak steals its kiss I don my boots, I shoulder my pick, I soldier still just to see the pain leak, covering your skin dark my love, viscous as an oil spill and flammable. The heave of crude waste pockmarks you, puddles in your bones. I am embarrassed to have thought us cosmic, to have made constellations of our laughter, to have been the canary in your coalmine. I am embarrassed to invoke us now like the fires of the stars when the last thing I saw of you was a lit match and the image it burned of your shrinking shadow in a stuffy bedroom that looked nothing like deep space.

We drank wine on the rooftop, we drank until our lips turned black, like the time you pressed your mouth against the earth kissing your tierra madre, your buried heart. We talked about the ending of everything. Our packs for sale in some desert market our sand dollars bought by other tourists, or everything thrown to the dogs on the side of the road. We named the things taken from us. Listed the objects we had tucked into pockets, wrapped in socks to keep from breaking, all the memories we had paid for. We sat above the fields of dry grass and I watched you pluck the seeds from a pomegranate, and float the pith in a bowl of water. An offering, to the discarded moon below an empty yellow sky.

The moon had been in Pisces. For several days it was a slim crescent, providing just enough light for the starry fish to swim in – breathing in the radiance, the austere, pale light. The luminous curve did not lie on the left or right side of the capricious satellite. It was on the bottom: a drink that will become larger as the moon grows full and generous. Pisces splashed in the glowing ocean as the astronomers waited, marking its orbit across the arid night sky. Like hooks, their numbers and equations would pull the fish from their tranquil sea, trapping them in a net thrown across the galaxy. And when the mystic trawl drags them from the bright water they will lay gasping against the sky. Stars and planets will swirl around fins and gills, edging against scales – glittering like a diamante skin. There was no bait that could lure the fish from the moon’s pretty shores. They swam throughout the night until the moon became filled with light, forcing Pisces into the dry darkness. Sprawled in constellations, the fish wait – for the waters to recede, giving them a chance to slip once more into the moon’s shining waves.

After Joseph’s father died, the family

the open window, his cheeks hot with

moved from their gothic mansion in

tears and sweat. But she’d never turn on

Nyack to a narrow, wood-framed house in

the light, for he found comfort in darkness

Queens. It was a dark period in all their

and she knew not to startle him. Instead,

lives, and for Joseph, it was when the

she’d perch on the windowsill, his head

terrors started. Every night, his sleep was

resting in her lap as she stroked his hair,

haunted by the shrieking cries of luminous

and together they’d search the sky for

creatures with hollow eyes; desert cats,

constellations; it became their ritual.

birds of prey, and the white antelope,

When he was old enough, Joseph took it

which appeared more often than all others

upon himself to transform his bedroom


into a cosmic sanctuary. At the hardware store he browsed the paint tins and settled

While his mother was still sick with grief,

on indigo blue – rich and mystical. He

it was Joseph’s sister, Elizabeth, who

covered every inch of the room with it,

would respond to the screams that pierced

including the ceiling and the floorboards,

the silence of the night. With panic in her

and waited patiently on the staircase while

chest she’d run to him, her feet fumbling

it dried. Basecoat set, he then started

up the stairs to the attic room and her

painting the moon, distant galaxies, and

nightdress whipping the bannisters. As she

Elizabeth’s constellations.

twisted and turned through the vertical

His mother’s conservative visitors would

labyrinth of the house, her voice would

respond with a frown and a slight shake of

echo against the bare walls: ‘I’m coming,

the head as they observed Joseph’s paint-

Joe. I’m coming!’

smeared hands picking at an apple danish.

Most nights she’d find him cowering by

Facing: Room by Daisy Richardson

When they asked why he wasn’t outside

Bickford’s cafeteria, where he’d

playing with the other children, he plainly

contemplate his findings over a slice of

replied, ‘I’m busy building the universe in

cherry pie and a glass of soda. (He held

my bedroom.’

onto two things from his childhood; an obsession with the universe and an

Despite his spending hours with a

insatiable sweet-tooth.)

paintbrush in hand, it was Joseph’s sister who eventually trained as an artist,

Back at home in Queens, he stored all of

studying with Edward Hopper, no less.

his treasures in the basement, away from

Too proud to protest, Joseph embarked

the prying eyes of his mother and siblings.

upon a more practical path, saving his

If, by chance, he left a box of fresh loot in

creativity for solitary, stolen moments.

the hallway or the kitchen, his mother

In his twenties, Joseph got a job as a

would soon chastise him. ‘Joseph, get this

textiles salesman and spent his days

dusty old junk out of my sight.’ Perhaps

walking the city between client meetings.

he was hurt by this lack of interest, but he

Filling time, he began to browse

was surely grateful for her ambivalence

Manhattan’s thrift shops and flea markets,

when he began to collect an altogether

scavenging for second-hand science books

different kind of star.

and reproductions of Renaissance astronomical prints. He’d waste his

Amongst his scientific diagrams and

afternoons rummaging through

historical prints, Joseph stashed images of

miscellaneous ephemera, searching ‘not

Hollywood’s golden girls and New York

for the proverbial needle,’ he’d explain,

City Ballet’s most promising dancers. He

‘but for a star.’

sent gifts to each of them, but he wanted

After work, it was his habit to camp out at

nothing in return, satisfied by the

knowledge of their mere presence in the

unobservant passer-by.

earthly world. In his diaries, he wrote often of his evenings spent star-gazing at

At his usual second-hand haunts, Joseph

the theatre, asking stewards coyly if he

might have been thought an eccentric,

might be allowed into the ladies’ dressing

loitering around the same pile of junk for

room. But you must not be mistaken into

forty minutes before handing over a nickel

thinking of him as a voyeur; his was a

for a discarded reel of thread. But his

childlike, innocent admiration and these

process was precise and exact. He

were the dazzling lights of his adult years.

believed that across every inch of the city there were orphaned stars waiting to be

By the time he reached his thirties, Joseph

discovered, and it was his job to find

was out of work, which (despite his

them. He’d place his chosen object, no

mother’s disappointment) suited him

matter how mundane or insignificant,

rather well. His basement became his

carefully in his pocket, as if it held

workshop and his time was filled with

enormous value – for to him, it did. As the

star-hunting, from dawn ‘til dusk. Every

light faded, Joseph would make his way to

morning he’d leave his house wearing an

his final stop before heading back to

uninspiring shirt and his favourite coffee-


coloured trench coat; like a travelling salesman, Joseph’s pockets were decked

Reaching 42nd Street and Park Avenue, the

out with the tools of his trade - pens, used

imposing columns and arched windows of

notebooks, and a metal ruler. His long,

Grand Central Station would beckon him.

gangly legs would carry him swiftly

Joseph was not a religious man, but this

through the streets and back-alleys of New

was his temple, his church. He’d solemnly

York, making him near invisible to the

walk the steps to the waiting room, taking

a seat to observe the famous ceiling’s

missions, meteorites and stardust bought

‘celestial blue heavens and golden

from clairvoyants and stored in glass jars.

constellations.’ Here, under the watchful

He travelled endlessly through his archive

eye of Mercury, he would leave his plastic

of the night’s sky and seemed always to

seat, if only momentarily, to reside

carry an air of knowing something that

amongst the heavens. In the quiet of the

others didn’t.

moment, he’d listen for his sister’s voice as she whispered: ‘Look, Joe, there’s

By the time Joseph died in 1972, the

Orion and Pegasus.’

world had transformed around him; the well-trodden paths of his scavenger hunts

It’s true that Joseph never moved from his

in Manhattan had been obscured by

house in Queens, but he was never really

buildings, his favourite cafeterias had been

there, just like he was never really in New

shut down. But wrapped in his wood-

York; he existed on a different plain

faced house in Queens, he didn’t seem to

altogether. His basement was the

mind. In a world that was moving too fast,

laboratory of a cosmic alchemist, and his

Joseph was set to a different clock. You

attic bedroom, painted by his own hand,

might say he was of a different time, a

was a dream-catcher’s haven. In the

different place, even. Perhaps because

spaces between, Joseph stored the secrets

he’d spent sixty years sleeping between

of the universe in constellation blue-prints,

the stars.

newspaper clippings from NASA space

for Sophie-Anne, my gravity and best friend.

1 she dreams in darkness so I make her a universe. moulding moons from glazed eyes, freckles blooming constellations, planets aligning from her tongue. because, to me, she sings gravity, she sings hushed lullabies, of tomorrows and todays, of close encounters with the third kind.

And it’s just me now, hotel room the blue belly of a sun. Naked and dim, I hold this origami grief near-bent in my ribcage, a world of beforeafter, elsewhere.

Facing: Concorde by Claire Francis

The space between them now was palpable, as they lay side by side on the cold grass, staring up into the darkness above. Inches between hands, miles between minds and light years between hearts. A plane’s lights were blinking overhead and her gaze wandered slowly across the sky with them. She wondered where the plane was going and who was being taken there. Did anyone on the flight feel the way that she used to with him? Had any of the travellers experienced what she was feeling now? She felt so alone in this feeling. As tears began to blur the glowing orbs she blinked desperately and turned her eyes to the wide expanse around them and the scattered stars instead. There seemed to be so few nestled in the velvet sky and yet there are more stars in our milky way than then there are grains of sand on Earth. Our sight can only ever take in a tiny fraction, whilst the rest are lost like sand slipping through fingertips. Just to the left of where they lay one lone star shone brighter than the rest. Pale silver tendrils unfurled from its beaming core, as if to reach out and beckon you to shelter in its glow. She was mesmerised and wondered what it looked like up close and if it looked the way she thought that it did now. It seemed so clear to her in that moment and yet we never see space as it truly is; the light takes so long to reach our eyes that we are continuously seeing the past instead of the present. That great star could no longer be there and she would have no idea at all. The bigger the star, the quicker it burns. She wanted to find solace in how vast the universe was and how many possibilities were out there. It seemed so foolish to focus on one bright star when there were over 300 million others

there to choose from. Instead, though, she simply felt a mournful sadness that she had found the corner of the world she wanted to exist in but he didn’t want to exist there with her. Their star had died but her eyes hadn’t caught up with the light. She felt, all of a sudden, that perhaps there was nothing in her life that she could truly see clearly. “I’m sorry,” he said, as if he knew.

Some friends who vacation beyond Pluto say flowers that bloom in outrageous cold are common, need no ground, little warmth, no water. Robust multi-colored blossoms in the middle of a nowhere that’s not a nowhere after all, but a somewhere, a garden where Emily Dickinson walks with the girl in Fragonard’s The Swing whose shoe dashes away from her foot. They chat, a little like Lucy and Ethel. Funny thing, these flowers don’t wilt. Death never drops in. The sun writes only rarely. The planets from Pluto to the sun get ragged performing for astronomers. They miss the garden. No wonder they’re often exhausted and cranky.

When we say birth, we forget to reach back to our furthest roots; when the first stars fell from the sky, they crumbled into dust, and we were risen from their ashes. Our blood runs rivers of stardust and our bones are forged from planets that died long before we will. Sometimes we forget that the galaxy is full of heavenly bodies in our galaxy, born from past lives, we are heavenly as well. It's easy to forget that on days when all we know is the gaping emptiness of black holes and asteroid belts of a cataclysmic void that would collapse upon us if we let it. It's easy to forget the fire that we could be. On cold nights, the only thing keeping you from freezing is the sun inside of you that doesn't stop burning; the heat of it could crackle your bones as they burned inside out. But the fire between your ribs is surrounded by stars, the stardust that is flowing through your blood, and all it takes to remember your roots is the galaxy inside of you, and the sun that has just enough fire to keep you burning bright through the dark.

There comes a vertigo remembering the ways we were like clouds, tracing the edges of ourselves inside. Born on a lantern wind we disappeared and circled back again. Everything we discovered there came down in rains of buried light. Invisible but visible, without the touch of knowing why, our suspicion falling to the horizon. The sky left a blue field that doubled forever as we huddled and leaned into the night.

Facing: Stars in the Water by Yokim Snow

Some nights, I climb out. I write while the universe converges into bokeh black, a blurred sphere, like the half circles of elastomer that become my space helmet – noise cancelling a misspent day or playing soundtrack songs like a Zarathustra theme. I stare at my laptop as if it were the moon: My thoughts press up against its glass porthole, looking inward, looking outward. My fingers land like Apollo across the white styrene keys, words imprinting new places, revisiting old places, hovering in-between place. Pressing pads, touching the mantel, and pushing up, up. Grief tells me about gravity but love tells me about transcendence: The soul does not meet the same borders as the body. I do not imagine mine gender-shaped, stitched into the seams of my skin; but round and burning like a star, like a spacewalker. Pulsing like a magnetic pole of the compass, alternately resting and oscillating like the arrow pointing to you, to God, to the next question. I stir up, free from my relentless following of the body all through the day. Curiosity is a satellite (or is it longing) orbiting across the surface of the mind, taking enhanced Hubble pictures of what is unknown. See? Imagine it! So goes the unseen velocity of body and soul. Both perpetually orbiting, endlessly falling toward each other. The music of my headphones is my only earthly companion, its cord the only tether holding me to the hour. Some nights, I climb out. Some night, I will cut the cord.

The floor’s malfunctioning. It won’t stay under our feet.

I grab Eric Pfister’s arm, then hand. He holds Emily Chatterjee’s. The three of us slowly drift toward the turbines churning half a mile above us, thinking our own thoughts.

See, Mother? You were wrong about me dying old and alone.

Hermits who live on the mountains of

anatomy. Rendered helpless, I was then

Mars still teach the old Kung Fu

robbed of my carry on satchel. In it, a few

techniques. That was the rumor and my

paperbacks, some folding cash, a few

motivation for going. I spent my entire

changes of clothes. All of my

life savings on a one-way ticket. The


flight took three years and I lost nearly half of my body weight. Stick thin and

Mars is a harsh world people had told me.

giddy, I arrived wearing Bermuda shorts

Populated by criminals, mystics, expats,

and a down parka. I really thought I had a

refugees, and eccentrics. I was pretty sure

handle on the situation. Books had

I fell into the later category. People too

prepared me for a paper thin atmosphere.

weird or dangerous to be tolerated

But not instilled me with any true fashion

elsewhere. When the hospital I was taken

sense. As soon as I kicked off my board

to found out I didn’t have insurance I was

sandals and dug my toes in the rust

unceremoniously dumped into the street

colored dirt, locals pegged me for what I

after a perfunctory physical. No

was. A dumbass tourist, ripe for harvest.

Freeloaders on Mars, the party line went. Like I said, Mars is no place for cowards.

I got into a fist fight within an hour of

I lived for a year on the street, absorbing

landing. He broke off three of my teeth on

the culture, picking up tidbits of

the left side of my lower jaw and I

information in bars, piecing together clues

couldn’t help thinking, even as he

about men who were like the mist.

pummeled me, how graceful and fluid

I pretended to be a drunken wretch in

were his techniques. He flowed like a

order to hear more. The patronage was

swan on a still lake, driving foot and fist

largely monks from nearby monasteries.

repeatedly into strategic points of my

Their alcohol tolerance is the stuff of

legend. In a darkened corner I listened,

percent gravity, I walked on my hands to

careful to avoid detection. By then, my

stave off infection.

beard had grown long and wispy. My jacket and Bermuda shorts, stained red by

Our meditation was performed outside and

the dust of the places I slept. I spoke to no

shirtless. In the coldness of space I fought

one and always gave the impression of

to achieve center and failed many times.

half consciousness. Until the day finally

Shamed, I would huddle close to my

came when I had overheard enough booze

floating master and warm my hands near

addled banter to determine the location of

the living furnace that was his belly.

my first master.

Steam obscured all features, as if he were a brooding volcano. When at last I was

He lived alone in a ruined temple. It was

able to endure the thin atmosphere a full

said he moved forever in an aura of fog.

hour without convulsions, my master

In low gravity he had also mastered flight.

initiated a cruel and relentless regimen.

I lost all of my toes and my nose to

With fist and feet resembling a

frostbite on the journey to find him.

mathematical equation, he taught me ways

When I arrived he was meditating in the

to cheat Newtonian physics.

hovering lotus posture. Steam billowed

Rumors of flight, come to find out, were

off his bare shoulders. It was a week

exaggerations. But only just. It is

before I was fit to begin training.

possible to hover if one is light enough

Blackened toes were amputated with

and if one has conditioned core muscles.

chopsticks; stumps treated with an extract

The gyroscopic effect of an undulating

of horrible smelling berries and herbs.

belly can counteract Martian gravity.

Learning to walk again provided ample

And, in extreme cases, even cancel it.

time for self-reflection. In thirty-eight

Obscure knowledge came with a price, I

soon discovered. Life became an endless

out, is also an exaggeration. But only just.

series of bar fights. I began to see why

There are techniques for being highly

skilled artisans of death preferred a life of

forgettable. With focus, one can even

solitude. Pilgrims from neighboring star

change body symmetry. These are the

systems were a constant aggravation.

secrets kept by aged mystics and never

Always demanding to be taught. But

written down. Some, unfortunately, have

unwilling to truly learn. Or wishing to test

been lost forever. They are tricks worth

their alien skills against a true master.

killing for, to be sure. In the guild of

I have spilled enough green blood to fill

magicians, a loose tongue is punishable by

an ocean. Chlorophyll permanently stains


my knuckles from the students of a rival monastery who are plant-based lifeforms.

More so with Kung Fu. Low gravity

The thorny appendages they grapple with

supermen are sought out, tested, and

have etched me with countless scars. My

murdered through deception. And all for

body is a roadmap leading to nowhere. It

the prestige of being the last. For being

is the tediousness of these confrontations

the only. For this reason, my second

that convinced me to leave my first

master told me, he refused to accept a

master. Now a master in my own right, I

student for nearly sixty years. During that

left in search of greater truths. Men, it

time he mastered the art of invisibility.

was rumored, who were capable of

Going so far as to remove food from the


plates of diners without them knowing. He was happy to live this way and would

My second master was more difficult to

have gone on doing so if he had not

find. Blind, he lived as a beggar in plain

recognized me. By then I had a reputation

sight. Rumor of invisibility, come to find

as the board shorts wearing monk. The

steam your head radiates is a dead

time I learned perhaps the most guarded

giveaway also, he told me.

secret of all. The rabbit in the hat is not a trick. Even the hat itself is an illusion.

Had I wanted to, I could have remained

What is pulled from it is a dream within a

hidden, he said. Or, he could have just as


easily killed me, I thought then and still believe. But, as he explained, a lifetime of

That is the basis for much of men’s

broken adversaries rendered helpless

killings, he told me. Towards the end of

before him had taken the desire to kill

my tutelage, the blind mystic revealed a

away from him. At one time, all these

relic. Through the pink desert we

men we have killed were children, he

journeyed together. Few know of this

explained. Compared to some, all men are

place, the blind monk confided. Gliding

like children, he elaborated. They must be

seamlessly over red talcum, we came to a

treated with care. When my second

mound of unnatural geometry. Wrinkled

master said these words he was two

alloy buried by oxidizing space dust.

hundred and four years old.

With care, so as not to cut his hands, my second and final master shooed away the

Kung Fu is a snake constantly shedding its

dust of eons. The relic was the size of a

skin, he explained. It is a top hat from

man and roughly cubical. From its base

which a skilled magician may forever pull

sprouted four cylindrical appendages,

more rabbits. The rabbit, a symbol for

twisted to ruin.

regeneration is the goal of the snake.

There is little wind on Mars and the

Your knowledge of Kung Fu will

atmosphere is thin. The parallel tracks it

determine if you choke on immortality or

left in the sand remained, fading off into

swallow it whole, he said, cryptically. In

the distance to some long forgotten

starting point. To compensate his time, the blind monk asked only that I assist him with my eyes. Brilliant though he was, there are questions only a pair of eyes can answer. When the relic was revealed in its entirety, I read for him the English letters stamped onto the hulking contraption that were sun faded to almost nothing. “N,” I made the sound with my tongue. “A”. Crouched and breathless beside the object, his murky orbs regarded me. “S,” I hissed. It had been years since I’d spoken more than a few syllables of the dead language. “A,” I finished.



Facing: Fever Dream by Claire Francis

Kari Astillero is a Filipina, and a Journalism major. She's mostly drinking coffee, and reading, writing, thinking, or daydreaming. She's recently been published in Rambutan Literary, Werkloos Mag, and Rising Phoenix Review. Nick Black's stories have won or been listed for various competitions, including 2014 North London Lit Fest, AdHoc Fiction, 2015 and '16 Bath Flash Fiction Awards, Land Rover/GQ/Salon House Short Story Competition and Spread the Word Prize. They’ve also been accepted by various literary magazines including the Lonely Crowd and Litro. Dan Calder is currently studying for a PhD in Philosophy of Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh. He enjoys travel and hiking in the Scottish Highlands. He is happy to write about anything except his thesis topic. Haley Clapp is a fledgling queer poet who loves sad songs and horror movies. Her work can be found in Rising Phoenix Review, Vagabond City Lit, and MONSTERZINE. She is currently attending King's College London for her MA in Critical Methodologies and hopes to end up somewhere in the liminal world of literature/art and academia. Hannah Cohen lives in Virginia and is a MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. She's also the poetry editor of Firefly Magazine. Recent and forthcoming publications include The Tishman Review, The Shallow Ends, Vagabond City, Unlost Journal, and others | @hcohenpoet. Sunny ChermÊ Cooper is a writer and consultant with Follow The Buffalo, and travels a thousand roads in a vintage 1976 Argosy. Her collaborative writing projects have been featured in Rolling Stone and National Geographic, and she is the 2015 Blackbird Fellow at A Room Of Her Own Foundation | @SunnyCherme Jessica M Farrugia is a non-fiction writer and collage artist from the outskirts of London. Her work, both literary and artistic, often fixates on the people she admires most, like Joseph Cornell, an American artist who has provided endless inspiration for creative ventures and the focus of her recent MA dissertation. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @jesmgia

Claire Francis is a music journalist, writer and artist. She studied History of Art at The University of Melbourne, graduating in 2009. Now based in Glasgow, she creates original, hand cut collage art using vintage books and magazines. Her compositions combine and arrange mystical elements to create otherworldly images that explore our relationship with the environment and the universe | @the.serious.moonlight Melinda Giordano is from Los Angeles, California. Her pieces have appeared in Scheherazade's Bequest and Vine Leaves Literary Journal among others. She was a regular poetry contributor to and also nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize. Lucy Goodwill is a writer and charity worker, based in North East London. An avid reader and literature graduate, her work primarily consists of poetry and flash fiction. @lucygoodwill Allison Emily Lee lives in San Francisco, California. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Donut Factory, Public Pool, and Transfer. She likes coffee, houseplants and swimming holes. You can visit her online at Ken Pobo won the 2014 Blue Light Press Book Award for Bend of Quiet. His work has appeared in Indiana Review, The Fiddlehead, Mudfish, Nimrod, and elsewhere. Ana Prundaru is a Romanian-born translator, writer and visual artist. Her work appears in DIAGRAM, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Kyoto Journal and elsewhere. She lives in Zurich, Switzerland. Daisy Richardson is an artist based in Glasgow. She exhibits in the UK and internationally and is currently looking at minerals, meteorites and ideas of the domestic and the majestic in her work. Bee Stevenson is a creative writer who lives in the West Country. She has a penchant for poetry, secondhand books, and singing guitar solos. @vivatramp

Yokim Snow writes in Ireland where he shares a house by the ocean with his American wife and five children, a naughty Bichon Frise, and three even naughtier rats. The pet food is financed by Yokim's work as a freelance translator and editor. Aden Thomas grew up in central Wyoming. Previously, his work has been featured in The Kentucky Review, The Inflectionist Review, and The Chiron Review. He lives southeast of Jackson Hole. Stephanie Tom is a high school student who lives in New York and likes to scour the internet for contemporary poetry. She is an editor for her school newspaper, an assistant editor for her school literary magazine, and has more works in progress than she can handle at the moment. Olin Wish currently resides in a small, mid-western town in the United States, where the dust and the wind never let up and steel mills and prisons dot the landscape to the edge of the horizon. He is a regular contributor to Drunk Monkeys Literary Journal and has also appeared in Kleft Jaw, Deep Water Literary Journal, Gray Sky Publishing and Sci-Phi Magazine, among others.

Profile for Severine Literary & Art Journal


Art, poetry, stories and essays about what lies beyond our atmosphere. We're looking at what's out there with the sun, the moon, and the st...


Art, poetry, stories and essays about what lies beyond our atmosphere. We're looking at what's out there with the sun, the moon, and the st...


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